Announcing My 100 Day Project 2018

I know this is a pretty late announcement, but oh well.

In a nutshell, I’m starting #100daysofsendingcards, in which I make a card every day for 100 days and send them out to people I know. I’m not putting any other limits on it–just one handmade card every day for 100 days.

So you might get a handmade card from me at some point between April 3, 2018 and July 11th, 2018. Chances are that if I know your first and last name, address, and have ever talked to you in person, you will. I have 100 of these to do, after all.

I learned about this project for the first time last year, when I started listening to the Elise Gets Crafty podcast. I was reminded about it on Instagram a few weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about whether I want to participate and what I would want to do.

Reading more about the challenge helped me. I especially liked the list of questions posed on The Great Discontent website.

1. What are you passionate about? Is there something you used to do that you gave up, something you’d like to explore, something that intrigues you?

The first part of that question is pretty overwhelming to me because I am passionate about a lot of things. It’s way too broad, and I get intimidated trying to narrow it down. But the second part of the question really got me going. There are a couple of things that I used to do all the time that I don’t do now and would love to start doing again.

I used to spend hours on my bed in my room drawing/painting and listening to music. That was me in high school and to some extent in college, though I was more into writing in college. I wanted to spend most of my alone time recharging in that way–I liked to be with my friends and out doing stuff, but when I was alone, I just wanted to be creative.

Another thing I really liked to do was send (and get) letters and notes in the mail. I wrote back and forth with several people when I was in middle and high school–my grandmother in Alpena, my friend Jessica, this young couple from my church that moved away, a friend that had to go to rehab, a soldier that I’d never met–I loved writing and connecting with people in that way, and I did it practically every day for a long time.

I didn’t always make my own cards–at that point in my life it felt childish, I think–I couldn’t get past the construction paper Mother’s Day cards that we used to make–but for my 100 day project I’m going to do it–make a card every day and then every week or so, mail out a pile of them to my friends and family.

2. Pick an object or objects. What do you already have in your possession that could be used to facilitate the project?

This question really spoke to me–I have so many markers, stickers, card stock pieces, actual blank cards, envelopes, rubber stamps and other odds and ends for paper crafting that it actually sometimes makes my head swim. I’m the person that complains about how much clutter there is in the house and then goes off to Hobby Lobby because they are getting rid of two aisles of paper crafting and are having a huge clearance sale.

I’m also always psyched to have a reason to use my Cricut, so there’s that, too. Plus, if I get tired of doing one card style, I can always switch over to watercolor, drawing, or lettering.

3. Consider your location. Will you be home, traveling, or a combination? Pick something that is feasible to complete.

This was a good one to consider, too, since we go up to Bellaire so often, especially in the summertime, when the bulk of this project will be taking place. I couldn’t pick a big project that would be hard to complete on the go–one of my first (insane) thoughts was to paint a piece of furniture every day for 100 days–glad I talked myself down from that nonsense.

I also backed off of the idea to create and send a card every day–I’ll be creating one card a day and then sending them off once a week or so. I think that will make it a little more manageable (though I’m back and forth to the post office several times a week for my Etsy shop, so it probably will be oftener than once a week anyway).

4. Choose your action. What’s your verb?

They give a whole list on the website, but as soon as I read the question I knew. Connect. I’m not going to claim that I’ll be creating 100 cards that are perfectly personalized to 100 people that I know for the express purpose of connecting myself to that person on a deeper level in which we’ve never been connected before.

What I will say is that I’ll try to create cards that will speak to people, on one level or another. I’ll try to use what I know about a person, or what I know is going on in their life, to inspire or encourage or comfort or cheer them. I’ll be praying over every card and every brush stroke, praying for these people as the cards go out each week. I’ll be working through my own moments of insincerity and discomfort and unwillingness.

I’m trying to think back to all those notes and letters I wrote in high school. It was probably a lot of just what was going on with me. I doubt it was anything substantive. Still, the people I was writing to were going through big things. Infertility, divorcing parents, active duty, separation from family and friends. There were smaller things, too–bad grades, acne, embarrassing things done in front of crushes. I don’t remember where my head was at when I was writing all those old letters, but I do remember one specific night when one of my friends was at a dance with the boy I had a crush on at the time.

I was in a funk, right? I just wanted to be sad and grumpy and eat pizza and go to bed, but I remember pulling myself out of it to write a note to my friend in rehab. I remember wanting to turn the night around, to put something into someone else rather than to continue to think about myself and my problems all night. That’s the moment that I want to distill and keep with me throughout this challenge.


There’s obviously the creative portion, too.

I don’t know exactly what I’m hoping to get out of this challenge. I know when I started thinking about this my first thought was “what am I going to do with 100 little projects after this is over?” I have pack rat tendencies, though I try to purge every few months or so. Usually that starts with big dreams of getting rid of everything that I haven’t used in the last five minutes, and ends with me taking two tiny boxes to the thrift store because I “might use that stuff someday.” I need Marie Kondo up in here stat.

So I’m happy to have come up with a project that I can immediately release into the world.

I’m also hoping to get past some creative blocks that I’ve been struggling with. I’ve always been great at reproducing ideas–drawings, Pinterest projects, paint techniques–and I’m getting really good at coming up with variations on ideas that I’ve seen. What I feel like I struggle with is originality. This paragraph could be an entire blog post, complete with example after example, so I’ll just leave it there. I’m excited to come up with some original designs.

