Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Treats from the Trove





Pictured above is a sneak peak at what I've been up to in recent days.

I can hardly believe it's been nearly a week since my last post; I used to be so good at staying current! But, as I mentioned, I've been furiously beading in preparation for craft show time. Also, I recently took the plunge and bought a new computer, and this weekend I (finally) transferred all my files and started using it. Let me just say, it makes all my Etsying a joy. With my old laptop, I used to sit for what seemed like forever waiting for my items to list, watching that annoying Windows circle spinning in vain only to crash. Oh, the torture! But that's all in the past with my speedy new machine.

Speaking of Etsy, I now have a whopping 228 items in my shop! Plus, I have a whole pile of necklaces that I still need to list.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"To me, the truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can't remember, all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Featured Artist Kimberly Marquez of PoppyLuxe Designs







This week’s featured artist is Fresno, CA, craftista Kimberly Marquez of PoppyLuxe Designs, http://www.etsy.com/shop/PoppyLuxeDesigns. Kimberly offers a cheerful and eclectic selection of gifty items such as jewelry boxes, picture frames, switch plate covers, and more. All are great items to keep in mind for Easter and Mother’s Day, which are right around the corner!

1. The Tote Trove (TTT): According to your Etsy profile, you fell in love with decoupage by leafing through one of your great-grandmother’s craft magazines. What about the craft appealed to you? How old were you when you first started making things?

Kimberly Marquez (KM): There were a few things that appealed to me about decoupaging. The first would be that you could take something otherwise very plain and transform it into something beautiful. Another was the technique, being able to sit and pick out exactly what you wanted to use on your item from different mediums. I thought that was neat. I also liked that you could create layers; most times it made the objects very pretty. To answer the second part of your question, I’ve always been creative. When I was younger I remember decorating the door to my bedroom with wrapping paper and ribbon or making various little crafts. But I recently started making "serious" crafts. By serious I mean researching different mediums, experimenting to see what I like, and then finally showing my work to others.

2. TTT: Did you have any "crafty" influences in your life, or are you more self-taught? Where do your ideas come from?

KM: I didn’t have any crafty influences in my life. My inspiration comes from a few places. If I see a color I absolutely love, then sometimes I’ll just start with that. My “You Are Beautiful” picture frame started out that way. I loved the shade and went from there. Other times my inspiration comes from nature. Daffodils, poppies, cherry blossoms, and certain trees inspire me and influence the things I create.

3. TTT: In your Etsy profile, you write, "Sitting down and making a new picture frame or jewelry box really makes me happy and even makes me feel peaceful." That’s very inspirational! What do you think your life would be like if you weren’t creating things?

KM: Wow, if I weren't creating things, then I think first off I’d be bored! Crafting takes up a good part of my time, whether I'm buying materials, creating, or advertising. If I weren’t crafting, then I’d also have a lot of stress that I wouldn't be able to release. Crafting allows me to sit and focus on something other than housework, the dogs, or my husband sometimes. And let's face it, women need alone time! So, instead of getting a pedicure or my hair done, I sit down and create something!

4. TTT: What's your favorite item in your shop?

KM: Ooh, it would have to be a cross between my “All I Wanted” picture frame because of the colors and my “Vintage Royalty” Mason jar because of the versatility and colors.

5. TTT: What items, if any, would you like to add to your shop?

KM: I’ve been experimenting with various kinds of flowers and actually have some magnets listed right now. I would like to put some of those flowers on rings. Those flowers are completely addictive, and I really like the way they add a touch of "cuteness" to just about everything.

6. TTT: Describe your creative process. Do you follow a routine, create when inspiration strikes, or a little bit of both?

KM: I definitely do not follow a routine. I think if I did that, then I’d probably get burnt out easily. I make something whenever inspiration strikes and sometimes, unfortunately, that means putting another project on hold. For instance, the other day I had the brilliant idea of making my own wreath (I've been wanting one for the past few months), and I put all my other projects on the back burner for the whole day. I'm pretty bad about that!

