Okay, so I know I might be a little early to the game – this is especially rare for me, as I’ve written many times about not feeling the holiday spirit sometimes until Christmas Eve!
But this year, the year that I’m “actively living”, I’ve learned that you can’t just let things happen to you – sometimes you’ve got to make them happen. But, I have to admit I had a little help this year in moving the Christmas buzz into my soul: my Etsy shop!
Last year, I made some holiday ornaments, and one set in particular (mini matte white ornaments with gold leaf detail) was a little popular. So popular, I drove 20 minutes north during an ice storm and dug through the entire remaining stash of ornaments at Michael’s trying to find a single box of the ones I needed.
I found five boxes and bought them all. So, I had a few boxes left over that stayed in my shop all year. They were sold out before Halloween!
It was definitely a trend I didn’t see this time last year, but then again, Thanksgiving is early this year (can you believe it’s next week?)… and I can’t help but think that the insanity of politics has our country looking for a little bit of festive joy as early as possible.
So, I have been keeping my eye out on the inventory at Michael’s and watching for their big Christmas decor sale, where they mark everything down 50%. That happened last week, and I could hardly wait to get off work and drive to the store, where I also had a coupon that would give me an additional 25% off my entire purchase!
I bought a good amount of ornaments and supplies that should get me through the Thanksgiving rush, but who knows! I spent a majority of my weekend working on ornaments, taking photographs, and posting them in my shop.
This year, I’m offering my classic matte white minis, but I’ve also added new colors – champagne, powder pink, and teal – along with medium and larger sizes. I would absolutely love it if I had an order come through that was big enough to decorate an entire tree, in various colors and sizes of my custom ornaments.
As I worked on my ornaments over the weekend, I was watching some holiday movies on Hallmark, and I was thinking a lot about decorating for Christmas when I was a kid. It was always a big tah-dah.
My dad liked things neat and tidy, so when it came time to drag out the holiday decor, we had to put our every day things away. Once the inside was decorated, we would pick a day to tackle the outside – you could consider our house the Griswolds, in the best way possible.
We had tons of lights, and while my dad often expressed his hatred for hanging them each year, he still did it. We would hang lights from the tree in our front yard, and wrap red and white strands of lights around the columns on our front porch. There were green lights for the shrubs and lighted reindeer that we put in our backyard.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we would line our driveway with glossy paper bags in red, white, and green – they all had little cut outs of snowflakes or Santa. We would line them up in our garage first, and put a little bit of cat litter in the bottom for weight, and then place a tea light inside. Once they were all lit, it was really beautiful, but I was likely too young and much too cold to really appreciate all of the work it took.
As my dad grew older, and I moved away, my dad stopped decorating his house for the holidays. I know there were even years he didn’t put up a tree. He also was getting more annoyed with people – hating the Christmas crowds and refusing to drive anywhere on a holiday.
This always surprised me. While I know many people consider Christmas a kid’s holiday, I’m not quite sure I believe that all of the sudden, you can just stop celebrating, especially after so many years of going all out.
Ever since I’ve had my own apartment, 11 years now, I’ve put up a tree. My decor has gone through many evolutions, but I’ve kept it the same these last few years. I have a tall, pencil tree, and I string it with the large, old fashioned bulbs (in white and multi-color). I decorate it with ornaments I had as a kid – I have one I got from my 1st grade teacher, some friends gave me in middle school, and even ornaments I made as a child.
I love getting out the ornaments and looking at each one; remembering the memories surrounding them.
When my dad passed away earlier this year, he willed me many of the Christmas decorations we put out when I was a kid. One of them is one we called “Snowbird” – a large stuffed bird dressed in winter gear, along with an LSU ornament, and even a seasonal Starbucks mug.
As I unpacked these items from the boxes he gave me, I can’t help but wonder if this was his way of letting me know that he’d never forgotten all of those days we spent together – whether if it was him on a ladder hooking lights to the roof or indoors making red and green M&M cookies for Santa – and I’m so grateful for those memories.
So, as I make all of these ornaments for my store, yes, they are certainly fun to sell, but I often think about the people who will receive them. So far, I’ve shipped ornaments to North Carolina, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Alabama, California, and Louisiana! It’s so cool to think that something I made will be a small part of someone’s holiday traditions and memories.
If you’re following me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 – you’ve probably been seeing my stories of all of the ornaments I’ve made, and even heard that I’m already blasting Christmas music, and diving into holiday movies. Why not?
‘Tis the season!
