Friday Features – Nicole of Eva M Designs

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 Nicole from Eva M Designs on Etsy!

Tell me about yourself and your shop. 

I am the creator of Eva M Designs, a shop that features a little bit of everything. I’ve always loved crafting but didn’t get into the business end of it until I started making jewelry. Needing a way to fund this addiction, I started a shop on Etsy. Eva M Designs is named after my grandmother, Eva Manko, who passed on her crafty-gene to me. I think she also passed on an entrepreneurial spirit — I remember hearing stories of her and my grandfather running all sorts of ventures, from an ice cream shop to selling eggs to clothing alterations. Having recently decided to leave a career in teaching (and a decent salary) to manage a non-profit animal shelter in Olean, NY, I could use a little extra cash. I’d like to make Eva M Designs that “second job.”
As for an interesting fact about me — I am an adoptaholic. I started adopting dogs when I brought home Molly from a summer course I took in Mexico after my freshman year of college and have found homes (generally within my friends and family group) for 5 other dogs since. It’s practically an addiction. The great thing is, I will soon be paid to do it!

Colorful Glass Magnets - Pastels

Colorful Glass Magnets – Pastels

How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
I’ve always been crafty — I got into scrapbooking in high school, and I did a lot of sewing. For a few years I participated in Civil War reenactments (haha, yes, I’m a geek), so I sewed all my 1860s-era dresses myself. I also made a number of quilts and my prom dress. After I began college, my time was swallowed up with school and work, so it was just within the last few years I’ve gotten back into crafting. I started making jewelry in 2010 — first, for myself, and then as Christmas presents. I briefly ventured into Etsy at that point, but my time was again taken up with graduate school (M.Ed. in Middle and Secondary Ed) and I abandoned that first try. I got back on to Etsy late this fall, utilizing the little time I have after work (when I’m not planning, grading, calling parents, etc.) to create! Finding teaching not to my liking, crafting has been a way to cope with this stressful year. I’m looking forward to my move to Olean, finally getting into a career that I love, and I hope all that positive energy will flow back into my creative work!

What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)
When it comes to jewelry, I am always most confident about pieces that I myself straight up love. If I would love to wear it, I know someone else would, too. I love working with beach glass – it’s so unique and pretty – so I am in the process of creating some pieces that blend modern, professional jewelry styles (the type of stuff I’d wear as a young teacher) with the use of beach glass as opposed to beads. Right now I’m working on a double strand sterling silver necklace (one strand figaro chain, one basic cable) with beach glass sprinkled strategically throughout the chains. I recently sold a similar necklace that used teal, brown and ivory beads — I am shooting for the same look but with a unique touch! I’m definitely starting to feel I am figuring out my niche. 🙂

Bronze Copper Wire Wrapped Clear White Beach Glass Sea Glass Dangly Earrings

Wire Wrapped Clear White Beach Glass Sea Glass Dangly Earrings

What do you do when you need a little bit if inspiration?
Pinterest. Or browse through Etsy. I just love seeing what other people have created, and it always brings ideas to my mind. It’s also just inspiring to look through the listings and see people finding real success selling items similar to my own. It gives me hope that I can get my shop out there too!

What is your best achievement?
While I hope I don’t say this my entire life, the greatest thing I ever created was my senior thesis at Allegheny College. I worked my butt off for an entire year, researching Native American women in Puritan New England, digging through primary resources, creating a REAL and ORIGINAL argument, and writing over 100 pages of text. I even won an award for it from the History department. I really do consider it one of my greatest achievements and probably the thing I am most proud of.

What does handmade mean to you?
To me, handmade means it is not made thousands of miles away in some factory by a minimum wage paid worker on a long assembly line. It means it is uniquely designed and created by someone who sees their work as not just a paycheck but also art.

Mara: 1920s Inspired Opera Length Ivory and Bronze Necklace with Teal Swarovski Crystals

Mara: 1920s Inspired Opera Length Ivory and Bronze Necklace with Teal Swarovski Crystals

Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?
I would definitely be interested in creating custom listings! I have made jewelry pieces for family, friends, and friends of friends, etc. who have seen my jewelry on others, and I would be happy to do the same through Etsy as well!

What plans do you have for the future of you business?
I just want to see my shop grow and who knows from there! I am trying to learn all I can about the business aspects, marketing, photography, social media, etc. and am excited where all this might lead.

Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
Try it. What do you have to lose?

Many thanks to Jill and be sure to check out the rest of her shop!

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!

Tuesday Tutorials – Party Favor Bags From Envelopes

I found this really nifty project on one of my favorite blogs, How About Orange.  Using some plain white envelopes and pretty washi tape, you can create little bags perfect for party favors or tiny gifts.  Go ahead a create a few today just for fun!

