Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year (How's That For Original?)

I was at my day job on this New Year's Eve day, and it was a rather nice one.  Because there were so few people in the office I was able to get all of my work done in the morning, which left the afternoon for me to catch up on my blog reading.  I went back to blogs I haven't read in a while, and even found some new ones I like.  A recurring theme in many blogs is a statement by the author that they will be "away" for a while.

Does this happen at the end of every year?  Does a day on the calendar call out to us to rest up before the new year begins?

No matter.  My posts are so sporadic you probably wouldn't even guess I was away, just that I was behind, which is usually the case.  My statement on this New Year's Eve is that I would like to be "present" more often than not in the blogosphere.  There are so many things I want to accomplish in my craft life as well as my personal life, and this is where I should document those trials, errors, and successes. 

We shall see what actually becomes of this so-called resolution to write more, because the trepidation lies not in the writing, but in the photography.  I'm not a photographer by any means, but who wants to read a blog without a picture or two?  Taking good pictures, then doing all that pesky downloading, or uploading, or whatever you call it when you make the pictures fly from the camera to the computer, is what bogs me down. 

So on this eve of the first day of 2010 I bid all of you bloggers a happy time away from your blogs, but please do hurry back.  You are an inspiration to people like me, and also a lovely way to fritter away a slow day at work.  To the rest of you I bid Happy New Year.  I wish us all joyful times, and courage and strength in not-so-joyful times.  Celebrate!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


As I finished up 2009, putting the business on the back burner in favor of Christmas cheer I was a little worried about what 2010 would bring. I haven’t been in business for too long, and really don’t know much about marketing, but one thing I do know is people like to see new products. I didn’t have any new ideas, or so I thought.

I love candle making and will of course continue to create colorful and fragrant candles. I may focus a little more on votives; something I’ve made for years but really haven’t packaged them in a way that pleases me. I’ve only started giving my pillars the shrink wrap treatment, which is a step above cellophane bags. Now to move the shrink wrap to the votives, and also finding fun ways to package votives as a set.

But packaging doesn’t really count as “new” product. Variations on a theme kind of count, as in new bottle cap drink charm sets and bottle cap magnets. I’ve been selling the same images for a couple of years now, and it’s time to change up. Or at least add to.

With a few new ideas on how to improve existing products, I’d yet to come up with completely new product ideas. And the inspiration just wasn’t coming. Is inspiration something you can wish and it will appear? What inspires you?

Different people give different answers to the question of inspiration. Nature, colors, and themes can all be inspirations. This week my inspiration came from a tool; more specifically, a piece of office equipment. Husby gave me a gift for Christmas that took me by surprise. A laminator. Not one of those you can find in a hobby or craft store, but a real, heavy-duty laminator. And with that gift the ideas came flooding forth.

I can’t reveal what those ideas are right now as I’ll have to experiment before I unveil a finished product. But even if my experiments don’t result in a sellable product, I foresee myself having a ton of fun just playing and exploring possibilities.

Husby must know me pretty well and guessed tools would inspire me as he also bought me a couple of really fun tools for the kitchen. I guess he wants me to cook more. Who can blame him? And now, with the right tools, the job will be easier and more fun. That is, of course, if I’m not too busy with my crafting projects.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Did You Know - The 12 Days Of Christmas

Did you know the twelve days of Christmas are after Christmas day?

So not only can you keep the beautiful tree up until after the New Year (January 6th to be precise), feel free to indulge on all of those sweets, saving the New Year's resolution diet for later. 

Pardon me now while I go eat a piece of fudge.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All Aboard

It’s a cold December night, late according to my standards, and I’m compelled to write something. The problem is, I have no idea what to write about. So I asked Husby, what should I write about tonight? He suggested I write about The Polar Express, a movie we just finished watching. And why not? Husby usually has good ideas if only I ask the right questions.

So, if you haven’t seen The Polar Express you’re missing out on a real treat. The animation is wonderful and the story is even better. Of course you can never go wrong with Tom Hanks, who is the voice of the conductor on The Polar Express.

