Friday, April 11, 2014

The BiffBoard, Version One

I made a BiffBoard!  It's similar to a billboard but much cooler, obviously.  When Bifftastica made its debut three years ago, I simply ordered a plastic sign from Vistaprint and have used that ever since.  You can see it here and here.  It worked out great but for the past year or so, I've been dreaming up something different in my head.  Something handmade.  Something one-of-a-kind.  Something not printed up by a machine.  With my first show of the year coming up (tomorrow!), I finally got my tail in gear and made up new signage for my booth.

It's basically just a small quilt with ties.  Simple.  I cut out letters from the same fabric as my table covers and just sewed them on, much like I did with the Stella Quilt.  The edges of the letters will fray, and are already doing so.  I DO wish I'd paid more attention to making everything square but I didn't so c'est la vie.  I figure with the ties, I can drop that right corner a little bit to make everything line up a bit better.  Or maybe it's not even noticeable to anyone but me!  :)
With the ties, I sewed them on before I applied the binding and did so in a way that you will not see them if I decide not to use them; they will lie flat on the backside of the tapestry.  I wanted to use ties instead of loops so I could I wasn't restricted as to how I could use it!  With ties, I can attach it to the bamboo rods I use (as shown), to one of my grid walls, or to my canopy frame if I'm outside.  Loops wouldn't have allowed 2/3 of those options.
I left the quilting (really) simple.  I actually had a hard time figuring out how I wanted to quilt it but sought the mister's advice which prevented me from overdoing it, which I tend to do sometimes.  The green fabric and backing fabric were both used in the Cleo Quilt and the bias tape was used in the Tulsa Loves Tex Quilt.  As you know, both of those quilts are incredibly special to me so it seemed fitting to use pieces of them in this project.
After I had finished photographing the BiffBoard, I had a lightbulb moment and now believe I'll be making a new sign sometime!  I don't know why I didn't think of it before but now I want the sign to have my business name on BOTH sides so if I want, I can have the sign sticking out into the aisles.  Make sense?  I think this would probably only work with shows where I use my canopy so it's high enough not to clothesline anyone but I also think those are the shows where it would be most effective.  There is a chance that I could hand stitch the name on the backside but a part of me thinks it would be faster to make a new one!  Ha!
I'm super stoked to set up my booth tomorrow and see how things come together!  If you're local, do come out!  The weather will be beautiful and there's nothing better than a street festival on a gorgeous day.  It's the East Village Street Fest from 11-3 at 3rd and Lansing complete with artists, a live mural, live music, and food trucks!  See you there!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Four Months In

It's been right about four months since I chucked half of my responsibilities out of the window in order to refocus and breathe a little bit easier.  I know you've been dying to know how things have been going so here's your update ;)
Well, so far so good.  Honestly, it's been a challenge, a good challenge, for me to focus solely on my own creative business.  I've been so used to jumping around mentally with my many projects that I'm having to teach myself how to just chill out some and go with the flow of Bifftastica.  One of my goals for the year was to create an Etsy treasury a month to become more interactive on Etsy.  I've compiled three so far (Fast and Slow, A Bird's Paradise, and Bring the Outside In) and I have noticed a difference in traffic to the shop.  I'm not sure if that spike is generated by the Treasuries or by me just promoting the shop more, but it's happening!  One of the main things I'm gaining from my Treasury challenge is that I'm learning what makes a listing appealing.  The tags, the descriptions, the photos and the overall feel of a shop are what make you want to come back and make you want to hang out there!  These things that are sticking out to me are the things I'm trying to make happen in my own shop.  My stats are telling me that the renewed focus that I'm giving my shop is definitely making a difference.  I mean, notably so.
With shows, I had the goal of participating in at least three good shows this year.  My first, The East Village Street Fest, is this weekend in Tulsa!  I've also been accepted to Strawberry Swing in Kansas City in August.  I have a few other shows on my radar that I plan to apply to so I should well exceed my goal of three shows.  Whether or not they'll be good is to be determined!  Wish me luck, or better yet, come out and support me!  :)

