Monday, October 31

Happy Halloween - Veggie Style

A pickle, an onion and a red pepper all walk into a bar...

Sounds like the start to a pretty terrible joke, right? Well today on Halloween it could be more than just a could be true! We've all seen the adorable baby dressed as a pea in a pod, and the standard felt pumpkin costume but sadly, out-of-box vegetable costumes seem to be few and far between. Particularly of the handmade variety. In honor of today's holiday and the end of Vegetarian Awareness Month here are a few fun costumes I've come across, but I imagine the best way to pay homage to your favorite vegetable might be to dream up and create the costume yourself!

Onion Costume by Windy City
Broccoli Costume From Windy City
Carrot Costume From Empire

Saturday, October 29

Little Pretty Things

Today here in DC it's 36 degrees, gloomy and snowing...and October. Which makes today a perfect day to snuggle up on the couch with a big mug of ea (or cofee or hot chocolate or anything warm and delicious) and get lost in all of the pretty handmade goodies just a click away. Here are a few of my favorite (and recent) treasury lists for your lazy Saturday viewing pleasure.

Organic or Industrial by the Wooden Bee

Sneak Peek:
by Abounding Treasuries

Autumn Upcycled by Bella Honey Art

Sneak Peek:
by LittleMissLoolies

A Few Good Words by WestieMomX2

by LisaHopkins

Red Fish in the Lake by BizimSupplies

Sneak Peek:
by Decoromana

Tuesday, October 25

Crafty Site Review: Zibbet

Last on our tour of Etsy Alternatives is Zibbet.

What makes Zibbet unique in my opinion is the active seller community. More so than other Etsy alternatives, Zibbet provides the most opportunity for seller interaction and support. In turn, it has a very active community section (FYI, you need a separate account to access this section) which comes with its own benefits like cross-promotion and networking. Some aspects of the site are outdated and in need of a face-lift. The site organizers appear to be aware of this and are slowly rolling out updates, The site organizers are also extremely active themselves in the Zibbet community - often soliciting suggestions and feedback from the sellers and buyers.

Listing is much the same as the other sites. First-time users will enjoy the import from Etsy featuring, making it easy to move over existing listings. Zibbet has both free and paid memberships. I took advantage of free membership for this experiment, but it looks like the upgraded memberships have added benefits like coupons, shop gift certificates and listings in the gift guide section. My shop stats have been mediocre (though it should be noted of the sites, I probably spend the least amount of time promoting this one) and my test search for 'coaster' returned 477 results; showing that Zibbet has an average-sized group of sellers.

My verdict? To me, Zibbet came off as middle of road but if being a part of a strong community of fellow crafters is important to you this is the place to be.

Repurposed Fabric Magnets in Yellow Stripes

Repurposed Fabric Magnets in Plaid

P.S. - I only looked at three handmade site alternatives for this experiment. There are oodles of others out there, so I encourage you to experiment for yourself to find the perfect fit for you!

Monday, October 24

Fun Finds: Flaunt Your Veggie-Pride

Sharing your love of vegetables just because a little easier with this fun, colorful collection of vegetable jewelry. Whether you want to get a little funky (brussel sprout necklace, anyone?) or stay understated, I guarantee you'll fall in love with at least one piece from this vegetable jewelry collection. Highlights are below, be sure to check out the full list and don't forget to celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Broccoli Post Stud Earrings by KittysCaboodle 
Happy Potato Pendant Charms by TheHappyAcorn
Clay Eggplant Vegetable Necklace by corncobshop 

Friday, October 21

Crafty Site Review: ShopHandmade

Next up on our tour of Etsy alternatives is ShopHandmade.

I have mixed feelings on ShopHandmade. Of the alternatives I'm looking at, it is the most established but certain aspects of the site seem to be a bit behind the curve. There are aspects of ShopHandmade that I love (more below!) and parts I could do without.

