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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Credit card reader for small businesses

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One of the biggest challenges that I thought I was going to face with the craft show was if I was going to be able to accept credit cards. The other night, I was talking to my best friend and her husband and he suggested that I get one of those readers that hook onto your iPhone.

Today I just happen to catch a commercial for  Square. It’s a card reader that can hook into an iPhone, iPad or Android phone. If you go to their website, Squareup.com, you can watch the video and it explains how the machine works. The best part is that you don’t get charged a monthly or yearly fee. They charge you 2.75% of the purchase price if you swipe the card and 3.5% plus $.15 per transaction if you manually enter the card.

I thought that I discovered something new. I posted this information on some of the community boards in Etsy and apparently I’m late to the party. : ) But, I did get a couple of good responses from people who have used the reader. Everyone was raving about it. It’s cheaper than Etsy (they charge $.20 to list an item and then 3.5% of the total transaction) and so convenient.

One of the coolest features of the card reader is called Square register for the iPad. You can take pictures of your items and include pricing so that when your customer purchases that item, all the pertinent information is already there! You can also keep track of your regular customers and have them check out by name or offer them “loyalty discounts”. There are videos to show how vendors are using the products and how easy it is to use!

Once I actually get the reader and can use it, I’ll write a post reviewing it. If anyone has used it and has any tips or advice, please leave a comment. I’m curious to see what everyone thinks!

Thanks for stopping by!

Items for Craft Fair

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I took the plunge and signed up for my first craft fair. I got my application approval last night and now all I have to do is pay for my space. It’s making me a little nervous to put out that money, but I think that it will be good exposure for my products.

It’s still awhile away, but I am starting to work on the projects now. Mostly I will have Christmas related items – cards, gift tags, scrapbook pages, maybe some decorations? I haven’t really decided on what I am going to make. I did start working on my first ever for sale 8×8 album. I am not used to working with pages this small. All of the scrapbooks I’ve done in the past have been gifts and have all been 12×12. It’s a challenge to shrink down an idea to that size! I thought it would be easier, but it really hasn’t been.

My greatest challenge is trying to incorporate more than one picture, some journaling and an embellishment into one page. On a 12×12 you can get four 4×6 pictures in one layout. I haven’t yet mastered how to accomplish this, so my layouts have mainly been combinations of the above items. I am working on some designs for other albums as well. This first one is a baby girl book and then I will work on a baby boy one. I also would like to make some wedding and Christmas related ones.

Since learning about the lack of customized cards for Mother’s Day, I think I am also going to bring some cards that can be customized for the holidays to the show. I’m hoping that cards are a big seller at the craft fair because that will probably be what I have a lot of. The gift tags are easy to replicate so I may have a lot of them as well.

My one issue is – how to you take anything but cash at the craft fair? I was thinking that I could always create a customized Etsy listing for the buyer if there was an internet connection and we could do the transaction like that. The tags and the cards will all be under $10, but the scrapbooks will all be more expensive. I don’t know how much cash people will carry to the event – I went to a craft show this past weekend and only had $20 on me. (Which is rare because I usually don’t even carry cash). Does anyone have any suggestions? Also, if you have any advice for a novice at a craft show or you can think of anything else you think might sell well at the craft fair (it’s at the end of September), feel free to leave me a comment.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hobby Lobby

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I’ve heard about this mythical place on plenty of YouTube videos and seen people list it as their go to place for supplies. For us “Northerners”, it wasn’t an option. Until recently! Hobby Lobby opened in Millville. Strange location for the store to open – at least in my opinion. But, its 3% sales tax, so who am I to complain? : )

If you’ve never been to a Hobby Lobby, I suggest you get in your car and drive to one. It’s like AC Moore, Michael’s, Home Goods and the party store all rolled into one. (And I only had a chance to see half of the store, as I was on my “lunch break” from work). I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to look first. The store is bright and clean and full of stuff. I finally reached the scrapbook section and was like, this is it? There was a tiny free-standing display with some Cricut products on it and then three or four aisles of stamps, stickers and embossing folders. Where were all the papers and albums?

Then I turned the corner. There were at least three aisles of open stock paper, plus a couple more aisles of paper packs. There was an entire aisle dedicated to photo albums – both sides of it!! I have never seen so many scrapbooking supplies. It was crazy!

My favorite aisle was the stamp aisle. Their selection of wooden stamps is amazing. They have them divided by category and they are in wooden shelves. Most of them I haven’t seen at AC Moore or Michaels. There were a lot of saying and beautiful images. I bought about ten and there are plenty more that I would like to get. There were some really cute Christmas mouse ones that would be perfect on Christmas cards for this year!

