Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Fire For Handmade Featured Artisan - Vintage Tags for Days

This weeks Featured Artisan is Debbie LaRue - Vintage Tags for Days! Gorgeous tags in a vintage
style to give a unique look to your gifts! You can find Vintage Tags for Days on:
Debbie also has a shop called Flower and Bud Jewelry on Etsy too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Promoting Your Business During The Holidays

There's no time of year for making sales like the holidays. Buyers are out in full force, looking for gifts and inevitably bringing home a few for themselves. This is a great time to capitalize on seasonal opportunities to promote your craft business. Whether you are a selling veteran or starting a new  business, the following tips will give you some great ideas to help boost your holiday sales.
  1. Holiday Discounts
    Shoppers love a bargain! Send out holiday coupons or sale notices to your customers. When presenting your display, include a marked down basket with any slow-selling inventory you need to move. The end of the year is a great time to clean house and entice your customers with a deal.  Free shipping, BOGO 1/2 off or even a free gift with every order might be a deciding factor your shoppers.

  2. Offer Free Tutorials
    Put together simple tutorials to offer your customers. If possible, put some kits together to make a beautiful presentation. Offer to teach a class at your work or church on making an item or two. Be sure to wear or bring your own creations and bring business cards.

  3. Send a Holiday Card to Previous Customers
    Let your customers know that you value their business and that your product line is perfect for their holiday shopping needs. A picture of your smiling face and/or one of your designs adds a personal touch. Don't forget your web address, or other information on where to buy your products.

  4. Wear, Use or Display Your Products
    This is always a wonderful way to sell your product. Enlist your friends and loved ones in wearing, using or displaying your creations to boost sales.

  5. Free gift-wrapping
    Keep cotton filled boxes and wrapping paper with you when selling your products. Free gift-wrapping is a perk that holiday shoppers love.

Where to Sell Your Products

  1. Home Parties
    Holiday-themed parties are a great way to show your products. Friends and family gather to shop your handcrafted lines and socialize. A little holiday music and some eggnog are sure to put everyone in the holiday shopping mood.

  2. Online
    There are many websites that offer great tools for selling your product. Use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to let your customers know about new holiday items or to advertise holiday sales. Link to a site like ArtFire, where you can set up an online shop for a small fee. Customers love the convenience of online shopping during the busy holidays.

  3. Craft Bazaars and Other Local Events
    Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce to learn about holiday events where you can sell your products. Many areas hold large annual craft fairs or flea markets where you can rent a booth for a fee. If you are willing to travel, look into surrounding areas as well. Many churches, schools and employers hold similar events.  Remember the whole "buy local" push and take advantage of it by marketing in your own town. 

  4. Local Retail Spaces
    Many retail spaces increase their consignment inventory during the holidays. Spend some time creating a professional and eye-catching presentation.

  5. Trunk Shows at Workplaces
    Many full-time employees struggle to squeeze in their holiday shopping after work. By presenting a trunk show at a workplace, you give employees the opportunity to browse and shop on their lunch or break times. Give employees the chance to prepare for your convenient show by advertising in advance.

What to Sell

  1. Holiday Themed
    No matter what you sell, holiday-themed items are always a hit. Depending on your product, you should be able to a your own holiday twist.  Use traditional holiday color schemes or create your own.

  2. Everyday
    While adorable candy cane earrings are sure to be a hit, but don't forget that your customers are shopping for gifts that will outlast the holiday season as well. Items that can be used or worn all year round is an important part of your inventory, and remember that sets make great gifts.

  3. Stocking Stuffers
    Inexpensive, small items are popular with shoppers looking to fill stockings. Now is the time to supplement you usual line with a few easy to make products.

  4. Unique and One-of-a-kind
    Original designs or products are an easy and beautiful way to check someone off of a gift list. That's why these unique creations are always a popular gift item. Offer custom detailing, sizing or add-ons at no charge for a truly "unique" shopping experience.
Please let me know if you found this helpful or if you have any other ideas for your fellow artisans!  Share your great promotional idea and you could be my next featured artisan!  Good luck!

On Fire For Handmade Featured Artisan - Jardin de Lillian

This weeks Featured Artisan is Deni - Breitwerk accessories & Gifts.
Deni has delightful creations in her shop. There is something for everyone!
You can find Breitwerk on:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On FIre For Handmade Featured Artisan - Breitwerk

This weeks Featured Artisan is Deni - Breitwerk accessories & Gifts.
Deni has delightful creations in her shop. There is something for everyone!
You can find Breitwerk on:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Best Chocolate Cake In The Universe Recipe

Ok.  Before I give you this recipe in all it's awesomeness, I must confess it took me a long time to decide to share it.  Let me put it this way.  You could schlep the batter into bowls and serve it and it would be a hit.   But let me warn you.  DO NOT make this cake for a small group.  Your butt will need it's own zip code after eating all the leftovers.  Seriously.  And one more have to promise to not try to butcher my recipe to cut calories!  It was meant to be enjoyed and savored in all its richness.  Nuff said?!?


