Tuesday, March 30, 2010

... a Giveaway!

 Quirky Beauty Giveaway

This is an exciting day for me – the day of my first giveaway! Keep reading to find out more.

Quirky Beauty is a shop full of absolutely beautiful hairpieces and other accessories. As someone who enjoys nature, I find Dana’s nature-inspired pieces just gorgeous.

 Quirky Beauty Giveaway  Quirky Beauty Giveaway  Quirky Beauty Giveaway  Quirky Beauty Giveaway  Quirky Beauty Giveaway

Dana kindly answered some interview questions for us so that we could get to know her. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us a little about yourself. Do you have a family? Pets?
I'm a newlywed. Married almost 1 whole year to my wonderful husband, Harry. He is a professional photographer (he also takes all of the quirkybeauty photos!). Here's his website: www.harrygils.com. We have two cats, Kitty (girl) and Basil (boy) who are very spoiled and loved.

How and when did you get started making beaded headbands and other accessories?
I'm trained as a painter and a fashion stylist for some big department stores in Toronto. I would often make headpieces for mannequins and other props. (You can see some of my work on my website www.dcowie.com) When I was planning my wedding look I decided to make my own headpiece. I wasn't finding anything out there that was what I wanted so I started experimenting. That lead to messing about with beads and sewing until I found my passion for beading. It took several months to iron out my line on Etsy through trial and error.

What is your favorite item to make? Do you have any you dread?
I love starting a new project. I'll have an idea and sketch it out then I'll just start working and see what happens. I don't dread anything in terms of making my accessories. I just dread not pleasing people. I'm a real people-pleaser by nature which can be good or bad depending.

What does a typical weekday look like for you?
I wake up and immediately make coffee (french press!). I then check my emails, get dressed etc. Then I get sewing immediately. Each piece takes me anywhere from 1.5 - 5 hours to make as they are all hand sewn/beaded. I usually listen to some favorite Brit coms or music while I work. Then I package them up and walk to the post office for shipping!

Where do you see your business in 10 years?
I'm hoping to be still creating wonderful accessories and hopefully making some clothing. My mother raised me with all hand made clothes and I would love to make my own and include them in the line. We shall see. A lot can happen in 10 years. I'd like to be in international shops and more magazines. I have big goals.

What is one of the largest obstacles you have had to overcome with your business?
I suppose I have to come to grips with lulls in the business. Sometimes it can be so busy and other days it can be quite slow. I love to work (work-a-holic!)and keep busy and can be quite obsessive about my shop. I've been learning how to use that time to make new designs and market my line.

What inspires your new designs?
I take inspiration from nature, history and architecture mostly. I love fashion and always keep in the loop about what's going on (I've been doing that since I was a little girl in the 80's). I'm also a huge anglophile and am inspired by the English and their aesthetic.

Do you have any favorite traditions?
I don't know if I have any traditions...I am a family girl, I love family dinners. I lead a simple life and I live to make things. As long as I'm making things and doing it on my own turf I'm happy.


Dana of Quirky Beauty is so generous to be giving away this beautiful headpiece, great for any occasion, and in perfect time for spring!

 Quirky Beauty Giveaway    Quirky Beauty Giveaway

To enter, all you need to do is tell me what your favorite thing is about SPRING, and please leave me a way to contact you as well.
I’ll use random.org to choose a winner on Monday, April 5th!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Favorite Spring Color Winner: Turquoise!

Many of you noticed the poll I had on my sidebar the past week or so - well, the results are in!

Lively Turquoise
is the winner of the best spring color poll., with vibrant green trailing close behind!

