dolly dingle

Aren’t these the cutest? ❤

Seven Layer Designs

NOTE — (9.13.11) Dolly Dingle cards are now available in my shop.  Read more about them here.

tonight, i unearthed a gem from my childhood.  for most of us, there comes a time, when mom pulls out everything she has been holding on to over the years to pass along…

to you…

to hold on to…

to show your kids when they are 25 or 30.

there wasn’t too much for us, as my mom relocated years ago to nashville, tn and has encounter a couple floods.  needless to say, i didn’t have my hopes up… but i was more than pleasantly surprised by some goodies.  look for some pictures coming soon.

but until then, i couldn’t go without posting about little ole’ dolly dingle.

here are some stock photos, i will take some of my own soon, of dolly and my other goodies!!

stay tuned

OHHH and i…

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Peek test

The results of the Peek test for my Etsy shop are in!  http://peek.usertesting.com/result/017355814636?autoplay=true

I was afraid to open it at first, because I’ve heard of some people getting reviewers who were really mean. But luckily, I got a great reviewer who was friendly and helpful. And he seemed familiar with Etsy as well, since he recognized it immediately and knew where to go to find the about page, policies, etc.

The review was positive, which is good to hear. He really liked my banner. To be honest, I’ve been thinking about changing it, but obviously I’m now having second thoughts about that! The most useful part of this test was that it gave me a little lesson in shop housekeeping…he chose an older listing to look at, and it’s not as sophisticated in description or photos as the newer ones. I need to do a run through and update some of the older listings so that they’re up to snuff!

If you’re interested in getting a Peek test, you can do it here: http://peek.usertesting.com/ . It can be done for any website, not just Etsy. It works by showing your site to a random “civilian”, who checks it out and gives it a user-friendliness review. From what I’ve heard it’s a bit of a gamble; sometimes you get good info and suggestions, and sometimes you get a review that’s less useful. But it’s free! 🙂

New creation: upcycled ceramic duck

Remember the “saturday project” I posted about, that involved spray paint? Well, here’s what I was doing. 😀

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I’ve been getting cute ceramic figurines and pottery at local thrift stores, with the plan to upcycle them. This little duck was dingy and sad, dirty with peeling paint, sitting there unloved on the shelf. I took him home, scrubbed him clean, gave him multiple coats of fresh white paint, and then decorated him by hand in my own style!

Instead the original boring, dingy yellow beak and feet, he gets bright cheery pink. The bow, which was once a dull blue and chipping away, is now a brilliant dark pink. I’ve always loved the look of beach stones painted with hundreds of dots, and I also love ombre, so I adapted both of those to my own style. Lots of dark red spots on the back and wings, fading to lighter pink near the head and belly. Once that was done (it took a good while to make all of those dots!), I coated the figure with clear glaze for protection.

I’m VERY happy with the result! A boring, dingy ole figurine is now a fresh new home decor item. And this little guy was my guinea pig…since he turned out wonderfully, I plan to make a bunch of repurposed ceramics, in all kinds of fun colors. I have another, larger duck, a bunny, several small vases, and a few lidded pots that will get the ombre dot treatment. All of them will go in my Etsy shop. My only regret is not taking “before” and “after” photos, so you could see how drastic the change was.

I can’t wait to start dotting everything! 🙂

Earth day craft ideas

Happy Earth Day, everyone! Here are some fun links to some crafty, eco-friendly ideas to recycle and celebrate our planet. 🙂

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Craftsy has a great roundup of fun projects: http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/04/eco-friendly-projects/

Here’s an older article from Country Living with a ton of cool ideas: http://www.countryliving.com/crafts/projects/green-crafts-0309#slide-1

50 creative ways to repurpose old things at TwistedSifter: http://twistedsifter.com/2012/06/creative-ways-to-repurpose-reuse-and-upcycle-old-things/

Grocery bags: Make ’em, and make *with* em at Greenupgrader: http://greenupgrader.com/26647/grocery-bag-crafts-make-em-and-make-with-em/

Check out these 12 kid-friendly Earth Day crafts from Spoonful: http://spoonful.com/earth-day/earth-day-crafts

Another older article, listing 50 things to do with tin cans: http://www.bystephanielynn.com/2011/09/50-crafts-and-projects-using-recycled-repurposed-upcycled-cans-saturday-inspiration-ideas.html

I’ve never heard of a “tiffin carrier” before now, but this is one of the coolest recycled cardboard creations that I’ve ever seen! http://www.ikatbag.com/2012/03/tiffin-carrier.html

And another neat and useful cardboard creation, a laptop stand: http://greenupgrader.com/7603/diy-cardboard-laptop-stand/

PeachPod on Etsy

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Allow me to introduce you to my Etsy shop, PeachPod! Here’s a little history about how and why my shop came about…

I have loved crafting since childhood. I come from a family of quilters and seamstresses, so I’ve always been surrounded by people making things by hand. There was always a quilt on the rack at my great grandmother’s house, and my great aunts even let me quilt a few squares when I visited (though in retrospect I’m sure my childish stitches were pulled out after I was gone!) Pawpaw was a talented carpenter, and I have fond memories of his workshop that always had the sweet aroma of sawdust. My Aunt Diana was a gifted artist, and once painted a huge mural on her bedroom wall…entirely with nail polish! But most of all, I was influenced by my grandmother, Nancy. Nana could sew anything and everything. Her sewing room was one of my favorite places to be, with so many beautiful treasures in various stages of completion. To this day, the sound and scent of a sewing machine brings back wonderful childhood memories.