Take a look at my Christmas ornaments, and feel free to place a custom order if you don’t see the color or size you had in mind! Cheers!
Howdy! Here we are, on the evening of Staycation Day 4 – I just got home from the Drafthouse where I saw “Tag”. But, more on that in a minute.
Since I last wrote about Staycation, I’ve been a busy bee. I had an informal jazz rehearsal Tuesday night (our video shoot is Saturday morning, and I’m feeling “meh” about it), I went to one of the restaurants on my list – Veracruz All Natural (it was delicious) – and I even made the other recipe on my list: Vegan Garlic Buffalo Brussels Sprouts! You can get the recipe from Rabbit and Wolves.
I also started on a necklace for my Etsy shop, worked on freelance, and did some work around the apartment. It’s really easy to see how days fill up when you’re not at work.
Yesterday, I didn’t think I was going to get to go to the ONE activity I actually had planned this week: the July 4th paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake under the fireworks! It was raining and storming all day… until it was time to hit the water!
I know in the last post, I mentioned my mental health, and you’re probably going to hear more and more about it because I’ll be starting my treatment plan ASAP (I found a place to complete an assessment today).
I’m not entirely sure what my diagnosis will be, but in general, I have severe anxiety. It’s so severe at times, that it makes normal, every day tasks difficult for me. Let’s take the paddle board thing for example.
I almost didn’t even buy a ticket because I knew driving there and parking would stress me out. And I was right, it did, I even had a stomach ache over it, and had to do some deep breathing… but hey, I did it, I got there, and it was worth it.
I got on the water around 7:30 and was out there until about 10:30 – I am so sore today! I paddled as far down as we were allowed, getting as close to the fireworks as possible (obviously), and it was really nice to just sit on the board with my feet in the cool water, watching a pretty big fireworks show. I have always enjoyed July 4th!
When the show was over, everyone was racing to paddle back by the curfew – and I will say that paddling in the dark is much, much different than it is during the day. It’s a little creepy, and it’s difficult to see juuuuust how far you are away from the right dock. It seemed like it was taking forever to get back; I was really happy to see the dock, and to relax on my couch once I got home.
Today, I worked some more on my Etsy jewelry, soaked in the tub, and went to the movies! Let’s talk about “Tag” – let me know if you’ve seen it! Here’s the description from Google:
One month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running for a no-holds-barred game of tag — risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take one another down. This time, the game coincides with the wedding of the only undefeated player. What should be an easy target soon becomes an all-out war as he knows they’re coming to get him.
The movie was really, really funny – I felt like I was laughing the entire time, honestly. There was a part in the end that was a little sad, and it’s impossible to forget that this movie is based on a true story, because they show footage from the real story (which is equally as funny)!
In the movie (this isn’t a spoiler), a reporter for the Wall Street Journal is along for this epic game of tag because she’s writing a story on it – and in real life, that story was published in 2013 (I wanted to read it but you have to subscribe). Surprisingly, the movie wasn’t that much different than the real story – these guys really did play tag for almost 30 years, complete with formal rules, and hiding out in odd places to tag the next person.
It makes the movie that much more funny! You’ve got to see it if you haven’t yet.
Tomorrow is my last official day of Staycation! Ugh! I am going to sleep in, but I’ve also got to be productive. I’ve got laundry to do and I need to go to the grocery, all before a jazz dress rehearsal. What a difference a day makes…
That’s right, I’ve having a 3-day sale in my Etsy shop! Today is the biggest discount at 20% off, Saturday is 15% off, and Sunday is 10% off – and all items get shipped for FREE! You can’t beat that!
Plus, I have some gorgeous, hand-painted ornaments with gold leaf detail, and the price is perfect, especially with the sale. You should definitely check them out!
It’s a one-stop shop for gifts, jewelry, ornaments, home decor, stocking stuffers, and a super-cute fox cozy for your coffee or tea mug!
Hope to see you in The Bitter Lemon Shop!
At the end of August, I opened up my Etsy shop: The Bitter Lemon Shop. I have always thought about opening up an Etsy store, not because I have an abundance of things to sell, but because there are times when I really enjoy creating things and I always get really excited when they turn out as I’d planned.
For years, I’ve kept a Pinterest board with DIY projects that I hoped to get to “someday”, and in August, I finally had a window of time and started making earrings. They turned out cute, so I decided to put them on Etsy and see what happened.
Like most people starting an online adventure, it seems like when you publish your first blog or post that fist item to sell, the world is going to shift. And then… there’s silence.