In honor of lively turquoise, I found these beautiful, inspirational homes to show you:

turquoise kitchen
{What I love}
  • The functionality - huge counter space.
  • The tile behind the stove - while very powerful, it's subdued nicely with the beige wall.
  • The solid theme - turquoise and brown, with splashes of orange (look in that back corner).

turquoise living room
{What I love}
  • The earthy natural colors with the sudden pop of turquoise wing backed chairs.
  • The contrast of the bright yellow green pillows on the turquoise chairs.
  • The warmth of the fireplace in the background.
  • The solid white walls and beams.

childrens turquoise bedroom
{What I love}
  • The modern curves and lines.
  • The functionality - lots of desk space and closet space.
  • So much light!

turquoise kitchen
{What I love}
  • The beautiful white tile offset by the blue walls.
  • The huge bowl of pears!  What could be better?
  • The open shelving - while dangerous for me, if you can keep it clean, more power to you!

turquoise bedroom
{What I love}
  • The bedding - just beautiful and so comfortable looking, too.
  • That lamp in the background - love the modern base and beautiful shade.
  • The greenery in the background - adds a pop of contrast among the light blues.


Matthew Mead Contest

Head over to Holiday with Matthew Mead to find out how you can win the opportunity to have your blog or online shop mentioned in the magazine. Holiday with Matthew Mead is a "book-azine" celebrating and offering inspiration for the Christmas holiday season. To be released in October 2010, Holiday is offered via online orders only - in limited quantities - and will not be sold on newsstands. But, by simply following the BUY HOLIDAY MAGAZINE link below their banner, you can reserve your own copy of this beautiful magazine, with guaranteed delivery of the magazine straight to your mailbox! Holiday with Matthew Mead is144 pages of holiday inspiration with well-known and admired designers, bloggers and top-notch features, printed on beautiful paper and not drowning in ads!
Now, head on over for your chance to win!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bird Flying Kite Painting

My Saturday night project:

My idea for this came from the Etsy shop Artocrat by Pragya K. I love her giclee prints, but decided that I'd like to try my hand at painting my own version in acrylic. Rather than tying the bunting between the bird's beak and a tree, I enlisted my husband to help me come up with my own version... his idea was a kite, and I think it worked beautifully!

Pragya's prints are to die for, though, and I think I still like hers better - something about the clean lines of the print just grabs me!  Her entire shop is full of colorful birds and beautiful prints, and I encourage you to check it out.  Here is her original idea:


Friday, March 26, 2010

How To Make Your Own Banner

Today I am going to show you how to make an Etsy or blogger banner for free, using the online photo editing program called picnik! Etsy banners are very simple to make, but can often be very frustrating if you're not used to using photo software. For those of you without an Etsy shop, but with a blog, it's also nice to have a banner stating your name and what you do at the top of your blog, rather than just text. This will teach you how to do that!

I'm going to use a standard Etsy banner size to do this, which is 760 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall. If you're not familiar with pixels, it's ok, you really don't need to be. It's basically just the way computers measure size, similar to inches or centimeters. A one by one pixel square is just a very very tiny dot on your computer screen.

First, let me give you the starting template. This is just a plain old rectangle, but I've colored it a very slight gray. This color will not necessarily show up in your final banner unless you want it to, but it's easier to see in picnik.

To start, click on the image below. It will open in a new window (it is necessary to open it in a new window in order to get the correct size).  Then right click the image, and save it to your computer somewhere where you will remember it. Feel free to rename it however you'd like.

blank etsy banner

Now head over to picnik. You'll see this:

Go ahead and click on 'Get started now!' You'll then want to click 'Upload photos' and choose the image that you just saved.

Now you will see the gray box in picnik. We're ready to get going now!

Click the tab at the top that says "Create". Below that, click on "Text".

For now, we're going to leave the gray box - we can change it later.  Instead, we're going to go ahead and add some text, like your blog or shop name, and a tag line. To do this, click on the "text" button.   In the box, type your blog/shop name, I'll use Creek Bed Threads. Click "Add". Now you can change the color to whatever you'd like.  Remember, we'll change the background color in a minute.  Look for the "text properties" box and click whichever color you'd like. To change the font, click any font on the left side menu.  Make sure you don't choose a "Premium" font, though, you have to pay for these!  There are a lot of great free fonts available.