I also wanted to add a store to my stockists list.  Well, in addition to Made, I now have tooth fairy pillows at Dwelling Spaces and soon my pillow covers will grace the seating at one of my favorite local retro shops...details on that soon.  :)
I'm certainly not ready to quit my day job(s) just yet (and that's not the plan) but with the addition of my Instagram shop sales, I've been feeling pretty good about how things are going in my creative world.  So much so that I did something that I've never done before.  I signed up for a sewing retreat, SewOK.  I have never, EVER taken a class for any sort of craft that I have poured over.  And I've been boastfully proud about that fact.  Here's the thing though.  I had a revelation one day about how elitist it was of me, as an educator, to scoff at taking any sort of classes to better myself.  I've witnessed my ESL students grow with their mastery of English and go on to fulfill their dreams.  I've watched some of the attendees of our Craft Show classes rock their creative businesses.  And I've watched my mom grow as an artist firsthand as a result of her pushing herself and taking more and more art classes. So here I go, nervous as can be, into my first sewing classes! 

If you're feeling uninspired or stuck in any way lately, I encourage you to take active, baby steps to remedy that.  For me, that has involved lots of cleaning and purging, organizing, taking time NOT to make or work, and being inspired by others.  I recently stumbled upon a free online course (that I had bookmarked two years ago!) by one of my inspirations (especially when it comes to balancing a creative life and motherhood), Alisa Burke, all about finding YOUR inspiration.  I've also fallen deep into the abyss of TED Talks and I can't recommend them enough.  I know I'm late to that game but better late than never!  So good.  SO GOOD. 

In sum, I may not be moving mountains but I'm sure making MY world less rocky.  And pretty!  I'm not sure I've ever been this creatively productive before.  Prioritizing and saying no to things sure isn't easy (as I've spoken about more than I need to) but have been monumental in this shift in my world.  I'm proud of the progress and revitalization that Bifftastica has been making and am really looking forward to how things continue throughout the year!  So here's to making things happen, big AND small!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rio Style: Little Gardener

'Tis the season to work and play in the garden!  While the weather this time of year keeps my tummy in constant knots, I try to overlook that and focus on all of the new life that starts popping up outside.  The mister is our master gardener and this year is no exception.  As I write this even, him and a friend are outside building 'potato towers' before the rain rolls in.  More on that later.  Last year, Rio only experienced the garden on my back or in our arms but this year, she's already digging, picking up worms, and watering the plants.  It's a whole 'nother ball game for this little one!  Yesterday, we spent some time out back as a little family enjoying the beautiful weather and beginning stages of this year's garden.
 (Those curls!!)
Rio turned 18 months just a few days ago and is all personality.  And teeth.  Mimicking, animals sounds, constant cuddles, mini-tantrums, and an insatiable appetite for life (and food!) are filling our days lately.  To say I can't wait for summer with this one would be an understatement.  To the garden and our little budding gardener!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tooth Fairy Pillows

While nobody in our house may be losing any teeth just yet, I'm sure that day will be here before we know it, as crazy as that sounds!  One of my latest creations is just for that momentous occasion - tooth fairy pillows!  I had a request to give some a whirl so I churned out a handful that are now available at Dwelling Spaces!  I made sure to make them super kid friendly so when they're not housing teeth, they can be used as play things.  I also made sure to make the pockets large and loose enough for both kid hands and adult hands!  Finally, I put a little hanger on each pillow so when the Tooth Fairy does need to visit, the pillow can be hung by the little's bed so no one forgets the prize!  I don't have any available in the shop right now BUT can if there is an interest and I'll gladly take custom orders for them as well!  Just say the word :) 
Let's get to losing some teeth! :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

