Running Away to the Circus

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When I was little I dreamed of going to the circus… not running away with the circus. The circus was fun but realistically I couldn’t live on cotton candy and big pretzels and frankly the roadies scared me. Recently I read the sad news that The Greatest Show on Earth is coming to its slow grinding halt after an astonishing 146 years of touring. I began to imagine, “What will the acrobats do now? What happens to unemployed clowns?” The animals will be placed somewhere safe… zoos maybe? But what will the elephants do now that they aren’t performing?

It made me consider our studio; the circus I run away to create in, to perform in, to practice and play and develop my skills…

What if art were to suddenly come to an end? All forms of art. Hear me… not just that there would be no place to work in. I’ve worked in tiny little closet-sized spaces before as well as outdoors when the light is good and there’s no rain. But what if there were no more paint, fabric, fire, or canvas.

Your constant urgent need for self-expression would suddenly have no home any more. The circus has closed. The show is over.

The answer is in the absurdity of the questions that got me going in this scary direction of thinking about a world without art. What will acrobats do? Being an acrobat is part of who they are. They will be what they are with or without the circus. Art will never leave us because it is in us. We are sharing little pieces of ourselves as we imagine, create, and perform in our own little personal three rings.

No one can take art from us. It is who we are.

The Ringling Brothers didn’t live to see their show come to its end. What they did do is inspire generations after them to carry on their legacy for as long as possible. Leave a legacy for others who don’t yet have the courage to say “I’m an acrobat.” Share your art with the world and maybe one of your showstoppers will help another artist to believe in who they are and what they were born to do.

Now stop reading and make art!

Online Shop Tips You Will LOVE!

Stop by and check out Christmas at Heart on Etsy and get a gift for yourself or a quilter you love just in time for Christmas.

For quilt kits, embroidered ornaments, lovely hand-stitched gifts or ideas to get your sewing machine humming go to Christmas at Heart on Etsy

Here’s a few quick tips on getting started on any online selling venue:

  1. Get it Together: Set up an area where you can photograph what you want to sell. If you don’t have pictures you don’t have product. You’ll need good lighting, a descent camera (or in a pinch an expensive smart phone) and a short course on photography.
  2. Name it to Tame it: What is your shop going to be called? “Stuff I Made” is too vague. “Just Glass Buttons, Plastic Buttons, Wooden Buttons, and A Lot of Different Kinds of Buttons” is weirdly long. “Craft” tells the customer nothing. Take this choice seriously. It’s part of the customer’s first impression of your store and “Hobby Lobby” is taken. 🙂
  3. Set and Keep One Small Goal at a Time: Goal One – Wake Up, Goal Two – Get Motivated, Goal Three – Get organized, Goal Four – accomplish one small, simple productive task. In attempt to accomplish something small each day I have honed down my unproductive Facebook time to less than an hour. I can get sidetracked easily on Facebook. Checking status for every little thing is a real time waster and I love Pinterest but I can get lost in there for hours if I go in without a plan or purpose. Rather than just admiring everyone else’s art, put some of your own out there while your surfing.
  4. One of the Keys is KeywordsHere’s a terrific post from The House of Mouse that describes in detail how they hone their SEO list. SEO takes time to develop. Take your time and learn what works for you and your store. There’s a learning curve so don’t get frustrated. Progress is typically slow and steady (unless you can find some legal way to go viral but honestly no one has that down to a science yet so don’t count on going viral, but always aim for it).
  5. Take Remarkable, Irresistible, Inviting Product Photos: I have a HUGE collection of great tips on all kinds of photography including product photography and working with models on my “Photography” board on Pinterest. Follow me while you’re there.
  6. Your store is a “real” store: Everyone is online now. There is no argument about the validity of online retailers any longer. It’s all in how you present yourself using words, style and images. Make it beautiful. Get it in front of the right customer. The rest will take care of itself.
  7. Done is Not Always Better Than Perfect: If it’s done but it’s not perfect try again. Every product you put out there represents your brand. If it’s perfect but it’s not listed get over your fear of judgement and rejection and put yourself out there. Your craft/design/art could be the next great thing that people can’t get enough of. So get started already!

