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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Promotion Winners!

Here are the winning results of my Holiday Promotion:

First Prize Winner:

Second Prize Winner:

Check your Etsy conversations or the email attached to your Etsy account to collect your prize.
Thank you to all the participants and enjoy this holiday season!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Promotion 2010

Enter your name in a drawing to win a coupon for The Market in the Glen to use this holiday season. Entries will be taken from now until Dec. 11th, 2010. There is a 1st prize and a 2nd prize winner for this drawing. The 1st prize winner will receive a holiday coupon for 15% off any item in my shop and the 2nd prize winner will receive a coupon for 10% off any item. You can have up to two entries for the 2nd prize and an almost unlimited amount of entries for the 1st prize. The winners will be chosen randomly using the random number generator and announced Dec. 12th, 2010. 

To Enter for a Chance to Win the 2nd prize (a 10% off ANY item coupon):
-Become a Follower of this blog 
-Favorite my shop at

To Enter for a Chance to Win the 1st prize (a 15% off ANY item coupon):
-Refer a friend to my shop OR blog and have them Follow or Favorite me
-Mention my shop on your blog OR link to this promotion on your website
-Buy an item from my shop during the run of this promotion and receive an automatic entry to this drawing
-Feature one of my items in your Treasury during this promotion

-If you were referred by a friend, be sure to include the friend’s blogger or Etsy name to ensure they get a chance at the 15% off coupon code.
-If you are unsure whether your correct email is linked to your Etsy name or blog name, then leave one I can email you with the coupon code in the event that you win OR check this blog on Dec. 12th, 2010.
-Coupons will expire Jan. 6th, 2011

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Celebrate First Blog Mention!

  As a devoted tracker of my Etsy lovers on Craftopolis, I noticed a sudden spike on Monday in my pageviews and lovers, but could not figure out why. They took the Treasure Tracks feature off, so I could not instantly see if it was due to being featured in a popular Treasury or not. I turned next to Socialmention, but was still left dumbfounded. I tracked myself down in the Etsy Treasury search, but that didn't initially explain 236 new visitors with 827 pageviews and 9 new lovers. I waited for my Web Analysis to close at the end of the night to find out my traffic sources, but it still didn't give me a clear enough picture as most of the links were expired by the time I looked at them.
  Thankfully, Beckykazana sent me a message with the link to her Treasury's frontpage appearance on Craftcult, which you can view here and her blog. I was so excited I was gushing like a little girl- my first blog mention! She was kind enough to feature my Hobbit Hole Miniature Dollhouse, which is one of the most peeked at, searched for and favorited items I sell. It went along well with her other Scandinavian/gnome finds. She is certainly one of those people with a knack for putting together awesome Treasuries!
  I thought I would share this exciting milestone I have reached as I am hoping it is an indicator in the general trend my shop is taking this holiday season. I am already enjoying record sales, renewed interest and beaming confidence. I also think it is important to have a web presence and to be aware of what is available, which is why I link to my resources as much as I can. Hope you find some of this information helpful and/or inspiring.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yummies- Pumpkin Cookies

I look forward to autumn every year! From its festivals, costumes, decorations, changing leaves, and bonfires, but especially the food. I really enjoy the warm, hearty foods like roasts, mashed potatoes, soups, green beans, squash and tart cranberry sauce, but I absolutely love all things pumpkin!

My favorite among favorites are the pumpkin cookies from our local gourmet food store Art Mart. The smell alone of pumpkin spices baking have me dreaming of the cookies alongside a tall, ice-cold class of milk. I have found recipes that are similar, but nothing beats Art Mart's homemade goodness and the tradition of a once-a-year treat. I consume an unhealthy amount to satisfy my year-long lust and they are worth every single calorie.

My family's other must-have every autumn is a trip to Curtis Orchard where we stock up on apple butter, homemade doughnuts, cider, mulling spices and every variety of fancy pumpkin we can find. This is truly our favorite time of year and we pull out all the stops from creepy decor to true pumpkin carving art. We do out best to savor the cinnamon and cider while the weather stills permits because cold November rain is just around the corner!

Keep watching for more photos of our pumpkin creations.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sale Ending Soon!

My Grand Opening Celebration Sale is scheduled to end Sept. 21st, so get my handmade whimsy now and save for the holiday season! My dollhouses make great gifts, so don't hesitate! If you have any questions concerning any of my products for sale email me or contact me through Etsy.

Happy Almost Fall,
Danielle of
The Market in the Glen

Dyeing for Peace- Tips & Tricks

Along with many people all over the world our school is celebrating the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010. We will be joining Montessori Schools around the world at 11:00am and singing "Light a Candle for Peace". This world event will start in New Zealand and travel around the world for 24 hours with each school joining in at their local time. There's a great article about in from the Examiner, so check in out for more details.

Our school decided to invite parents and do some fund raising during this time for our Upper Elementary and Middle School participation in MMUN. We'll have the usual backed goods, but also official UN gear and tie-dyed socks of various colors and sizes. My boss coined the clever slogan "dyeing for peace" and I anticipate all the kids will want a pair. I thought I would share some tips and tricks with all of you concerning sock dyeing.