Envelope Bags

You’ll need an envelope, decorative tape, and scissors. I used 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″ envelopes, but any size will work.

Seal the envelope and trim off one of the short sides to make an opening.

Wrap tape around both sides of the envelope. No need to cover the last inch, since it will form the bottom of the bag.

Fold about one inch of each side of the bag toward the middle; then fold the bottom upwards, creasing your folds well. You can vary the width of these flaps depending on the proportion of the bag you want. Flip the bag over and reverse the folds along the same lines for easier shaping in the next step.

Put one hand inside the bag, and with the other, push the bottom fold down. This will leave the bottom corners of the bag standing up. Press each corner into a triangle.

Fold both triangles down and secure them with more tape, covering the bottom of the bag.

 

Fill with whatever goodies your heart desires, fold over the top and seal with a small piece of tape.  Enjoy your new thrifty creation!

Monday Munchies – Whole Wheat Pancakes That Actually Taste Good

I love pancakes.  Fluffy and warm and dripping with deliciously sweet syrup.  Even better if they have fresh fruit on top, or chocolate chips on the inside.  Pumpkin pancakes, banana pecan pancakes, blueberry pancakes, peanut butter and jelly pancakes–the options are endless but they are all fantastic!

And this healthy twist on pancakes is just as versatile for you to add any of your favorite mix-ins or toppings.  A lot of other whole wheat pancakes I’ve tried have always turned out too dense and heavy and thick.  This one (I’m quite happy to report) is light and fluffy, and although they are a little flatter than big buttermilk pancakes, I’m pretty sure you’ll still love them.  Health bonus: not only does this recipe use whole wheat flour, but there’s no oil or butter!

Want to make it even healthier?  Substitute the egg for a mixture of 1 Tbsp ground flax meal with 3 Tbsps water.  Flax meal gives you more protein and fiber for a nutrition boost, and it’s lower in fat and calories than a whole egg.  While you’re at it, go ahead and use unsweetened almond or soy milk milk (usually only 30-60 calories a cup depending on the brand you use).

Tasty Whole Wheat Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup white all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (this will make them nice and fluffy)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch or two of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons oil or non stick spray, optional (to grease the pan, but I found I didn’t need to use it)

Directions

  1. If using griddle preheat to manufactures instructions.
  2. Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a bowl or wide-mouthed pitcher. Add egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until combined.
  3. If using skillet, heat on medium heat and add oil if using oil. Place batter on griddle/skillet, cook until bubbles form on edges or top and flip. About 3 minutes per side, more or less.
  4. Serve with syrup, fresh fruit or any dessert sauce of choice.

If you choose to use the flax+water egg substitute, it is always best to prepare that first so it has time to set, usually about 10 min . Make your flax egg by combining flax meal & water in a small bowl and set aside.

You can add your mix-ins (like blueberries or chocolate chips) right before adding the batter to the pan.

*A Note on Maple Syrup*

Like syrup on your pancakes like I do? Be sure to spring for the good stuff–100% pure maple syrup–not the fake sugary table or breakfast syrups that contain a crazy amount of processed preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup.

All natural maple syrup actually has some surprising health benefits, like containing compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation.  It also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (like zinc and manganese).

Of course, maple syrup is still a sugar, so use in moderation, but savor every drop!

Friday Features – Jill Duke of Jillybeans Studio

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 Jill from Jillybeans Studios on Etsy!

