Friday Feature – Dorota of Jewellry Bijou

Friday Features are all about meeting the talented artists and creators of hand crafted goods to share their stories and bring to light the value and beauty found in handmade.

Today’s feature is all about Dorota from Jewellry Bijou on Etsy!

Tell me about yourself and your shop.
My name is Dorota. I am Polish but as I am a real Francophile I decided to move to France. I love French style and French food. I just couldn’t stop dreaming about Paris…

My favourite style icons are Audrey Hepburn,Dita von Teese and Grace Kelly. I love to read fashion magazines; they are a great inspiration for me. My must-have clothes in my wardrobe are: the trench coat, nude pumps, black leather bag, and colourful scarves.

In my shop I sell lots of romantic and chic accessories,You can find a selection of crochet leg warmers, Bridesmaids Jewelry,Pearl jewelry and also recently I started to make Nespresso jewelry.

Brigitte inspired crochet fashion leg warmers in Navy with Satin ribbon in Ivory Autumn fashion

Brigitte inspired crochet fashion leg warmers in Navy with Satin ribbon

How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
Because Fashion has always been my passion I decided to open my small Etsy shop and create my own line of accessories, it all started few years ago, but I still love what I do.

What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)
My inspiration comes from my fascinating travels to other countries, from nature and from music and all those elements together gives me a positive flow.
I love eco-friendly designers and I have a genuine interest in environmental issues, this is the reason I started my Nespresso line.

Multicolor Ecofriendly Nespresso necklace, ecofashion

Multicolor Ecofriendly Nespresso necklace, ecofashion

What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade not only means getting more in terms of quality and integrity but also means that you are putting humanity back into art.

Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?

I love to create custom items, everything in my shop can be made in different colours or sizes,I love to hear from my customers and change their ideas into reality.

What plans do you have for the future of you business?

In the next few months I am planning to create a line of luxurious jewelry, just one of a kind pieces made of precious metals with pearls and natural gemstones.

Ballerina Pink Pearl Bracelet

Ballerina Pink Pearl Bracelet

Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
I think the most important thing is to never give up.

AND Dorota has been kind enough to offer you a 15% discount just for reading my blog!  Just use the coupon code  BlogDiscount15 on any of the wonderful items in her shop.

Many thanks to Dorota and be sure to check out the rest of her shop for more beautiful finds!

Stay tuned for more Friday Features, crafty tutorials, and other joyous posts!  If you’d like to stay up-to-date on happenings here at Homegrownjoy, follow this blog, like us on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.  Thank you!

Going Au Naturale…Part 2

So last week I wrote about the awesomeness of alpacas and showed you all my new chocolate brown alpaca yarn.

I decided instantly that I would make a hat, but I wanted it to be special…really special.  I found this beautiful Milanese lace pattern and knew it was what I wanted.  Never mind that I have little practice making hats, or that I’d never worked on circular needles before, or that I didn’t know what “blocking” meant.  I figured I would learn.

After restarting at least 8 times I thought I had it down.  Hours of knitting later, I got this (apologizes for the blurriness, I’m not very good at taking my own pictures from the side like this):

I can tell you right now I made mistakes– it’s a little too big, much too loose, and slouchier than the original pattern, but I love it to bits!  It’s soft and warm and I wear it all the time anyway. I still need to block it, which may help it hold the shape and pattern a bit more than it does now, but I’m working up to it.  I’ve never blocked anything and it seems like quite a process.

But that is for another day.  For now I’m busy with multiple custom orders and a craft show to prepare for this weekend.  I’m super happy about the increase in sales and super exhausted at the same time.   You know I actually woke up with a sore muscle in my forearm from continuous knitting yesterday?  That’s never happened before, but it’s a sign of great productivity.  Hope your week is just as awesome!

Happy Dance!

 

Tuesday Tutorials – DIY Gift Bows

This week we continue our series of reusing and recycling for the holidays!  Last week we looked at ways to use old greeting cards (including Christmas cards), and this week we’ll learn how to make your own gift bows!  These are incredibly easy and fun to make, and can use any paper you have lying around.  The original tutorial was found at 100 Layer Cake and uses old magazine pages.  I think it’s a great way to use up old magazines instead of throwing them out, and I had fun flipping through them to find colorful pages!

How to Make a Gift Bow

gift wrap bow

Step 1: Cut the page lengthwise into nine 3/4-inch-thick strips of heights shown: Three at 11 inches, three at 10 inches, two at 9 inches, and one at 3 1/2 inches.

Step 2: Twist each strip to form loops at both ends. Make a circle out of the smallest.