I’d heard about this happening with lots of Etsy sellers – that you work so hard to create an inventory of products and take pictures, write thoughtful descriptions… and then you never make a sale.
But it didn’t take long before I made a few sales, mostly from people I knew. But hey, a sale is a sale, and it was good practice on simply using Etsy to see how things work.
Before I knew it, I had several orders, and then I had a slight frenzy when shoppers caught sight of one item: my Holly Golightly sleep mask – a popular Halloween costume accessory, especially now thanks to “Big Little Lies”.
I sold 30+ of the handmade sleep masks, staying up very late (one night i stayed up until 4 am) to hand-sew each item.
I’m proud to say I’ve made it through my first “Holiday rush”, and I didn’t even mess up any of the shipments, which is a MIRACLE.
So, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about Etsy so far – I’m sure this won’t be the last post about this side hustle, business-venture of mine.
Use the Etsy app. The app is easy to use, but most importantly, I get an alert on my phone when someone makes a purchase (it sounds like a cash register), and when someone messages me. This is super important and I know I won’t go online and check my store every day.
Respond to customers. Quickly. A few weeks after I opened my shop, I heard a radio host talking about how she once had an Etsy shop and she hated it because she didn’t make any money and it was more about customer service. Hmm… well, yeah, most businesses – especially small businesses – ARE all about customer service.
We are at the mercy of our customers, because if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have a reason for a shop. As for not making money, I would venture to say she didn’t have a good enough product, because my revenue has surpassed $500. It’s nothing to quit my day job over, but it sure isn’t “nothing”, especially for a side gig.
Most of the time, customers don’t message me. If they do, they just have a question about the product or arrival. 9/10 times, they are really nice and DO want to make a purchase – so I do try and respond within the hour. You never know what other products they are looking at in order to make their decision.
I’ve found that this is what helps me make sales and get 5-star reviews. I’ve had customers tell me how grateful they are that I simply replied and did so with kindness. What’s up Etsy sellers? Respond to your customers!
I do have a professional background in marketing and I know how the average person shops – they do a lot of research, and making contact is one of the last things people do before pulling out their credit card. So reply!
Price it right. A lot of items on Etsy are expensive. Which is okay – if you’re using fine materials. I disagree with adding in a bunch of labor costs to your item. I figure out my prices by looking at materials and shipping costs (I offer free domestic shipping), and also how much I would pay for a similar item. I ask around, too, or look in stores to see what they are charging for similar items. I’m not going to charge someone double just because it takes me a day to make it – people will move right on over to Amazon. Now, don’t make things cheap – price them at what they’re worth; a price you feel comfortable with. You don’t want to give things away, but don’t rob the customer either.
Be honest with yourself. I have a 3-day window from the time a customer places the order until I have to ship it. I make items to order – I do not have a shop or a place to store ready-made items. So, be honest – don’t put 1-day turnaround if it really takes 4. People will understand, and they don’t want to be tricked.
Create a system for shipping. I don’t have a room, or really even much space, to dedicate to shipping. But, I do have a method to how I create labels and pack my items so nothing gets mixed up. It probably isn’t an issue when you have one or two orders, but trying packing 14 boxes for shipment – it’s a process!
Give customers a reason to come back. I know customers do NOT have to shop on Etsy – in fact, it’s been years since I’ve purchased anything on Etsy. But I know I need to get sales – not for money, but because Etsy displays the number of sales you’ve made – and if it’s a low number, people aren’t going to have confidence in your shop. So, I’ve been giving each customer a coupon for a percentage off their next order. I want them to come back – whether to shop, or to see what new items I’ve got in the store.
There you have it! Etsy has additional resources for succeeding in your shop – a message board, tools, and even a podcast, but I have yet to tap into any of these resources. I’m going to try a few new things over the holidays and will also continue to post new items and sales on my Instagram account (@Orangejulius7), but so far I’ve found that sticking to traditional business and marketing tactics has worked quite well!
After seeing the previews several times, I saw “Battle of the Sexes” on opening night. While I’m not a sports’ buff, I AM an Emma Stone fan, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this movie isn’t reaallllly about sports.
The movie revolves around a real-life tennis match (that turns out to be an all-out war) between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).
Bobby Riggs, a tennis player, but also a well-known gambler, is determined to show a newly-formed women’s tennis league what’s up when he challenges the #1 female player to a match. The winner takes $100,000.
