Thursday, August 19, 2010

KaBoogie on Zibbet!

I've decided to give another venue a go. Yea, yea, I've done this before. Like many Etsy sellers, I get that feeling like it may be a good fit, if I give it enough time, and put a good effort in at promoting it.

So I'm starting with my winter boots, and wholesale moccasins. There's obviously a growing desire out there for quality handcrafted items, and although each major category is filled with lovely goods for all, when you feel you've found a niche, it's best to get it right out there and be seen by as many potential customers as possible!

I read a plethora of wonderful articles daily on marketing your shop, riding the social networking wave, linking, linking, linking, and all I can think is, hey! I can do that! I'm diving into this with both feet, 2 arms and hopefully, my head screwed on straight, so when I saw Zibbet recently, it just appealed to me as a new and growing venue.

I'll be listing winter items, mostly boots, there for a while, as the winter rush seems to be coming a bit early this year, so look for many new KaBoogie items there soon!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Monogrammed Baby Shoes, and...PIE!

I love custom work. I think I've said this about 300 times. I love when I can give a customer exactly what they want, and throw in a little challenge for me. This week it's not just a monogram, it's the whole 3 letter initials!

As I was chugging along I realized, wow, these letters are teeny. And I think I'm going blind. One stitch, two stitches...many done by manually turning the wheel because I have no idea where the needle will land, and it cannot ever land outside the applique! This is leather, it has no forgiveness.

When I'm finished sewing the letters on (they are spray mounted in place, no way I'd ever be able to hold them!), I always glue the thread ends down in the back. I don't ever want the threads to come up in the front.

Just a little KaBoogie tip I thought I'd share. One of those little things we do to go the extra mile as crafters, to give our customers the very best we can produce!

And in other news...
My 13 year old daughter made this most awesome lemon meringue pie tonight! It's her second one this week, and it came out even more beautiful than the first! When she brought me a nice warm piece, I discovered HER idea of going that extra step to give her very best. She added fresh cut lemon thyme to the lemon filling! It gave the pie such a nice gourmet flavor!

Isn't she great?

You can find the listing for custom monogrammed leather baby shoes here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homeschooling With a Business, Do I Still "Got" It?

July. It's July. I haven't started getting my books together to start homeschooling again. I'm still trying to make sure my oldest gets the math curriculum he needs in his school (he opted to stay in the school). We're trying to have as much fun as possible, there's 6 different camps being attended, and September is coming fast.

Am I procrastinating? I need to get my head back into educating my kids in less than 2 months. I'm SO happy to have them home, but in my year off I've gotten a bit lazy. I also worry that the kids will have a hard time reacclimating themselves to being self motivated.

So the question arises; how does a mom, who is determined to provide the best education her kids can get, structure the day so that the kids make the best use of their time, chores and household issues are attended to, and mom can get some work done and help contribute to the household?

It used to be that I'd let the day unfold on it's own. I'd require work to get done as early in the day as possible, but didn't set time limits, or keep a strict schedule. But that can't work with my etsy shop, which gets very busy during fall to winter.

Does strict scheduling work for you? Or does letting the kids work at things in their own time get the job done? I think I forgot how this is done! How do you work it all in?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

KaBoogie Giveaway!

Spring is nuts. I can't believe the flurry of activity we blew through. Seems like I was lazing through winter and BAMMO. School activities, craft show fundraiser, wholesale orders, and finally, SPRING FLING!

I love making Spring Fling decorations. 70+ homeschooled kids look forward to this, not knowing what they're going to walk into. This year we gave them the 50's, complete with drive-in movie screen. I LOVE making props. This one was my favorite:

Next year, who knows?...

Oh! and by the way! If I haven't plastered it enough on facebook...
Check out RockerByeBaby for details
on how to win a pair
of eco-friendly,
soft soled KaBoogie moccasins!


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Silly Family Things

We have this game we like to play. Well, it's not even a game, it's a big joke. Started with my oldest daughter wanting to play "the color game". Would've been fun if we ever actually got to play it, but the joke was even funnier. Goes like this:

Everyone picks a color, and announces it. Then you go around the table and everyone has like 2 seconds to point at someone and say their color. You hesitate or get it wrong and you're out.

But hubby decided to make the game more interseting one night.

Daughter..."Let's play the color game!"

All chime in..."I'm red, I'm chartreuse, I'm BUTTERSCOTCH (see, the harder the get it)".

Now we have 8 colors to remember. Except now everyone decides to change, and we've descended into the stupidest color contest.

Hubby "Let's play the superhero game!"

All chime in with their superhero..."I'm RUBBERMAN!", "I'm DIAPERMAN!"...and on and on, louder and louder, laughing and arguing.

Daughter...."Oh, C'mon, let's just play the color game!!", as face gets redder and redder.

Hubby...."Let's play the favorite vegetable game!" Now I have to cover my ears.

Chaos, mayhem, foolishness ensue, game never actually gets played.

