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Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Family Production

Today's entry needs to be dedicated to my amazing husband and children.  I could not have survived this holiday season without them.  To bring everyone up to speed, I was given the rare and wonderful opportunity to have one of my Pride and Prejudice novel ornaments featured in the National Post.  It created a whirlwind of business that no one expected and I desperately needed the help of my family to fulfill orders and stay on top of all the holiday shopping madness going on in my online shop.  My vintage novel ornaments and french script candles were an incredible hit this year, and I am immensely grateful and humbled.  A few of the ornaments are still available at Paint Creek Center for the Arts locally in an exclusive large glass bulb with opalescent finish that I don't yet sell online (as well as some of my frames, french script candles, cupcake gift boxes, and covered wood boxes.) If you would like to grab a few ornaments at a discount, my shop will be selling the Sets of 3 10% off in the month of January.  I will re-announce the sale in my next blog and on facebook.

The infamous Pride and Prejudice novel ornament.

I finally decided to join twitter.  I am still getting used to the idea of trying to remember to "tweet" things, and find the balance between not enough/boring and over the top/obnoxious.  I lean to the former out of fear of the latter.  The whole concept of putting something out there in cyberspace that I may never be able to take back makes me a tad nervous...oh wait...this is a blog, right? haha

Thanks to the lovely invitation by an long-time friend, Christine Martinez, creator of Miles to Style, I am now on Pinterest as well. (Thank you, Christine!) This is a sloooooow process since I am still juggling home/work/construction/holidays, but I think I am getting the hang of pinning much more quickly than tweeting.  Afterall, I am skimming through the pages of Etsy and the net all day looking for beautiful things to feature, buy, and inspire me. Being able to pin them into a virtual book totally rocks!  No more word docs of links in barely organized categories (yes, I actually have been doing that for over 5 years).  I really enjoy looking at the pins of my friends as well.  You all have great taste!

Well that's my update in a big flowery basket of newsy goodness.  Looking forward to chatting into the New Year...

Have an inspired day!

Faith

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Push

The last couple of months have flown by, and with construction still going on and business booming, a bit of my world has been turned on it's ear.  I keep telling myself, and it's true, that this is comparatively minimal sacrifice for much greater gain. I may feel like tearing my hair out now...but it will be worth it in the end (even if that means having to invest in a few wigs).

A lot of cool things have been happening, and one of them is being contacted by a great local gallery in Rochester, Michigan called Paint Creek Center for the Arts, which will be featuring some of my items in their annual gift gallery.  I feel honored to be chosen as one of their artists and am looking forward to the opening on the 19th.  My items will be displayed through to the end of the year, so if you are in the area, please stop by and check it out.  Make sure to keep up on all the happenings via my facebook page.

I am very careful to avoid topics such as religion and politics in my blog, but mentioning the gallery brings me to the idea of buying local.  In the atmosphere of unrest in the economy and people world wide asking for, even demanding, answers and accountability, I want to really encourage all of you to consider doing a significant amount of your holiday shopping supporting small businesses and local establishments that are not owned by big corporations.  I know it is a tough thing to do in this current economy, but it will help bring the money back to where it can actually benefit immediately in the lives of the people who live in your community and country during this holiday season.  I have a large international customer base, so I am not specifying only US.  It really is a world-wide dilemma.   

I have been really thinking about how I can make a direct impact as well.  As many of you know from previous blogs, we have significant storm damage to our home, and are in the process of repair/restoration.  I will be posting more about my boy's bedroom very soon.  We have had a lot of fun deciding how to design the space.  One thing I have tried very hard to do is make sure that all the artwork is either mine or purchased direct from the artist on Etsy.  As I blog about the process, I hope you will follow the links and get to know this talented group as well.  It really pushed me to start looking at what I was buying, and to re-think what each imprint of each item I buy on our economy and on our environment.  I love to recycle and upcycle, and while I did break down and visit IKEA, Target, and Walmart for other items, simply because of our budget, I made a huge effort to make sure each purchase was very consciously done.  I have decided to apply that to the Christmas purchases this year.  I look forward to sharing with you the process of rebuilding, not just my house, but my purchasing mindset. 

Have a WONDERFUL week!  

