Friday, December 16, 2011

Featured Seller: Anca Gray

There is nothing as special as having a deep and unnerving passion for the work one does. Artist Anca Gray is not stranger to this. A passion for her art seethes from her every word.

After acquiring a degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, spending a few years as an architect and designer, and working at a local organic restaurant, in 2010 Anca finally started working full time on her art.

"My parents say my favorite toy to play with when I was very young was a pen and paper. When we went camping, I would first sit down and draw the trees and mountains and only then run around and explore. To my mother's despair, I always loved getting my hands dirty, and creating is in my blood. Although I got derailed by family and society's expectations, in the end it was just a matter of listening to my heart, letting go, and jumping in," Anca said.

You can purchase the Romanian born, Chicago based, artist's beautiful mixed media artwork internationally through her Etsy shop, Anca.

"I love creating delicate new art pieces out of discarded vintage books and found objects! They become one of a kind, original, mixed media abstracts and figure paintings. I also create found poetry reclaimed from existing vintage books. I am interested in everything poetic, emotion, capturing and savoring unique moments in time and space, the simultaneous absence and presence of all colors, embedded memory of objects, texture, and a raw and feminine aesthetic. I wish for my work to reflect glimpses of hope and [to] help widen the horizons of possibility," Anca said.

Anca's artwork is also at times dreamlike and geometric, and always unconventionally alluring.

"My husband dubbed me Anca Gray because I surround myself with black, white, and gray, and lady gray is my favorite tea, of which I drink about a pot of every day," Anca said.

Her daily pot of tea might be what allows Anca to work often chaotic hours. "I'm fairly obsessive, so I stay with a piece until it is finished, which means it needs to be finished within days. I've been known to work on a piece for 30 hours straight, and only get some sleep once it feels complete. I often work on several pieces at once while I wait for layers of paint to dry."

Anca's inability to stop once she's started working on a piece, is a true testament to her passion. And every piece she creates and sells is a piece she truly believes is complete and ready to be hung in a buyer's home.

"I finally know what I want to be when I grow up, so I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am doing what I long to be doing. What I've always longed to be doing," Anca said.

Outside of her craft Anca enjoys everything about food, cooking for friends, reading food blogs, parties and afternoon tea with friends, camping, reading, skydiving, seeking god, and loving her husband all while trying to remember to breathe.

Anca is not truly sure where she will be in five years, as she believes that anything and everything can change within that time frame, but she hopes that she'll still be cooking for and feeding the people she loves, getting her hands dirty, and becoming more comfortable by the day in her own skin.

You can follow Anca's journey through her Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts.

SPECIAL TO MY READERS: Get 15 percent off your purchase at Anca's Etsy shop by entering promo code MORE15 at checkout!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Handmade Wedding Blog

I haven't been writing as much on this blog, because Joe and I are starting a wedding blog, The Handmade Wedding!

We're so stoked about our new endeavor, which will feature real weddings, DIY projects, a segment by Joe just for the groom and his groomsmen, food ideas, dieting and fitness segments, giveaways, and much more! The blog is set to officially launch on New Years Day, so we're working hard right now to get it up and running. We've got the layout and pages up, and now we're on the lookout for content.

So if you have a DIY idea, real wedding submission, wish to sponsor us or a giveaway, let us know by emailing us at: thehandmadeweddingblog[at]gmail[dot]com.

If you get a chance, do check it out, become a follower and support us!

What endeavor have you been working on loves?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Featured Seller: Becca Sohoni

It's getting cold. More often than not in the ever growing chilling town of South Lake Tahoe, I find myself reaching for my scarf whenever I go out. But it's just a plain black scarf, nothing like the uplifting and beautiful scarfs by Becca Sohoni owner of Happiknits.

You can find Becca's bohemian style knitwear, including her fabulous infinity scarfs, for sale internationally through her Etsy shop.

For Becca the craft runs in the family, and unlike my mass produced scarf, her's are a little more genuine of character and heart.

"I learned how to knit about 10 years ago. I grew up in a family where all the women did some kind of needle craft. My mom sews and does embroidery, my grandmother was a master crocheter, and I have a great Aunt who embroiders and knits. I fell in love with the serenity that the knitting brought into my stressful life.

