Thursday, June 4, 2009

Celebrating 500 sales on Etsy

The beginning of June marks my 6th month in business on Etsy, and I have just celebrated my 500th sale on that venue. June also marks my 3rd year in business selling recycled yarn. In all that time, the last 6 months have BY FAR been the most profitable. I have learned a lot about business on Etsy and to mark this milestone in my shop, I thought I would share some advice with my fellow Etsy sellers.

1) Treat your shop as a business.
If you treat your shop as a hobby, you will get a hobby's worth of results. Be dedicated to creating new products, filling out your shop, taking excellent pictures, knowing how to work with the Etsy system, and promoting in as many ways as your are able. Search the internet for business topics, read the forums, learn as much as you can. It is not as simple as creating something and listing it.

2) Know your target market.
Knowing your target market and providing a product that they WANT is the foundation for a successful shop. You can make beautiful things, but let's face it, if you targeting the wrong people, or if your beautiful things do not fulfill a need or want in your market you are not going to sell anything.

Ask yourself a few questions and gear your descriptions, or even your products to speak to your market. BEING a member of your target market helps tremendously with putting yourself in their mindset.
-Why would my market be interested in my products?
-What aspects of my product would be the biggest selling point?
-Where does my target market hang out on the internet? (What is the best place to join in the community and quietly promote)

3) Search your key search on Etsy every day (or multiple times a day).
A large percentage of people are going to find you simply by searching on Etsy. It is important that you show up in this search, that you show up early, and that you show up often.
-Think of all the possible search words that you think of someone might type in to find your item and tag your items accordingly.
-Create new items or renew items frequently so that you remain present in the searches. The more times you show up, the more chances you have of someone falling in love with your products. If you drop down too far, it is time to renew, or list a new item.
-Get to know your competition through this search. Analyze their style, how prolific they are, how frequently they list, their success, etc. Use this information to make your shop stand out next to them.

4) Make the most of your tags.
Use ALL of them. Tag colors, your shop name, key selling points (free shipping, eco friendly, etc.), important materials (sterling silver, cashmere, etc.) and descriptive words (soft, shiny, classy, funky, retro, etc), common misspellings, and alternate phrasing.
-Look at your competition's listings for ideas on other tags that you could be using.

Your buyers find you through these tags, as do treasury makers. Treasuries help bring more exposure to you, thus increasing your views, and hopefully sales.

5) Visually stand out from the crowd.
Make your items stand out from your competition. This is about branding. You want your buyers to see your items in the search and know that it is yours.
-Have a unique style that shows up in your photographs. This may be the style of your products themselves, or simply the way you photograph them.

6) Continually improve your photography
Your photographs will make or break you. Your customers can't hold your items, so the photographs need to be clear, informative, and visually stunning all at once.
-Read the tutorials online, and in the forums to improve your shots.
-Use natural light, or a light box.
-Tweek your shots in photo editing software to make them the best they can be.
-Take LOTS of pictures of each item at many different angles. Choose only the best 5 to keep.
-Search around Etsy for another seller who's product photographs you admire. Emulate their style and adapt it to fit your items and your shop. DO NOT copy their style exactly. You want to stand out. Use their style as inspiration on how to pose items, or how something looks best.
-Use all 5 picture slots that Etsy gives you.
-Select 1 shot that is artsy, alluring, and visually stunning that will draw your customers in. Make them want to click on it to get a better look and to see more of that stunning piece. Make this your first shot.
-Give at least 1 shot of the full item. You may loose a sale if your customer has to piece together all your shots to figure out what the whole thing looks like.
-Show important details such as the clasp, patterning, etc.
-Have a shot showing your item in scale. It is difficult to tell in a picture how big, or small an item is. Dimensions in your description are important, but it is difficult to visualize dimensions. Show a necklace or purse on a model, your stuffed toy in a person's hand, or your artwork on the wall next to a piece of furniture.

7) List more
You can't sell it if it isn't in your shop.
-Creating and listing more means more choice for your customers
-More listings spaced out have your shop show up more frequently in the searches, bringing more people to your shop.
-More variety means more choice for your customers. The more items you ahve, the more likely someone is to fall in love with a piece and take it home.
-Shops that are filled out have a more professional appearance, like you are running a business rather than a hobby.

As you list more, use your shop sections, so that your buyers can easily find everything in your shop.

8) Diversify your product line
Variety is the spice of life. Additional product lines allow you to list in multiple catagories, which allows you to draw people to your shop from multiple searches. If your products are complimentary, it encourages people to find something in your shop they didn't realize they wanted when they typed in the original search. Consistently look at your products and ask yourself:
-Is there a complementary line of products I can also sell?
-Can I make this product in more sizes or colors or patterns?
-Can I offer more products in different price ranges?