Faith

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

Okay, so if you have never used leeks before, you must try them...and this is the perfect way to lose your leek virginity. (Yes, I know that sounds wrong, but it made me giggle, so it stays. ;P)

One quick mention is that preparing leeks is easy, but you might be surprised by finding the pockets with sand and soil among the layers if it is your first time using them, so I am going to give you a link to help with prep: How to prep leeks. Now I do use more of the greens than is shown in the video, but that is just preference. Also, as much as I think lavender adds a beautiful flavor to this, it can be left out- especially if you don't live close enough to steal some from my herb garden.

Now to the fun part:

Ingredients 

2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chopped fresh lavender
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
2 leeks, sliced
7 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
Gorgonzola cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions

In a soup pot, melt butter, add leeks, salt, peppers, and lavender, then saute for 10-15 minutes at medium to low heat.  some light browning from the butter is fine, but do not brown the leeks or caramelize, just let them become soft and tender.    Add white wine and stir, releasing any browning from the bottom. let cook down for about 5 minutes.  During this time, add the cornstarch to the stock and stir. Add stock and potatoes to the leeks, and bring to a boil.  Turn down stove to low heat and add milk and cream.  Let simmer for 30 minutes. When you are ready to serve, you can leave as is, or blend half in the blender and re-add to create a thicker, more velvety soup.  Garnish with Gorgonzola cheese if desired.

It tastes incredible, and is even better the second day...the perfect comfort food on these cold dreary days :)

Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trying to play catch-up....

...and it's not working.  As many of you know, we came home from vacation to 5 holes in our roof from storm damage. Two left branches literally protruding from the ceiling of the boys room.  There was water damage on three floors...what a mess.  Thankfully, we have homeowners insurance.

With our exterior close to complete, and the interior now being worked on, I have been living in a construction area for absolutely too long already.  It has pretty much doubled my time in creating anything with the house an utter disorganized mess, and has been tough overall just dealing with not having my solitude during the day, 6 days a week, to work.  Also, my business has been growing at the same time, so if my blogs become thin, I hope you will understand that I am simply lost in the chaos, but it won't be forever.

What it has done is give me an opportunity to interior design the boys' room from scratch since it basically needed to be gutted.  (Silver lining, right?)  I am excited to say that after I had decided on the colors of the boys room, I stumbled across an artist that I absolute fell in love with- Darren Alejos.  He just so happened to have created the perfect Robot vs. Zombie art piece in the exact colors I needed.  I special requested a second one with variation so both Miykael and Jonathan could have their own over the bed.  The the room is now being designed around these two pieces that travel with me every choice I make- even changing the wall color plan from designer white to a light gray (but more on that some other day).  I consider Darren's work to be unique, on-trend, but not "trendy", quirky but not "cutesy", covered in a high level of talent that simply can't be learned.  His range of work is broad while keeping within his signature style, and I hope you will support him as an artist as well.

Here's the infamous print:

Zombie vs. Robot by Darren Alejos
That will be gracing this bedroom one day in the future:



There are other beautifully sophisticated pieces of his that  may end up in my studio and/or living room...we shall see! But I will say that this aventure into my home being a construction zone has opened me up to the opportunity of discovering artists and designers that may have gone unoticed had that sycamore branch not fallen in my path of life.  It really goes to show that sometimes we need a little boat rocking to wake up from our ruts.  It's embracing these times and trying to find the opportunity to discover, learn, and grow that make it personally valuable. (Though I will be very glad on the day I finally get my house back ;)  Looking forward to taking you on this little journey with me....

Have an inspired day!

Faith

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My German-style Split Pea Soup

Another Family Favorite we can't live without that goes perfectly with cold, gloomy weather. I usually make a double batch to freeze because it is so popular with the kidlets. While it does take about an hour and a half cook time, total prep time is actually about 15 minutes, so is a very easy recipe. Usually I serve it with a loaf of pumpernickel bread or hearty multi-grain on the side. And if you have the inclination to make homemade butter to spread, I added the instructions after the soup recipe :) Cheers!