Tips & Tricks for Sock Dyeing:
1. Try to get thin, all white 100% cotton socks for the best results. The thicker ones made to wick away sweat just don't dye well.
2. Be sure to pre-wash to remove any sizing or other chemicals the manufacturers use. Otherwise the colors won't be as bright or even.
3. Protect clothing with plastic bad aprons or wear what we call "painting" clothes. Shoes are the most likely to get dripped on, so don't wear them. Go barefoot because feet are much easier to clean!
4. Set up your work space outside to easily managed spills and mess.
5. If you are not using a kit, I suggest Rit Dye. It comes with very good instruction on how to dissolve the powder into hot water. It is also important to use the salt and detergent they ask for in the instructions to get the brightest colors. They've been the dye of choice for years, so trust their instructions.
6. While you are setting up your dye bath, keep the socks soaking in hot, clear water. Wet fabric absorbs dye quicker and more evenly.
7. If you are doing a big batch, you will likely need a place for some of them to sit while you finish the others. We spread garbage bags out on the grass next to our dye bath wash tubs and just piled like colors together while we finished the other. Remember that while they are sitting together they are likely to bleed, so put only the same colors next to each other.
8. Have the kids twist and rubber band them into as many crazy shapes and designs as they want. Our kids really loved this part and their designs came out great.
9. If you are doing various sizes, keep pairs together to make life easy. This takes more workspace and planning, but will result in the less stress.
10. If doing two or more colors on one sock, remember to do its matching pair in a similar pattern. Keep in mind socks come in twos, even though they will be twisted and tied separately.

The dye sets really well and after rinsing in the sink with cold water, they were all set to be washed together regardless of color. Watch for pictures of use wearing our socks "Dyed for Peace".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Sets My Dollhouses Aside From All The Others?

Environmental Impact
The creation of my dollhouses uses a lot less fossil fuels than the plastic, big box store versions available for purchase. Almost all of the materials used are handmade by me or someone else out of natural materials using traditional methods, which create a much smaller carbon footprint. They are also much more durable and able to last for generations thus creating less waste in the end. Also, as a business we are always looking for ways to reduce waste, combine shipping, buy local, use sustainable materials and do our best to make our products with as little impact on the Earth as we can.
One of A Kind
As a buyer you can rest assure than no one will ever have another dollhouse like yours. Every dollhouse I create comes out of unique vision and the effort it takes to make each one special means that no two will ever be the same. I also use locally available materials, which means that often times the same materials are not available again for replication. This is also not a product you will find in a corporate owned chain store or lined up on any shelf with twenty others like it. You can take pride in having a dollhouse with its own unique story and a life all its own.
Fads Fade!
Unlike many popular toys and products on the market right now, my dollhouses won’t fade with the next blockbuster movie or children’s television show. They are made and inspired by classic fairy tales that have been around for hundreds of years. They are also so versatile that they can be changed, added to, adapted to fit the whims of you or your child. My dollhouses are also made durable enough with metal hinges, quality materials and with children in mind to be passed on from generation to generation creating a family history inside every one. Think of it as not only a gift for your child, but also your grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren. You can have the power to inspire generations with my dollhouses that other plastic versions just can’t hold up to.
Educational Tools
As an educator, I cannot help creating things without this at the forefront of my mind. I try to use fairy tales as a basis for my dollhouses because they are stories that bridge the generation gap. They also feature lots of repetition, which makes it easier for kids to learn. Almost all stories are derived from the basic structure of these childhood stories and are often used in classrooms to teach beginning writing. I also take pride in making them as gender neutral as possible. Research shows that pretend and imaginative play is necessary for both boys and girls in developing social awareness. They learn to negotiate many situations through imaginative play that they may not otherwise be able to do. My dollhouses allow you and your children to create whole new worlds of wonder to share for years to come.

Cost Comparison
If you compare the costs of my dollhouses to those of comparable size, quality and amount of accessories then you can see how I have tried my best to save money when possible to create something unique and affordable. I often plan a season ahead and shop around to get materials on sale in order to pass this savings on to you. I also do my best find ways of creating things in the most efficient and cost effective way, because I don’t want my products to be absurdly unattainable to the average family. Not only are my dollhouses beautifully handmade with care and love, but you won’t find anything cheaper on any market for the same quality; I know because I have tried. Think of it as an investment in art, a family heirloom, the handmade movement, and with all the added benefits of low environmental impact and no labor exploitation.    
Supporting the Handmade Movement
The handmade movement is about many things, but most of all creating quality products and creating a personal relationship with the buyers. You don’t have to worry about the exploitation of labor inherent in so many of our daily purchases because you know exactly where this product came from, how it was created and by whom. There is no corporate agenda or stock market bottom lines to meet, so you can be assured that quality materials are being used and trust the seller’s intentions. You can also feel good about supporting artists and craftsman who might not otherwise be represented because their work doesn’t represent what the galleries and boutiques deem fashionable at the moment. Many people involved in the handmade movement do so out of love for their work and struggle as parents with regular 9-5pm jobs. You can find pleasure in supporting the work they do that brings them joy. When you buy handmade you become part of the movement, so don’t hesitate to join up and spread the word!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Inspiration- The Doll House Book

Dollhouses and other miniatures have always fascinated me. They have the ability to transport you and send the imagination spiraling. I marvel at the impossible details in such minute craftsmanship. It can seem likely a really frivolous hobby, but I think it embodies the true beauty of “art for art’s sake”. I also love how they seem to mark a place and time like a record in history. Antique children’s toys really strike me as objects with stories to tell, so I never tire dreaming up what story a dollhouse might tell.
I recently came across “The Doll House Book” by Stephanie Finnegan and I highly recommend it. This whimsically shaped book discusses the origin of doll houses and follows them through time to modern day. It showcases many talented doll makers like Dame Darcy and famous personages houses like Queen Mary’s. It even has a section on my all time favorite house, Colleen Moore's "Fairy Castle", which I have dreamed about since seeing it as a small girl. It made me really appreciate how dollhouses have influenced popular culture, children and even history.