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar


 4 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate,
    chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup* (see note at end)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  To make the cake:  For a 3-layer cake, place one baking rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of three 9-inch or two 10-inch pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker's Joy).

  Combine the butter, water and canola oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  In a large owl, stir together the sugar, cocoa and flour.  Pour the butter mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk.  Whisk in the baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.  For a 3-layer cake, stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another.  Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other.  For a 2-layer cake, stagger the layers on the middle rack with one placed more toward the front of the oven and one toward the back.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean.  Monitor the layers carefully for doneness, each one may be done at different times.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on racks for about 15 minutes before inverting onto backing racks.  Cool the cakes completely, at least 2 hours, before frosting.

To make the frosting:  Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream in a large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and whip until thoroughly combined.

Place one cake layer on a platter and spread some of the frosting over the top.  Top with the remaining layers, thickly coating the top and sides of each with frosting.  Refrigerate the cake until the whipped cream frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.

  To make the glaze:  Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is very hot and just beginning to steam.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until it has melted completely.  Stir in the syrup and vanilla.  Pour the glaze into a medium measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes.  Do not let the glaze sit longer because it will stiffen and become difficult to pour over the cur the cake.  Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that it covers the top of the cake entirely, but make sure some of the cream frosting shows through the drizzles on the sides.  (If the glaze doesn't flow easily over the edge of the cake, don't be afraid to add an extra tablespoon or two of syrup.)

  Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour.  Slice the cake with a long serrated knife, dipping it in a tall glass of hot water between each slice.  The refrigerated cake will keep for about 2 days.

Yield:  12 to 14 servings.

TIP:  Whipped cream usually begins to separate shortly after it has been beaten.  The secret to this frosting - and its stability - is the powdered sugar.  Powdered sugar has added cornstarch, which stabilizes the cream.  This cake sat on my counter on a warm spring night for more than 20 minutes and still looked as good as it had just after icing.

* Lyle's Golden Syrup, imported from Britain, is a pure cane sugar syrup with a mild camel flavor.  It is widely available in grocery stores or online at Amazon.  You may substitute any light corn syrup.

I hope you LOVE this cake as much as I do!  If you have any questions, let me know.  Please come back and let me know how you like it.

A Father's Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Children

The following story was written by an unknown author and has been around for awhile, but I think it's as good now as it ever was.  I wish I could say I grew up owning horses.  Although I did ride any and every chance I got, it was never enough.  Since I didn't get a horse until about a year ago, I guess you could say I'm a late-blooming cowgirl.  As far as I'm concerned, it's better late than never.

My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most
people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I
took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the
choices she would face in the future.

As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she
would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our
town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color
under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where,
seeking surface identities because they had no inner self-esteem. The
parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses
so my daughter can ride. I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest,
discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current
generation' s "slacker" label on my child. I don't think it will happen, I
think she will love and have horses all her life.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that
we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make
sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for
others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must
still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no "days off"
just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned
that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you
must do first.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of
getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing
things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes,
jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to
impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within
his natural world, he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you
do it. -

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can
both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to
produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to
breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes
die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and
trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see,
as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money.
Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier
visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference
between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to
judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and
to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own.
She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond
body language and reactions. She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings
for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might
only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges
horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a
high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons
may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She
has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regard-less of
who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also
cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging
personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she
has to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the
satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield
willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept
handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and
professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She
knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the
road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments
without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and buildings.
And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel
or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot

When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can
honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses. I
only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these
lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

All I can say is "Amen".  Hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have!  Anyone out there grow up with horses and have an interesting story?  Tell us about it, we'd love to hear it!

ArtFire Collection by The Dreams of Isis

Handmade Gifts

 I wanted to share this wonderful collection by a friend of mine, April Green Muelinburg, from The Dreams of Isis.  I'm honored that she included my Black Leather Concho Pendant.  Stop by her ArtFire shop and check out her gorgeous one of a kind jewelry in the Spirit of Ancient Egypt.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Fire For Handmade Featured Artisan - Finding Charm

This week's Featured Artisan is Sarah - Finding Charm! Sarah has
beautiful creations in a wide variety of styles and colors! You can
find Finding Charm on:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Fire For Handmade Featured Artisan - I Knit Quilt Sew

This week's Featured Artisan is Sandi Levy - I Knit Quilt Sew!
Sandy has delightful creations in here shop. Something for everyone!
You can find I Knit Quilt Sew on: