Color Palette {1}

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Being in the "design" business (yes, that sounds really weird for me to say! For now still feel way more comfortable saying I "make pillows") - anyway, being in the business of designing things that encompass color has made me think about color on a deeper level than I ever have before. I have always been drawn to certain colors or at least have an immediate reaction to them. But as I try to grow in my own skills I have realized that understanding color/s is so important. I now think about colors constantly; where i used to say I love that fabric, now I think why does that fabric strike me so much? And usually a large part of it is the color scheme (along with pattern of course, but we are talking about colors today!) I now no longer see blue as blue, but tones of blue that maybe mixed with just the right contrasting orange can look modern or whimsical, or a dark blue with a deep orange can look masculine. But beginning to notice these things and putting them into practice is definitely a process. I started wondering how I could hone in on this skill. Alas, as spring finally began to make her presence for us in the northwest, I started seeing that all the best color pallets are all around us. There is no book that can rival the color combinations that mother nature has already given us.

On a walk with my twin boys in the golf course near our house, there are the most beautiful trees. I noticed these clusters of "helicopters" and their amazing shades of pinks and greens. See mother nature knows her stuff!  The tree pictured is a sycamore maple, I took a photo of one of these lovely clusters and then matched the color tones in photoshop, (technology is pretty great too!) to see what this lovely color palette would look like in pantones. And voila! Here you are - I have given the matching pantone numbers for your reference : ) 

The Only Marriage Proposal I Couldn't Say No To...

Friday, May 25, 2012

So this isn't my marriage proposal. (I am not in the market for one) . . . However if a stranger came up to me on the street and proposed to me this way, I think I'd be getting myself hitched! 

Enjoy this totally sweet and super fantastic little video - I promise it's worth it!

Have a wonderous weekend!

Seek & You Shall Find ... Frida Kalho's Half Sister?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today while I had a mini break from my little ones I decided, rather than staying home and cleaning or some such nonsense, I would actually venture out into the world. I have an extensive list of items I am looking for - items I know I can find if I troll the vintage market: thrift stores, estate sales and the like.

One of my must have items that has long been on top of my list is a portrait painting. But not any old portrait painting. I wanted a mid-century era painting of a woman from about the chest up or maybe sitting on a chair with her hands folded on her knee. Specific, I know, but that's why it remained on my list for, oh, so long.

But, alas, TODAY WAS MY DAY! In denial of the rain I ventured out in flip-flops and a dress, on my long walk up Hawthorne Street in Portland, on my way down to a big vintage market, I ducked into a store because I spotted some nice dining chairs, also on my list. They weren't what I wanted but I decided to look around. And all the way in the back corner I spotted my painting. I loved it. On cue the store clerk asked if I needed any help, I said, "yes, can you tell me how much this painting is?" She happily replied it had just been marked down. I hate this moment by the way, where you see something you love and you wait for the price, just knowing you are going to have to despondently say "oh, okay, thank you" and move on because it's out of your budget. But she said "36 dollars!" And I said, "Can you put a sold sign on that?" I was completely sold on it at that price. She then reached behind the painting and pulled out a photo of the person whom the portrait was made of, this immediately compounded on my desire to run out of the store with my new treasure.

She then went on to say "well, I don't know . . . but there is a possible story on this painting. It was purchased from a local mansion and it is said to be a portrait of one of Frida Kahlo's half sisters." At this point I just wanted to throw her my 36 bucks and chat after I had this fabulous painting in my now trembling hands. The owner of the store came up to wrap it in plastic as to keep it safe from the rain and shared the story with me again - though he said they were unable to verify it from the research they did.

Now I don't know how I feel about this story exactly, the blue eyes in the painting are throwing me off a bit. And the slight knitted unibrow is giving me the feeling someone liked to weave long yarns. But on one hand it's way more fun to believe it and no matter this fanciful story will ever be attached to the painting. And at 36 dollars I can't say that they were trying to sell it up with the story, so who knows, maybe this is a painting and photo of one of Frida Kahlo's half sisters? I will say when I was retelling this story to my 14 year old son, as an effort to sell him on the painting looming in our house; when I mentioned Diego Rivera, (Frida's lover, whom also bedded her sister Christina), the painting fell off the wall! So maybe I got even more for my money and I got a ghostly roommate as well!

The signed name looks something like Ricci or Ricgi or Ricai or maybe even Richi... any guesses? Calling all art historians!! ... You can kind of see the signature in the right corner of the picture below.