Monday, August 30, 2010

School is Back!

School is here in all its glory and I am back to not being able to find enough hours or sleep in the day. My crafting life has been temporarily put on the shelf as I get back into the routine of working 60 hours a week between planning, cleaning and actually being present at school. It always takes about a month for everything to click into place, so I am looking forward to October. I am hoping all the planning and promoting this summer will help keep the Etsy shop afloat while I get back into the swing of things. I'll keep you posted on my availability and upcoming projects.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Inspiration- Music!

   Last night I saw Tegan & Sara and Paramore live at the White River State Park in Indianapolis. I have waited for over a year to be able to see T &S and I was much rewarded. I had a great time rockin' out and it made me think of all the music that inspires me and my creative process, so I thought I would share.

1. Bjork- I really love any music in another language, but her voice and her sound is so different and unique. Some songs are edgey, some are soothing and some are just darn right beautiful. She has an energy that allows me to clear my mind and focus only on being creative. Her music videos can be very inspiring from an artistic point of view too.

2. Emilie Simon- Again, I find French another beautiful language to listen to and her music is very earthy. In fact, I love listening to the movie, Amelie in the background for many of the same reasons. The cadence and rhythm of speech really get inside me without over-taking my brain. Her videos will also leave you a little breathless.

3. Tegan & Sara- This is a little edgier that my first two and in English, so it works well for painting. As a younger painter I used to love to listen to Ani Difranco, Sleater-Kinney and Mutabor. There was a lot of angst I needed to get out and all three help feed that energy.

4. Imogen Heap- This is another one in the same line as the first three, but there is poetry in the music that really appeals to me. You must be sensing a theme now that female vocalists really trigger something for me. There is this sense of power, mystery, admiration and emotion that I can really relate to with female vocalists whether they are Tori Amos, Janis Joplin, Dresden Dolls or Alanis Morissette. I could go on and on as my music collection is largely all-female, because I like surrounding myself in beautiful things.

*Here are some male vocals I enjoy, if you prefer: Coldplay, The Decemberists, Flogging Molly, Postal Service

Can you tell music is a big part of my life? Feel free to recommend any female OR male musicians.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two New Obsessions

  I need to share my two new obsessions with you because I just can't contain my excitement any longer!

1) Craftopolis takes all your Etsy statistics and Google Web Analytics and combines them in a fun, user-friendly way to give you a good idea who is looking at what, and whether they love it or not. It also has a tab to show you which Treasuries you're in. Finding out I have new "lovers", new "hearts" and new "treasure tracks" always brightens my day!

2) Spoonflower was recently featured on the Etsy Blog, but I have just ordered my first test swatch of my own design! Oh my goodness are the possibilities endless! I have been having so much trouble finding fabric I like and need around here, so I love that I can save stress, gas and time by just creating what I need. I also have ideas in the works to create "fairy" inspired fabrics for durable fairy bedding and other creations to sell to all of you. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Inspiration: What's in the name?

I have recently joined the multitudes at Swap-Bot to try to challenge myself creatively and give myself something to do when the shop is slow. I was turned on to this site when a customer of mine bought a Fairy Nest Bed from my shop to give to her swap partner for a "fairy furniture" swap. I have so far participated in only a handful of swaps and haven't yet received anything from my partners, but I wanted to share a particularly poignant swap with you; "ATC inspired by your Username".
  For those of you who are unfamiliar with ATC or ACEO, Wikipedia has a great article as usual and Swap-Bot has a glossary of terms. Basically they are miniature works of art about 2.5" x 3.5" long. Many Etsy artists sell them, so that you can collect their work without breaking the bank or cluttering your walls. Of course, many crafters like myself make them for fun to trade and not for profit.
  Anyway, I thought this ATC project would be good to share with you as my "username" is my shop name and I often find that what others are inspired by inspires me.
1. Firstly, my shop name went through many iterations. However, from the beginning I was largely influenced by Christina Rossetti's poem, "The Goblin Market". I have loved this poem since I discovered it as a pre-teen. It is a rare one that tells a story without boring you to death. It also captures almost all the rules fairytales are supposed to teach us about not eating fairy food or following fairy music. It is largely about temptation and well the irony is that I am tempting you to buy "fairy" goods. Unfortunately, this name was taken by one of my favorite fairy artists, Brian Froud.

2. Then I tried to imagine where such a market might exist. I thought back to all the "magical" places I have visited over the years and I kept coming back to one image. The following is the closest I have come to the deer clearing I used to visit in the woods behind our house. It is the dappled light and variety of greens that appeal to me mostly.
3. Then I need to put a name to this image and place in my imagination; a glen. This fit particularly well because my father's name is Glenn, which I have always thought was telling of his Irish heritage and in many ways it felt that I had come from such a "glen" (pun intended). Thus the name was born and a more cohesive branding was possible.

You will see lots of articles in Etsy's The Storque about choosing your shop name carefully and researching to make sure no one else has it, and this is for a reason. It should be easy to remember, say something about your shop's intentions and not be used by so many others that it is hard to distinguish you from everyone else.

