Friday, January 25, 2008

Mixing Business and Pleasure With Marshmallows On Top

A LITTLE FUN - I was happy to pack up two packages today and send out my swap creations to Sarah and Jen.

Jen is my partner for the Itty Bitty Valentine Swap. After making the
1-inch inches earlier this month, this 3-inch square card felt like I had a football field to decorate. I wanted to mix my embroidery with paper art, so I embroidered out the hearts on my machine onto a strong canvas fabric. Then, I closely cut around the hearts and attached a pin back to the backside. I pinned the heart to a small square of canvas to which I then set Velcro dots to attach the canvas square to the card. Voila. It's art, and it's a pin! I sent my favorite, the chocolate heart, of course, to Jen. The other is one for my wall.

For the Hanging Heart Swap, Sarah sent me this sweet paper heart decorated with ruffles and lace.

For my hanging heart, I went with fabric and created a little art quilt. I think it turned out cute for my first try at this idea. A little applique, a little hand embroidery, a little quilting, and some binding. I like having the grommets to string the ribbon through.

See a close up of all the swap items in the mishflicks.

A LITTLE BUSINESS - A couple posts ago, I told you I signed with Initials Inc. so I could offer more items from my home-based, home-dec and embroidery shop. When finally looking things over, I realized I actually need to send in sort of a "good-faith" order to get the ball rolling with the company so they will know I'm serious about selling the goods. I'd love it if you would check out the catalog here and see if there is something you have to have. I've also added a set of photos on mishflicks of samples and order items received. Click on the "Lovelies" set on the right of that screen.

** For the first 30 orders over $40.00 made through 02/02/2008, you'll receive one free embroidered hand towel or dishtowel from my personal line ($16.00 value). You can see samples of those in my clubbmish studio set. You can let me know what design or monogram you would like. Of course, I have more designs than what appear here. I'll remark back here if I get those 30 orders!

Upcoming reasons for gifting: Birthdays, graduations, weddings, babies, Mother's Day, kids, etc.

I love the jewelry. The Bound Circle Necklace on page 20 of the catalog is really beautiful. The silver opal drop earrings on page 18 are a hit and very hip! All monogrammed.

If you are interested in one of the Sassy Purses, "You Design It. We Create It." Here is the process:

1. Choose your bag style.
2. Choose your fabric.
3. Choose your font.
4. Choose your font thread color.
5. Choose your trim.

If you are going to a bridal shower, check out the spa bath wrap and slippers on page 17. You could make a little gift set for the bride with her new initials.

Thanks for checking this out with me. It's like a party on the blog! Please send me an e-mail if you have any questions or would like to make an order at calicodaisy (at) gmail (dot) com. Include your phone number, and I will get in touch with you. If you would like a catalog by mail, let me know as well, and I'll send you one.

Finally, I ordered some pretty postcards to send out that includes a coupon on the back. No junk mail here! If you would like to be on my postal mailing list, please send me an e-mail with your home address. Again, calicodaisy (at) gmail (dot) com.

A LITTLE PLEASURE - Okay, we've had fun, you've attended my meeting, now for a little treat to send you off. Actually, you'll have to make your own treat, but these are worth it.


1 pouch (1 lb, 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 cups milk chocolate chips (18 oz)
4-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, mix cookie mix and cracker crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. In an ungreased, 13x9-inch pan, press dough evenly. Bake 18-20 minutes or until set.

2. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3-5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

3. Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4-5 inches from heat for 20-30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. Cut into bars. Serve warm.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Inching Into Paper Art