Ingredients:
1 Hamhock
1 bag of Dry Split Peas
6 Slices of Bacon chopped
Water
5 carrots, sliced in coins
1 red onion Chopped
4 stalks of celery chopped
2 Tbsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. freshly gound Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 cup White wine


First, in a large pot/dutch oven, Place hamhock, pour in split peas, salt, and half of the pepper, and cover with water. Bring to Boil at high heat on a back burner then turn down heat to medium to allow for a rolling boil. With a large skillet, brown bacon until crisp, then add chopped onion, carrots, and celery and the remaining pepper. Let brown and caramelize over medium heat, then deglaze with wine. Once all of the browning has lifted from the bottom (you can help it along with stirring), pour the contents of the pan into the pot of boiling lentils. Add 4 cups of water, cover and and turn down heat until at a nice simmer. Let simmer for 1-11/2 hours, or until peas have fully softened. Stir occasionally to make sure there is nothing sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a little water as needed to make sure all ingredients are covered with liquid. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add lemon juice and thyme.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh butter

Ingredients:
1 pint Heavy cream
1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional)

In a mixer, whip cream and salt until it forms a pale yellow creamy butter. Great way to show the kids where butter comes from...well besides taking them to a farm to milk a cow, etc. ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Curating Treasuries

Lately I have been pulling together treasuries as a form of training my eye...like an artistic brain teaser.  I also find it a little therapeutic when I am getting stumped on a project and need a little break that still feels productive.  Here are some of the treasuries I have curated recently.  








You can subscribe to see my treasuries as I create them by clicking "add to circle" on the treasury page. (And if you haven't yet joined Etsy, I highly recommend signing up. It's truly a wonderful place to find beauty, inspiration, and creativity.)


Have an inspired day!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anniversary Bliss

It is officially the 10 year anniversary of Inspirations by Faith! In celebration, I am offering ALL repeat customer who have supported me over the years (including those who have done business with me through private art commissions), 50% off any one item in my Etsy store.  Just message me with the item you would like to purchase, and I will create a custom listing just for you.  All customers, in the month of September will receive a special anniversary gift valued at $5. There will also be a tons of great items going on sale throughout the month, so make sure to check it out and check back regularly!  This is the perfect time to buy for the holidays...and if you participate in the design challenge and/or Riddle Me treasury, you can get an even bigger discount!

There is something very unique in how we all view anniversaries.  They have a way of making us look back and conjure up the special, often life-altering, moments we connect to a particular date and time.  Some can be joyous occasions. Some are, well, not.  But our minds have a way of letting us lose ourselves in those moments...such an incredible gift!  We can take those re-connections and learn, grow, heal, and even find ourselves inspired into action. 

The one custom order this last month that touched me the most deeply, was a husband's first wedding anniversary request.  It is a very rare occasion for a man to grace the virtual doorstep of my online store.  And even more surprising, he contacted me from overseas on military deployment, inquiring about my Paintbrush Bouquets.  Spending his anniversary away from his wife, he wanted to send her a paper flower bouquet in the time-honored tradition of giving paper on the first anniversary. Now I am an imaginative, and creative person, but it had never crossed my mind how great this item is as a first anniversary gift, and I just love the idea! (Not to mention that "Awwww...how sweet" moment.)  He had me add a very special message, and he picked the custom colors he knew she would love. We waited to ship so she could receive it just before her anniversary with the message on the box for her to not open it until that date.  The romantic in me can just imagine her surprise, and total adoration knowing he put so much effort and thought into making the day special and gifting something so unique.  He later messaged me to confirm the bouquet had arrived safely....and the coup de gras, he shared that it may have inspired her to start painting again.  That just makes my soul dance.

As the years have gone by, I have created many things to commemorate anniversaries of various types.  This one certainly has reminded me the incredible value of having a life partner that supports not just the everyday, but also your dreams and aspirations.  When someone supports the part of you that is inspired, creative, even a little frivolous and unconventional because they know it feeds your soul...you know you have someone in life that is of incredible value.  I know I am blessed to have that in my life {love you, Marc}, and I feel very honored to have been a part of the story this wonderful couple has begun to write.  Happy Anniversary!

The custom paintbrush bouquet :)


I need to share a few important announcements before I go eat the carrot cake my husband just handed me :)

The winner of the Riddle Me Treasury goes to *drum roll* Angela. Congratulations! She will be receiving a wonderful collection of goodies and 40% off her next order! She is a fellow seller on Etsy, and I hope you check out all her pretty wares. The answer, as many of you know, was Anne of Green Gables.  Everyone who guessed should have received a response from me earlier today with your discount coupon. If for some reason you didn't receive it, please drop me a line. If you didn't get a chance to participate, I still encourage you to click the treasury link to get a giggle, and see how the riddle treasury works just in case you want to participate in the next one.

The September design challenge is still in effect, so make sure to join in the fun.  I will announce October's challenge in a couple weeks.

So on that note, I bid you all a happy holiday weekend, and hope you all stay deeply, madly, passionately, inspired by life!

