Friday, June 29, 2012

So much to say!

Last night, I arrived home from a wonderful trip to Indianapolis.  I have so much to tell you about Delta Faucets!   If you were following my twitter updates, you got to see a sneak peek at some of the things I did during my trip...but there is so much more!

A few things:
  • I have received some very sweet comments on this blog in the last few days that I haven't responded to yet; I haven't forgotten about you!  I promise, once things slow down a little I will catch up.
  • I've been going through my Design Sponge book and already have some great ideas for projects   - stay tuned. 
  • I'm a mess! I've been so busy lately that my two bedroom suite is starting to look like a pig pen.  Even Charlie is fed up with the mess.  Cleaning is top of my to-do list (not gonna lie, that kinda sucks).
  • A few photos from the trip:

Welcomed with a round of applause from the folks at Delta! 

Installing a faucet for the first time.
Forgive my rats nest - I forgot my brush!  Who forgets a brush?

Installing a faucet for the second time ever with Sarah.  Success (x2)!

Corn creme brulee at Divvy

I'm officially a Delta buyer for life!

Don't worry, there are much more to come!  

A little thank-you:
Thanks so much for hanging in there as this blog and I are going through a transition.  This trip really help to invigorate me and remind me of how much I love blogging.  The wonderful thing about a blog is that it is very organic: it moves and changes as I move and change.  It doesn't have to be one specific thing all the time - it changes as it needs to.  Your kinds words have meant a lot and this blog will continue to change for the better!  Thank you for sticking with me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Delta Blogger Event, Day 1

Today is the first day of the Delta Blogger Event in Indianapolis.  Right now I'm at the airport waiting for my flight.  This is the first time I've flown anywhere by myself and it's definitely a new experience.

Now, I know my way around an airport and I know how everything works, but I've always been following someone.  I've been fortunate to travel a lot as I was growing up, so I've had a lot of experience with flying (the best part is when you can feel the wheels leaving the ground).  But there's added pressure to get everything right when I know I have people waiting for me on the other end.

Needless to say, my anxiety was completely unnecessary.  Here I am at my gate, with all my luggage, my ticket, and my license all ready to go.

I did have one hiccup though - going through security.  When I got there, I put my laptop in it's own box, then I put my shoes, makeup, and toiletries in their own box.  Next, I put my bag and suitcase on the belt.  Finally, it's my turn to go through the metal detector.  Before I even walk in she tells me I have to take off my sweater; I quick run get another box and throw that in.   As I walk through the metal detector, the alarm goes off (ah!); I run over and throw my watch in the box with my sweater (who knew a $12 watch from Target would set it off).  I look at the girl and laughingly say "I'm not doing too good today."  When she doesn't even crack a smile, I laugh at myself and walk on through.

So now I'm gathering my things when the guy walks around with my suitcase and says he has to look inside.  First, he puts on rubber gloves and then he tells me there's a large aerosol can in my suitcase.  Dang it!  That very morning as all four of us (Mom, Dad, Esther, and me) were readying my suitcase for the flight, we got a small hair spray so I wouldn't get my big one taken away.  I had originally planned on checking my bag, but they talked me out of it.  I guess when we put the little one in, we forgot to take the big one out.

I wish I had some photos to put in here for you, but my new phone isn't working yet (UGH).

Ok, time to head to Dunkin and get some breakfast!  All this nervous energy has made me so hungry!  My flight boards in 20 minutes - see you on the other side!

Hey Mom, give Charlie a belly rub for me!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Creative Juices

Last week I wrote about my transition home and how it is changing what I write about.  Well, I've been thinking of ways to get my creative juices flowing and I've come up with an idea.

I know I'm probably way behind on getting this book, so I figured it was about time I own it.  I don't usually buy books like this because the internet is full of great ideas, but I need some inspiration and thought this would be a good place to start.  When I bought this book, I made myself a deal:  buy the book, do 5 projects from the book.  So that should be fun.

Now is a good time to be doing projects because I know a ton of people that are pregnant and I'm always in need of good gift ideas.  Also, as I save for a home of my own, I am going to stock up on things to put in that home.

