Friday, June 26, 2009

Popsicle Stripes Beat the Heat

We are having a heat wave!! Days of 100+ are here and wearing everybody down. It got me to thinking about ways to beat the heat.
I just posted this dress on etsy. With its loose fit and soft white eyelet body it is cool and comfortable for a baby to wear. The colors in the ruffle and bodice remind me of the popsicles all kids love to eat in the hot summer. So I call this popsicle stripes. Sweet and cool. (This is one of a kind since it is the last of this white eyelet which is particularly soft.)

My favorites were grape and lime. And look what popsicle has become. They call this a Big Stick Lifesaver Pop. It incorporates all the popular flavors. They've developed slow melt sticks and bars. Although on days like today I bet they will still drip off our elbows.

Check out their website for their latest products and some fun ideas for games.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Parent's Day

When growing up my Dad never let us celebrate Father's Day and only grudgingly acknowledge Mothers Day. His philosophy was that every day parents should be given love and respect. The special once a year days were artificially invented by card and gift manufacturers. So we were encouraged to skip the actual day with its gifts, but to remember our parents with calls and consistent considerations. Of course, being kids we really didn't listen well and did take time to honor our parents on both Mother's and Father's Day. Now even after their deaths I still stop and thank them on those days.

While cleaning out the remaining boxes from the closed retail space, I came across a poem my sister wrote for Mother's Day 2006 and sent around to her siblings. It talks about my Mom and one particular incident in her early teens. At the end in a few brief lines the poet captures the essence of the legacy my Mom left for all her children, what made her so special to us, why she has been and always will be one of my heroes. I hope I bring honor to her by continuing her quest.

...and Mother
picked up her tasks, pursuing the quest, always
striving to find her true, best self and hoping
to know, at last, enduring grace.

from "May Queen
by Linda Knowlton Appel
May, 2006

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And ...when not procrastinating

Here's a little practice with the camera. I find the darker the fabric, the harder it is to get a good picture. My photos are getting better buy there is still soooo much room for improvement.
And don't worry, procrastination is not gone just postponed for yesterday and today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Procrastination, thy name is Ellie

I was going to post my battle with procrastination last week, but.... I know it sounds like a joke, but this is how it went.

I'd get up every am, make my coffee and then start to work in my workroom. Sounds good so far, but then I'd watch a little Today Show while I'd think what I would do that day. Then I'd check my emails. Then I'd watch the beginning of Live with Regis and Kelly. Then I'd play a game on the computer. Then with a fresh cup of coffee I'd sew while I watched The View. Then I'd check my emails. Then I'd watch some court shows while I thought about what I was going to do. That's how my day progressed. Little progress made on concrete projects, of which I have plenty, lots of thinking about what I should be doing. And for a break from all that heavy thinking, mindless game playing on the computer. I almost forgot I intersperse all this with eating and reading. And on and on and on.

I'm caught up on all my special orders. What I need is a deadline to race against. Not this nebulous "should be doing" stuff. I know that later on this summer I'll wish I'd been more productive during this quiet period. On the other hand I think a little bit of "spinning wheels time" is good. I find myself mentally working on some new color combinations. Today I laid a new one out on my table to live with for a day or two.

So what do you do when you're procrastinating?
I hope I'll be back this week. If not you know that I haven't slain the beast I call procrastination.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Beyond the Expected

Etsy is filled with artisans selling their handmade jewelry, crocheting, prints, clothing (don't forget my own children's dresses and skirts) and more. Look no further for the perfect tee shirt or baby quilt. But today I thought I'd take a walk through the unexpected. Here are some examples of the more unusual items to be found.

You can find all sorts of vintage stuff. This tall greeen vase is from the shop ImSoVintage. Based out of Charlotte NC she has accumulated all sorts of flea market finds. Looking for something different to accent a bookshelf or finish a kitchen, give this shop a look.

This is Banana Nut Loaf Butter from Bovine Bubbles. Don't you love the name? Out of Canada, Saskatchewan, they have a large line of bath and body wares. And then this side line of jams and spreads. check them out if only to read the names. You'll be drooling and chuckling. They have a great sense of humor.

Paper artist, Joe Bagley, uses the old art of paper cutting called scherenschnitte. Intricate images are cut from one piece of black paper which is then mounted on white. I love that he has set this in a woman's profile. Look at his site, papercutsbyjoe.

Would you believe you can get the seeds to grow yellow ruffled heirloom tomatoes from etsy? (This one is for you, Susan.) Swing over to mistiaggie. Out of Florida, she has a wonderful collection of seeds and plants.

An upholstered headboard is one example of what can be found at Vintage Renewal. Owner, reupholsterer, Jeanne Connolley, gives furniture a new lease on life at this green furniture boutique. Looking for an upholstered art piece to accent a dull corner or add pizazz to a bedroom, check her out.

It may be a little late for Father's Day but this combo of grilling spices would arrive in time for the 4th of July. From Montreal Purpose Design features spices, teas and salts. I love the look of the tins - simple and useful. This is a gift I wouldn't hesitate to give.

So I hope you've enjoyed this stroll through some of the more unexpected items found on etsy. Instead of catelogue shopping for the ho-hum, take time to see what's available and made by hand.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Newest Sundress

This is the latest dress to come out of my workroom. Lately I've been experimenting with a combination of fabric shoulder ties which have a matching band just above the ruffle and a ribbon sash. I think it's fun. What do you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Little Lamb

Meet Ryanne who at 4 is in her first dance recital. She has loved her first year of ballet/dance/movement lessons. And was so excited about her first recital. The adults, on the other hand, having some experience with children's recitals did not have the same level of excitement. After all she was going to be on stage for 4 minutes while the program ran 2 hours. Oh well, you love the child, marvel in her cuteness and enjoy her excitement.

