Black Friday-Cyber Monday Preview 2018

I went shopping with my daughter on Monday. It was a lot of fun, especially since we got to enjoy all the holiday goodies without the holiday crowds. Granted, we also didn’t get to experience the sale prices we would have had later this week, but that was okay because trip was really about spending time together more than actually buying stuff.

Holiday shopping is real though, and the upcoming weekend is the time to look for deals. When it comes to my own shops here and on Etsy, I’m ready!

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy and point of view, click here

Cyber Monday Sale 2018

The sale begins Friday morning, and will end Monday night. No coupon code required.

If you’re shopping on Etsy (whether it’s my shop or elsewhere) I highly recommend signing up for Ebates. You can get money back on your purchases there, as well as lots of other retailers. You also get a bonus of $10 after you’ve spent your first $25. I’ve earned almost $100 since I signed up, and that’s without even trying very hard. 😉

I have several sewing patterns in my shop at this point, and I’m adding more all the time. They’re all available as a downloadable or paper, ready-to-ship versions. Both will be 30% off.

I have many options for sewing-themed t-shirts, mugs, totes, and posters right now. They make great gifts for people who sew or quilt! After the holidays I’ll be discontinuing many of these to simplify a bit, and there’s also an ordering deadline of November 27th for delivery by December 21st. If you’re eyeing something don’t wait to snatch it up. That section of my shop will be 20% off.

Most of these same designs are available to purchase printed on fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap at Spoonflower. I don’t know if they’re offering any discounts over the weekend, but it’s worth checking.

Yes I Sew Gift Wrap

Zazzle offers many of these as greeting cards, and I have a 2019 calendar there as well. They are giving a whopping 60% off those items through Thanksgiving (with coupon code HOLIDAYZSAVE), with new discounts coming for the weekend.

Feeling the shopping bug yet? I’ll put a quick reminder at the top of this week’s Festive Friday to lead you back here if you’d like to take part.

In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving, and know that I am thankful for every one of you!

Friday Favorites–My Birthday 2014

I was born on Mother’s Day.  Obviously, most years my birthday is not actually on Mother’s Day, but this year they landed together again.  Last time that happened my husband ended up having to leave to spend the day guarding the President.  Of the United States.  Yeah, how many people have had their birthday and Mother’s Day ruined by the President visiting their town?  This year he’s all mine.  My husband, I mean.

It’s track season again, and since my son is graduating this year and not pursuing a college athletic career, it’s my last.  I’m going to miss standing in the mushy grass under my big umbrella, dressed in so many layers I don’t even want to think about the next laundry day.  I need this Sky Umbrella from Uncommon Goods just for the sake of nostalgia.

I admired Le Creuset cookware from afar for many years.  I’d heard great things about it, and I love all the colors it comes in, but let’s face it – the stuff is spendy.  Then one day my husband and I were ogling it at Macy’s and the saleswoman asked us if we saw the piece on the clearance table.  Lead the way, we said.  There it was, stuffed on a bottom shelf of the back of a table in a weird corner, our first Le Creuset purchase.  We’ve since added another as our anniversary gift to each other last year and a third piece a friend gave us for Christmas.  We are SO hooked.  Next on my wish list is this Set of 3 Mini Cocottes with Tray

Mini Cocottes from Le Creuset

My husband, my son and I are Walking Dead fans.  Yes, it’s kinda gross, but they hooked me with the story from the very beginning.  Of course, we’ve discussed our zombie apocalypse plan, usually at length and over dinner.  I will be wielding a crossbow.  I also need this pair of Zombie Apocalypse Partners keychains from MauiWauiStamping on Etsy.  You know, in case we get separated.

Zombie Apocalypse Partners by MauiWauiStamping on Etsy

My sister introduced me to the Saltworks website a while back.  I’ve been hooked on Fusion Black Truffle Salt for a few years now, to the point my family calls it Crack Salt.  Now I’m ready to try Bonfire Extra Bold Smoked Sea Salt.  Just reading the description makes my mouth water.

