Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One of These Things is Not Like the Other.

Four bunnies, two pigs, two mice, two dogs, a cat, a raccoon, an owl, a bear and a mummy walk into a gallery.

It's a long story.

They all will be taking up residency at A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek North (Denver) on Friday!  10% of each pink sale goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Rumor is the mummy is being sent ahead as a scout.  She's not talkin'.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Autumn ~ at Least in My Head It Is!

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  I remember a friend once questioning me ~ "Why?  Everything is dying!"

Well, it started in my high school days I think.  My favorite thing about going back to school was buying clothes, of course ~ corduroys, jeans and sweaters (and as I got older - boots!)!  Oh and my special college-rule, medium weight paper spiral notebooks and a new Parker pen.  (I was a bit of a writing nerd.  Oh, wait, still am.)  I was also a football cheerleader and although to this day I don't understand the sport, I loved my uniform and being out there on those brisk fall nights jumping around in front of the stands.

Fast forward to my early 20's when my first son was born in September (of course) and three years later his little brother jumped the gun a little and was born in late August.  What's not to love about that?  Score one more for Autumn.

Fast forward again ~ marrying my second (and final) husband ~ of course, in September.  We will celebrate 18 years married on September 5.

And finally, although I've had a camera nearby since I was 16, I picked one up (ok about seven of them and don't get me started on the lenses...) seriously about six years ago.  Nature became my focus (ha) and honestly - when is nature more photogenic than in Autumn?!

Which brings us to current day.  I still carry a camera on my morning walks (see my previous post) but other than shooting my products, it is the only time I have to shoot anymore. When you're in the retail business ~ as many of us are ~ your holiday season starts in July.  I begin formulating ideas for new designs about then; procrastinate the first two weeks of August and then get really serious about the 15th.  And always feel like I'm behind.

It helps that last year I created many new designs (like Drake-ula up there) so I don't have to create the entire wheel, but the work is still there.  So Autumn has taken on a whole new meaning for me now.  Like ~ get up before the sun ~ I am actually catching some sunrises again ~ and work till I drop.  Once again glasses and plates are piling up in the studio as I eat my meals here.  Extra clothing, shoes, socks ~ and yes, even some p.j.'s start accumulating.  If I work late, I will occasionally (literally) fall into the guest bed on the other side of the "Jack 'n Jill"  bathroom.

It's a mess.  But I tell myself ~ it is Autumn.  And this is what Autumn brings.  All that and a redesigned website ~ I figured you all know my logo and what I do.  I just wanted a cleaner look.  And yes, it will change seasonally.  It's how I roll.  *wink*

I love Autumn.  So do tell ~~ what is your favorite season?  Why?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Take a Breath. It's Important!

When I began feeling a "burn out" coming on a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to stop and pay attention.  Those of you who are crafting your own business (literally and figuratively) know what I mean.  You get weepy.  You're exhausted.  Your spouse/loved ones can't say or do anything right.  You're tense and the slightest thing will make you want to throw a plate against the wall.

Yup.  You know what I'm talkin' about.  It's time to take a break; maybe even analyze how you got here and what kind of changes need to be made.  In my case, I have a husband who is building his own business at the same time so to think we could have two people experiencing burn out at the same time is not a pretty picture.  I knew it was a situation I needed to grab hold of and handle quickly.

Some family circumstances found me actually taking almost three days off last weekend.  Merely by coincidence we had family in town from California ~ a Saturday lunch and a little field trip to my local gallery.  Sunday my beloved daughter-in-law was presented her Master's Degree and graduated from Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine (complete with after-party, of course!).  Monday was my son's (her husband's) 32nd birthday and we enjoyed a relaxing lunch at funky "Hamburger Mary's" in Denver.  Not that I could do that every weekend, but it proved to be a much needed break!  By last Tuesday I was refreshed, re-energized and ready to return to a full schedule of work.

So, yes, a three day weekend every week is out of the question.  But I did think about what I could do to incorporate some time every day to step away from work, out of the studio and renew.

The answer was right in front of me.  I have walked my dog every day (well, with few exceptions anyway) for the 14 years she has been with us.  Up until the last couple of years (duh - when I started my business) we walked in the 880 acre State Park that borders our neighborhood.  I couldn't remember the last time I did that.

[In an effort to fully disclose - I also had recently taken a break from my daily step onto the scale.  Just to see what would happen.  Two weeks without weighing in was an eye-opener.  Five lbs. of an eye-opener!  That's how crazy fast things can happen when I - literally - take my eye off the scale.  So I am once again indentured to the scale, back to recording every morsel that passes my mouth on SparkPeople and amping up the exercise.]

So the other day I packed water, my camera, the lens of the day (they vary) and my Boo and headed to the park.  It was early ~ about 6:45 am.  Our summer days in Colorado are still running in the high 90's, but early morning is still cool enough to warrant a hoodie.  So just as the sun was breaking the horizon, we headed down the path.

We fell right back into the wonder of nature we had been missing.  I stopped to take the occasional shot - framing it just so.  Boo stopped to smell almost every weed and blade of prairie grass along the way.  Patience is not my strong suit; but she's 14 now (that's 98 in people years) so I showed a little more patience with her.  She seemed to appreciate that.

And I have to admit, I found myself really being in the moment.  Oh, alright, at points I was writing this post in my head; but for the most part there were no thoughts of work, no thoughts of any personal situations ~ I didn't look at my phone once ~ we just enjoyed the beautiful Colorado scenery and a lightly cool breeze coming off the lake.

So, if I may be so bold, don't wait till you feel that burn out just minutes away.  Devise a plan to take time - every day - to step away and just be.  It has made me a better wife, a better pet-mama and a better producer in my own little studio.