Faith

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

End of Summer Fun!

Hello to all!

I have created an Etsy treasury with a mystery theme.  Click on the link to view the treasury.  I ask that all guesses be messaged to me privately via etsy convo, facebook messaging, or emailed faith@inspirationsbyfaith.com. The first person to correctly guess the theme will be sent a $20 valued package of art and supplies from Inspirations by Faith PLUS receive a 40% discount on their next purchase.  It gets better…ALL correctly guessed submissions sent to me by September 1st will also get a 40% coupon towards their next purchase/order, and ALL other guesses that are not correct still will receive a 20% coupon towards their next order with Inspirations by Faith. But remember, don't post it in public comments- we don't want to ruin the fun! :)

Today I am also announcing my first design challenge.  Since my followers are small in number here, the design challenge images will be posted on facebook, but I will be posting photos of all the September challenge submissions here as well on October 1st. 
Everyone who submits by the deadline will receive a $5 gift certificate towards their next purchase from Inspirations by Faith- this includes custom/special request orders!
If you have a blog or website, I also will be happy to post a link along with your submission. 

Our design challenge for September will be to make one “Thank You” card with the following ingredients:

Vintage paper
Cardstock
Lace
Embroidery floss
Buttons


Anything can be added to the ingredients, but all submissions must have all of the ingredients listed. You can pull these ingredients together yourself, or purchase a quick pack for $4 from my store which I have put together to make it a tad easier.  Either way you do it is fine.  Click here for the link to the quick packs.  Once you have created your card, take a photo or scan of your completed card and send to me via email: faith@inspirationsbyfaith.com, making sure to include with your first name (last name and link is welcomed but optional) or if you want to just post it yourself to the facebook discussion, feel free.  All submissions are due by the end of September.

I haven’t decided to make the challenge a contest at this point since I am not sure how many people will be participating with me, but I am looking forward to the fun!

Have an inspired day!

Faith


Saturday, July 23, 2011

It Could Happen to Anyone

Hello everyone!

I have started and never finished a few blogs simply because I came home just plain overwhelmed and too busy to complete anything.  Due to a freak storm in West Dearborn, our home was "hugged" by a very large sycamore branch.  We are dealing with the aftermath of 5 punctures in the roof, and the water damage that went along with it.  This just runs the old adage, "...it can happen to anyone".  Many people suffered far worse damage than us with large old maples and the like being uprooted, streets blocked by the debris, and downed telephone lines catching fires to homes.  We were on vacation, but from the pictures we have seen of the neighborhood, it looked like a war zone. 

 "Hugged" by the sycamore we asked the city to remove over a year ago....the irony (or karma via Mother Nature's sense of humor?).

Last night I went to my first in-store crop at Scrappy Chic in Livonia for some much needed R&R to take my mind off things and have a little fun with friends.  Big kudos to them for a well-run crop.  I had a ton of fun and an abundance of laughter filled hours with two fellow scrapaholic friends. As we chuckled over our undeniable paper hoarding obsessions, a friend said, "It's a sickness."  I replied with my typical blatant honesty, "Yes, but I don't want to stop it." Actually, I was a good girl and did not purchase any new lines, but you know I was looking and planning for my next paper spree. *sigh* Bad Faith! (see it does no good).

On to the important stuff...
I am a contributing artist (scroll to the bottom of the page link to find me- I was the last artist to join) for an incredibly important documentary on domestic violence by Tortoise and Finch Productions. I just received news that a donor has announced that he will match dollar for dollar up to $500 in contributions now through Sunday 11:59pm. These finishing funds are very important for the end of production and every dollar counts. Please consider contributing to a socially important and impactful film. just click the link below to help or even to check out the extended trailer: You Look a Lot Like Me
Business picked up quickly when I pulled the store off vacation mode. It has been go, go, go, baby go, so I am off to start shipping and finishing up the millions of undone projects just calling my name...
 Have an inspired day!
Faith

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Imprinting Legacy

Things have been beyond busy, running from place to place on a deadline that stretches across 13 states.  There have been many moments where my intense desire to write has been trumped by my deep  desire to connect with the people in my life who are a part of my legacy just as much as I am a part of theirs.  Merriam-Webster defines "Legacy" as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. This concept of imprinting legacy as part of our immortality is an interesting one.  Even when our name is forgotten and the memories of family and friends are lost forever, our deeds and their repercussions live on. In both the physical actions and in the positive and negative energy that is created such as emotional damage or planting seeds of enlightenment.  