I’ve always struggled with perfectionism, which is probably why I didn’t just jump at the thought of doing this and run off into the sunset immediately with it. “Done is better than perfect” just never really works for me. If I don’t think I can do something perfectly, chances are I won’t do it until I think I can. I’m trying to work on that. The first week of the challenge went ok. I’m trying not to plan too far ahead (factoring in birthdays that I know are coming up, holidays, milestones, etc.), although ideas just pop into my head all the time and I have to write them down or else they will keep me up all night. Am I doing this right? Oh yeah, perfectionism. Working on it.

Are you doing the challenge? Comment with your hashtag so I can follow you! And it isn’t too late to start–you can do it anytime!!

 

 

 

#metrodetroitmaker Goals for 2018

Good morning girl bosses!

I love this time of year! My slow time of the year corresponds with the New Year, which makes it the perfect time for setting goals, building up inventory, and plotting out how I want the year to go (which also means planning the shows I want to do).

Yes, I said, “setting goals” not “making resolutions.” The thing I don’t like about resolutions is that they often become more like wishes rather than achievable goals. I have no idea what my New Year’s resolution was last year. I probably didn’t make one. But I also didn’t have a focus for the year like I have for this year. Wanna hear what it is?

Mortgage.

Let me back up a little. This post will eventually get around to my business goals for the year, but first I want to give you a little background on what’s going on with us and our personal goals for our lives (it’ll all make sense eventually).

When I started this business, it was to help with our debt snowball. For more on that, hop on over to Dave Ramsey’s website. His stuff is gold if you’re really ready to buckle down and tackle your finances like an adult. If you’re not into delaying gratification, driving an old car, and pretty much never eating out while you’re working his plan, you’ll probably want to stay away.

We’ve been out of debt for about two years now, and our next step has been to tackle our mortgage, but we haven’t been pounding on it like we should be. The reason is partially because I stopped paying us out what I had been so that I could build up the business a bit more—you know, investing in a better camera, a design for the shop, fancy business cards, lots of shows, etc. etc. For a little while, I was toying with the idea of really bulking up my business savings so that I could invest in renting a retail space of my own.

Fast forward to last month, when Dan and I were thinking about and planning for 2018 and doing our budget for the year (yes, the whole year. I’m a huge nerd. I can’t live without that kind of structure).

I had already decided that I wanted to pick a word for the year, and I told Dan about the idea. Looking at our budget at the priorities that we had, it was pretty easy to decide on our word.

We have an aggressive goal of paying down 33% of our mortgage by the end of this year. I say it’s aggressive because the income from my teaching job plus the set amount from Dan’s income that we’ve decided to dedicate to the mortgage will only cover about 18% as it sits right now, which means my business has to contribute an additional 15%. That’s a lot, but I know that I can do it if I stay on pace with what my business produced last year (here’s hoping that I can surpass it and contribute even more).

So how does that affect my goals for 2018?

So glad you asked.

I want to start with my goals for this quarter, which I hope to transition into each quarter (with some tweaks) as the year goes on.

Goal #1: No spend January.

That’s right. I have vowed not to darken the doors of JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, or my cluster of beloved thrift stores this month. AT ALL.

I’ll give you a minute to recover.

I’ll admit, this is hard for me. I get a lot of inspiration and creative energy from these places, not to mention materials for my pieces. But you know what else I get? A lot of stuff that I don’t even remember purchasing! Good stuff. Stuff that I could really use.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m spending my January creating pieces that I already have the materials for, and I have plenty—wreath forms, felt, fabric remnants, paint, furniture, wood scraps, card stock, notions, ribbon, dowels….the list goes on. And you know what else I have a lot of? Half started projects that I never got around to finishing! I have nine dowel lengths painted and ready to be made into fairy wands. I have at least twenty (and probably more) tea wallets already cut out and ready to iron and sew. I have a telephone bench that needs to be painted. I have a wire wreath form spray painted gold and waiting for some felt flowers. I have felt flowers that are all cut out and waiting to be put together. The list goes on and on.

And do I need to go to JoAnn’s in order to complete any of these pieces? No, I don’t.

Not only will I save time and money by not visiting these stores, but I will also be decluttering my work spaces by using up materials that I already have laying around! Just this past week I finished two pillows (the forms have been sitting there for at least 6 months) and several linen heart banners for Valentine’s day from leftover fabric from over a year ago:

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It’s already the 15th, and I’m feeling the withdrawals and trying to convince myself that the excuses I’m coming up with to head to the craft store are actually really good reasons for me to break my vows and buy a bunch of new stuff. So far, I’ve been able to resist, and I’m putting a lot of obstacles in my own way by making sure that I always have a project in my face that needs to be completed.

One side effect of this experiment that I didn’t anticipate was that my creativity has been engaged in a different way than it has been lately–by forcing myself to use only materials that I have, I’ve been seeing the items in my basement and garage in a whole new light, and seeing new ways to use materials without even having to browse Pinterest for inspiration. It’s been fabulous, and I can’t wait to share more of the pieces I’ve been creating lately!

Goal #2: Stock up my shop.

As I’m going through bins and boxes of materials and pieces that I’ve purchased for one project or another, I’m discovering some amazing things that I no longer need but are going to be great additions to my shop. As of writing this post, I have 113 listings in my shop, and I’m on a mission to get to 200 by the middle of February (that’s about 2.8 listings/day, which is more aggressive than I’ve ever been in the past. The number one thing that I’ve found that consistently drives people to my Etsy shop is consistent postings, so this is a really good goal for me, and one that I actually have time for right now!

