Saturday, December 29, 2012

Etsy Shop Evaluation

The BBA Challenge for this month is to evaluate your Etsy shop in some way--several ways possible.  I have three shops, but I have chosen to evaluate, for this challenge anyway, my Creations shop. I have evaluated my other shops, including closing one of them, but for now, I will talk about the first shop I ever opened on Etsy.

Since it opened in late November of 2008, my sales have been pretty stable each year. Evaluating every year end, and wanting more traffic in 2012 (including more sales!), I have been very diligent this year to list new items, relist items, and tweet items almost daily to get more views.  (I also occasionally list items on Facebook.)

Results have been that the ratio between Etsy views vs. Direct Traffic views this year has changed over  last year's ratio.  Meaning, I am getting a greater portion of Direct Traffic views.  I believe this is due to Twitter and this is good!

In 2013, I would like to increase my views from outside Etsy.  I will be looking for ways to accomplish this. One way, I believe is to advertise with or sponsor blogs that do some promotion of their sponsors.  I have found that tweeting draws views, so this will be my first priority for 2013--more blog sponsorship--blogs that tweet.  Just one of my plans; we will see how it results!

Got any plans for your new year!!????

Friday, December 28, 2012

BBA Secret Santa Reveal

My favorite Etsy team, the Blogging Business Artisans, had a Secret Santa event and look what I got! My secret Santa was Jamie of Poppy Hill Creations!  My gift arrived in this lovely wrapping and I loved the tag.  If you look closely at the picture you will see a glittery snowflake--that's the tag with Jamie's greeting on the back!  Love it!

What was in it?  Paper products!  What a surprise from a fellow Etsian that loves paper!  Yay!

 Even though I am a blogger, I love paper and love writing hand written notes to my friends.  Thanks, Jamie; It will be well used!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shop Closing

Over the last few years, I have made jewelry.  It's been a fun experience, but I now see the need to
 "narrow my repertoire".  Fabric has taken over my passion, so I will be closing my Design shop for good! Everything left in my shop is drastically reduced!  Use Coupon Code in the shop announcement for current discount. 

Here's a reminiscent look a a few of my favorite pieces. 

Please take a look, there is more than just jewelry in my shop -- it all has to go by Jan 31st!  
Thanks for looking!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve!

It's finally Christmas Eve!   I hope you have your shopping done!  If not there is a last minute gift idea:

You can even pick this up at the grocery store, while you are getting your last minute Christmas dinner menu items!  Pick up your friends favorite magazine, wrap a colorful bow around it and give the gift of a subscription!   Just . . .  don't forget to get the little enrollment card from the magazine and mail in the subscription for your friend!

Have anything planned for the holiday evening?  
We are going to an early evening Candlelight Service then to dinner at my daughter's house.  It will be games and fun; and we are going to decorate gingerbread men!  Maybe I will show you pictures of the finished fellas tomorrow!

Happy Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Have Cone Shaped Styrofoam?

Have a styrofoam cone in your craft supplies?
Need a table decoration?

And here are a few ideas from fellow bloggers. Please visit and leave a comment if you love their ideas!

Priscilla gives instructions on her blog for this blue tree.  Her blog is thriftycraftygirl . Or she has this same tree available in her shop for sale.

Here's a paper tree by Liz Qualman.  On the blog, Two Peas in a Bucket,  there is a  link to the instructions.

from two peas in a bucket here

It's Friday and time for linking with your own ideas!  Recipes, decorations, anything Christmasy!  Be sure to visit the other participants!!  Thanks!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cinnamon Pastry Cookies

Another quick SIMPLE recipe! If you love cinnamon---you'll love this!

Many people make pies for the holidays.  Have left over pie crust?  Then make up this quick cookie to please the kids!  It will tide them over and prevent them from asking when they can eat the pies!  (Just in case you do not make pies, nor have any pie crust, I show you how it is done--EASY!)

Cinnamon Pastry Cookies & other yummies!

You will need:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup shortening
2 T. prepared sugar and cinnamon mixture (amounts to your taste--some of us like more cinnamon!)

For Glaze:
Powered sugar
1 t. cinnamon
approximately 1 T milk

Add Cinnamon and sugar mixture to the flour, then use a pastry cutter to cut in the shortening into the flour. Cut  the shortening until it comes to a crumbly mixture:

Then add just a bit of water, about a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, stirring all the while, until the shortening mixture sticks together.  You don't want it too sticky.  Just add water until you can make a ball in your hands that sticks together.  Then roll it out on a floured board or pastry mat to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Cut it with a knife into long strips about 3/4 inch wide.  Then cut each long strip in approximately 4-5 inch sections.  Place these on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for a few minutes (8-10)  until set and just golden on the edges. 350 degree oven.  Watch carefully and Do Not over cook as they will be hard.