Below is a picture of the ATC I created. It is my first attempt at something so small and it came out a but like a funerary card, but I am hoping it reaches someone who has never heard of Christine Rossetti and in turn, finds as much joy as I do in reading her work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yummies- Cherry Jubilee Sauce

The other night I decided to make Cherries Jubilee to go with all our left over frozen yogurt and it was so yummy that I am still craving it. Serving it hot melts the yogurt, but really tastes the best.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes                    Cook Time: 15 Minutes

1/2 cup Sugar
1 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 Orange
1-3 cups Cherries, pitted
1 tsp. Vanilla
Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

1. Grate peel of orange until you have 1 tsp.; set aside. Cut orange in half and juice until you have 1/4 cup juice; set aside.
2. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Blend in 1/4 cup water and orange juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes.
3. Add cherries, orange peel and vanilla; bring to a boiling and reduce heat to simmer about 10 minutes.
4. Serve over frozen yogurt and enjoy!

Nutritional Info. (full recipe)- 180 Calories, Og fat, Og saturated fat, 45mg sodium, 135mg potassium, 40g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 33g sugars, 4g protein

Note- Pitting 3 cups of cherries may seem like a lot to you, so rest assure that 1 cup equals two very large servings. Also, make sure you choose ripe, sweet cherries for pitting.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Tea Dying

  I have been using tea and coffee to dye fabrics and paper since I was a little girl making treasure maps and fantasy tour guides of other worlds. I decided to dye some material my mother had left over from making drapes and an old cotton t-shirt that I accidentally stained with my new blue swimsuit. The steps below show I what I do for fabrics, but paper is very similar.

Step 1: Decide whether to pre-wash fabrics. I don't really worry about this step because if it doesn't come out dark enough or evenly dyed, then I use it for something else or try again. I like the adventure of not knowing exactly how it will turn out, but if you feel the need to pre-wash check the fabric's washing instructions.

Step 2: Fill large pot, wash tub or bathtub with the hottest water that will come out of your faucet. Dunk as many tea bags as desired (without paper tags) into the water and using a spoon to stir them. This will release all the tannins that dye the fabric.

Step 3: Rinse fabric under faucet to dampen the fabric. This makes it easier for it to soak up dye faster.

Step 4: Dunk fabric in water, so that it is covered completely. If you are worried about it floating above the surface use pie weights to hold it down.

Step 5: Wait as long as you desire as the longer you wait the darker it will be. I usually wait just a few hours. Remove tea bags and discard or set aside for reuse.

Step 6: Ring out fabric and rinse. Discard tea.

Step 7: Follow the fabric's instructions for drying or dry on hottest heat. You can also sun-dry or air-dry depending on your needs.

 1. Original White Drapes 2. Ginger Tea Dyed Drapes 3. African Bush Tea Dyed Drapes

Choosing Tea:
Most people recommend cheap, black tea, but I like to use my old stock. This time I used some ginger tea and some African Bush tea. The ginger gave a light, yellow tinge to the drape fabric. The African Bush tea (see first picture) gave a reddish, brown color to the drape fabric. The cotton t-shirt turned so many colors from the ginger tea I can't wait to figure out what to use it for. The antique look these fabrics get after dying make them so much fun to turn into cloth dolls, mixed media art and even creative gift wrapping!

1. Stained Cotton T-Shirt after Ginger Tea Dye 2. Drapes after Ginger Tea Dye 3. Drapes after African Bush Tea Dye

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yummies- Blueberry and Mango Fruit Sundaes

Tonight my foodie partner made a delicious dessert that was not only beautiful, but ridiculously yummy! I love summer-time and all the fruit that is available, so I thought I would share this cool treat with you so that you can impress your guests/family/self without feeling too guilty about the calorie count.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (unless you have to run out to get the sugar you forgot)
Cook Time: 7 minutes (do this ahead of time, if needed)

1-2 Mangoes, pitted, peeled and diced (ripen via bag-in-refrigerator method beforehand, if needed)
1-3 Cups Blueberries
1-2 Limes
1/2 Cup Sugar
5 Mint leaves
1 qt. Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

1. In a large bowl combine diced mangoes and blueberries; set aside
2. Using a veggie peeler, remove the peel from limes in strips; set aside. Juice limes to measure 3 tbsp. juice; set aside.
3. In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup water, lime peel, sugar, and mint to boiling over medium-high heat; stir until all sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes. Remove syrup from heat.
4. Place syrup in small bowl. Stir in lime juice; let stand 15 to 20 minutes. Remove peel and mint; discard.
5. Drizzle syrup over fruit; toss to coat.
6. Scoop yogurt into individual dessert dishes and spoon fruit over yogurt. Serve and Enjoy!

Nutritional Info- 230 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 4mg cholesterol, 70mg sodium, 55g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein

Full Recipe- Serves 8

*The ingredient list is listed with so many ranges because it should really be to taste and what is available fresh in your area. Also, there are only two of us, so we reduced it to the lowest number to have less waste and less added to our waist.
**The maxium number of limes can be too much if you are not a fan, so reduce as you see fit.
***The ripen via bag-in-refrigerator method means that you may need to buy your mangoes a couple of days in advance, seal them in a bag and place them in the refrigerator. If you are really pressed for time, place them with a banana in a sealed bag.
****Steps 3 and 4 can be done ahead of time and saved in the refrigerator a day or two until the family BBQ. Wait to do Step 5 until right before serving or the fruit will go bad.
*****Garnish with mint leaves if you are feeling extra fancy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Statsy- My First Showcase

My first showcase has officially closed and the immediate results are in. I thought I would share the hard numbers with you (because no one else will), so you might have a better idea whether it is worth your $7 or $15.