These days Husby and I have been weighed down by the declining health of his parents. During trying times I like to turn to the screen for distracting, or better yet uplifting movies. The Polar Express was just the thing both of us needed. It’s about friendship, taking exciting chances, and believing. In a nutshell, it’s all about the magic of Christmas. And the elves are totally believable.

What is it about Christmastime that makes people just a little bit nicer? Is it because we expect presents? Or could it be we find satisfaction in giving? Santa inspires us to think of those we’d like to acknowledge at Christmas, whether it be with a card, a gift, or a batch of homemade cookies. We think a little more about the people in our lives and how we can express our gratitude for their presence in our lives. Santa could very well be a viable higher power, enlightening us to give of ourselves. He brings out the best in us. Who wouldn’t want to believe in something like that?

This season, believe. Hear the jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh. If you have no idea what I’m talking about pop up some corn and watch The Polar Express. Enchanting, no matter how many times you see it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Featured Shop - Drew Jaeger-Glass Artisan

About twice a month I contribute an article to the HandmadeMN blog featuring the HandmadeMN members' shops on Etsy. I thought it would be nice to have those articles on my blog too, as I really like the artists and shops I feature, and their wares might add a bit of class to my little corner of the blogosphere.

It's the time of year when everyone is out in the cold, bustling around the malls trying to get their Christmas shopping done. I love this time of year, but bustling I do not love. We're fortunate to have, at our fingertips, the wonderful site of Etsy. Here at HandmadeMN we're all part of the Etsy family and are happy to present our wares in the comfort of your home by the warm glow of your computer screen.

But what happens when you don't even know what you're looking for? What do you buy for the accomplished housewife? The swanky bachelor? The newly wedded couple? The grandmother who has everything? Drew Jaeger has the answer to your question. Glass. Beautiful, kiln-formed glass. His work is perfect for anyone on your list.

Take a little trip to Drew's shop and soak up all the colorful, wonderful goodness he has to offer. This one is makes me think of springtime with its bright green, or autumn with its dark red. See what I mean? This platter is so versatile it would be a great gift for anyone.

This next one has a classy contemporary style with its rich blue color. The cool line design even looks like a metropolitan skyline.

What could be more intriguing than this next platter? The red and white are so vibrant giving a feeling of pent up angst. Or of cracked winter ice.

Stop by Drew Jaeger-Glass Artisan and see what you can read into his creative platters. You'll surely find the perfect message for someone on your gift list this holiday season. Or even better, one for yourself.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nothing To Write About

During this busy season I’ve said several times to myself, I should blog about that. The subject matter would be pushed to the back of my mind as priorities made other plans for me. Holiday entertaining, gift shopping, and custom orders to make for others have been of the utmost importance, leaving the blog behind. Now that I have some time, I cuddle up on the couch with my laptop by the light of the Christmas tree I can’t for the life of me pull up those blog topics I thought of previously.

Could it be I wanted to write about the high school band concert in which my nephews Paenney and Fojo played? How listening to so many talented young musicians melted away the troubles of the work week for me? How watching the director was an inspiration in passion? Could it be I wanted to write about how refreshing it is to go to a high school and hear not a holiday concert, but a Christmas concert? Or maybe I wanted to write about how funny it was how one band member ordered a pizza during the concert and had it delivered through a window to the backstage?

I can’t remember if I wanted to write about how thrilled I am to have received so many custom orders from people who like my work. Or how much I enjoy working on these orders. Maybe I wanted to say how I wonder if these customers think not only are my pieces good enough for them, but also good enough to give to others as gifts. How I have Christmas carols going through my head this time of year when I’m pouring hot wax or beading a drink charm.

I wonder if I wanted to say whoever invented the mixture of butter and sugar should be canonized. How such simple ingredients are the base of millions of tasty treats? How much I love to scrape the mixing bowl and eat an entire spatulaful of cookie dough?