You can also resize your text by dragging the corners of the text box.  To add additional text, just head back to the box in the top left, type your additional text, and click "Add".

Now we're going to add some color behind the text. Click on the "Stickers" link, which is right next to the "Text" link you clicked earlier.

Look along the left hand side of your screen. You'll see many different options. The first thing we want to do is change the background color. To do this, we're just going to add a solid colored rectangle. Scroll down until you see "Geometric" and click on it. Click on your image and drag it to create a new box. Use the sizing handles to make it about the same size, or a little larger, than the original gray box. Now you can adjust the color of the rectangle by choosing a color in the "sticker properties" box. Just click anywhere on the colors shown to choose the color you want. I've shown this one in pink.

But what happened to our text????  With the rectangle selected, right click and click "send to back".  This will put it behind your text!

Now is the time you may want to play with placement, colors, etc. Each time you click on an object (your rectangle, text, etc.) you will see a properties box. This is where you can change the color, font, etc.

If you'd like a border around your image, add another rectangle in the same manner as before, but size it slightly smaller than your image. This will create a "border". Again, it will hide your text at first, but right click and click "send backward" ("send to back" will push it too far back). Repeat the right click - "send backward" until you can see all of your text.

Ok, now it's time to make it pretty. Make sure you're still on the "Stickers" menu. Now you can scroll around and check out all of the fun images and icons they have for you to use. There are many options! Beware for the "premium only" icons, though, you can't get these for free. Keep scrolling down and there will be more free options!

Here is what I chose to do. Notice that I changed my background rectangle to pink, and added another white rectangle on top - but this time I used the option with the rounded corners rather than the square corners. I also added some squiggly leaf things - these are actually two stickers that I arranged to touch, making it look like one. You can easily flip, rotate, and otherwise edit the stickers from the properties window that shows up when you click the object. Remember, to change the layering of any object, right click on it, and click "send backward" or "bring forward". If you want to send it all the way to the back or front of your objects, click "send to back" or "bring to front".

Here is another option I played around with, just keeping the gray background.

Once you're satisfied, click the "save and share" tab.  It should realize that you want to save it at 760x100 pixels, but just check to make sure.  Then click "save photo"!  That's it!  Now it's ready to be added to your shop or blog.

I would LOVE to see your creations if you try this!  Please leave links!  And if you have questions or need clarification on anything, just ask below and I'll try to respond below as well.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vintage Dishes ... an obsession

I'll admit it.

vintage porcelain teapot

I have an issue with dishes... China... Anything that sits on a table.

yellow starburst bowl

I love dishes. They're all so unique, so pretty, so fun. They can change your table in an instant.

vintage pitcher

And then when you combine a love of dishes with a love of vintage things... well vintage dishes just throw me over the edge. Like this one. Oh my...

vintage teacup

I've noticed a distinct change in my taste this spring. I'm loving these pretty vintage florals. Not overdone, no. Simple and classic still, but flowery and girly none-the-less. My husband is overjoyed :)

*note that all images used are used with permission granted by the Creative Commons License.*
clicking on the picture will take you to the source


Monday, March 22, 2010

Bird-day Bunting

RecentlyI came across a blog with a completely awesomely cute idea for some birthday cards.  First of all, I love the blog in general, she has beautiful photos, but I just had to share this idea for cards with you because I cannot get over how cute it is.  Good thing I am going to be ordering some stamps from Stampin' Up soon - I am definitely going to try this!



Saturday, March 20, 2010

How To Add A Blog Button

For a while now, I had been wanting to add a button to my blog that others could grab as well.  As you see (to the right) I was finally able to do this!  It wasn't quite as easy as I thought, so I am going to explain it here so that everyone can give it a go.

1.  First, you need to design your button.  If you're an Etsy seller, you could use your avatar, or design something new!  I won't go into too much detail here, but you'll want it to be at least 125x125 pixels.