However, I was disappointed with their selection of clear stamps. They didn’t seem to have many and the ones they did have weren’t very impressive. Maybe they have more somewhere else, but in the stamp aisle it was sparse. Since the wooden stamps were so plentiful, I would have assumed the same for the clear ones.

The other thing that was disappointing is that they don’t take AC Moore or Michael’s coupons. If you don’t already know, you can use Michael’s coupons at AC Moore and vice versa. They do have their own coupons, but so far all I’ve seen is 40% off ones and the other two offer 50% ones. (Or lately, AC Moore has been offering 50% off and I’ve been using it at both retailers).

One suggestion when you are shopping at Hobby Lobby – take notice of all signs / prices. They don’t have scanners, so the cashiers have to know what is on sale. The store had signs up for last week’s sale (and I didn’t check the dates on them!) The cashier didn’t see the products on sale in their flyer, so he had to call. They did honor what the sign(s) said, as someone missed about five of them!

Overall, I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Hobby Lobby. I know I have a lot more that I want to buy there – there is so much to look at and choose from. If you are a scrapbook enthusiast, I highly recommend a shopping trip to Hobby Lobby.

Thanks for stopping by!

Embossing on shiny paper

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Today I was working on one of my 8×8 baby scrapbooks and I was looking for a certain color of paper to emboss a sentiment on. The only paper that I could find that would go with the background paper happened to be a shiny, metallic paper. I had never tried to emboss on that before because I just assumed that it wouldn’t work. I had tried to stamp on shiny paper and unless you use an ink like Stazon, it takes a long time to dry and smudges.

Because of my stamping experience with shiny paper, I stayed away from embossing on it. I had to try three different times before I got something I liked. The first time, I used green glitter Martha Stewart embossing powder. The result wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. Between the shininess of the paper and the glitter in the powder, it was too much. So, the second try was a white embossing powder by Martha Stewart. When I hit it with the heat gun, I realized that it was an opaque powder and not the regular white. I accidentally grabbed the wrong one! Ahhhh! Oh well. It came out good, but not great. The opaqueness made it too difficult to see the words once it was placed behind the page protector. On to the third try.

This time I used a Merlot colored Recollections embossing powder. When it was in the bottle, the color was almost the exact same as one of the colors in the background. But, once the heat gun hit it, it was a little different. I’m not sure if it was because of the shiny background or the darker color. It was still my best option and I was tired of trying : )

I used my fancy edged scissors to cut out the phrase and then I placed it on the page with the other items to see how I wanted it to look. It was a long phrase, so I placed it on pop dots so that you could still slide a picture underneath it. Here are some pictures of it:

Phrase

Page

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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First, I wanted to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies out there. I hope you enjoyed your special day, no matter what you did. You’re the reason for this particular entry!!

If you read my blog post the other day, you know that my former next door neighbor requested custom cards for her mother and mother-in-law. (See https://scrapsecrets.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/my-first-special-request/).  Today, I was at my best friend’s mom’s house and her sister said that someone needed to make Nonna cards, since that’s what her daughter and niece call their grandmom. Her daughter also happens to call another one of her grandmothers GiGi.

This got me thinking – why don’t card companies make cards for anyone but Grandmom or Nana? I guess when we were little we just gave Grandmom cards to our grandmothers – we called one Grandma and the other Mom-Mom. People from the south call their grandmothers Meemaw, but I’ve never seen a card like that.

I’m keeping this all in mind for next year, when it gets closer to mother’s day. There are so many different names we use for the same person, but card companies are ignoring that. Do they not realize that it’s frustrating when you want to buy a Mom-Mom card, but they don’t offer one? But, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much – here’s an untapped market for me to look into!

So what do you call your grandmother? Are there any other people out there that have had this same issue? Leave a comment and let me know – I’d love to see what people do. I am guessing it’s the same issue for birthdays and Christmas or any other holidays? Any other suggestions? I’m sure that people face the same issue with Grandpop.

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate any feedback. : )

My First Special Request

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Yesterday, I had my first personalized, special request! It came from my old next door neighbor. I was so happy that she asked me to make something for her. (Old as in that she moved, not her age. She’s younger than me and I don’t consider that old!)

She said that she couldn’t find any cards that said Mom-Mom so she asked if I could make her two cards. When I’m making something personalized, I want to make sure that I incorporate their ideas into my work. I asked her what she was thinking and she wanted to include her brood in the card. She has some of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen (it doesn’t hurt that she said the twins don’t like anyone and they were both giggling and smiling for me when I met them : ) And her oldest has the cutest little singing voice – she’s an absolute doll!)

I knew that I wanted to use the Baby Steps or New Arrival cartridges for the twins, but I wasn’t sure what to do for her older daughter. The cartridges Paper Doll Dress Up and Everyday Paper Dolls were too old to represent her, but the babies in New Arrival were too young. Luckily, Baby Steps has some toddler icons and they were perfect!