I chose my top ten most viewed, most hearted items to appear in the line-up of my showcase. My thought was that these items are already well-liked, I just need to find someone who can afford them, a collector or who is looking ahead for the holidays. Sitting at #1 is the Hobbit Hole, which has been in this ranking since almost day one. My other miniature dollhouses follow close behind, but it is the smallest, cheapest items that do well.

#1 Item- Hobbit Hole Statistics (past 24 hours):
-1 Inquiry
-8 hearts

#2-#10 Showcase Items:
-double views on average
-double hearts on average
-2 sales

My Shop:
-135 Visits
-9 shop hearts
-15 items hearts
-2 items sold

Conclusion: It definitely paid for itself today and the exposure was unlike anything I could have dreamed. My shop is that much more likely to be seen in someone's favorites or be remembered closer to the holidays. It was interesting and helped motivate me to spruce up my shop. I still have a lot of work to do. I feel as though learning to take good photos and write great descriptions is an on-going process, but I am still hopeful and enjoying handcrafting.

Upcoming Projects:
-Brownie Bungalow
-Mini Fairy boats
-Female Hero, Rustic Cloth Dolls
-Mini Fairy Garden

Monday, August 2, 2010

Homage to My Hedgie

  It is no surprise that my animals are some of my favorite sources of inspiration. I have a living terrarium full of croaking frogs and toads, a needy Springer Spaniel and a hedgehog. They are often the center of my universe and my foremost connection with nature. I can not thank them enough for the balm they provide for me.
  Today my five year old hedgehog, Brillo was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable uterine cancer. This is disappointing, but not surprising. She has lived an adventurous and uncommonly long, healthy life, so I wanted to create a tribute to all things hedgie. Check out my favorite prickly finds at Homage to My Hedgie.
  We have warm chicken, meal worms, digging in my garden, snuffling the flowers and confounding the dog to look forward to for just a bit longer. We plan to spoil her rotten until her quality of life deteriorates. Until then, enjoy your furry friends and spread the hedgie love!

Treasury List and Showcase- Check it out!

Treasure List- Enchanted Forest Children's Decor
I just created my first Treasury list on Etsy! Click on the hyperlink I have provided for ideas on how to spruce up your child's room, an up-coming nursery, your old playroom, or to add a little whimsy to your home.

Also, look out for my Kids and Toys showcase tomorrow on Etsy. I have revamped my top ten items and added more pictures to my photo website! I hope you all enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of my favorite "picture crafters", The Little Fox, is having a Summer Giveaway! Her work is worth checking out, so take a look at her blog and her shop! You'll definitely fall in love and want to take them all home. These baby animals especially make me swoon! I actually own a copy of her coloring book that me and my little seven year old girl love to decorate!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Inspiration- Trees

I have been a "tree-hugger" for as long as I can remember. Even before I knew what an Ent was, I always kind of hoped they would talk to me. I played in them, under them, with them and made any number of crafts out of their fallen ephemera. This post is for my those species of trees that I imagine would get up and walk if they could.

#1 Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) - These are the grandfathers of all Mid-Western forests. They can grow up to 100 ft tall and live up to 300 years old! I love trees that outlive humans! They house millions of animals and insects, feed that many more and are essential to the prairie ecosystem. They were even used by early settlers as sign posts to map out lands. In fact, they have been apart of Western mythology from the time of the druids until now. With hot, humid summers like this one, the Bur Oak provides enough shade for a whole family reunion.

#2 Weeping Williow (Salix × sepulcralis)- I always wanted one of these as a kid because they look like natural forts. They are literally the first tree-house! Willow branches are also great for crafting. Mostly I thought the branches look like hair, which makes them look like wise, old ladies. There is something so magical about the way they drape over the lake and rustle in the wind. I'll always long have one of these.

#3 Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)- These trees truly haunt my dreams. I used to wish I could run off like Julia Butterfly and live in one. These are the longest living organisms on the planet! They can live up to 3,000 years old and reach over 300 feet tall. There has never been and may never be anything this amazing. I find it telling that these trees are often famous tourist attractions, have names and well documented history, but people insist on cutting them down for furniture! Not only are they an entire ecosystem in and of themselves, but they can actually house other trees like the Douglas Fir in their branches. Cutting Old-growth Forests is no joke. It actually breaks my heart.

#4 Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)- This is the tell-tale swamp tree with the roots that everyone associates with Louisiana. These trees fill the bogs of my imagination. I love their roots! They look just like you expect the dinosaurs saw them. Sometimes I dream about what it might have been like to be around before the time of man, the time of mammals, the time of reptiles, they time of any mobile creature. They are spooky, mysterious and beautiful all at the same time.

Everything about trees from top to bottom, their history and how humans have been affected by them inspires my work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Adhesives

Everyone has their favorites and I am always looking to discover better, cheaper and easier ways to get my work to stick together. Below are a few of my favorites, but please feel free to share any insights you have come across.

#1 Gel Medium- This adhesive rocks my world, because it not only holds stuff together and dries clear, but has a million other uses. My personal favorite use is image transferring. Almost every craft book you come across recommends this and for good reason. It is hard to buy in small quantities and can be quite pricey, but it is well worth it to have on hand. It's like Modge Podge for grown-ups! You'll find this with the acrylic paints in your craft store.

