Winter Is Here – A Proper Game Of Thrones Watch Party (**Minor Spoilers!**)

Up until last year, I wasn’t interested in Game of Thrones or any of the events that came to be on the show (#RedWedding), but with all the social media ruckus about Mr. Jon Snow, it peaked my curiosity just enough to watch the first episode of season 6 to find out whether or not he’d make it through… Except that, as avid watchers know, we don’t get an answer until the last moments of episode 2. By this point, a few other interesting things had happened, and let’s just say I’d found a new favorite thing to do with my Sundays at 9pm. I watched the rest of season 6 without any prior knowledge, something that came in handy with the episode “The Door,” because while everyone was distraught mourning the death of one of their favorite characters, I wasn’t anywhere near the level of attachment everyone had built over the prior 56 episodes. #HoldTheDoor crisis averted.

Needless to say, I was hooked but also a little lost – as much as I picked up on things, there’s way too much ground covered in 5 seasons that cannot be deduced during 10 episodes, especially not on this show. But I also didn’t want to get hooked… So, I let months go by until I couldn’t wait any longer and I finally binged seasons one through five in a week, then re-watched season 6, feeling the proper things we’re all meant to feel (#RedWeddingVictim)… and this brings us to yesterday.

7.16. The date that has been tattooed on our brains for months as we anxiously awaited season 7 (not to mention it started at a later date and coming with less episodes than any prior season… see, it’s like I’ve been here from day 1!), and this time I was on time and part of the gang! I had been victimized by George R. R. Martin, David Benioff and Dan Weiss along with millions of others, and I was ready to continue being a masochist, but I wanted to do it in style. Thanking the old gods and the new for Pinterest, see below my Night’s Watch approved watch-party, which I must start by saying I was not willing to spend any money on. Everything you’re about to see was whipped up from items I already owned. I know, I’m a crafter and not everyone has these things handy, but I’m proud to say the only money I spent specifically on this party was a grand total of $6.40.

It all started with an Iron Throne

But then when I placed the throne against my TV station, it looked weird. It needed a better backdrop. So…

I wanted to make a banner with all the house banners, but once I was done with it, it was longer than just half of the TV station… more red fabric, to the rescue! (FYI this is where I spent my $6.40, printing the banners!)

And the whole shebang –

Some other details –

I had all of this planned out and then one of my friends who was coming to the party suggested we make shirts for ourselves. You know I don’t need to be asked twice…

And what I think was THE BEST decor item EVER, and will forever be grateful to Pinterest for providing this amazing idea –

That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed seeing this watch party come to life 🙂 I’ll leave the decor up for the remainder of season 7. Have you done something like this for your own watch parties? Any ideas for upcoming episodes? Let me know in the comments below!

 

#MyBestFriendsWedding, Chapter 2: The Engagement Party

Now that my best friend got engaged, I am the happiest crafter alive, and I’m ready to make ALL of the things. First stop: engagement party central!

My biff (that’s what we call each other :P) Michelle, like most women, has had an idea of what she wants her wedding to look like, so her mom Marta and I are going with a similar feel for the engagement party. The rustic vibe is very in right now and she likes it a lot, so let’s get to it!

Michelle’s parents have a beautiful home with a great backyard where they’ve hosted lots and lots of parties, so we know the space pretty well and have an idea of how to set things up to maximize each area. This Pinterest board has a lot of the inspiration for the stuff I made for the party, so let’s dive right in to the final products!