I started out cutting all three dolls at 2 1/2″. When I placed them on the card, it didn’t look right. I recut the toddler at 3″ and it gave a more proportional look to the card. I chose the two crawling babies (one boy, one girl), but when I cut the boy, I used the Flip key so that the twins would be facing each other on the card. Since they all have light hair, I chose a light yellow and cut the shift layer out for all six dolls. (I actually made eight cuts because at the time I wasn’t sure which version of the toddler doll I was going to use on the card). Then I cut out the coordinating layers – red for the baby girl’s pajamas, the toddlers jumper and the balloon, blue for the baby boy’s pajamas and white for the toddler’s shirt.

The last step I did before assembling was to add some dimension to the pajamas and the jumper/dress for the toddler girl doll. To me, they looked too plain to leave as they were. I went through my Cuttlebug folders and found the Swiss Dots folder. I stuck all the outfits in the folder and ran them through the Cuttlebug. *If you are going to try to replicate this step – one note. The dress/jumper has holes where the buttons would be at the top. Make sure when you are lining the dress up in the folder that you keep the dots away from them or it will just create one big hole and won’t look right. You can tell if its ok or not once you close the folder – it’s clear so you can see where the raised dots will be once it’s run through the machine.*

When I went to assemble them, I needed to cut the black layer down so that the yellow layer could be seen underneath, but needed to make sure that the eyes and the mouths were covered in black. I could have easily just cut strips of black and placed them behind the eyes and the mouth, but if you do it this way, it gives the doll even more dimension. It’s completely a personal preference!

Next was assembling the card. Since there was yellow, red and blue in the card already, I looked through my stack of papers to find something that would go with all three. I chose a dotted patterned paper that had all different size and color circles on it. I placed a smaller mat on top (the dotted paper is 5″x7″, the blue is 4″x6″). Then I arranged the kids on the blue mat – the toddler at the top and the twins underneath facing each other. I used pop dots to elevate them from the card stock – I wanted the kids to be the main focus of the card.

After the kids were attached, I added the heart balloon. I knew that she wanted Mom-Mom to be on the card, since that was the whole point in requesting personalized cards! So, I thought, why not incorporate that into the balloon that the toddler was holding? I used a blue metallic gel pen and added “Mom-Mom” and then used a piece of black ribbon as the string for the balloon.

The last cuts I made where from the Simply Charmed cartridge. I looked in Wild Cards and I only saw Happy Father’s Day – no Mother’s Day! Unless I missed it? But I checked several times. So I went with the Simply Charmed’s Happy Mother’s Day and cut it twice out of the same blue card stock that was on the front. I think that was cut at 3″. *If you try and make those cuts too small, they won’t come out correctly. I try to make them as big as possible!*

Once the sentiment was attached, I added a tiny lady bug stamp to the top left corner of each blue piece of card stock on the front (lady bugs are something that the customer loves and mentioned them in her request!). I also added them to the flap of the envelope. The cards were done! Here is how the turned out:

Kara, Luke and LacyInside

The colors are MUCH more vibrant in person! My cell phone just wouldn’t take great pictures last night.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Past Four Months

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These last few months have been really tough on me, both physically and mentally. Being out of work for 16 weeks was tough enough. I had so many people saying how lucky I was to be out for that long. Some of them acted like it was a long vacation, when the truth was most days were harder than work days. The uncertainty of what was happening after the surgery was tough and frustrating. Most of the time I was angry because I couldn’t walk correctly. I still can’t and it frustrates me to no end.

I miss going to the gym. I had a great workout routine going and I felt great. I haven’t worked out since the day after my birthday, which has been almost six months now. The only form of exercise I can do right now is what I do in therapy. Unfortunately, most of that leaves me so tired I can barely do anything else. I know I shouldn’t complain because where I am now is so far away from where I was when I started therapy almost 4 months ago. I really have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.

Luckily, one of the things that helped me stay sane and busy during these last four months was scrapbooking and crafting. For the first couple of weeks after surgery, I was so focused on the projects I had to complete for my sister’s shower. It was a nice distraction. When I am working on any project, I seem to lose track of time. I’ve worked on a lot these past 4 months – it really helped me fill in the time I would’ve been spending at the gym or at work.

I didn’t write this to complain – I actually realized now that I am back at work how much time I had spent creating projects. While these past couple of months were tough, it didn’t seem as though I was out as long as I actually was because I was so busy. I think I finally know what direction I want to go in and starting my Etsy shop was a first big step. Sometimes it takes a major event in your life for you to see where you are supposed to be. : )