"I found Etsy about a year before I became a seller. Opening my shop came at a point in my life when I was suffering a lot of disappointment from infertility. I needed something to lift my spirits, and my customers do that for me. 
In addition to my knitting I work as a full-time Pharmacist and I am a certified yoga teacher," Becca said.

Although you wouldn't think that there is a lot that goes into knitting besides knowing a pattern and executing it, Becca does a good amount of research for her craft. This means that her work is not only easy on the eyes, but that she also strives to keep up to date in style.

"I read all the fashion magazines, Somerset magazines, which is where I find a lot of inspiration. I also will go to Anthropology and walk around. I love their window displays. I have been inspired by a lot of my customers and sometimes ideas just pop into my head! My passion comes from truly enjoying the way a piece of yarn feels in my hands. I tend to knit with some fabulously soft yarns," Becca said.

The research step it truly only the beginning as her knitwear creations can take anywhere from several hours to several weeks to create, which makes it no wonder that Becca, like many other crafters including myself, faces time management as her greatest obstacle.

"As my business grows, I sometimes struggle to keep up with all of the social networking involved in growing a successful business," Becca said.

But as hectic as it all may seem, not having enough time to do everything is also a sign of success. Becca is close to reaching a well deserved 650th sale without any negative or neutral feedback, a true testament to her passion as a crafter and seller.

Besides knitting Becca enjoys working out, visiting her local vintage market for buttons, lace, or anything that catches her eye, and baking, which she learned from her grandmother.

In five years Becca sees herself on a beach in St. Lucia with a needle in her hand.

You can follower Becca's journey through her Twitter and Facebook.

HER WINTER HOLIDAY PROMO: Enter HAPI10 for 10% off any purchase OR HAPISHIP for free shipping from Happiknits!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Featured Seller: Julie Gautier

One thing that small businesses should never take for granted is their ability to create with eco-friendly materials. For Julie from Jye, this is something that is as important as creating one of a kind accessories.

You can find her various exquisitely soft and feminine accessories ranging from hand-folded origami earrings to wedding garters for sale internationally through her Etsy shop.

"I love living in the big city, but I am still also close to my roots, indeed I really care about nature and being eco-friendly in my creations. For example, I dye fabrics myself with natural pigments, and I also recycle vintage materials. [It] matters a lot to me to pollute less and give a second life to old materials," Julie said.

Julie's accessories cater to women that love being poetic and enjoy nature. Also to those that enjoy a unique handmade flare.

"I love natural fabrics like silk of cotton and natural pigments. I also love the French glamor from the 50s with all those polka dot prints. Creating modern vintage with true vintage materials is usually my goal. Japan is a huge inspiration for me too, I enjoy integrating origami to the sewing, it enhances the fabric with special reflects, which I love so much.

"Sometimes people think I buy already made origamis or already made organza flowers like some crafters do. But I don't, and it's very important to me to make everything myself. Behind each creation there is thoughts and true ideas," Julie said.

There is something to be truly appreciated from Julie's passion for making her creations from scratch. From sewing it all together to folding fabric into birds, her ideas are not only innovative but completely true to herself and her soft aesthetics as a designer.

Other than creating for her Etsy shop, Julie likes to cook, especially from Asian as well as vegan and vegetarian recipes.

In five years Julie hopes to be living in a cute town somewhere in France with a little house, her family and pets by her side, and a big garden with a lot of organic veggies growing in the back.

You can follow Julie's journey through her Facebook, Blog, and Twitter.

A SPECIAL OFFER TO MY READERS: Get free worldwide shipping for any order in Julie's shop by using the promo code: ALITTLEMORETHANLIFE at checkout.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Moving Forward

I feel motivated this week. I got a sewing machine as an early Christmas present from my husband's family that I'm stoked about, I'm working on a Heartsy deal so we'll soon have a good chunk of promotion for ZoiShop, we did well on print sales during the Black Friday weekend, I am still on the running to be featured in Reed Literary Magazine, and Joe and I had a great Thanksgiving weekend visiting our families. Here are some of the photos from the weekend:

What did you do this weekend loves? I hope it was wonderful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday & Cyber Monday ZoiShop Promotions

Get the lowest prices of the season at ZoiShop! Specials last until Tuesday morning.