While cookies are cooling, make your glaze. In a small bowl or cup, start with about 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  Add the cinnamon.  Then start adding milk by 1/2 teaspoon fulls a little at a time, like you did with the water for the crust, until you have a creamy mixture that can be drizzled over the cookies. Too much milk and the glaze will be thin and "watery". Plate them up, call the kids, and I guarantee you they will be gone in no time!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spool Tree Ornie

Need an activity for the kids? 
Have old empty thread spools?  

You will also need, wrapping paper scraps, a piece of felt, tape, glue gun, scissors, leftover beads, ribbons, and bobbles.

Be careful with the glue gun--It's hot!  Maybe adult help would be nice!

Now, have at it!  Cut paper and wrap around each spool.  Secure with tape.  Fashion a "tree skirt" from the felt. I made mine out of red felt cutting the edges with a scalloped edging.   Hot glue the spools and the 'skirt' in place to make a "tree" then decorate with ribbon, beads, and bobbles!  I fashioned a hanger through the middle of my spool with floral wire to make a hanger, but I am sure you could do this with ribbon too!  Be creative!  That is what the 30 Days of Christmas Fun is all about!!!!!  

Only one more '30 Days of Christmas Fun' linky left--this next Friday!  Don't forget to link with us on Friday!  Show us your ideas, decorations or what the kids made for the holidays!  We want to see!!

Friday Link List 
Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red and Green Recipe

The traditional  colors of Christmas seem to be red and green,  although we all have our favorite combinations.  The last few years my Christmas tree ornaments and decorations have been in cream and burgundy.   But this year I went back to red and green since I decorated a little pencil tree instead of our larger tree. The larger ornaments didn't fit the small tree, so I used gold and red on the green tree--a more traditional look.

If you love red and green, you might like this recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers.

2-3 Green peppers, parboiled
1 cup rice
1/2 cup sharp cheddar--cubed
1/2 cup leftover meat of choice
1 can stewed tomatoes

Core and parboil a pepper for each person that you are serving. (2-3 medium to large peppers for this recipe, depending on pepper size.) Make sure you do not over cook the peppers.  They should be only slightly soft, not limp. You can steam them in a large sauce pan with about 3/4 inch of water in the bottom.  That is enough.

Prepare a cup of rice of your choice as instructed on your package.  After it is finished cooking, add to the cubed sharp cheese, and any leftover meat that you chose.  I often use ham, but you can use cooked ground beef (maybe leftover from taco night), cubed sausage, or leftover pork pieces.    Mix the meat, cheese and rice together.  Set aside.

Open the can of stewed tomatoes, Mexican style if you have it. Place the parboiled peppers in an oven dish and spoon a bit (1-2 Tablespoons) of tomatoes into each parboiled pepper, then fill them up with the rice mixture.  When finished filling all the peppers this way, spoon the remaining tomatoes over the peppers. Place the peppers in a 375 degree oven for approximately 15 to 25 minutes.  Do not over cook--the purpose of this process is just to heat clear thru the pepper mixture melting the cheese.

Plate the hot peppers and add garnish and other vegetables/selections as desired.      


Monday, December 17, 2012

Stocking Quick!

30 Days of Christmas Fun!

Need a stocking, quick? Maybe for an unexpected guest?

grab a sock

Have some scraps of fabric handy, a couple of buttons, and some ribbon?  Look what you can do:

These fabric patches on the heel and toe are strengthened with some fusible interfacing and then sewn on the sock with a blanket stitch using embroidery floss. Here's a great tutorial for a applique blanket stitch if you need help.
Let your imagination run wild!  Have FUN creating!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cream Puff Bonanza!

Last week, I showed you how to make puffs - here!  One of my readers said, "Move over, Rachel Ray!"  I laughed, because I am not a foodie, and usually like to take short cuts when I cook, but it was a cute comment!  Thanks!

Anyway, I promised to share some recipes for puff fillings.  I am choosing to to do this by links to other awesome cooks through pinterest and blogs. and then a recipe of my own later.  I hope you will visit these blogs and then try some of the ideas!

This blog post, from "What you give away, you keep" gives instructions about how to prepare not only the pastry creme filling, but how to "refresh" your frozen puffs!  Please visit Bella's blog and comment on her recipes--she has links to oodles from all over the world!

Creme puffs with chocolate ganache

This next one is a chocolate version from Melita's Cafe Chocolada blog.

Chocolate Cream Puff

And the creme de la creme (in my book, anyway!)  a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens:
Pumpkin-filled Cream Puffs with Maple Carmel Sauce!  (Beats my little whipped-cream-filled, cherry-pie- filling-topped recipe previously shown!)

Better Homes and Gardens recipe
And then there are the fillings for the larger puffs for hors d'oeuvres or luncheons! Slice the puff in half exposing the airy spaces in the puff.  (This is the beauty of puffs, they have air spaces or bubbles that hold the filling and provide a light pastry experience.)  Then fill them with your own favorite recipe of chicken salad, ham salad, vegan delight or what ever your little heart desires!  Since luncheon puffs do not usually have a sweet topping, don't forget to garnish your plate next to the puff with a sprig of parsley, or a pretty fruit!

