Monthly Archives: August 2012

Check It Out & Win: New Command Clear Adhesive Organizers

Good morning, who’s in the mood for a little giveaway?  I’m kicking off the long weekend with a feature on Command Clear adhesive organizational products.

Have you ever noticed that I don’t do many sponsored posts, reviews, or giveaways? That’s because I only agree to do them for products or promotions that I love – so when you find me working with a brand, it’s one that I think rocks.

The Command brand is one of my favorites, especially because I rent.  Over the years I’ve used the Command Damage-Free Hanging tools  to avoid putting holes in my walls a million times; I even used them to hang a branch on my wall for Christmas stockings.  The hooks are super sturdy, so I use the same ones over and over and never throw them out. Some are at least 6 years old – talk about bang for your buck!

So when they offered me a set of the new Command Clear products, I agreed to try them out and review them, as long as I got a second set for a reader giveaway.

About the new  Command Clear products:

Command Clear products from 3M include clear plastic hooks, clips and organizers — complete with clear, transparent strips — that blend seamlessly into walls and other surfaces.   And as with all the other Command adhesive products, the strips have the same stretch-release action so that they won’t damage your walls when they’re removed.  The new Command Clear product line includes clear plastic hooks, photo clips, and organization caddies.  That’s awesome, because in the past I’ve used white Command cord clips to hold cords against a wall – and I’ve had to paint the white clips to blend.  Not anymore!

Command Clear Caddy on Jewelry Organizer | The Borrowed Abode

Here’s my take on them:

I’m loving the clear caddies I received.  They’ve come in handy for two things in my office:

I used to set my cell phone in random rooms to charge it, but thanks to the Command Clear smartphone caddy, now it sits on the wall in my office without looking ridiculous.  (If only they could also make a clear charging cord . . .)  Ryan’s just excited that the bathroom is no longer my “charging station.”

Command Clear Cell Phone Caddy | The Borrowed Abode

The larger Command Clear Medium Caddy is sized perfectly to hold a set of spice jars, but I put it to use in a different way.

I attached the shallow, wide trough to the bottom of my new jewelry organizer window frame, where it now corrals all my earrings that don’t have hooks.

Window Frame Jewelry Organizer | The Borrowed Abode

The clear caddy looks so much better than a white plastic one would have!

Command Clear Caddy on Jewelry Organizer | The Borrowed Abode

At the end of the day, all of the Command Adhesive products get an A+ from me.     My only real complaint is that I wish more stores carried the clear caddies, so I didn’t have to order them on Amazon.  I’d like to add some to the insides of my kitchen cabinet doors to help keep smaller items organized.

And now for the giveaway:

Want a chance to win some samples of Command Clear goodies?

Command Clear Product Giveaway | The Borrowed Abode

Giveaway Prize Pack includes:

  • 1 package Command Clear Fridge Clips
  • 1 Command Clear Smartphone Caddy
  • 1 Command Clear Medium Caddy (holds up to 2 #)
  • BONUS PRIZE:  A new product I’m testing out for Janery!

You can find Command on Facebook and Twitter.

Please use the widget below to enter the giveaway – you have to leave a comment on this post letting us know what you’d use the product for.  Then there’s there’s 4 additional ways to enter!  But be sure to leave a comment, because without that entry, your others won’t count. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keepin’ it real disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this post.  The products were given to me for free, but the review is my opinion.   I’ll never review or give away something I’m not a fan of, because that would just be lame. End of story. 

For awesome updates & exclusive discounts on Janery pet beds, please sign up for my newsletter!

Where are the blog posts about closing an Etsy shop or handmade business?

Last month I experienced a bit of a crisis of faith in the path my life was taking.  I started questioning several things that were a significant part of my life.