From the buyer perspective, you have many search choices (maybe too many?) - search by color, products, sale items, keywords and galleries or markets. Galleries are seller-identified areas where their products fit. Markets are groups of sellers (sellers must apply to join) who help promote each others' work. There are only five gallery options, and I don't find that my work fits into any of them (except the main showcase, a kind of catch-all). From a seller perspective, many of the features are similar to other sites - markets (aka Etsy Teams), individual store blogs, etc.  Their listing process could use an update, particularly for photo uploads - it takes forever and is a big turn-off for impatient people like me. I do enjoy the variety of sale options that ShopHandmade offers, particularly that all you have to do is a click a button  and not go through the hassle of changing tags and prices for each item.

My absolute favorite feature of ShopHandmade is it's commitment to the environment. Sellers have the option of donating a portion of each sale towards rainforest conservation, choosing between 0, 25, 100 or 250 square feet options (the 25 square feet option doesn't even require a portion of your sale, you just have to click the button!). ShopHandmade is also definitely more well known than some other handmade sites - my test search for 'coaster' returned 201 items. My shop stats were lower than on Etsy but higher than the other alternative sites.

My verdict? I would love to see a streamlined search process and an update on the listing tool, but given that I'm a sucker for their eco-friendly mind-set it's probably worth sticking around either way.

Upcycled Coasters, White Heart Design

Upcycled Coasters, HE and SHE Design 

Thursday, October 20

Put that Used Book to Work

When I stopped by my parent's house this week to drop off my craft show display - thanks for the free storage, mom and dad :) I found my mom sorting through a stack of old cookbooks. Most were fairly modern, of the Betty Crocker, grocery store check-out aisle variety, but there were a few vintage gems. Unfortunately once she found out I was interesting in tearing them up for craft projects instead of perfecting my chocolate-chip cookie recipe I could only get her to part with one of these vintage gems. It has some very fun 60's era children's illustrations, so look forward to new items coming from this fun piece soon.

In the meantime, I got to thinking of other fun projects to do with used books, whether vintage or just that accidental third copy of The Da Vinci Code you have hanging around. My followers will know I'm a fan of painting on book pages, perserving all their stained, aged goodness - along with their literary history. But there are tons of different projects that involve books, here are just five used book projects from our friends at Earth911. Projects 1 and 2  are perfect starting points for holiday decorations - try painting the pages (the spray variety will work fine, if you aren't feeling that artsy) in fall or winter colors before starting the project. Your friends will be amazed and jealous of your craftiness!

Wednesday, October 19

Crafty Site Review: LilyShop

So awhile back I let you all know that I was experimenting with different online selling venues for indie artists. It's been several weeks since opening these stores, so I figured it was time to share my thoughts. Let's start with LilyShop.

Of all the sites, I think this one has the most potential. I love the layout and the clean look of the site. It has fun features, like YardSale - a sale section where sellers can submit their own items at a specified discounted price. Sellers also have the option for individual blogs, not something I've utilized,  but I can see how others would find it a nice option. Listing items is a straight forward process, with a list of tags to choose from (including colors) and space to enter product-specific keywords. Each listing allows four photos, so those used to Etsy's five photos will have to eliminate one. There are different levels for sellers, some with fees, though when I joined the site admins were offering a promotion. Something worth looking into for those sellers scared off by fees.

The main problem with LilyShop is that no one knows about it. And that includes sellers. Google Analytics shows woefully low stats for my shop. A site-wide search for "coaster" returns 12 products - 10 of which are mine. This could be good, as if someone is determined to buy a coaster from LilyShop my odds are extremely high, but with stats like that the chances that a buyer will turn to LilyShop for their shopping is extremely low.

My verdict? If the site admins were to amp up their marketing this could be a great handmade venue for both buyers and sellers, but without more exposure (a lot more) LilyShop's potential will go unrealized.

Upcycled Map Wall Art - LOVE

Upcycled Map Coaster - Maryland in Pink

Tuesday, October 18

Share Yourself with the World

Ever dream of having a life-size photo of you hanging on the side of a building for all the world to see? Well dream no more. With the global art project Inside Out your dreams are now reality. Or will be shortly. How it works: 1) Upload a portrait, 2) they send you a poster (free!), 3) you put it up in a public space, 4) take a photo, 5) upload it to the site. It might sound complicated, but the concept is simple. Everyone, across the world, has a story to share and isn't an image worth a thousand words?