#2 Adhesive Rollers- These little do-dads make scrapbooking, card making and other paper decorating fast and mess-free. It reminds me of the white-out rollers that were popular when I was in school. They also make gluing really easy for children. My favorite use for these rollers is gluing down satin and other fabric ribbons! These are usually located in the scrapbooking aisle of your craft store.

#3 Loctite Gel Super Glue- I love how super glue actually changes the chemical make-up of plastics and "melts" them together, but the liquid version usually ends up more on my fingers than my work- yikes! This is easy to control and will hold almost anything together with just a dab! I find it in the adhesive section of my local craft store.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Books- Antiques and Vintage

  If you couldn't already tell- I LOVE books! I started off collecting antique books when I was in High School, which tells you just how nerdy I was/am. Then I decided to go back and collect books from my childhood or books I wish I had during my younger years. I became a collector and a connoisseur. This of course lead to my degree in English literature, which is most evident in my vast library that I love, but hate moving. Anyway, this weekend I found a used bookstore that was having a sale on children's books and an antique store with true antique classics, so I went a little crazy.

Below are a few of my favorites from this past out, but check out my shop to see all the latest.

1. A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare:
We've established my love for the satire king and stage master, but let me tell you about pocket-sized, antique classics; I love those too! Not only is this copy beautiful, but it is over 160 years old! That is a boat load of history. I love imagining who might have carried this little treasure around. Did some dapper gentleman try to woo his lady with a few verses from this tome? If I had the heart to rip it apart, it would make great scraps for all the paper art I do!

2. I Am Eskimo- Aknik My Name by Paul Green Aknik:
I had never heard of this biographical book, but it has some great story-telling and awesome charcoal illustrations by the famous illustrator, Ahgupuk. I loved Julie of the Wolves as a kid, so this really appeals to me. I might have to squeeze in a thorough read before someone snatches it up!

3. Fawn Baby by Gladys Baker Bond:
This is a truly beautiful picture book with my favorite color combination of blue, green and brown. I am almost inclined to frame the illustrations and decorate my craft space. I find it so adorable that the fawn has long, thick eyelashes!

Do you have a favorite children's book you've held on to all these years? I love to hear people's stories about stories!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inspiration- Fairytales

  Most of my work, imagination, life, poetry, dreams and desires stem from fairytales. I don't mean the "happily ever after" bit, but the other-worldliness. As a child it was often easier to daydream about being somewhere else, making friends with the forest animals, dreaming of faeries, and making-up names for the flowers because I never quite felt like I belonged anywhere. I also grew up in the country, so my childhood memories are mostly dominated by the outdoors.
  Unfortunately, I had many struggles learning to read because of early hearing loss and lack of phonic processing. It took a long time for me to appreciate the escape books provide, which means that I still treasure being read to, but once I did I was voracious. I discovered many stories in my teens and college years that most people discover as a child. I went on to get my degree in English Literature because of my love for books, escaping, discovering the little secrets inside and creating a whole new landscape for which to rediscover my childhood.
   I wanted to share with you my favorite fairytales that inspire my work and my life. Keep in mind that while I was first introduced to the Disney version of most of these tales, I am largely inspired by the gory originals, cross-cultural variations and modern satires.

1. Bambi- This was my generation's first experience with life and death. I learned that tragedy has no preference. It also opened my sensitivity for all things furry and started me off as I an avid animal enthusiast and advocate early on. Growing up in the country also meant that deer, skunks, rabbits, owls and all manner of forest creatures were a part of every day. I quote the movie to the kids I nanny all the time and they look at me clueless. I see this as regrettable but likely inevitable.

2. Snow White- Most kids these days are not aquainted with even the tame version of this story let alone the harrowing original, but it was not the horror I identified with as a child. I really just wanted to be friends with the animals. I wanted to sing and have the birds sing with me. I wanted the little forest people represented as the Seven Dwarfs to come out of the woods and reveal themselves to me. I used to think I would love to grow up and live in a secluded wood.

3. Jungle Book- I would have given anything to be raised by a pack of wolves as a kid. I used to think I might grow up to study wolf behavior, so "Big Bad Wolf" stories didn't really appeal to me. Mowgli was another one who could commune with the animals and seemed so in-tune with nature. I had a deep sense of desire that if I tried hard enough I could grow up to be just like him.

4. Cinderella- I know what the feminists say about this story, but I don't care. As a true American, I loved stories where the underdog won in the end. I could also identify with her brand of outcast as a black-sheep in a seemingly stable home. Again, it was all about the animals for me. I always found cruelty in trapping and poisoning mice as a kid, so being friends with them seemed ideal. I even dressed up as Cindy for Halloween one year.

5. Fern Gully- This doesn't really count as a classic fairytale, but it is based on the traditions of faeries and other wee folks. When I was little I really wanted to believe in faeries. I grew up in a secular household, so having faith in faeries, shooting stars and garden gnomes was a close to having faith in the unknown as I knew how to get. Not to mention that these little Rainforest pixies were fighting for the environment! I couldn't imagine anything more cool than that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inspiration- Flowers

  There are several flowers that feature prominently in my imagination and creation. I really do love flowers of all kind and the few times I have worked in a florist's shop gave me true euphoria, but by far the most rewarding is in environmental restoration. Not only did I get to work with native flowers, but I was able to see first hand how they interact with the larger world. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites both native and not.

