My Etsy Store – A Money Pooping Cow

So I talked about my Etsy store, and I wanted to let you know what’s been happening with that in the last year.

I had tried selling various things, hand-dyed fabric, tutus, but none of it sold. Looked like the shop was going to waste away.

I kept thinking about the idea of revenue streams, and “work once and get paid multiple times.” I looked around at all the stuff I like doing. I knew I didn’t want to deal with having to ship things…that’s too much like work.

And it finally came to me.

Several years ago, I’d bought HobbyWare’s Pattern Maker, a program which allows you to design your own cross-stitch patterns. And being me, never wading in cautiously when I can jump in up to my eyebrows, I went whole hog and bought the professional edition. I’d used it to create a graduation pattern for my brother. I tried to create some pattern of Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings. I’d updated it until the company stopped supporting it. Somehow, through all the various hard-drive failures and new computers, I’m managed to keep it around.

I started making little patterns, mostly Firefly quotes at first, but I branched out to anything that tickled my geeky, nerdy, sci-fic sense of humor. I figured out how to make those patterns into PDFs that are easily uploaded, and set them out in the Etsy shop.

Turns out, a lot of people have the same geeky, nerdy, sci-fic sense of humor.

I love it. I spend several hours coming up with and creating a pattern. List it. And if other people find it interesting and amusing, it sells. Over and over again. And as long as it sells a few copies, I’ll keep relisting it.

I remember hearing Jonathan Coulton describe his music career. He didn’t go through traditional recording studios. He released his music on the internet, directly to consumers. He described it as turning the internet into his own personal “money pooping cow.” That’s how I think of my Etsy Store.

Life, and Other Things

Wow. Over a year since I posted. Well crap. Sorry about that.

Got this dandy new blog site. Got all the old posts reposted. So what’s been happening? Life. I gotta tell you.

Managed to convince the landlord to change the pool pump. Then we got a solar powered pool skimmer (i.e. the lily-pad), and a new electric pool cleaner for the bottom of the pool (i.e. the kraken!). Cut our electric bill almost in half!

We went on JCCC4!

I made more liqueuers.

We went to Kublacon. Kaylee got sign in/out privileges, and made good use of it.

Kaylee went to Camp Qwest, and spent a week with her cousins at the Grandparents in Kansas. We took that opportunity to visit Las Vegas.

The 2nd anniversary of my new life came and went. I meant to write…really.

Kaylee started 4th grade.

Phil and Kaylee went to see Bill Nye.

Thanksgiving in Kansas.

More gingerbread houses.

We went to see the Mythbusters Tour show.

We went on JCCC5.

We had some of the wiring in the garage redone.

That’s pretty much it. Life from then to now. Just wanted to catch you up.

Drink Up, Boys! (Originally published on 1/1/2014)

It’s no secret that I like making stuff. I have, at one point or another, done the following crafts: crochet, knit, sew, bake, make chocolates, quilt, cross stitch. It started with a strong hatred of sitting in front the TV doing nothing, and went from there. This post is about the liqueurs.

A friend of mine got a small group together, at the local kitchen store, to take a class about making liqueurs from another local, A.J. Rathbun, who had a book out, Luscious Liqueurs. It was a lot of fun, to say the least. Liquors are based on a particular alcohol base, and don’t need to be brewed, or distilled, just steeped.

The next summer, I made strawberry jam (damn, forgot one for the list!), and had a bunch of left over strawberries. What to do? What to do? My eyes fell upon the book I’d gotten from A.J. Ah-Ha! Off to the liquor store I went for some vodka! It went great! I had so much fun making it, I wanted to keep going.

Well, at the time, my daughter had a penchant for freeze dried fruit. I’d tried the little tubs of Just Fruit. But those didn’t last long, and they are expensive! So I’d nosed around on the internet (like you do!), and found these big tins at Emergency Essentials (out of Utah…but that’s another story). I’d ordered a can of strawberry slices and a can of raspberries. She loved them! After they ran out, I ordered again. But this time, the can of raspberries turned out to be a can of raspberry PIECES. She hated them and didn’t even finish the first bowl.

Which is the back story for what happened next. In questing about to find something else to make liqueurs with, I happened to see the can of raspberry pieces. Why not? The worst that could happen would be I waste a bottle of Everclear vodka. So I threw the prescribed amount of raspberries in a jar, added the Everclear, and THEN realized I had forgotten to hydrate the raspberries first! Too late then, and again, what’s the worst that could happen?

So I dutifully steeped, and swirled, and added simple syrup as directed. Time came for bottling. I opened the jar with the raspberries. My FSM! They smelled like straight grain alcohol when I opened them. I was afraid they were ruined. But I’d already spent a month on them. In for a penny; in for a pound I figured.