The day before yesterday, I had the incredible blessing of spending four hours with my grandfather.  I took him to a place where not only he has memories of his own childhood, but where he and I built very unique and special memories together.  His wife, my grandmother,  recently passed.  She and I were incredibly close with a connection that was extremely unique.  As I have become older, I become increasingly aware of the great gift this has been to my life.  Because of this deep bond, I did not often spend alone time with my grandfather. But one day where we did has always struck a deep chord.  

He took me to Cabrillo Beach and the maritime museum just under 25 years ago.  We spent the day walking the boardwalk, eating, visiting the museum, and having ice cream.  During this point in his life his demeanor was generally distant and many times gruff unless on his boat, and/or traveling. I have come to understand that he was most certainly the product of an environment and legacy thrust upon him as he grew up in his own home.  So, this day was even more rare because I experienced a unique view into his sincere love and gentleness towards me and others that I had honestly never seen so freely flow until then. His memories and stories flooded the day.  He shared stories about his past- of war, of family, of my father, of sailing, and of his love for my grandmother.  I witness tears in his eyes and the heartbreaking silence while he stared at the remnant of a ship whose military personal he help save during his stint in the Navy aboard the USS Conner during World War II. This day so deeply imprinted on my mind because not only did he share so much with abandon not seen before, it also was the day I realized my own sincere and deep adoration for my grandfather. 

 USS Conner DD-582


As my grandfather has progressed in age and dementia has started it's ugly course, he has actually softened and become that same man I saw that day.  Or maybe I should write that he has brought down the barrier that guarded him from being free an vulnerable to the world enough to be who he always was deep down inside.  The man that my grandmother saw more than any of us, whom she loved and adored. We have been given a gift at this time in his life where he still can imprint his legacy of love and memories, but the bittersweetness of the Thursday is not lost on me.  Dementia is a formidable foe and a treacherous thief.  And it is only a matter of time where these imprintable days of legacy will no longer be obtainable. I am so thankful for a grandfather who fights dementia with every bit of strength he has...not just for himself, but for us as well, even though he knows full well the inevitable outcome. He is a man with a profound legacy.


My Grandfather and I on Cabrillo Beach July 7, 2011


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Road Trip: It's that time again....

Okay, I know what you are about to say (or not...maybe it's just the voices in my head).  "Faith, you shouldn't announce that you will be away on vacation."  And you would be 100% correct, so kids, don't do this at home.  But the fact of the matter is this: everytime I try blog after the trip, I end up out of steam by week 6 of posting smatterings on facebook then and forgetting the delightful little candid moments and inspiration that would otherwise be recorded in long format (yes, ironically that's what I call this blog- my long format).  I mean really, if I don't want to listen to MYSELF type stuff for 6 weeks about my vacation from 3 weeks prior that lasted for 3 weeks before THAT, then why would you? 

This year I am doing something new.  I will be posting as I go, sharing the bits of inspiration I see along the way.

So for any of you would-be burglars and my two stalkers who just can't seem to get enough of me, I have an attack fish waiting by the door...



...and a neighbor doing daily garden upkeep at random times (armed with a hose and pruning shears), and we informed our neighbors to watch our house with promises of homemade cookies and pie.  And if that didn't dissuade you, we have 3 kids so if it's worth something, it's probably broken and held together with duct tape.  Believe me, this house looks WAY better on the outside than it does inside. Especially with my Hayley Mills Parent Trap style boobie trapping I am doing...which reminds me, I need to buy honey.

Oh yeah, and we have the local police doing security checks.
  
Looking forward to keeping in touch with all of you as we weave are way through 6,000 miles of Swientoniowski Road Trip goodness. Stay tuned....

PS: I have been asked if the fish picture above is really a fish and if he is really our fish.  The answer is yes and yes.  His name is Plecostomus Nimbus, and he is a 13 inch long algae-eater who grew barbs on his fins because he is so damn big and old.  He will cut you. ;)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Perks for the Fans

If you are looking for a monthly "perk" at my store, make sure to "like" me on facebook so you can have access to the great monthly discounts and coupons I give to all my facebook fans.  Feel free to post, review, and keep in touch there as well.  I update much of the fun stuff going on with the business, including treasuries, causes I am getting involved in, and whatever other quirkiness I am up to.  This summer there will be a couple of design challenges I will be sharing as well, so don't wait too long to jump on board.  ;)

See you there!