I’ve dabbled in various crafts over the years, including quilting, cross stitch, and woodworking. I’m terrible with wood (though I still try from time to time!), but sewing has proven to be a talent. I have a special love for creating with felt; there’s something very cool about taking a sheet of of blank material and assembling it into a recognizable piece of jewelry, or a decoration, or a toy, or anything! Drawing has also been a lifelong pastime, and sometimes I wish I had gone to art school to become a professional artist.

My shop came about last year, when I made a few big changes in my life. I decided to work to make my dreams a reality, instead of just daydreaming about them in my head. But for that, I needed some extra income. One of my twitter friends had an Etsy shop, selling cute little plush toys that she sewed by hand. She talked about it on twitter often, and I was intrigued by this website that helped connect crafters with shoppers who appreciate handmade goods. So I took the plunge and opened PeachPod! My shop is a little mini-department store, with felt  jewelry, decorations, artwork, beaded things (have I mentioned that I love seed beads?), hair clips, and other assorted things. I have what they call “crafting ADD”…I want to make anything and everything! 🙂 Luckily, other people like some of the things I make, and so far my shop has been successful. All of my profits go to paying off my debts (see the “Debt-free Dreams” post from a few days ago), which will clear the way for making my dream of owning a farm a reality!

Running an online shop has definitely been an experience. Before I actually tried it, it sounded so easy…just put up some listings and voila, you have an online storefront! Easy, right? Haha, nope! 🙂 I had to take a crash course in SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimization), which allows people to actually find your items in the sea of MILLIONS of things for sale on the internet. Then there’s photography to learn; you need great photos to show off your items and help a buyer across the world see how nice they are when they can’t actually hold it and feel it in person. Shipping is important; you have to know how to ship items safely and securely, and to properly charge for shipping so that the customer gets the best possible price, but you don’t end up eating part of the cost by misjudging and charging too little. And of course, I had to learn how to balance my time between my day job, crafting, keeping the shop in working order, and trying to live life and get some leisure time in!

It’s been a lot of work, but I’m very happy with my shop, I love my customers, and I hope I get to keep doing this for a long time. 🙂

 

Saturday project

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Here’s a sneak peek at a project I’m working on at the moment… What does it mean? Stay tuned to find out! 🙂

Debt-free Dreams

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I’ve recently made a big change in my life: I’ve decided to become debt-free.

Luckily I’m rather frugal by nature, so I didn’t have multiple huge credit card balances like a lot of people do. But when I started my financial journey, I had almost $10,000 in student loans (from my biology degree that I’m not even using!), $5000 left on a car loan, one credit card with a ~$1500 balance, and a mortgage with ~$70,000 left to pay. Not a lot of debt compared to some people, but believe me, I could feel the weight on my shoulders!

I was tired of being in debt. I was tired of sending a car payment every month, and a student loan payment every month, and a credit card payment (or several) every month. It’s frustrating to watch all that money go sailing off in the mail as soon as I had earned it. Financial freedom sounds so good…just imagine having MOST of every paycheck available to use, instead of earmarked for other people for a bunch of debt! I could use the extra money to save for retirement, or save up for a better house, or heck, just spend some and have fun instead of watching it go down the interest drain. Sounds great, right?

The turning point came when I had a mild mid-life crisis. Ok, make that early-mid-life, I’m not *quite* middle aged just yet. 🙂 I decided to bite the bullet and follow my dreams, which requires saving up for a new house. (Note: The “following my dreams” story is a big one, and will get it’s own post later!) Saving up for a 10% down payment takes a lot of money, so I need those debts gone ASAP. The debt-free mission was born.

Step 1 was to alter Outflow: halt all unnecessary spending immediately. The first thing I cancelled was my gym membership…that really hurt because I love going to the gym, but that was $42 a month that could go to bills instead. I stopped eating out at restaurants, and stopped buying lunch at work. I completely stopped all clothes shopping with the exception of socks and underwear, and I stopped buying books, music, and videogames too, even cancelling my World of Warcraft membership. This part HURT, but it’s necessary.

Step 2 was to alter Inflow: generate some additional income. I didn’t want a second job if I could possibly avoid it, so I started thinking about what I could do at home for extra money. I have no experience with children, so babysitting was out, and I’m too shy to make my own business mowing lawns or cleaning homes. But I love to sew and draw and generally create, which are things I can do at home in private. so I decided to set up a little online shop on Etsy to sell some handmade items. It’s a lot of work, but I’m currently averaging $150-200 a month doing hobbies that I love to do anyway! (Note: My Etsy shop, PeachPod, is the inspiration for my blog title and will be the focus of a later post as well.)

Step 3 was to PAY PAY PAY! The credit card was the first to go. Then I started attacking the most annoying one, the student loans. As of today, 4/17/2014, I have $1200 left to go on my loans. I’ve been paying $600 a month on them, so that’s two months until I am free from them forever! That will be a great day. 🙂 After the student loans are gone, I’ll tackle the car loan. When it’s gone, the only thing left will be the mortgage.

It’s been a tough road, but so far it’s been worth it. I love watching those balances and interest go down, and my expendable income go up. Luckily I haven’t lost my stamina for saving, in fact, the longer I do it, the more drive I have to push through to the very end. And there’s definitely some satisfaction in saving every nickel and dime; it’s almost like a competition I have with myself to spend as little as humanly possible. And then beat that amount next month.

So that’s where I’m at. There’s still a few thousand dollars to go, but the finish line is in sight. I can’t wait to pay that last payment and be free from the burden of unnecessary debt!

Welcome!

Hello, and welcome to PeachPod Chronicles! I’m Karen, and I’ll be using this space to write about my Etsy craft business, my adventures in getting out of debt, my dreams for a farm in the country, and anything else that tickles my crazy little brain. 🙂