Etsy Talk: Understanding Your Global Market Place

Friday, May 18, 2012


This last month I listed one of the
pillows I make and offer throughout the year as a Mother's Day pillow. That's right, I took an existing item and marketed it for a specific occation. Now, keep in mind this item was a perfect item to market as such. I didn't take a pillow with a christmas tree and market it as a mother's day gift - that would be ridiculous and annoying. In fact when I made the item I immediately thought that it would be a really fantastic mother's day gift. But for the first time in my 10 months on Etsy, I labeled my listing with a title with direct focus on the upcoming holiday, "Mother's Day Pillow." What happened? I got a lot of visits to my shop and a lot of orders! Most of the orders were specifically for that pillow but several were not. Later when looking at my "Etsy Stats" I could see that the top three searches that were directing people to my shop were "mothers day / mother's day / mother." So by using these keywords at the right time, my shop gained much more traffic than normal and many more new customers.

We all know holidays are ripe for buying and selling; our holidays are pretty centered around gift giving and now a'days people are often looking for more unique and handmade items; this often leads them to online marketplaces like Etsy. And this experience got me thinking... On such places as, Etsy, our items have a global reach. I have also seen evidence of this when my "Australia" pillow made it into an etsy email for "Australia Day" which is a huge holiday in, Australia obviously. So finally I put two and two together and thought, do I have other items that might be great gifts for other holidays around the world? I do a lot of  geographically referenced pillows, so, like the Australia pillow, I have learned by accident of other international holidays.

Again, you will want to make sure that your item fills a certain criteria for being "labeled" as an "October fest" item for example. But if you make homemade ales, this might be a great place to label your listings as "October Fest Ales!" Go one step further and also write it out in German, so you are sure to reach the areas in which are definitely going to be celebrating this festive occation. If you make jewelry you could easily market a necklace in holiday colors as "christmas necklace." Again, this doesn't mean that your item has to be 100% only usable during a specific holiday, a green necklace can be worn anytime of the year, but tweaking your listings a bit for popular searches can drive traffic to your shop as people search with these key words in your product title.

While this posting was sitting in draft mode waiting for me to painstakingly look up all the relevant holidays and special occasions around the world, I received an Etsy email that published an article similar to this topic. They have an extensive list where you can find upcoming holidays and trends in which will help you market your goods, create treasuries and so forth: Find it HERE And be sure to check back with Etsy's Merchandising desk on the Etsy blog frequently for more upcoming trends.

Love Pillow

Now that we have covered one area in understanding the global market place, can you think of more ways to take this concept and apply it further? 

Get Stuck: Wallpaper {2} Le Bebe's

Monday, May 14, 2012

Designing a children's room or nursery can be a lot of fun. You can decorate with things you may not want to decorate in other areas of your home, like ice cream lights and whimsical hanging mobils.  I think wallpaper should be at the top of this list. I think this can be especially true for those that want to keep the space clean and simple. Wallpaper can add just the right touch of playfulness while also creating both a modern and vintage feel.

Check out a few of my most favorite children's wallpapers!  

I absolutely am in love with this Mountain wallpaper which was made in collaboration with a mother and her 8 year old son (the artist of the mountains). You can buy it here and see more of the wondrous works by Fine Little Lady at Photowall

Shadow Puppet wallpaper! ('Hand Made' By Paperboy)

How sweet is this?! This wallpaper would be wonderful for a child's room but could totally be left up for years and years to come. ('Daydream' By Julia Rothman)

I love this large scale wallpaper made to look like cave drawings; would translate nicely from baby to older child. "Animals" By Minakani 

So. Very. Cool. Elephant wallpaper. From Wall & Deco

I love map wallpaper and there is a lot to choose from. But this is moveable wallpaper which means it is in between wallpaper and a decal By The Wall Stickery Company

So I mentioned photowall a bit earlier. Did you know you can create your own wallpaper using your own illustrations, artwork or photos? Neither did I. I think it's a wonderful idea to create your own wallpaper from your child's drawings or create something for them that they can gaze upon while falling off to dreamland. 

Treat Your Feet: Rock Salt and Brown Sugar Foot Scrub {Tutorial}

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First let me say Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful mamas xoxo

In honor of mother's day here is a recipe/tutorial to treat your feet, take a few moments to pamper yourself and relax; or to make a gift for a mom that you think could use a few minutes of getting off her tired doggies. This works fabulously for those that aren't a mother too!