9) Make a high quality product
If your customers are delighted with your products they will come back for more and refer more people to your shop. This is free advertising, and the more people they send your way, the fewer you have to find yourself.
-Pay attention to details
-Use materials you are proud of

10) Provide excellent customer service
Each customer that you take care of well and comes back, is one customer you don't have to find.
-Treat your customers as you would like to be treated.
-Check your email and convos at least once a day, if not more often
-Be professional, polite, and kind.
-Ship quickly
-Maintain communication. If something is taking a while, keep them updated. Let your customers know when their items have been shipped.

I hope that this helps you all in your shops and here's hoping for success for each of you!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Look mom, I'm a book

I have been told that the enormous amount of climbing that my children do is genetic. My mother in law has no idea how she managed to survive raising my husband. When he was 9 months old she left the room for a minute only to return and find him at the top of a very large bookcase. When Alex was small we had a barricade blocking off the side ladder on his bunk bed because we didn't want our 1 yr old on the top bunk just yet...

The twins seem to have continued the proud tradition of little boys who know how to climb things far higher than is really safe. We have completely re-arranged the family room because I spent several exhausting days pulling one or the other of them off of the coffee table, off of the kitchen counter (which they reached from the coffee table) off of the back of the couch, off of Daddy's computer chair, off of Daddy's COMPUTER, and just about any other serface you can imagine. After re-aranging, the designated baby zone is almost completely free of all objects that are dangerous to climb on. They have discovered they can turn boxes upside down, or push their bike up to something to give themselves a nice handy step stool, but for the most part, there are no high places to fall from.

It appears, though, that climbing is a necessary part of the 1 yr old daily workout. Hyrum has claimed this small, empty (because they wouldn't leave anything in it!) bookshelf as his new hang out. I think maybe he thinks he's a book. Or maybe a monkey.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring Time Treasures

Spring has officially arrived here in our little slice of the country despite the snow that we had last week. Each tiny reminder of new, flourishing life feels like treasures to me and begs to be cherished and documented.

Tiny little Robin's egg held in tiny little 3 yr old hands.

Pretty weed flowers that we will call "wild flowers" next to my rusty wire garden fence.

Bring on the Butterflies Mother Nature. We're ready.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Minor Emergency

I opted this week to wash all of the laundry in one long marathon session on Friday and just piled it up on the living room couch until I could fold it all on Saturday morning, rather than do a load a day as Flylady suggests. I would have put it in baskets, but I simply don't own enough baskets to do this. I have deluded myself into thinking that if I don't have enough baskets, I will be forced to fold the clean laundry before I can wash more. In reality, it just means that the clean laundry remains in the basket and I don't wash more clothes because I don't have a place to put them. Folding laundry is one of my least favorite chores. I have absolutely no problem actually washing the clothes, but since I was a teenager and began doing my own laundry, the clothes have gone from the dryer to the basket and sat forever. I have tried to break this cycle, but I seem to keep coming back. I can have baskets of clean clothes, but no one can manage to find their socks. Of course, matching up all those socks is another matter.

The folding of the laundry went quite smoothly this week. I managed to get my 2 older children to do the bulk of the work which I think may have been one of the more brilliant ideas I have ever had. I went to get the last load of laundry from the dryer only to discover that it was still damp. "Hmm, I'm sure I started that" I thought. Of course, I've done that before; neglected to start the dryer when I moved laundry over. I twisted the knob to get it going and nothing happened. No sound, no click, nothing. My dryer was doing a wonderful impression of a large harmless metal box.

That's a problem.

There are 7 people in this house, not to mention that I cloth diaper 2 of those people. We do A LOT of laundry. True this was the last load from a weeks worth of clothes, but there were still the diapers to consider...

I checked the plug. Yep, it's plugged in. I am quite the mechanical genius there.

I checked the breaker. It was labeled clearly. I flipped it back and forth. Didn't make a bit of difference.

Well, that was it. That's all I've got.

I mentioned morosely to my Uncle who came over for dinner about the dryer, thinking that I would either have to pay a repair guy to come look at it or go buy a new one.

"Hmm" He said and disappeared out the front door. He came back a few minutes later with a bunch of tools and began industriously unscrewing things on the dryer.

"Wow, look at that! That wire is completely fried through" he showed me.

"Huh" I replied

"Well, we should be able to find out what did that" he replies calmly and keeps unscrewing things.

"So, we need a new plug?" I ask hopefully

"Nah, I can splice that, no need to buy a new one"

"Oh!" I say. My uncle is obviously an electrical genius. I'm glad he's over here so much.

I layed out the remains of the load of laundry and the load of diapers that I desperately needed to wash and settled in for a long haul. I didn't have to wait long. About 24 hours after I discovered the dryer's trechery, my uncle had managed to repair the plug and magically it was working again.

