Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July Calendar

It's that special time of month again.... hahaha! July's calendar is now available for download off of flickr or photobucket. This month is actually my birthday month, so I thought it would be fun if Scout and Oscar got all kinds of goodies to eat! Hope you like it!

"Scout and Oscar decided to have a royal dessert feast! Delicious pies, tarts and doughnuts are readily available, but Scout really is quite partial to the cupcakes :D"

Monday, June 28, 2010

Merlion illustration and amigurumi

Have you guys ever heard of a merlion? Its a mythical creature that is half fish and half lion, and it's the national mascot and beloved symbol of Singapore! Here's my kawaii version of a merlion; I liked it so much I decided to make an amigurumi merlion.

Just a reminder if you haven't already (and a big thank you to everyone who has already voted)... please vote for my "nautical merpeople" fabric in Spoonflower's fabric contest, which ends June 30! Click here to vote! Thanks people •ᴥ•

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tokidoki makeup

Grrr... I spent the better half of tonight looking for a Sephora gift card I got for Christmas which I still haven't spent yet, due to not wanting anything makeup-y (I still don't wear makeup even though I have freckles galore!) Yep, I'm not a makeup/cosmetics kinda girl... my last makeup purchase was one of those deals from clinique where you get lots of little samples and 2 cute bags decorated with apples; I could have cared less about the actual makeup because what I really wanted were the apple bags (isn't that dorky?)! In fact, the last time I got a gift card to a makeup store I actually spent it on perfume (salvatore ferragamo incanto heaven- a yummy tropical floral) rather than makeup.

But now I want makeup!!! And I can't find my danggit giftcard! Sigh. I might actually have to shell out some pocket money for cosmetics, seeing as how tokidoki has a relatively new line of uber cute makeup at Sephora. Look at how wonderfully colorful everything is... emblazoned with all of your favorite tokidoki characters (see, I told you packaging was a big part of your product!) It's a bit expensive, but I'll probably only get one of those eyeliners that doubles as a temporary tattoo marker and some lip gloss. I could be mistaken, but I think Sephora is the only place that carries this line. Ah, tokidoki makeup... I'll have to think heavily on this, though I'm seriously jealous of all you lovely ladies that already have your mitts on some!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Newest ipod cozy designs!

Thanks for all the love lately guys, it really makes me smile! I was working on these new ipod touch/ iphone cozies over the weekend since they've been doing well in my shop... they've also generated a tiny little buzz on the interweb; The lovely ladies at supercutekawaii included them in their flickr friday pics! Anyway, the two newest designs are.... PANDA and STRAWBERRY, yay! The panda was easy and came about as a customer request (I had planned on doing a panda originally but I ran out of black cotton yarn so I put that idea on the ol' backburner; but when a customer is really sweet about asking I can't say no!) The strawberry was a bit more difficult, I reworked it a couple of times... for example, the first one had pointy leaves that ended up being rather crooked! Essentially I ended up making 3-4 cozy prototypes, which I promptly unraveled once I determined they weren't up to berrysprite standards. The fact that you can usually unravel anything you've crocheted is simultaneously awesome and terrible; unraveling stuff feels good, like you get to start again if you make a mistake... but the bad part is that you have to start again! I think the end product/ strawberry cozy came out really nice... so much so that I even made a red strawberry cozy for myself, which is rare because I hardly ever keep anything for me :D

Saturday, June 19, 2010

leftovers into apple bread pudding

I found these old, extremely wrinkly apples in my fridge (don't ask me how they got there or how they got so old and wrinkly... I have no idea!) and I had some leftover french bread that had turned really hard, so I decided to make apple bread pudding! I always try to use groceries before they go bad, so that I waste the least amount possible; this is most definitely a habit from when I was growing up. My family was pretty strict about not wasting food, even when I was a little kid, and even if I didn't like the food... I still had to clean my plate! So although this strictness taught me how to hide food in napkins, it also taught me to start liking things I didn't like when I was little (like fish!) AND it taught me not to waste :D I have to admit I even buy clearance produce and stuff that's a little banged up and bruised and use it in my cooking... you just have to be creative, and you can save a lot of $$$ (says the graduate student)!

Anyway, old bread + wrinkly apples becomes extremely tasty when mixed with a few other ingredients and baked! Usually I don't do well at baking because unlike cooking, you have to be kinda precise about measurements and stuff, and I'm usually VERY imprecise at everything, but this turned out to be quick, easy and really great. Best of all, because I didn't have all the extras like cream and rum, so it was kinda low fat by default (relative to real bread pudding of course!) Feel free to add the fat and rum back in... it will probably be dynamite!

