Thursday, March 31, 2011

Will You Take A Card?

Technology is an amazing thing.  So amazing it's kind of freaking me out.  I'm pretty Amish when it comes to computers, smartphones and MP3 players.  People tease me because I don't even own a microwave.  Good, old-fashioned fire works for me. 

And good, old-fashioned fire is a big part of my business.  Candles.  Candles of all kinds.  Paraffin, palm wax, and beeswax.  Boy, talk about old-fashioned.  Beeswax is as old as the hills and still the best candle wax out there.  But that's beside the point.  My point is, I'm an old-fashioned girl and new stuff frightens and confuses me.

Alas, I made a choice to become a business person.  Guess what?  You can't be in business today without knowing a thing or two about the new stuff out there.  We business people have to extend ourselves beyond the art of making change, because people today don't even carry money anymore.  They have these little pieces of plastic with secret information embedded into them.  These pieces of plastic can be used instead of money.  Imagine that!

For years I've been doing business out of a cash box.  I'd even go so far as to accept checks.  Last craft show season I came to a decision when the umteenth person asked me, "do you take credit cards?"  I don't know how much business I lost with my inability to accept those magical plastic money imposters, but this year will be different.

Tada! I got myself this handy dandy little gadget that reads the magical plastic cards in a way that puts my customers' money right in my bank account.  Amazing!  Yes, the prospect of this scares the living daylights out of me, but I'm confident that soon enough I will master it as well as I mastered making change with actual paper money and coins.

So when you come and see me live at a venue and you ask, "do you take credit cards" I'll be able to answer with a very proud "YES!"  Because as much as I love the simplicity of the good old days I'm nothing if I can't keep up with the wacky gadgets the kids today are inventing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Me Next, Please

You know how you always want your kids to have things better than you did?  I didn't have any kids, but I do have two nephews and I feel that way.  Except they've got it so good I'm beginning to get a little envious.  Paenney has been to Germany and right now as I write this Fojo is touring around in France.

France, I say!

What's that all about?  International travelers before the age of twenty?  And here I am, on the brink of a new decade of my life (with several preceeding) and have only been to Canada and Mexico.  Not that Canada and Mexico aren't perfectly lovely countries.  Well, the part of Mexico I saw wasn't so lovely.  In fact it turned me off of Mexico completely, which is too bad because I hear some parts of Mexico are wonderful.  I saw a dusty old border town that was really kind of scary. 

But I digress.

Fojo is seeing Paris, Versailles, Provence, and then trotting over to Barcelona. 

Travel is an exciting and wonderful thing.  I've seen some beautiful places in my travels (not in Mexico I'm sorry to say) and hope to see many more.  A jaunt across the pond would suit me just fine.  Then again, there are many fascinating and wonderful things to see right here in the United States. 

It's been a while, or so it seems, that I've been anywhere new.  While I sit here tapping away at this blog wondering where I can go Fojo is in the midst of a most awesome vacation.  If I were to write a post card to him over in Europe I'd say "The weather is great, wish I were there."

Do you have a vacation planned in your foreseeable future?  Where are you headed?

Photos by,,, &

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bam! Splat! Kapow!

Gotham City is a dark place filled with crime.  Even Commissioner Gordon and his right hand man Chief O'Hara can't keep it under control.  Of course they can always count on the dynamic duo, Batman and Robin.

Do you remember the TV series Batman?  It was always one of my favorites, although I never got used to that sideways camera angle they used.  The bat cave was filled with unimaginable (back then) computer devices and scientific stuff.  The bat mobile?  Well, there was just no cooler car ever made with that mighty blast of fire coming out the back of it. 

The archenemies were always fun too, with their shady side-kicks and secret weapons.  They kept the crime fighters on their toes, but never ever got away.  This is the kind of programming that inspired the invention of the TV!

Now you can keep the memories of Batman, the original TV series, alive and rocking at your parties. Auntie B's Wax offers a set of six bottle cap drink charms featuring some of the characters of the show Batman.

Get a set of these charms and your party will be a hit.  As Cat Woman would say, "they're purrrrrfect." 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dreary March

Typically I love snow storms and thunderstorms and anything that causes the daytime sky to go dark and grey.  On those days I want to stay home and light some candles watch old movies or read a book.  Even if I'm unable to stay home I'm satisfied with glimpses of the gloomy weather from a window by which I pass.

But March.  March is my least favorite month for many reasons, most of all because of the weather.  The air temperature is never consistent and I have no idea how to dress appropriately.  The snow is still in patches on the ground but is ugly and dirty.  Where there is no snow the grass is brown and the ground beneath it is saturated and squishy.  Spring is just aching to bloom, but March always holds it back.  March is the dull brown transition from the brilliant whiteness of winter to the vibrant green of spring.  Gloomy and dreary, usually my favorite moods, wear thin on me in March.