Having said all that I was pleasantly surprised with this show. It was "The Story of Moses" in dance presented by Excelsior School of Dance located just north of Houston. The level of performance was quite high with a very talented pool of dancers. Of course nothing was as cute as the lambs but overall the director did a very good job of showcasing all levels of dancers within a story that moved forward at a good pace.So here are some pictures of the cutest lamb! She loved what she did! The lambs pranced, skipped and twirled their way into the hearts of the audience. And I'm looking forward to next year.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Business Challenges

I've taken this year to decide how seriously I want to pursue this business of designing and making girl's dresses. I've done some spring fairs to assess my customer base and pricing. I've put up an etsy page to test selling online. I've tried to streamline my production without losing quality. I find I'm beginning to edge toward some decisions.
But most issues remain a little fuzzy. (A bad joke.)

Feedback from the fairs is very positive. Sales are certainly reasonable. Price seems to be good. So all this is in the plus column.

Not much luck with etsy yet. People looking but not buying. So far can not depend on this as an income stream. But on the plus side it is good to have an internet site to send people to. They like the credibility it implies.

I've resisted approaching the small children's boutique for wholesaling because of pricing. Can they really sell the dresses and skirts for a price that would pay me what I need and then to cover their overhead?

Another approach I see some small manufacturers using successfully is home sales. This idea needs to be explored further. I can see the appeal in that it is possible to keep price at present level while compensating hostess with product or credit toward products. This idea has a lot of appeal, but I need a lot more research.

So amid all these thoughts and ideas I take refuge in my workroom. I sew daily. Spend time on the computer. But I do miss interaction with real live people. Another aspect where I need to find some balance. I tend to be singleminded (obsessed) with whatever project I have going at the moment to the point of ignoring anything outside of said project. For the moment when I'm working out of my home by myself, I need to occasionally push myself to take a break and smell the flowers.

This weekend I'm going to Houston to see my granddaughter, Ryanne, dance as a lamb in her first recital. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post next week. So I'll be "smelling the roses."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Muse

Meet Havana, one of my muses. When I'm creating a dress or skirt I often imagine it on some of the special girls that I know. Havana is one of those muses. She is one of the special "Annarella Girls." she has such spirit, beauty and quirkiness. When you meet her you just know she is going to grow into somebody wondrous.
So I imagine that she needs a dress that is easy to wear, allows lots of dancing, makes her feel beautiful. Sweet and spice mixed into one.

She came to First Friday to choose a dress and fell in love with the black and pink. I've spent the weekend making it for her in the correct length. What a pleasure. Thanks for the inspiration, Havana.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

First Friday dress

Just a quick noie this am for Velma. Here is a pic of the dress you liked. Yes I have all the fabrics needed to make this in size 12-18 mos. More details are in my email to you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lotsa of Love

I don't usually devote a whole blog about me, but for several reasons this seems like the day to do so. First my husband and I have been going through some negative experiences which have seemed overwhelming, and rather than sharing about those, I thought to think about the positive would be better for me mentally. Secondly some of you have wanted to know a little bit more about what makes me tick. Thirdly I just felt that this blog needed something different today. So here goes some of the things that give me pleasure.

FAMILY - I have 6 wonderful grandchildren, 3 marvelous children-in-law, and the 3 best children anyone can be blessed with. Intelligent, talented, caring and (to steal from Garrison Keiller) all above average.

Waiting to have fun!More waiting to have fun!!Finally having fun! (Have to look close.)

COLOR - I love the colors in the fabrics I'm working. I lay them out on my table and move them around until I like a combination. I feel like I'm working a creative muscle in the process and like with all exercise, it feels good when it comes together.

I love spring green. The new bright green seen only in the spring. This year with all my travels in April and May, I got to enjoy it over and over again from the hills and valleys near Bloomington, IN to the mountains of Virginia. What an amazing phenomenom nature is with the unfurling of leaves in such a vibrant green every year.

CATS - I don't have any cats because of some allergy problems in the family, but if only I could. They are such independent and confident creatures. Such grace of movement. All qualities I admire and am constantly trying to improve in myself. WORDS - The magic and power of words fascinates me. I love word games. Text Twist is my current online favorite. The NYT Sunday crossword puzzle is always a challenge.

I love puns and all sorts of humor about words. Commedian George Carlin was a genius in finding cultural foibles in our use of the English language. (The link is to his famous routine on the 7 words not allowed on TV. Actually not my favorite of his routines, but his most famous.)

I love poetry. The beauty and imagery of words. Check out Liz Scanlon's blog. The Austin children's writer is part of a group of bloggers who post poems they love every Friday.

Words carry me away to parts of the world I would never experience otherwise. Words have the power to hurt and the power to heal. A good example of this is Brene Brown's blog, Ordinary Courage. She encourages all her readers to live a full life despite obstacles of our own or others making.

Okay, I'm feeling better now. It always helps to concentrate on the good things in life. This is by no means a complete list for me, but this morning these were the things that popped into my mind. What are the things you love?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Skirts

I'm in full production mode for First Friday trunk show on June 5th. Here are a couple of new skirts.

I love the pink and brown combination. A little bit girly; a little bit tomboy. Now that's the idea of the Annarella Girl. These skirts are Larges which is size 6-7. In my show this spring sizes medium and large sold out. So I'm replenishing the stock for those sizes.

I look forward to seeing some of you on Friday, 6-8pm at Annarella Home Design Studio in the atrium. If you can't make it but want to see more, go to where you can buy what's listed or order a custom dress or skirt.