Step 3: Secure the ends with a piece of double-sided tape.

Step 4: Layer and stick, starting with the longest strips. End with the circle in the center.

 

Here’s one I made to top my Mom’s birthday gift.  She was just as impressed with the creative bow as she was with the gift!

Spend an afternoon making enough for all the gifts you’re giving this year and feel good knowing you are getting a little more life out of materials you already had.  Happy crafting!

Monday Munchies – 3 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

My collection of recipes is growing a bit out of control really.  It started with a nice, organized 3-ring binder.  Recipes were grouped by meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts), and I even tried to keep like recipes together, so under the dessert section all the cookies were together, then all the pie, then all the cakes, etc.

Now new recipes get piled in the front of the binder, not in any kind of order or in a clear binder page.  It’s all I can do to keep them all from falling out when I put the binder back on the shelf with the rest of cookbooks.

As I searched for something new this week, I noticed how many healthy recipes I have.  Not that it’s a bad thing by any means.  I love to be healthy and share healthy meal ideas, like the Balsamic Lentil Mushroom soup I posted a few weeks ago.   I have vegan recipes, whole and natural food recipes,  recipes labeled as healthy, low-carb, watch-your-waistline type foods.  But today I wanted chocolate.  Nothing fake, or low-fat, or claiming I can eat 10 servings for no calories (an exaggeration of course, I don’t think that recipe actually exists).

Balsamic Lentil Mushroom Soup

In my search I ran across a fudge recipe I got from my grandmother.  It’s got just 3 ingredients and 4 steps.  I even made it in a college dorm room one year and shared it with the floor.   Rich and indulgent, I do not recommend eating it all at once (or all yourself), but I will say it’s a great dessert to bring to holiday parties, and a change from all those cookies.  Wrapped up in a pretty tin, this fudge is a great gift as well.  Perfect for co-workers, in-laws, neighbors, and other people you don’t really know what to get.  Enjoy!

Easy 3 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients

  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 oz smooth peanut butter
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Directions

  1. Mix peanut butter and chocolate chips together in a large microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave on HIGH for 2 1/2 minutes.
  3. Stir in sweetened condensed milk quickly.  (I recommend opening the can while the chocolate and peanut butter are in the microwave so you are ready.)
  4. Spread in a 8×8 or 9×9 greased baking pan (or lined with waxed paper) and refrigerate until cool and fudge is set. You can use a larger or rectangular pan for thinner fudge.

Notes: The best part about this recipe is the ingredients are usually already in your kitchen! But feel free to make it your own.  Have a bag of peanut butter chips around?  Use it instead of the peanut butter, or sprinkle a few on top while the fudge is still soft.  You can also fold in nuts or mini marshmallows before spreading the fudge in the pan.  Have fun!

Saturday Snapshots – Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday Features – Matt and Grace of Conversation Glass

Friday Features are all about meeting the talented artists and creators of hand crafted goods to share their stories and bring to light the value and beauty found in handmade.

Today’s feature is all about Matt and Grace from Conversation Glass on Etsy!

Tell me about yourself and your shop.

We’re a family business – my wife, my daughter and myself. We found a way to teach our daughter that business can have a conscience through our bottle crafting! We take bottles destined for landfills and make awesome glassware and housewares from them. The process from start to finish is quite fun. From finding just the right bottles, to cutting them into something reusable and fun.
Random fact about us: On our bottle runs, we play the punchbuggy game and are ruthless with making up new rules to outwit one another. Grace and my daughter will hate me for saying so, but I always win 😉

How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?

Our shop and craft started at about the same time – we saw another bottle-crafter making glassware from wine bottles and were intrigued. With the courage from a nice bottle of wine, we found resources teaching us how to cut bottles and decided to try. After many, many, many bottles, we finally have a success rate we can count on.

Recycled Wine Bottle & Liquor Bottle Glasses Multi Color Set of 4

Recycled Wine Bottle & Liquor Bottle Glasses Multi Color Set of 4

What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)

My influence comes primarily from having a family that likes to eat regularly…All kidding aside, we are passionate about living responsibly. We know that there are many things on this planet that are renewable. As a family that’s felt the effects of industrial outsourcing and labor expendability, we sought a way to find our own way. And this way had to harm none – a business with a conscience.

What do you do when you need a little bit if inspiration?

Inspiration comes from our travel, friends and spending time together. Like our name says, we are all about the exchange of ideas and good conversations.

What is your best achievement?