Husby and I decided next year we will fly away in March, for some of it at least.  We'll see if that ever comes to be.  For now I'll keep the shovel ready just in case, and keep both winter wool and spring rain coats available, depending on what kind of day March decides to dish out.  And for now I'll remember how much I like to watch the rain drops.  Or the snow flakes.  Whatever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Every Sunday

Every Sunday her husband took her to his parents house. So clean and tidy with everything in place the abode was lifeless, like a scene in a furniture store showroom. She sat in her chair with her knees together and ankles crossed, listening to her husband's family struggle to find inane topics to create conversation.  His mother, a chronic passive-aggressive, would find ways to secretly state an opinion (typically discouraged, opinions were), which was usually uneducated and distasteful. 

Every Sunday for many years her husband took her to his parents house and expected her to act like a lady, despite his mother's watchful eye which was quick to find faults to criticize. 

Every Sunday she held her tongue, but learned to be demurely subversive. 

You can buy Demurely Subversive at my shop either as a magnet or lapel pin.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Outdated!

I had a little talk with one of my mentors this week and guess what?  I'm not with it.  I'm not hip to the groove.  I'm a total square, man. 

We were talking about my drink charms.  The ever-popular bottle cap drink charms.  I love making them and especially love the comments and laughter I get when people see them.  In case you didn't know, they're come in a set of six with images of a particular theme.  And they are nostalgic, for the most part.  For example, I have the old hollywood movie stars set...

...and the Batman set...

...and the Rock Legends set.

Apparently my customers are getting younger and I'm getting older.  Nostalgia to them is something I experienced in my adult life, which makes me feel positively ancient.  Most of my retro items are dated as early as the turn of the century (sheet music magnets), hovering at the mid-century point (pulp fiction magnets), and tapering off around the '70s (drink charms).  What I've failed to realize is that the '80s, when I was in my prime dancing the night away while Prince shook his tiny little derriere on the stage at First Avenue, were thirty years ago.  Which is considered "vintage." 

So in an attempt to keep up with vintage times I'm going to be giving some thoughts to new charm sets.  I've got a few ideas running through my head and hopefully I'll grab the attention of you young whipper snappers out there who, in my mind, are much too young to drink anything that is served in stemware.  Can you see where this is headed?

If you youngsters have any suggestions on what you'd like to see dangling from your drink, let me know.  I'm always open to new ideas, even though I can't get my head around the fact that people born after 1982 have things to be nostalgic about.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dive Night ~ Brine's

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

Once again it's time for a Dive Night review. 

Depending on where you enter, this is Brine's.

This is the front.

This is the back.

I love the old buildings in Stillwater, MN, and Brine's inhabits one of them.  If I were to own a restaurant or a shop I'd want it to be in an old building.  The inside of Brine's is nice too.

The curtains add a nice, homey touch. I wasn't thrilled with the whole salad bar thing going on in the middle of it all. In fact, the salad bar itself wasn't much to write home about. I'll get to that a little later.

As in many old buildings comes old signage, which is always cool.

I don't usually comment on the drinks we order, but Ray and Husby ordered something a little different called Woodpecker Cider.  Both of them took a sip and simultaneously their eyes lit up and their lips curled into smiles.  Also simultaneously they offered a sip to Ruthie and me.  I don't drink a lot of beer (and this drink was on the beer list) but this stuff was something else.  Sweet like apple cider, but with a nice fizz and a little hint of that hoppy, grainy taste that beer is.  Woodpecker Cider.  I think it would be especially refreshing in the summertime.

If you don't know about Brine's it has been known for many years as providing supurb deli sandwiches. They have standard sandwiches or you can create your own with a wide variety of meats and cheeses. Brine's didn't really offer appetizers, per se, but rather "sides." We always order appetizers, but this time we had to order sides to start our meal. We ended up with deep fried cauliflower with a ranchy, horseradishy dipping sauce and potato skins with cheese and bacon.

I especially liked the cauliflower because 1) people don't normally like to share cauliflower because it's a weird a bumpy vegetable and 2) the fact that it was fried and also had a delicious dipping sauce made it delectible. 

On to the main courses.  Husby decided to go with soup and salad bar.  That brings me back to the salad bar itself.  It was just kind of a garish thing in the middle of the room, which in my opinion takes away from the vintage feel of the restaurant.  If it were off to the side of the room it might not have made such a bad impression on me.  It just didn't fit in as it was glaring and bright.

Plus, in my opinion it wasn't that great of a salad bar.  It was okay, but there wasn't much in the way of originality.  I chose the salad bar too, but I think I could have filled up on something better had I checked out the bar before ordering.  Anyway, Husby's soup was divine.  Mmm, beer cheese...  Look at all that popcorn!

Ray also started with a cup of soup.  Chili to be precise.  The fun thing about this was, it was actually served in a cup.  A coffee cup.  Cute!  He also had a BLT.

This is a really bad picture, which is why it's smaller than the others.  The chili was good though!


Ruthie ordered the fish sandwich special.  It came with fries and coleslaw.  I should have tried one or five of her fries, because they looked so good.  And that bun?  Yum!

I chose the salad bar, as you know, and a tuna melt.  Not only was it a tuna melt, it was a tuna melt with gouda cheese.  Like I said, Brine's is good about giving you what you want.  I mean really, would you rather have a tuna melt with plain old American cheese, or gouda cheese?  If you chose American you have to go stand in the corner for two minutes.

The service was fine except for one thing.  Our waitron didn't ask us if we wanted any dessert.  Normally we're too stuffed for dessert, but tonight was an exception.  Well, not really an exception.  We were stuffed, but Ruthie and I couldn't resist ordering a piece of cheesecake to go.  When I ate it the next day I nearly died.  It was so creamy and delicious.  Just plain cheesecake without the fancy fruit on top or swirls of flavor throughout, but man it was some of the best cheesecake I've had in a while.

The lower level of Brine's is the bar.  It was more happenin' than the restaurant section.  I bet you can probably order food in the bar too, and it would probably be better for people watching and definitely better if you're in the mood for a game of after dinner pool.

So that's Brine's for you.  If you're in Stillwater stop on by.  They're right on the main street.  And remember, gouda cheese, not American.

Friday, March 11, 2011


You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
~C. S. Lewis

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smarty Phone

Trying to keep up with technology Husby and I invested in something I've been afraid of for years...smartphones. Or is it smart phones? See? That's how out of it I am. I don't know if this object is called a "smartphone" (like "telephone"), or if the phone is described with the adjective "smart."  Whatever the case, we both got one. 

They scared me for a long time, the smartphones, but I figured I'd never need one anyway so I could just ignore their existence in the world.  And the thing of it is, these aren't smart phones, they're computers that can also be used as a phone.

But look who I'm talking to.  I'm probably the only one of all of us who doesn't know how to use one of these things and I'll tell you what ~ you're all going to have to suffer for it because I can't type for sh!+ on this thing.  My Facebook and Twitter entries are nothing but gibberish because I can't type with my thumbs.  Yes, that would be me, the oldster who actually took typing class in high school and know the home keys and everything.  I could probably even learn how to type with my thumbs on a regular keyboard, but on those tiny screen keys?  Forget it.

Then we found out the phones we bought, which were introduced last year, are going to be discontinued in a month or two.  ???    Back where I come from something that's been out a year is considered a new model, but here in the 21st century it's considered a relic.

Amazingly I figured out what apps are, I learned how to create contacts, and now I'll even be able to accept credit cards at the craft shows I do because I took a leap into the future, which of course is now.  It will take a while to master, but I'm kind of proud of myself for taking the steps I needed to keep up with the times, especially for the sake of my business.

Funny, but every time I use this amazing piece of technology a song from the past, about the future, rings through my mind.  Enjoy this oldie, and dig those Miami Vice threads!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Impromput Visit

All this stuff I've been writing about regarding scheduling and getting things done...I have to say there's something to be said about spontaneity.

I usually put so much emphasis on what I do and don't get done that I sometimes lose track of living.   Someone said  "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."  This weekend I was reminded of that.  I got a call from my friend Ruthie, who rarely calls me on the phone at home.  She said her husband Ray might have a tool which could help me in the production of my bottle cap drink charms and magnets.  She also said they could bring it right over if I wanted it.  Of course I would love a tool which could make my production run quicker; I said "come on over!"

So they did.

They arrived at our house around the dinner hour.  Usually not a great time to be dropping by, but Husby and I thought it was perfect as we could at least offer them some food in gratitude for their kindness.  We ordered a couple of pizzas and opened a bottle of wine for Ruthie and me and cracked open a couple of beers for Ray and Husby. 

I took one sip of that Pinot Grigio and knew a glass of wine was just what I needed ~ it was an almost rebellious break from the demands I've been putting on myself lately.  What was intended to be a drop-off visit turned into a six-hour fun fest with good friends.

By the end of the evening we had finished up two pizzas and some Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints ~ perfect after pizza), two bottles of wine, a bunch of beers, and a whole bunch of yakking.  Neither couple planned on spending the entire evening together.  I know Husby and I enjoyed ourselves and we hope Ruthie and Ray did too.

The point is, while it is important to accomplish things in our lives, mundane or obligatory or mandatory, it is equally important to leave a little wiggle room for spontineity.  Don't let an impromptu visit freak you out.  (The laundry can wait until tomorrow.)   Live in the moment and grab your opportunities to live life as it comes to you.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Featured Shop ~ Rainy Day Yarn Shop

I love rainy days, and today's featured shop is an especially lovely rainy day.  Rainy Day Yarn Shop has a nice variety of  items featuring beautiful handspun yarns as well as ready-made items created from wool and yarn.

With the recent snow springtime seems to be a bit off in the distance here in Minnesota, so you might as well cozy up with a hand-knit neck warmer like this one:

The cable knit looks so warm and the wooden buttons give it great character.  It's perfect for bundling up in chilly winter weather.

If you'd rather make your own scarf, mittens, or hat for cold weather, the Rainy Day Yarn Shop offers many varieties of beautifully colored hand-spun yarns.  I would love accessories made with these yarns created from very fine roving.

The shop also carries something for which I have a new love, felted beads.  These would be a wonderful element to use in creating your own jewelry of a most unusual style.  Felted beads are all the rage and the Rainy Day Yarn shop has several varieties available for you.

So much fun to be found in this shop.  Check out Rainy Day Yarn Shop to find something expertly created and ready to wear or find something you can use to create your own woolly accessories. 

The Rainy Day Yarn Shop has a sister shop too!  Take a gander at Bath & Beads Etc for some soaps, jewelry, and more.

This article will soon be published on the HandmadeMN blog, a blog I'm sure you will enjoy.  Not only do they publish my Featured Shops, but have lots of giveaways and interesting articles presented by many Minnesota artisans like me. 

Friday, March 04, 2011

Pick Something And Do It

I wrote a post a little while ago that mentioned my ongoing struggle with organizing and scheduling. Charlotte gave me some tips on how to actually get things done. Her way involves a little planning and a lot of doing. My way has been spending countless hours planning and list-making and finding no hours at the end of the day to accomplish anything.

I also mentioned in that post that I had seen a video put out by Etsy regarding the same thing. It's right here, everyone. The advice given first by Charlotte is reiterated by April Bowles in an Etsy symposium. With a combination like that you can't go wrong.

The trick is to chip away. To actually get things done instead of staring like a deer in headlights at the never-ending to-do list. To realize what must be done today and what can wait until tomorrow.  And guess what?  Not getting everything done today isn't going to stop the earth on its axis.  As a matter of fact, Charlotte says the only thing that really must be done today is an emergency trip to the hospital.  If you don't need that, give yourself a break and lighten up.  This is not a point about procrastination but of relieving yourself of the paralysis caused by an overwhelming list of things to do.

Charlotte and April can articulate it much better than I can.  I can't get Charlotte to present a lecture on the subject so I'm offering April's presentation.  I haven't mastered the practice of organizing and discipline yet, but am working on it every day.  I've had good results, mastered or not.

This lesson is a little lengthy, so be sure you have about an hour to devote to it.  Oh come on, what are you gonna do instead?  Waste more time?

April makes references to Etsy and shop owner practices. Fear not. Her techniques can be applied whether you are an Etsy seller or not.

This is a good motivator that will inspire you to accomplish some things this weekend.  Me?  I'm going to start my spring cleaning!

Watch live streaming video from etsy at

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Music To Dream By

Sometimes, when it's quiet and I'm all alone, I listen to music ~ music that is so overwhelming to me I get a little scared.  It pulls out the feelings I've been holding deep inside me, forcing me to come to terms with them.  It leaves me in awe of the genius behind the compositions and the talent required to execute such masterful creations.  It reminds me of who I am.

I was in Craftland working on a very repetitive task.  I decided to turn on Jean Michel Jarre's Equinoxe.  I've loved this album since it first came out in 1978.  As the music played and my hands performed the repetitive task, my mind began to wander.  Jean Michel Jarre's music makes me think of really big things, like the ocean or outer space.  With such big things in my mind's eye I couldn't help but dream big for myself.  With every track of the album I would dare myself to dream on. 

By the time I was done with my project and the album came to its finish I was ready to take on the world.  I had a new motivation and inspiration.  I was ready to take big chances and give myself opportunities.  All of this because of a guy in France and a synthesizer.  Jean Michel, thank you.  You fuel my dreams.  Not only that, you're kind of a cutie pie.

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