May 14, 2012

Isn't the brain a wonderful frustrating thing?

Apparently visual hallucinations are so last year, because now, my other senses are getting in on the action. Sure, they can be auditory too, but that has always been for special occasions. I tried to find a blog post about the time I smelled vomit, which was especially awesome...but it seems I never actually posted about that. Well, you get the idea.

So where is this all going?  Last night--and I can't be sure of this yet--I think I experienced dream pain. I was sleeping and turned onto my side when I felt an extreme pain on my lower back. Not muscle-related. It felt like a skin injury, like a bee sting but much worse. I actually woke up and cried out from the pain. I felt the area (which was really sore to the touch) and felt blood.

Rather than immediately jump out of bed and figure out what happened, I lay there for another five or ten minutes. Why? Because oh my gosh there must be a huge wolf spider in the bed and I rolled onto it, thereby temporarily paralyzing it, but if I move, it'll bite me again. And also, I was warm and cozy under the blanket. So I lay there trying to decide what to do. While laying there, the sore spot slowly faded.

Finally, I found the willpower to get out of bed, go to the bathroom, and check the spot. Nothing. No redness. No bump. Not even the indent or ripped-off leg of a smashed wolf spider. Nada.  Blood? There was no blood. Pain? Nope, no pain either.

Awesome. Bravo, brain. Maybe I'll watch Jersey Shore or listen to Ke$sha later, just to piss you off.

May 10, 2012

Kelli Smash Garden

Last time I talked about our house, it was to complain (let's be honest here). I complained about how we only discovered some major flaws after we bought the house and were moving in. But there's something else that goes on when you buy a house: everything you loved about it comes crashing down. In a good way, I suppose.

After we walked through the house and were waiting to buy it, we bragged a lot and to anyone who would listen.

"It has a drop-down recipe holder in the kitchen!" (We later removed it so we could install a utensil hanging rack and magnetic strip for knives.)

"It has those little pop-out drawers in front of the kitchen sink!" (We are planning to tear at least one out to make a paper towel holder.)

"It has built-in cupboards in the garage!" (Mostly gone.)

"It has a built-in entertainment center in the basement!" (Plans are being made to remove this.)

"It already has a vegetable garden!"  Aaaaaaand that's where this post comes in.

There's just something about the need to claim a house as your own.  While a person may love a feature when the house belongs to someone else, when it becomes your house, that feature may lose its luster.  That's how the garden was. I can't tell you how excited we were about that garden for the first month we lived here. The kids picked strawberries and tomatoes. In the fall, they picked the pumpkins. It was wonderful to have such a low-maintenance, pre-cooked garden.

But then the warm weather rolled around. And it was time to really claim the garden as our own. We decided the garden was too messy. Too cluttered. Too "accidental"-looking. We wanted a very clean, intentional garden. 

So we tore that shit right up.

Here is the post-winter Before picture:

So, well, it was ugly. Now, I'm sure it would have sprouted again with time and looked lovely again. But we had seen the soul of the real garden and it had garbage and weeds and lots of pink paving stones.

...and if you believe that orbs are anything more than dust particles, then our garden also contained ghosts.

Thanks to Madame Pinterest, I got the idea to do raised planter boxes. As is always the case, I come up with the idea and then let Keene figure out how to make it a reality.  And he did!

I make it look so easy: "Oh, la-di-dah! We built a planter box!" But in reality, it was pretty easy.

Which is why we built the second box and are currently working on the third and fourth.

As you can see, the kids are quite a big help. You will never catch me in one of those fits of nostalgia in which I say, "Aww...I wish he/she was a baby again!"  Because I have never in my life seen a baby who can do this:

Or can lay down paver stones:

What's better? This was actually Kayden's idea. Keene and I had planned to just leave it as dirt for the time-being, but Kayden figured out that these pavers were the exact size to fit in there. And then he did all the work of laying them down himself.  And he looked totally cool while doing it.

So, the planter box on the right actually belongs to the children. We let them decide what they wanted to plant in their respective halves.

Our next round involves a skinnier planter box for herbs and then another full-size box for more vegetables.

In the meantime, Keene is growing a hair-garden all over his head because he's a damn hippie.

May 7, 2012

Revamping Old Products on Etsy

I often come across this piece of advice while reading articles about how to improve one's Etsy shop: if you have a product that does not sell well, trash it. Well, obviously, the articles are more eloquent in saying this. I get to the point: if it's not doing well, trash it. The articles warn that this may be a product line that you like quite a bit, but if it's not working, then it won't work.  Again, they were more eloquent.

I've come to the realization that they were talking about my Newsboy hats. Yes! They were specifically talking to me and specifically about that particular line of hats. Now, I have a love-lust relationship with these hats. Since I first created one, I have adored these hats and own half a dozen of them. Of course people would love them, too!

But, well, the sales told a different story. Newsboy hats did not sell well. Moreover, they didn't even get noticed--always being shoved aside by whimsical animal hats or glamorous flapper hats.

Scrap them altogether? I couldn't. I decide to revamp the image of them instead. What hats were popular in my shop and why? Many of these hats had some kind of flair (brooches, flowers, facial features), while the newsboys only had their hopes and dreams on which to rely. So in the grand tradition of Portlandia (well, almost), I decided to put a flower on it. (I may actually try putting a bird on it next. Post forthcoming.)

Suddenly, this:

Becomes this:

And this:

Another way in which I revamped the hats and their listings is by figuring out why I like them so much.  When I'm sledding, they're warm and they stay tightly on my head. Yet I also wear them in the summer: I pull them back on my head and wear them like slouchy hats. How come I hadn't mentioned this in the description before?

So here is my advice: before trashing a product line altogether, figure out how to revamp it.
  • Why do you like this product so much?
  • Have you mentioned the reason/s in your listing?
  • Is there anything you can change or add to make it trendier?
  • Can you put a bird on it?
  • Or maybe it's as simple as taking better pictures?