Stocking my shop is always on my radar, but during slow times when I’m at least a month out from my new craft show I can really buckle down and focus on getting as much new inventory photographed and ready as possible.

Goal #3: Find new things to try.

This one is still developing. There are at least three new shows that I’m planning to apply to this quarter, and I’m also toying with the idea of renting some space inside a larger co-op type store. There are several places where I’ve thought about doing this in the past, but now there’s a new place opening in downtown Rochester, and that is almost too close not to make it worth it.

I’m still an avid Goal Digger podcast listener, and I’ve recently added The Purpose Show to my playlist, as my new podcast material. It’s a little more focused on motherhood than on small business and goals, but it’s a nice way to round myself out and make sure that I’m focusing on my family and not just on my business for the better part of the day.

I also want to add a few books to my reading list for this year that have to do with my business, and I’m hoping to start with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I haven’t come across any other business related books for the list yet, though I have TONS of fiction books that I’m hoping to get into this year.

I’m also shaking up my morning routine (I’m just now getting back into my routine of heading to Starbucks at 5 a.m. on non-preschool mornings) by adding morning pages to at least a couple of my mornings each week. I typically brain dump into my planner each week, but my planner is a bit tight on space, and my brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish which is a little overwhelming for those neat little lines and boxes. I’m hoping that doing a massive dump will help me to streamline so that I don’t overwhelm my poor little planner.


What are your goals for 2018, both personal and business related? Do they overlap at all? I’m hoping to get some of my fire back with a solid goal that will really affect our family’s life going forward into the next two years. When I started this business, that fire was there, and it fueled some major growth!

I’d love to hear from you about some of your strategies for a productive year, month, and week, too! Do you bullet journal? Use a planner? Do morning pages? How do you release all that extra “stuff” from your brain so that you can be free to concentrate fully on the most important tasks for your week?

Here’s hoping to a wonderful January and an even better 2018! Get your goals on, girl bosses!

Talk soon,

Jessie

Craft Show Review: Faith Troy Women’s Gala in Clinton Township, MI

I know I’m just over a month late with this post, but I’ll take a minute to explain why.

This event that we do at the beginning of each December is traditionally the last one of the year–I try not to work a ton in December because I really like to slow down and take time to make gifts, spend time with my family, and think about what the next year is going to look like. Plus, it’s hard to enjoy the season with three events every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe I’ll speed up a little during this time when Charlotte is a little older, but for now, I like to be able to really savor my Decembers.

For us, 2018 is going to be focused around paying down our mortgage. If you know us at all, you know that we are pretty avid Dave Ramsey fans (step 6, baby!), and Dan and I decided that our word for the year is “mortgage”–everything that we do, especially when it comes to money, we really want to focus on knocking down that mortgage balance. We have a pretty aggressive goal of paying off 33% of it this year–I’ll let you know how that goes as we progress through the next twelve months!

That’s a small piece of what we like to do in December–I’m still working on some other goals, as well, and I’m thinking of sharing them for a post later this month.

For now, on to the last event of 2017, the Faith Troy Women’s Gala.

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This event has a special place in my heart because not only is it the biggest event that my church does every year, but it’s the very first event that my mom and I ever did with this business, and it’s one of the best events that we do each year.

As you can see, the majority of what we prepare for this show is Christmas items and gifts, and I was seriously in love with all of the fresh greens and chippy white that we brought to the booth this year. I wish I’d thought to take a picture after the event–it was so busy all night and we sold so many of the Christmas pieces that it was pretty empty by the end!

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We started collecting old wooden sleds, skates, and windows as early as we could this year–the sleds took up a bunch of room in my garage this summer, so I was happy that we sold most of them (although my favorite one didn’t sell, which I’m actually sort of happy about).

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We also brought a lot of our normal small items, especially the things that make great gifts–tea wallets, burp cloths, switch plates, coasters, and some of the new baby/toddler items that I’ve been trying to incorporate more into our events.

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The doll baby beds were very popular, as were the felt flower hair bows and felt flower hoop wreaths. Funny story about those–the first one I made was an Instagram inspiration that I made for myself, but I had so much fun doing it that I made a few more for this show. I thought they were really pretty and unique. I asked Dan what he thought of them and he was really surprised that I was thinking of selling them (which basically translates to something like he took one look at them and immeadiately thought they were a failed experiment). He was equally surprised that I didn’t come home with any of them…

Anyway, on to the normal elements that I talk about with any other craft show.

Price: This show is an easy yes for us at $40. It’s always been really reasonable (I think the first year we did it was only $25), even though the total shopping time for the event is less than 3 hours. It’s always on a Tuesday evening–shopping typically starts at about 4:30 p.m., which is a little earlier than most of the women are there, but they all trickle in by 6:30, and with almost 1,000 attendees, it gets crazy busy.

During the dinner, music, and program (which is always fantastic), shopping is closed, but it opens up again after the event, which is nice–I think it gives some of the more hesitant customers time to really think about what they want to purchase and then an opportunity to come back later. I will say that the busiest time is definitely before dinner; since it’s often snowy and cold here in early December, I think most people are eager to get home and get warm as soon as possible (especially if they have to work the next day).

Skirted tables and chairs are provided, which is a nice bonus at this price point–most shows I go to charge extra for a plain, ugly folding table, so these are far and away better than that!