Faith

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adventures in Gardening!

Here is a little gardening before and after. A lot of my time is poured into this small bit of Earth I live on, and it's a huge part of my inspiration and creative expression. I thought I would share my gardening progression since moving here in 2008. Click on the link below to view the full album.





Have an Inspired Day!

Faith

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Etsy Who?

After being introduced the the world of eBay ten years ago, and becoming a powerseller, I found myself totally immersed with the global concept of e-commerce. However, as time passed, my good friends (yes I made friends on eBay) who also were successful sellers started to feel the squeeze of eBay's increasingly oppressive fees and regulations. I even became a part of a group looking for viable alternatives to selling online, but the eBay elephant was just too big. It was an interesting dynamic to observe.

I was one of the lucky ones, who did not rely on my eBay business for the food on our table. I had become a designer and teacher at a local scrapbooking store. In addition, I had an extremely oppressive homelife/husband - a daily struggle that took it's toll on me personally and made the weight of a home-based business unbearable. (Not to worry, both have been since replaced with the total opposite:) It made the decision to leave eBay a simple choice for me. It wasn't so simple for many others.

As I was able to find success as a teacher and designer, I also saw the number of friends selling on eBay in my genre dwindle. The ones who held to their high ethical standards and personable customer service were being pushed out by large companies and people getting away with extreme fee evasion (a practice of selling low and inflating shipping prices to avoid fees). While eBay is still a household name, and still widely used by normal people like you and I, it no longer is the same place it once was.

One day in 2006, while teaching, a local long-time customer who had actually found me first on eBay, asked me if I would ever go back to eBay. I shrugged, said maybe, since it was really the only viable site of it's kind. The next thing she said would eventually have quite an affect on my life...

"Have you ever heard of Etsy?"

I had not, and it took her 2 more times of prodding me over the next couple months for me to write it down and check it out. I am so glad I did! Because, as many of you know, it developed into my Inspirations by Faith etsy store.

I love it! If you are looking for local or international, from green-minded, upcyled and recycled, from the most beautiful art, to the loveliest of vintage- then this is the place to go. Even the fashion of both established and up-coming designers is amazing. Etsy works hard to try and make sure you are not buying from the large corporations or factories in Asia, but instead, directly from the artists and vintage collectors. The very personal nature of selling this way has created a very intimate buying/selling experience like the one you might get with a local boutique shop owner (and they might sell on Etsy too!). Sellers are invested in all that they list, and shoppers of Etsy reap the rewards of the uniquely beautiful or just mouth-droppingly unique in an incredibly friendly setting.

Despite, divorce, moving away, healing, remarriage, the economy and all the insanity that comes along with those, Etsy was always there in the back of my mind. I had purchased a few items, and found myself absolutely enamored with the site as a whole. I decided in January of 2009 to officially start with a few items and keep building on. It has been a very successful experiment and it keeps growing.

I even started using the Treasury feature to help promote other sellers by curating unique collections to feature. Here is a fun one I did today!



Recently, I received a promotion from eBay to sell items for a free listing fee. I figured, why not try? It's my old stomping grounds anyway, so I didn't see any harm in posting some of my biggest sellers. What a tremendous disappointment it was. One thing that was always a boon was the traffic and web search exposure. That no longer exists as it once did- reconfirming my loyalties and satisfaction selling and buying in the Etsy marketplace.

I encourage everyone to stop by Etsy.com to check it out and support your local artisans. You will be astounded by the variety. And no, I wasn't paid to post this blog :) The only perk is that I get to promote a venue that directly supports artists and collectors both local and abroad. It's a place I really believe in and hope it will stick around for many many years to come.

P.S. I know many of you buy direct from me, and that is still welcomed. My local customers never have to pay shipping on local pick-up if you see something in the store you would like to purchase. Just message me for a revised invoice.

A little more info:Wikipedia link on Etsy

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pork Chops with Lavender

Just created a new recipe last night that I wanted to share with all of you. Everyone in the family loved it (score!) and it made my taste buds dance. It has just a little bit of a spicy kick, so be forewarned.