Fortunately, my new husband was not one of them.  :)

It was as though I came up for air after the wedding and realized a few things:

  1. Running Janery, while keeping my day job, this blog, and my home projects going – not to mention life with my new husband – was really just too much.   It had turned into another obligation.  If I wasn’t sewing, I was feeling guilty like I *should* be sewing.
  2. Creating the same products over and over was, at times, tedious and boring.
  3. I really, really missed having time for blog projects and blog writing.

How did I get here?  The goal was never to become a one-woman sweatshop who spent all her free time sewing.   The goal was to create some special pet beds, test them out, and then either find a local factory to produce them or hire some local seamstresses part-time to create them in bulk so I could wholesale them.

However, I was so busy trying to keep on top of my shop’s day-to-day part time activities that I wasn’t able to work on my bigger goals.

But let’s back up.

Janery Etsy Shop Handmade Biz 101 | The Borrowed Abode

I started selling my custom pet beds on Etsy in January 2012.  Between Etsy sales of all my products and wholesale orders, every week I had items I had to sew after work.  I wasn’t selling enough to be raking in the dough,  but I was selling enough that it kept me busy.  And when I wasn’t sewing for custom orders, I was trying to bring some of my other designs to life.  And when I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to do home projects and blog about them.

In other words, I’d bitten off more than I could chew. As a result I was doing a lot of things a little bit and not feeling wildly successful in any of them.

In the busy months before our wedding I blogged less and less, and eventually I “closed” my Etsy shop because the wedding had to be top priority, of course.

The feeling of relief that swept over me caused some unease, but I told myself I’d get a second wind and dive back into it after the wedding.  I was determined!  Setting up summer & fall promotions with big blogs, I thought “I’m going to rock my shop once this wedding is over!”

Too bad the determination was quickly replaced by the feeling of overwhelm soon after our wedding, right when I reopened my shop.  All of the stress and worry I felt finally congealed into one basic thought in late July.   Maybe I should close my shop.  I missed the days before I started Janery, when I was “just” a blogger in the evenings after work.

Here’s the thing no one tells you when they talk about their handmade business.  Sewing is tiring.  On nights where I sat at my sewing machine for hours, I’d go to bed with my neck stiff and my back aching.  And sewing the same pillow cover or pet bed over and over got boring quickly.

Yikes.  I’m not supposed to say that, right?    But it’s true! While I love creating things from fabulous fabrics, I don’t always love the tedious, repetitive creation of the product.

After some long talks with Ryan, I decided not to “close” my shop; I wasn’t ready to make that kind of move.

Factors I had to consider:

  • I wasn’t ready to close my shop entirely – I just wanted it to be more of a fun choice than a monkey on my back
  • I was accepted to Art on the Avenue, a huge fall art market in October.  Participating at this festival was one of my original goals, and I really enjoy the personal touch of selling at markets.
  • I needed more time for blogging and DIYing things for myself.
  • I had a seriously massive stash of fabrics and supplies, and there’s no way I wanted to quit before making use of them.

Steps taken to make shop-keeping more fun again:

  • I removed the custom orders from the shop, including all pet beds. This way the only items people can purchase are the ones that are already made and ready-to-ship, which means that sales won’t impact my personal schedule.
  • I’m listing only a few pet beds each month.
  • I stopped accepting wholesale orders – they’re too time consuming and not very profitable
  • I’ve stopped promoting my shop until I know where I’m headed
  • I’m focusing on building up a strong inventory of multiple types of products for Art on the Avenue.  Any leftover inventory can be listed in the shop.

It’s been a few weeks now, and the new approach to production feels good.  I’ve been sewing up a storm for Art on the Avenue – and I’ve also fit in time to do some sewing projects for our own home.

It’s easy to find blog posts about people launching or growing their handmade product businesses . . . yet nearly impossible to find people blogging about closing their shops.  That’s why I decided to share my thoughts here – in the hopes that it helps others who may be going through the same dilemmas as I have been.

If you’ve had any experiences like mine, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or if you’re just plain nosy about my business or related topics, feel free to ask away.  I’ll answer any questions in a future post.