One of my most recent purchases (as in yesterday) is this perch lamp from West Elm.  The yellow one reminds me of an old camping light we used to have when I was little.  I love the yellow one, but I don't see myself liking yellow forever, so I went with the glass one.  It went on sale from $69 to $55; not the best sale I've ever seen, but this lamp is worth it.  I absolutely love it.  It's on back order until July 11, so I'll be patiently awaiting it's arrival.

This lovely gray towel is also on it's way to me.  I plan on using it in my future kitchen.  My table has dark wood and gray/cream fabric - this will go wonderfully with those colors.  Plus, it's from West Elm and that just makes everything better.

When I first moved home, I told myself not to buy anything for my home because there's no where to put it!  This place is packed as it is.  I've recently changed my tune.  I'm in a situation where I can put money into my home savings, my regular savings, my tithe, pay my bills, and still have some left to spend on myself.  When I own a home - that isn't going to be the case, so now is the time to accessorize.

This has also helped to get my creative juices flowing - I'm going to start planning the color scheme for my home and what I want in it.  I've never done anything like that before - so it will definitely be a learning experience, but I'm ready to learn!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Challenge: Day 5, Sunglasses

Last weekend, I went shopping with my best friend, Kristin.  That's her behind the toilet seat.  Oh yes, it's a toilet seat, decorated as a face (wig included).  

When we were first talking about getting together, we decided that we would go thrifting.  After hitting up our favorite spots in Lancaster, we went to our favorite stores: Target and Home Goods.  Thrifting is fun, but who can pass up Target and Home Goods?

We systematically work our way through every aisle; talking, laughing, planning, judging the things we see.  BTW, we actually do have a system (especially for Home Goods).  Circle around the outside aisles and then we head to the middle and weave in and out til we've hit every one.  We found this Pivot Power cord at Target.  What a genius idea!

I like the colors of this pillow, so I put it in my cart to take a picture (I guess I could have just left it on the shelf).  Then I preceded to walk off with it until Kristin asked me "Are you buying that?"  And then I did what I hated as a person who used to work in retail - I left it on a random shelf instead of putting it back with the pillows!  Sorry to the Target employee who had to put it back!

I love my shopping trips with Kristin!  Can't wait for the next one!  ps. Krit, your swan arm sunglasses rock!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Etsy Process: Step 5, Pictures

Step 5: Product Photos

When I decided to open my own Etsy shop, I knew that photos would be a really important part of the selling process.  Take me for example, if I go to a website with terrible photos, I'm gone in 2 minutes.  I don't want to buy a product when I'm not even sure what it looks like; hence, product photos are important.  If I want to make any money off this little venture, I need to do it right.  I started with an inspiration photo.

When I see something I like and want to recreate it, I analyze what I see.  Take Oh Joy, for example.  To say I love her photos is an understatement.  They are perfect.

So here's what I see:

-a light colored backdrop
-camera looking straight down on the item
- most (but not all) of the light is coming from the side of the item (so, no flash from the camera)
-soft lighting
-plenty of contrast

When I was getting ready to take my own photos, I sketched out a bunch of ideas and told myself I was going to do each one no matter what.  My first idea was to hang my item from a cord using a clothespin.  This idea has some potential, but the lighting is all wrong.  It's too much from the side and not enough over top.  The shadow behind the paper isn't appealing.  Plus, the clothespin and cord are not interesting enough.


My second idea was to tape my item to some brown wrapping paper and secure it with washi tape.  The scale is all wrong in this one.  The pieces of washi tape are too small next this item.  Second, the light is (once again) too much from the side and not enough over top.  The one thing I like about this is the brown paper.  

For this backdrop, I wrapped brown paper around foam core, taped the item to it, and then taped all of that to a wall where I had some light.  9am is not a good time to be taking photos in this room - it was all too harsh.  Also, I learned that the brown backdrop needed to be much bigger.  

Let's not even talk about this one.  

Though the outcome wasn't great, I think the approach worked well; I planned the shots I wanted, gathered all my materials, and then got to work.  I didn't need to run out gathering this or printing that because I already had what I needed.  Since I knew which items I wanted to shoot in each setting, it all went pretty quickly.

Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Find an inspiration photo, decide what you like about that photo
2. Gather all the materials you need for shooting (in my case: tape, paper products, tripod, camera, clothespin, cord, brown paper, foam core)
3. Find a light source that doesn't just come from one place 

Etsy allows you to post 5 pictures for each listing, so keep that in mind when planning your photos.

I'll definitely be making another attempt at this very soon.  I take product photos a lot for my job and I've learned a lot - now I just have to figure out how to implement what I've learned!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where am I going?

First, I wrote about my life.  Then I wrote about my move.  When I got a new apartment, I wrote about my DIY projects.  Then I moved home, jammed all of my things into two rooms, and now I write about ??   Now that I'm home, I'm finding it hard to fill this blog each day.  Allow me to explain.  

When I was living away from my family, I had tons of free time with nothing to do and no one to see.  And that is how this blog was born...I had to do something, so I did this.  The projects I did and the photos I took all ended up here.  If I spent my entire weekend working on a project it didn't matter one bit - it wasn't like I had anything else to do.

Now that I'm home, I have tons of other things to do: shopping with Char, playing with Camo, watching movies with Dad, doing projects with Mom, sitting around the sandbox with the neighbors, spending time with my girls since we are closer than ever!  So much to do and so little time.  Because Cam's big, brown eyes are impossible to resist, when he is here - I spend time with him (when I would have normally been blogging).

That is not a complaint in anyway, things are just changing and I have to decide where this blog is going.  I'm a 26 year old woman, living at home, saving up money to buy a house, and hopefully another dog.

Just for the record, I have the best parents ever.  Not only did they let me invade their home, they let me use two rooms, bring Charlie, don't charge me rent, and give me plenty of privacy.  We need to address the privacy issue though.  Mom keeps telling me she's going to stay out of my space, but Mom, my space is a mess right now!  Can't you invade for just a little bit and clean help me clean?  Nine out of ten squatters agree that it's incredible hard to keep someone else's home clean.

Ok, anyway...I've only been home for 2 months, so I'm still transitioning.  I'm still trying to figure out this new dynamic and where this blog is going.  For now, I'm just going to go with the flow.

Here's a random announcement for you: I've been invited to the Delta Blogger Event in Indianapolis!  I'll be heading out next Tuesday for an all-expense paid trip to their head quarters to see what they are all about!  I'm very excited!

This blog o' mine is pretty small and not well known - so I keep joking that I'm going to show up and they'll say "Hi, we just found out that your only readers are your mom, your aunt, and your dog.  Adios!"  haha Ok, that's not going to happen, but it just feels so unreal that they would actually pick me!  So thank you all for reading this blog, pinning my things on pinterest, and following along!  I can't wait to tell you about my trip!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Etsy Process, Steps 1-4

Since getting into Illustrator and learning my way around, I've discovered that I really love creating my own designs.  I can't draw anything by hand, so the computer gives me creative opportunities I've never had before.

When I started creating these things, I thought it would be fun to sell them on Etsy.  Why not, right?

Step 1: set up shop on

First, I chose the name Virginia and Charlie for my shop.  Since this blog is somewhat well established (and I like this name) I wanted to stick with this name.  I was worried that if I made the name of the shop different, I would confuse people.

Second, I created a header for my shop.  Etsy gives dimensions for the header space so I knew exactly how much room I had to work with.  I chose to use one of my photos since I will be selling some of those.  I typically use a photo in my header on this blog and I want this blog and my shop to have the same look.

Ok, done.  What's next?

Step 2: Deciding what and how much
The next thing I had to do was decide what I wanted to sell and the price.  To make a more informed decision, I made sure to read all of the information that Etsy gave me.  I learned two very important things:

This is just a snapshot of my etsy home page, that offers me products to fit my taste.  This is not a specific shop.

1. It costs $0.20 for each item you list every month.  Each item gets it's own box/link for customers to click to learn more about the product.  So let's say I have 5 items listed - every month I'll pay $1 for those items (pretty good deal, right?).