  • The decor: I’ll wrap a few of the items into this category so this doesn’t end up the long testament my blogs usually are hehe… Our color palette for the party was Blush Pink, Taupe, Ivory & Rose Gold. Lots of burlap, lace, and a vintage classic vibe made everything really pretty and Pinterest-y!
  • The photo booth & props: Brian (Michelle’s fiance) is very handy, so Marta and I asked him to build a rustic-looking frame that we could drape and place in the garden to create a photo booth area. Brian did such an amazing job that I almost didn’t even want to dress the frame, but at the same time I’ve been loving the mixture of delicate with rustic/industrial so with his part done, it was time to make it pop. The fabric Marta found for the frame was shiny, shimmery & splendid. I also did a “she said yaaasss” banner, and added some vintage bulbs and baby’s breath to make it all come together. To finish the look, we hung a bunch of mismatched lamps from the tree, and it all looked beautiful both during the day and at night! For the props, I wanted to do something different from what I always do, since after all, props are kind of my niche… I actually started to design a completely different idea from what it ended up being, but I’m super happy with the end result. I used burlap paper, designed the props on PowerPoint, printed them out, cut & glued them to cardstock for hold and voila! Awesome props to complement an already great photo booth area!
  • The favors: I didn’t get any good pictures of the final product here, but long story short: plastic bags, burlap strips, circle “Brian POPPED the question, Michelle said yes!” tags, popcorn. You get the idea!
  • The calligraphy: boy oh boy do I hate my handwriting/penmanship. I’ve always wanted to have pretty handwriting, but it’s just not in my skill set. I can pull off a few tries but I hate writing slowly and when I go fast, there’s no way to control the strokes… So when Marta showed me the boards and table tent signs, I kind of swallowed hard and said ok… I got this! I did those the night before the party, and I was so stressed the entire time. If I’m honest, the first tent signs didn’t come out as good as the last ones. It’s true what they say, calligraphy is a practice thing. Although some people are just born with those magically beautiful calligraphy skills!
  • Some close-ups: making this cake topper gave me so much life! I couldn’t stop staring at my Cricut cutting the rose gold card stock stuff! And I had a full blown photo shoot with the mason jars when I finished dressing them… O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. Have I mentioned I don’t typically like burlap?! I know…
  • The edgy fun part: when it comes to Michelle’s family, there’s always something fun/edgy/borderline inappropriate thing happening, and I’m all too happy to oblige and do my part for it. This time around, Marta bought an apron for Michelle’s uncle as he’d be cooking the dinner during the party, and again, thank you Pinterest for this awesomely hilarious idea 🙂

After about a month of prep, I’m truly so happy with how everything turned out and now I can focus on the bachelorette, bridal shower and whatever Michelle asks me to make for the wedding! (please biff, let me make it allllllllllllllllllllllllll! haha kidding! no, not really…)

 

PS: Oh and one last thing – this was something new I decided to try: window cling! I wanted to make something for the bar area, so I went with some string lights, a “cheers to michelle & brian,” and that’s all she wrote! For real this time!

I added a heart with a “to” afterwards but this picture is where the window cling shows the best!

Riding Sturdy: Grand Finale!

Aw man! Such a thrilling ride it’s been with this order – from the moment I got the call, to tackling the making of the ramp, the little truck boxes and finally the big truck prop… So you know, the end will be no different!

Before I show you the final pictures of everything, let’s talk about the pickup. When I was asked to make the ramp, I told birthday boy Mateo’s mom that I didn’t want to go too big because 1. Transportation and 2. Fitting it through doors/doorways. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. So when I was looking for the materials, I ran the size by her (4 x 8 ft.), and she said yes, so I proceeded. She mentioned she had a big car, so I didn’t give it much thought. After the initial building of the structure, I felt I had to confirm with her that this wouldn’t fit in a standard SUV, and she should borrow a van or pick-up truck because otherwise, this monster ramp wouldn’t make it out of my house.  She was thankfully able to find a friend with a truck, and we were good to go… on to a few more hiccups.

On the morning of the order pickup (just a few hours before the party started), Mateo’s dad showed up with a friend and a pick-up truck, and as soon as they both saw the ramp they said “WOW” and their eyes bulged out a bit as they turned to see how they’d make this work. As soon as I saw the truck, I could see the bed wasn’t long enough for the ramp to fit with the latch closed… So I started panicking internally a bit. The one good thing about the ramp, is that it was surprisingly lightweight. When they carried it and placed it on the truck, it looked like this –

It. Reached. All. The. Way. Down. To. The. Latch. AHH. Thankfully, I had the rope I bought to bring the wood home with me from the store, and also some bungee cords. They tied it down and promised to drive slowly. I later found out it took them an hour and thirty minutes to get home. That’s a promise well-kept! The big truck prop didn’t fit (anywhere really) but we managed to squeeze it in the sedan they brought along by folding the top lights a bit. Remember how I didn’t glue the flag out of fear it would make the fit even worse? Best idea I’ve ever had.