Tell me about your shop.
Hello! My name is Jill. I am a six year survivor of head and neck cancer. I had three fourths of my tongue removed. My speech is hindered and I live daily with chronic pain. I didn’t allow the “C” work to slow me down. I have taught myself to make jewelry, crochet, and paint. This has been my outlet and therapy for the physical chronic pain following cancer. And BONUS, I found love to do these things! When I’m not working on my Etsy crafts I also love a good cup of coffee and relaxing with a good book. I’m also a health nut. I love to run, work out, and eat a good clean diet. My husband and I have five children between us so our life is never boring!
By the Sea hand painted canvas 40X50
How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?
I started painting on canvas in 2005 to find some relief while undergoing chemo and radiation. While my family was sleeping and I couldn’t at 3 in the morning I would be found painting pictures of my children in my kitchen. I then learned I loved painting. Making jewelry and crocheting were something I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy but I tried both and loved them. Now, five years later I alternate my crafts so I don’t get bored with repetition of one craft.
Escape and Relax Starbucks inspired original 30X40 canvas
What influences your work from your life or city? (or anything else that influences you)
Relaxation is the key to a happy life. I love to relax in a coffee shop or library setting. I apply the same to my crafts. When I am painting I recreate the coffee shop setting in my home. I am a neat person so I start with a clean home. I play music that inspires my work, open blinds and allow the light to flow through our home, light candles, and make a fresh cup of cappuccino.  If I enjoy the time I spend crafting I find the customer is more satisfied with the finished product.
Hot Pink Princess sign and Granny Square afghan
What do you do when you need a little bit if inspiration?
I have a BIG imagination! I love to pin on Pinterest. It it the worlds biggest craft spot and one of my favorite things to do when I need some “me time” or down time from a hectic day. Having five children is also an excellent source of entertainment and ideas to paint and craft. They ask me to make things for them and their little ideas inspire me to paint and crochet.
Sock monkey canvas and 3X3 afghan gift set
What does handmade mean to you?
My best achievement was learning how to use therapy and my ability to create new things. I found I could no longer work in the real world after living with chronic pain. It is exciting making things and achieving new goals. If it weren’t for my ability to make handmade things I am not sure I would know how to overcome pain or find my purpose. Making handmade items has helped me to come to a good place in my life.
Blue and Green Boys Granny Square afghan
Do you also offer custom made items? Is it something you like to do?
I do offer custom made items. I offer this is a variety of my work. I can add a name or initials to any hand painted sign or canvas. I have painted many paintings to match children’s bedroom schemes. Some special orders have been made by painting by customer request his or her photo on canvas. I can recreate any afghan in the customer’s color requests. I love to make customer made orders! It’s a new opportunity to expand my creativity at the customer’s request.
What plans do you have for the future of you business?
I have found consistency brings the most from business. Most of my customers have been through word of mouth and friends at church or our community. My Etsy business is still a new baby business. By being consistent, creating the best quality work I can make, and by the help of bloggers like you I believe my store will grow in time.
Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items?
Making something you love and selling is great therapy. I’ve found setting goals is the greatest way to feel great about your accomplishments. Make sure your having fun while creating. If you enjoy what you do you will make better quality items. Your customers will also enjoy taking advantage of your beautiful quality work. Good luck creating.

Many thanks to Jill and be sure to check out the rest of her shop!

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!

Valentine’s Day – Share a Little Love

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Remember that today is all about sharing the love–whether you are part of a couple or not, today is the day to tell people how much they mean to you.  Also a great day to eat lots of sweets and chocolate!

 

Love doesn’t make the world go around.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. 

– Franklin P. Jones

Tuesday Tutorial – Valentine’s Day Bookmarks

With Valentine’s Day only two days away, it’s time for one last Valentine’s related craft!  These super cute little bookmarks are great little valentine’s for kids, teachers, or anyone you know who just loves to read.  They are super easy to put together, and you can find a link to download the accompanying card templates at Thirty Handmade Days.

You can whip up quite a few of these in just an evening and have them ready for the 14th in no time.  Have fun!  And happy (almost) Valentine’s Day!  I know not everyone loves the holiday, but I hope its a good day for each and every one of you 🙂

Sweet Felt Valentine’s Day Bookmarks

Materials:

  • felt
  • white embroidery thread
  • paperclips
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • fabric marking pen

Directions:

Start by drawing your shape onto felt. To help keep the felt in place while cutting, use a straight pin to stabilize the two pieces.

Stitch a running stitch along the perimeter of the heart. It is the simplest stitch – just up and down through the felt.

Once you stitch all the way around, you can secure your thread by running your needle along the very top of the felt, pulling though and cutting off the excess. You will be gluing the heart down with hot glue, so you don’t have to worry about this string coming out.

Put a small dot of glue on your plain heart and glue down the paperclip. Add more hot glue over the surface of the plain heart, and very lightly press your stitched heart down on top. If you smash the two hearts together, two things will happen: hot glue will ooze out of the sides, and you will be able to see the outline of the paperclip. Pressing lightly keeps the surface smooth and pretty.

Clip to cute cards of your choosing, or you can download the template for the cards shown below.  Enjoy!

Monday Munchies – Homemade Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

This past week was full of some serious changes, most of them regarding Nate and I’s health and diet.  We’ve both been trying to eat healthier this year, and finally got up off our butts and got serious about it.  Nate is working out almost every day now, and loading up on protein and small meals every few hours.  I’m taking a more whole foods, plant-based approach to my diet by cutting out animal products and minimizing sugar.  I actually think I had a mild addiction to sugar, which is crazy because I never really thought about being addicted to a food before.

I’m cutting out all refined sugars cold turkey, and using natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup only sparingly.  One thing I’ve found to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard is eating fresh fruit.  Fruit has a lot of naturally-occurring sugars, but I feel that the fiber and nutrients from the fruit are worth it.  A new favorite after-dinner treat is this Almond Chunky Monkey Ice Cream, which I found on The Simple Veganista (this site is now bookmarked and I visit daily for new recipe ideas).