Our greatest achievement so far has been getting and keeping our daughter involved and excited about the process. With typical teenage reluctance, she dragged a bit at first, but now she gets excited, too when we complete glassware sets and make sales. Recently, she designed (by hand) a Dr Who Tardis from a Bombay Sapphire bottle. Impressive work that brought her mucho satisfaction!

Tea Light Candle Holders Hurricane Lamps Lanterns made from Upcycled Wine Bottles Large Quantities Available

Tea Light Candle Holders Hurricane Lamps Lanterns made from Upcycled Wine Bottles

What does handmade mean to you?

“Handmade” to us equates to something that you craft yourself. This is pretty broad, but I think even something brought together by other somethings can be an original item! This is why upcycling – the taking of something discarded to make something useful and green – is so fun and creative! You’re only limited by your imagination.

Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?

We offer custom quantities of our items. We’ve made glassware and tea light lanterns for bistros and bars, and even special occasion events. We love these projects because they’re a fun way to see our former bottles in all their glory!
We also hand-etch glasses for personalization – letters and images that we draw. We’ve made glasses for sorority sisters and neighborhood drinking buddies alike.

Etched Paw Prints on Recycled Wine Bottles Glasses in Pale Blue Set of 2

Etched Paw Prints on Recycled Wine Bottles Glasses



What plans do you have for the future of you business?

At some point in the future, we’d like to set up a real workshop away from our home. It would also be nice to be a part of some of our local craft fairs in the Dallas area and beyond…maybe in one of our other favorite cities like New Orleans or Portland, ME? We love to travel!

Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?

Our advice to anyone looking to start selling their handmade goodies is this: Prepare to work hard, listen to feedback from people you trust, and don’t let yourself be discouraged. There is a niche out there for your stuff – you just have to find it! Did I mention the working hard part?

Many thanks to Matt and Grace and be sure to check out the rest of their shop for more unique finds!

Stay tuned for more Friday Features, crafty tutorials, and other joyous posts!  If you’d like to stay up-to-date on happenings here at Homegrownjoy, follow this blog, like us on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.  Thank you!

At the End of a Long and (Ful)filling Day

I love Thanksgiving.  I love all holidays really.  For me they are full of family and fun and good warm memories.  Today was no different, and on my long drive home I thought of all the things I am thankful for this year.  I figure here is as good a place as any to share 🙂

1. My Freedom.  My freedom as an American, my freedom to wake up in the morning and choose what to do with my life, my freedom to go anywhere and do anything. I can walk outside without being fearful of any imminent threat, or go to the grocery store and know that I can buy as much food as I’d like without it being rationed. Freedom is one of the most valuable things I can think of.

2. The unconditional love and unending support of my family.  Especially my mom and grandmother.  They have always been there for me, and I know no matter where life takes me, they will continue to help and support me in my endeavors.

3. The companionship of my dog, Lola.  Like my family, she is always there to cheer me up.  She’s a great listener and hugger.  She provides warmth and smiles and keeps loneliness at bay. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

4. Being home.  Although this may be temporary if my business doesn’t pick up and I have to go back to work, I am thankful for every day I can be home.  I see my wonderful boyfriend and Lola, I spend the day knitting and running my little business, and I can go outside and enjoy the fresh air whenever I want.  That’s something I really missed when I was in an office all day.

5. My little apartment.  It may be a bit crowded, but it’s a roof over my head and a warm bed at night.  It’s a place to call home, where I find comfort and relaxation.  After long days like today, it’s a place I love to be.

6. Books.  They take me places I can only dream of.  An escape from the everyday, I can travel the world and the stars without every leaving home.

7. My health.  I can hear and see the great big world around us, I can taste foods inspired by cultures around the globe, and I can go for long walks to clear the mind and refresh the soul.  I know I could do better (who couldn’t eat a little healthier or exercise a little more), but I am truly grateful for the health I have.  Not everyone is as lucky.

8. The internet.  It has connected me to great people, like my readers (thank you!  I never thought anyone would want to read my blog, really), and customers, and friends.  The internet has connected me to the world and opened up amazing possibilities.  I can find a wealth of information and new skills all with the click of a button.  It’s amazing!

9. Choices.  This goes along with freedom I suppose, but I am grateful for all the choices I have.  I can choose any food I want to eat, even if its out of season.  Or I can choose to eat in season only.  I can choose where to live, what kind of business to run, or what kind of dog to own.  If I want only eco-friendly products, I have choices.  There are endless choices of new clothing fashions, or I can choose to wear what I have till it falls apart.  I can choose to walk, or bike, or drive, or take a bus to wherever I want to go.  I can choose to have a doughnut for dinner or leftover pizza for breakfast.  Sometimes I’m still shocked at how many choices we face in a day, and the control we have over our lives and our future.