So you have to strain all the solids out, then strain the liqueur through cheese cloth a couple of times. It was much thicker than the strawberry had been. The first strain was easy. The second and third times took a lot more time. But a funny thing happened. I started getting more on my hands. I started absent mindlessly licking my fingers off. It started tasting good. Then it started tasting better. By the time I was done, I was ready to lick the jar, and clean the sink with my tongue!

So it was time for a test. A friend (who was also my day-care provider) was having a barbecue for the day-care families. I brought a bottle of both strawberry and raspberry. I made Wicked Lemonade for who ever wanted to test one. Boy, the strawberry was good. But the raspberry was AWESOME SAUCE! I’m told that it was the best barbecue they’d ever had. 🙂

My friend requested more for her own use. Her neighbors tried some, and requested more. It was great, making stuff for people who kept coming back for more!

Then we moved. All alone here. Have to start making new friends. My husband started going to a gaming night with some guys he works with. I started going once in a while with him. It was really a group of guys who got together and drink…and play some games. The liqueur I had was going to go bad soon, so I offered it up to the group. You’d have thought it was Christmas, and I was Santa!

So I’ve started it back up. It’s just small batches. I made more raspberry, strawberry, and banana.

Prepped and ready to go
Ready for the steeping
Final product – raspberry

But I take requests, and now we’re trying blueberry, apricot, apple, and coffee. I wish I could sell them; they’d go like gang busters! But CA doesn’t allow affordable licenses for this kind of operation. So I’ll just have to go on making them for personal use, and as gifts.

Raspberry, coffee, blueberry, and apricot, just a-steeping!

The blueberry and apricot didn’t come out so well, but I’ve now got three favorites: raspberry, banana, and coffee. I think it is time to make more. I’ve got a hankering for a chocolate martini made with banana liqueur! How ’bout you?

Gingerbread House For EVERYONE! (Originally published on 12/19/2013)

I love my daughter. I love my daughter. I love my daughter.

Really I do. I must, why else would I do this?

It started in 2010 in Seattle. The elementary school had an annual auction. One of the families donated a Gingerbread House party for kids. They obviously been doing it for several years. Throughout the year, they buy lots of various candies. Then at Christmas, they’d pre-make and construct a bunch of gingerbread houses. At the party, each kid got a piece of foam core board, and a gingerbread house. They’d have all the various candies set up in bowls around the room, and each kid got a paper plate, and went around getting what ever they wanted to decorate their house. There were tubes of royal frosting in different colors. If you ran out of anything, you just asked, or went and got it. It was fantastic!

At the party, making the gingerbread house
The finished gingerbread house

So we kept it up, and as always, we invited friends. The next year, 2011, with our friends from down the street.

2011 gingerbread house making

And the next. 2012, with another friend.

2012 gingerbread house making

You’ll notice that in each of the previous years, each of the girls had a single gingerbread house. This year, Kaylee changed the game plan. She wanted to make a gingerbread village. And me, well, I’m an idiot, I said Ok.

So Kaylee helped me build the houses (15 in all, they were small).

Building the 15 mini houses

I bought some foam core board for each of the girls to build their villages on. Normally, I would have spent some time rounding up some bags of various candies, but I just didn’t have the time or energy for it this year. Fortunately, last year I had managed to buy considerable more than the girls used, and I’d stashed the extra. So I just pulled out what I had stashed away last year, and rummaged through the pantry. They managed to make do.

When Kaylee’s friends got here, it took a bit for them to warm up to the task. But within 15 minutes, they were going great guns!

2013 gingerbread house making

It took them about 90 minutes to finish everything. And look at these great results!

2013 proud makers

The elementary school here in California does an auction each year. I’m wondering if I should donate a gingerbread house making party next year. Because I love my daughter. And I’m crazy like that.

Come Sail Away. Come Sail Away. Come Sail Away With Me. (Draft from 12/18/2013)

So we’re cruisers now. It didn’t happen over-night, mind you. It took awhile.

It started with my in-laws. It was their 50th anniversary, and my FIL wanted to get the whole family together and go on a cruise to Alaska, and see the glaciers. We aren’t really group people, and wouldn’t have chosen that, but we figured that on a large ship there’d be lots of places to get away from everyone. We started getting a little stoked over the idea, because my husband really wanted to cross Alaska off his list of states (he’s down to two – and my Mom just moved to Kansas, one of the last two states!).

We were thinking LARGE ship, maybe 2500 people. Of course my FIL was not. He was thinking more like 250 people. I was skeptical of my opportunities of escape.

