Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blogging for Business

Some of you may be surprised to find out that this blog was started over 4 years ago to extend the reach for an audience for Annarella, a retail design, gift and art gallery. That business got caught in the economic crunch coupled with some personal problems and closed 3 years ago. The blog ontinued as I turned to Annarella Girl as a full time endeavor, but the intent remained the same - to use it as a tool to develope new customers while keeping old customers in the loop with what was happening. This year it has become more personal with my thoughts and stories of my life as well as the business. Periodically I visit it with the idea of how it is contributing to the business. The last few weeks I've been looking at this angle.

Conclusions. It doesn't work as a business tool. I'm not sure why, but I've never been able to capture even a small audience. Lots of people try it out. Read it once or twice, but then drop it. As far as I can tell few readers recommend it to others. Few other bloggers link to it from their blogs. One notable exception is Susan @ magnolias end who has been a cheerleader from the early days. (Go to the highlighted link for her blog. I love her wise and gentle voice. It uplifts me, and frequently informs me.)

I've tried different approaches to see if I cans register an improvement in my stats. Seldom do I have a noticeable uptick in readership or comments. I'm left with several possibilities. First, I'm not saying anything that is of interest to others, family excluded. I'm not informative rather I'm opinion based and there are so many blogs out there who can offer those with much better writing and observations. Although I do write about what I'm doing with Annarella Girl, now that I have a business page on Facebook, it seems redundant to blog about it, too. So I'm left with wondering what to do. Do I continue in the same unproductive vein? Or do I try to re-invent the blog, again? I have more thinking to do. Although blogging has been good for my mental health, I need to make the best use of time and effectiveness for my business tools.

Any insights you may have are welcome. What has worked for you? How is the best way to move forward?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


newborn size

0-3 mos

6-9 mos

In the sewing room a row of onesies is growing. They make me smile with the bright colors, colorful prints and gathered skirts. Because I use name brand onesies whenever and whereever I can find them at a reasonable price, there are never a full a range of sizes. So if you ever see one in a size you want, grab it.

This Sat, March 3, Mama Ds and Annarella Girl are sharing booth space at a show in Round Rock at Cedar Ridge High School. (Love the inside shows because wind and rain don't interfere. We all stay dry and snuggy.) Show is put on by Theatre Boosters so all booth fees go to a good cause. Come out and support the talented students and a cause that contributes to their programs.
Cedar Ridge High School, 2801 Gattis School Rd, Round Rock. 9:00 - 3:00.

New onesies will be there!!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't You Wish...?

Don't you wish the dirty clothes hamper would stay empty for a week?

Don't you wish every day was filled with sunshine and blue skies?

Don't you wish you could eat everything you liked and didn't gain weight?

Don't you wish all could follow their dreams?

Don't you wish we could work at our passions and make a living wage?

Don't you wish all the hungry could be fed?

Don't you wish we lived in a world of peace and compassion?

Don't you wish we could all be wise, funny amd good-looking?

Don't you wish there was time to read all the books we want to?

Don't you wish it was proper grammer to end a sentence ith a preposition?

Don't you wish the house would declutter and clean itself?

What "don't you wish?"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Winners and Losers

Juxtaposition this morning on CNN. First story is about the hospitalization of Nelson Mandela and a brief review of all he has done for his country and the  world. He comes as a true leader with a philosophy of peace and respect for humankind. What a monumental task he has accomplished by ending apartheid and creating a nation of potential in diversity and on the strength of differences and samenesses. Wow!

Second story about the Republican primaries and the belittling tone the candidates are taking with each other and the current administrations. (What a contrast to Mandela.) And they say it is necessary to draw their differences.Mean, nasty little boys and girls. Where is the quality of leadership? Certainly not in this crop of politicians and their advisors. So sad.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Latest

The latest in my pastel palette and probably the last arrangement of the fabrics. I'm getting ready to post this on etsy if you want to see more pics.

Now onto some onesies as I am woefully low in short sleeves, and in the main, especially here, that is what people want.

Forward sew!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crying Goodbye

Tears well silently from my eyes as I cry for the death of a beloved aunt Elizabeth. She is the last of a generation on my husband's side. A part of my life for 55 years, I weill miss her as will all her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. She was special.

Actually I mourn for myself, selfessly. I mourn for my loss. I mourn for the loss of possibilities. It's been 10 months since I've seen her, and she was in good health then. So that was my last hug, my last grin, my last conversation. And now there is no more possibility for more. I am sad.

Welcome me into your home one more time. Give me a warm hug and smile one more time. Share a reminiscence one more time. Let me see the sparkle in your eyes one more time. You were such a lady with few mean words ever. From the generation of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all,." by example you urged us to be better people. We had many laughs together sharing family silliness. You enveloped us in a gentle love.