7. TTT: What’s the best thing about running your own business? The worst?

KM: The best thing about running my own business is the communication aspect. I love reading other people's blogs, talking to people, and meeting new people. Without PoppyLuxe Designs I’d never have met some great people. The worst thing about running my own business would honestly have to be the fact that I can't sell my items face to face. I can't really show a person how great my items are and how much love went into them online. I’m relying on my pictures and descriptions to do that.

8. TTT: How did you discover Etsy?

KM: Good question! I honestly don't remember. Before I ever started a shop I was buying on Etsy. I’ve always felt that it’s much more important to support handmade than big companies. I was probably looking for a specific necklace and stumbled upon Etsy through Google!

9. TTT: What have you learned from running an Etsy business? Do you have any advice you’d like to offer other artists looking to market their work?

KM: I’ve learned that it’s hard to run your own Etsy shop. There are a lot of great artists on Etsy. I’ve also learned to have patience, knowing that my time will come! So, my advice to others would be 1) Just go for it! In the beginning I was very hesitant about having a shop or creating things, but I’m very happy that I made that decision. 2) Just because you have great items, please don't expect that to bring customers in or bring them back. I won’t buy from someone unless it's obvious that they took time to create their shop and listings. Also, there are sellers who I’ve bought from that I won’t go back to simply because they didn’t tell me when they shipped my order or thank me for my purchase. When I sell something I try to be right on the ball, thanking the customer as soon as I see the order and letting them know when I’ll ship it. Just because you’re online doesn't mean that customer service goes out the door!
10. TTT: Do you sell your work in venues outside of Etsy (i.e, other sites, craft shows, etc)? If yes, then how does selling online differ from selling in person?
KM: I do have a little shop on Zibbet. It's nothing too special and doesn’t even come close to what I have on Etsy. I haven’t had a chance to sell my items at any craft shows yet but am looking for the right opportunity.

11. TTT: Who is most (emotionally) supportive of your business?

KM: The most supportive person has been my sister, Kyla. She’s told me to keep going when I felt like giving up. She’s given me some great ideas for new projects and even uses for some things that I’ve already made. I turn to her whenever I need a little emotional pick-me-up or someone to bounce ideas off of . She's great; I don't know what I would do without her!

12. TTT: Are there any new artistic/creative skills you’d like to learn?

KM: Yes! I’d like to learn soap making! I love soap! Especially the really rich-smelling ones or ones that also exfoliate. I would love to experiment and see what I could come up with. I’d also like to take a class about paint mediums. I like to paint, although I don't think I’m that great at it. But I’d still like to play around with oil, gocco, or watercolors.
13. TTT: Tell us about life outside of PoppyLuxe Designs. Do you have a job in addition to your business? Hobbies? Family? Pets?

KM: Life outside of PoppyLuxe Designs is crazy at times! I have three dogs: Pixie, a mixed breed that I rescued from the SPCA; Kobe, a Yorkie/Dachshund that I got from a friend; and Shelby, an English Bulldog that my husband just had to have! I’m currently a stay-at-home wife, and between the housework, the dogs, my husband, and my crafts I stay pretty busy! I have a new niece, Madeline, and a new brother, Isaac! I’ll be seeing my niece soon and can't wait to meet my baby brother!

14. TTT: What are your hopes for PoppyLuxe Designs in the future?

KM: My hopes for PoppyLuxe Designs are, I'm sure, like the hopes of most other artists with shops on Etsy. I want to be able to make this something that I can do permanently. I hope that my shop will take off and that I’ll be the next great shop on Etsy that started from just an idea!
15. TTT: BONUS QUESTION. Just for fun, if you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat the same thing every day, what would it be? You can pick a drink and a dessert, too. (I find that dreaming up a whole meal makes this game more entertaining!)