1. Snowdrops (Galanthus)- These are my favorite little ephemerals and I eagerly wait for them to mark the end of Central Illinois' grey, slushy winter. They are also very easy to press and use in all kinds of crafting. Thanks to Neil Gaiman's Stardust, they now feature prominently as a flower of promised love and protection.

2. Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)- Not only are they native to most of the Upper Midwest, but they are a great flower for attracting all kinds of helpful pollinators. They also grow really easy and their seeds are fun for children to collect to plant the following spring. With all the awareness for Prairie Restoration I see more and more highways nodding with their beautiful pinkish-purplish heads. If I were a pixie I would definitely live under the umbrella of these beauties.

3. Orchids- These are at once beautiful in simplicity and complexity. The unique relationship they have with their pollinators makes them all the more fascinating. Of all the highly cultivated flowers, these are surely my favorite. I just can't help myself but imagine little faces in the spots of their petals.

4. Sunflowers- This is probably on everyone's list of favorites, but I collect unique varieties of sunflowers not just the standard yellow. Last year I planted Firecracker Sunflowers which are shorter, bushier and red. They fill in much more and add tons more color. This year I planted Velvet Queen Sunflowers which have just started blooming. These are just such a brillant red that I wouldn't be surprised to find a hummingbird out their sucking away.

5. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)- This is probably the most unique native plant that exists. It doesn't even look real it is so whimsical. I just wish it was easier to find and grow. It adds great texture to any garden.

Note for Lilac Lovers- There is a new cultivar out called the "Bloomerang" which blooms almost continuously all season. It doesn't get as big as the standard version, but it sure is worth it for those beautiful blooms and delicious fragrance.

*Look for future post on trees, grasses and mushrooms. Nature never ceases to inspire me!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another Way to Show Support...

  Do you want to show your support for The Market in the Glen, but are not quite sure how? Perhaps I don't sell what you're into or it doesn't match your well planned home decor? Don't worry because there are many ways to show support without spending very much time or money. Below is a list of things you can do to show your support for me, my shop, the handmade movement and all the independent business people at Etsy.

1. Word of Mouth is one of the best forms of advertisement for online shops as well as brick and mortar stores. Pass on my blog, shop or photo website information to anyone you think might be interested. This doesn't mean spam your friends and family, but if you know someone who might like what I sell then send them a friendly note.
  You can also copy, paste and send along the following information:

 Check out The Market in the Glen!

2. Join and create an Etsy account. This is easy, free and has no strings attached. They won't sell your information or send you lots of junk in your email. This is required to buy anything from an Etsy seller and it is to protect you in case the seller doesn't make good on the sale.

Personal Testimony:
I can personally relate that I have had one experience with a product I paid for never reaching me, so I filed a grievance with Etsy. I was refunded my money and that seller was shut down.

3. I have also created a Wish List through my shop's Favorites to allow for you to donate items I need to help my business grow. These items range in price and necessity to allow you to make a donation you are comfortable with. You may have it shipped directly to me or we can meet locally for coffee and some catch-up.

4. Let the world know how much you like my shop. If you have an Etsy account you can add me as a Favorite or "heart" one of my items. You can click the buttons on the sidebar of this blog to follow my journey through email allowing you to get the most up-to-date information. If you have a Flickr account you can also comment and favorite my photos.

5. Send an encouraging word my way. The hardest part of starting a business is all the obstacles and pitfalls that one encounters in the very beginning. This is largely because it is always a learning process and it takes a bit to get the swing of things. Any kind words, advice, gentle criticism, etc. are always appreciated and often the kind of thing that leads to inspiration.

For those of you who have already been showing your support- Thank YOU! I really do appreciate all that you do!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


  Today marks yet another dream come true with my very first Etsy sale! I am officially an independent business woman. It's only been three days and already it is hard to sleep at night from all the excitement. The coolest thing is that I set up Google Analytics my first day, so I have been able to track how many visitors, what they view and for how long, where they come from in the world and how they found my shop. It is an awesome tool for learning what the public really wants and it is all for free from Google!
   While it is only the very beginning there are already advertising trends that have proven to be worth the effort. I sent out personal emails to all my friends and family thanking them for their support and inviting them to my shop, I updated all my pictures and tags on my Flickr, and invited everyone through my Facebook status to my shop. I know these have been the most effective because of my Analytics Reports  I get every 24 hours about my shops activity!
   I have also worked every day to edit my pictures with Picasa (also free!) and update my tags to attract more relevant searches. It seems like a lot of work, but it is worth it because I have put a lot of my heart and soul into developing my creations, my shop and my web presence. I look forward to all my future milestones!

Projects in the Works:
-The Snow Queen's Palace: a miniature house fit for the iciest royalty
-The Rookery: a homage to darkness and sure to be a Halloween favorite
-Country Mouse House: still working on the concept of this one but I want it to be very farm rustic
-Cinderella's Carriage: also still in the planning stages but sure to be lots of fun

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crafting Trips- Nashville, IN

  This past weekend I spent sometime haunting the local craft stores and art shops in the quaint, little town of Nashville, Indiana. I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite shops there in case you live nearby or were looking for an excuse to take a road trip.

Favorite #1- Papertrix
Not only were the owners artists, extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but once they heard we were into Steampunk they went out of their way to show us all the fun stuff they had in-stock. It may look tiny on the outside but they had more papers, stamps and embellishments than any big-box craft store! It was all nicely organized too and they were more than willing to help us look around. There were also tons of examples of how they used the products they sell to make wonderful works of whimsy and art! They even offer classes and have guest artist come in from all over the world! This should be a must-visit for anyone in the Upper Mid-West.