A final word on procrastination… Mastery Requires Consistency. Period. Make art everyday. -K

Most-Searched Recipes for Superbowl Sunday by State (with links)

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Your search is over! Yum…

Alabama – Porchetta
Alaska – Spinach Quiche
Arizona – Corn Bread Cake
Arkansas – Cheese Dip
California – Cupcakes
Colorado – Queso Dip
Connecticut – Cupcakes
Delaware – Chili
Florida – Spinach Artichoke Dip
Georgia – Pico De Gallo
Hawaii – Grilled Liempo
Idaho – Mac’n Cheese
Illinois – Buffalo Chicken Dip

Indiana – Pulled Pork
Iowa – Artichoke Dip
Kansas – S’mores
Kentucky – Bean Salsa
Louisiana – Crabmeat, Shrimp & Spinach Dip
Maine – Spinach Caesar Salad
Maryland – Chickpea Soup
Massachusetts – Buffalo Chicken
Michigan – Hamburger Sliders
Minnesota – Chili
Mississippi – Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Missouri – Chili
Montana – Buttermilk Biscuits

Nebraska – Chicken Wings
Nevada – Cake Pops
New Hampshire – Tacos
New Jersey – Buffalo Wings
New Mexico – Fried Jalapeno Poppers
New York – Jalepeno Poppers
North Carolina – Buffalo Wings
North Dakota – Jalepeno Poppers
Ohio – Pulled Pork & Pita Nachos
Oklahoma – Oven Mac’n Cheese
Oregon – Tater Tot Casserole
Pennsylvania – Buffalo Chicken Dip

Rhode Island – Bean Dip
South Carolina – Pepperoni Dip
South Dakota – Creamy Chicken Casserole
Tennessee – Buffalo Chicken
Texas – Football Cupcakes
Utah – Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Vermont – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Virginia – Buffalo Chicken Dip
Washington – Baked Chicken Wings

Washington DC – Italian Meatballs
West Virginia – Bacon Cheese Ball
Wisconsin – Buffalo Chicken Dip
Wyoming – Home-made Oreo Cookies

Source: Eater.com
Photo Credit: Pexel

Keep or Give Away?

It’s almost another New Year. 2017 is happening. Soon. We have to get ready for it.

I’ve spent a day just putting together a weekly task schedule so that I don’t fall so far behind next year. It seems that I can only accomplish half of what I intend to most of the time. The shop is busier now so it’s time to pull a shift getting organized for the upcoming months while there is time. There are a lot of people talking about organization right now; organization, fitness, resolutions. It is a new year… a new beginning in some ways. While I do need to declutter (seriously) that’s not the reorganization that I have in mind… This will be easy and worth it and you can do it too. Keep what makes you better, stronger and happier next year. Then give away the grief, stress, and frustrations that troubled you in 2016.

Step One: Start by eliminating time-wasters. Remove all TV, cable and internet news from your social media feed. This alone is going to make you a happier person in 2017. Of course you shouldn’t ignore the news entirely… just don’t plan to read it when you’re on Facebook. That way all your social media threads are happy places you enjoy going to when you need to put out status updates, post important life events and upload photos of your quilt or your dog or your kids…

Step Two: “Unfollow” anything that does not add value to your life, that does not educate you in some way, or that does not inspire your creativity. Start with eliminating emails that go into your trash folder as soon as they come in. If you’re not reading the emails then they’re not adding value. On social media platforms (I give you permission) you can unfollow anyone or anything that has become toxic or stressful over the last year or so. Instead, follow people, pages, boards, and blogs of other creative people whose work either inspires or informs yours.

Step Three: Plan a routine. Start by making a list of every task you would like to complete during the week on a regular basis. You may prefer a schedule with time slots (easily managed by using Google Calendar) or without tedious notes for every bathroom and snack break as well as time spent interacting with real people (example below). It may be simpler to work off of a daily schedule that doesn’t require rigorous observation of every minute since the hours artists and other creative people keep can be varied.

