Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ginger Mint Tea for a Sore Throat

Today I am sitting here inside the cozy house, looking timidly out the window at the frosty haze covering the world, and sipping tea. I came down with a sore throat a few days ago, convinced myself it was gone yesterday, went to a 2 hour choir practice last night, and woke up this morning worse off than before I went. Smart, right? But, I have decided I'm going to go after this cold the all natural way. *cheers* No tylenol, no motrin, no ibuprofen, no nothin. See, my brother bought me this book called "Country Wisdom and Know How: a practical guide to living off the land" for my birthday (he knows me WAY too well :) and I have recently been intrigued by the section on home remedies. So I have been trying different things out, and have come up with this tea which really helps sooth your throat, bring down the swelling, and generally make life a tad bit easier.

Ginger Mint Tea

2 tsp tea of your choice
1 tbs dried mint leaves, crushed
1/4 tsp dried ginger OR a few thin slices of fresh ginger root
 Dash of lemon juice

Put the tea, mint, and ginger into a tea ball, or a bit of cloth, and steep it in a cup of steaming hot water for about 2 minutes. Add a small dash of lemon juice, and stir in some honey to taste. 

The the ginger acts as an expectorant, providing quick relief to the soreness, the mint is cooling and soothing, the lemon cuts the mucous in the back of the throat which causes soreness, and the honey coats the throat.  I have been using this for a couple of days and it has definitely helped reduce the pain drastically.  

I also read that gargling with cayenne pepper is very beneficial and provides instant relief, so, being my usual insane self, I tried it, and I'll just say I wouldn't recommend it.  While it did, in fact, relieve the pain greatly, it basically felt like my mouth was on fire. Thanks, I'll stick with salt water. :)

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ideas for my shop's future...

Being in my last year of school, I have had little to no time to be making things for my shop or even posting on my blog very often.  But I have set my sights on next spring when I will be graduated, and ready to dive in to my business and make it what I always dreamed of it becoming.

So, I have been busily pinning all my ideas and inspiration on my Pinterest board I created for that purpose.  On there you will see either things I would like to make or ideas that would help me make things.  Here are a few things I want to do in the coming year...  (note: all photos on this post are taken from Pinterest)

 Glitter Cotton Twine - Gold & Silver 
Come up with a standard, cute way to package and ship all of my things.  Right now I get pretty creative, but I would like to have that signature look that is unique to me and my shop.

pressed wildflower resin necklace yellow golden flowers from my farmhouse cottage woodland fall 
Start a line of nature-themed jewelry.  I just love nature, and I've seen so many beautiful ways to incorporate it into jewelry (like this bit of dried wildflower encased in resin in a pendant).

Coffee Date Dress: free burda style dress pattern
Possibly, possibly, possibly..... a clothing line?  Maybe?  We'll see.

Redoute's Rose   - Vintage Book Plate - 1978
Start using my watercolors to make stationery.  Imagine how cool that would be.

So, this is all a ways off, but I figured I might as well start planning now, and I'm so excited about it I thought I would share some of my ideas with you!  What do you think?  Would you like to see some of these things in my shop?  Do you have any other suggestions?

Love always,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving in Philadelphia

Why hello again!  Goodness we had such a lovely Thanksgiving.  We were able to see my brother and stay at my aunt and uncle's house in Philadelphia.  While we were there we visited the Miraculous Medal Shrine, and Valley Forge.

 Walking down the street to the shrine.

 We had the privilege of attending Mass while we were there

 There were so many beautiful statues of Our Lady throughout the church and shrine building

 After visiting the shrine we got lunch and headed over to Valley Forge.  This was our first time there, so it was so exciting.  I couldn't wait to take lots of pictures. :)

 Replicas of some of the barracks the soldiers built

Inside one of the cabins

 The land was so beautiful

 Washington's house

 This. Place. Was. Epic.

 I want this bedroom. 

 The kitchen! *swoon*

 Mom took this picture of us three in the doorway of one of the outbuildings. 