Location: The Gala is held at the Palazzo Grande in Clinton Township, and the ballroom is set up with the dinner tables in the middle and the vendors along either side of the room in double rows.

As you can see from the photos, the carpet and decor are fairly generic–what you’d expect from a standard banquet center. To be honest, the pickiest thing for me about this show (which is a super little item in the grand scheme of things) is just that putting my pieces against this backdrop doesn’t always show them at their best (especially in photos). I definitely prefer to have a much cleaner palate to work with–my white tent, for example. I always feel like the carpet and wallpaper are a little distracting from my particular pieces.

The only other thing that is a little hard is that the vendors only have three and half hours to set up the day of the event, which doesn’t leave a lot of time to make the booth super pretty, set everything up in it, go home, get dressed and ready for a fancy event, and then come back to the venue again (depending on the weather and early rush hour traffic, it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to this particular show).

This year we had a problem that we’ve never had before, and I think it was because we had so many big pieces–there wasn’t a lot of overflow space, and when someone bought something, they couldn’t just take it with them, because they were headed back to their table for dinner. That’s definitely a challenge that is unique to this show, since usually people take their pieces with them to put in their car or to a holding tent of some kind. It got a little confusing for the customers, since the pieces were still just right there. I hate having to tell people that things are already sold–luckily, a lot of the pieces I was able to reproduce easily, and so we were able to take several special orders.

Traffic: Like I said, the traffic is crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I have relationships with a lot of the women there, partly because it’s my church and partly because we’ve been doing this event for five years now, and a lot of the women tell us they really look forward to seeing what we have in our booth every year.

Since the first year we came, it has been all we can do to keep up with receipts and credit card sales in between talking to the ladies and taking special order requests–there’s no way I’d be able to do this show in particular without my mom. Our booth was so crowded with pieces and people that I was stuck in that back corner for most of the night (not even time for a bathroom break!) and my mom had to do the moving around and the answering of questions during the majority of the time.


Who else out there is with me about December events? I know that there are some really good ones out there, and of course, it’s prime time for the folks out looking for a handmade Christmas gift–if you’re out there selling until Christmas Eve, that’s awesome!

Someday, that might be me…I know December is prime time, but those weeks are too precious to me at this time in my life.

I’d love to hear about your holiday shows in the comments below!

Talk soon,

Jess

 

 

Friday (Small Business) Favorites: December Edition

**I did not receive any compensation for this post—all of these products were purchased and enjoyed by me/my family (or wrapped and saved for gifts).

Good morning friends! I’m so excited to share another Friday favorites post with you (check out the first one here) featuring some of my favorite purchases from around the craft show scene this past month (really, the past few months–October and November were so crazy that I never did get my favorites up for those months, so this is a combo of all of them! I’ve been writing this post for weeks now…).

It’s still early enough for some last minute Christmas shopping, right? Get your orders in for these great items ASAP–there are some awesome stocking stuffer ideas in this post!

Today I want to feature my friends at Green Bubble Gorgeous, Backroad Divas, Sweetnswag, Maybee Lane Designs, and Blue Kangaroo Handmade.

Green Bubble Gorgeous Scrub

  1. Mango Pomegranate Polishing Sugar Scrub, Green Bubble Gorgeous, ($14)

I’ve actually been buying Green Bubble Gorgeous, and this scrub in particular, for a few years now, both in person and through their Etsy shop. It’s my most favorite scrub ever, and, like a lot of girls, I’m obsessed with bath products, so I’ve tried a ton of them.

I have to have a scrub around at all times with the amount of wax that I use on my furniture pieces–and you know that even when you’re using a brush, that stuff gets all over your hands, and it coats your skin like it coats that furniture, baby. I love what I do, but wax is the worst, friends. It’s nice when it’s had time to cure and make the piece super pretty, but no matter how easy it is to work with, it’s still kind of the pits.

I love my Mango Pomegranate scrub (a slight departure from my peach obsession, but really, not that far away) because it polishes and removes old skin and whatever else is on my hands (read: wax), but it doesn’t leave a residue like a lot of other scrubs do–my hands actually feel clean after I use this product, instead of extra oily.

You can find GBG on their Facebook page and website as well as their Etsy shop to check out all of their amazing products. I’m so excited to have run into them at Hocus Pocus in October. Just writing about this scrub makes me want to head to the bathroom and get some on my hands, so…excuse me one second.

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  1. Raspberry Sangria Candle, Country Candlelight ($8)

Look at this, friends! Another departure from my peach obsession. I’ll let you in on another secret about me–I’m also very, very fond of sangria scented things, as well. And sangria. My all-time favorite candle is probably the Sangria scent from the REWINED line, which I’m not seeing on their website at the moment…I hope that means it’s seasonal and they haven’t stopped making it. I would probably cry a little. While drinking Sangria.

*Update: I think it is seasonal, because I found one on sale at Caddywampus on Mackinac Island when I was there in October, so I think we’re good.

Back to the Raspberry Sangria candle. I was burning it the other day (the other month, now), one of the first semi-chilly days in October, and it was super rainy and gross feeling outside. I especially love candles on days like that–they are my fireplace substitute until I get my “real” house with the big fireplace in the living room. I’m living in my fake house right now, folks.