Maybe there was a time I wanted to comment on the booming wonder that is Tuba Christmas - a band comprised of nothing more than brass in the tuba family. Or maybe I wanted to write a piece on how I’ve been going to these concerts every year since Paenny started playing in them at age eleven. Then he was frustrated by the complexity and confusion of the music and playing with so many fellow musicians and now at seventeen enjoys being part of such a festive community event, breezing through the music with his many years of musical training.

It could have been I wanted to write about how cool I think it is that Fojo wants to be a Humane Society volunteer. How his dedication to and love for animals has inspired him to volunteer his time not only to satisfy his own desires to play with dogs, but to be of service to his community. How he, like his brother Paenney, has grown into such a responsible, funny, smart, and really tall young man.

I have no idea. With a few spare moments with which I can write about something my mind is completely blank. What were those things I wanted to write about while I was busy doing something else? Trying to think of them has made me tired. I think I’ll just turn off the computer and stare at the Christmas tree for a while, until my eyes grow heavy with a sleep that can only be had in the cold of winter. Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember what I was going to write about.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And Speaking Of Pie...

Martha Stewart asks, "Which Holiday Pie Are You?"

I'm "undoubtedly Cranberry, Almond, and Cinnamon Tart - a little bit complicated but completely worth it."

Take the quiz and put a name to the sweet pastry that is you! 

Click Here For The Quiz

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Make A Joyful Noise

These monks visit us from their monastic aerie, high in the ascetic and self-abnegating environs of Molalla. There, they obediently eschew the accoutrements of modernity and live lives of denial and high drama. Alas, these freres, as is the wont of many fraternal orders, have taken vows of silence, as signs of their devotion to demands higher than those of mundane carnality and banal essentialism. But the Bible says "make a joyful noise unto the Lord." Adhering to their vows and following the words of God may I present:

Friday, December 04, 2009


December. Lots of people in my neck of the woods dread this time of year. The temperature drops and the snow begins to fly. Flip-flops are replaced with heavy boots. T-shirts are put away and down jackets become daily ware. If I had a nickel for every time I heard complaints about Minnesota winters I would be a very rich woman indeed.

Nature is dormant. Everything is covered in snow, creating a cleanliness and silence so welcome after the busy summer months. December is the month that begins the season of cozy.

Fires in the fireplace and candles throughout the house. Soups and stews and really good bread. The smell of cookies baking. The taste of cookies warm out of the oven. Black and white movies. Thick thigh-high socks under a flannel nightgown. Hot, steamy baths. Fluffy sweaters. Hot cocoa. Hot cocoa with a shot of amaretto. Twenty-seven versions of A Christmas Carol, including the written one. New craft projects. Wool mittens. More cookies baking. A warm, squishy featherbed. Heavy quilts. Naps. More fires in the fireplace. And all the while watching the snow fall gently to the ground.

Baby, it’s cold outside. Instead of complaining about how shoveling snow is a chore, concentrate on breathing in that exhilarating fresh winter air. Instead of grumbling about cabin fever, take a minute and make your hibernation really count. Spend quality time with the kids playing games and reading. Sit with your partner under a cozy afghan and talk about your dreams. Plop yourself on the couch with a laptop or spiral notebook and write a short story.

Now is the time to slow down, gather your thoughts, indulge in your comforts, and just get cozy. Join me, won’t you?

Thursday, December 03, 2009


You can't see the silver lining if you're only looking for gold.   ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Give-Away Winners!

As a token of my appreciation for those who Fanned my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter ten people have been randomly chosen to receive an official Auntie B's Wax trinket.  As some of you know, my tagline is Hand-poured candles and handmade trinkets and treasures.  You big winners out there won't be receiving a candle or a treasure, but a trinket loaded with holiday cheer. 

The following are the lucky winners, who have already been notified personally:

Mrs. Chicken
(another) Cheri

Congratulations, and Merry Merry Christmas!!
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