2.  Now, you need to host the image somewhere.  I normally use Flickr to host my photos, but their rules say that all images must link back to their site - but we want your button to link to your blog, not flickr!  So instead, I've used photobucket, since I didn't see any rules like that there.

3.  Once it's there, you'll notice that there are some links below or to the left of your image, giving you the location of your picture.  You want to copy the "direct link", which will look something like this "http://i786.photobucket.com/albums/yy143/erinsue1/blogbutton1.jpg".  I'm going to refer to this URL later as IMAGE SOURCE.

4.  Now that your button is 'hosted', you want to add it to your blog.  If you use blogger, all you need to do is go to your blogger home, and click the layout tab.  Now click "add a gadget", and choose HTML.

<center><a href="YOUR BLOG URL GOES HERE" target="_blank"><img src="IMAGE SOURCE GOES HERE" height="125" width="125" /> </a></center><center><textarea cols=”15″ rows=”4″ wrap=”virtual”><center><a href="YOUR BLOG URL GOES HERE" target="_blank"><img src="IMAGE SOURCE GOES HERE" height="125" width="125" /> </a></center></textarea></center>

5.  Now we need to format the code that you will put into this gadget.  Below is the code that you will use, and this will show your button, plus add a text box containing the code for your button that others can copy into a widget on their blog!

6.  You can customize this code if you'd like, the things you'll want to focus on are where it says height="xxx" and width="xxx".  If you want use a button size other than 125x125 you'll want to adjust these.  I would recommend the 125px square, but it's not necessary, I've seen larger ones around 150 or 175px square.  Another thing to customize, if interested, is the alignment.  I have it set to center, because that's how it looks best in most layouts, but you may want to remove the tags and everywhere they appear in order to have the text alignment to the left.

7.  Now just copy your code into the gadget, and save... it should be on your blog now!  As always you can drag the gadgets around in the blogger layout page to customize where this will show up.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to comment, and I will try to answer your questions.  I am not an expert in coding, but have figured out a few small things like this, so I will do my best!


Friday, March 19, 2010


Yes, I know it's Friday.

But I realized yesterday that I like Thursdays, as far as weekdays go.  Thursdays are unexpected weekdays.

On Thursdays, I can look forward to the weekend because it's close.  But I don't have to worry yet about all the things I have to get done over the weekend, or going into a cleaning frenzy because people are coming over.


On Thursdays, there's time to do unexpected things, like go out to dinner with friends who happened to stop by on a whim.

On Thursdays, we're not busy.  We can relax, do things we want to do, enjoy the sunshine that is lasting much later into the evenings now.

On Thursdays, I'm not yet antsy about getting to the weekend, just complacent working at my day job.

Thursdays are normal days.  I like normal.  Tiring, Boring, Fun, Exciting, they all have their places... on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  

But Thursday,  
Thursday is normal.

What about you?  What's your favorite weekday?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Favorite Etsy Finds

favorite find

favorite find

favorite find

favorite find

favorite find


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Money Monday!

As some of you may or may not know, I am a huge bargain shopper.  I have been looking out for good deals since I was 5 and knew what money was, and that I didn't have a lot of it.  This mentality is mostly thanks to my mother, who is also an avid bargain shopper.  We love anything cheap, be it from a garage sale, someone else's garbage, Salvation Army... etc., etc.

Luckily, this bargain hunting mindset carries over into grocery shopping.  Grocery shopping is like a game... how much can you save this week?  I love looking at the bottom of my receipt and seeing how much I saved.  Is it going to be a measly $5 this week, or is this going to be a $30 week!?

Let me tell you, this week, it was a $56 week.  That's right.  $56.

MoneySavingMom  has been a large part of my inspiration, and my own mother and I will often call or email each other with the latest great deal that was posted by MoneySavingMom.  But I do not always just blindly follow her advice, usually I do my own coupon game, armed with ideas and inspiration from her site.