Here's a recipe for Deviled Ham Puffs:

3 cans (4.25 oz each) deviled ham
1 T. prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients, and refrigerate.  Just before serving, slice the puffs, and fill with your mixture, amount depending on the size of your puff -- for a small appetizer puff, maybe a rounded teaspoonful. Enjoy!

Today I am linking with RandomCreative's Saturday Link List.  Go on over and see what other link lists that might be interesting to you!  

Friday, December 14, 2012

30 Days of Christmas Linky

Last week I had two people leave their link with their Christmas ideas!   I perused their shops and found some things that I just love.

From Edi at Memories for Life I found a photo book that is just right for the season! And it's ready-to-ship!

 wood photo book from memoriesforlife 

Then, Deb from Storybeader has some handmade journals.  I have one that she's made, and I know they are awesome! I love mine!  Hop on over and see what she has to offer!

Maroon Art Journal by storybeader

So what awesomeness have you been up to on your blog this week?   Link here and let us see your Christmas ideas, decorating, recipes or shopping finds (oops, I guess you wouldn't want to show that BEFORE Christmas?)  Anyway, link up, share and visit some of the other participants!  Most of all, Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leftover ornaments?

After decorating this year, using a smaller tree, I had several ornaments leftover that I did not use.  I could pack them back in the box, but would rather do something creative with them.  I left them setting on the end of the coffee table, thinking about it.

Yesterday,  Hubby went Christmas shopping, came home and wrapped his packages.  Here is how he left them:

Creative opportunity is here! My motto:  Use what you have!

First box to tackle!
A piece of black ribbon, cream curly ribbon, scrap fabric, and two cinnamon ornaments.

Second box!
Raffia, ribbon, ceramic ornament . . . . .

This one is done; not finished with all of them yet, plus they all need tags, but you get the idea!  
Use what you have!  And have fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dress It Up!

I love chocolate covered cherries!  Available only at Christmas time, mostly!  I have even made them from scratch; well, bought cherries with the stems attached, chocolate for dipping and made my own fondant filling, some with rum!  But I won't go into that now.  

For today, I want to share a couple of ideas to dress up the ones that you can get quickly and inexpensively at the market.

I usually eat them straight out of the box,  hee hee!

But with just a little effort, you can make a show of them for you and your guests!  Get a lovely plate--this one is a vintage Franciscan Desert Rose candy dish, footed and with a long handle.  Add some fancy paper cups--these are foil, but you can get those with Christmas designs on them.  Place the candies in the cups, add other treats around and there you have it!  Don't forget to garnish the plate with a maraschino cherry and a sprig of mint or parsley for color!

Then there is another way--put the candies in a see-through container, add a fabric or ribbon bow around the rim and you're all dressed up to serve! And this idea adds a little bit of the season to your everyday counter top!

What do you do with your favorite candy to "dress it up" for the Holidays? I bet you use your own home made candies!  Share a link to your recipes and ideas, below. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Music Anyone?

Need a restful interlude now that the season is here?

During this busy season, sometimes we need a peaceful interlude. And, most of us probably need not stretch our budgets.

 I have a solution. 

Call your local high school and ask about their Christmas concerts.  There are usually band concerts, choir concerts and orchestra concerts.  Most are free.  An evening of Christmas music, relaxation and enjoyment, leaving the chaos behind for a short time.

We enjoyed a Christmas concert last night; our granddaughter is first chair cello at her high school.  We listened to traditional carols and selections like Trepak by Tchaikovsky and Farandole by Georges Bizet. 

Granddaughter Kayleigh

They finished with a greeting, that I want to pass on to you:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Monday, December 10, 2012

Puffs - Christmastime Staple

Christmas Cherry Cream Puff 

Here's an easy recipe you need to try. 

A Christmastime staple --  Puffs!  

These can be made ahead and stashed in the freezer until ready to use for hors d'oeuvres, or cream puff desserts--both party staples. You can make them large or small, like minis for little appetizers. You can fill them with ham, chicken or egg salad or you can chose to fill them with all the sweetness that you can think up! I will share many recipes for filling them next Saturday --watch for the link.  But for now, here's how to make them.

They are very simple to make --follow the pictures! Basic Puff recipe

* One cup water
* 1/2 cup butter, cut up in pieces
* One cup flour
* 4 eggs

While bringing the water to a boil in a large saucepan on the stove, beat the eggs until all mixed.  When the water boils, add the butter;  boil until butter is melted then turn the heat off.  

Add the flour to the pot and begin stirring (mixture will be warm to hot--that's OK).  Stir until dough shapes a ball.

Then add the eggs all at once, and blend until thoroughly mixed and it looks a bit glossy.

Drop by round teaspoonfuls to make mini puffs or larger drops -- for luncheon size puffs, use a heaping tablespoon full.  Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. **Optional--mist lightly with water for nicer crust.

 Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes until golden brown and not wet looking.

 Move to a rack for cooling and then store in the freezer until ready to use. Will keep up to a month.

Then. . . See you on Saturday for oodles of recipe links to use your puffs!  Just in time for a holiday party!