One of Those Outfits: Not a Pink Person

If you were to ask what my least favorite color is, the answer would be pink, without a doubt.  Why?  I think it boils down to that whole gender specific color thing.  According to society, as a girl, I'm supposed to be all over pink which is probably why I've always shunned it to the degree that I have.  Then I had a daughter.  Holy cow, that's when I REALLY noticed the gender color issue.  And yes, to me, it's an issue.  But hey, if you dig pink and you're a girl, that's awesome!  And if you dig pink and you're a boy, that's awesome too!  If Rio loves pink, then more power to her!  I just wish our society didn't press a color along with a gender like it does.  All of that to say, I fell in love with a pink dress and surprised myself.
Saturday was mine and Brent's sixth wedding anniversary.  Could be my favorite anny yet.  We started the day off with a trip to the zoo with our friends and their adorable daughter who just turned three.  Those two little girls together just about killed me with cuteness.  After a few hours pointing out all of the animals and a short train ride, we stopped by one of my favorite sandwich shops ever, Big Als.  It's becoming more and more enjoyable to eat out with the kid.  We did lots of food sharing and laughing with each other.  Following that, back to the house for nap time.  Brent worked in the garden and I photographed more clothes for shopbifftastica.  After the kid awoke, we shipped her off to my folks' house for the night so the mister and I could get rowdy!
We really didn't have a thing planned for the evening, except that we wanted to dine somewhere.  Not really knowing where or what we wanted to eat, we just parked the car downtown and started walking.  We ended up at the packed Tallgrass Prairie Table, without a reservation.  Due to some random happenings, we ended up getting a table and had an uh-mazing dinner.  The hype of that place is well deserved.  After our feast, we shimmied on down to The Max where we played a little skeeball and arcade games.  Next up we stuck our heads into Enso and The Electric Circus for a short stay to listen to some music.  By about ten, we decided to head over to a friend's house where my dear friend was celebrating her birthday.  We had a great time catching up and relaxing a bit.  After a few hours there, we decided it was time to go home but the universe had other things planned!  While leaving, Brent happened to see one of our coworkers (the guy he directly works with daily) and his wife arriving home from their night out!  They live around the corner from the house we were previously at so we ended up spending a few more hours over there!  My head didn't hit the pillow until well after three that morning, something I hadn't done in many moons!  It was a wonderful, unplanned day that just kept getting better and better.  Full disclosure though - Sunday was a widdle bit rough for me.  The universe apparently also needed to remind me that I'm not as young as I used to be ;)  Regardless of a ridiculously unproductive Sunday, the night was worth it and one I'll look back on for years.
Look at that hunk!  I'm a lucky, lucky lady.  So here's to my charming man, the father of our spunky little girl, my gardening master, and so much more.  May our future be just as wonderful as our past.
Vintage Dress - Cheap Thrills / Sandals - Target Clearance / 
Jacket - My sister's closet / Earrings - Busted Trumpet

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Six Years Ago Today...

...we made this thing official.  Here's a look back at our engagement photos taken at our home (with puppy Mondo!) and the Fairgrounds, of course.  It's been quite a wonderful trip with good moments, bad moments, funny moments, embarrassing moments, frustrating moments, amazing moments and everything in between.  A pup, three kitties, and a kiddo made us a family which nothing can ever take away.  It's all overwhelmingly beautiful.  Happy Anniversary, Mr. Handle.  Thanks for putting up with me and my micromanaging all of these years!  You're a real peach, ya know. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


So I opened up a little vintage shop on Instagram!  I'd been thinking about it for moooooonths but just wasn't sure if I really wanted to give it a go.  Well, I did it.  It's been approximately 72 hours and I'm hooked.  It's tons of fun to give each article of clothing its own air time and focus on what's great about it specifically.  When selling clothes in person, I think it's easy for special traits to be easily overlooked which means you just may miss out on a killer piece. 
I had a good little pep talk from my friend Kim who has a great little shop that I enjoy frequenting.  Remember that needlepoint I'm working on?  I bought it from her on Instagram.  It's really an interesting marketplace.  There's no real policing of selling activity on there so it seems there's a lot of trust in place but from what I've seen, everyone is on the up and up.  I've chosen to cover myself (and prefer buying this way, too) by sending invoices via PayPal and ship once the payment has cleared.  Easy, peasy. 
Who knows how long I'll keep up with this but for right now, I'm having fun!  I shipped out my first two orders yesterday and couldn't be more pleased!  I've got plenty of vintage clothes and vintage crafting supplies that I'm ready to part with and this seems like it may be the right avenue for that right now.  

If you're interested in checking this venture out, you can find it here!  And no worries, my Etsy shop is still hopping and is filled with loads of stuff!
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