It’s not exactly like ice cream since it’s pretty soft, but it’s delicious and creamy and nutty and has chocolate–perfect for a night time snack.  Give it a try!

Almond Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter, or any nut butter of choice
  • almonds, cut in half
  • dark chocolate, either in chips or bars broken into pieces
Directions
In a food processor, place frozen banana pieces and almond butter, blend until a fairly smooth consistency stopping every now and then to scrap down the sides and push the mixture to the bottom of the processor. It took mine about five minutes max, but this depend on your food processor. Serve in bowls and top with, or incorporate, the chocolate pieces and almonds, use as much as you like. Should be eaten right away. Makes one generous serving or two small ones.

Friday Features – Ei Crafter of Colorful Compositions

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 Ei from Colorful Compositions on Etsy!

Tell me about yourself and your shop. 

My shop aims to bring color into the lives of others. I make and design many customizable and functional items. However, despite the many colors I work with, my favorite color will always be yellow! I have a new obsession with watching movies: they let me live lifetimes within a few hours.

How did you start, and why did you choose your craft? How much experience do you have so far?My shop just started a few days ago. I have always loved crafts and would design small things for myself. Suddenly, I realized that I could bring the items I make to others. Thus, I have little selling experience, but have been doing crafts for many years.

Custom Hanging Hot Air Balloon Tea Light Holder

Custom Hanging Hot Air Balloon Tea Light Holder

 

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

I create my work to stand out. Since I live in the city, sometimes my surroundings just aren’t colorful enough. Ideas come up on how I can brighten up life, and then I get to work.

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

I look at nature. I think about how I can bring it inside and convert it into useful objects.

What is your best achievement?

I would say its my first ceramics piece. It was a mushroom cookie jar.

Custom Lidded Mushroom Jar

Custom Lidded Mushroom Jar

What does handmade mean to you?

Handmade means something that is made with the heart. Every handmade piece is slightly different, because people aren’t machines. It means that one took care and time into actually creating something with his or her own energy.

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

I do offer custom made items. Since my shop is new, I haven’t had any requests. However, I think I will like doing it, because I love trying new things.

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

First, since my shop is new, I plan to make some sales and get into the market. Then, I plan to start a blog for my shop and try to help others.

Custom "Overflowing" Bowl

Custom “Overflowing” Bowl

Any advice for others looking to sell their handmade items? 

I am new and needing in advice myself, but I would say so far that I have learned that it never hurts to try new things. Post a product and see how people like it.

Many thanks to Ei and be sure to check out the rest of the shop!

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!

Tuesday Tutorials – Valentine’s Day Paper Heart Pouches

I feel that ever year Valentine’s Day means something different to everyone I meet.  For some it’s all about romance with a significant other, for others it’s about throwing a small party for mingling singles, and still others consider it a time to get candy and cards for their kid’s classroom.  Really though, Valentine’s Day is just about expressing love and appreciation for those who matter in our lives.

These cute heart pouches are the perfect little gift to say “I’m thinking of you today” whether you have a significant other or not.  Give one to your mom, your friend, or your kid’s teacher.  Make a few manly colored ones for dad, your brother, or the mailman.  They are super fun to make, and although the original tutorial (found on inmyownstyle.com) suggests sewing them closed, I found glue and staples to work just as well and be much less time consuming.

The great thing about these is you can customize them however you like!  Embellish them with button or tags or other fun trinkets, and fill them with candy or a secret little note.   I love getting into the holiday spirit, so rest assured there will be another Valentine’s Day craft next week before Feb. 14th arrives.   Just remember to have fun with it!

Valentine’s Day Paper Heart Pouches

Valentine-Heart-Candy-Pockets

Materials:

  • Cardstock to make heart template
  • Scissors
  • Decorate paper
  • Glue stick or staples
  • Optional: Fancy scissors for a decorative edges, tags, ribbons, bows, other embellishments
  • Candy to fill the hearts

 

Directions:

Fold the cardstock in half and draw half a heart shape.  Cut out with scissors and unfold.

How-to-make-a-paper-heart

Fold one piece of your decorative paper in half.  Use the template to trace a heart onto the paper.  Cut out the shape to have a perfectly matched front and back.

Valentine-Craft-Ideas

Use glue or staples to close the two hearts together, but leave a 2 inch opening at the top or bottom.

Fill the heart with candy through the opening, then close the heart.

Make-a-paper-heart-to-hold-candy

Embellishment with pipe cleaners, thread, ribbon, yarn, buttons or whatever else you have around.  Get creative and share the love!

How-to-Make-Paper-Candy-Heart-Pouches