January 8, 2013

On A Favorite Things Party.

As promised, here are the details from the best ever favorite things party!

I am very blessed to be part of a group of seven friends who are so very dear to me. We’ve all been friends since high school, and through college, and now the “real world,” we’ve really stayed close. We thought having a favorite things party with all of us would be the perfect way to celebrate Christmas!

Our party has a Christmas theme to it, from the wrapping paper and gift bags to the decorations. We made a corner of the room into the food and gift area. In order to make it look particularly festive, we wrapped the card table with wrapping paper, wrapped the frames (which normally have pictures of the Rat Pack!) with wrapping paper, and hung Christmas bulbs from the ceiling.


The gift table got a festive streamer on the front of it.

party - presents table

At the fireplace, we hung tissue paper balls on either side, and (the piece de resistance!) a “Merry Christmas” banner my friend Keri made. Doesn’t it look so professional! (and adorable!)


We all brought our favorite appitizers and desserts. Six layer dip, queso dip, cookies, brownies, devil’s food cupcakes, and mozzarella sticks. A vast majority of this got eaten!

party - food

To start off the night, we played the Favorite Things Game. It’s just like Scattegories–you have a list of favorite things to fill in. Then, you go around and see what everyone had for an answer. If you had the same thing as someone else, you cross it off. The person with the most “unique” answers (answers that no one else had) at the end of the game wins!

fav things

(I can tell you, this took a long time to play–we kept getting distracted by everyone’s favorite things! And then, when we got to the book question, we spent a half hour talking about good books we should all read ūüôā )

Then, for the best part of the night–our Favorite Things! We had seven people, and we each brought 3 $10 gifts, so we each got three gifts. To pick, we wrote our name on a piece of paper three times and put them all in a cup. Once they were all in there, we each drew out three pieces of paper, and we received gifts from those people.

Here is a list of what everyone’s favorite things were:

  • Hanging out with all of us: this was a goody box with things we all loved to do together! It included a coupon code for a free RedBox movie, an old-fashioned Coke bottle, a mini-bottle of wine, a travel game (either Apples to Apples or Uno), and M&Ms.
  • Staying warm! This one was a gift bag full of super cozy Old Navy fuzzy socks, and a pair of fuzzy slippers, as well!
  • Staying warm, again! Yes, two girls had the same favorite thing–we really are quite alike! This one had a mug (either dogs, cats, or birds on it, because she loves animals), a pair of socks, and her favorite tea.
  • Nail Care Kit, and then some: This one embodied quite a few different favorite things! It was her favorite nail polish brand in one of her favorite colors (OPI, dark purple), with a buffer block (4 different sides to the block, for filing, buffing, shining, etc.), and cotton balls. It came in a wine glass (because she likes drinking wine), which had a quote from J.K. Rowling on it in puffy paint: “The stories we love best live in us forever.”
  • Cake Pop Maker: This one is pretty self-explanatory ūüôā but for backstory, the girl who brought it is a fantastic baker, and she loves making us fun treats!
  • Wine Glass: She loves drinking wine, wearing shoes, and the color pink…so the wine glass had a pair of pink shoes painted on it! Pretty perfect combo here!
  • Writer’s Essential’s Kit: Yes, you guessed it, this one was mine :). I finally picked what I wanted to do! (Click here if you want to see what other things I was considering.) This one had a pen, a mini-notebook (courtesy of¬†skeldesign on Etsy) and a mug (because you need a hot beverage to write your best!). On each mug, I wrote a different quote about books using a paint pen that you bake to make it stay on. (Look for the tutorial soon!)

Here are all our favorite things together:

party - gifts

What a wonderful night, and what wonderful friends!


December 17, 2012

On a Crafty Weekend!

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:36 am

I got my craft on this weekend!

First, after a stalled-out Etsy shop (slow times happen to me at the weirdest times!), I got two orders in two days! The first was a pair of fingerless gloves, which are always fun to make.

The other was for a custom kitten! Not just any kitten though–there’s a bit of a story behind this one. Apparently, there is (or was) an online game called “Glitch.” The developers are taking the game down, and someone was interested in having a crocheted version of the cat character from this game, called “Heli Kitteh.” They showed me a screen shot from the game of the kitten, and I got to work! The recipient loved it, and I already got another order for it!