If there are tasks that have become routine that are no longer necessary to remind yourself of (morning coffee, feed the dog, brush your teeth) don’t put them on the list. If there are tasks you would like to accomplish that you have never tried before or ideas you would like to give yourself time to develop add them to your list for 2017 so they make it on the schedule and crafts actually happen. Don’t let one more year pass without writing your book, learning how to ski, or getting healthier because it didn’t make it into your daily schedule.

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Sunday – Projects Currently in Development: Make sure you’re prepared for the upcoming week so that you have what you need ready to work on projects that are currently in development, tutorials, patterns, videos, blog posts,  UFO’s, etc…

Monday – Manage/post to all social media platforms: List each outlet that you post to so that you may check them off as you go. The more often you follow the same pattern of posting the easier the routine will become to remember. Now is the time to check and answer messages, look for updates, post statuses…

Tuesday – Idea development day: Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying  something new that might be fun. This does not have to be directly related to your current artistic calling. It’s ok to explore other areas of your creativity. Genius is not limited to one form of art. Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Prince Charles were/are also painters. Don’t limit your genius. Take it for a run through something else you might love.

Wednesday – Blog Post: Write. You have something to say. If you’re not sure what it is yet spend a little time quietly working on something repetitive while you get your thoughts in order. (I play video games, cook, or cruise Pinterest.)                                                                 Time in the Studio: Make things. It’s that simple. Whatever it is you make… do that. You know it’s what makes you happy so get to work!

Thursday – Time in the Studio: Take time to learn more about your craft or something new you’d like to be able to do. Go through all those emails you get all week from other creative people. Check in with pages, groups and other artisans you admire to see what they’re working on.

Friday – Time in the Studio: Make more things. Isn’t it great getting projects done?!     Blog Post: Ok… you don’t have to blog twice a week but at least spend some time thinking about what your next post will be about.

Saturday – Time in the Studio: Make other things. Do you believe all this time you didn’t think you had?

NOTE: “Time in the Studio” does not mean that you have to have a studio in order to get creative work done, although it does help. Find a place to steal away where you can be loud, quiet, messy, or meticulous. Make sure you have a plan for what you’re going to work on and that everything you need for your project is within reach. That’s your “studio”, or desk, or TV tray, or traveling suitcase, or mom’s basement. It doesn’t make a difference in the finished project (*key word here is finished). Just make great, awesome, beautiful things. Also, feel free to spend time in your studio even if it’s not in the schedule. More time being creative is guaranteed to make you smile more. 

Coal for the Naughty Ones on Your List

Coal, not as bad a gift as you might think…

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Why coal? England in the 1800’s was powered by coal. Coal was the primary source of heat for warmth and cooking in nearly every home. At Christmastime, the wealthy would lavish their children with fruit, candy and coins while the poor were happy to receive coal. A single lump of coal wouldn’t burn for long but to the poor, in winter, a lump of coal was life and hot food and it meant one more day to try to be a little better, to be grateful and kind to others and to believe. Next year maybe St. Nick will bring a coin.

Coal is symbolic of the hope required to push through day after day while having nothing in the hope that tomorrow will be a little less rough. Give those bad boys and girls hope this year. Give them a lump of coal.

Here are the best recipes and patterns found online to make someone’s Christmas a little less “Bah! Humbug!” with some meaningful and (in some cases) delicious Christmas Coal. Merry Christmas friends.  – Kelly and Deb

Christmas Coal Candy by Sprinkle Bakes

Sparkly Lumps of Coal Oreo Truffles by Oh, Sweet Basil

Cookies and Cream Lumps of Coal by Bijoux and Bits

Lump of Coal Rice Krispie Treats by Premeditated Leftovers

Santa’s Coal Cookies by Wendy’s Hat

Lump of Coal Play Dough by My Mommy Style

Lumps of Coal Christmas Soap by Humblebee & Me

Lumps of Coal Bath Bombs by Nature’s Garden

Grumpy, the Lump of Coal (knit pattern) by Knit Picks