I found this candle at the Backroad Divas tent at Hocus Pocus in Monroe, and I can’t find much reliable information about them online–I think the name “Country Candlelight” is being used by a few different people, so it’s hard to know for sure. I hesitated to even share this one because I didn’t want to share a product that was super hard to find, but the Backroad Divas said to get in touch since they carry these candles pretty regularly. To be honest, I smelled the Raspberry Sangria and didn’t even stop to check out the other scents they had–this one just smelled so darn good, I had to pick it up.

Sweetnswag moccs

  1. Anchors Away Baby Moccasins, Sweetnswag, ($20)

Charlotte had an adorable pair of these when she was just starting to walk, and when I saw these super sweet striped ones at Finder’s Keeper’s in August, I had to get them for my best friend’s baby, Harper. Harper turned one at the beginning of October, and they were the perfect accessory to get with the cute fall outfit that  Charlotte helped me pick out. Can you just not with these baby moto jeans from Target? I got a matching pair for her, but she’s way too skinny for them, sadly. They are actual jeans, which are a no-go for her, since she is a little bean pole who can only wear tights and leggings (and sometimes even those are too big in the waist!). I can tell I have some wardrobe struggles coming up with this girl.

I love moccasins for babies because they are stretchy and comfy and they don’t squeeze little feet–I feel like it’s a much easier transition than going straight into a pair of sneakers. Moccasins are perfect for littles just starting to walk or even those who are starting to pull themselves up on furniture. Charlotte was always taking socks and slippers off, but for some reason she seemed to enjoy her mocs a little bit more than the cute regular shoes I would buy her.

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  1. home. Michigan Wall Art, Maybee Lane Designs, $12

This is another purchase that I made for the Bellaire house…I should probably hit the pause button on these purchases and concentrate a little bit more on my kitchen makeover…yeah, that’s right, the one I started back in September. Early September.

This is another Hocus Pocus purchase–friends, can you tell I had a LOT of fun shopping there?

I love all things Michigan, and this one just spoke to me. It seems like everyone is really getting into the modern calligraphy-type fonts on wall art and other pieces, and I am no stranger to the love of that pretty writing. Maybee Lane Designs had a ton of pretty pieces in their booth, and I had my eye on a little bakery sign there, too. I thought her prices were really good, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for her booth for future Christmas gifts and decor ideas.

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  1. Large Wet Bag in Fox, Blue Kangaroo Handmade, $25.18

Charlotte has been in swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Rochester since the beginning of the summer, and I finally broke down and bought a wet bag in early November, after complaining about having a soggy swim bag all summer. I used cloth diapers for her for her first year, so I had one small wet bag that came with some of my old Charlie Banannas, but it wasn’t great for a soaking wet swimsuit.

This wet bag from Blue Kangaroo Handmade’s Etsy shop keeps our things dry and is super cute–plus, it’s way larger than my old wet bag–big enough to fit both of our suits on the days when we stay for family swim at Goldfish. We are into all things woodland right now, so I wasn’t surprised when Charlotte picked this one from the huge selection on Etsy.


I’d love it if you would join me in shopping small this Christmas season! If you’re on Instagram, tag me @wildanddaisy and use the hashtag #metrodetroitmaker to show me what you got! I’m not above stealing a really good idea for a Christmas gift, and I have so much fun spoiling friends and families with handmade finds and all-natural products.

What are your favorite small shops this fall? Let me know in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

Up-cycled Radio Shell Wedding Card Box

Ok ladies. How many of you have things that have been sitting in your garage for months (or years…ahem) that you keep meaning to get around to but are maybe also slightly intimidated by?

My hand is in the air right along with you. I’ve been toting this rusty, busted up radio to shows with me all summer (and listening to my husband tell me to trash it every time he saw it or moved it). I pulled it out of an old house in Utica when Charlotte was a baby, and my ideas for it have gone through several revisions in my head.

Until Christina needed a card box for her wedding last month, however, I had no motivation to actually get it finished. And, of course, I waited until basically the last minute (the Monday before the event) to get it done. I took plenty of photos along the way, because there was no way that I wasn’t sharing this major triumph with all of you.

Here’s my vintage radio shell upcycled into an adorable wedding or shower card box:

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This piece was disgusting. I’m talking it was caked in several layers of grime. The house where I found it had been basically abandoned for twenty years, and everything in it was really, really dirty. I’m pretty sure that there were various animals living in it when the grandson finally got around to cleaning the house out and putting it up for sale.

Most of the radio’s guts were long gone, and what was left was really rusty and basically impossible to salvage. To be honest, when I saw this thing laying in the front yard of that Utica house, I probably should have just left it there, but I was drawn to the shape and the details on the front—there’s just something so romantic about an old radio to me. So I tossed it in my van and saved it from being trashed.

Fast forward three years.

The first thing I did was spray it down with the hose to wash the first layer away of dirt away. I still ended up with several rounds of super dirty rags before it approached some semblance of being clean.

I used my jigsaw with a metal blade to get rid of the guts of the radio before the final wipe down.

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There were obviously some sharp edges left over, but the screws holding this metal ring in place were still there, which made a future step much easier than I thought it would be–more on that later. I left the sharp edges for now, since I wasn’t messing around inside the radio much. I figured I’d sand them down a bit later, or else tape over them if they seemed too threatening.

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I had to glue a few of the little pieces back on, and then I gave it a few coats of Rethunk Junk in Cotton. I know what you’re thinking—no Annie Sloan? Girls, I’m loving Rethunk Junk right now for certain pieces, and this was one of them. I also used this paint on my newly redone kitchen table and some of my chairs, and I love the cleaning product, paint and sealer, especially for a piece like my table, which gets a lot of traffic every day.