I will miss you. I hope I can honor your spirit by living my best life with love, laughter and peace as you did. Goodbye.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Afternoon in the Sun

It is an unbelievable day - warm, sunny, soft breeze. I don't want to be inside. Give me a good book and let me soak up the warmth. Butler agrees. At every opportunity we find ourelves edging toward the door. Despite having a meeting tonight, I don't want to organize or clean. No, no, no, I want more sun. Well, it will be dusk by the time people arrive. Dust doesn't show in the dark, right?

Here's the latest dress. I showed it under construction on my ironing board. Looks cute all finished, doesn't it? I've said it before, but I'll repeat it, I really enjoy the combination of soft colors with fabric patterns that have an old-fashioned vibe.

Next I have to get some onesies done. Short sleeve weather is here, and I'm not prepared. Gotta stay away from that door to the porch even though I can feel it pulling me even now.

Like a plant I need water and sun to grow strong and sturdy. Sun, here I come! Tomorrow morning I'll post it on etsy. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hug a Monday?

The suggestion showed up on facebook that we should all hug a Monday. Well, consider this one fully hugged. Busy, busy, busy, but I think I've managed to stay in front of the eight ball despite a few close calls. It's going to be a full week, so if I seem to disappear for a day or two, know I'm working hard to keep ahead.

Check out facebook. and are running a joint gigantic giveaway - a tutu with a corset top. This is a joint venture so Shannon and I thought we would launch it with this contest. All it takes is a "like" and comment on both pages. Scroll down to Shannon's post about it, hit link which takes you to original post, like and comment. Now you are entered. Easy peasy.

I'll remind you again tomorrow when I'm not half asleep. Good night!!!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Question of the Day

Why is it so hard to get people to share the work load? Lots of them say, "What a good idea." Some come to find out what it is all about. Few come to the follow up meeting where tasks are discussed. Few respond to follow up email discussion. For want of some worker bees, a good idea might die. Maybe it isn't such a good idea?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rain, Rain...

It's been raining with some regularity here in Central Texas. Drought has gone from classified as extraordinary to extreme to severe. So we are making some progress, but everyone is still holding collective breaths that conditions continue to improve. Disclaimer, my dog, Butler, is not in favor of more rain. Although not particularly dainty, he does like to get his feet wet. Since the bark park has some low lying areas, he doesn't get to go until it has had a day or two to dry out which means probably not at all this weekend since it really poured last night. I try and try to explain to him the common sense of waiting, but he just doesn't get it. His eyes get so sad each time I climb in the car without him.

But I'm able to make good use of my time. This morning got this dress, 6-12mos, ready for the bottom ruffle which is unruffled behind it on the ironing board. I know it's difficult to see since it must battle bad candid photography and a garish striped ironing board cover. So maybe you just have to trust me that it is going to be adorable.

I have 2 special orders waiting to be finished. And, TA DA, Mama D's and Annarella Girl have found another store who is welcoming us. Snickelbritches in Temple, Texas. They carry a variety of handmade goods of extrememly good quality. We're proud to be a part of their family of artisans. More info in the next few days as we ready ourselves to move in.

Meanwhile you all have a good weekend. Next time you see me the dress above will be done.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Colorful Way

I'm just back from a really quick trip to San Antonio. Weather was gray and chilly yesterday. My knees were acting up and I could barely walk. Not good for doing touristy stuff. Ah, the joys of having joints grow old! Luckily eating doesn't take lubricated joints. So I had fun anyway. When I returned I found this link to an artist, Ryan Schneider, who my son went to school with. His work is a wonderful antidote for the lack of sunshine. Love his colors!

So click here and enjoy a bright day with him

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Yesterday I shared 2 blogs that I absolutely love. (There's that word again. Do you think I'm overusing it?) A friend sent me the link for a new website she had found and thought I might like and find useful. As I continue to work on setting up a group of like-minded artistisans and crafters to inspire me and help me grow my creative business, I am constantly reading stories of people who are successful looking for hints that fit me. I think this new website is a good one. It is called "Smart, Creative Women". Doesn't that say a mouthful in 3 short words? Founded by Monica Lee, an illustrator and fabric designer, she wants to crafters and artists. Her mission is to "inspire, learn, grow." So she is interviewing artists with strong creative businesses. She hopes to capture the "determination, daring and spark" that makes them successful. I look forward to learning from this incredible series. Her first interview is with Cori Dantini - funny and smart.