Bonfire Extra Bold Smoked Sea Salt from Saltworks

I haven’t had time to read as much as I’d like lately.  The last couple of books I read were on my tablet, but I still enjoy an actual paper-paged book too.  There’s just that little problem of trying to hold it open.  Etsy seller tylerswoodworks has that solved with this Thumb Ring Book Page Holder.

Thumb Ring Book Page Holder by tylerswoodworks on Etsy

I can see two problems solved with this Split Decision Pie Pan from Cooks.  Of course there’s the option of making two kinds of pie in one pan so everyone has a flavor they like.  But what if you’re an at-home craft blogger who doesn’t want leftover pie hanging around her house, calling her to eat pie for lunch?  See, then I…I mean she, can just make one half.

Split Decision Pie Pan on Chefs

My son recently discovered that Pinterest isn’t just for girls.  I started following him, and for that honeymoon period where he had just found it my feed was covered in camping gear, weapons and tools.  In the midst of all that, he also managed to find the coolest sewing machine ever and sent me the pin.  If this Leitfaden sewing machine, shown on Yanko Design is ever actually produced, I’m going to need to see it in person.

Leitfaden Sewing Machine on Yanko Design

I’ve tried journaling off and on through the years.  I wish I could stick with it, but I never seem to.  Maybe I just need the right motivation, like this beautiful handmade leather journal from Smyrnacrafts on Etsy.

Leather Journal by Smyrnacrafts on Etsy

My husband and I have a lifelong goal of visiting all 50 states together.  We’ve knocked out about 18 or 20 so far, but that leaves many to go.  I want to find a wall in my house and make this Personalized Photo Map from Cut Craft Create in a big enough scale that we can put photos on even the tiniest of states.

Personalized Photo Map from Cut Craft Create

For my birthday I usually want something a little different than a basic bakery cake.  Sometimes it doesn’t have to be cake-related at all.  This year, it will be Salted Caramel Browned Butter Cookie Cups from Buns in my Oven.  I just…I can’t even…aaahhh!

Salted Caramel Browned Butter Cookie Cups from Buns in my Oven

I hope all of you moms out there have a fantastic day on Sunday.  I know I will!

Feather Your Nest

I live in a great area.  West of us is a town called Gresham, where I can usually find just about anything I need.  The one thing it was lacking was an independent quilt and fabric shop.  There are places to buy fabric, but there’s just something about those cute shops that is special.  My daughter informed me last week that the void has been filled. 

Feather Your Nest opened last fall, but somehow I missed it.  Codi found it because it’s across the street from the cupcake shop that’s making the cupcakes for the wedding and has gluten-free options on Wednesdays.  She’s a regular. 

They’re located on Main Avenue.  The building has great tall ceilings and lots of windows.  It’s a very creatively inspiring space.  I promise you I looked at every single bolt of fabric they had before deciding on these three.

Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 1

They don’t go together, but individually I love each one.  The top one is a print from Sweetwater made up of street addresses.  I’ve been wanting to get a piece of it because MY address is there too!  My husband actually found it, so I’ve got to find a project where it will show. 

I’ve been noticing nautical stuff everywhere, which I’ve always liked anyway, so I had to have the anchor print.  In person, it’s a really pretty shade of blue.  The bottom is because words.  Words are always fun.

Why am I telling you about a fabric shop that you aren’t likely to visit unless you happen to be in my area?  Because they also have an Etsy shop, and it seems to have most of the same prints I found in their shop, including the three above.  You can find them as FeatheredNest97030.  I spoke to the mother and daughter owners when I was there and they couldn’t have been nicer. 