Here's my recipe, though you should probably adjust for what you have... try tastespotting for other recipes and ideas for your pudding... they have fabulous pictures! I'm sure this recipe would have tasted just as lovely for chocolate bread pudding :D

3-4 apples (peeled, sliced and seeded)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg
pinch of all spice
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/2 loaf (or more... maybe like 8 slices?) of old bread, cubed
1/2 cup of white sugar
3 cups low fat milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
raisins *if desired... you can soak them in a few tablespoons of rum to make them juicy and alcohol-y if you have any rum!*

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) On stovetop, cook apples in brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, white sugar, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla together, add bread and raisins (making sure all cubes are soaked and mushy... don't be afraid to add a bit more milk!). You can either layer the apples and then the bread mixture on the bottom of a greased pan (I used 9"x13"), or you can mix it all up like I did, and then put it in the pan. Put the pan in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how juicy or dry you like it (also depending on how hot your oven runs!) I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

summer blog redesign!

Wooo, it's quite late at night here (1am!) and although I have an early day tomorrow (I promised the good half of myself I would go to my office bright and early to work on my thesis) I thought I would redesign my blog, especially since I was already making nautical designs for the spoonflower nautical-theme fabric contest (will show you guys later... it's really cute)! Besides, the ocean and sea creatures practically scream summer... I'm quite enjoying the newer look of my blog. It actually didn't take me that long, not like the first couple of times I tried, which must mean I'm getting good at this! If I had to describe the look/palette, I'd say It's kinda like The Life Aquatic bumped into a jaguar shark of cuteness. Hopefully that combination makes it look a little more polished and professional (and cute); though the niceness factor is probably largely thanks to a new font ( my old one was hand-drawn by me, which explains it's similarity to a first grader's handwriting!). This font is called "cookies," and I downloaded it for free off of fontspace. Check them out... they have LOADS of free and commercial use fonts, so much so that it kinda blows the mind. Have you guys also noticed that now there are greater design/theme capabilities and pages for blogspot? It's pretty cool! Unfortunately, I have yet to make some pages, but knowing that I will eventually be able too will rock pretty hard. Mmmm, that's all I can think of for now, off to bed I guess ...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Selling tip #1: Packaging

Here comes a long post... don't worry it'll be good! Today I thought I'd share an online selling tip! I've been on etsy since 2006, over time, I've learned a number of things that I hope have made my customers extra happy. Keeping that in mind, here is my tip for you: One of the best things you can do for your customer is to package their order nicely! I know, I know... you might think SENDING a package has nothing to do with the actual selling... but trust me when I tell you that it does! I've almost hit 800 sales thanks to lovely people, and I can honestly say that loads and loads of those sales are actually from repeat customers. Although I've changed the ways I've packaged over the years, taking care to send off your items after they've been purchased shows that you have pride in what you do and that you care about your customer's experience!

Packaging your orders nicely ensures a number of things, the first being that your customer will open your package and feel like you really appreciate their order. Another benefit of packaging orders nicely is that if done well, nice packaging can also protect the items inside from being damaged in transit. Finally, (though I'm sure there are loads of other reasons) your packaging can be a very important part of branding yourself and your business. Some considerations you will want to consider when thinking about packaging your items:
  1. Cost of packaging materials. Make sure to consider the cost of shipping/ packaging materials... for example, I used to package everything individually which would really bulk up my envelopes; think about combining similar items into one container.
  2. On a related note, think about how much your packages weigh, and how big your items are. Every single one of my items will fit into a bubble envelope, and can be mailed through a regular U.S. post box (less than 13 ounce parcels, meaning I don't always have to go to the Post Office) and that I avoid having to pay extremely high shipping fees. I'm usually never caught off guard as far as shipping prices. You'll have to make the choice for yourself whether or not to ship internationally, though I love all my international customers dearly! Check the shipping fees and restrictions in your area and try to plan your product line and shipping prices accordingly. Your local mail service may also have ways to save you money or time, so it's worth finding out more from a website or your friendly postmaster!
  3. My shipping prices (listed on etsy) include handling, which is where any money that I have to spend outside of actual U.S. Post fees comes from; this includes the higher prices we pay in Hawai`i for materials, the amount of time and money it costs me to go to the post office, and also the prices it costs for me to package an item. Shipping and handling should never be exorbitant, but they should allow you to cover some of the things mentioned above. Use your shipping profiles wisely, and find a way to let your customers know that they are paying for both shipping AND handling!
Keeping those things in mind, consider how you would like to package and present your items (don't forget no matter how carefully you package, things might get squished and wrinkled in the mail).