Not ready to share your portrait with the the world? Get your kicks by checking out other's photos and seeing who else has participated.

Friday, October 14

Get 'em When They Are Young

Pre-post admission: I do not have kids, so I really have no idea how hard it is to get kids to eat healthy. But I do believe in the importance of introducing kids to healthy foods - including veggies! Lots of research has been done in this area, and it's been shown that food preferences develop as early as age three. Age Three! This means to get kids hooked on healthy foods that will serve them well throughout life it needs to be done early on. And, what better way than through play? Here are some toddler friendly toys guaranteed to create veggie-loving kids (well maybe not but we can try). I wish these were around when I was little!!
Felt Bell Peppers by LittleFruits
Eat Your Vegetables Felt Food Set by Evryday Circus

Thursday, October 13

Falling For Handmade

Since this week is going by at the speed of molasses, and the half-cold I can't seem to shake won't give up, I am putting my sights on the weekend. Not only has the weather man promised clear skies but Sunday is Falling for Handmade - the second annual craft show hosted by DC-area Etsians. A full list of vendors (including yours truly!) and item previews can be found on the show site. So swing by the Ernest Community Center in Annandale between 11 - 5 this Sunday to ooo and ah over the creative genius that can be found right here in DC.

Tuesday, October 11

Vegan-Friendly Colleges

Now, this is a sports-bracket I can get behind.

PETA2 has set up an interactive bracket for the public to help decide the most vegan-friendly college. Sadly, my alma mater is not listed. No surprise there (small school in the south = I survived college on the salad bar, fro yo and easy mac). 'Like' your favorites from a list of nominees to move them to the next round and help raise awareness for veggie-lovers everywhere. First round voting ends Oct. 16.

While your on their site, also check out PETA2's The Veggie Burger Project. A movement to get veggie burgers in school cafeterias? Sign me up.

Veggie-Lovers Unite!

Turns out I'm not alone on my veggie-covered hilltop. Enjoy these wonderful (and quirky) veggie-themed treasuries (fruits allowed) from my fellow Etsyians. And remember to celebrate World Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Vegetable Stand by Saranoh77

Green Pear Slice Coasters by MariMartin

Veg Patch Delights by Valentinacavallini

Not Quite Vegan by babswool

Lettuce Crochet Veggie Toy by AlethaFaye

Saturday, October 8

Halloween DIY

October seems to be rushing past, and it's only three weeks till Halloween! This means two things - 1) I need to figure out a costume and 2) I need to pull out my rusty Halloween decorations. If you want to think outside of the box for your Halloween decorations this year, and are willing to put in a little elbow grease, here's a few fun DIY suggestions via Pintrest.

Eco-friendly and fun - decorate old newspaper or milk cartons into haunted houses.
Upcycled Haunted Houses

This one could really be done for any holiday - but the ghosts are extra adorable.
DIY Jar Decorations via Eighteen25

Not for the faint of heart. This one could be seriously spooky!!
DIY Ghost via WackyArchives

P.S. There are lots more where these came from on my pintrest page - check it out and start getting in the spirit :)

Thursday, October 6

Love Your Veggie...Art

Vegetable art has long graced the walls of Grandmother's kitchens everywhere, but I think it's time for those tomato still life paintings and striped-lettuce wall paper to break out of their 1950s mold and join the 21st century. It seems I'm not alone. Check out this collection of vegetable themed art, highlights are below, and don't be afraid to let your veggie-love out into the open!

Carrot Art Print by lesjouesgrises

Radish Art by PragyaK
Science of Pickles by anek

Tuesday, October 4

Photos from Crafty Bastards

If you, like me, were one of the few DCers who weren't able to make it to Crafty Bastards this past weekend, take a look at these photos and salivate....

From NBC Washington

From Huffington Post

From Oh So Beautiful Paper

From Flicker