Here’s a few of their prints that are on my wish list:

Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 2     Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 5     Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 4     Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 6Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 7Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 3     Feather Your Nest Fabric Shop - Crafty Staci 8

After I left Feather Your Nest, I also visited the cupcake shop, a local candy store and a doughnut shop for gifts for my family for Valentine’s day.  Have you found any hidden gems where you live?  If you can’t find any where you are, come visit us in Gresham!

Online Customer Service

If you're a business owner, how your customers are treated can make or break you. For me, Starbucks is almost always a gauge for how I'd like to be treated. I'm greeted in a friendly manner, I'm not made to feel like an inconvenience and the transaction ends with a thank you of some kind. If they make a mistake, they apologize and make it right. Nothing complicated or over the top, just simple courtesy.

I think sometimes we forget we should expect a certain level of customer service from our online transactions as well. Just because there's no face-to-face doesn't mean we shouldn't be valued as a customer. I recently had several transactions that were excellent examples of how we should and shouldn't be treated.

As I was writing this, I originally shared a lengthy rant on some awful customer service I received from a national craft retailer, who shall remain nameless, both in-store and online.  Instead, I’ll just say they won’t be getting any more of my business if I can help it, and move on to the positive side of my story. 

There isn't a Hobby Lobby store anywhere near me, so I've never shopped there before. Recently, I was searching for an item online that they happened to have the best price on. I placed the order and received it as promised. It was a simple transaction, but what impressed me was the fact that there was a card in the package that had been hand-signed by the person who had packed my order.  That’s a company who hasn’t forgotten that they’re shipping to a person.

Online Customer Service 1

I’ve ordered from Spoonflower before, but it’s been a long time.  When I placed my order last weekend, they estimated with printing time and shipping that I would have my fabric in about 10 – 12 days.  I was very happy with that.  I was delighted when my order arrived in my hands in under a week.  Again, my receipt was hand-signed and my fabric was wrapped in tissue.  I know they are a very busy, growing company but I still felt like they cared about my one little bit of fabric.  I’ll be back.

Online Customer Service 2 

Another retailer I’ve never ordered from before is Pick Your Plum.  I just signed up for emails from them, so every day they send me the deal of the day.  Last week, it was baker’s twine.  I’ve been looking for a spool of red and white for a while now, and was thrilled to find it and at such a great price.  It shipped before they said it would, arrived quickly and was packaged well.  They even included a piece of candy, which having a ridiculous sweet tooth I always appreciate. 

Online Customer Service 3

You’ll notice none of my examples include any giant orders, big issues that required direct communication between me and the company involved or anything else dramatic.  They were all small, simple transactions, but were fulfilled by the retailers with a certain level of care that made me happy to do business with them.  It’s what I strive for as an online retailer myself, and what I expect as a customer.  If you’re not feeling valued in your online transactions, it’s time to reevaluate where you’re spending your money.  Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, there’s always somewhere else to shop.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade

I make a lot of gifts.  It’s not because it’s less expensive, since it’s usually not anyway, but because I enjoy giving someone I care about something I’ve spent time working on with my own hands.  Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve been lucky enough to receive were also handmade.

I realize not everything can be homemade.  I had an Amazon box delivered to my house this week.  However, I also received a package from Etsy.  There’s a tier between making it yourself and buying from a big box, and that’s shopping from the little guy.  Or gal, as the case may be.

I spent much of Saturday with a friend at an event called Crafty Wonderland here in Portland.  If you want to see our neck of the woods at it’s most Portlandiest, it’s the place to be.  Their mascot is Sasquatch, if that tells you anything.  There were over 250 vendors, all selling handmade goods.  We walked slowly up and down every, single aisle, both sides, and I still feel like we missed things.  One of which was to take more photos!

One of the booths where I bought this headband to keep my ears warm…

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 1

…was Neeka Knits.  She had so many cute options, I had a hard time choosing.  I took a quick photo of her, but it’s too blurry.  This is the artist in a pic from her shop, wearing one of the other headbands I was eyeing.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 2

I had the opportunity to meet someone in person that I had placed a custom order with in the fall.  Sophia from Buttonlandia made these buttons, which we gave away to the attendees at the grand opening of the new police department.  Everyone loved them and they were gone LONG before the evening was over. 

