Monday, 31 December 2012

If 2012 taught me one thing ...

It showed me that I can find a way of getting a job - even if I have to make that job myself. Moving to America I had the wild dreams of actually being able to do something with my degrees - to get out of retail and start a "career". Yeah couple my lack of experience and not being able to sell myself and it wasn't looking good. While I was job hunting I'd been selling and playing on ebay on the side selling a mixture of things from Transformer Toys to Pokemon cards then I randomly started selling some crochet patterns and I've never looked back. I'm slowly building confidence in selling other pieces, vintage postcards, vintage recipe books to model train pieces and dolls house accessories.

Ebay rolled into Etsy which rolled into creating the Hook, Stitch, Treasure brand and we've additionally started selling on Amazon too. After building up ebay for a good couple of months I took the time in December to start working on my Etsy brand, I found some old letter stamps at an estate sale and started making my own postcard thank you come business cards. As Etsy has grown slowly bigger it's getting there - it certainly doesn't compare to ebay in the slightest when it comes to sales - but it does work better for older, quirkier items.

Non of this could of happened without having Joe to back and believe in me and drive me around to estate sales and post office whatever the weather and generally put up with me. Secondly without Detroit and the metro region being the second largest area for estate sales in the whole of the US this wouldn't be occurring either.

I've managed to prove to myself I can make my dreams a reality, and I do it all on a very low budget. Granted I don't make loads, certainly not enough to live off but it's growing and so are the profits and it's more then paying it's way and I'm going into 2013 with a whole new confidence and plans to really expand and work hard at it. But working it as a job it takes up a lot of hours, I often do 12 hour days taking pictures, writing up stock to parcelling up items but I don't mind, I love it, I love knowing old vintage patterns especially are finding new homes rather then being thrown away.

I think I got by and really got into it because of being a crafter myself, I knew a little about crocheting and knitting to be able to judge and resell items, I knew what I was talking about. If you have a passion or a hobby then turning and using it has part of your job is an amazing feeling and hopefully this post might encourage any of you to follow your own dreams.

How did 2012 fair for you? I'll be seeing you on the other side!

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To say thank you and to welcome everyone into 2013 I'm offering a 25% discount off all items (patterns, recipe books, postcards) on my Etsy store with the code NewYear until the end of the week.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Cold Cold Christmas

The 21st of December came and Michigan started getting cold, here in the south east corner we just got away with a light sprinkling of the white stuff but temperatures certainly dropped. Getting out for a drive to Stony Creek on Sunday and we thought we'd head for a walk, but my inner heat was lacking so we legged it to the nature center and watched birds and turtles feeding and playing, which honestly I'd of been happy watching for hours.We also renewed our car pass to get into the metroparks for cheaper so watch out for loads more nature pictures (I'm so rock and roll). The snow returned last night, there's a good 6 or so inches of the white stuff outside - so glad today is a PJ day of working on the sofa and watching way too much Star Trek.

Monday, 24 December 2012

FOOD: Mince Pie Cookies

To me Christmas isn't right without mince meat - granted it's a love-hate thing for many people but to me it's beyond tasty. Here in the USA mince meat isn't the easiest of things to find and when it is found it's not on the cheap side but when I found (what you'd probably only find in the US) a cheap "condensed" package of mincemeat it was coming home with me. What's even better is that it had a recipe for mince pie a cakey kind of cookie on the side - a perfect mix of the British (mincemeat) and the American (cookies) and even more perfect for a blog post on Christmas eve.

Goodies required; 
1 cup of butter
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. of baking soda
1-2 tablespoons of milk (if required)
1 package of condensed mincemeat

Beating together the butter and the sugar until lovely and fluffy, add in the three eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients and then spoon into the wet mix. If the mix is looking too dry you might want to add milk but only one tablespoon at a time. Last crumble up the mincemeat and add in, mixing just a little. Shape into cookies and bake for 10 minutes at 375F.

On that note Merry Christmas to everyone - we're being low key and low budget while pleasing ourselves going to an all you can eat Chinese buffet - yum! 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hanging a home

It's weird how you find things in random places - items that wouldn't mean anything to anyone else but when you find it, it's like you was always meant to. When i was out gathering vintage baubles to make my Christmas wreath I came across a vintage decoration that took me back to memories of Christmas in the homeland.

You see it's a vintage house tree ornament - of a silver building, red roof and green trees. To anyone else it might just be a house but to me it's a little more. You see when my parents married in 1982 for their first married Christmas together in their first home they brought a set of two house ornaments exactly the same. Each Christmas ever since, each of them hung one of the two decorations upon the Christmas year. It was their tradition.

And now I found my little house, sat in the bottom of a collection of old torments. Shame there was only one but just weird how I found one thousands of miles away here in Michigan [granted they probably made thousands if not millions of them in China and shipped them globally - but ya know].

