Monday, September 23, 2013

Journal Pages on My Tree

To be perfectly honest, I thought that people might look at my personal notes hanging from our Gratitude Tree, smile and walk away. I underestimated the community I live in and have gotten an amazing response!!

I walked by my window late Friday afternoon and saw a mother and son approaching the tree. They were the very first to add their declarations of gratitude. I walked out on my front porch to thank them for adding to it. The mom was so excited that she asked if she could copy my idea. By all means......let's put Gratitude Trees up all over the city!!

It was at that moment that I realized what was happening.

I had taken the mission of Mama Bleu Designs - to encourage, inspire and speak good/positive words into people's lives - put in my front yard and it was multiplying!!!

It was truly exhilarating to see people stop by all weekend! 

Parents and children!
A teenage girl and her boyfriend!
An elderly couple taking a walk!
Our neighbor who is recovering from hip surgery!
A women walking her dog!

Some of the notes are humbling to read because they are honest and open.  This one says "I am grateful that I am sober today and that people care about me." God bless them!

There are so many thank you notes on our tree too!

I am so blessed to be a witness to something so beautiful!  If feels like I have personal journal pages adorning my tree! I've been giving some thought to what I should do with all these declarations of gratitude when a storm comes blowing. I don't want to lose any of these precious words!!

So.....if you had the chance to add a note to our tree, what words would you add to it's branches?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gratitude Tree

You know how sometimes an idea takes hold of you and keeps growing? Well I have had an idea brewing in me for months and I finally put it into place this week. 

The idea first took root in my mind this past February when my daughter and I visited the Arlington Gardens. I was enamored with their Wish Tree. It was covered with weather worn bits of paper that held hand written wishes.

Fast forward another month and you'll remember that my neighbor planted a community sweet pea garden for anyone to pick a small bouquet from. The beauty of this flowering plant is that the more you pick, the more it blooms. I picked and shared so many bouquets from her prolific plant. Loved that idea!!

Today, after all these months, I finally established a neighborhood Gratitude Tree!

There are moments in my life that take me to my knees and weep in gratitude. Wednesday afternoon I had one of those moments. I was coming home from my weekly bible study and the on ramp to the freeway that I normally use was closed. I took a detour about 2 miles down the road to enter the freeway there. When I was about halfway home I noticed a helicopter circling the freeway ahead and knew that there must be an accident ahead.

Sure enough, the traffic slowed down, emergency vehicles filled the lanes and I inched my way toward the nearest freeway exit. As I passed the site of the accident my mind flashed back to the closed freeway entrance that caused me to detour. It hit me like a ton of bricks!! Without that detour, I could have been involved in that accident. Gratitude came crashing in on me, took my breath away and brought me to tears!!

I hope our Gratitude Tree is more than something that brings a smile to our neighbor's faces....although that would be great!! My hope is that people, everyone and anyone who passes by, will take a moment and declare the things they are thankful for!! I would love to see our tree loaded with so many notes of gratitude declarations that it causes people to stop and ponder about starting their own neighborhood Gratitude Tree!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Do I Manage It All

I'm often ask how I manage to do everything that I do. The answer is.....I just make it all happen. My life "is what it is" and I just go with it. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's hard but most of the time it is some place in the middle.

I don't have it all together! I don't have it all figured out! Sometimes I feel like I'm way behind. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing okay with it all.

My life experiences have taught me a couple of good lessons:

FIRST ~ You can't wait for the perfect time because there really isn't a "perfect" time. We have this preconceived notion that certain things need to be in place before we can jump in. I realized today that I had fallen into that trap AGAIN!!

Why back in February of 2011, I remember it clearly - I was watching a video on Etsy about "getting found". A panel of successful shop owners were sharing how to effectively approach bloggers and magazine editors. I set some goals that day and one huge goal on that list remained unchecked until today. Why? Because I was waiting for the perfect time!

SECOND ~ If you keep putting things off to "someday" they probably will never happen. I just shake my head when I hear people say that they will do (that thing they really want to do someday) when they retire. Our tomorrows are not guaranteed! Time slips by way to quickly! You are not going to find the time. You need to MAKE the time. If it is that important to you then schedule that someday on your calendar....soon!

THREE ~ There's really no such thing as finding a "balance" in life. It's really just about finding the right measure of each thing to put into the mix. Someone once told me that life is like a recipe for cookies. You take a good basic dough and toss in your chocolate chips and nuts and whatever else you want to add and mix it all together. It's all the ingredients mixed together and baked that makes a great cookie! Such is life!!