2. Etsy charges %3.5 percent of every item you sell.  If I sell an item that I listed for $10, then Etsy gets $0.35.  Again, that's a pretty good deal.  For someone like me that doesn't know how to build their own website, Etsy is perfect.

So when I was pricing my items, I made sure to take into account the price to list and the percentage that goes to Etsy.  $10 - $0.20 - $0.35 = $9.45.  Not too shabby for a $10 item!

I also made sure to take into account the cost of producing each item I'm choosing to list.  For my digital pieces (things I made on the computer) the cost was only my time and since I enjoy that immensely - that was basically free!  For photos that I would like to sell, I have to keep in mind that it's going to cost me to print them.

Basically what I'm saying is that there's more preparation than I though.  I found it really helpful to create a list of each thing I wanted to sell and the price, so that when I start creating my listing I knew exactly what I was doing.

Which leads me to the next step: listing an item

Etsy could not have made it any easier to list an item.  Everything is ready and all you have to do is plug in the information.   They even have some handy tips to help you sell your products.  I also found it very helpful to look at some other shops that were selling items similar to mine.  First, I need to make sure my prices were not ridiculous.  Second, it was really helpful to see how other people are selling their products.

Step 4: taking photos

Which I will tell you about later because that's a whole different animal.  It turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought.

In case you are wondering, I'm planning on opening my shop in mid-July.  The end of June is just crazy for me and I need life to slow down a little before I can really focus on this shop.  But I must say, the more I work on it - the more excited I get!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Beautiful Garden Tour

A few weekends ago, I went on a garden tour in a nearby city.  When my sister called to invite me, my first thought was "I know nothing about flowers, so no thanks."  But when she mentioned that it would be a good time to take pictures, I jumped at the invitation.  

You'll see the photos in a second, but keep this in mind - I have no idea what any of these flower are and my ability to kill any plants I own has greatly contributed to my complete lack of interest in flowers, so I didn't find out any of the names.  I do know that these flowers and plants are beautiful and I can appreciate God's beautiful creation.  If you want to know the name of a plant you see in these photos, leave a comment and I will find out for you! 

Here you go, Char!  You finally get to see the photos you've been asking about. 

one of my favorites.

Can't wait til September when I get to meet the new babe!

one of my favorites.

one of my favorites.

one of my favorites.

I hope you enjoyed these photos!  Have a great Monday!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Blogcation

When I first got my new job, I told myself (and anyone who reads this blog) that I was going to take a week off.  Since I had things I really wanted to post - I never did take a week off.

Well folks, it's time.  I've got a lot in the works and I need a week off.

Whats going on in my life:
-newish job
-night class
-deadlines approaching
-opening an esty shop (eek!)
-summer plans

I'll leave you with this:
On Sunday, I went on a house and garden tour in Lancaster.  The flowers were absolutely beautiful and I have many photos to edit.  This turned out to be one of my favorites because of the texture of that leaf.  I have no idea what plant this is, but I like it.

Have a great week!  See you Monday, the 18th!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Choice

There comes a time in a woman's life when she must make a choice:

Blog or go to sleep?  Since I've chosen blogging over sleep for the past week, it's time to choose sleep.  I have a feeling my mom would want me to make a different choice: folding the clean laundry that has been laying on my living room floor for a week (no lie).

In an effort to give you something for your blog routine (Good morning, Mel!), here's a few pictures of my pooch.

This is my girl, Charlie, enjoying a beautiful morning on the deck.  The maple tree reaches up to the deck and Charlie sits out there daydreaming about chasing down squirrels.  She also likes to spend her time out there sunbathing and sniffing.

On this particular morning, she was a little thirsty so she licked the morning dew off the trees.  Ok - honestly, this is a picture of her just sniffing the tree. When I saw her licking the leaves, I hightailed it to my room and didn't make it back in time to capture the moment.

Man, how desperate must I be for a good photo if Charlie licking a tree had me running for the camera?

It's all good - I'm going to a flower show on Sunday so I'll get tons of good pics.  Hmm...maybe I need to invest in this baby before going.  This would definitely be a good time to have a macro lens.  Someday...

Ok, time to choose sleep and hit the hay.  Adios amigos!