Family fun time at Red Squadron, hehe.

Then there's the "sentence game". This one can actually be pretty funny. We like to play speed rounds with just two people. Basically, one person starts a sentence, and the next person says the next word. You have absolutely no control over what turn the sentence takes, and it can get pretty bizarre. Like this:


But put a 6, 8, 11 and 3 year old with a 13, 15, and two adults, and you have absolute and utter nonsense (if you didn't think that one was silly). Especially when one child decides to say the same word over and this:


Dinnertime fun.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Artisan Pizza?

I have no idea what aartisan pizza means, but I must save about $1000 a year on pizza. We LOVE our pizza. It's a welcome relief on Friday night. But not for the usual reasons. See, we hate take-out pizza. We can't eat it anymore.

Nothing annoyed me more than making my own pizza dough, so once I realized my bread machine made incredible dough, I never again minded rolling out my own. I mix whole wheat with unbleached white in about a 3:1 ratio (mostly white). We have our favorites, including BBQ chicken (BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce) with cheddar, onions, red peppers, shrooms and mozz; meatball, and my personal favorite, terriyaki tenderloin pizza. Oh, yea. We use leftover beef tenderloin we get at BJ's, with pesto, onions, roma tomato, and mushrooms. Mushrooms are a staple on all of our pizzas.

I throw one half plain half pepperoni for the little ones. One by one, my kids are moving their tastes up a notch to try the more exotic flavors. Two down, four to go!

This is my famous (at least in my family lol) BBQ chicken, with red peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheddar and mozz. For a REALLY incredible treat, lay basil leaves under the sauce. Learned that little treat from a good friend. In the summer, my roma tomatoes go on every pizza.
So even if you have no bread machine, it's well worth it to try some unusual flavors on your pie. Let the kids put their own together! Make personal pies. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Hearty Snack

After deciding to make some small changes in our food choices, I decided to test them out on a baking project.

The changes are incremental, but I think necessary for me to feel better about what I feed my family. I got some non GMO (non genetically modified), organic unbleached flour and some of the same type in whole wheat. I mixed them in about a 3/4 - 1/4 ratio so I could use it pretty much for everything.

I also switched our processed sugar, which I only used for baking, to unrefined evaporated cane juice. It's not a huge change, but in a big family, small changes are workable.

I made pizza dough last night and the kids loved it, so that's a no brainer. Didn't taste much different. Since they're used to the organic whole wheat bread I've been buying, and we've never bought white bread anyway, I figured as much.

Today I made zucchini bread with some of the zillion bags of shredded zucchini I froze last summer. Frozen zucchini drains a lot of it's moisture when you defrost it, so 2 cups turned into one. I added a cup of shredded carrots to make up the difference. Then I halved the sugar asked for. I'm daring like that.

They looked kind of crusty coming out, so I feared they might be dry. Wrong! They were YUM! I had to stop the kids from gobbling them like cheap grocery store Oreo knock offs! The carrots lent a sweetness even my 8 yr old sugar fiend said was good.
Ahhhh, sweet success! Next, I try my hand at the food co-op. Do they sell air tight bins for 50 lb bags of organic non GMO flour?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Custom Work

I love a challenge. I love when a customer has a vision, and just needs someone to make it real. Ok, it does take some of the pressure off of me as a designer, but it presents new challenges. Is my sense of proportion, color and layout going to fulfill her vision? Am I going to spend all this time working on it just to find out it's not anything like what they wanted?

Some designers & artists loath the idea that what they create may not be at all what the customer wanted. This is always a possibility. I've found, however, that after so many years designing, whether it be logos, furniture or a sign, that your confidence level does come through in your work. Customers come to you because they like what you do, and WANT that "look" that says it's yours. Otherwise, they wouldn't come to you!

There's always going to be that one time when your vision doesn't match your customer's. That's when we as artists must be willing to go that extra mile, it's the nature of custom work. I've had to remake items, and it's those times when I realize perhaps I wasn't listening to exactly what they were really saying. Sometimes they relay a detail that gives me a clue as to what they really mean.

Sometimes, though, they aren't really sure, and it's up to me to know what will look best. It's a collaboration of ideas and communication. One thing I've learned over my years as a designer, is that effective communication is crucial to serve your customers in the best way possible.

Perhaps it isn't exactly what they had in mind. Perhaps it's even better! Perhaps you'll have to redo a job. It's ok. It's the challenge of taking a vision and making it real that builds that confidence and makes you a better designer. Often, it's your job as a designer to let the customer know that certain aspects of their vision won't work in reality, and with just this adjustment or that, it will work.

Sometimes their vision won't work at all, then the onus is on you as the professional to communicate why and offer up a better alternative. Either way, it's a good experience builder to improve your communication skills, your problem solving skills, and your creative skills.