But my husband wasn’t finished. He really wanted to see glaciers. He kept asking me about it. At a dinner show one night (Yay Squirrel Nut Zippers!), I got a little tipsy and told him I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. That seemed to be the end of it.

But it wasn’t.

Shortly thereafter, I was reading a quilting magazine with an article about quilting retreats. Lo and behold, there was a quilting retreat on a cruise ship…to Alaska! I showed him the article, and said that would be about the only way to get me on a cruise to Alaska!

Shortly after that, my magazine mysteriously went missing.

Guess what? We ended up on a cruise ship to Alaska!

We tried to get my In-Laws interested, since we WOULD be taking their only grandchild with us, and it would give them plenty of time with her, but they weren’t interested in going on a QUILTING cruise, even though that was only a small part of the cruise. So we asked my parents (ok, ok, we wanted free baby-sitting, alright? Don’t judge me!), who were thrilled. Time with their grand-daughter, quilting for my Mom, photography for my Dad, and they’d never been to Alaska either. Done deal!

Truth is, it wasn’t all that great, but it was good. But the problem was that our favorite entertainer, Jonathan Coultan, announced that he was going to have a cruise about 5 months after that. We couldn’t afford both, and we’d already paid for the Alaska cruise, so we had to forego the JoCo cruise.

But then he announced there would be a JCCCII! Again, we weren’t all that excited about the cruising part, but it was JoCo!, with Paul & Storm!, Wil Wheaton!, Molly Lewis! That was enough for us, we were going, even if only for those four, but there were many more.

It was better than we’d imagined! The entertainers were fantastic! The ports themselves weren’t great, but the scenery was great. And the beaches! We had an absolutely fantastic blast! And then they announced JCCCIII!

We had gone on JCCCII by ourselves because we didn’t think our daughter would appreciate the entertainment. But while on the cruise, we realized that there was a lot that she would enjoy. So we immediately made plans for her to go along on JCCIII.

She loved it! She didn’t care much about the entertainers, but there’s a child care center on board, very reasonably priced. They have arts & crafts, plays, movies, talent shows for the kids, a parade through the ship, all kinds of cool things for the kids! We took her on the shore excursions, but while we were on the ship, she begged us to let her go to the child care center. We took her to one show, by Paul & Storm, but she didn’t like it, till they played The Best 30 Seconds On The Internet. THAT she loved!

So they announced a JCCCIV, and of course we jumped right on it! The entertainers who have been announce so far include Paul & Storm, Hank Green, and Grant Imahara! (Kermit arm flail!) There’s more, but my daughter only got that far before her head exploded!

We’ve booked and paid for cruise, hotel, and flights. We have our swimsuits, and sun screen. We are so ready to go!

So now we are cruisers. Kind of.

Writer's (Sewer's?) Block (Originally published 12/10/2013)

Why can’t I sew? I am totally blocked. I can’t seem to get any sewing done! What do I mean? Well, let me sum up. No, that will take me too long. How ’bout I summarize.

There’s the hand quilt. Remember that one? 300+ hands, signed by a bunch of JoCo SeaMonkeys? Arranged in color spokes around a photo of the entertainers? I got about 3 spokes appliqued, in a really striking multi-color thread. But then it sat there…waiting. I figured that I needed to applique 2 hands a day…at first. But it sat.

Part of it is guilt. If I quilt, I feel guilty that I’m not cleaning the house, and FSM knows, nobody else is going to do it. If I clean, I feel guilty that I’m not sewing. Same with cooking, or working. I have 4 tasks, but only enough energy to do 2 of them. And I always feel guilty about the 2 I don’t have the energy to get around to.

I picked it up and did a few more hands; I must admit that figuring out which hand to do next, and what line is at the bottom, so that other lines will lock the ends, it takes a lot of my energy. By then I needed to do So it sat some more. By then, I needed to do 3 hands a day. But it kept getting worse.

I have fabric that I promised I’d make nightgowns, and leggings and dresses for my daughter. I also have fabric to make blouses for myself. I got a shrug done. It was simple. But then there’s a wrap blouse that I already have cut out. But there are several places where it is shirred with clear elastic…which I’ve never done before. I’ve got lots of scraps, and lots of extra clear elastic. And I can’t seem to will myself to even test it out. Too guilty about the things I’m NOT doing. If I start doing THOSE things, I get guilty about not sewing. It keeps going around in a vicious circle.

UPDATE

Seems like I’ve broken through, at least a bit.

Now my list of tasks is down to 3. I’ve got no hours at work, so that’s off my list at the moment. That’s a bit of a help…and a mixed blessing.

My anti-depressant dosage got increased. That seems to be helping a bit. I’ve got a little more energy. But I can still easily overdo it, and be basically worthless the rest of the day.

I’m paying more attention to the Flylady daily tasks. Haven’t heard of her? Go check her out. Even if her methods aren’t for you, check out the tools in her store. They rock! I gave my sister one of the water bottles for Christmas. She liked it so much that she bought more. High praise indeed!

I kind of gave up on the hand quilt for now. It’s not going to be done in time for the cruise in late February, not even just the top, which is of course the most time consuming part. But I’ve resigned myself to that.

But you know, I have always, ALWAYS, experienced a great deal of what I call “Free Floating Guilt”. We used to joke that my Dad was a Worrier. If he didn’t have something to worry about, he’d INVENT something to worry about. I’m feel like I’m the same way with the guilt. Combine that with social awkwardness, and I have hell making friends. But that’s another post.

So the good news: I actually picked up a scrap of fabric and a piece of clear elastic yesterday, and figured out how to make them play nice together. I’ve got two more pieces cut, pinned, and ready to go. YEAH ME! Pictures to follow…someday…maybe… 🙂

The Gods Must Be Crazy…As Well As Me (Originally published 10/11/2013)

I must be crazy. It’s really the only reason I can think of. Why else would I decide to have 300 random SeaMonkeys sign handprints, cut from hand-dyed cloth, and decide to fuse them onto a 5′ of black cloth, double-wide, in radiating rays of color around a picture of the JCCC3 entertainers, then blanket stitch each hand down, before I even quilt it, when I’ve never done a whole-cloth quilt, and I own two curious cats, who shed like mad? Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? It does to me.

Let me elaborate.

It started around November/December of 2012, ya know, about 5-6 months after that stroke? We had already planned and paid for JCCC3, which sailed in February 2013. Don’t know what JCCC3 means? Go ahead, click on the link. I’ll wait. In the midst of the stoke-induced fog, I decided that I needed a creative project that would link me to all those wonderfully nerdy folks. I had all this hand-dyed fabric sitting around, begging to be made into a project. I’ve done memory quilts before, and things with handprints, and things with signatures. So I decided to incorporate all of that.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to hand-cut enough handprints, But I have a Cricut machine, which is used to cut scrapbook paper, vinyl, or fabric. And I have an older version of Sure-Cuts-A-Lot, a program that allows you to, among other things, import a line-drawing, and send it to your Cricut. So for the first part of this complicated process, I traced around my hand, scanned it, and pulled it into SCAL. After much cleaning, and research, and recleaning, and more research, and more recleaning, I finally figured out how to send it  my Cricut, and cut my test hand out of plain paper. Yay!

Next, I ironed fusible webbing to the back of some hand-dyed fabric and then cut that out. That worked great, so I cut out a few dozen…and finally realized the handprints were too large. I’d never be able to fit a respectable number of them onto a piece of fabric I could run through my 8′ quilting machine. Back to SCAL, where I played some more, and sized the hands down to about 5″, and duplicated them to show 6 on a page. That worked much better!

Now came the power runs of cutting out hands. That involved a GIANT roll of fusible webbing, an ironing board, the Cricut, my computer, and a USB cord. I started out with packages of 8.5×11″ sheets of webbing, and tried butting the little strips together to make a whole sheet (mistake #1). But that soon proved costly and inefficient. Oh the horror! So my good friend Amazon, and the brown Santa, as my sister calls UPS, soon delivered unto me that GIANT, 25′ long roll of fusible webbing. So I’d cut 2′ strips of fusible (to fit my Cricut mats), iron them to my hand-dyed fabric, cut out the sheets of fabric, about 10 at a time. Then, convert the ironing board to a Cricut stand, which is the only thing I had that had enough room to allow 2′ of clearance on both the front and back of the Cricut, so that the mats had enough room. Next, sqeegee down a sheet of fabric onto a mat, gently because its fabric and you don’t want to mess with the weave, yet firmly, because you don’t want it coming up at the edges and jamming the Cricut. Hook up the Cricut to the computer, open SCAL, pull up that 6-up handprint page, insert the mat, and “print” that puppy!

Is this sounding crazy yet? Cause I’m not done. The hands wouldn’t cut clean, so I had to clip a few threads on each one to release the hands…EACH hand…times 6 hands per page…times how ever many pages I managed to do that day…in that stroke-induced fog. I had to go out and buy more cutter blades a couple of times, because I could EASILY tell when the blades started getting dull.