KM: If I were stranded on a deserted island, then I’d eat my mother-in-law’s chicken tacos every day! She makes the best tacos, along with Spanish rice and refried beans. And to top it off, I’d have Sprite and Boston cream pie. Now, that’s something to dream about!
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Kimberly and PoppyLuxe Designs! Lusting for more Luxe? Don’t fret; there’s more waiting for you:

Blog: http://poppyluxedesigns.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/PoppyLuxeDesign
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fresno-CA/PoppyLuxe-Designs/373312192942?ref=nf

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Neck Candy




You may have noticed that I've been a bit MIA lately. I want to thank everyone who's been reading and commenting. I really appreciate it; it makes my day! I've been busy because I'm preparing for my first craft show of the season, which will actually be held at my work. The good people there have been nice enough to lend their lobby to me for a couple of days (I'll be taking vacation), and I'm quite excited about it. However, as I was retagging my jewelry with my nifty new Tote Trove logo merchandise tags, it hit me that my stock was, well, in need of some reinforcements. So, I've been thinking outside of the box to create some fun new necklaces. See above for a glimpse of what I've been up to (you can check out my shop at www.thetotetrove.etsy.com to see all 14 of my new necklacles). And stay tuned - there'll be much more to come!

A disclaimer: The pictures in my shop do leave a little to be desired. Some of the pendants are cut off, and I couldn't upload multiple shots for each item because I couldn't edit the extra pictures I took (my photo editor was being all psycho and denying me rights and whatnot. But I'll figure it out!).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


To commemorate St. Patrick's Day, I always make Irish potatoes. For those of you not in the know, they're made of butter, cream cheese, coconut, vanilla, confectioners sugar, and cinnamon - basically frosting rolled up into little balls! But they're delicious, and the bf loves them. So here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb confectioners sugar
7 oz coconut
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Cream butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and sugar and beat until mixture forms ball. Stir in coconut. Roll mixture to form "potatoes." Put cinnamon in a sandwich bag, add a few potatoes at a time, and shake. (This part wasn't really working out for me, so I just dumped the cinnamon on top.) Refrigerate for 1 hour.

So, what's up with the troll? My mom rescued her from the attic to honor the festive season; she came from some trolls around the world line and used to belong to my sister. (I had the Dutch one, complete with white cap cemented onto her wild hot pink hair. I've no idea what ever became of her.)


Friday, March 12, 2010

I Fell in Love with This Blouse








I picked up this retro-looking top at Macy's on clearance two weekends ago. I was drawn to the shape (including that officey-looking bow tie thing), but it was really the blue and purple accented doves against the wild apricot that got me. The wedges, by the way, are Kensie from DSW. They're quite old, rescued from another clearance rack many moons ago.

Time for Another Shoe Montage - Or Two!


There's nothing I like better than a good shoe montage. Especially when all of the shoes are new. That's right, I've gone even more overboard than usual with the shopping lately (I blame the Becky Bloomwood influence. Mercifully, I finishing re-reading the last book in the Shopaholic series today.). But I take small comfort in the fact that I was at least sale savvy; no pair cost more than $20, with many at just $10. I think my favorite pair is the yellow and black polka dot patent pumps with the enticing stripe of electric blue by the open toe. I already have at least five outfits planned around them. Which pair do you like best? Or even better yet, which pair of your shoes is your favorite? Feel free to email me a picture at thetotetrove@gmail.com if you feel so moved! I'd love to post a reader shoe montage :)

Barrettes to Beat the Band - Are Here!

After much re-photographing angst, I'm proud to bring you my new "fine feathers" barrette collection, available to purchase for just $6 (per barrette) in my Etsy shop, http://www.thetotetrove.etsy.com/. Who knows? You may just end up fancying a few yourself. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Little Makeup Story

Makeup is fun. But I didn't always think so. I didn't start wearing it until I was thirteen, and that was only after some well-intentioned prodding from my mother. I was a bit of a late bloomer, and something about makeup seemed too grown-up to my shrinking violet self. Yet I decided to try a few neutral shades. I still remember carefully picking them out in CVS at the mall. (I was so nervous you'd have thought I was trying to buy cigarettes.) Once purchased, I tentatively used the lightest shade of eyeshadow in the quad before graduating on to the darkest (I didn't know I was supposed to use all of the colors at once.). Little by little, my fear subsided. I liked playing with the colors.