Normally I do my grocery shopping at Giant Eagle, but this week, I decided to do the majority of it at Target, and boy was I glad I did!  If you weren't aware already, Target will allow you to use one Target coupon PLUS one manufacturer's coupon on any item.  Stacking coupons like this gets you some REALLY great deals.

Shown below is everything that I got yesterday in my trip.  I spent a total of $56 out of pocket, and got $10 back in gift cards, making everything below a final total of $46.

03 15_1073_edited-1

Shown above is the following:
4 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats
4 boxes of Raisin Bran Crunch
2 boxes of Corn Chex
1 gallon of milk
24 rolls of toilet paper
2 jars of Emerald nuts
2 bags of nut clusters
4 boxes of Green Giant veggies
3 bags of Steamfresh veggies
1 package of Always pads
1 box of Playtex
1 package of bacon
1 container of Airborne
1 loaf of bread

I used a total of 27 coupons.  Yup.  27.  It took me an hour and a half to find, clip, and sort all of my coupons but it was completely worth it to see the huge whopping $56 saved at the bottom of my receipt, PLUS come home with $10 in Target gift cards.

So how did I do it?  Well, I went through the coupons here (coupons.com), here (target.com), and here (redplum.com), and simply clipped what I wanted.  Most of the coupons I used were printed, and some were previous coupons that I clipped from the Sunday paper and weekly redplum.

By far the best deal that I got out of the above was the 4 boxes of Mini Wheats for a total of 50 cents.  That's 13 cents per box.  Granted, they are small boxes, but what a deal!  You'll end up paying $5.50 out of pocket, but receive a $5 gift card in return.

To do this, you need to buy 4 boxes, and print out one $1.50/2 coupon from here, one $1.50/2 coupon here, and one $1.50/3 Kellog's cereals Target coupon here.  They are on sale through the 20th for 4 for $10, plus a $5 gift card if you buy 4.  Make sure you also print the Target coupon policy to take with you to the store - sometimes clerks have given people trouble about using a Target coupon stacked with a regular manufacturers coupon, but I had no trouble doing this last night, and according to their policy it is completely  ok.

You can also do a similar deal with the Raisin Bran Crunch, although it does not work out to be quite as cheap as the Mini Wheats.  I was able to get the Chex for $1.50/box, which isn't stellar, but considering our Giant Eagle has been out of Corn Chex for months, and Target had it all along, I am quite quite happy to have Corn Chex back in stock at our house!  You can stack one $0.75/1 manufacturer coupon with one $0.75/1 Target coupon to get these for $1.50 each.

Another great deal is to print off the coupons for Nut Clusters - there is a $1/1 coupon on coupons.com as  well as a Target coupon for $1/1.  At our Target these were $2.99, making them 99 cents each after coupons.

Nuts were the theme of the night - I also got 2 Emerald jars for $3.  These are on sale at Target for 2 for $6, plus if you look, some of the jars have a Target coupon on the front for $1 off, making them $2/jar.  I also had another $1/2 coupon to use, but unfortunately I do not remember where I got it, perhaps off of a previously bought jar?  This allowed me to get a great deal on the nuts!

Does anyone else have any great Target deals to share this week?  I am definitely going to keep my eye out for more in the future!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Is Coming

What a joy it is to walk outside and feel the warmth of spring in the air! Even though we've only had a taste of it these past few days, I am ready to forget the bone-chilling cold winter air, the breathlessness that came from walking from the warm indoors to the windy outside. Now I can breathe deeply and I want to skip… run… dance through fields of wildflowers… oh so idyllic. The thrill of new life is just waiting around the corner.

Birds chirping,

baby bird

Flowers blooming,

little bug

Treasures waiting to be found.

4.10.08 050_edited-4

Exploring to do,

5-8 048

Places to go,

img_6.8.08 010

New sights to see!

Phipps 064

Such excitement comes with the spring - roller coaster rides, walks through the park, heading out for a Sunday picnic. Cardinals in the backyard, trees blooming into beautiful pinks and whites, fresh fruit on it’s way!

Bring on the spring!

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