This is a really simple recipe for a fabulous foot scrub. The ingredients are probably those which you can locate somewhere between your kitchen and your bathroom. They are easily changed out for other similar items if you don't have the exact ingredients on the list (I will give an alternative or two for each).

What you need:

  • Rock Salt or any course salt / Epsom salt is perfect (I use himalayan because it's a such a beautiful color and goes nicely with the brown sugar color if I might add. The salt helps pull any toxins from the body and exfoliate)
  • Brown Sugar / Raw sugar can work as an alternative (gentle exfoliation; hydrates)
  • Coconut Oil (Olive Oil is great too both are fabulous for the skin!)
  • Lavender or Peppermint oil for aromatherapy properties (peppermint oil is a tried and true oil used on the feet to help circulation and also helps fight any fungal or bacterial infections. Lavender can help sooth tired and overworked muscles).

All you need to do is take a few table spoons of each. I generally don't make a huge batch, simply because it is so easy to make it as you need or want to. I usually just make enough for a couple uses. But you can make as little or as much as you want.

I then add a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and about 2 drops of the lavender or peppermint oil. Mix it all up and let sit for about 1 hour to overnight. After you soak your feet (see below) gently massage the mixture on your footsies. You can also massage it on your legs (which I find I can't help doing once I get started), or even take in the shower to use on a more regular basis.

If you are giving this as a gift or want to store left overs, I use an old glass jar with a lid saved from the recycling bin.

But before I start with the foot scrub I like to soak my feet in hot water with about a quater cup of olive oil and lavender buds for about 10 minutes to soften the skin. 

Now, go take a load off and Enjoy!

Mid-Century Seating: Still the Epitome of Modern Design {Part 1}

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In looking for a couple new dining chairs I find I am still consistently drawn to the same mid-century chairs I have always been infatuated with. There is something about seating, where nice simple lines and a more modern feel than I may be drawn in other design pieces, just feels right.

Mid-Century seating is still so incredibly modern, even though they were made in the middle of the last century. However this means they also have a wonderful balance of said modernism, and yet a lovely familiarity, which I believe makes them feel both current and relaxed. Just take a look in any design magazine and you will be sure to find one of these chairs in the mix of almost any design pallet. Which means the great thing about them is you don't have to have a mid-century ranch to incorporate them into your own design style.  As you can see in the following picture, this hot pink egg chair is centered in a very romantic and shabby chic style and it still works beautifully!

In traveling down the road of visiting these timeless beauties I thought I would do a short series exploring some of the most inspiring seats from this wonderful era in design.

The originals are totally out of my price range but of course I keep my eyes open at all garage and estate sales and anywhere else I may stumble across one. I probably would have better luck playing the lotto and buying some with my new "money is no object" attitude. But for now, if you, like me, cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for a chair there are reproductions available at much more affordable price ranges. Both have a pretty good resale value, however, if you can afford an original, by all means, get it! You can always sell it down the road and get your money back.

Part 1: Arne Jacobsen. 

The Egg Chair is a Modern Danish design; designed by architect Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The Egg Chair was created for the reception area of the lobby, so you can see it offers a bit of privacy in a public space. I love the generous structure and the way the curves seemingly hold you. There was also an Egg couch made but it didn't have the longevity that this wonderful chair does. 

The High / Low: 
Authentic chairs run for about: $5000+ find one here. Reproductions: 400+ find one here


Still out of your budget? I'll bet this print isn't at only $14.00 from Etched & Sketched on Etsy.
Buy Here

Also designed by Arne Jacobsen is the Swan Chair, again, created in 1958 for the Royal hotel. It is still a bold and masculine design but with feminine curves and a much smaller scale. Great as a side chair for a living roon or bedroom, or I think it makes a really fabulous desk chair.

The High / Low: 
Authentic Chair $3500+ find one here. Replica $300+ find one here.

I love the look of this black leather swan chair against simple lines and a feminine color pallet.
Yes, please! Via

But Fear not there is yet one more way to get these chairs on a "smaller" budget. (yep, that's a foreshadowing pun) And if you happen to be 3 inches tall that will work out even better. Look at these minis from Danish Miniatures

Thanks Arne, we still love your beautiful danish modern designs! 

Be Sure to check back for Part 2. 