Do it.  You deserve it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And On a Personal Note...

I don't often talk much about my personal life here because this is, after all, my business blog.  I have a personal blog called I Need a Cupcake which, sadly, has been collecting dust and cobwebs for a couple of years now... :(  Well, ok, I made an entry in February of this year, but prior to that it was almost exactly a year since my last entry.

I thought about why I haven't blogged much there in the past couple of years and came to the conclusion that I don't have a personal life.  Or should I say, the boundaries of my business life and my personal life have become so blurred, they are, indeed one.  ~~That and I lost 20 lbs. in the last year and honestly, the last thing I need is a cupcake.  (Although I still crave them!)

That being said, you may see some of my personal life pop up here from time to time.  This is one of those times.  Because this is very special.
Four years ago my son married his girlfriend of eight years ~ a delightful young woman we welcomed into our family with open arms.  Three weeks after their wedding she entered Traditional Chinese Medical School and he hasn't seen her since.  Not literally, of course; but determined to give it her very best, she has spent the bulk of the last four years with her head in a book, her body in a class or in clinic curing people.

Her complete dedication paid off.  Next Sunday she graduates.  Not only did she pass four Medical Boards (one of them optional, but three required) to be licensed, but she absolutely aced every single class and exam in her four years of school - setting records for some of the highest exam scores in the school's history.  This, not surprisingly, has resulted in her being named Valedictorian of her graduating class.

You may have gathered by now that I am extremely proud of her.  Because not only is she beautiful inside and out, she is brilliant and devoted to healing people and making the world a better place.  And I have to give a little shout out to my son, too, for taking over as chief cook (literally) and bottle-washer and supporting her every step of the way.

But what to do for this amazing person on this auspicious occasion - this graduating girl?  I decided she needed a personalized, special edition Chi Chi the Chinese Panda Bear.  He will become part of her life as she says good bye to her professors and colleagues and begins her new life as a full fledged practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  That is, of course, after she and her husband return from a much needed 2nd Honeymoon in Kauai!  Time for them to get reacquainted!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again!

Tomorrow I begin production on my BC Buddies and thus the roll out of my 3rd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign!  Yay!  I will be featuring favorites from years past (in my Etsy shop now) and creating new fun and whimsical critters as well.

Having a family history of breast cancer (and a couple of scares myself) it is an important issue to me.  I'm one of the lucky ones though so I want to do all I can to give back and support finding a cure.

Adopt any of my BC Buddies between now and the end of October and 10% of each sale will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can find them in my Etsy Shop and, starting in September, in any of the fabulous stores that carry my Wee Ones, et al and have generously offered to partner with me in my campaign:

I send {{hugs}} and a huge thank you to them for their support!  Plan to be seeing a lot of pink around here in the next couple of months!  I think I'll be seeing it  in my sleep.  *wink*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes. I Do.

The other day I was asked a question that took me aback.

A woman (who shall remain nameless, but she knows her stuff) picked up one of my Wee Ones with great curiosity   She examined it carefully, turning it upside down, sideways, scrutinizing every stitch ~ and then set it down.   She looked at me quizzically and asked, "You really make these?"

"Yes, I do."



"Because it is so professionally done."

I didn't know what to say.  I mean, was she questioning my honesty?  My integrity?  My work?  My character?  So I just smiled and said, "Thank you."  (and I was thinking ~ I think that was a compliment... maybe...)

I took just a minute or two to consider what she had said and realized - she had just paid me the biggest compliment I've had in quite some time!  If she thought my work was good enough to be deemed "professional," well, then I've made the big time.  (At least in my own head)  *wink*

So as kind of proof positive, I took some shots of work in progress today.  Meet the evolution of Francesca.

And yes. I made her.  :)  She - a whole gaggle of her friends - will be residing at A Show of Hands in Cherry Creek North this weekend.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Would You Like to Play a Game?

This morning I realized I was [almost] caught up with orders.  I also realized that I am minutes away from the beginning of my busiest season of the year. And each year before the chaos ensues I always like to take a little time to organize my studio and fabric closet.  I've been told I'm a little OCD about organization, but hey - it comes in handy later when the fur is flying (literally) and I have some vague idea of where to find things.

In organizing my smallest fabric remnants - because I really do use every bit of fabric that I possibly can - it became obvious which solid colors I use most to create my Wee Ones and Liten Venns.

So here's the game:
*Which color do you think I use the most in my work?
*Which color do you think I use the least?

(And lest you think the photo will help you - it won't.  *wink*  These are my larger fabric pieces.)

As I write I have no idea how I will score the game, but I'll figure it out. And if someone gets the answers to both questions right - there's a prize.   :)

Game on kids.  You have until  Monday (August 8) at 5:00 pm MDT to leave your answers in the comment section.  Good luck!  :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The "Wee Clone" Fever is Contagious in NYC!

The "wee clone" business in New York City is going strong ~ thanks to Stephanie of Stoopher & Boots on the Upper West Side (385 Amsterdam Ave.)!  A few months ago Stephanie asked if I could design a "wee clone" of her constant companion, store mascot and neighborhood rock star (a King Charles Spaniel), Scout.  I was honored to be asked and happy to oblige with my impressionistic version.

Stephanie has been a fabulous promoter for "wee clones" in the Big Apple.  Meet Guy, the golden retriever puppy

And my impressionistic version of Guy and his enormous paws ~ Whoopsy Daisy.  :)

Next up?  Albert.  Who I just want to smoosh ~ he looks like Paddington Bear!  {Stay tuned.}