But don’t relax for one second because now the best part starts – as they’re making knots securing the ramp, I hear something about an elevator ride… and I ask “wait, the party isn’t on a ground floor?!” And to my shock, no, it wasn’t. The party was on a sixth floor. Guys. When I tell you I nearly fainted upon hearing this, I’m not kidding. You mean, a structure I’ve never built before has to not only survive 3-5 year old children, but it also has to fit into an elevator? Had I known this from the beginning, I would’ve gone for something much, much smaller. To make the rest of the long story short – the ramp made it! After unsuccessfully trying to bring it up the stairs (due to length clashing with angles/turns), they figured out that even though the elevator threshold was low, the inside was more giving and they could slide it in. But – one more hiccup, for the ride – the elevator door-frame at the 6th floor was slightly thinner than where they packed it in, so they had one last struggle getting it out.

Thankfully, I saw pictures and videos of the birthday boy, Mateo, and all his friends having a great time sliding down the monster trucks, and we all lived happily ever after. And finally for the long-awaited pictures –

The Monster Ramp

The Monster Truck Boxes

The Monster Truck Prop 

Hope you enjoyed going on this journey with me! Stay tuned for more crazy craftventures ❀

#MyBestFriendsWedding, Chapter 1 – The Proposal

AHHHHH GUYS!!!!!!!! My best friend is getting married! How awesome is that? SUPER MEGA AWESOME!

Now as you can imagine, this is every crafty person’s dream come true, because with all the joy and none of the stress on oneself, the crafting possibilities are endless. I want to make ALL OF THE THINGS, and oh, I will.

Michelle and I have been best friends along with our group for now almost 10 years (crazy!) and we’ve been through a lot together, which is what builds a super strong friendship, but even better – her family loves me and I love them, and they’ve borderline adopted me into their circle as well, so this feels like my real sister is walking down the aisle, and I’m alllll in my feelings! The best way to deal with those, you ask? Crafting, of course.

So first things first – I got a head start on the engagement surprise because her fiance reached out to me for some advice on the ring, and as soon as I got that text, you know my head went into overboard mode of what to make her/get her so I could put together a nice little “welcome to engaged life” gift for her. I wanted to give her a personalized mug, but the time frame was short, so I wouldn’t be able to place an order and thus, this would be my first wedding-related DIY project! I love all the “feyoncĂ©” merchandise I’ve seen around, so I wanted to have the mug say that, but I didn’t want that to be the only thing on it… It had to be more personalized. So I decided to do something on both sides, and bam! Perfection.

Then, I really loved the idea of some sort of journal or album where she could include printed pictures and polaroids which are very in right now, and when I searched on amazon, this Bride To Be Book was one of the first to pop up. I wanted to see the inside, of which there were unfortunately no pictures on amazon or google, but then I found this blog that showed enough for me to pull the trigger and buy it! I was planning on bringing my Polaroid camera and snapping the moment Brian was down on one knee (which I didn’t quite get in the end because of multitasking, but still got some cute ones thankfully), and now it looks like this –

Finally, Michelle’s mom asked me to make a version of these very funny props that say “He asked” and “She Said About Damn Time,” so I found some faux wood card stock and got to work. I also brought a long a set of my standard engagement props so that we could play around photo booth style after the proposal. All in all, it was a great first opportunity to put my craftskills to use, and the beginning of a loooonggg road of engagement-and-wedding-related crafting ahead!

 

5 Things I’ve learned in My First Year on Etsy

One year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes (RENT fans, you’re welcome.) Can’t believe it!