40% off photo prints with promo code:
FPOE11 at checkout

10% off calendars, cards, vintage items & ornaments with promo code:
10PERCENT at checkout

Free shipping on all orders over $100 USD with promo code:
SHIPPING100 at checkout

***promotions cannot be used on already discounted sets or any listings that don't bear Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the title. The 40% coupon and 10% coupon CANNOT BE USED CONCURRENTLY. Please purchase prints separate from all other items.

Every order you make between now and Monday enters you in our Cyber Monday raffle. The raffle item is a $30 gift certificate to our shop. Winner will be chosen at random using a cyber random number tool on Monday night.

Some of the items that will be on sale are:

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you doing for Thankgiving?

Joe and I are visiting our families and friends this weekend and we are stoked! We also plan on doing some Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping. Stoked for that too.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Thankgiving weekend filled with family, laughter, and lots of good food!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Featured Seller: Lisa Lehmann

A lot of people might not realize that being a jewelry maker can be fiery. But Lisa Lehmann isn't afraid of a little heat, in fact getting to play with fire is what profoundly plunged her into the craft.

"I have a fine arts major in photography and illustration. I did graphic design for years, I hated it. I started playing around with making jewelry and I liked it a lot. Then I learned to play with fire and I was so hooked. It is my passion!" Lisa said.

You can find Lisa's sleek and rustically feminine handmade jewelry for sale internationally through her Etsy shop, Studio Jewel.

"I've wanted to be an artist since I was handed a crayon. I was meant to create," Lisa said. Although she knew she was meant to be a creator she wasn't so sure about the success her work would have.

"When I started making jewelry 10 years ago, I never knew it would take off like it did," Lisa said.

But her success has left her with almost a thousand Etsy sales, and only one possible regret. Because she was unsure of her success, she titled her shop, "thebeadgirl", though that isn't her brand name. "I'm trying to shift people to realize my actual store name is Studio Jewel even though I may be 'thebeadgirl'," Lisa said.

Whether you call her the bead girl or know the shop as Studio Jewel, Lisa Lehmann's jewelry is plain and simply organically pretty.

The finishing result may be visually appealing, but according to Lisa, the actual act of creating can be otherwise.

"Making beautiful pieces of jewelry is a VERY dirty business!" Lisa said.

But this fact far from deters Lisa from her passion. What makes her such as wonderful seller is that she plunges into the often unrecognized mess of creating beauty, and loves it.

Besides making jewelry, Lisa still enjoys photography as well as cooking. She also homeschool's three of her four children, making her life a balancing act of work and family.

In five years Lisa would like to continue to see her company grow, but with a little bit of help so she can concentrate on simply being a jewelry designer and not so much of everything else that comes along with it.

You can follow Lisa's journey through her Twitter, Facebook page, and Blog.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR MY READERS: Get 15 percent off your purchase from Lisa's shop by using the promo code: justbecause15 at checkout.

(photos curtesy of Lisa Lehamann's Etsy shop & Facebook page)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laughing Burns Calories

Did you know that laughing burns calories?

According to laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day helps you burn between 10 to 40 calories. This may not seem like a lot, but laugh for an hour and you could be looking at burning at least 100 to 160 calories, the caloric intake of a soda or a cookie. Laughing not only burns calories, but it also raises levels of immunoglobulins, which according to a research at Loma Linda University can ward off disease by 14 percent.

Want a laughing boost? Check out some of my favorite comedies on TV and video.


Big Nothing:


Friends the show:

Raising Hope the show:

What is your favorite comedy?

(photos curtesy of Google Images)

Fitness Boost: I Can Do 30 Push Ups!

A couple weeks ago I posted a link on building your way up to 100 push ups. I really had to revisit the topic and talk about it some more, since I absolutely love the program. After only seven days I can do 30 full body push ups! And believe me, I'm so stoked about it considering that before I could barely complete one, which was frustrating and I'll admit a little sad.

How the program works is that you figure out how many push ups you can currently do, once you've got that figured out, there are three paths you can take depending on what level you're at. You do five sets each day, split up by 60 to 90 seconds of rest, and you only do the program three times a week. Each day you increase your push up outtake and intake amazing results. If you can't do full body push ups, start on your knees like I did.