With Annie Sloan, I really feel like these old pieces with the deteriorating finish are going to bleed really bad through lighter color paints like Old White, but the prep product for Rethunk Junk seems to sear all of that stuff away pretty well. There is a small brown spot on the front of the radio that came through the paint, but I distressed it in that area and it doesn’t really show up super dark. I might do a compare and contrast post for these two paints at some point in the future, because there is a lot more that I want to say, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

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For the card slot, I drilled a hole in the top of the radio and then used my jigsaw again to cut a rectangular hole across the top of one side. What the photos don’t show is that, like a dummy, I did this while the paint was still wet on the other side of the box…yeah, that’s right. I’m a total spaz. I would just say that I was so excited to finally be putting this together that I just couldn’t help myself, but really, it’s probably that I just wasn’t thinking. At all.

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I used my jigsaw to cut a piece of wood for the back, and then cut that piece into three pieces for the top, the side, and the door.

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Remember how I said that the little metal ring on the inside still had the screws in it, and how they weren’t rusted past recognition? That made it super easy to remove the bits of old fabric that were still hanging on around the edge of the speaker, cut a little circle of this vintage lace that I’ve also had for years, and then put the metal circle right back over it to hold the new fabric in place.

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Now that it’s over, I have no idea why this project was so intimidating to me. It could be that I didn’t really have much to go off of when I was putting this together–I couldn’t really find a tutorial or a photo for inspiration anywhere, like I often do when I’m up-cycling or building a piece for a customer.

I was surprised at how smoothly the whole thing went, too–I didn’t really hit a snag like I often do with other projects, and the metal ring made what I thought would be the hardest part into what was actually the easiest part.

The card box fit in perfectly with the rest of the decor–it was even more adorable than I thought it would be. The last thing I did was use my Cricut to make a Kraft paper and twine “cards” banner for the front of it.

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I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the box now that the wedding is over. I halfway want to keep it, but honestly, what am I going to use it for? The occasional wedding? Every party that I ever throw from now on? My practical mind is telling me that I should just list it in my Etsy shop and let it go, but my emotional mind is telling me that I’ve held on to it this long, and worked so hard on it, and that I’ll probably use it again someday…

Decisions, decisions.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about that project that you had (or have) sitting around for years before you finally got around to it. Why did you wait so long? How did it turn out? Was it easier or harder than you imagined? Did you do it for yourself, or for someone else, and do you still have it today?

Thanks for reading!

Talk soon,

Jess

 

 

Christina’s October Barn Wedding

I’m going to let everyone in on another secret. I love weddings! Everything about them. The food, the dancing, the getting to see friends and family, the celebration of love, the kids running around—and family weddings are my absolute favorite. Since I started dating Dan, it seems like we’ve been to a bazillion weddings (there are almost 30 first cousins), and every one of them has been perfect.

Christina’s wedding was especially perfect because I got to be along for most of the planning and preparation ride—she basically gave me her wish list, a small budget, and creative license to handle the entire venue set up. Her wedding board was full of ideas for the reception she planned at an awesome barn venue on the other side of the state, and from the minute I saw it I knew it would be a favorite fall project, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

July was wine bottle month—I had them soaking in my driveway, drying in the sun on my deck, scattered across the kitchen in various states of first coat, second coat, and wax, and then packed into bins to be taken back to Paw Paw intermittently throughout the summer.

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Christina’s colors were pink, white, and gray, and I did all the wine bottles (95 to be exact) in those colors using some Annie Sloan Old White and some leftover Wise Owl chalk paint I had in Petal and Gray Linen. It took two coats of paint to get the bottles fully covered. I probably didn’t have to wax them, but I wanted them to be as durable as possible, especially since we were transporting them back and forth across the state, so I figured the wax wouldn’t hurt, and it would have time to cure over the summer so that we could keep the paint chipping to a minimum (though Chrissy said she didn’t mind the shabby look).

After several thoughts about the base of the centerpiece, we decided to go with simple barn wood squares and slabs to tie in with the venue and keep everything unified (we debated using vintage mirrored trays, wood slices, and fabric squares, but the barn wood went best with the rest of the décor).

Once the wine bottles were well underway, I started to work on the guest book idea. Christina wanted an alternative to the traditional guest book in the form of an art piece that she could hang in her living room or master bedroom. Since her husband has two children, she didn’t want to leave them out by doing a piece that featured only her and Jabin, so she opted to have me do a piece that featured their family’s last initial. Again, I used ideas that she pinned to her board or sent me on Facebook (we had to communicate a lot that way since we are 2.5 hours apart!). A lot of the ideas we saw had a dark wood stain—I suggested going with a gray wash since that would work better with the color scheme of the wedding and the color palette in her house. I used a gray Minwax stain, a 28” x 28” piece of pine, and cutouts of the letter “Q” and hearts to get the design right before I started painting.

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These are the little things I work on at night when I’m watching TV with Dan. It’s pretty bad…I almost can’t just sit on the couch without having something to do with my hands, unless it’s a brand new episode of Game of Thrones, or a crucial play in a Patriots game. Everything else we watch, I have to multitask during.

I took advantage of a sale and a 20% purchase coupon at Joann’s to buy a ton of wood slices for the table numbers, then painted them with chalkboard paint and drew all the numbers on them ahead of time, since I wanted to save as much time as I could ahead of the actual wedding day.