Not that I should allow myself to get distracted by trying a new form of art, especially when I have plenty of work that earns me my portion of the budget, but look what I have been up to. Look close, now, because each block is only one inch square. Inchies. Who thought of crafting a world of art into an inch? Well, then I thought about the embroidered buttons I made back in October and realized it can be done. However, paper is so FLAT. At least with embroidery and fabrics, one has a lot of dimension. So, it took many attempts to come up with these little tiny squares that I am willing to send across the pond to Joanne who sponsors an inchie of the month swap. Paper art seems to be all about layers. Paper, stamps, foam stickers to bump something up, glue, glitter (I like the clear glitter), charms, stickers, … I have spent way too many dollars at the craft and scrapbook stores this month trying to be cool at paper art for the swaps I am in right now. Again, I started with one swap and then couldn't stop. Why? Why? Well, I know why. It's fun, and, at the time of joining, it doesn't seem like much work (sounds like using credit cards!). Turns out though, when stressing over creating something good enough to swap for, hours are spent on the idea. Anyway, as you can see on the left, I am in the "Oh, So Charming Itty Bitty Swap" - 3 x 3 inch art cards. Actually, those were a breeze after the inchies! So many more possibilities in 9 square inches of art. Soon to be blogged here. Then, it is the "My Vintage Heart Swap" which is …., well, the details escape me right now but all about hearts and vintage items; just click on the link to see. Not necessarily paper, so embroidery is on the way to that one. My swap partner lives in Norway. Wow! That's a crafty place. I can't wait to see what comes my way. Then, we have the "Sweet Heart Box Swap." Thankfully, I have seen several of these altered box projects done up in magazines, so I know what to do, just deciding on the papers again is difficult. Finally, and why not join one more?, it is the "Hanging Heart Swap." That will be a small art quilt. I have it already cut and sorted out. They all sort of go together, so it isn't much of a stretch. After spending hours on the inchies … the rest have come together rather quickly. Oh, and the swap I am really looking forward to is the personal one with Dana again. It's so nice to be asked.

BTW, it's snowing in South Carolina right now. You know, the south shuts down when the white stuff falls. In this one case, working at home doesn't work out in my favor … no travel required. Thus, I'll be commuting from my bed to my desk while the rest of South Carolina stays snuggled up for a few more hours!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Year! New Product Line! New Opportunities!

Recently, I've been trying to figure out how to increase my product line and business without, you know, working so hard! Two businesses - each using one side of the brain - analytical and creative - is sometimes exhilarating but often exhausting. I'm always pulled each day trying to decide which to do first, which to increase, which to spend more of my energy on. However, my transcription is the bird in the hand, and I have honed that skill for the past 15 years. Hold on…. 15 years! Wow. So, the answer generally is, "Get your transcription work done!" Plus, it's on a deadline. Also, recently, I have turned down a bit of business on the creative end because I've had requests for embroidery projects I really can't do on my sewing/embroidery machine such as embroidering Vera Bradley type bags, getting into tight pockets on totes, and even a big job like embroidering uniform clothing for a new construction team. My dilemma has been whether to go ahead and buy the next level of embroidery machine, a small version of the one you might find in an embroidery shop, which could do heavy-duty work and get into small spaces. If I did that, though, I would feel the need to actively look for business, and that would definitely change the flavor of what I have going on now.

The other day, as I was pulling out of Wendy's with my Biggie Diet Coke Light Ice (those of you who know me well know my song), an SUV pulled up next to me with a very interesting sticker advertising her company. I wrote down the address on my Wendy's napkin and promptly forgot about it when the light changed. A couple days later, as I was pulling out of Wendy's with my Biggie Diet Coke Light Ice, I had a déjà-vu moment. I reached into my bag, found the napkin, and kept it in my hand all the way home. When I looked up the website, I had a very big feeling that this was just what I was looking for.

I am happy to report that I signed up with Initials, Inc., to be a creative partner offering their excellent monogrammed goods. Now, calicodaisy is a trendy, one-stop-shop boutique for all your girly, sassy, baby, kiddie, hubby, MONOGRAMMED SLIVER JEWELRY (think "Handpicked," you South Carolina girls), stationary, glassware, sorority, trendy desires! I am so happy to have found them. It's the best answer: I have access to what is trendy, as well as items I could never produce, but I don't have to sew 100 of the same items or have inventory on hand or get it straight on the machine or stress over the right thread color choices! They do all the creating and you do all the choosing!

Of course, I will still be sewing and embroidering my custom orders for everything I have done in the past, but now I can concentrate on honing higher home dec skills and offer so much more. If I can't make or embroider something in particular, I will have a source that can.

Please check out the link to the Initials-Inc catalog I have for you up there on the left sidebar. Let me know what you think about the products and leave a comment below, too. The business is set up for home parties and catalog sales - you know, the party plan, but, as I'm a web based businesswoman, I plan to concentrate on catalog sales and orders by phone and, when I have a little office/showroom completed in an extra room we have to show all my finished products, I can have open houses here every so often. However, should you long to have a party at your home - here in the Columbia area - or have a catalog show so you can earn hostess gifts, etc., please e-mail me and let me know. There are really great incentives for going that route as well.