Tophatter: A New Way To Get Good Goods

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I heard about Tophatter via Tim Adams over at Handmadeology. But before I go on about Tophatter let me give you a tiny background about that...Handmadeology is one of those places I locked into when opening my Etsy shop. When I posted my Etsy tips I suggested picking a few places to really get familiar with and focus on when trying to dive into the whole "networking" portion of running/starting an Etsy shop; Handmadeology was one of mine. I love Tim, I don't know how many hours are in his day, but it seems more than mine! I trust his suggestions and being apart of the Handmadeology community has been really great for me and my Etsy shop. But I must admit Tophatter sounded a little "different" to me but I figured I would try it out as I was invited to be apart of an auction hosted by Tim and Handmadeology. Honestly, I felt a little trepidation, I thought it would be confusing and just wasn't sure about it. But I also figured this could be something to check off my virtual list of "been there, tried that." 

So what is Tophatter anyway? 

Tophatter is an online auction site. "Sellers" submit an item and price it below it's retail cost. "Bidders" bid on the item in one to two dollar increments. It's interactive and moves pretty quickly. You can chat with other people attending the auction, ask questions, give nice compliments and other fun stuff. The items range from vintage to handmade and everything in between. 

So what did I think about Tophatter? Was it as confusing as I thought? Not so much. It's actually really, really easy.

To get started as a seller literally takes under five minutes. And you know a lot of things claim that but it's never true. I am not saying they are claiming that but it IS true, so stinkin' easy, you will probably feel like you missed something.

First you set up your profile where you will include your paypal email address (this is how you get paid) and that's it; it is really that easy!

Then you submit a photo (or three) of your item, choose a minimum price for your item to start at, write a description, pick an auction,  (They have a lot of auction "themes": home decor, jewelry, designer footwear, bath and beauty... Based on how you categorize your item, tophatter will suggest auctions for you to join.

For me I chose my "home is where the heart is pillow" which normally retails for $49.00 in my Etsy shop, Plumed. I started my bidding at $24.00 and that's exactly what it sold at. I immediately received payment via paypal and communicated easily with the buyer via the email I provided when I signed up.

So here are my first thoughts and impressions on Tophatter based on my experience.

Public VS Private Auctions:

So, the auction I participated in was a private auction and I think because of that there were not too many people attending. And the people who were attending were mostly other Etsy sellers. In public auctions anyone can join at anytime. I am going to bet that, for obvious reason, this is the better route to go. After my first experience on Tophatter, which was where I was a "seller" and sold my pillow, I started watching other auctions. The public ones have so many people in them! (Like 100 more people than the auction I was in). Some items actually sell above their retail value or at least close to it. But even if your item sells for a lower value than retail, I look at participating in something like this as advertising if nothing else. Again, if you do a public one.

Pros for Sellers:

It's not limited to just handmade items.  The range is pretty huge at this point. I actually have been wondering if this will change in the future? As is, it has a little bit of a yard sale/ebay feeling for me that I, personally, am not over the moon about. (I guess for me it's both a pro and con; it can look a little awkward having some cover girl cosmetics next to a handmade brooch; but it's nice that it's not so limited...yet.)

One thing I like about Tophatter, as a seller is, I try to keep my shop aesthetic very streamlined, I sell pillows and only pillows. But I sometimes like to make others things too! I think Tophatter could be really great for those who either don't make enough items to keep an inventory in an etsy shop or for those who would like to sell a few of another item(s) but don't want to add items to their existing Etsy shop where it wouldn't look as cohesive. It could be especially beneficial for those who want to try out selling their wares in a very easy way; no shop set up, no banners or avatars to make.  Just note you do have to have a paypal account.

As a seller I also think this could be a good way to test out new products you make and prices for that product.

For Etsy shop owners I can see using Tophatter to clear out some of your inventory being a fabulous place to do so. We all know you can get buried on Etsy so that great sale item just might not be reaching the masses. You have items from a few months ago you'd like to clear out but not take a total loss on? Try one of these items out on Tophatter first to see how you like it.

Again, for Etsy sellers, not everyone who visits Etsy is prepared to buy when they are looking. But it seems those on Tophatter are ready to make a purchase. This is a huge bonus in my book!

You don't have to attend the auction. You can enter it before-hand and then just go back and see what happened. Though they will send you an email if your item sold. If you do attend there is a chat board so you can answer questions or give more info, but be aware it goes really quickly so you may want to be ready with your info a minute or two before your item goes up.

Cons For Sellers: 

The fee is a little steep in my opinion at 10% with a minimum fee of $1.00. So for my pillow cover my bill was $2.40.  And keep in mind you will also pay a fee to paypal. A pro to this con however is, you also charge for shipping and you set all the prices yourself. There are no rules for pricing your items so that is good. Of course they suggest pricing it well below your retail value, but it's all up to you.