We never did find out what had caused the plug to burn out, but I'm not terribly concearned since the load of diapers is now soft and fluffy from tumbling in the newly repaired dryer!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lasagna Garden

It is a glorious 70 degrees outside this week. After last weeks huge rain storm (3 days of rain in Colorado, what's THAT about?!), I can almost watch all the tumble weed plants growing in my backyard. Now, they're not too bad looking, green and leafy with tiny purple flowers, but they certainly don't compare to a normal lawn, or the lush oasis at my Grandparent's house. They get so tall that I could loose children in them, and when you mow them down, they become hard spiky stumps. We also have the devious goat head vines. They LOVE our sandy soil. They are the only thing that I have ever seen actually growing in the soft dunes out in the field. They, too, are quite attractive in order to disguise their horrible nature. They are a creeping vine that covers the sand in a layer of tiny leaves, and pretty little yellow flowers. The true horror doesn't come for a few months when the flowers die back and the green seed pods start to form. Goat Heads (or sand burrs) are the bane of my country existence. Can you picture caltrops? They were a military weapon designed to stop cavalry. They are a small metal object with sharp points on all sides so that no matter how they fall to the ground there is always at least one of those sharp spikes sticking up. They were used to lame horses, and more recently to puncture the tires of cars. The goat heads that cover my yard are exactly like that, except they are about the size of a pea (so they are almost invisible as you walk around the house) and are organic. They stick to the soles of all shoes and to the tires of our cars. They are proportedly impossible to get rid of in the yard.

My plan is to choke them out.

Someday, I will fill my 1/4 acre backyard with other plants, or bricks, or something, so that there isn't any room for them to thrive. Someday...

That day is not today. Today I am building a new garden. In a corner of my yard about the size of my bedroom, I am building a garden. I have no intention of filling the whole thing just yet. I'll work up to that, but this small zone will be full of plants of my choosing. Vegitables, flowers, and fruit vines. Lush and lovely, and totally non-goat head. It is turning out to be MUCH larger and more time consuming than I had originally thought, though. At least I don't have to dig.

For the last several months, I have been collecting materials, 2 trash cans full of old news papers, 6 cans full of old moldy hay from the barn, 4 gigantic bales of peat moss, and a few bags of garden soil. I am bulding a Lasagna garden. The goal is to build up your garden like raised beds (except I don't have any retaining walls) in a kind of strip composting pattern. You cover the ground (weeds, sod and all) with thick pads of wet newspaper. On top of that you lay a thin layer of peat moss. Then you just begin building layers of anything that you would put in a compost pile, chopped leaves, grass clippings, manure, straw, etc. In between each layer of material, you lay another thin layer of peat moss. Top the whole thing off with a layer of mulch (I'm using hay). The newspaper keeps the weeds out, the layers feed the plants, and the mulch at the top helps keep all the moisture in the soil. Sounds fantastic in theory. We'll see how it works out since I can't seem to keep any plants alive for long...

This morning I finished up the newspapers, layed a layer of peat moss and a layer of manure. Next more peat moss, then hay. Looking at how quickly my gigantic piles of materials have diminished, I'm going to need to take another trip to the store for peat moss, and a few dozzen more trips to the feild for more manure...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Being a twin

Being a twin does not seem to be a whole lot different from being a single baby. Hyrum and Quinn are still VERY active little boys who enjoy climbing on everything they can reach and generally exploring their world. They are hardly ever still and seem to entertain themselves quite well. The one major difference seems to be that you have competition your own size. I think that's what makes them so cute.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hubby is so awesome

Look at that, Hubby put my Shawn the Sheep on my birthday cake. Add that to the fact that he made breakfast and dinner for us all, and let me lay around reading all day and pretty much ignoring the world and I have to say he is so wonderful. I haven't had a birthday this wonderful in a long time :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I think the designer knits English

I will admit to the fact that I haven't done much knitting of late. I blame this on the number of children running around and on the fact that my Etsy shop just hit it's 300th sale since I opened it on Dec 4th. Yesterday, though, I spent the whole day knitting play food for a 5 yr old little girl's birthday party, which was today. I enjoyed just sitting and knitting something that was not lace, or business related, that I decided to cast on something else today. Since I have been out at the barn feeding horses every day for the last 2 weeks, I have realized that my gloves just aren't going to cut it. My fingers are quite long and thin which means they have almost zero cerculation. If I ball them up in the hand of the glove they keep from going numb, which makes me think I need MITTENS, not gloves.

It just so happens I have a lovely fair isle mitten kit by Sarah Annexstad with Misti Alpaca and Noro Silk Garden that my lovely swap partner from the Knitting Parent's Yahoo Group gave me in December.

So, while children were marrinating in the tub tonight, I cast on the first mitten. Knit the first row in main color in K1, P1 rib. Check. I can do that. Rows 2-16 are K1 in main color, P1 in Contrast color. This produces lovely vertical lines up the cuff. Ok, now, I haven't knit fair isle since I knit Alex's Spiderman gloves over a year ago. I am a continental knitter normally, so I put the main color in my left hand and put the Noro in my right just like I learned to do while doing stranded knitting. I knit a few stitches and realize that I have forgotten to put the Noro to the back while I knit with the Alpaca. This means that I now have lines of pretty blue in front of my creamy alpaca knit strips. That's not right. So, I tink back. I now very carefully move the Noro to the back after purling and find this incredibly slow, tedious and anoying. This is going to be a LONG cuff if I have to do this the whole way.