Tonight is the follow-up meeting for the beginning group of supportive crafters. I'm excited. There is a lot of work ahead, but I hope there is enough enthusiasm to make the tedious fun. I'd like to see a name come out tonight and also some sense of structure and immediate goals. Wishing us luck and good discussion.

Don't forget if you want another dose of me -

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Around the World

Happ Valentine's Day. Blogs, facebook and twitter are full of expressions of love. Some very personal. That's Mrs. Mediocrity to you has a lovely picture and a heartfelt poem, "Cadence."  Brene Brown of ordinary courage shares the idea of love for all in this world and offers a gift for those who share what they've done to show love. Wonderful thoughts.

I find I'm compelled to talk about love. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house filled with love. I felt cossetted in love thanks to my parents. Now almost every parent loves their children. My parents also rspected us. What a gift! They treated our feelings, thoughts and ideas as important and taught us that the feelings, thoughts and ideas of others demanded to be treated with respect.

So I pass that along to the world. Lets get back to respect - respect for our elders, respect for our peers, repect for laws, respect for our country. Hokey, you say. Sure! But treating others with respect gives us a good framework for a healthy discussion and acknowledgement of differences. Discussions born out of respect can lead to compromises that work for the majority. Let's stop the meaness; it's not constructive. Use this Valentine's Day to find something good in an adversary. Tell me what it is!

Two totally different takes on hearts! Viva la difference! Go forward in love and respect!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Checking Off the TO-Do List

I'm happy to report a much more productive Monday than last week. I ve a full to-do list, but I am checking it off at a good rate.

Here is latest offering on etsy, . It is another mix in the softer, pastel palette I've been playing with. Hope you all like it.

Off to mark off one more thing. Forward!!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It's a cold start here, but sunny. Lots of dew on the grass which makes for a soggy romp at the bark park. Now my toes are wet and cold. So for therapy I've got a hot mug of coffee to wrap my fingers around and dry warm socks for my icy feet. Small bits of bliss.

May your weekend be filled with small pleasures.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Recently received a comment on face book that my dresses are too expensive. A fan responded that people often don't understand or value the time and work that goes into making my dresses. This is a long time discussion among crafters and consumers. In truth creative types most often undervalue their work. They tend to make sure they cover materials, but they don't  charge a working wage for the time spent creating.This is one reason it is so difficult to make a living from art and the handmade. This is why stores like Target, Walmart, JCP have almost all of their goods made abroad where an hourly wage is $1.50 or even less.

It's an ongoing problem. Do I make a shoddier product with less quality in materials and workmanship? That would take less money in materials and less time to produce. I could cover cost plus make more than $4 an hour. Whoo whoo! Sorry a bit sarcastic. But I really don't know sometimes. I love the process of creating. Into every garment I put some of my artistic voice. I hate the idea of not being proud of my workmanship. I want my pieces to be around for several hand me downs. I want them to be sturdy. So I try to walk the fine line between being affordable yet valuing my work and making a bit of money.

sundress $42
One of my long term dreams is to support a very simple lifestyle with Annarella Girl. I'm working hard this year to explore avenues in that direction.  I will continue to struggle with pricing. But I think I can't change my mind about quality; I have to be proud of what I'm doing.

What are your thoughts on the whole pricing issue? How do you artists and artisans out there handle the issues? Is it possible for most creative businesses to make money?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


February is a month of birthdays in my family. Starts with the husband, then on to 2 granddaughters, grand nephew, niece and brother-in-law. From young through teens onto adults ending with senior. (Sorry, Gene and Ron, you are the seniors. Couldn't think of a gentler reference.) I probably have missed someone. I've never been good about remembering b'days.

I want to know what all those parents were doing 9 months before. Of course, I know what they were doing. I guess what I'm wondering is why May seems to be such a loving month. Are the Hallmark folks missing a holiday opportunity - such as Let's Make Love Day or Romantic Date Night? Just wondering....

Happy Birthday to all of the family members born in February! And anyone else out there with a birthday this month.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Thin Ice

Yesterday was a MONDAY. Haven't had one for awhile. Seems like I'm skating along merrily and smoothly for days at a time when suddenly the ice gets rough. With arms wheeling I try to regain a balance, but there is that period when all I can do is barely stay on my feet much less glide. That's a MONDAY - full of bumps of frustration making every planned project a struggle. I find myself making lots of silly mistakes. Spend too much time doing over.Greet end of work day with a wipe of the brow and a big whew. Tomorrow has to be better. Surely I can't be so inept two days in a row.

This morning I am off to a much better start. Projects are back on track. And I was treated to a wonderful poem from Mrs. Mediocrity on her blog which expressed what I felt yesterday. So love it when a word wizard catches my thoughts. Pop over and give it a look.

Anyone around Winnie, Texas this weekend, look for their arts and craft fair. Simply By Shannon will be there with our combined tutu dress. It is so hard to get a good pic of it; they are so cute in person.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Moving Forward?

Annarella Girl is no longer with Diva Chicks. Although I'm talking to a new store, there is nothing final yet. I feel like I've really bounced around the last year. Just when my local customers become comfortable with where I am, something happens and I'mmoving...again.

On the bright side you can always find me on etsy. or on my new facebook page. . You don't have to join facebook to get to my business page You don't have to join facebook in order to look at Annarella Girl page, but you might have to in order to like or comment. Not sure as the rules for business pages keep changing.

So meanwhile have a look at the new tutu with corset top Simple By Shannon does the tutu, either long or short. I do the top. Together we are creating fun and frivolity for little girls.

A new frou frou voice from me. I love my sundresses etc which are wild in a totally different way. But this has been a good design challenge to stretch my creative muscle. What do you think?

Now moving forward, my mantra for 2012. Not always easy to do - sometimes it feels sideways or, horrors, backwards - but I am going to view it all as forward. Stick with me. Keep me positive. Propel me forward with your thoughts and support.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday, Super Day

I don't watch the GAME. I don't have to watch the game. Tomorrow morning every show will be talking about it and showing highlights - not only the mcuh touted commercials, but even some of the game. Whether I'm interested or not I'll know who won and who lost. I plan to settle in today and watch chickflick after chickflick. Its a wet, raw day here perfect for a novel, blanket and sappiness!

Now my husband has been planning for this game for 2 weeks, at least. It's also his birthday, soby mutual agreement he can search out a fanatic group to whoop and holler with him. It may also include copious amounts of food and drink. For that he has flown up to Pennsylvania to be with his siblings who will celebrate with him on both fronts - bday and game day. Let the games begin.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gathering Signs of Spring

This morning a large flock of robins settled in my backyard eating and chirping until Butler broke them up. Can spring be on its way? Such a mild winter that trees are budding and bushes flowering. Grass is proudly flaunting its new green.  Groundhogs in Pennsyvania and armidillos here predicted 6 more weeks of winter. Well, if this is winter bring it on. Please, no hard freezes for us so these tender harbingers of spring don't die. Just more of what we have.

Mother Nature is capricious and sometimes has a wicked sense of humor. See our last summer as proof. Now we are all holding our breath and electric bills as we wait to see when the first 90 and 100 degree days occur. Last week saw a day in the mid 80's. (Honestly no wonder I settled on making sundresses when I retired. In Central Texas they are all year long fashion without a tee and leggings underneath or a sweater over.) Like a cat I love a warm day sitting on my back porch basking in the sun. But last year was a test even for the hardiest sun lover. So, Mother Nature, can we have loads and loads of these warm days before you treat us to hot? I'm thinking until late May or even June before triple digits!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Take a peek at the princess corset top. Can you imagine it with a pink and green tutu. It makes me smile. More to come.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Princess Notes

I'm working in collaboration with a fellow crafter, Shannon, who makes girly, girl stuff - bows and tutus. Go to her facebook page to see. Well, she wanted a top to go with her tutus, so I've been working on a tube top with a corset tied back. Finally have the sizing and engineering done, so today I'm working on a final product. It will be frou-frou with a soft, feathery trim. It is unabashedly aimed at the princesses.

Love the princesses. They twirl with delight, dance instead of walk, and giggle frequently. Most girls have at least a little princess in them. Of course, they love pink, purple and black. They enjoy sparkle that reflects the glitter within. They are so happy when they make people smile. Who can't love these girls?

What happens when they grow up. Well, here in Texas they combine their princess side with their cowgirl side. Still lots of sparkly but love their boots, too. Tough, ambitious, complex. Many I know are full of good works and helping people. Creative - even if they don't dance as much as before, their imaginations are moving to their inner music. Love them, love them. And you know who you are. Writers, poets, bloggers, sewers, artists, artisans, jewelers, knitters, designers and teachers. All full of sparkle.

(I've lost the info of who posted picture above, but it is from pinterest. Go there for fun and inspiration.)

Nurture your princess today and tell me how. Put on your helmet and tutu. Forward.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cheap Thrills

morning walk enveloped in fog
meeting a deer in the mist
first sip of hot coffee
Butler's exuberance when I take the leash off the door
feeling of accomplishment when walk is over
a successful finished project

bright sundress

pastel sundress
Just posted these 2 in my etsy store. What do you think?

What are your cheap thrills?