Also, I can’t post pics yet because I also did this craft for some relatives who have not received it yet (don’t want to spoil the surprise!) but I did 10 gifts for everyone at my office, AND baked cookies for them! Due to a miscommunication with the notes on my cookie recipe, I misjudged how many cookies the recipe would make, and instead of getting 160, like I expected, I got 260 cookies! (Needless to say, there are a LOT in the freezer now!) All of that took up most of the weekend, but it was certainly worth it–I love my workplace and everybody I work with, so I was more than happy to share the joy!

Finally, I wrapped all the finace’s gifts! He has a nice little pile under our tree now :).

Have you been crafty this weekend?

December 13, 2012

On DIY Mania…Post-Christmas.

Let’s all just start by admitting that Pinterest is addictive.

Helpful, yes. Interesting, yes. A fantastic way to share things with my best friends regarding style, wedding, and clothing ideas, even though they’re states away? Yes.

However, it also awakens a (not so latent) need to always be creative. I want to make everything. And so the DIY Pinterest board began.

Since it’s Christmastime and I certainly won’t have the time for myself before the big day comes along (let’s ignore the fact that I go back to school in January, and therefore probably won’t have time after Christmas, anyway), I have a little¬†list of DIY projects for myself once¬†the¬†new year begins. (And side note, 2013, really? Where has the time gone? In my head, when I calculate years that have passed, I¬†still always assume it’s 2000 for some reason.¬†2013 just sounds strange…like we’re all in a sci-fi movie….which is making me want to watch Firefly…getting off track now, I know.)

So, here’s my DIY list for the new year:

Crochet Hook Holder

This really does not look that hard, although there was no attached tutorial in the pin I found. I have a sewing machine, seems like you buy some material, a little lace, and go to town! (Ask me if I feel this way when I actually attempt it. My sewing machine and I do not always see eye-to-eye.)

Knitted Lace Socks

(Pattern here.)

I have had these on my pinboard…well…just about since I got a Pinterest account. I actually took a step forward and bought the yarn for them the last time I was at Michael’s, but with the push to add items in my Etsy shop for Christmas, I just haven’t gotten around to working on something for myself. (In that respect, my scarf hat is still right where it was when I last blogged about it, as well. I know…it’s going to be spring before I get my act together. The fiance keeps telling me I have to actually do something for myself for a change. Gotta get around to that :))

Canvas Shoes

These just look really cool. Another Etsy blogger, the awesome Vivid Please, supplied a tutorial for these awhile back, and darned if I just haven’t gotten around to it. I will in the new year, I swear!

Mason Jar Herb Garden


I’d like to do a variation on this. My fiance and I get a lot of tea in the really pretty tins you see at Trader Joe’s and Giant Eagle Market District, and I won’t let him just throw the tins away because they’re so cute! (Yes, I have a cute clutter problem.) I think this would be a great way to reuse them, and a great alternative to having them sitting on a table somewhere, because we are just out of room!

Well, that’s my list for now :). I’m trying to keep it manageable so I’ll actually get to it! If you want to check out everything else I’ve been thinking of, come on over to my Pinterest DIY board.

Do you have any DIY lined up?

September 6, 2012

On Being, or Not Being, a Sweatshop.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 10:26 am

First, I have to be honest with myself and my readership: I am not a sweatshop. I am a woman who crafts amigurumi dolls, writes her own patterns, and uses her fifteen years of experience as a crocheter to create unique, quality pieces of work.

That being said, I thought I was prepared to watch the “Pricing for Profit” video on Etsy. In fact, I had recently raised my prices after some good advice in the Etsy teams, when I stopped, really did the math, and realized I was paying myself practically nothing. I had realized that I had sold five of my most popular item within¬†two months during the previous Christmas season, and if I had just charged a bit more, then yes, I might have lost¬†one of those sales, but the other four¬†would have made up for it, and my fingers wouldn’t have been sore from working them to the bone for those two months.¬†I thought now I priced myself and my wares fairly, and the video would do nothing more than offer the bolstering “thumbs-up” I needed to keep on plugging away in my shop.