More barracks closer to Washington's house

Another shot of the land.

This was a very memorable Thanksgiving!  I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings with your family as well.

Yours truly,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back Again!

I am officially back, only so I can say that I will officially be away again. :)  Golly, this last year of school has taken up so much of my time that Blogger, Pinterest, and Etsy have been terribly neglected.  It's been all I can do to simply ship orders out as they come in!

Besides school though, I have been doing *some* other things.  I just watched "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" again, which renewed my decision that it is one of my favorite favorite movies.  Boy can those guys dance!! *giggle*

The barn dance is probably my favorite scene :)

I also am *trying* to finish crocheting a scarf made of homespun Angora wool for my brother for Christmas.  So far, it's making progress.  I also just baked some more cookies for him since he told me that the boys are *cough*demanding*cough*, I mean, requesting more. :)

There will be some new things in the Etsy shop pretty soon, so keep an eye out!  I am also preparing a post on Beatrix Potter, complete with real photos of her, and photos of me dressed up like her.  That is my favorite time period. :)

And about the "officially going away" part:  I will probably not be posting much in the next few days because of Thanksgiving.  I know, shocker, right?  Who remembered it was Thanksgiving this week?  Not me...  :D

Have a lovely holiday!

Yours truly,

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Successfully Running an Etsy Shop

I had a question from one of my readers recently asking me if I could give some helpful tips on running an Etsy shop successfully.  So I have decided to make a post about it!

25 Etsy Shop Handmade Promo Buttons Badges

Successfully Running an Etsy Shop

There are three main points to keep in mind when selling handmade things on Etsy. I like to think of them as the "Three P's".


   As the owner of an online shop, the only window the world has to your wares is through five photos and a description on your Etsy listing.  Each listing on Etsy allows you to upload up to five photos, so use all five. Take shots of every angle, detail, and feature. You want to make the potential customer feel like they have just picked up your item, turned it around, looked inside, felt the texture, etc. Make your photos look professional. So many times I see photos that look blurry and aren't lit well. Take artistic photos. I can't tell you how much more appealing it is to me when I see, say, a beautiful doll wearing a handmade dress propped up outside by some flowers with soft sunlight illuminating her figure, instead of a ratty haired, barefooted fright leaning against a dirty wall in artificial indoor lighting wearing her dress for sale. While both these photos could be showcasing the same identical dress, which one would you be more quick to buy? Take a look at these two photos below.

Lace-Edged Drawers               Historical American Girl Petticoat and Bloomers for Addy, Felicity, Cecile, Marie Grace, Kirsten
These photos were both taken by me for different Etsy listings I have sold in the past.  But each photo is showcasing virtually the same thing: a pair of white bloomers for an American Girl doll.

Now, which one do you think is more appealing?  The one on the left isn't necessarily bad, but it isn't very artistic. Look at the one on the right.  That shows the same bloomers, yet it looks like a picture you might see in an AG catalog (well, close to it rather :).  Does the one on the right look more professional to you??

And just because I want to, I'm going to show you two of my favorite photos I have taken yet of some of my doll outfits:

 Colonial Polonaise Winter Gown with Cloak
 This is pretty good, a little washed out, but you'll notice you can see her legs through her skirt slightly. Gotta watch out for the little things! Nonetheless, this one sold within a day of listing. ;)

Anne of Avonlea Schoolteacher Ensemble
This one is another top favorite. She was my little Anne of Avonlea. :)

   Writing your description for your item is just as important as taking good photos! When writing your description, pretend you're talking to the customer. Type out all that you might say in praise of your wares, as if the person is standing right in front of you at your craft table, wanting to know all about this beautiful piece of craftsmanship you have created.

   Let's look at two different descriptions I have done in the past.

Here's one I did for this little Swedish outfit:

Alpine Set - for 18 inch American Girl Doll

"This adorable little outfit reminds us of the clothing worn by girls and women in Sweden. Includes peasant blouse, full skirt, and pink pinafore." 

