Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Hi peeps! No, I actually did not fall off the face of the earth...I was finishing a scrapbook album for a very special person!  The Christmas season is sneaking up on me and I had to get that done so I can get the album copied and back in plenty of time to give as an awesome handmade gift! It might be a little selfish of me to want a copy for myself, and I can spill the details on that later...in case the recipient happens to see this blog--don't want to ruin any surprises. I am so excited and think I have found a great place to copy the album, called Scrap Books to Share which sounds reasonable in price and wonderful in quality.  I will tell you how it goes!  Now just to find a box the perfect size to get my album to Boca Raton, FL from Minnesota safely!  If you know of any other great places for copying albums, let us all know--we'd love to hear!

Now to prepare for my weekend getaway scrap-a-thon with friends.  I have no idea where to begin!  I've been checking out BoBunny for ideas.

 Do you have a special method of getting ready for such events?

Peace and love to you and yours this Holiday Season! Ellen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creative Woman in Business: Emily Dowzak, Photographer!

I'm so excited to introduce you all to my next Creative Woman in Business! Please help me welcome Emily, photographer and owner of emme photo design

Hi Emily, please tell us a little about yourself. Beyond name, rank and serial number, what would you like people to know?
Well, my name is Emily Dowzak and I'm extremely passionate about everything I do; from baking homemade bread to photography, I invest my talent, heart and soul. I find joy in others' happiness and beauty in everyday occurrences.

That's awesome, Emily!  What is your creative passion, and why?
Photography! More specifically, capturing those moments that people forget about, look at their photograph and relive the whole emotional journey of that moment. Everyone gets these wonderful moments everyday and so often we miss them because we're all so busy. Preserving those moments for eternity makes me so much more invested in being present in life, not just letting it pass by.

I was just perusing your website, and LOVE your photojournalistic approach.  What inspires you?
Just about everything. Old wooden fences, hugs, rusted car skeletons, color, personal stories, twirly skirts...you name it.

Any advice for the novice just starting out?
Anything worth having is going to be hard; that's why we want it so badly. Follow your passion and you will always have something to hang your hat on at night. Sure, you'll have to tighten your belt sometimes, but at least you'll be true to your calling.

What words of wisdom to you try to live your life by?
There are so many books and inspirations to choose from! I think that the Golden Rule has dominated my life more than any other notion. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So often people forget we are our own mirrors and a smile goes a lot farther than a frown.

That is so true.  Now for what everyone wants to know: What song has been running through your head all day?
“Anyone Else But You” by the Moldy Peaches from the Juno Soundtrack

Is that because we live near East Jesus Nowhere? (Just kidding!)  Ahem.  For what three things would you like to be remembered?
Being true to myself, helping others, and my baking skills! {laughing} Seriously, I bake A LOT!

Mmmm.  I think that means we could be friends, Emily!  Tell us--is there any particular cause that is near and dear to your heart?
Not a named cause, I guess. I'm a firm believer that we (as Americans) forget that we have people living in third-world conditions right here in the USA and should help out our own as much as we've been helping out world causes. The Appalachian poverty really tears at my heart; it's beautiful nature out there, but such horrible living conditions for many families. Many Appalachian children die from malnutrition and medical issues much like those found in third-world countries, but not many Americans are even aware of their plight.

Please show us your current favorite photo.  We'd love to hear all about it!
For me to choose a favorite photo is really hard! Each one has a story and special meaning to me as well as my clients. I think perhaps this one is my recent favorite. The bride's nephew wanted her to have some more flowers and ran to put these by her feet right as they were exchanging vows. See? A moment!!

How sweet!  It's been a real pleasure to meet you Emily! How can people reach you?
I'm on Facebook:

Great! Thanks Emily!  Ellen

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Heart the Fleur de Lis

People often ask me what my favorite design is. That’s easy. The Fleur de Lis is so rich in history and has so many gorgeous variations, that it is my hands-down fave! Dating back to the 12th Century, the Fleur de Lis was originally used as an emblem of French monarchy.  Over time, it was depicted on coins, pottery, heraldry insignia, banners, crown jewels, and all things stately and important.

The phrase translates to “Flower of the Lily”, and is thought to most resemble the Iris. The three petals are often used to symbolize the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, and have represented military power and strength.

Here in the U.S., New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) has held it strongly and proudly as a sign of its French heritage. The design is has been infused throughout time in architecture, and is frequently seen in wrought iron patterns and finials.

The Fleur de Lis has recently made a huge comeback, most currently by way of interior design, and even in graphic art scrollwork flourishes. It’s particularly used as a sign of support to NOLA following Hurricane Katrina. Even the Boy Scout and Girl Scout trefoils have evolved from the Fleur de Lis. So, I guess it’s safe to say that I’m not the first to fall in love with this special design.

Interestingly, the Fleur de Lis has been said to stand for light, life, and perfection. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. Here’s my rendition of the Fleur de Lis (as seen on my Bourbon Street Fleur de Lis Tee) in perfectly light-refracting Swarovski crystal rhinestones:

So, now you tell me. What is your favorite design element?
Take care, and always let your light shine, my friends! Ellen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meet Susan Campanini: This Week's Creative Woman in Business

Hi Susan! I found these adorable earrings in your Etsy shop!
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a semi-retired teacher of college-level French and English who does freelance editing online at home and designs one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry. I live in east central Illinois with my husband and my six cats. In addition to work, jewelry making, and family life, I love reading literary fiction, flower gardening, music, art, and movies, to name just a few of my interests.

What is your creative passion, and why?
I love collecting beautiful and unusual beads of all kinds and making designs with them for earrings and necklaces. In part, it’s because I love color so much; also, seeing patterns emerge is like magic. The creative self-expression element is important to me too. But I don’t just like making them – I like the idea of sharing them with people, so that a little bit of beauty can be added to their everyday lives. As a result, I want to keep my jewelry affordable and to make a wide range of beaded materials and styles in the jewelry available in my etsy shop  beadedjewelrybysusan.etsy.com  at all times.

What inspires you?
Beauty in nature is always an inspiration for me--water, trees, flowers, sunsets--but mainly it is the beads themselves that suggest the designs. I just open a drawer full of beads and things start to come together for me. It’s an addiction!

Any business advice for the novice just starting out?
I’m new to etsy (shop open six months and not a lot of sales--yet :) ), but I have been doing craft shows selling my jewelry for 18 years. I think the best advice is to make what you think is lovely, display it nicely so people can choose easily, and make it reasonably priced so they can afford it. I also try to give people as much information and help in choosing as they would like.

What is your favorite item that you have for sale?
I love them all! But there is one necklace in particular that my husband and I worked on together to create wire elements (he has a jig for bending the wire) with beaded units in between. It was featured a while back in a published craft book, which was a really nice honor. I’ve put it on the etsy site for sale: Black-and-White Fantasy Necklace.

It's awesome that you work has been published, Susan!  Congratulations!
What words of wisdom to you try to live your life by?
Be who you are and enjoy it. Don’t take anything for granted. Trust your heart and your instincts and be kind.

For what three things would you like to be remembered?
Hmm, maybe my loyalty, my love of learning new things, and my sense of humor?

Is there any particular cause that is near and dear to your heart?
I am sensitive to the plight of our planet in many ways, so lots of environmental organizations matter to me. I have always adopted rescue cats--the best felines of all!

What else would you like us to know?
I’ve recently started writing a blog. It has information about my beaded jewelry, of course, but also posts about fiction, felines, music, films, gardening, and armchair philosophy. Check it out! beadedjewelrybysusan.blogspot.com.

How else can we follow you?
I have a Facebook Fan Page and a Twitter site
and, if you’d like to see my beading studio, come to my flickr photo page

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creative Woman in the Spotlight

As promised, I am happy to begin my series on Creative Women in Business.  Please help me welcome my first incredibly talented guest!

Please tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do? My name is Melinda Tamm, and I am the owner and main instructor of Ms. Melinda’s Dance Studio. I reside with my husband here in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

What is your creative passion, and why? I love to choreograph and develop dances for all ages. This has been my passion for years. I enjoy the challenge to create stories and an outlet to express emotion through movement. Most of all I love to see the dancers' sense of accomplishment when they perform the dances.

What inspires you? Day to day encounters, the media and personal stories and emotions.

Any advice for the novice just starting out? To never give up, the hard day only will become harder before it becomes easier.

Favorite quote? “Live today for today, because yesterday is in the past, tomorrow may not come, but today is a present.”

What song has been running through your head all day? Sister Christian

For what things would you like to be remembered? For having a big heart, for helping others find their own dreams, and most of all living life to the fullest.

Any other burning issues you are dying to tell us about? I really hope that in the near future we will not have to fight to save the arts in the schools. This is something all children should be able to experience.

Find out more about Ms. Melinda's Dance Studio, an awesome example of what can happen when you follow your dreams!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let Your Light Shine!

I took this photo while walking with my family through the gorgeous woods of St. John's University in St. Joseph, MN.  The radiant light of the late afternoon sun reminds me of a Hawiian folk tale I learned about through training from the National Resilience Resource Center, called the Perfect Bowl of Light.  The concept is that within each of us is a perfect bowl of light, and when we think good thoughts about ourselves, the light shines for all to see.  When you think negative thoughts, it is like putting a stone in your beautiful bowl of light.  This blocks the light from shining, and with each negative thought, gets darker and becomes a heavy burden to carry.  The good news is, that at any time, you can decide to "huli" (turn) the bowl over, letting those negative thoughts go--once again allowing your beautiful light to shine.  We have the power to make that happen.  I've had the honor of sharing this concept with people throughout the adoption community, ranging in age from 8-82. It's awesome to see people gain self-understanding through such a simple analogy.

I am absolutely STOKED about some special interviews I have planned, featuring (drumroll, please!).................Creative Women in Business!  If you would like to be featured in my blog, or know of an outstanding candidate, please feel free to comment below. 

Let it shine, friends!  Ellen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Online Selling Tip #1 It's Not What You Say--It's How You Say It.

I had a magnet set for sale on Etsy for months and months. It was the cutest darned puppy-paw print magnet set in a recycled Altoid tin covered in coordinating paper, with an adorable metal embellishment on the cover that said “woof”. That thing had over 700 views, but not one taker. It was named something really witty like “Woof Puppy Paw Print Magnet Set in Recycled Altoid Travel Tin”. I got to thinking about whether I had ever seen one just like it before, or would ever make one just like it again. I decided that I wouldn’t. That earned it the title “OOAK” (One Of A Kind, for those of us who are new to the terminology). So I slapped that title on it. Hmmm. Still didn’t sell. I decided to change the title and tag to reflect that this item was upcycled, instead of recycled. BINGO! Sold within a day. Why? The word “upcycled” gives the feel of something old having been improved, or given new life or purpose. You know, like the Jefferson’s—Movin’ On Up. Not just something dusted off and re-used that would otherwise have been destined for the landfill. After all, it was the exact same magnet set with a huge number of views. Selling that piece was a matter of simply reframing into the most positive light possible. Kind of like the doctor who tells his patient that her “condition is chronic”, versus having a “terminal illness”. Makes them both feel a little bit better (OK, albeit very little) about it, and able to adjust as time goes on.

Take a peek at your title and tags and see if they reflect the most positive image of your item. You might be glad you did!