Before long my hesitation melted completely. The collector and artist in me conspired to create a makeup monster. Soon I was buying every shade of eyeshadow, lipstick, and nail polish imaginable, gleefully lining them up on my bedroom floor each time I made an acquisition. I reveled in the scent of a new product; even now a whiff of brand new Cover Girl blush takes me back to freshman year. Yet as with most lovefests, mine with cosmetics ran hot before meeting its crash and burn demise. I can't say exactly what happened. I guess I just I realized that it was the buying of the products I liked more than the makeup itself. So, I settled on the shades that looked best and tossed the rest. This meant hanging onto my black Cover Girl eyeliner, black Maybelline Great Lash mascara, and Revlon Cherries in the Snow lipstick. This was probably around the same time my shoe obsession (also, interestingly, spurred by my mother), was born.

Anyway, I'd been studiously abstaining from makeup splurges ever since this revelation. And then this past Sunday I took advantage of the sunshine to walk to my local CVS for some razors. On my way to the shaving aisle I became transfixed by a dazzling display of Milani cosmetics. I'd never bought that brand before, which seemed only to heighten its appeal. Excitedly, I examined the glittery eye shadows, neon nail polishes, and lush lip glosses encased in glamorous gold-toned containers. Should I? I wondered, eyeing the bright green glittery eyeshadow compact, hot pink nail polish, and almost luridly bright magenta lip gloss nestled in my palm. Would I actually wear this stuff? But somehow the answer didn't seem to matter. All thoughts of my tried-and-true Cherries in the Snow were blocked, eclipsed by the allure of getting something new. Foolhardy or not, I decided to take the plunge. (Psychologically, that is. Financially, I was parting with just $20.) Now, I must admit that I haven't worn them yet. I'm reluctant to bust them out of their pristine packaging. And to stray from my beloved red lipstick. Nevertheless, I sense their debut is impending.

So, what's your makeup MO? Love it? Hate it? And if it's love, can it be found in a department store or a drugstore? Be expressed in tranquil neutrals or blazing brights? Whatever your story, I want to hear it. :)

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Casual Friday





Here's what I wore to work last Friday. I like to think it proved that sequins and leopard are casual Friday appropriate. At least, no one asked me to change. Or sent me home.

The coat is a bit of a stumper, if I do say so myself. As in, what's with the three quarter sleeves? I mean, it's a coat, right? Part of me wants to stand strong and insist that I was very warm in it, on principle of its "funness". But truth be told, my arms were a bit chilly. As for the puffy factor, the bf (affectionately) said that I looked like a marshmallow Peep. For those of you who are curious, it came from the "she said . . ." line at J. C. Penney's and cost me a banner $13.98, marked down from $69. There was a whole rack of them, in various sizes. I don't think they sold a single one full price. Come to think of it, they may have sold only the one on clearance . . .

Who Wouldn't Like to Write About Shoes?


Be our guest, be our guest . . . blogger, that is. That's what online catalog MetroStyle was asking, and I, always up for a fashion writing challenge, answered its siren call. Of course, I found out about all of this while shopping for - what else? - shoes. Pictured above are the two pairs that hooked me. And here's the link to my little blurb on the MetroStyle blog:

http://metroinsider.blogspot.com/2010/03/fashion-my-everyday-artform.html

Enter The Enchanted Cupboard's Giveaway!

Do you have a thing for fairies and/or mushrooms? Do you find yourself stealing your children's toys (or maybe even, gulp, buying your own if you're sans children?)? If yes, then this giveaway is for you. To enter, check out the thread on Tracey Knits's blog:

http://www.traceyknits.com/2010/03/handmade-shop-of-week-enchanted.html

It's a Tote, it's a Print, it's Tote Trove Wall Art!