The babies are ready to get out of the tub by now, so I dry them off and put the second load of children in and then rethink the knitting. Oh, I think to myself. Back when I was new to this I used to carry both yarns in the left hand and just picked whichever one I wanted. Since I am only knitting 1 stitch with each yarn before I need the other, the tension won't get uneven, that'll be perfect. So, I switch so both yarns are in my left hand and breeze through a couple of rows of knitting happily swinging both yarns between the needles together for the K1, P1 rib.

I look down at my knitting and see that it is now a beautiful double knit cuff... Hmmm. That is not pretty verticle lines. That is flat alpaca on the outside and flat Noro on the inside. Yes, I remember thinking when looking at the pattern that if I knit 1 with 1 yarn and then purled with a different yarn I would get double knit. I have made quite a few things with double knit before, but I thought surely the designer knew what she was doing. There's got to be a trick here. I examine the knitting closely, then it hits me. In my beautiful double knitting, the running thread between stitches has the alpaca in the front, not the Noro. If I kept the alpaca in the back all the time and just pulled the Noro to the front for the purl stitches the running thread in between will be blue, not cream. Well, why didn't the designer say not to bring them both forward?! That's kind of important. True this pattern was made for a class where she would have shown the students how to do it, but I still think it needs mentioning.

Then it hits me. I bet the designer knits English. It makes perfect sense. She held the main color (the alpaca) in her RIGHT hand, which is her main knitting hand. It would have been more natural for her. With it in the right hand, it could stay in the back all the time without interfearing with the purl stitches. With the Noro in the LEFT hand it can swing easily between the needles back and forth with each stitch without all the cumbersome twisting of the entire right hand and the needles. It maks sense why she wouldn't say anything. It would have been awkward to move both yarns back and forth. It explains everything.

The designer knits English. I'll just pretend I do too. ~.^

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The State of Oatmeal

Breakfast is usually a fairly calm affair. This morning, though, I'm afraid that it quite distinctly showed the personalities and developmental stages of my 5 children.

The Twins:
The twins are 1. They do not understand that food takes time. They feel that if they scream loudly and insistently Mommy will appear with the food in hand. After all, for most of their lives, Mommy has always had food available in the form of milk. Waiting for breakfast instead of nursing as soon as they get up is a new experience. I can tell you, that 2 babies screaming at the gate are LOUD. Once the food is available, though, they are quite cute as they stand next to me and open their mouths like little birdies. It is required to push brother out of the way in the hopes that you may get 2 spoonfuls in a row as well as placing one's fingers in your mouth in order to feel the texture. If the magic bowl of food runs out before they are full, they do not understand and will scream more until it is replenished. I am grateful each day that I have enough food available to feed these hungry little birds unlike so many mothers in the world and that I do not have to hold them while they cry because they simply don't understand.

Brendan is 3. Oatmeal is an exercise in "No! I do it!". From stirring the butter in, to pulling the correct spoon out of the drawer. Breakfast can be a battle. Heaven forbid if anyone should leave any food unattended because rather than wait for someone to make him more, he will steal it. Which brings us to...

Shaya is 5. She is a girl and is TERRIBLY over sensitive. She will break into tears at the smallest thing (like Brendan stealing her oatmeal). I am unsure if this is sensitivity or manipulation. This can be as frustrating as throwing a "I do it" fit because once she has managed to calm down she has completely forgotten about the fact that she was hungry and blubbered for you to make her more oatmeal and abandons breakfast all together.

Alex is 7. He was already gone, having quietly made himself oatmeal when he got up so that he wouldn't miss the bus. He takes great pride in being able to do it himself, but still appriciates when Mommy does special things for him (like making pancakes). Thank heaven that for the most part, Alex is beyond the "I do it" stage.

In the end, Alex was well fed. The twins ate a great breakfast (the dog got some too as they dropped it on the floor). Brendan got 1 1/2 bowls of oatmeal but didn't touch the second bowl I made him once Shaya broke down in tears, and Shaya only ate the 2 bites that were left of her oatmeal after Brendan had his way and completely ignored the new bowl of oatmeal I made her.

From the looks of things my kids are right on track developmentally. Aren't you so glad?

I need a nap.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Potato Soup

I make several versions of this soup since it's so easy and tasty, but this is my favorite and the one that I seem to come back to.

Potato Soup
3-4 Large baking potatoes
1 stick butter
about 8 tbs flour
1/2 onion chopped
8 cups milk
1 package frozen peas
1/2 to 1 cup diced ham, or 1 small can Hormel canned ham (usually found near the tuna fish)
2 cups shredded cheese
About 3-4 tbs salt
About 1-2 tbs black pepper

Wash, cut up, and boil potatoes for about 30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in the same pot. Add onion and saute until onion is clear.

Whisk flour into the butter 1 tbs at a time until it forms a paste. Gradually whisk milk into butter, flour and onion mixture. (whisking ensures there are no lumps).

Add potatoes, peas, and ham to the pot and let cook until it boils. Stir occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom.

Stir in Cheese until melted. (If you add this too soon, your cheese will clump). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If your soup tastes kind of bland add more salt.

Makes aprox 6-8 adult servings

Friday, March 13, 2009

Super simple Chicken Nuggets

I've decided that I want to share with you all in blog land some of my favorite recipes. These are all either things that were standard fare when I was growing up, or ones that I make a lot for my family.

Today's selection is Super Simple Chicken Nuggets.

I don't know if this really counts as a recipe since it is so simple, but it is quick and we make it about once a week. In fact, I made it today for lunch per the kid's request.

2 Chicken Breasts
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tbs Grill seasoning (I like McCormick's Broiled Steak Seasoning)
4 Cups Cooking Oil

Poor oil into a large, deep skillet or pot. It should be deep enough to completely cover your nuggets for frying. Heat on high while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Mix flour and grill seasoning in 1 bowl. Beat egg in a second bowl and set aside. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Dredge in egg until completely covered, then in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and gently drop in hot oil. Fry until chickens are light golden brown. (I do my chickens in 2 batches so that I don't over crowd the pan).

Drain and enjoy!

Makes about 5 servings depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

The deep frying probably isn't the healthiest, but it makes the chickens crispy and tasty. The whole process takes about 15-20 minutes, which is about the same amount of time to oven cook frozen chicken nuggets, but these are preservative free and much cheaper. :D

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dear world, our Mama is mean

Dear world, our mama is mean. We the twins (Hyrum and Quintin) have hijacked her blog to tell you just how mean she is.

She is trying to wean us. We have no idea why, but it is unacceptable. We LOVE that nursing thing. It's warm and nice there in mommy's lap. The food is warm, soothing, and good. There's that whole sucking thing which makes us happy. We don't know why. The binky isn't as good as mama. You all understand, we know. To top it all off, Mama has to pay attention to us and look into our eyes, and smile at us, and we feel loved and safe. Ya, that nursing thing is great.

But mama is taking that away. We are just now realizing what is happening. We only got to nurse 3 times yesterday, and there didn't seem to be enough milk. She keeps offering us a cup with cold milk in it, but we don't want that! We want our mama back. Now, we understand that mama has been nursing TWO of us for a little over a year now. She tells us that is pretty amazing. We don't get it. She tells daddy that she didn't nurse any of the other kids quite this long. That's sad. She should have nursed everyone longer. Did we mention how nice nursing is? We were so upset that we had to throw tantrums this morning. Quintin in particular did a great job. I think Mommy really got the picture. He was incolsolable for a good 15 minutes. He didn't want to be held, he didn't want the binky. He REALLY didn't want to be put down. True we had already nursed, but obviously it wasn't enough. Mama held out, though, and offered that stupid cup again. We took it. She held us close and looked into our eyes, and even though it was a cup of cold milk, it was still nice on mama's lap.

We plan to retaliate this afternoon, though, by not taking a nap AGAIN. We've discussed it, and we're pretty sure that will work. We hope you all understand and will tell mommy to stop this weaning thing.

The Twins

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Phat Fiber Samples

Look for my Infinity Ring stitch marker samples in March's Phat Fiber Sampler box! I am sending in 45 samples, and if you don't happen to get a sample, I am also sending in 75 coupons for FREE SHIPPING, so be sure to look through your business card envelope.

The theme for March is "Celtic" so I am contributing samples of my glass and copper stitch markers tied to the card with green recycled wool yarn. These are some of my favorite stitch markers and it was really exciting to send them out.

This will be my second month contributing samples to the Phat Fiber Sampler box. It is a box full of small, bite sized samples of yarn, fiber, stitch markers, and pretty much anything fiber related. I am so honored to be a part of it, and have high hopes for it's ability to spread the word! Already I have fallen in love with several people's shops through the box, and have seen some interest in mine from it. Natchwoolie and I seem to have a joint adoration thing going on. She wrote the most amazing review of my shop on the phatfiber blog, and I have been saving my pennies so I can get some of her lovely fiber!

Check out all the shops contributing on the Phatfiber website.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Wall of Fiber

So, after the whole 2am mouse incident, my bedroom has been thouroughly cleaned and vacuumed. The living room looked like a tornado hit it with all of the clutter, but the bedroom was clean. The business invested in a set of wire mesh cubes to store all the sweaters that had previously been sitting on the floor in bags. It took an entire evening of 3 adults, a good wrench, a rubber hammer, and about a bazillion zip ties, but the large empty wall of my bedroom now looks like this:
Then all 12 gigantic bags of sweaters were neatly folded, sorted by fiber content and yarn weight and placed in the cubes. 12 bags only took up half of the space...
So, we added some bubble pack envelopes, the waiting to be sold yarn, and the entirety of my personal yarn stash. Y'all, that is a lot of fiber on that wall. It is glorious!
As a note on the personal stash, the upper right hand cube is all of the store bought wool yarn I own. 1 cube is full of spinning fiber. The bottom 2 right hand cubes are acrylic. The rest is all recycled yarn that I have kept for myself. Now if I could only find some time to knit...

