08-28-2014

pumpkin spice bread recipe

bluebirdchic_essential_pumpkinspice_loaf

Once even the hint of autumn rolls around, I’m pulling out the pumpkin recipes. In my defense, I grew with pumpkin treats, so it has to do with childhood nostalgia and a genuine love of pumpkin. We always had pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing and pumpkin cookies with semisweet chocolate chips. After we married, I came into this pumpkin sweet bread recipe from my mother in law – and I often add mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. The recipe can also be baked as muffins.

Essential Pumpkin Spice Loaf

08-27-2014

favorite scrapbookers blog tour

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I’ve been tagged in a scrapbooking blog tour by Betsy, and it’s been fun to click around a bit and see some of the amazing scrapbookers that I don’t always have the time to check out! Evie started it all, and it’s been fun to join in!

1. What am I working on right now?

Hmm. For scrapbooking? At the moment, I’m planning and brainstorming on catching up with my project life. I’ve been punching cards out of my leftover papers from my jbs mercantile kits bits and pieces and working to make time to work on it. This weekend is starting to look promising finally! And I can’t wait to get my September JBS kits this week to scrapbook some summer fun, too…

2. How long does it take me to create a project?

Typically around an hour or less when I actually start working. I usually think about my creative projects a bit before I start putting things together, though, so does that count?

3. What are my favorite things to create with at the moment?

Mixed media/watercolor/odd sized pages like the one above. In fact, I stumbled upon a spiral mixed media notebook when I was out yesterday, and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I like to choose a story that I want to tell, then decide on supplies and photos that best represent my story.

5. How do I become inspired and stay inspired?

Read. Sketch. Be present in life as it’s taking place. Take photos. Peek around pinterest at what some of my favorite scrapbookers are doing a bit. But mostly listen to others talk or write about what’s inspiring them to motivate me to get inspired by my own life.

6. What is my signature style?

Orderly messiness with lots of layers? Would that work? Because I love the mess, but it must be contained. And I love the sleek modern graphic look, but always mix it up with fun vintage elements.

My turn to tag a few of my favorite scrapbookers!

Amanda Robinson

Megan Hoeppner

Jen Gallacher 

08-24-2014

the sunday post – august 24

Usually a collection of links to things that have caught my eye on the interwebs this week.

bluebirdchic_AKleon

 

I’ll be honest with you – this week’s list may be a bit shorter than usual, because I’ve actually been logging off the internets a bit more lately. I’ve been working on really seeing the things around me, reading more, sketching more, and being inspired by the things around me that don’t come from the little box with the keyboard. You might be interested in trying it! I’m always amazed at what can happen when I unplug a little bit.

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{steal like an artist by austin kleon ~ show your work by austin kleon ~ art, inc by lisa kongdon ~ hand lettering ledger by mary kate mcdevitt ~ blogging the big guide to creative content by mollie makes featuring some of my favorite bloggers from blogs a beautiful mess, sf girl by the bay, meet me at mikes, and yvestown}

For me, unplugging this week wasn’t even a conscious decision. I’ve had to be online for a workshop that I was taking, and at the end of three days last week, I had computer burnout. (I hope that’s a good sign as far as my creativity – I can only handle so much screen time!) We swung by our local book store and trawled the aisles for new titles instead. It’s been too long since I’ve done that. I grabbed a few titles that have been on my “must read” list for a while (can’t believe it took me this long to pick up Austin Kleon’s books. I read his blog regularly.)

There’s something about supporting artists, bloggers, and publishers that I love. As much as I love my ipad, it’s not the same thing as holding the real deal in my hands. And yes, I drew in some of them already. Plus, I love the thought that I’m helping those hard working artists, bloggers, and publishers pay the bills and hopefully making it worth a publisher’s while to produce more content that I love!

Back to the link business – I guess I handed you a bunch of my favorite books and bloggers. I got all rambly in the process, but I really haven’t been on the internets as much this week reading articles!

Happy Sunday!

08-23-2014

promoting your business through marketing packets

bluebirdchic_keyfob

 

Whew! We’re sliding into the busy time of year for most families and businesses, and as much as I’ve tried to prepare the last month of this summer, it’s still settling over me with a bit of a shock.

I wanted to check in today and show off a bit of a fun sample piece that I’m putting together for the marketing/goody bags for Click Away 2014 conference goers.

Have you ever thought about promoting your business by putting together a sample piece that shows off the quality of material and workmanship that goes into your products? It can bit a bit of work, but overall, the return can be mighty, if you make sure to stick to a few important “rules”.

1.) Be thoughtful when choosing who to give your items to. As your business grows, you’ll no doubt be approached by all kinds of different businesses about cross promotion. But, you and I both know that when you’re growing a small business, every penny and minute of your time are precious, so be sure that you choose to work with companies that truly represent the type of person that typically would buy from your business. I love the funny term that photographers often use to refer to beginners that shoot an excessive number of photos – the “pray and spray” method. Well, as with photography, you might get lucky, but it’s much better to take a well thought out, deliberate approach.

2.) Make something small, but make it you (or unique). Most people that purchase from handmade businesses regularly, are looking for unique items that they connect with and love. Any business can order a personalized pen with their logo, but no one else is selling your unique goods that you make! Be sure to infuse your personality and that of your business into the items that you choose to share with others. For my sample item, I created a key fob that’s fun, unique, and durable. It uses the same genuine leather, high quality fabrics, nylon webbing, and heavy duty slides that I use to create my camera straps. I feel like it conveys the idea that my products are beautiful and functional – which is one of my main goals as a business.

3.) Make it eye catching and always include your branding. Is this a two for one? Maybe. It also kind of ties in with what I mentioned in number two. My hope is that this little piece will be eye catching enough, that the woman who receives it will take the time to check out the business info that’s included with it – my website, and shop, and will follow through with a purchase. One way to track how successful you’ve been is to include a coupon code for purchase that’s unique to that item – meaning only those that received your promo item will have the code.

So if you’re going to the time, money, and effort to put an item for marketing together, be sure that you make it worth it! Truth be told, these same principles apply to any marketing strategy for your business!

If you’re interested in seeing my other posts on growing your handmade business, be sure to check out the blog series Women & Handmade Business.

08-20-2014

committing time to things that refresh you

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I have a confession to make. I love to read. Like, really love it. You might not be able to tell, but this shelf is actually two books deep. And that doesn’t even touch the books on my ipad, the three other slots in this book case, and multiple baskets and bins and shelves in our home.

I read all different types of literature. Sometimes just for entertainment, and other times to seriously learn things – and other times to become a better person.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make time for the things that we truly love, so a few years ago, I made a commitment to myself. I’d budget 30 minutes of every day for reading. Always a Scripture passage, and then whatever I felt like in addition. Why? Because it’s one of my “things”. It refreshes me. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in being a busy mom, business owner, wife – all of the different roles that I play and stop giving to myself. The problem is when I’m always giving to others, if I don’t take time to replenish the bin, I start running out of my ability to give. I get sad. And frustrated. And maybe a bit resentful.

So I keep a short list of things I must give back to myself every week: exercise, eat healthy, and read. And this is not selfish. It makes me a better mom, a better person, keeps me growing and healthy, and keeps me able to give with happy heart.

What’s on your list?