So what are the benefits of push ups?

They not only serve to increase your bicep and tricep muscles, but they also help strengthen your core through the use of your own body weight, which means you're building lean muscle unlike with weight training you can often times simply bulk up. You can also do them anywhere in only a little bit of space, so you can go on vacation and do them instead of your full regular workout if you don't have enough room. Plus, you'll no longer need to ask someone to open a seal-tight jar.

Best of all though, you feel empowered over your own body, and therefore more likely to feel empowered within the day.

(photo curtesy of Real Beauty)

Monday, November 21, 2011

ZoiShop iPhone cases and skins

Loves, have you heard of Society6?

It is a website where artists can upload their work for free and it is then sold by the admin in the form of prints, iPhone cases and skins, laptop skins, and shirts and sweatshirts. The artist then gets a small cut of the profit when someone purchases an item with your artwork on it. It allows you to get your work out while doing minimal work, which is what makes it wonderful.

I had joined the website a while ago, but this week I took some time to put up new photography and be more social within the site.

And I have to say I'm totally in love with my iPhone skins and cases! The skins sell for $15 and the cases for $35. They're a great and affordable gift for a friend, family member, even you significant other for the holidays. Check out some of mine below.

Two Year Anniversary

What did you do this weekend?

Besides celebrating having made our 50th sale in our Etsy shop, Joe and I celebrated our two year anniversary this weekend. We went out for sushi on Saturday to one of our favorite restaurants in South Lake Tahoe, The Naked Fish, and on Sunday we had our first Thanksgiving meal of the month. Joe made an array of really amazing food including a whole turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. I made sweet potatoes with marshmallows melted on top, which were the perfect dessert. It was a relaxing weekend, and what is one of many anniversary celebrations to come.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Look of the Week: Teal Willow Dress

I love this outfit from the ready to wear Fall 2011 Willow Urban Rider collection. It's a short teal slip dress under a netting overlay that is sure to turn heads anywhere. It's the perfect inspiration for a holiday party dress or a New Years Eve dress.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Treasuries

It's one of those busy treasury mornings for me, which I have to say I love. The following are some of my favorites and are all beautifully curated. Click on the treasury image to go to the direct page and view it bigger.


And there she was, like double cherry pie by Tatiana Kontouli

They Won't Regift These - Unique Gifts for Unique Individuals by Sharon Clancy

Downtown by Adriana

La vie en rose by Julie Gautier

Christams Gifts for the Chef and the Hostess, Under $50 by FigmentandRather

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Look Back At My Featured Sellers, And A Move Forward

It has been over six months since I began my featured sellers segment on my blog, which has become my favorite and most successful addition. It has given me a chance to interview my favorite handmade artisans on the web and share a little piece of them with my readers. And it never ceases to amaze me how different every artisan is, and how inspirational they can each be in their own way.

As I move forward with this segment, my newest featured sellers will also be offering promo codes to my readers, so be on the lookout for the first of these next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, revisit some of the features from earlier this year by clicking the images below.

Mojo Spa:

Jonathan Russell:

Liese Chavez:

You can view the entire list of my featured sellers by clicking here.

Photo of the Week: Lollipop Yum

Sweet Finds: Edibles

Do you love sweets? I am a sweets fiend. I love sugar and cake and cookies and lollipops, and anything that you need milk to wash down. Joe and I bought marshmallows for a mini Thanksgiving dinner we're doing on Sunday and since I've been fighting myself to not give in to my marshmallow cravings and rip that bag open I thought that an edibles segment of Sweet Finds would be appropriate today.

The following are some of my favorite edible finds on Don't all of them look delicious? Yum. Yum.

Apricot jalapeno organic jelly - Mirasol Farm - $8.25 USD

Cheesecake fudge - Jewel of the Lion - $19.00 USD

Raspberry linzer cookies - Esther Aguirre - $14.50 USD

White velvet buttercream cookie - Tookies - $28 USD

Marshmallows, brownies, biscotti - Whimsy and Spice - $48 USD

Lemon sugary lollipops - The Groovy Baker - $10 USD

Cherry walnut nougat - Have It Confections - $14 USD

What do you have a sweet tooth for?
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