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Christina also needed a card box, so I transformed this radio shell that I’ve had sitting around my garage for about a million years (I’m really into hyperbole in this post, I guess). I’m going to do a whole post about this project, so I’ll just do a quick before and after photo for you here, and you can look for the detailed post later this month. This was a project that I’d had in my head for about as long as I’d had the radio–I just needed the perfect excuse to work on it!

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The rest of what I used was all things I had sitting around my garage—crates, barrels, chalkboard signs, an old ladder—basically, anything rustic and barn-y looking that I had I crammed into the back of my van the morning we set out for the hotel. I also brought along the elements that I needed for Beth’s baby shower as well, since that was happening that night (Friday). Another thing about having a big family is that there are always a bunch of things going on at once–I can’t remember a year where there hasn’t been at least one baby or one wedding, though there are usually both, and multiples of each, and so we often celebrate multiple occasions when we get together. Beth’s baby shower was an adorable woodland theme–I’ll have a post up about that event soon, too!

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Friday night after the shower we spent a few hours getting the flowers ready—boutonnieres for all of the groomsmen, baby’s breath bouquets for the girls, and roses and baby’s breath for Christina. We also made a little bouquet for their daughter, Taylor. I had fun doing the bouquets, but I won’t claim to be an expert, and I didn’t take any photos of the process, shockingly enough….the only other time I’ve done bouquets was for my sister’s wedding a few years ago, so I felt a little bit rusty. The last one was probably the most beautiful…I always feel like my first few tries are a bit of a train wreck.

We only had a few hours to prep at the barn, so I brought along as many aunts and cousins as I could find, and Christina sent a few friends to help as well. The venue, MillCreek Wilde was a little smaller than I had pictured, since I’d only seen it in the photos on their website, and as we were unloading, I was trying to mentally check off all the things that I’d brought and sort out what we needed and what we wouldn’t have room for.

**While you’re over on their website, because you know you clicked that link, can we just take a moment to gush over the bridal studio? When I walked in there before all the girls arrived, I was like, whoa. Amazing. I want that exact thing in my backyard. I would spend all my time in there. Give it to me now.

The biggest thing was prepping the tables, so we started there. Tablecloths were steamed, barn wood was set, wine bottles with baby’s breath were placed, and table numbers were assigned according to the seating chart.

Christina and her mom, Carol, did this really cool thing along one wall of the reception area where they had us hang all the wedding photos of all the family members that they could get their hands on—just the couples, and it was really sweet. With such a huge family, they had no problem covering the wall with the photos, and it was one of the biggest things that guests commented on—they’d never seen anyone do that before and it was a really special thing to see.

One of the biggest challenges of the day was the head table. I’d brought a bunch of mismatched linens with me, along with bunting and little cheese boxes and a cute DIY’ed Mr. and Mrs. banner, but, because of the weather, the ceremony was moved indoors, which meant that the reception area was also the ceremony area and the head table couldn’t be put together until AFTER the ceremony—about a half an hour before the dinner would be served (which also means that I didn’t get a good photo of the head table, so don’t be surprised when you don’t see it).

Luckily, the head table was made up of four or five rustic farmhouse style tables that were stained dark and whitewashed slightly, and they didn’t really need a lot of dressing up. After the ceremony, I threw the biggest lace tablecloth that I have (it used to belong to my grandmother) over the center of the table on a diagonal, pinned the banner across the front, and then scattered my rose and baby’s breath chees boxes along the front, using the bridesmaid’s bouquets to add a little more interest here and there.

We ended up having about a million extra wine bottles, so I used them everywhere I could—I stuck them in the bathroom, along the stage by the dance floor, by the windows, on the dessert tables—all the extra ones really helped tie the whole thing together. By far, I’d spent the most time getting all those bottles ready, so I was going to use them all!!

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Weddings are the best, don’t you agree?

Talk soon,

Jess

 

Vintage Market Review: Hocus Pocus at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, Monroe, MI

I’m a little behind in getting this review out to you guys–we were at this show two weekends ago, October 7-8, 2017–I feel like I just got back from my annual creative writing trip with my college students (it’s actually been three whole days…). Hocus Pocus was a super fun event, and a great way to close out the year of outdoor shows.

This is kind of a unique review because this is the first show where we actually stayed on the grounds all weekend camping! It was really fun and totally worth it to spend the night right there rather than driving back and forth, since the commute was over an hour. My parents stayed on the campground Friday and Saturday night, but we had a birthday party and gymnastics on Saturday, so my mom ran the market most of Saturday and then we came in the afternoon and spent just one night with them.

Hocus Pocus was hosted by The Vintage Market, LLC—they do several events throughout the year, and I was actually invited to do one of their shows last year, but I couldn’t have pulled it off with my 2016 fall schedule, even though it looked like a lot of fun. This year, I decided to try it, since my fall is a lot less crazy. When I first signed up, I wasn’t even thinking about camping, but my mom really wanted to—my parents have a pop-up camper and we hardly used it this year, so she was really itching to get it out. My parents used to camp all the time, and it was kind of sad that we really didn’t get to this summer, since it was so busy.

For me, this photo really sums up the essence of the weekend:

Clouds Over the Vintage Market

I love October skies.

Price: This show was $150 for the two days for an outside spot (which is what we had), though there were inside spaces available for the same price. They also have their own tents, spaces under which are $200.