So don't shrink away from a challenge if you know it's something you can handle. And know when to tactfully say "this won't work". You're the professional. You will both walk away with something you wanted, or even something you needed. Risks are important to building a business, they can and do provide learning experience and a chance at greater success!
Have a custom horror story? What have you learned from it? Or tell us a success story when you knew what needed to be done, and it all worked beautifully!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Soft Comfort for Any Hair!

I've been having a blast making these headbands! They're a new venture for me, and have been selling well locally. A lovely friend at the Lost Spool does my embroidery for me, and I can't stop making them!

My customers rave about how comfortable they are to wear, while growing out bangs, or just for a quick and easy do. I find myself going the "easy do" route often!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

KaBoogie Babies!

A few of my boogie babies. I live for this! Many customers send me pics of their little ones in their boogie shoes, I've got a big folder of them, some have given me permission to use them, so here they are....ta-da!!

This little guy needed some black leather ankle boots, stat! Seeing how adorably his little birthday outfit came out, I'm glad I put a rush on this one!

This was my first pair of boots, for a special custom order. Her mom wanted them just a little higher than my ankle boot. I was thrilled at how well they came out!

A friend brought this little darling over one day and I just had to put these on her! Maryjanes are just so classicly sweet...

A customer at a craft show, I'd swear she brought this baby dressed JUST for these boots. One of my more exquisite designs, made from an eyelet skirt. Rare find, gorgeous boots!

Always on the lookout for more boogie baby shots, if your baby is sporting KaBoogies, I'd love to see a shot!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Train Them Up Well Already!


You're running around your house behind your kids, picking up stray socks, vacuuming, clearing dishes, wiping counters, putting silverware away, folding laundry, bla, bla, bla. Those pampered little princes/princesses are toiling away on Facebook, having a pattern block war on their bedroom floor, or watching iCarly for the 400th time this week.
Not you? Good. Move ahead 2 spaces.

No, just kidding. I know we've all done this at one time, wondering why it's US doing all the work. The answer is simple. Because kids don't have the first clue how to do chores. They must be taught. I did a little experiment with my 5 year old today to see just how much she could handle. Now, she's been trained up to do many things, so you'd have to start simply. But I think you get the idea. Seriously, if you think your kids cannot do anything, it's because you haven't taught them how.

I gave her the vacuum cleaner, an Oreck, not too heavy. Told her to do the best she could in the dining room, moving the chairs for her. She got about 1/3 of the way through, said it was too hard, I believe her lol. She does know how to work.

This needs to start when they are around 2. They must learn to pick up. They need to be shown over and over, ohhh, until they're about 18. Then you can send them and their junk packing if you want. (Disclaimer: your standards will never be met, it's "kid" clean, as my bf told me, get over it or toil away alone). So here's my list, certainly not exhaustive, of things kids CAN handle, from about age 2, to start them getting used to the idea of chores. Be aware that at age 2, you have to take their hand, put it on the item to pick up, move them to where it goes, shake the hand til it drops LOL. Repeat for each item. They'll get it.

2-3 yr. olds :
Can sweep with a small broom, toy or one from the Dollar Store.
Give a basket they can carry when full, show them how to pick up toys and put them in. Afterwards show them how to put them where they belong. Small steps, one thing at a time.
Have a low drawer of plastic ware that they use, cups, plates, bowls. Have them empty those things from the dishwasher into their drawer. If you have to actually hold the item in their hand, walk them to the drawer and put it in, so be it, just be calm and firm. Usually they love this chore though, my 3 yr old does.
This is a good age to let them learn to cut things. Play dough and a plastic knife, graduating to butter knife and a hot dog. This is such a great skill for a child to learn, to be careful with cutting! Anything a 3+ yr old can cut with a butter knife is invaluable experience.
Teach them to put small piles of clothes in their drawers. This is the start toward the day they will actually bring the piles from the laundry room! You’ll probably start by sorting and laying piles on their beds. My 5 yr old sorts, carries up and puts hers away herself, as do the older kids.
3-5 yr. olds
Put their dishes in the sink, as long as they're plastic, anyway.
Clean up into basket and put away. If a room is particularly messy, give them 1 type of toy at a time to put away.
Feeding animals.
Watering animals.
Watering plants.
Sweeping/vacuuming with a small enough vac, and no, it won't be done very well.
Vacuuming stairs.
Putting laundry away.
Using a vinegar and water solution and a small squirt bottle they can clean tables, counters, sliding doors…anything you can think of. Cabinet and drawer fronts, chairs, things that get cruddy and we hate cleaning lol. A chamois type micro fiber cloth works very well, or a sock on their hand. Make them step back and look at their work when they’re done so they can see where to “fix”.

These are just some ideas, I'm sure you can come up with plenty, I'd love to hear more of your ideas. At this point it's plenty of work for mom, but worth doing. Kids need and WANT to feel like contributing members of the house. They appreciate the praise, and feeling like they matter. I tell mine often that I cannot run this house well without their help. We're a team!

Next time I'll get into chores and responsibilities I think older kids can handle.