I place most orders in either a resealable plastic pouch or a small paper bag, which protects it from getting wet in the mail and also helps it to look more professional. Keeping this in mind, try not to resort to ziploc baggies! Because I sell items in various sizes, I have lots of different bags in all shapes and sizes... from tiny earring bags to large pouches that hold multiple/amigurumi and or a clutch or two.

Two of my greatest investments have been an address stamper and professionally printed business cards, both from Vistaprint (a company I know people have had trouble with... I had a really great experience though!) If you have a lot of orders, I would definitely recommend spending some of your monies on these two things; the stamper saves LOADS of time and the business cards help brand you and also allow your customers to spread the word! Business cards in life are a good idea, haha!

I use bubble mailers for all my items, again in a variety of sizes. Depending on your item, you might want to consider other envelopes (tyvek?) or even boxes. Don't forget that it is often economical if you buy in bulk! It also pays to seal your packages well, with a deco tape for example (regular clear masking tape works well too). The safer the better, I always say! It's also nice if you decorate the package in some way, such as a rubber stamp or a little doodle!

I always include a handwritten thank you note (from paper scraps I cut out after making buttons) and a little extra something, such as a sticker. On bigger orders, I include a little bit more! It's always nice to receive a little something extra :D (just don't forget that including too much will increase the cost of shipping, and your customer shouldn't have to pay for that!)

Finally, let your customers know when you have shipped their items, and give them a general timeframe in which they can expect to receive their packages. I usually tell my US customers it will be 3-5 business days and my international customers it will be 5-7 business days. All of these extra steps will help make buying and receiving items from you a really great/fun/awesome/special experience for customers!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Takochu!

I've blogged about these octopus toys manufactured by the Japanese company Pine before, but lookeee... new TRANSLUCENT colors! If you're not familiar with takochu, they're little plastic/acrylic toys that stack on top of one another. While they don't really have any other use, they're too cute to pass up...I just had to order some up from kawaiishopjapan, an awesome purveyor of fun (at the moment she's sold out of most of the colors I have, but she restocks fairly often... she's also great with customer service and fair with shipping). Anyway, these new takochu are much heftier than the older version opaque ones (which may explain why they are a bit more expensive... around $3.65 each), but they are really truly darling; as you can see, there are a variety of translucent takochu to choose from. Some of them are made with a milky plastic, some are really see-through, and some of them even have glitter in them. I would put them in a window or in a display if I had one, because they look really colorful (and almost glow!) in the sunlight... for now my takochu collection (which is getting quite big, haha) are stacked away, safe and sound :D
Minions... attack!!!
The entirely translucent takochu and the glitter takochu!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random stuffs

Today's post is a bit of random odds and ends...

First off, I made more bearpod cozies; perfect for an iphone or ipod touch. Thanks so much for all the positive feedback about them, I really appreciate it, and I'm so glad you like them!

Second: I really love Parks and Recreation... especially the last two episodes of season 2; Rob Lowe was a super fun guest star! I don't care that it gets much lower ratings than say, oh 30 Rock or The Office.... I really like this show! I can't wait until the new season starts :D

Thirdly, how much do you want to play the newest game in the Mario series? If you said, "So much it hurts the fun center of my brain!" then you are EXACTLY like me... I think it looks so cool and awesome , and playing it will probably loads of fun! However, I've put myself on a game playing ban until I finish more of my thesis (you know me and my little self-imposed bans because of my thesis; the crafting ban didn't last very long but the custom order ban and the no hair-cutting ban are still in effect!). I've actually been on the video game ban for like 2 years already, so I haven't played ANY video games for 2 years; could that be the reason Mario Galaxy 2 looks so awesome? Naw, I'm pretty sure it's just that great!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yay June!

Oscar and Scout decided that to celebrate the beginning of summer, they would go for a ride in a hot air balloon. Although it was a bit scary at first (its so high!) they quickly found that being so close to Mr. Sun was actually quite pleasant!

Huzzah, June's calendar is all ready... right on time, haha! I'm really happy with the way it turned out... I've been practicing more of my gradients (though I'm not exactly sure why they are showing up wacky in flickr and photobucket?)! This month features Scout and Oscar in a hot air balloon to celebrate the start of summer, which is in fact one of the best seasons of all time. I felt as though ballooning was definitely more of a summer activity, and hopefully the sunny sky and citrus color palette will also help get you ready for warm weather (especially since this summer promises to be really hot!) Visit my flickr or photobucket to download to your computer.

Edit: I figured out why flickr was being naughty... Don't forget to save your gradient items with a solid color background with the gradient overlayed on top; if not it will fill in with whatever color the website behind it is!
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