 

So what are you thankful for today?

 

Going Au Naturale…

…with yarn (what did you think I meant?).  I was lucky enough to be gifted some beautiful chocolate brown alpaca yarn recently.   Alpaca yarn is a gorgeous, all natural yarn that I instantly fell in love with.

First, a little bit about alpacas

Alpacas are amazing creatures.  If you have an alpaca farm near you, I suggest visiting just to meet them.
Picture
Alpacas themselves are gentle, docile animals, and they don’t bite or butt, have sharp teeth, horns, hooves, or claws.  They have no offensive odor, generally do not attract flies in the summer (as other livestock does), are resilient to a range of weather climates, and are very intelligent. They are a very earth-friendly livestock as well–they have padded hooves that do not destroy the terrain and prefer only tender grasses for food, which they eat without tearing up the roots.

Indigenous to the South American Andes in Peru, alpacas today are domestically breed as a renewable and sustainable resource for their luxurious fiber.

Now, some info on alpaca yarn

Warm – Alpaca fibers contain microscopic air pockets, providing great insulation and keeping you warm during the winter, up to 5-7 times warmer than wool. These same air pockets allow for outstanding breathability, thus keeping you cool in the summer.

Lightweight – Alpaca fiber is lighter than virtually any other natural fiber, due to those same microscopic air pockets that help to reduce the weight of Alpaca fibers.

Strong – Alpaca wool fibers have great strength and durability. Since these animals needed to survive long, cold Andean winters, their coat is tough and strong. With proper care, items made from alpaca fiber can last longer than any other luxury fiber, including wool, cashmere, and silk.

Super Soft – Alpaca fiber is softer than most other natural fibers, and is often compared to cashmere in texture and feel.  This is partially due to the hollowness of the fiber (all those air pockets mentioned earlier), and due to the alignment of individual fibers in the wool itself.

Variety – Alpacas produce fiber in 22 natural colors – more than any other fiber-bearing animal – so you can have a range of colors without using any dyes or harsh chemicals.

Health and Wellness – Alpaca fiber has an antibacterial property that resists staining and odors, so items made from alpaca do not require as frequent washing as other textiles.  Similar to the live alpaca, the fiber does not attract or hold smells.   Alpaca fibers are naturally water- and fire-resistant, and do not contain lanolin (an oil in sheep’s wool that can cause irritation ) making alpaca fibers hypoallergenic.

Now that you know soooo much about alpacas, here is the yarn I got!

This is called a ‘hank’ of yarn, and must be round into a ball before you can use it.  It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered this, and it is not a very fun process if you aren’t careful.  Knots galore!  But eventually I ended up with a nice soft ball to work with.

Now, I’m thinking this will make a luxuriously soft and warm hat.  I did just get some circular knitting needles, so it’s time to break them in.  Stay tuned for the finished project!

Tuesday Tutorials – Useful Uses for Old Greeting Cards

Every year I get beautiful greeting cards for the holidays, or a birthday, or some other celebration.  Some cards are just too pretty to throw away (I still have tons of graduation cards from years ago), so I wanted to share some easy ways to reuse all those cards!
1. Bookmarks – Make one for yourself or stick it in a book for your favorite bookworm.  A one-of-a-kind bookmark will surely making reading a little more fun.  Depending on how much time/energy you have, you can leave the bookmark a solid rectangle, or use a hole punch on the top and thread a ribbon or tassel though.  Took me all of 7 minutes to make this one.

greeting card bookmark

A leftover piece of ribbon adds a little something special

2. Postcard – Simply cut off the front of the card and use a postcard stamp!  Couldn’t be easier.  This neat watercolor print I rounded the corners on for fun (I have a strange addiction to rounding the corners on stuff I make).

greeting card postcard

There’s plenty of space on the back for a personal message

3. Gift tags – This one is especially useful during the holidays when you can use up all the cards you received the year before.  Cut to size and either tape to the gift or use your handy hole punch and tie right on the package.

greeting card gift tag

A majestic eagle really makes this gift stand out

4. Framed art – Some cards are a work of art.  If you get one, frame it!  I’ve framed several cards that decorate my bookshelves at home.

greeting card art

A reproduction of Picasso just begs to be framed!

Have any other creative uses for old greeting cards?  Share them in the comments!
And on the theme of recycling, stay tuned for next week’s Tuesday Tutorial.  We’re going to start awesome recycling projects just in time for the gift-giving season 🙂 It’s going to be fun!