I've long thought of my totes as art, portable paintings if you will. So, it wasn't a leap when I decided to make my large totes into prints and offer them in my Etsy shop. Each print measures 8.5" x 11" and is just $10. Now, as the bf pointed out, the tote straps are visible. But I think they lend a sort of kitschy charm and have the potential to be a conversation starter. I can just hear your guests now. "Why, is that a purse hanging on your wall over there above the rainbow sherbet punch?" they'll ask. And you, resplendent in a fabulous frock, with trendy cocktail in hand, will reply, "Why, yes, it is! It's a print of a purse! Isn't it a scream?" And then you'll all laugh so hard that punch comes out of your noses. Or something like that. I don't know what I'm saying, as my own punchiness seems to have taken over. Use your imagination :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

These Just In



I just posted four new tiny totes to my Etsy shop (pictured here are the three you haven't seen yet). The first time I tried to post these (along with about twenty barrettes), I was horrified to discover that I'd taken all the pictures on the highest resolution on my camera instead of the lowest. As any Etsy seller knows, Etsy doesn't accommodate high res photos. So, I had to start all over again. Although this has happened to me many times, it didn't prevent me from having a good cry about it. I just really hate the whole picture-taking part of listing items. And I never claimed that maturity was one of my strong suits . . .

The Outrageous Owl Tote Lands on What Katie Wore

Apparently this is the week for me to toot my own horn. I recently mailed Katie of What Katie Wore fame (if you've been following my blog, then you've heard me gush about WKW before), and she worked it into one of her outfits this weekend! I must admit that seeing it up there did my little Tote Trove heart proud. Visit this link for a peek:


Giveaway Winner

Last week or so I hosted another one of my giveaways (in conjunction with Tracey Knits, who was kind enough to feature me on her blog, http://www.traceyknits.com/. ) Anyhow, the prize was my Medium Rainbow Fierce Flowers Tote, and the lucky winner was Kimberly of Karma's Crafts, http://www.karmascrafts.etsy.com/. Check out what she had to say about it on her blog:
And stop by her shop too; she has fun things :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Barrettes to Beat the Band


Last fall I made myself a bunch of feather barrettes, which I've been wearing ever since (they kind of bring out the five year old in me). I think I made just one to sell on a whim last summer, and a happy teenager snapped it up at a craft show. So last night I got inspired to make more. I broke out the barrette backs, permanent adhesive, rhinestones, and, of course, feathers, and set to work making a bunch while I watched "The Office." (Pam had her baby, and I found the whole episode kind of dark. Feel free to chime in if you saw it.) Pictured here is what I have so far, but more are in store (In anticipation, I stocked up on supplies at A. C. Moore during lunch today.) All should be available in my shop before the end of the weekend :)

That Was Easy


Check out this cool box I unearthed from the shelves in Marshalls - it's made from Staples ads! I don't know what I'll use it for yet, but picking something is half the fun. I love Marshalls. As their catchphrase promises, you always walk in wondering "what will you find today?". It's like a flea market, only high end and indoor and minus the seediness. Oh, and everything's new. Ok, so maybe it's not like a flea market. But it's what I always envisioned a flea market to be like -all colorful displays overflowing with weird, exotic-looking stuff of dubious origin. Of course, once I actually went to a flea market these fanciful illusions were shattered. But that's another story for another post. What's your favorite offbeat shopping destination? Or even just your most preferred retail haunt? I promise not to judge if it turns out to be a flea market :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fruit Stripe

Oddly, I hate Fruit Stripe gum. I thought it sounded tasty once, years ago, but then I tried some and the flavor faded almost instantly :(

Citrus bangles.

I like big belts and I cannot lie.

So pointy. Kind of outdated, I know, but I choose to ignore such details.

My sister bought me this bag, knowing how I adore all things Betsey. I think the big lightning bolt charm really makes it, don't you?