My fingers are tired - I've been transcribing all day - and my mind is spinning with new plans, so I should sign off. Thanks for following my narrative to the end. I hope to hear from you soon. --- Michele

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's One and Now It's Done!

Last year, I had the crazy desire to hand embroider. I think it started with noticing these two books at the bookstore: Colorful Stitchery by Kristin Nicholas and The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy. I really couldn't rest until I finally bought the books and had them for my very own. I also found the Sublime Stitching site and was interested in some of those kitschy ideas. I ordered the chihuahua set to make something for a friend. The designs come in very good quality iron-ons that you can use several times. I did finish embroidering the chihuahuas last January or February, too, and need to finish that into a pillow.

I created the embroidery pictured here based on the Colorful Stitchery design ideas back in January 2007. I think the striped fabric background is perfect for the arts & crafts/art deco (?) look of the flowers. I have always been a good hand embroiderer. My mom taught me as a child, but I had only done outline embroidery, lazy daisies, and French knots. Having the books above made me want to plunge in and fill in. If you click on the photo below, you can see the stitches pretty clear. It took a while to get the hang of it, but with all the stem work to do, I had lots of practice.

All year, this little pretty has been hanging from a hanger waiting for completion, and then right before Christmas, I found the black and cream motif home dec fabric at JoAnn Fabrics. I was in the mood to make something for myself the other night, and it came together. My only regret, as also noted by my friend who checked out the photo, is that I should have cut closer to the embroidery and made a larger border of the fabric - and I should have put piping on, too. Oh, well! You know, it is too scary to cut too close and ruin the whole thing, so this is what I have. I'll forget about that after a while, though, and will just love it down the road.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year! // Baby, It's Cold Down South!

Happy New Year! I hope these days find you nice and cozy after a sweet Christmastime with friends and family. It's good to be cozy here right now. After some up and down warm temperatures in December, we are now at a lovely, blustery 33 degrees expecting 23 overnight. For South Carolina, that's cold, baby! The kids and I spent a nice wintry afternoon watching a movie I received for Christmas, Agatha Christie's, The Mirror Cracked. It is the 1980 version with Elizabeth Taylor and Angela Lansbury as Ms. Marple. We topped the time off with hot, just out of the oven, homemade macaroni and cheese and meatloaf -- and, of course, chocolate. Since then, we have all been slugs and can't get off the couch! School begins tomorrow, and we are looking forward to getting back into the normal schedule.

See the Little House above? That was an ornament Dana sent me in a personal side swap. Isn't it great? It's a tight woven wool with little windows made from a silvery plaid fabric. I love it. I sent her these little ornaments. I can't believe the snowman in the scarf turned out so well. I just followed the instructions in a holiday craft magazine from a couple of years ago. The colors are so vivid. Click on the picture for a close up and see! Again, I love the birds. I mentioned them in my last posting. I think I'll just keep making ornaments for a while so I don't forget all the great ideas I have seen this season, especially the ones I have found while blogging.

I found this great little tree at my friend's store, Old Barn, in Lexington. It looks like an old fashioned feather tree and sits in a ceramic star stand. I knew it would be perfect for displaying my little swap ornaments. Too bad my photos don't show it off to the best advantage. Here is a full shot, though, and next is a close up. The "JOY" ornament is too cute. I'm just so excited to have received all this swap art over the last few months. Because the swappers are from all over the place and have such a varied set of skills and ideas, the art received is so diverse and each gets its moment of adoration when it arrives.

So, another Season ends, and I'm packing it all away looking forward to seeing it again next fall! Our family had a stressful and emotional year, but, interestingly, this time of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and meeting the New Year has been remarkably peaceful and calm and enjoyable. We remember my grandmother whom we lost just recently and are grateful she was so much a part of our daily lives. We are thankful for successful surgeries and healing and even the hospice experience we went through this year and for the talented physicians and staff who provided such. We appreciate our good jobs, awesome school for the kids, and the great opportunity that hard work and diligence brings to us in America. We are blessed with a devoted family, fantastic friends, and a network of interesting and compassionate acquaintances, clients, coworkers, teachers, and neighbors who looked after us during emotional and scary moments and cared for us like their own. We pray for the Peace that Passes All Understanding to cover us while our country is at war across the sea and during the political swell that will sweep over us this fall. It will be good to remember that it is "In God We Trust" and not the TV political pundits. It's good to be free.