Even though I originally opened my shop in November of 2014, I was flying under the radar, relying solely on Etsy’s SEO and Pinterest to make sales – until May of 2015 that is! That’s when I finally mustered up the courage to go public with my shop and open social media channels, add new products, and heavily focus on making it happen. Since that decision, a lot has happened and I have learned many valuable lessons in all areas from customer service, to operations, to social media, etc. Here are 5 of the most important things I’ve learned over the past year:

  1. Pictures, pictures, pictures! This is an obvious one, but trust me when I tell you that most Etsy sellers *think* they have good pictures, but we really don’t notice how bad (or average) they are until we do! I’m part of a few discussion forums where I’ve participated in exchanges about many topics, including pictures, and we’ve all massively helped each other better position our items, learn about lighting, etc. My pictures have dramatically changed since I first started out, and trust me when I tell you I thought I was doing a good job, and then I realized how bad they were. Exhibit A:
    Left: Original pictures  Right: Proof that evolution exists

    Left: Original pictures
    Right: Proof that evolution exists

    The picture on the left was the worst of my bunch, but there are no words to explain how I thought that would be good. At the time, I always took my pictures at night with bad lighting, using my “Frosty” colored corrugated wall as a backdrop, flash photography, and weird angles. AND I THOUGHT I WAS KILLING IT. I have nothing to say for myself.

    PRO TIP: Take advantage of all the communities out there, and get feedback on everything you can. You may be a one-man-show like me, but there are so many people willing to help or give quick advice that will make all the difference.

  2. Planning ahead and organization is everything. I’m pretty OCD and I love Excel sheets (really, I do), but when it comes to a self-run business, you really need to be aware of all of your activities/responsibilities, the time it takes you to complete them, the ROI (return on investment) from everything (are you sure you’re spending your time appropriately considering how it converts into sales?), and do as much ahead of time as you can. I’m the type of person who does really well under pressure, and that makes me consciously procrastinate, but unfortunately, I also get “moods” during which I don’t particularly enjoy to craft, and those can last weeks. So doing things ahead of time is very helpful, so that when I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. Also, everything is much harder than it looks, so you will realize that you need more time to do things well until it becomes second nature.
  3. The customer is… an interesting individual. I am happy to say that the bulk of my sales come from total strangers on Etsy, and I’ve come across so many interesting characters that I could honestly write a whole book about. Customer service has always been my priority from the get-go, so I really try to do my best with each order, but that’s not to say that things are sometimes out of your hands and you just have to deal. The majority of my customers have been super nice, and about a third of them have left me great reviews. A portion of them I’ve had little to no interaction with. And a few have been a little more work than the rest. It’s all part of the game, and you just have to play along and hope for the best result, but definitely don’t let it get personal. I let one order in particular get the best of me and it was about a month of feeling crappy 24/7. Not fun. Try your best to separate your work and craft from your personal life and feelings.
  4. Be your own customer. This one has always been obvious to me and I’ve tried to use it in every sense, but it’s always good to analyze every “front of the house” aspect of your business from the customer perspective. For social media, would you ‘like’ the picture you just posted if it came up in your feed? For SEO, would you search for the item you’re posting using those words? For customer service, would you be pleased with the way you’re treating the buyer if that were you? Always do things thinking of the customer and how you’d respond in their place.
  5. Learn, implement and evolve! We’ve all heard the phrase “nothing is more constant than change,” so we need to be sure that we’re evolving with the trends and that our products remain attractive and innovative. Also, something I’m proud of myself for doing this past year is I’ve participated in many workshops (online and in person), free and paid, and I’ve learned a lot of different things that I’ve implemented wherever possible and I’ve definitely seen results from most of them. Information selling is a big thing right now, so a lot of people are putting out content for free to entice you to buy, and it’s always worth looking into. If you learn one thing you didn’t know before, it’s worth it!

I could’ve told you these things a year ago because a lot of it is common sense, but it’s one thing to “know” something broadly, and another to truly live it and see the relevance of following through.