As another note, I have been trying to blog about this for 2 days, but blogger didn't want to upload my pictures. Stupid blogger.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Clean, must clean!

Today begins a major cleaning and organizing spree of my master bedroom. Last night I was attacked by a flying mouse. There is nothing like waking up at 2am to the shocking realization that some flying rodent has jumped onto the bed. I am totally creeped out and MUST CLEAN now!

I have no idea why this mouse has taken up residence in my room. There is no food in my room, and we aren't anywhere near as bad as most of the rooms that you see in Clean Sweep. Sure there's the pile of fiber against the wall, but that's normal right? I have heard him rummaging around for a few days now and the flying onto the bed was just the last nail in the coffin. He is being evicted. Every inch of the room will be vacuumed and cleaned. The bed will be moved, the furniture rearranged. That pile of bags of fiber will be neatly organized in my new cube system. (Being purchased by DH today).

We live in the country. We have had an ongoing mouse problem since we inadvertently brought one in with a big bag of rabbit food. We got a cat to help deal with the problem, but he proved a larger problem since he refused to poop in his cat box and pooped all over my house. He didn't last long. We have had various types of mouse traps around, but the mice have never completely gone away. When the rabbit died a few weeks ago, we bought those sonic mouse things that you plug in and are supposed to deter the mice from coming in. We set them up all over the kitchen. Unfortunately, it seems to have driven at least one mouse to my bedroom. The really horrible thing is that even with the massive cleaning, this mouse may still have found a good place to hide where I won't find him.

It may be time for professional help. Anyone know a good exterminator?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Finding Balance

This has always been a struggle for me. I tend to throw all my energy into my current obsession and the other things in my life tend to slide. My Dad says that it is genetic that I am this way, but I'm not really sure that it is since this tendency has only emerged since I have had children. Pre-children I didn't have 90 million things to do each day, and didn't really care if I sat and watched TV all day. Now I do still enjoy sitting and watching a movie, or listening to talk radio or something, but it is almost like I have developed ADHD or something. I can't sit still. I feel as if I MUST be doing something in addition to relaxing and watching TV. My hands get restless and I think of all the 89 million things I haven't gotten to today. "Ooo, I can get in just a few rows on Brendan's dinosaur while I watch this!" or "Sigh, that basket of laundry hasn't folded it's self yet, I guess I'll do that while watching this" or "Well, I've got 5 minutes before dinner comes out of the oven and no one is screaming, I think I'll check my email". 20 minutes later, I am still on the computer and the house has degenerated into chaos because I wasn't paying attention.

The computer thing is really another issue. I need a 12 step program for the internet or something. I get twitchy. There's nothing in particular I want, I just want to be on. It's bad...

But back to balance. Since I feel that I must be accomplishing something, just sitting and watching the children, or being available to talk with them and be genuinely interested doesn't seem to fall high on that list of accomplishing things. It is more of a passive accomplishment and I have been so focused on active things lately. You know, the things that I can cross off on a list "Dishes done, Check!" "Orders filled, Check!" "Children bathed, Check!". I think that it is comming to the point where I need to schedule the children into my mental checklist. "Sat and played dinosaurs with Brendan, Check!" I had a moment yesterday when I sat down to lunch with Shaya and Brendan and instead of talking with them and being "present" my mind was wandering to the laptop and I had to pull myself back from bringing it to the table.

I need some boundries.

I feel like a 2 yr old or something, that I need to set rules for myself. If it works, though, that's what is important. This week I am going to impliment a schedule for myself, and rules on when I can be on the computer and when I need to be mentally present with the family.

1. Since DH is home in the mornings, I will feed the babies, then take a shower and read my scriptures (this has really helped this past week with the morning grouchiness).
2. I will not look at the computer until I have a load of laundry in the washer, and the dishwasher is unloaded.
3. I will spend no more than 1 hour on the computer checking email, renewing stitch markers, blogging, twittering, etc.
4. I will not check the computer again until the twins take their nap.
5. Between 5pm-8pm I will not get on the computer. I will not do any business stuff until the kids are in bed.
6. I will let the children help with dinner.
7. I will do the dishes directly after dinner.
8. I will fill orders and print labels after the children go to bed.
9. I will be off the computer and in bed by 10pm. No exceptions.

That sounds like a lot. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The problem with twins

There are innumerable joys in being the mother of twins. Watching them interact with each other is amazing and wonderful. They have loved each other since before they were born and you can tell. They are a team, a duo, a pair. When they were first born they were happiest when I squashed them both close together, side by side in the bassinet. They follow each other around the room like a school of fish and investigate when one is crying. It is true that they are still babies and are disposed to steal each other's toys or binkies, but all in all, you know that they belong together.

There is an inherent problem, though. There are 2 of them.

