Wednesday, October 24, 2012


You know, you just never know when or where inspiration will hit you. I was exploring Pinterest one day a couple months ago and saw this tile wall with mugs and cups integrated into it. I thought it was so cool, I immediately wanted one for myself. Not like this one (which I could not trace to it's owner) but a more colorful and whimsical version. I immediately contacted my friend Jennifer Kuhns. Jennifer is an amazingly talented mosaic artist and I've always wanted one of her creations. She was all for it. 
Jennifer came over and talked about where to put it . We eventually decided two panels would fit perfectly inside the pass-through between my kitchen and family room. I was SO excited. 
As seen from the family room.

Next came the cup hunt. I had a few treasures I'd saved for years, favorite mugs and cups with history and meaning, but not enough for two panels. I spent the next several weekends searching every antique and second hand store in town for treasures. It was unbelievably fun. Finally, by the end of the month I had a collection I loved. I knew they could be lost when Jennifer tried to cut them in half, but resigned myself to accept any losses. 

 As seen from the kitchen

I was amazed how few casualties there were. Jennifer only lost one when cutting them in half, but of course it was one of my favorites, an antique japanese teacup. It was very old and very fragile and I knew it was a risk when I chose it, but as prepared as i thought I was, losing it did break my heart just a little. 

Jennifer worked on the mosaics in her studio so i didn't see them until they were delivered and installed yesterday. I LOVE them!
I hope you'll enjoy this little tour.

Close Ups:

And here's my birthday present from Jennifer.
 She surprised me with a  pendant made from the broken japanese cup!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

I didn't think I needed a new website, but my programmer insisted on it. 

I was skeptical - after all it all worked fine as it was, right? So I wasn't all that invested. But he was positive I'd like the improvements. Every once in a while he'd tell me about his progress or report in as to why he'd not gotten to it for a while.  I'd shrug and think "That's fine, It works just fine as it is, whatever."

I really didn't get it.

Until ....the day he gave me sneak peek at what he had so far. I was floored. It was gorgeous! Crisp, clean bright, contemporary. Full of new bells and whistles. People can change their own passwords and check their order status. I can approve wholesale accounts with one click and within seconds the buyer gets an automated welcome email. They can search the site for cats or rabbits or dogs!

I created the banners for each page, sent them to him and watched it come together bit by bit.. Soon my toes started tapping with excitement. It felt so close I could barely stand it - like Santa was right there on the roof but I didn't have a chimney. I started asking him for updates all the time, and counting the days to launch.

I threw him curve balls. He had designed much of it without showing it to me so I requested changes which he'd not expected. I started telling people it was ALMOST done last fall, then again in January, April, June...'Any day now' I'd say... and the months wore on. It was an exercise in patience. He was working his butt off but once I'd seen the potential of the new site, the old site looked antiquated and outdated. I was itching to get it up and dying to show it off.

And then, last week - Christmas came. The site finally went live on Monday and I felt like a proud parent. I wanted to kiss my programmer, have a party, and show it off to everyone. 
I hope you'll check it out here:

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Gift from a Stranger

I had the luckiest and most wonderful thing happen to me recently.
Out of the blue, a customer of my friend Charan Sachar sent him a video she made about his pottery. She was a fan of his and did it as a surprise gift to thank him for his work and he was so delighted with it that he posted it on Facebook. It was fantastic! I have always wanted a video to use on my site and in promotions. So I wrote him and asked if he would email his customer and ask if I could hire her to do one for me. The next thing I knew, I got an email from the lovely Cynthia Nichols. She said she'd love to do it but thought my payment offer was way too generous. She didn't want payment.

Over the next few weeks, we edited the video together as she created it. We worked on a 3 minute version to use at my booth at shows and a shorter one for advertising. I cannot even imagine how many hours it took her. I revisited the topic of payment many times as it became a bigger and bigger project, but she refused any payment whatsoever. Then I offered to send it to my friends and advertise for her. This was her reply:

"I have been thinking about our conversation and taking on "business."  I think what I'd like you to do, honestly, is just watch for women who are working hard to try and get their small business going, and let me help them do it "just because I can."  If you think they are worth investing time in, then send them to me. 
If I can spend some hours and help a woman get a good start, then that would be something I can do to simply help.  It's the "pay it forward" since I have had so much done for me in my life.  I don't think I want to do this as a business to make money; I think I would prefer doing it as a service in love & friendship.  Does that make sense?"

Can you imagine a stranger being so generous?  How often in life does that happen? I feel blessed and honored to be gifted in this way. And more importantly, reminded that there are kind, generous angels out there, making this world a better place.
Here is the video. I love it!

Friday, June 29, 2012


And here it is - I just finished it this morning - let's see if this one fits the bill:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Many Iterations of a Frog

There are times I just know that a new design is going to be a hit and times I just create a design I like and cross my fingers others like it, too. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. The ever changing popularity of the Frog Clock has been a total mystery to me. This is the first one I did. To be honest I didnt' love it, but it was wildly popular for many years, one of my top sellers. 

Then, almost overnight no one wanted it anymore. That happens, and that's fine. I love rethinking designs, coming up with a new version is fun for me. So I created Tree Frog, a more graphic take on the little guy. 

Personally, I loved Tree Frog. It's a more modern style, the frog is central but the border is the key to it's appeal. At least for me. one wanted it. 
Now I know Frogs are popular. My Frog Alarm Clock has always been a best seller, and so have the Frog Magnets. But no one else seemed to love this little guy. So last year I tried again and came up  with Leap Frog, going back to my usual whimsical style.
Again, I love this happy guy. He just made me laugh. He reminds me of a kids book illustration, he just seems like he must have a story. I was sure frog sales would pick up again when I added him.. But again... almost no one wants him. I was (and still am) puzzled.

Now, I've looked around stores, shows and on the web, and frogs are still popular. Not the fad they once were, and not like cats and dogs and horses, but still very popular. So, I refuse to give up. This week I sat down, and here I go again. 

He's almost done. Wish me luck...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've decided that the reason I'm so bad about blogging is that I feel like I need to make time to write a long post. (And frankly, because I hate using blogger because it is so difficult to format pictures, etc.) So I keep putting it off until I have time to write a longer article about an important topic. And as you've probably noticed - I rarely do.
So I've decided to post more often and share shorter tidbits, which is more realistic expectation, and to be honest - more fun for me. So here we go!

If you have a Costco Executive membership you may not be getting the most out of your rebate.
The thing they don't tell you when you sign up, is that with the $100 year dues they guarantee a minimum of $50 back. Here's how it works: If your rebate is less than $50, instead of spending the coupon at the register you can bring it to the customer service desk and they'll give you $50 for it. You can even get it in cash! No one at my Costco told me that when I signed up, (or anyone else I know, either) so for years I got piddly little rebates, used them at the register and was always dissatisfied. Then one lucky day a nice cashier stopped me, told me NOT to use it, but to take it to the membership desk. And to my surprise, they handed me $50 for it and explained the deal. This way your business membership costs you the same as the regular membership. YAY!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If you are considering switching to a mobile credit card processor - this is a great article about comparing services and rates.