   Come on, Elizabeth, you can do better than that. While it clearly states what I was selling, there is no eloquence, no character, no story behind the outfit.  You want to tell your item's story.  Now let's look at another description I did for this civil war era dress:

 A Little Women Christmas: "Jo March" Holiday Dress
 "This Christmas, I have decided to make four dresses from the civil war era. Each dress is named after one of the four sisters in the well-loved classic, Little Women. The dress will resemble the spirit and character of that sister.

So, to start off the collection, here we have the second oldest girl in the family; Jo March. She is spunky, day-dreamy, strong-headed and always has a story or play sprouting in her mind. Her dress is made in a burgundy stiff cotton, with a prim white cotton collar of imported lace from the Netherlands, a black and gold cameo fixed at her throat, black braid around her sleeves and hem, and a voluminous black silk bow at her waist which ties beautifully in the back. The pictures show the dress a bit more maroon-toned, but it is more cranberry/burgundy in real life.

Click here for the perfect petticoat to fluff out the skirt:
Simply my favorite dress yet! I almost don't want to send it off, but I am sure that there is a little Jo March somewhere out there who would be honored to wear it during this beautiful, festive, old-fashioned season of Christmas!"

   There you see a real story.  Don't you feel like you've just had a conversation with me about my Jo March dress? Note that I even included a link to another item that would compliment this piece. That is a good tool to use to move people around your shop to see other things you offer.


    When I first started selling my pieces on Etsy, I thought "The cheaper, the better!"  Slim sales starting out taught me that that was not the case.  On Etsy, people are willing to pay top dollar for your handmade merchandise.  To them it is worth much more than something similar you could find in a store.  Think instead "The higher the price, the higher the sales!"  Once I bumped up my prices, I cannot tell you how my sales began to pick up.  Suddenly I was getting $65 for a doll dress I had once tried to bargain off for $20.  People are not looking for deals on Etsy.  If they want that they'll go to Ebay.  Etsy is different than Ebay for a reason.  I have never sold my handcrafts on Ebay because I know I can get much more for them on the Etsy craft venue.  Think of Etsy as an upscale craft show, and Ebay as a garage sale.


   Here I am talking about YOU.  You are the proprietor of your shop.  All sales and customer relations go through you, so have a cheerful attitude when dealing with your customers.  You are doing this because it is enjoyable for you, so make it an enjoyable experience for them!  Again, I'm turning to past experience when I say that I have had many experiences with grumpy sellers.  I buy almost as much as I sell on Etsy, so when I work with people, whether I'm buying or selling, I can easily pick up on their attitude behind that computer screen.  Some quite frankly just seem like they wish they were doing anything but working with you. And that's not how a customer should feel. When I work with my customers, I try to be as happy, cheerful, and accommodating as I can. I always keep them up to date on whether their pieces are finished being made (if it was a custom order), if there are any concerns I answer them in detail, and I send them prompt shipping notifications once their package has shipped. I always send along a little note in their order saying thank you and telling them how much I appreciated their business. Etsy has a feature where you can leave feedback for your customers... never neglect to keep up on this! Each sale you make can get feedback, so give them a plus and tell them what a great customer they were. They will leave positive feedback for you in return if they were pleased with your service.  Just keep in mind that what you are doing is fun, so let that show in your communications with your valued customers!

   Etsy is about sharing your creations with people, so take a chance at this wonderful opportunity and open up your little workshop to the world!  One last point I would like to make is on the importance of an Etsy shop/blog partnership.  Keeping a blog which coincides with your shop is very valuable.  It lets your customers get to know you even more personally, what you do, and what you make.  Direct your Etsy customers to your blog wherever you can and vice versa.  If you ever have any questions please drop me a note by emailing me at orchardhouse(at)woh(dot)rr(dot)com.  I have been in business online for three years, 1 and a half years being on Etsy.  Before that I sold my handmade things locally. 

   I hope that this post will answer some common questions and give you a little helpful advice.  Happy crafting!

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