But for the women, it’s about more than the money. It’s about getting equal pay, especially after they stopped competing against men (who were offered more than six times what women were offered). King wanted to win to show women they could earn equal pay, and to show men that women could draw a crowd and be equal-competitors.
But in 1973, more than just equal pay was at stake for King. She was falling in love with a woman behind the scenes of her big dual.
This movie was touching, and at times sad. We’ve come so far in some ways, but in some ways we haven’t. King didn’t want to come out: she was married to a man she obviously loved, and after all, what would people think of her if she admitted her true feelings?
Emma Stone does a superb job emulating King, and I’d venture to say Sarah Silverman has a breakout role as the women’s team manager, comically getting them a cigarette sponsorship.
Definitely a movie worth seeing, even if you already know who wins the big game 🙂
In other news, I’ve added two new items to the Etsy shop and will be adding more items throughout the week! I have also been making SO many of the Holly Golightly Sleep Masks – if you’re looking for a relevant, easy costume, this might just be the accessory you need for Halloween!
I know I’ve talked a little bit about my recently-opened Etsy shop: The Bitter Lemon Shop, but I wanted to dedicate a post about it. I didn’t really intend to open the shop and fill it with so much STUFF, but it happened that way – once you start creating, I guess I can’t stop!
At first, I just wanted to make some DIY earrings I’d saved on Pinterest. I have always toyed with the idea of having an Etsy shop, because I really like to make cards and have always liked to make beaded jewelry.
But when I made the earrings, they turned out so cute I thought other people might like them. So, I took pictures of them (although I don’t really know if the photos do them justice) and opened my shop. At first, it was a struggle to get 10 listings – but 31 listings later, here I am, with a ton of ideas!
Currently, the shop is mostly bracelets and earrings – I am really into tassel jewelry right now, so there’s lots of those happening. The bracelets are all beaded so far – I am having so much fun with all of the great beads out there!
One thing I think is important to note is that everything I’ve made is something I would wear (and actually have been wearing); I wouldn’t put out a product that I didn’t like myself.
I am also naming each piece after a place, or a thing that is really special to me. As I write this, I’m wearing the “Back to Black” beaded tassel necklace as a tribute to Amy Winehouse; my sisterhood bracelet (sorority vibes), my Charleston bracelet (s/o South Carolina summers), and my “Saints & Sinners” bracelet as a call to New Orleans.
There’s also a keychain and an essential oil blend roller in the shop – keep your eye out for many more of these to come! I’m thinking a sleep blend, focus blend, an immunity blend, and something for allergies. I also have ideas for costumes, clothing, and of course, more jewelry!
It’s not like I all of the sudden have so much time on my hands, but I’ve found that just sitting and watching TV (or rather, listening to it) while I make jewelry is pretty relaxing. I think it’s an easy way to escape – and I like trying to figure out how to make things or how to fix something. And then at the end, I have something cool to wear!
Blanche is also partaking in the shop, of course. I cleaned out my linen closet and set up a table with my printer, along with a little shelf. I organized my beads and put all of my shipping supplies in a handy container. I even have a few pieces of “Bitter Lemon” wall art along with a scented candle to make my craft area fun. The table is big enough for my supplies, but anytime I’m in the “craft closet”, Blanche scrambles to the table and takes a giant nap – and she takes up at least half the table. So, there I am, stringing beads using a small corner of my table.
I’ve had 11 sales so far, after being open for about three weeks, and it’s cool to think that people in other states are wearing things I made.
If you have ideas of things you’d like me to (attempt) to make, I’m always willing to try. Take a look at the shop, ask me questions, or shop awaaaaay! Visit the shop here and let me know what you think!
Happy Friday before a holiday!!! Wahoo! What is it about that extra day off that just makes life so great? I’m not going to analyze it, I’m going to TAKE it and run with it. Actually, I’ll probably be in bed, but who cares?
Anywho, let’s get into this week’s read: “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.
With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.
Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.
Ohhhhh man! I was so excited to read this book. When it came out, I immediately put my name on the list for a reserve at the library. I did have to wait awhile, but either way – good deal.
I’m going to say right off the bat that I didn’t end up loving this book as much as I loved “The Girl on the Train”. And, you know, that’s ok. Not every book from an author is going to be the same – obviously.
Is it good? Yes. Chilling? Yes.
I have admitted many times that I don’t do well with lots of characters in a book – it’s just hard for me to concentrate and if they are alike, I get them confused. This was the case for this book. So, you very well may love it!