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 3

I bought something called Magic Unicorn Salt from Beautiful Briny Sea.  Yes, I really did.  So did Erika, my shopping buddy.  Despite its name, rainbow packaging, and the fact that I bought it in Oregon, it’s not hallucinogenic or illegal.  But it is delicious.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 4

Erika bought some raw, local honey from Wolf Honey, the epitome of a warm, friendly craft vendor.

Crafty Wonderland Shopping and Handmade 4.5

There were several other booths with some great gift options.  Rubber Revolution sells items made from recycled truck inner tubes.  These wallets felt very durable.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 5

Domestic Bias had some very cute aprons and bags, both of which are reversible.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 6

I was admiring some needle felted items at the PenFelt booth, and found out the artist teaches needle felting classes not far from me.  That might have to happen this year.

Crafty Wonderland and Shopping Handmade 7 

Soaps, candy, letterpress, clothing, artwork, yarn work, reclaimed items, accessories, jewelry…I can’t even begin to list all of the amazing things we saw.  It was a lot of fun, but the moral of my story is this:  shop handmade, even a little.  Seek out handmade shows or vendors near you.  If you can’t find any, try online at places like Etsy, Artfire, Meylah or any of the numerous other venues.  It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling, buying something and having it handed over to you (or shipped) by the person who made it.  As a handmade vendor myself, I can tell you the feeling is mutual.

Christmas in the Craft Store

I did a little shopping the day after Halloween and one of my first stops was at a department store.  I had only been there for a few minutes when I realized I was hearing Christmas music.  It wasn’t constant, maybe every third or fourth song.  This is the part where I’m supposed to shake my fist and say “Grr!  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!  Christmas starts earlier every year!”

Christmas craft store 0

Yeah, well, you’re not getting that from me.  I’m that person you see looking at the ornaments in September.  I’d watch White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving if my daughter didn’t come unhinged every time I mention it.  Christmas music in November?  Bring it on.

Christmas craft store 1

I know a lot of you don’t agree with me.  I see you pointing and whispering while I gleefully smell every Christmas candle on the shelf while you’re shopping for Halloween costumes.  However, I think there’s one place we can find some common ground – if you’re going to make things for Christmas, it’s never too early to get started.

Christmas craft store 2

If you sew or craft, you’ve been exposed to the holidays for a few months now.  In fact, in some areas you can find things year-round.  I bought Christmas fabric in August.  And it was on sale.  But we are in full swing now, with fabric and craft stores in their full December-holiday glory.

Christmas craft store 3

All the photos shown here are from my favorite local craft store, Craft Warehouse.  They just moved into a bigger building, so it’s easy to lose even more time there than before.

Christmas craft store 4

Sometimes if I’m looking for inspiration, I just go there and walk around.  They always have lots of displays, usually for various skill levels.

Christmas craft store 5 

They’ve been carrying these clear buckets for a few years now.  Many of my daughter’s friends have received these as birthday gifts, stuffed with a pillowcase.

Christmas craft store 6

Somehow, I feel like they’re putting a little more effort into decorating them than I have.

Christmas craft store 7

By the way, I have no affiliation with Craft Warehouse, except for the good-sized chunk of my crafting budget that comes their way every year.  Case in point, I now own three of these pointy trees.  I just have to decide how I’m going to embellish them.

Christmas craft store 8

Have you started making anything Christmas-related yet?  When do you usually start your holiday crafting?

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What I want my Christmas crafting to look like:

Christmas craft store 9

What it actually looks like:

Christmas craft store 10

That does it.  If you need me I’ll be making Christmas ornaments and listening to Bing Crosby.