It sounds so simple. Intellectually you know that there are 2 of them. You change both diapers each day, feed both little mouths each day, but it doesn't hit home until you can't seem to make both happy at the same time. If you pick up one, the other continues to scream, or begins to scream because "How DARE you pick up brother and not me!" or "Wait! Don't forget me!" When this doesn't happen, one will be happily sitting in your lap, or playing elsewhere and the other will find some mischief to get into. I just know that once they are toddlers we are going to have duel animals of destruction around here. 3 if Brendan hasn't grown out of it yet.

The twins have a cold. I always feel so bad for the little guys who have a cold. They just don't understand why they can't breathe through their nose, or why that cough keep happening. What is worst is when their little noses are plugged and they have to stop sucking (on binky or nursing) in order to breathe. Most of the time, they would hold out as long as they possibly can and then cry because they don't feel good, and want to suck on their binky because it makes them feel better, but they can't because they can't breathe. It's a sad little circle. The whole cold thing is amplified by the fact that there are 2 of them. It is impossible to keep the germs seperate. Once one starts to get it, I know that it is only a matter of time before the other one does. Once both of them are sick, I have 2 sad little lumps who just want to sit in mommy's lap. The problem is that while one can still accomplish some things while holding a baby, it is impossible to do ANYTHING while holding 2.

Last night was a rough night. I am no longer used to waking up 2 and 3 times a night, so I don't plan ahead... like going to bed at 8:30. Poor Hyrum woke up twice last night. I think maybe he had a sore throat from the sinus drainage. When I heard a baby screaming for the 3rd time since I went to bed, I couldn't help but think "Oh, come on! I nursed you, changed your diaper, gave you medicine, and you're still not happy?! I don't know what else I can do." I stumble into their room blurry eyed and realized that Hyrum was sound asleep (guess the Tylanol helped) and it was Quinn screaming at me. It was, in fact 6am and time for breakfast and a diaper change. "Oh, it's you" I thought. Well, I guess I can't blame him for wanting breakfast. He, had, in fact slept all night even if his brother hadn't.

Therein lies the problem, and the joy... They are 2 different people.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Addictive bit of lace

The February Phatfiber sampler box went on sale today! It is a sampler box full of stitch markers, mini-skeins of yarn, batts of spinning fiber, and all things lovely fiber. I was aproached 2 months ago to contribute to February's box with the theme of "Romance and Chocolate". I sent in my samples of 90yrds of my luscious Recycled Lace Weight Extra Fine Merino Wool, with a white freshwater pearl infinity ring stitch marker attached. Unfortunately, in my excitement to get them out I neglected to take a picture. I kept waiting for them to make an appearance on the phatfiber blog, but they never did. They made a brief appearance in the second video, though.

I got to thinking, though, 90yrds of laceweight looks like such a tiny little skein, but is really MUCH more than you think. So, what exactly can you make with just 90 yrds?

How about a Kerchief? A super quick, highly addictive, Ostrich Feather lace Kerchief to be exact!

Pattern to come shortly! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We made it a whole year!

Happy Birthday Baby Boys! Somehow we have all managed to survive an entire year. From what I can tell, we're all happy, and healthy too. I have gotten so used to them now that I forget that babies don't normally come in twos. It is just second nature to change 2 diapers, and dress 2 babies, and listen to 2 babies cry.

Having twins has been an amazing, joyful experience. Watching them together is unlike watching any of my other babies. Most babies don't really interact with other babies other than curiosity, or the occasional stealing of toys, but these 2 are a duo. We call them the carpet sharks and they move like a school of fish. Where one goes, the other is soon to follow. If one finds an interesting toy. the other is soon to come over and examine it too. I swear that they understand each other's cries. If one is in another room fussing, the other will go see what is wrong. If I am nursing one, the other will hear that pre-nursing fussing and come crawling in at full speed. They work in collusion. One will be screaming his head off in his crib, while the other is just chillin in his crib. It's almost like they are thinking "Hey, I don't need to scream. If brother is crying mom will come." Of course, once I pick up the screaming one, the other will let me kow that it is NOT acceptable to forget to pick him up too. If one gets tired of crying before I show up, they will trade off and the other one will scream for a bit.

We don't walk or talk yet, but we are REALLY close. I can't wait to see what the next year brings. Since these are my last little guys I am just lapping up every moment with them and enjoying every little quirk and milestone.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Complicated plan to get out of debt

You all may know that I am on Dave Ramsey's plan to get out of debt. I have had to learn some very complicated rules, like the one shown here in a clip from SNL.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 Random Things

1. I don't really like breakfast foods, so I have a chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast shake every morning.

2. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but saying that in school was frowned upon, especially in IB where we were all supposedly smart and were supposed to make things of ourselves, so I would talk about being a spy or a translator for a large company.

3. I have never been to another country

4. I studied Russian for 8 years and even majored in it in Collage but don't think I could even ask where the bathroom is anymore.