Do you sell your crafts? Are you in business by yourself? What have you learned since launching that you had an idea about or wish you knew before starting out? Comment below!

Flirting with… Vinyl!

For the most part, crafters and craft shop owners have a little bit of a niche, whether it be paint, paper crafting, glass work, wood burning, etc. I, on the other hand, am all over the place, excited to experiment, trying to soak up and learn as much as I can, and living out my wildest #craftasies. I enjoy this freedom, and though I’ve been working heavily on the paper crafting and painting world, I’m currently dabbing my feet in the unknown waters of Vinyl. The way I feel about working with vinyl is the same feeling you have when you like a guy who has a little bit of a dangerous appeal, and you know that the relationship has potential, but you’re scared of getting hurt… You know?

I have problems. I’m aware.

I never heard about vinyl prior to getting my Cricut Explore, which I planned on using exclusively for my card stock crafts. Then, my friend (who saved my life and taught me how to use my Cricut when I was struggling HARD with YouTube videos, so THANK YOU KATHY!) invited me to join a couple of Facebook groups called Let’s Learn Cricut Explore and Cricut Lovers Guide to Design Space (admin approval is required to join), which she told me would be a great way to get acquainted with the Cricut’s features and I could ask questions to the members – currently over 20,000 in each! So I joined, and realized that the vast majority of the members worked mostly with vinyl (or Heat Transfer Vinyl/HTV) to make decals or clothing accents. It looked cool, but scary.

I was intimidated to try any vinyl projects, because it just looked like a sticky situation (HA! get it?) and like I could mess it up easily. I avoided it at all costs and even though my Cricut brought a sample of vinyl, I refused to open it… Until I had to make an item which I knew would only make sense to be made with HTV. My friend was turning 26, and she mentioned that she wanted a sash that said “26 & Fabulous.” So I mustered up my courage, bought some glittery HTV, followed the instructions I remembered I’d seen in the Facebook groups countless times (mirror the image if necessary, check your settings, use chalk powder to show the lines when weeding, etc.) and got to work! Until I got to my first major roadblock: I couldn’t find an iron in my house. For HTV to work you NEED heat to stick it to the fabric. But fear not, because I tend to get REALLY creative when I’m in a craft jumble… So I figured, since it’s a sash, I could probably pull this off with my Hair Iron!

Ta da! I added a thin border with another ribbon to top it off, and it came out exactly the way my friend said she wanted it! She ended up wearing it all weekend long 🙂 20160108_223607578_iOS

After this, I felt a teensy bit more confident and willing give the permanent vinyl a chance, perhaps even decorate my Cricut machine (a lot of crafters do it!) so I decided to order a stack of sample colors from Amazon to have them handy for whenever I decided to step up to bat… Which didn’t take too long!

First, my mom’s friend asked me if I could make a decal for her car. Like, PERMANENT. And it had to come out right because it doesn’t come off easy and it was for her business. So I got to work, and I even stuck it on her car myself 🙂 She LOVED it!

20160220_193011431_iOS

Any pro vinyl crafter out there will know that this is cake. The real test of vinyl craftsmanship is layering, i.e. cutting out each component of the image in its respective color, and then layering it appropriately to create the final image. And you know where I’m going with this – someone asked me for something that I knew would look best layered!

My best friend wanted to do something cute for her son’s second birthday at school. She wanted to send some favor bags for his classmates, and she wanted them to be Mickey themed since that’s his favorite character. I came up with a design idea, and she loved it, so now it was time to work! Mickey heads with their names on them? Let’s do it!

AHHHHHHHH I LOVE CRAFTING! And my Cricut!!! For these projects, the most helpful tips I’d seen in the groups included setting the machine to cut “washi tape” because sometimes it’s too rough when you set it to “vinyl,” and to invest in a set of basic dental tools because they’re thinner than the Cricut tools. Also, Cricut Transfer Tape (or basic contact paper if you’re in a bind) is ESSENTIAL to transfer/layer all the pieces 🙂

So now, having done a small scale version of the projects that thousands of people do every day with vinyl, I’m finally comfortable enough to work with the material and hope I can continue to improve my skills and do some great stuff with it! In the meantime, I decided to take my manicure to the next level with some more of that vinyl 😉 20160328_182320868_iOS

Etsy is Getting a Facelift!