Buying Your First Sewing Machine

I’m going to give you a quick little window into the crazy that is my life right now.  My husband is the lieutenant at a police department a couple of towns over from where we live.  They were fortunate enough to have their residents vote to approve a bond for a new building a couple of years ago.  After all the planning and building, it’s mostly finished.  We just had a big community open house and a police family barbecue last weekend, which I’ve been on the committee to plan all summer.  It was a whirlwind and lots of work, but they have such a great group of people who deserved something better than the old converted bank building that was falling down around them.

Outside bldg sm

In addition to that, my daughter’s birthday is Wednesday, then we move her to college on Sunday.  When that’s finished, we start getting ready to ship my husband off to Quantico, Virginia two weeks later, where he’ll be attending a special training program at the F.B.I. until Christmas.  Did I mention customers have begun their holiday shopping in my Etsy store?  Told you…crazy.

I tell you all this because I hope it will help you understand why, rather than writing an article of my own on how to choose a sewing machine, I’m going to direct you to some people who’ve already done it.

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It’s been MANY years since I was shopping for a new sewing machine.  My first machine was a garage sale find whose brand I’ve blocked from my memory.  That thing gave me nightmares.  It was beyond lazy, didn’t want to do anything and ate thread like it was spaghetti.  My second was my current Pffaf Tipmatic 6152 that’s been with me 10 or 15 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

sewing light 1

That’s not to say you shouldn’t shop garage sales for a machine.  There are plenty of workhorses out there that still work great.  My advice is, do your homework before you make a purchase, whether it’s new or used.  And congratulations on bringing a fun new toy into your life.  I’m just trying to squeeze in a little quality time with the one I have!

Shopping

I’m a big fan of shopping online.  I love being able to sit at my computer, in my pajamas, and look for anything I might need.  Or not need.  It also makes me happy that someone will bring it to my door. You all know I have a shop on Etsy, but they’ve come up with a few new things recently that make shopping there even better.  The big one for me is that you can now purchase from an Etsy shop without using PayPal.  You can simply use a credit card right from the cart.  Yay!

There’s also an Etsy feature I like called “Gift Ideas.”  It’s in the lower left corner of the home page, under “Ways to Shop.”  It looks at your Facebook friends’ interests and suggests related items.  Some of them are pretty good.  Some are just entertaining.  I laughed when it suggested a whole bunch of Strawberry Shortcake items for my son who likes strawberries.  But the chocolate chip cookies are spot on.

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I just noticed you can now create a wedding registry on Etsy (upper left corner).  My wedding was almost 21 years ago, but I’m hoping other types of registries will follow.

il_570xN.278580065

This might be surprising, but I just recently placed my first order with Fabric.com.  Fabric is one thing I rarely order online, mostly because I like to be able to feel it.  But the prices were too good to pass up, and I’m very impressed with them so far.  I ordered some swatches first, which were much bigger than I expected (about 8” squares) and came very quickly.    They offer very good sales and I found the colors and descriptions to be accurate.  I’ll definitely order again.

Medium_UM-380

My most recent shopping discovery is called Tophatter.  It’s an auction website, but it’s different than any I’ve seen before.  It seems to be handmade, vintage and supplies, and from what I’ve seen so far many of the sellers are from Etsy, looking for a new outlet for their goods.  It’s fun to watch, if only for the little animated auctioneer.

Handmadeology will be hosting a Live Mother’s Day Auction on Tophatter on May 5th, which might be a good time to check it out.  It appears that Tophatter gives you a $5 credit to use toward your first purchase over $5.  I haven’t used mine yet, and it’s only good the day you register, so keep that in mind if you decide to check out the site.

Edit:  When I wrote this post, I had applied to be part of the Handmadeology Mother's Day Auction, but didn't know if I would be accepted - I was!  Also, I've been given 10 Tophatter invitations, so if you need one, email me and I'll invite you.

mothers-day-2

Now I’ve got to give the shopping a break and get back to work.  Let me know if you try any of these out!