They charged $5 admission for customers coming in to this show, which was clearly communicated ahead of time on all of their promotional material.

Camping was $30/night on the fairground campsites, which included electricity, water, and restrooms/showers. I didn’t shower there, since Dan and I only spent one night on the campground, but they looked nice—I’d say state park level. They definitely weren’t the grossest showers I’ve ever seen, was is always a bonus.

Hours on Saturday were 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., but they ended up closing the show early, at 5 p.m., due to high winds. It had been pretty windy all day, and our table/door display at the back of the booth actually blew over at one point, which was pretty scary. Towards the end of the show (which was unfortunately right when Dan and I got there), the wind was at about 18 mph, with gusts up to 30, and it was only getting worse. We haven’t had winds this bad since we did the Mount Clemens Summer Magic Festival in 2015, and we ended up taking our entire display apart and dropping our tent down to the ground for the night, which we’ve never done before, even at that show.

I was pretty freaked out that the tent would blow away at some point during the night, especially since we were right there in the camper and the wind was shaking us up pretty violently, too. I don’t know whether I was more nervous being right there, or whether I would have been more nervous leaving. We could see the tent from the camper, so that was a little bit of a relief, but it sure was hard falling asleep with all that weather happening, and feeling like I had to sit up and make sure the tent was still there after every other gust!

With all the weather going on Saturday afternoon, it almost made me wish that I had requested an indoor spot, but the inside vendors said things were really slow in the expo center, and that the traffic just wasn’t filtering in to where they were, so I guess you have to take the good with the bad, right? I’d rather have my stuff blow around a little and actually sell some things, then have everything look perfect all weekend and then have to bring it all home. Most of the outside vendors seemed to have really steady sales, although I heard from some of the vendors that the traffic was a bit slower at this show than similar events in the area.

Other than our display blowing over that one time, the only snafu was with the map—our business name was accidentally left off of the official map and never got fixed before it went to print, so there was one time when a customer had the cart go to the wrong booth for a furniture pickup. Dan was manning the booth at the time, and I’d forgotten to tell him about the mix-up–we were booth #35, but the wrong name was printed on the map for that booth number. Luckily, it all worked out in the end and the customer got his table and everything was fine. These things happen.

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Location: The fairgrounds were a little bit off the beaten path, but it was a beautiful location. The facilities were much more modern than those at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, where we were for the Belleville show, and Hocus Pocus was a lot bigger, too.

The bathrooms, again, were very nice, and there were several of them scattered throughout the show, so there was never a problem with long lines, the way there was at the Belleville and Brownstown shows. The bathrooms in the Expo Center were especially nice, and very big.

There were two big parking areas and two tractors with trailers running all day long, taking customers back and forth between the shopping area and the parking lots. Charlotte had fun on Sunday afternoon riding around with Grandma and Grandpa when the tractor had lighter crowds.

There was also a good size staff with carts to help customers with bigger purchases back and forth to their cars. Everything was very well run and organized, and I didn’t notice anything that didn’t go according to plan.

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Traffic: This show was a little bit backwards for us—usually, our best hours are always before noon, but this time around, we did the best between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. It was a little crazy. There were a few people who saw something and bought it right away, but it was more of people looking, walking around, and coming back for things later.

I totally get that, since that’s how I shop—I like to look at everything and decide what to get on the second time around, especially since my shopping budget is usually split into things for Charlotte, things for events/decorating, and gifts for upcoming birthdays (and Christmas, this time of year). I try to work in a little something for myself–I can’t wait to share my next Friday favorites post (you can check out the first one here).

In general, the crowds were lighter than I expected, especially since the weather was fabulous, except for the wind on Saturday. For a Michigan October, it was hot and sunny and totally perfect, so I’m surprised that we didn’t have more people.

We made our booth probably a third of the way through Saturday, which was nice, and we ended up doing the best we’ve done since Sterlingfest, which was a nice way to finish off the year of outdoor shows. We sold more painted furniture and small items than anything else—it wasn’t a big day for antiques. I’m not too surprised by that—the majority of booths were selling antiques/salvage, so there was a lot of competition there and some really, really good prices. I bought a few things on Sunday afternoon that were just too good to pass up, and that I’ll probably list in my Etsy shop when I’m doing using them.

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I love these avocado drawers. I’m thinking succulents…

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I really want to make these fit into Beth’s baby shower next weekend, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Oh, well. I’ll use them eventually…right?

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These are going to be perfect for Christina’s wedding. $10 each!! Can you believe that deal??

Even with Dan and my dad snoring and keeping us up half the night on Saturday, I’d probably camp at a show again—in fact, we’re looking at doing a couple of shows in the spring where we’ll camp out. It was really nice being just a few hundred yards away from the tent at all times, and being able to bring all the food and water with us that we would need. It was a lot cheaper and healthier than eating from the food trucks all weekend!

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We were a little lonely on the campground with no one else around, but it was super peaceful, too!

The clouds and the light were so perfect on Saturday night that Charlotte and I had an impromtu photo shoot with the Vintage Market’s signature rusty truck.

 

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Can you tell the fake smiles from the real ones? I had a stroke of genius telling her to hang off the side of the trunk with one arm out–she loves anything that has a slight hint of danger to it…

Have you ever done a show where you camped out on the grounds? What was it like? Would you do it again? Share your experiences below—and if you have any questions or hesitations, feel free to ask/share! I’d love to talk more!

Talk soon,

Jessie