Remember those couple of dozen hands I cut out of the hand-dyed fabric before I realized they were too big? Yeah, I ran out of hand-dyed after about 150 hands…and JCCC3 management said they’d already registered over 600 people. So I pulled out the tie-dyed looking fabric I’d done at the same time as the hand-dye, and ended up cutting another 150 hands.  At which point I decided that multiple people could just sign the same hand, and be done withe it!

So I took those 300 hands with us on the cruise, and even through the fog, managed to get about 400 of the SeaMonkeys, and most of the entertainers, to sign hands for me.

Yay! Fantastic! Great end to the story! Right?

Not exactly.

What was I going to DO with all those hands? How was I going to make a quilt out of them?

First I had to get a picture of the entertainers together. Thank god for Atom, the unofficial photographer. He had just the right shot. I bought a copy from him, promised him attribution and no commercial use (natch), and printed it out on a sheet of chemically prepared fabric.

I had a vague idea about arranging the hands around the image. After several attempts, and sitting there staring at them on my design wall (which hangs in the living room and my husband wished I’d just get the damn thing DOWN already! Thank you!), I decided on a circular pattern, with rays of color separated by rays of tie-dye.

But how to get them arranged and ironed onto the background? I didn’t have enough space anywhere to lay it all out at the same time! More sitting and staring and contemplating. I eventually figured I could draw the rays on the background, and arrange just a ray or two at a time. That way they’d be pretty much even. But I had 18 rays, and no compass to measure out the rays evenly. Finally figured that I could fold the fabric and mark it into thirds, and lay out three rays in each segment!

It moved much more quickly at that point. Sewed the background halves together to make a big square, folded and marked the thirds on each half, layed out and pinned the hands.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to have just the quilting holding down all the hands. The fusible web eventually lets go, and if the quilting didn’t catch everything correctly, the finger tips would start flopping. Didn’t want that! Soooo…each hand would have to be sewn down. (!!!) I wasn’t going to satin stitch, and I didn’t want the frayed look that can come from raw edge applique. Which meant blind hem or blanket stitch around every last hand. Gulp. I didn’t want to go through that many thread color changes either. So I decided on blanket stitch in a multi-colored thread.

Which leads here. I’ve got about 2.5 rays of color done. And I fall more in love with it each time I look at the finished section.

So here I am. Still crazy after all these years.

New lunch bag! (Originally published 12/8/2012)

I confess. I haven’t made any progress on the quilting front in forever! But I’ve tried to make up for it. I bought three yards of oilcloth the other day. (What is WRONG with me? What the hell am I going to do with all that? It was on sale! Shut up.) I managed to make another lunch bag!

The last one didn’t make it far. It worked great, but the laminate that I ironed on couldn’t hold up to the daily folding and crinkling the bag took. Here it is new:

Previous new lunch bag

After about 4 months of daily use:

After four months of daily use.

As you can see, the laminate is peeling off badly. The bag is still usable, but FSM! it looks bad.

So I figured it was time for a new one. I liked the insulation, but I didn’t like that the construction of the bag was exactly the same size for the inside and the outside, so there wasn’t any room for the insulation.

So I nosed around on the internet (All hail the great god Google!) and found this on Lemon Squeezy Home.  I really liked the flap, and the handle she added later. So off I went.

And came up with this:

It’s not insulated, but it has a flap, so no more curling. It’s lined in oilcloth, and I tried sewing the outer bag with slightly smaller seams, and the inner bag with slightly larger seams, so the inner bag fits nicely inside. I had some red marbled fabric to make the binding (STASH! Does that make this project into a stash busting project?).

I’m pretty happy with it. Now I just have two and a half more yards of oilcloth to use up!

I've got an Etsy store! (Originally published 1/31/2012)

Hi. My name is Crickett, and I have an addiction. I know the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem. My (newest) addiction is fabric dyeing.

Rainbow gradations!

It started with a kit. A kit, I confess, which I have had for probably 2 years, and simply never found the energy to do. So I simply decided that it was time to do it…and then three weeks later, I did! And Oh My Sweet FSM!!!! I fell in love! Just swirling the dyes around in the tubs made me grin and cackle out loud!

Then I had to have MORE! MORE, I tell you!! So I placed an order for more fabric and my favorite primary color dyes and stuff. And this weekend, I tried tray dyeing. Not every piece turned out as well as I hoped, but they were still amazing!

Now of course, I want to do even more! But this new habit is a little expensive – Oiy! In order to pay for my new habit, it seems I will have to sell some of my new pretties.

Hence my new Etsy store! See that pretty new gadget over on the right? That shows the items I currently have available. I’ll be listing more when I can get good photos.

I only hope that others like the colors as much as I do. I really enjoyed making these, and I hope to make more!