I sometimes think that I'd love to spend all my days in my studio creating art. Yes....that would be awesome, but I know that I would eventually need and want more out of my life than that! The other things in my life bring me balance (there's that word again). I need more of a mix in my life than my art. That is why I do things like watch my grand kids and lead a bible study table and so much more.

I let you follow my day on instagram this past Monday with the #dayinthelife. You saw that I finally made my bed after 4 days and that my work gets done bit by bit during the day. And my plan was to drop the kids off at their home, have a quick dinner and get back in the studio to finish up some orders for Mama Bleu Designs. Instead, I fell asleep on the couch after we ate and crawled into bed at 8:45pm!! Some days are like that!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY: Making Your Own Ribbon Labels

I remember when I saw a bowl full of beautiful logo tags on an etsy blog post from an interview of a successful shop owner, I immediately emailed her about them. When she replied that she made them and sent me a web link for instructions I was thrilled. The process was cumbersome and even though it worked for me, I have since improved the process. When I posted a photo on instagram last week when I was creating more tags for Mama Bleu Designs, I was asked to share "how I did that".

Along with your computer, printer and iron, you are going to need:
Satin Ribbon or Twill Tape
Light Fabric Transfer Sheets

I realized that some of you do not have or use Adobe Illustrator but the process of creating your logo artwork is basically the same in any design program.

Step One: create a new document or art board.

Step Two: create a frame or bounding box for text.

Step Three: type in the words you want on your tag. Choose your font type and size.

At this point you may want to print out a sample page to check the size. You want to make sure the type will fit within the width of your ribbon or twill tape.

Step Four: copy your first line of type and paste it just below that line. Continue to paste the line of type until your page is filled.

Step Five: you are going to reverse your print so that it reads backwards. In Adobe Illustrator you will find this function by clicking Object > Transform > Reflect > Vertical 

Step Six: Print the reversed image onto a sheet Fabric Transfer paper.

At this point you need to cut your lines of type into individual iron-on sections.

Then, following the directions on the package, you will iron these sections onto your ribbon or twill tape. It's a tedious job but the results is awesome!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Etsy Science: Some HandyTools

It never fails! I wake up at 7am, grab a cup of coffee and sit down to check my emails and etsy numbers to find out that I had a Mama Bleu Designs item appear on the front page at 2am. So how did I know that? Let me walk you through some tools that will help you stay on top of things without watching your shop activity 24/7.

One of the best tools you can use to let you know that you are/have been featured on the front page is Statsy. You can register your shop and email address at this website and they will send you an email every time one of your shop items is featured on the front page. The "featurator" will even let you know when a treasury that you have curated is featured. Let me point out one thing here. I live in the US and I know that there are times when I am probably featured on the front page of Etsy Europe but Statsy does not alert me to those features.

The emails you receive from Statsy will let you know what item was featured but it won't give you a link to the treasury itself. I like to see who made the treasury and what team they are on. If I haven't made a comment on the treasury I want to be sure to say congrats and thank you to them, especially if they are a fellow team member. I also like to see what teams are consistently getting my items featured on the front page. It's not something that you necessarily have to do but I like keeping track of that.

So if the email only tells me what item it was then how do I get the rest of the information? I'm glad you asked!! The answer is Craftcult.

There are several tabs of information at Craftcult. The "vault" will let you see all the treasuries you have made or have been featured in. It will even tell me who created it.

Another website that I use on occasion is Craftcount. This site is not a tool for tracking treasuries and front page activity but it does help me see what successful etsy shops are doing. A couple of comments on would be easy to look at what "high sellers" are doing and compare ourselves. That's not the point here. There are lots of factors to consider....length of time their shop has been open, the choices they are making about their own business, etc. The way I like to use this site is to easily find the top sellers on etsy.

So why would I want to know who the top etsy seller are? My past experiences (in my previous business and with my etsy shop) have taught me that I can learn a lot from those who are leading the field. Personally, I like to look at their shops. I don't want to emulate everything that they are doing but I might have an ah-ha moment about a marketing opportunity that I had not thought of, or a title or tag word that would be ideal for my shop, etc.

You may want to bookmark these websites for future reference because I know you are bound to wake up one morning, come home from work or a long day of errands and wondered why so many people have favorited one of your shop items!! We just crossed the threshold into the pre-holiday season and I wish all of you the best of success.....on or off the front page!