Favorite #2- The Purple Fig
This lady is an exquisite fabric artist and fabric bead maker. The wall hangings and art dolls really stole my heart, but she says the fabric beads are her top seller. She is also looking to offer classes when the tourist season is over and I can't wait to hear how they go!

Favorite #3- Jeepers Miniatures
This is one of the last mortar-and-brick miniature stores left and I was lucky to find it! I love being able to touch and closely examine what I am buying first, so this is the place to get your scale model accessories. On display in the store is a miniature version of Diagon Alley with The Leaky Cauldron and Flourish and Blotts, which will blow you away whether you are a fan or not! I bought a stove kit that I can't wait to put together to show you!

There are many other stores, galleries and artists to see there, so this is only a small sample of what really caught my attention this time around. I look forward to spending more time there hunting through antiques and learning new ways to improve my crafting!

Monday, July 12, 2010


  Today marks a dream come true for me as it is the opening of my very first shop selling my handmade crafts and some of my favorite vintage finds. It has taken me many months, hours, paint brushes and trips to the local craft stores, but thanks to the support of friends and family I am finally open for business! I am so excited to see where this adventure will take me.

  Promotion Heads Up: Everything is marked down 10% from now until September 21st to celebrate my Grand Opening and give something extra to those who help me get started.

  You can purchase my one-of-a-kind wonders at The Market in the Glen or view more photos on my Flickr Site. I still have several projects in the works, so check the shop often for more handmade whimsy and other exciting creations.

  I would like to give a shout out to the Etsian responsible for my very awesome, beautiful storefront. Check out Oh Me Oh My Design! Not only does she do great, professional work but she was excellent to work with. She even made my business card design, which is off at the press as we speak!

Cheers to Dreamers!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tips & Tricks- Getting Clean!


 Over the years I have worked with many different mediums from oil paint to polymer clay with a love of getting my hands muddy in the garden, so I know messy. I have tried everything from lava soap to turpentine, but have never been very happy until I found Handmade Soap by Laurel at my local farmer's market. The Nitty Gritty soap is my favorite! It has just enough grit to scrub the dried on paint, dirt and clay off, but it gentle enough on my frequently washed hands. I have also recently enjoyed the Scrubby Too Two and the shaving soap she sells. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a website yet, but click on the link above to email her or contact her at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home Again!

  Whew! I just got back from spending two weeks in London and I am exhausted! I have never walked so much in all my life. It might not have felt so arduous if the weather had been more typically English, but they are currently experiencing unseasonably warm weather. It was quite the adventure though. I saw and did things I have only ever dreamed of doing. For a peek at my pics, take a look at .

Top Five in London:
Note: Buy an Oyster Card to use on tube, bus and river ferry. It saves money if your stay is longer than a few days and saves a lot of time standing in line to buy a ticket. You will still do A LOT of walking, but this way you will do less.
1. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre- We saw by far the best rendition of Macbeth to every grace the gory, smoke filled stage. It was not only the best rendition of Macbeth, but the best in authentic stage effects for a Shakespearian play. It was probably the best performance I have ever witnessed on a stage. I can't say enough good things about it. There isn't a bad seat and you definitely get your money's worth. The Swan restaurant was excellent too and has a pre-theatre special. 
2.  Hyde Park- This was by far my favorite park there. It has the Diana Memorial Playground, which is modeled after J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It even has its own Pirate Ship! It has the Diana Memorial Fountain for "paddling" or wading on hot days, as well as The Serpentine for swimming, boating and watching curious water fowel. It has flowers, trees and the Peter Pan statue. It is also right next to Kensington Palace. We spent a lot of time here.
3. Visit Portobello Road Market for antiques, crafts, vintage and retro clothing, good eats and a festive atmosphere. Saturday morning is a good time to go but remember to bring cash as many vendors don't have card machines. You can also visit Greenwich by river ferry/cruise if you have time. It is a good way to get to know all the sites on the river and it is less crowded than the tube. The Greenwich Market is full of good food from around the world and true artists. It is an adventure all in itself.
4. Visit Covent Garden for performers, colorful characters, the market and the shops. There is a gourmet cupcake shop that makes little works of art in edible form. It's a great place to take the kids.
5. Take a day trip to Dover to see the Castle, the Wartime Tunnels and the White Cliffs. If you don't go on a tour you will have a lot of hiking ahead of you, but it is worth it! You can even take the Chunnel to France if you like.

I went to several markets and shopped around for antiques, paper goods and ogled all the art. 
These are three of my favorites:
1. Blade Rubber Stamps is a must for local stamps and paper crafting ephemera. It was bright, festive, close to the British Museum and had friendly customer service (not a given in London). I got papers, ink and embellishments I can't wait to use.
2. Dorka is an artist I discovered tucked away at the end of the Portobello Street Market. Her stuff is fresh and modern, but a definite nod to the Hollywood vintage pin-ups and rouge I like.
3. Sass & Belle was one of the first shops I stopped in and really I could have walked away with many suitcases full of all things adorable. Not only is the shop a feast for the eyes, but it too had the rare friendly customer service I take for granted in University Town, USA.

Well, it was an inspiring trip to a world of huge buildings older than my own country, with tea pouring out their ears, no A/C, fountains galore, literary references everywhere and lots of magical moments to be had.