5. I participated in the 2006 Knitting Olympics where I knit a GIGANTIC man's sweater in 14 days. DH loves it.

6. I've knit that same sweater pattern 2 more times since then. Both times for women.

7. I have only had 1 "Real" job. I was applying at paper warehouse for a summer job the summer before my senior year and some random lady followed me out and asked if I wanted a job. I worked in that call center from then until just after Alex was born.

8. When asked what I do, I like to say "I am raising quality human beings"

9. I hit on DH in the parking lot of our church on the day we met, but I thought he was someone I had met a few days before. That is until he said "by the way my name is Grant"

10. I didn't tell him this until after we were married.

11. Our wedding photographer actually gave us a metal heart trivet as a prize because she said we were the most romantic couple she had ever met.

12. I credit our continued marital bliss largely in part to Dr. Laura

13. For 2 years I was severely addicted to FFXI. I thought of myself by my online name and had to stop myself from referring to Grant by his online name in real life. Since I broke the cycle I have pretty much avoided all computer games.

14. It took 2 more years to stop having dreams about the game.

15. It has been 10 years since High School and I think I finally stopped having dreams about it. I don't know how 4 years can have such a profound effect on the rest of your life.

16. I turned to knitting and the online knitting community as a way to break the video game addiction.

17. I am a combined knitter, which to non-knitters means I knit "wrong"

18. I am 1 of 5 siblings and I gave birth to 5 children.

19. When the twins were born I had 5 children ages 6 and under, although my pregnancies were all about 2 years apart.

20. One of my all time favorite books is Pride and Prejudice. I have read it twice, listened to the audio book twice, and watched both versions of the movie at least that many times.

21. I cloth diaper my 3 youngest children to save money, but actually really like the cloth better than disposables.

22. I briefly thought about making my own cloth diapers until I realized that while my knitting skills may be great, my sewing skills are not.

23. In High School my horse bowl team won the national competition.

24. When I was 10 I won 3rd place in the muttin bustin competition in the Junior Rodeo. I still have the belt buckle.

25. Until a year after I was married, I did not own a jacket that didn't have my name printed on it somewhere.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On the Chopping Block

Happy Tuesday Morning everyone! I have a busy Recycling week planned. Keep an eye out for them in my shop this week, and as always if you are particularly interested in something, please let me know!

45% Wool, 45% Acrylic, 10% Nylon, 6.5st / inch, Fingering Weight.
I didn't get this done last week, but it is on the top of the list this week.

100% Wool, 11 wpi, Worsted Weight.
I got 9 skeins out of this gigantic sweater!!!! That's 1800 yrds available!

74% Polyester, 11% Mohair, 7% Acrylic, 8% Wool, 5st / inch, Worsted Weight.
This is REALLY soft.

100% Silk, Lace Weight.

26% Viscose, 25% Cotton, 24% Nylon, 17% Wool, 5% Angora
This has a deep purple blue twist in it that doesn't show up well in the picture. I have 3 identical sweaters, but due to washing, etc, they are now different dye lots.

100% Cashmere, Lace Weight.
This is very pale green, like new leaves.

100% Silk, Lace Weight

100% Extra Fine Merino, Lace Weight.

Friday, January 30, 2009

That's what big sisters are for

Look 3 kids entertained by a single bowl of oatmeal at the same time!
It's nice when the "helping" is actually more help than hindrance.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm Twittering

Have you all heard of Twitter? It seems to be a combination of a mini blog and a chat feature all rolled up into one. It is all the rage on Etsy so I signed up. I think I might be addicted, but am not quite sure since I don't have any friends to follow, and haven't figured out all the features yet. I do have the Harlot, though... can't get enough harlot. Now we can get updates throughout the day with her typical whit. Love that.

I feel a bit more profound when I am limited to the 200 words (or whatever it is). I have to boil it all down to just the facts. It's nice to be able to just put up that one sentence that sounded so great without feeling like I need an entire blog post with pictures. If you ever wondered what my crazy life is like with a yarn shop and 5 little kiddos, feel free to follow me.

<----- Or, you can read it on the side bar over there, right under my etsy shop pictures ^.^

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The blanket that never ends

A few weeks ago, Michaels had an insane sale on Patons SWS which was awesome because I REALLY needed some more for Shaya's blanket. You know, that great wool, twin sized blanket that I thought I might finish for Christmas and never did. Then I thought I might finish it for her birthday, and never did. It was on sale for 1.99 a ball, which I guess was because they were discountinuing it out, but it was a great score for me. I bought way more than I really should have, but now I have plenty on hand to finish the blanket! Yea!

This is the Mason Dixon Miter Square blanket from their first book. I have 7 different colorways in there and it promises to be truly eclectic. Lots of pink. Just perfect for a girly girl like Shaya.

I counted last night and I have 36 squares. That's enough for 3 big squares wide and 3 long. DH and I layed it out and I think we need 1 more row of big squares long. That means I need 12 more squares. . . Oh well, maybe it'll be done before next Christmas. Blocked and with a boarder and all!