The reader reviews on the Amazon page for the book has mixed reviews as well. I know it’s easy to assume an author is going to pump out books that are similar and equally likable, but it’s just not that way. Plus, I don’t like it when books are advertised as, “If you liked ‘The Girl on The Train’…” because then you go into thinking it’s going to be just like that and you usually just end up disappointed.
So, there you have it. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Saints for All Occasions” by J. Courtney Sullivan. Read it with us!
Meanwhile, The Bitter Lemon Etsy Shop is having its first S A L E in honor of Labor Day! Enjoy 15% off (+ FREE shipping anywhere in the US) all of the items in the shop today through Monday!
I’ll be doing a little shopping of my own this weekend – some for myself and some for Hurricane Harvey victims. And hopefully I’ll be making some more jewelry! I’m really enjoying this hobby as it’s a good way to just zone out and have a finished, wearable piece of fun at the end.
So, happy weekend y’all! Do something for Harvey victims – anything. Texas needs your help & get used to see that here. We need to help each other, no matter where you live. Do good.
I’m taking Monday off from the blog, but I’ll be back on Tuesday with a fresh recap of “Siesta Key”! Bye y’all!
Every week I continue to be SHOCKED that this show is still on television. Here we are, again, so let’s get into it!
The episode kicks off with Chloe asking Alex if he really slept with Amanda. He admits it, shockingly, and Chloe is just liiiike, hey could you let me know when you sleep with my friends? And Alex is all, “Well, I don’t plan on it happening AGAIN.”
Already, Amanda has ruined things with Brandon before they even got started, so at least Chloe may have THAT to hang on to (I mean can this chick catch a break?).
Juliet stops by Alex’s house and he tells her that he hooked up with Amanda “a few weeks back”, and shockingly, Juliet is pissed and stands up for herself. Then she’s all, “Bye. I’ll see you. Maybe. I don’t know.”
Later, Kelsey seems pretty bummed about the conversation she had with Garrett.
The fact that Amanda and Alex hooked up is the BIGGEST story of this episode… and I’m really not sure why. Possibly because Alex keeps telling everyone.
Chloe and Juliet… is it Juliet or Juliette? Or do I care? Anyway, they are talking about it and finally Chloe asks what we’re all thinking: “Do you really think you’re not going to hook up with Alex again?” And she has nothing to say because SHE WILL.
Meanwhile, Alex is planning to host a party at his house that will benefit kids with autism (his brother and sister have autism). Good job.
Everyone is talking about how Kelsey is on the verge of breaking up with Brandon… and Alex is eyeing her for a rebound hookup. Ugh!
It’s the day of the party, and they are really sprucing things up at Alex’s house. Madison is helping him and asks him if Juliet AND Amanda RSVP’d – of course they did…
At the party, Chloe tells Alex that Kelsey and Garret are having issues…oh, Lord.
It honestly seems like Brandon is hitting on Madison, then straight up asks her out, and she’s all, uh, what about Amanda? Looks like she’s getting left in the dust.
When Amanda arrives at the party though, all the guys are like DAAAAAAMN. Then Juliet says she needs to go talk to her (meanwhile, we all wish this would end in a fight).
It’s rather calm, and Amanda swears she’s not with Alex, AT ALL.
Later, Alex gives a big speech about why he threw the party and basically everyone is all about him. Kelsey takes him outside and it’s like… romantic. NO. No!!!!!! I really like Garret, and not Alex!
Then, Alex invites her to stay and go swimming… and she’s all “you should open up more”… oh my GOD.
Later, Juliet is all, OMIGOD you guyz, I am so proud of myself for showing up and forgiving Amanda and being the bigger person, now can we just go? And they’re out.
Garret tells Kelsey he’s leaving because she’s not hanging out with him, and it seems super rough. He tells her she’s been with Alex the whole night and he doesn’t want to talk to her… and he leaves. Nooooooooo…
And then the episode is over. From the looks of next week’s episode, it does NOT look good for Garret and Kelsey. Ugh.
PS. I opened up an Etsy Shop yesterday!
I have been wanting to do some serious crafting, and I finally had the time to make some things that I really liked.
I’ve been making earrings, and decided to list them after so many people reached out and asked me about them.
Right now, I have 8 fun styles listed, but am already working on more, so keep an eye out!
All of the styles are $15 or under and I’m offering FREE shipping in the US.
Although I have specific colors listed right now, I’m always happy to customize items or make new things just for you. Check it out!