Monday, 17 December 2012

So yeah, life

Sometimes life just gets in the way, I've been immensely busy (in a good way) with my ebay auctions since thanks giving to the point that the only time I'm leaving my front door is for trips to the post office but it's proving to myself I could and can make a success of the reselling lark. Then our internet went down for two days which led to late night trips to starbucks just to do work. Anyway's bloggings been a bit of a second thought so I haven't had the time nor the will to catch up myself. So i'm rolling myself back out there with some of the more quirky vintage finds i've come across lately. 

This was a real find - a "Tool Kit for the Bride" a mini, say doll house sized package of versions a bride needs to keep her husband in line. It wasn't even opened and was too funny to pass up - it comes with a rolling pin, washing powder, iron, broom and cook book. It found its new home within hours of going online. 

While not sure how rare or even useful this piece is but it's certainly a quirky piece for a sewer to have. It's basically called a "Dial-a-gram", which designed to bring "sewing to your fingertips" dates from 1955 which spins around depending on the fabric your sewing with giving suggestions for the best threads, needles and stitches to use. 

Vogue sewing books and magazines really are a delight to come across, I could hours just pouring over the stylised images within them. Take this 1958 Vogue Sewing Book for example - aren't just dresses just lovely? It even convinces me to try use get my sewing machine even more.

Now this last item is one I'm giving you a sneak peek at as I haven't got around to uploading it to either of my stores. Elbows Off was a pamphlet published (if I remember rightly) in the 1950's for the Men and Women of General Motors addressing the ways and means when it comes to table manners. It covers everything from what a guest should bring their hosts to topics of conversion and table settings. If you're interested in this then drop me a message one way or another.

It's finds like all of the above that keep me searching and selling.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Martha Stewart Customizable Notebook

Martha Stewart has done it again - is there anything that woman can't do?! When I was offered the chance of reviewing one of her latest customizable notebooks I jumped at the chance. Starting and working on two online stores I have paperwork, notes, and piles of labels for shipping and everything else, I'm an organisation freak when it comes to my work so anything that can help, is just a miracle. Prior to receiving this notebook I was working out of three notebooks alongside loose pieces of paper taking over our living room, now i'm just down to two - i'm getting sorted! 

These notebooks come in the lush green color we always associate with Martha Stewart products which are always clean and fresh. They are totally multipurpose and are great for any kind of organisation, whether you need a notebook for your blog ideas or recipes because of the plastic colored dividers you can slot in and separate sections. What's even better is that these dividers come with write on tabs which are easily erasable. Accessories additionally include calender pages, task pads - (which I call my to do lists) and even expansion discs. What I've found most useful is the planner pocket where I've crammed everything from my USPS Christmas shipping dates to postcards to write up and labels. It's a great size for a notebook too being able to fit into my sachet. 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Russian Literature

Tales, whether they be fiction or non fiction, set in Russia are a particular obsession and weakness of mine. Through it's history and geography Russia is a land I would love to explore, while it's history is often dark, the stories whether penned by a Russian hand or set in the country always intrigue me, here's some of my favourites.

Historical there's two books you should make sure are on your to read list, regardless of if you like Russia of not - Anna Karenina  and Doctor Zhivago. Both have been made into films, TV dramas and the like (in fact Kiaera Knightly has stared in adaptions of both) but the books reveal so much more. While Anna Karenina is a bit of a brick to read and in parts certainly isn't the easiest, Tolstoy's work is such a social historical document that it is worth spreading the time over coming to grab an insight into the heart of the Russian society mixed with love of a way of life that doesn't exist.

A couple of decades later and Doctor Zhivago is based. Former bourgeois members of Russian society fighting to survive just as much as the poor man. But regardless of the social circumstances love occurs. Doctor Zhivago - a tale of a man court between two women he loves and an all powerful Communist world strikes a tale of the constant battle of life verses the state. Actually in the Soviet Union, Doctor Zhivago wasn't published until 1987 over 20 years after it's first publication elsewhere. 

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons possibly marks first most noticeable read about Russia that I read and is the first in a series of novels tracing the life of Tatiana and Alexander who meet during the siege of Leningrad (otherwise known as St. Petersburg - the city was surrounded in siege conditions by the German army between September 1941 to January 1944 and effectively starved over a million Russians to death). The tale follows their love and their struggles with themselves, their secrets and the war around them. Their story continues through Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden.

Continuing the story of life during the siege - The Madonnas of Leningrad is a moving story of an elderly Russian lady a former art gallery worker now living in America. Her battle with failing memory draws forth the memories of life living in the basement of the art gallery, death and starvation around her. While it's a bit of a slow read in parts and the time frames are all over the place, it's worth a read.