 

For awesome updates & exclusive discounts on Janery pet beds, please sign up for my newsletter!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks Wedding Favor

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels: Edible Wedding Favors

Early on in the planning process Ryan and I nixed the idea of wedding favors.  So many weddings include them, and brides are now spending upwards of $4 a person on a trinket that is supposed to provide a lasting memory to the guest who attended.

And let’s be honest – not many favors appeal to all people, or they end up adding clutter to their homes. And most of the affordable options out there are not biodegradable and are most definitely Made in China.

But at the last minute we decided to offer our guests something sensible and something sinful:  bottles of water and chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks Wedding Favor

The chocolate-dipped pretzel rods were a pretty easy project that was accomplished in one evening with the help of a friend.

Did you know you shouldn’t use chocolate chips for coating pretzels?  I learned that the hard way!

After dipping the pretzels, we had some issues getting the chocolate to harden.  It turns out that chocolate chips have additives that help the chips say soft after the cookies are baked.  You don’t want that quality when you’re making chocolate-coated pretzel rods.  Baking chocolate, on the other hand, will harden nicely.  Another option is to use the candy disks that they sell at the craft stores, but I’m not a fan of them because I don’t think they’re great quality and I’m a chocolate snob!

Total cost of wedding favors for 85 people? Less than $100 !

Supplies:

  • Pretzel rods
  • Ghirardelli dark semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • Sprinkles

Here’s how we did it:

  1. Line your counter top with wax paper, if you’re making a ton.  In my case, we had to make 140.  If you’re making a smaller amounts, you can set the pretzels on a baking sheet or across the top of a bowl to dry.
  2. Break the baking chocolate into a tall container.   We used a tall, wide-mouthed mason jar.  You need to be able to dip a good part of the pretzel!Melt Chocolate In Tall Containers
  3. Microwave it, checking every 30-45 seconds to stir the mixture and prevent burning.  You’ll need a pot holder so you don’t burn your hands on the container.
  4. After a few minutes your chocolate should be smooth and melty.   Dip each pretzel stick in, then pull it out and let the excess drip off.
  5. Set it on the wax paper, and then shake the sprinkles onto it before it hardens.Drying Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
  6. Continue the process, re-microwaving the chocolate and adding more chunks whenever it starts to harden.
  7. Let dry overnight to ensure they harden fully before you package them.

It’s so easy!

Packaging the Pretzel Rods

To ensure our treats weren’t wasteful, I ordered skinny biodegradable plastic pouches from Nashville Wraps, my go-to packaging source for Janery.  They were the perfect size to hold two pretzel sticks.

I tied the pouches with ribbon and added fun little tags.  Cute packaging makes all the difference!!   I created the tags using a “thank you” stamp and the same lace stamps used on our escort cards.  The tags were cut with a die cutter from the craft store.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Wedding Favors

Easy Personalized Water Bottles

To dress up the water bottles for the occasion, I created some labels with our initials, in our wedding colors.  We then printed them, cut them out, and wrapped them around the bottles, securing them with a small piece of tape. If you’re really particular you can use double-sided tape.

Free Printable Water Bottle Labels

I created the labels in  PowerPoint, and I’m sharing it as a free, customizable printable where you can change the initials, colors, or even the image background if you want to.  At least this way you have a guide to work off of.  It fits most standard small water bottles.

Get Your Free Printable Labels!

Click here to access the water bottle labels. 

At the wedding the favors were on a table, with a framed sign in the middle that read “something sensible and something sinful”, with arrows pointing to each.  Unfortunately the table didn’t look as amazing as I’d hoped, because I totally forgot to pack containers for the pretzels.  As a result they were just piled on the table.

I suppose the poor display won’t make or break our marriage, though. ;)

Wedding Favor Table

 PS: If you’re new to the blog, click here for more wedding project posts!

For awesome updates & exclusive discounts on Janery pet beds, please sign up for my newsletter!