I was wrong.

I was bowled over by the audaciousness of these women and their frank, honest way of telling the world that, if we wanted to run a successful business, we needed to price ourselves to allow for profit. This shouldn’t be a revelation for me; I have seen companies around me grow and expand, and I do not question their pricing for profit. However, I suppose since I am not a “brick and mortar” store, this did not at first occur to me.

Aren’t I awful for wanting a profit? Aren’t I horrible for asking more than what the sum of the materials and my meager pittance nothing modest wage is? Shouldn’t I just be sharing the love?

What they were trying to say is that the answer is no, to all of those questions. I should want a profit if I want to grow my business; I must ask more than the sum of materials and wage; and I can both share the love and make money doing what I do. (And wasn’t that what made me start selling in the first place?)

I still don’t have an answer for you. I don’t know what I’m going to do about my prices. It’s a scary thought, to change the perception and the perceived value of my wares like *that*. And I have the poor pricing of other sellers against me; notoriously, sellers price crochet items too low because they feel people do not understand how much goes into a piece and therefore, would not pay what an item is truly worth. So even if I change my prices, won’t I look like the bitch in the bunch? (And does that get down to the heart of the matter–my fear of being the fearless one? Still something I’m working on.) But I am definitely going to have to think about it, and think about where I want to take this little business of mine.

Until then, I send the challenge out to you as well, you fellow Etsyians, or anyone who sells handmade goods. Will you watch the video? If so, what will you do, then?

Please let me know.

August 21, 2012

On Crafting for Pleasure.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:27 am

I’ve been having this renewed joy in crocheting lately.

When my shop first opened, I was delighted to make new things, and I only briefly petered in that resolve until I moved states and started crafting like a crazed person all over again. Around this¬†May, however, I started looking at it as more of a chore than a delight, and I faltered for a bit. I think a lot of that had to do with an Etsy seller’s mentality of “sales, sales, sales.” I wasn’t getting a lot of them. Nevermind that I’m a small shop and¬†my items are often given as gifts, making them far more in demand around Christmas. Nevermind that I wasn’t doing everything right, either–I did not have multitudes of items, my pictures were poor, my tags were not optimized. I felt sorry for myself for about 2.5 seconds, as is my nature. (I can’t abide with pity parties¬†from anyone, including myself.)

Well, I shapened up my attitude, took new pictures, and started crocheting with a vigor, exponentially adding items to my shop. I poured through the Etsy Success team, looking for tips on how to optimize my titles and keywords, on how to make my shop look more professional. Now, after all that work, I’m back with a whole new outlook on it.

It makes me happy. Due to a day job with a stable income, I can spend a bit of extra money on supplies without a guaranteed return. Coming up with new, adorable designs that make people elicit little “cooing” sounds is delightful (and a little ego-boosting). Why shouldn’t I crochet for fun?

With that in mind, and with the inspiration from a fellow Etsyian, I started making a line of Halloween Octopi: Witchapus, Frankenpus, Ghostapus, and Pumpkinpus.

After the Halloweenopi, I’ve now been making a new line of Collector Teddy Bears. They’re crocheted with a lovely, soft yarn in a super-tight stitch, and they’re big, for the dolls in my shop (about fifteen or so inches tall when standing), all of which makes them SUPER DUPER huggable.

Now, I know this is a “designer” item, that not a ton of people will be looking to spend that much on a bear, but my new favorite part is that I don’t care! *Picture me throwing my hands up in the air haphazardly. I probably accidentally hit someone just there.* I know the right buyer is out there somewhere, and I don’t mind the bears hanging out on my bookshelf until that buyer comes along. Would you mind this face crashing at your place? Seriously. Come on.

My fiance and I call him “Rust Bear,” and yes, we talk to him and occasionally hug him. What heart-filled person wouldn’t? My long-winded point is I’m doing what I love, I’m making the people around me happy, and it fills me with joy. That’s what this is all about.

Are you an Etsy seller, too? Have you ever felt disheartened and needed to remind yourself you’re doing this because you love it? I’d enjoy hearing your stories, too ūüôā

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