Ingredients:
4-6 Thick cut pork chops
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1/4 tsp. Coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Pinch ground Cayenne red pepper
2 tbsp. Lavender leaves
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 cup White wine (Can be substituted with chicken broth)

Directions:
In a large lidded frying pan, heat oil between medium and high until the edges of one grain of rice begins to sizzle in pan. Remove grain of rice and place pork chops in pan.  While pork chops begin to brown, sprinkle the following evenly over the pork chops: cayenne pepper, garlic, lavender leaves, and half of the ground black pepper and salt. Once the pork chop is browned on the bottom, flip over to brown other side, and sprinkle the rest of the salt and black pepper evenly.  Once both sides are brown, lift pork chops and slide onions under them to saute for about 5 minutes, letting them caramelize a bit, but not burn. De-glaze with white wine, turn heat down to lowest setting, cover with lid, and let cook for 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of pork chop.

I served the pork chops with with steamed rice and salad. If you start the rice just before starting the pork chops, and make your salad while the pork chops and rice cook, you can have your entire meal done in roughly 25 minutes. Those of you who live locally can hit me up for fresh lavender from my garden anytime :)

Enjoy!

Recipe by Faith Swientoniowski © 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paper Posey How-To

I wanted to start out this year of blogging with one of my most popular items right now- paper posies. I use them to embellish several different types of items, including cards, wreathes, topiaries, scrapbook pages, and more.


Here is a list of items you will need:

Large flower or scallop punch or die cut (avoid ones with skinny petals)
Inspirations by Faith Color
Wash in Aquamarine
Paper piercer
Small container of warm water
Cotton swab
Protected surface

For this project, I am going to use an old Chinese newspaper as my paper base, but any paper will work well. You can use other types of color washes also. If you would like to purchase from my stock of specially formulated color washes, vintage papers, and Chinese papers, click here. You will note that I am not using protective gloves in the pictures. This is because I do not handle the flower during the dying process, but I highly suggest that protective hand wear be used to prevent staining whenever you are using color washes.




First, punch out your flowers for the project.


 
For this posey, I have punched five, but any number, more or less, can be used.





 
Pierce a whole in the center and insert your brad.
 



 
Dip posey in water, face down into the water. Hold there for about 3 seconds. 
 



 
Starting with center flower, begin crumpling petals gently towards the center. 
 



 
Repeat this with each layer until you have a crumpled wad of
layers.



 
Gently unfold each layer from last to first, making sure not to flatten the posey or over release. You should be able to see the center brad. 
 





Spray color wash to create desired effect.








Clean center gently with cotton swab to remove excess color wash.






Let dry, making sure not to touch it during this process.






Here is a picture of the final product. I can’t help but smile whenever I see these sweet little flowers. I hope you enjoy making your own as well!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebrating Love

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing a very dear friend marry the love of her life. Sadly, I hadn't the chance to visit her since my move from the Dayton, Ohio area to Dearborn, Michigan three years ago, so I was terribly excited to be there.  Her and her husband have not only experienced the greatest of joys together, but also have withstood the test of time, uncertainty, and struggle for those precious moments we had the sincere honor of sharing with them Saturday.   I honestly can say, seeing her for the first time in so long, coming down the aisle as a bride, touched me deeply.  Her smile was truly the brightest and most lovely light in the room. And I admit, I was just a tad emotional at that moment. 

I also had the supreme delight in seeing two other wonderful women in my life who came to share in the celebration.  All three are friendships built together during my time designing and teaching for a local scrapbooking store.  We all agree, that the best thing that ever came from our time there is, without a doubt, our relationships with one-another.  It certainly reaffirms in me that LOVE, be it romantic, friendship, or family, is the greatest gift of this human existence.  

Love you Carol, Maribeth, and Kayla!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Blog for a New Era

Not terribly fond of re-inventing the wheel, I sit here annoyed that I have not been able to pick this blogspot thing up right away. Seems simple enough, but my dependency on the ease of using MySpace left me defiant.  So here I am. Finally.

I had so many wonderful intentions about this year of blogging...and still do.  But the death of my grandmother has definitely rocked my world. My business has been increasing significantly, and I had forgotten all the little quirks about living as balanced as possible despite the need to continually run a business for which you are the sole provider of its content.  I am not complaining, just explaining.  And well, rejoicing in suffering a bit.

I find myself curious as to what will become of me and this blog.   Will it become just another one of my unfinished pieces, or will I see this one to completion.  Will I become dissatisfied with the product, or simply abandon it all together.  I sincerely hope I will stick it out which in turn leads me to the hope that some how some day I will look back and see others who have gleaned a little inspiration from it as well.  So there you go- I dare to hope.

Let's see where that dare gets me...