A couple of months ago I created an editorial calendar with topics to write about so that I wouldn’t struggle to keep up with my blogging commitment, and one of the items I wanted to touch on is my love for Etsy. Besides the benefit of the platform over every other e-commerce site out there (in my humble opinion), I truly believe that Etsy is always in touch with its community of sellers, and tries to do right by us as well as by buyers. I’ve participated in multiple surveys and I’ve seen implementation of changes I’ve written to them about (probably along with a few other sellers), and the improvements just keep coming.

Then, two weeks ago, sellers were notified that Etsy shops were getting a makeover, and I was like “HA! Perfect timing!” Let me tell you, I’m apprehensive about change, but this is a GREAT one! The new shop look is much more modern, clean, manageable by sellers, and easy to navigate by buyers. It’s definitely in line with the wave of “power pages” (basically, having the bulk of the information about the website in one single page where you just scroll down instead of figuring out the menu) and I for one can’t wait until it launches for everyone on April 5th. Here’s the detailed breakdown of the most noticeable changes:

Etsy Shop Looks - Before and After

Etsy Shop Looks – Before and After

First of all, the new look will allow sellers to choose between having no banner, a small banner (which will not be mobile-optimized), or a cover photo (mobile optimized!). As you can see, I’ve already gotten a head start on mine, and I’ve chosen to use this set up because I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase my items being used by my customers, which buyers don’t really see unless they’re following me on social media (::cough cough:: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). It’s a little overpowering on the screen, but I really think it does more good than harm (if done right).

Second, hello modernization! I never really noticed how “old-school” the current look is until I saw the new layout. The set up is fresh, and I think they got it right by emphasizing the shop itself over the owner, which is currently reversed.

Third, sellers can choose the order of their listings and OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH ETSY!!! It was so frustrating to feel like my shop was “disorganized” because right now the items show up in the order of “recent purchases,” and to my OCD self, it throws off the vibe. We can also choose to feature certain listings that will show up above the full shop. Where is my ::hands in the air:: emoji when I need it?

Fourth, the listings themselves are bigger, which is a great way to show buyers more in less time.

Fifth, the reviews are right under the listings. This is going to be YUUUUGE for buyers (#Elections2016!). As a frequent shopper myself, I know how much reviews influence my decisions to make a purchase, and having this information so visible is definitely going to make the process much quicker.

Sixth, the Shop Updates. I think I need a separate blog post to explain these, but basically, Etsy is going social on us! Through the use of the “Sell on Etsy” app (which is absolutely necessary if you’re a seller ::ehem:: customer service), Etsy has created a new way to push content through the platform and out onto other channels like text messages and the aforementioned Facebook, Instagram & Twitter, and going as far as Pinterest and even WhatsApp! These updates are going to tip the Etsy algorithms in favor of active sellers, as they’ll showcase more of the shops that use them, and honestly, it’s a great way to post different angles of our products by stepping out of the 5 picture limit. When sellers post these updates to their social media channels, they work as a cute little hooks to bring perspective buyers directly to each listing. In conclusion, if you’re a seller and haven’t posted your first Shop Update yet, get on it!

Seventh (and last one I’ll include here because I’m running out of screen), sellers now have a chance to upload a video of themselves and up to 5 pictures of their work spaces (or whatever they want) to help buyers fall in love with them even more.

Maybe I’ll have to make this post a trilogy or a Harry Potter-sized novel to cover ALL of the great new features Etsy is rolling out, and all the reasons why I already love them, but the point is, April 5th, check out my new swagged out shop and buy something from me 😀 Kidding, but really, SO excited for this. Thank you Etsy for being so awesomesauce! T – 1 week!