Pros for Consumers:

You can get amazing deals!! People tend to start their items priced at about 50% below their retail value. If you LOVE something and no one else in the auction is bidding on it, you can score big time. The whole time I am watching an auction I am thinking "Christmas Presents!"

The auctioneer announces each item before it goes up for auction and the specs of that item will be announced, such as, the normal retail value and shipping. You can also look at the upcoming items and even set up a text alert for when that item comes up so you will be sure not to miss it!

Many sellers on Tophatter do have Etsy shops so it can be a great introduction to finding a shop you will want to return to down the road.

Bidding is easy too!  It goes really quickly, each item is up for maybe a minute if no one bids on it. If an item gets a bid that clock seems to start again, so you will have time to press the "bid" button.


Tophatter is pretty new. I can see it really taking off in the future, or I could see it tanking too, so trying it out now to get a feel for it is a great idea. Until it gets a bit bigger I don't think I will be putting up anymore of my embroidery pillows as they are just too labor intensive to sell at such a low cost. I am totally happy I tried it out and it was worth it for me to get a feel for the site. (I also sold to another Etsy seller who is super sweet and that's, you know, priceless!) Of course in the future I could raise the minimum bid but it's an auction! People are there to get great deals! So with that I am not sure it's great for items that are very time consuming. As a seller of handcrafted goods, you need to make sure you are paying yourself for your time! My suggestion is to sell items that you won't feel disgruntled about if they sell for the minimum bid.

I personally, can see going back to sell items from my Etsy shop that have been sitting stagnent for awhile and that I would be happy to sell for half of my original retail price and eat that 10% fee.

As a buyer, I think it's pretty awesome. Though, I haven't seen a feedback area for the sellers, so it may be a gamble there. But I think many of the items you can get at the amazing prices are worth the risk.

Have you visited Tophatter before? Have sold or purchased anything? What do you think? Is it the next big thing?

Notes: This is all my opinion from my experience. I use "etsy sellers" loosely, mainly because that's what I do, but this can be changed to any seller, crafter or artist of any venue!

Favorite Finds | 9 | Le Flip Clock

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

While looking for that always popular analog flip clock screensaver for my new computer 

... you know this one...

{If you want this screensaver too, find it here! This clock is at least free, unlike the ones I will be featuring below!} 

I found a company Twemco who makes new flip clocks. These clocks aren't just a nod to times past, nor are they at all gimmicky; they are beautiful and modern and I am slightly in love. I have my trepidation having actually grown up around flip clocks; I am hoping that they may be a little more quiet than the ones of yesteryear (wait, are the 80's yesteryear?!). Many a weekends I spent at my grandparents house where there was an old dusty flip-clock, the kind with that fake wood plastic stuff and that was about as big as a laptop is these days. I remember trying to fall asleep and it would go eeeeerrrrrrr, click!, as the number flipped over. So about 40 seconds of every minute was filled with the sound of the gears trying to warm up and get ready to flip that next number. It seems appropriate to note that I was trying to fall asleep on a waterbed of course. Oh, waterbeds... Not my fave.

But how cool are these? I can't help but be aesthetically giddy over these industrial master-time-pieces. 

See  More Date and Time Clocks Here

See More Special Crossover Clocks Here

So now, where to buy one of these fine pieces of analog machinery? Well, I haven't found a ton of places but I did find this place website HOMELOO that has a good inventory of Twemco clocks to choose from. They also have an assortment of other analog flip clocks too.

Here is another option by Karlsson:

Find it here!

This one is a small and much less expensive (14.99!) flip clock than the Twemco or Karlsson ones; you can buy here

Looking for something vintage? Here are a few of my favorites analog flip-clocks I found on Etsy and you can't beat the prices for these extraordinary vintage finds (let me also note these ones look much higher quality than the one I grew up with!):

Now, while I was doing my flip clock research I found that flip clocks never completely disappeared from the market, as was my assumption. There's one place they are always available and always trending and that is in the medical / independent living supplies industry. So you might find the large style flip-clocks with the date and day of the week, next to a super sized magnifying glass or safety bar for your shower.  They are great for those who may have a hard time seeing or remembering what day it is. Unfortunately these clocks are still going to be around $100.  But if you have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is, now you have a reason to justify this purchase! Or maybe you could get your insurance company to foot the bill. Ha, Right! (disclaimer: i am not suggesting anyone partake in insurance fraud).  

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