Friday, November 27, 2009

Feature Friday: Etsy Black Friday

It's Black Friday 2009 and I'm avoiding the brick and mortar stores, big and small alike. It's just not my year for that sort of thing. I've done a very little bit of Christmas shopping already, but there's a lot going on around the Etsy community this year for the biggest of all shopping days. If you search for "EtsyFreeShipping" or "EtsyHolidaySale", you're sure to turn up a whole sleighful of savings around Etsy. Admittedly, I am not taking part in those sales since I already offer free US shipping and business has been going well without added incentives, but I'll scope the deals for my own Christmas purposes and I hope you find some nice things too.

So here's to Etsy in general, with high hopes for a very nice Cyber Monday for all it's sellers this year!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

From the Kitchen: Thanksgiving, Before the Fact

Every year we have one BIG party (and lots of smaller, informal ones). We call the party the Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Dinner. We invite loads of people over to watch the Michigan-Ohio State football game and eat a potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner. This always occurs on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and it gives us younger folks a chance to make all our family favorites to share with our friends. We're still in the generation that is never asked to bring food to family gatherings because either we're still in school (not me), unpredicable in our schedules (also not me) or we have so many little kids we couldn't possibly handle it (ME!!!). Except that we can handle it. Shhhh... don't tell! I'll employ that excuse while it lasts...

So, wait a sec... that's today! But by the miracle of blog scheduling, I am writing this on Thursday night and, at the time this is actually published, at 10 AM on Saturday, I will likely be busily preparing a 26 lb turkey and cleaning up before our 60+ guests arrive. But I've already made the gravy and bread dressing. "You can do that?" you ask? Oh yes... you can! I have a cookbook by Cooks Illustrated called The Best Make-Ahead Recipe and it deals with just such events and how to save time and eliminate the stress without sacrificing flavor. I'm a fan! It won't clean your house before company arives, but it might just save you enough time to do it yourself!

On Friday I'll make a couple batches of bread-machine butter rolls and possibly a dessert if I just can't help myself. I'll still have that turkey and a large spiral sliced ham to cook on the big day, but I've successfully farmed out the responsibility for the rest of the dishes and football appetizers to my guests, so it's looking more manageable than any of the previous 6 years we've hosted this event. Wish me luck! Go Blue!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feature Friday: JessJamesJake

Today is a great day because I get to talk about something I enjoy almost as much as making stuff: buying old stuff. Yes, oh yes... I love sifting through bins of random odds and ends in search of a treasure. Who doesn't? This undeniable urge has been built into my DNA by generations of thrifty, dumpster-diving individuals, forming a family tree foliated by secondhand finds and antique treasures. Not glorious, perhaps, but a meaningful pursuit of well-made goods is a valuable motivation when it comes to feathering a nest or a wardrobe.

My featured shop today is JessJamesJake, a lovely Etsy shop dedicated to vintage garments, shoes, luggage and housewares. It's like a mini department store from decades past just waiting for you to drop by! Pleated skirts, slouch boots and well-loved coffee mugs with phrases like "Try it, you'll like it" populate her pages.

In real life, Jess (married to husband James and owner of dachshund Jake) lives in Albany, NY, and is a performance violinist. And not your average violinist either... she's played with John Tesh on PBS and accompanied Andrea Bocelli and the Bolshoi Ballet, among many others. But then, remember that she runs this thriving Etsy shop where she stocks the goods, takes the pics, packages her items in shredded music sheets, and lists every little thing herself. Not too shabby :)

Her adorable and omnipresent model is Nicole, a leggy girl from down the street whom she pays weekly with "either cash or vintage". I love that concept! Another fun fact about Jess is that her best friend, Anne, also runs a fabulous vintage shop on Etsy called Thrush.

I love browsing to see what she's got... all manner of timeless goodies as well as some that exist purely as a reminder of days gone by, too precious to pass up. Thanks so much to Jess for letting me feature her fun shop and use her photos! You can check her shop out here or read her blog here. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Life in a Nutshell: Grateful

It's one of those days here. You know the kind... when life seems almost too good to be true and you begin to clutch your treasures closer because you think it can't possibly last. The kids seem happier, the day seems sunnier, the daily grind less mundane. But the joy of being in a good place, I think, has been brought about in part by a keen awareness of the other side of the coin. Some friends of a friend are in the hospital right now with their much too premature baby boy, just waiting for the inevitable. So many jobless here. So many unhappy people.

I am grateful for these moments where I can truly see my blessings for what they are. I am so glad I'm the one who gets to change the stinky diapers, to have a dishwasher to unload, to have a good husband's laundry to wash. To have friends who ask for help, even when it's inconvenient. To be able to offer up prayers for others who suffer.

To whom much as has been given, much will be required. For that reality, I am whole-heartedly grateful...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Feature Friday: Bayan Hippo

Mmmm... handbags. And more handbags. Cute handbags... At really affordable prices!

This is the essential territory of the Bursa, Turkey, based Etsy shop Bayan Hippo. Designer Vildan is a mother of twin kindergarteners and still she manages to keep a fabulous shop chock full of handbags in every color and many styles. She also recently opened a second shop called Minik Hippo dedicated to children's apparel and diaper bags.

I love that her bags are versatile, generally have a plethora of pockets and don't skimp on style. As a mom of three young kids myself, I schlep all manner of odds and ends wherever I go. No teensy clutches for me, thank you... when I'm out, I schlep like I'm being paid! Bayan Hippo's bags appeal to me because they are so cute, practical and affordable. And need I mention well-made? It's a rare combination, folks, and I've been contemplating my favorite bag for quite some time. After much deliberation, I have decided on this one:

I love it... I wanted a darker color and it zips to hide whatever I need to toss in there. I really love the little scarf detail and I imagine myself changing it out for something in a holly green for Christmas. And the best part? It's on its way to me right now! I know you're jealous :) But lucky for you, Vildan keeps her shop well stocked so I'm sure there's another with your name on it...