Non fiction wise Former People - The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith, draws home through a captivating manner the lives and the fortunes of other side of the Bolshevik Revolution - that of the bourgeois. The death of the czar and the rise of Lenin changed the lives of hundreds of Russian aristocrats, the former Princes', Countess and their families forced to loose everything with the power change. Often non fiction can be dry as stale bread yet Former People engages you in understanding the revolution from the other side, their loses, the deaths, murders and the torture as you follow the outcomes of two families -  the Sheremetevs and the Golisyn's. 
Former People is in sharp contrast to Eight Pieces of Empire By Sheets - a 20 year glimpse through the eyes of the American journalist Lawrence Scott Sheets based in and journeying around the Soviet Union just prior and after it's collapse. The fortunes of it's people and the new formation of countries documented through war narratives and ethnic diversity who knew nothing other them communism and the effects of democracy upon their new nations.

Have you read any of these? Do you go after reading about a particular time in history or country?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Old postcards, happy memories.

Recently I've been branching out and selling some vintage postcards - I love not only seeing the places they have come from but imagining who posted or was intended to receive them. Ages ago I scanned in some of my grandparents old postcards we found after cleaning out my gran's house all from places they had been on holiday. They seem to have a prettier, idyllic sense to them in their modern contemporaries. I thought it was about time to share them.

If were a very early reader of LOTS you might remember the first postcard which was originally featured back in October of 2009. This postcard was sent to my grandad from his gran back in 1930 with the sweetest note written on the reverse; 

"Dear Arthur, 
How would you life to go rambling in this wood? 
That is what I've been doing, 
With love, 

My great great grandma lived near Skipton in West Yorkshire and traveled across to the Humber to my grandads house in Hull. This sadly was the only postcard which had actually been sent, the rest below probably just collected for their memories.


Being a Yorkshire lass we often took drives up to the North Yorkshire Moors for walks ourselves so Beckhole and Goathland is a very familiar place to me. Other might know Goathland as being the set location for Heartbeat. I'm sure the sociologist in me would really enjoy analyzing images such as this for their portrayal of the rural idyll.

I'm sure this campsite is one in which my grandad took the family one summer in the late 1950s to late 1960s as I remember my mums comments about remembering the place when we took a family holiday in Dumfries and Galloway in 2010.


I would be lying if I had any clue where this postcard was from or even marks, but don't you just love that image? I certainly wouldn't enjoy driving a car that close to such a sheer face of a cliff! 

Monday, 3 December 2012

I made my own Christmas Bauble Wreath

Since about August I've been spying and pinning, and pinning, and pinning Christmas wreaths made up of baubles. Every year back in the UK my dad would fasten a wreath to the front door as soon as we stuck up a Christmas tree and to me, they go hand in hand with Christmas. But I didn't want to have something as traditional and I wanted to make my own - hence me hoarding tonnes of vintage baubles every time we hit estate sales and saving them up. 

Luckily you don't really need much to make this, nor do you need to be extremely crafty you just need to be one with Christmas spirit and a bit of patience. 

Shopping list of goodies;
  • Baubles - many many baubles in whatever style, size, color, taste you want
  • An old wire coat hanger 
  • A glue gun [kinda optional but helps] 
  • Some Christmas music playing - to get you in the festive mood
  • A big bow - home made or shop brought

First you need to make sure you've eaten your spinach to pull the wire coat hanger open and bend into a circle. It's easier said then done. It does help somewhat using pillars but mostly it comes down to mere strength and bending and rebending. It doesn't have to be a perfect circle, just near enough. 

As you can see, mines far from being a true circle but it worked just as well. Then you want to take your baubles still with their small hangers [not the shop bought hangers or cotton you'd use to hang them upon the tree] and slip them down onto the coat hangers. 

There's no real logic to how to place them, I did find it helps have some smaller baubles to fill in some of the gaps and somewhat arrange them in three lines but they'll fall and settle in their own way. You may or may not want to glue the baubles either to the wire or to each other, gluing them does stop them from moving and twisting and stops the need to fill the reverse of the wreath as much.

Fill up and around as far as you can but you will want to leave a gap at the top. The fiddly bit comes when your trying to refasten the two ends of the hanger back together. Granted I failed at this, even with pillars, so the cheats way is to wrap wool very tightly around and around the two ends and glue gun it in place which surprisingly held. 

You could leave it as is, but I finished it off with a huge oversized ribbon. I picked mine up from the Dollar Tree [love that dollar store] but you could make your own. It's perfect for adding that little extra hint of Christmas and hides some more of the wire. Then you're done, you could hang it on your door or like me [because I don't trust people and I don't want it walking off] hang it inside your home. Mines hanging above my crafty corner opposite the tree - the lights reflecting off it adds that little extra.

Have you been getting crafty for Christmas?