Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favorite Discoveries of 2016



This year has been kind of crazy.  I finally moved out of the terrible apartment building I was in, despite all of the stressful obstacles in the world trying to stop me.  Jordan and I moved into a nice apartment with a kitchen and a bathtub and a balcony!  I stopped being able to walk again, but this place is handicapped accessible.  I also found out that dairy makes me sick, so after trying to only eat it rarely I have cut it out completely.  So without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things that I've discovered in 2016.

Food:

Daiya Mac n Cheese: I want a lifetime supply of this.  So far I've only had one box and I immediately wanted more.  If you're not a big fan of sharp cheese this is like the perfect mac and cheese taste.

FeelGoodFoods Vegetable Dumplings: I found these at Safeway and bought one box, because gluten free foods are extremely hit-or-miss.  I devoured the whole box and the next time I went shopping I bought four boxes, because I don't want to run out!

Ben and Jerry's Dairy Free Chunky Monkey: I actually never tried Chunky Monkey flavor when I was eating dairy but this is the one dairy free Ben and Jerry's flavor at my grocery store that I can eat.  It's also a delicious flavor.  The almond milk base makes it super creamy and I doubt I could tell it was dairy free if I didn't already know.

Books:  I didn't do a ton of reading this year because my arms are super sore at the end of every day now that I'm in a wheelchair.  I did do the month trial of Audible and I loved it so much!  I really wish I could afford a subscription, but at the moment all of my money is for medication.  Thanks to Audible I was able to listen to

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: I knew that I would love this book series from the first time I heard of it and oh, boy, was I right!  I was able to listen to the first and second book on Audible and I really want to read book 3.

Aside from Audible I haven't done a ton of reading this year but I have loved:

Drinking the Rain: during my brief time in the Inspired by Reading Book Club I loved this book pick about foraging for food and one woman's journey to find herself with the help of nature; I had to quit the book club because I was only able to afford to buy two of the books

Cabinet of Curiosities: got this one by judging a book by its cover and it did not disappoint; this book is chock full of stories and pictures of the curiosities in the collection of Thackery T. Lambshead

Youtube:

Twiggy Vittoria:  After having a seizure and hitting my head really hard on the bathroom floor Jordan insisted on not letting me sleep in case I had a concussion.  I discovered this channel that night and her videos easily kept me entertained all night and distracted from the pain in my head.  Twiggy is so nice and down-to-earth and I trust every one of her product recommendations.  She makes hair videos, makeup videos, story videos, videos about her dreams, and occasionally vlogs.  I had the luck to find her channel early enough to see it grow immensely this year :)

Rob Dyke: This guy's spooky videos are always well-researched and super interesting.  He does great top 10 videos, videos about strange things, and serial killers.  He also does comedy videos but I am here for the spooky.

Cayleigh Elyse:  Some would call her the female counterpart to Rob Dyke but Cayleigh has her own unique and wonderful things to offer, including: unsolved cases, spooky fun, creepy story narrations (including some stories she wrote herself), and videos about monsters and hauntings.  She does it all in beautiful dresses and with the occasional humorous bit thrown in when not talking about serious topics.

Good Mythical Morning:  In case you've been living under the same rock that I apparently was until this year I'll tell you about this channel, one of the most subscribed channels on Youtube.  Two guys named Rhett and Link host a show where they compete in different made-up games, eat weird food, and are just hilarious best friends.  Every episode has me cracking up from start to finish, and they even have extra videos like the show after the show and Good Mythical Crew.

That's all that I can think of at the moment but I'm sure there's a lot more I forgot.  What are some of your favorite discoveries of 2016?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Running an Etsy Shop while Dealing with a Chronic Illness



When I started my Etsy shop I never wanted to become famous or even so popular that I would need to hire employees.  And I haven't.  This post is not about my Etsy story; it is about how my celiac disease has affected the way I run my Etsy shop.  Most of you who are regular readers here know that I was diagnosed with celiac disease 3 years ago.  Celiac disease is a chronic illness and it's an autoimmune disease.  I haven't had enough energy to work a "real job" since September 2015, and I've accidentally ingested gluten twice in the past two months.  For me that means not being able to keep most food down, insomnia, sleeping for 12+ hours when I do sleep, brain fog, and constant fever, among other symptoms.  To really complicate things I haven't been able to walk since the beginning of September 2016, probably due to gluten ataxia.  All of these things combined mean that I'm really tired all of the time and my muscles are very sore as well.  Luckily for me I rarely get more than two orders a month and I always manage to fill and ship them on time.  Sometimes I send my fiancee to the post office if I can't do it but I always stick to my commitments.  If you also have a chronic/invisible illness I have some tips that might help you run your Etsy shop with less stress.

1. When you set your shipping windows make sure you give yourself enough time to definitely get it done.  You never want to ship orders late (and if you ever do have to ship late make sure you let the customer know why!)  I used to have mine set to ship in 1-3 business days but last year I switched it to ship in 3-5 business days.  That time works for me because it gives me a full week to pack and ship orders.  I can space it out through that week if I'm sick and not get stressed about missing the deadline.

2. Don't do custom made-to-order items.  I only sell ready-to-ship products.  I added a custom made-to-order item which was a $7 beaded dragonfly suncatcher during the Summer and I sold so many!  People were ordering as many as 6 to 12 suncatchers in each order.  Then I had to make each one according to their custom choices and I was struggling to get them all done and packed in time.  It really stressed me out and I removed them from my shop.

Add either custom or made-to-order items to your shop but once again make the shipping time longer than you think you will need to fulfill the order.  Keep in mind that sometimes you will have multiple orders to make at the same time.  If you do ever have more orders than you can fill in a time frame communicate it to the customers who have ordered from you.  If they aren't willing to wait longer they can cancel their order and if they're willing to wait the extra stress is off of you.

3. If your shop starts getting more sales than you can handle, increase your shipping times.  People tend to buy less often when shipping times are longer but it should help you get through all of those orders without getting completely overwhelmed.

4. If you ever get too sick to be able to fulfill any orders turn on vacation mode until you feel better.

5. This is one that I haven't done yet but super need to: come up with a low-price item that's super quick and easy to make and make them in a variety of colors and designs.  That way you'll get at least a little bit of money from the low-price items in between sales of higher priced items in your shop.

So that's obviously not an all-inclusive list but these are things that really help me.  Clearly my biggest Etsy stress is shipping, so I tried to make it as stress-free as possible for myself.  If you have any questions about running an Etsy shop with a chronic illness ask me in the comments and I'll try my best to answer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What I'm Loving: Weaving

Everywhere I look lately there are amazing weavings.  I've found some really cool ones on Etsy and it made me want to try weaving.  Thanks to The Weaving Loom I could learn everything I needed to know to get started.  (The Weaving Loom is a really helpful resource for weavers of all skill levels, not just beginners.)  I'll share my first ever weaving at the end of this post but first let's look at some of my beautiful inspirations.  Click the big pictures to go to the listing.  I'll list shop links under the grid photos at the end.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/267940213
This one is gorgeous and I love the unique style of embroidering on top of the weaving.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/257713890
I love the eclectic bohemian style of this one.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/466825325
I super love the look of driftwood at the top but this one also has driftwood woven into it, which I love!
I love love love the antler at the top of the upper right weave.

I'm also loving the idea of weaving in feathers.
gatherhandwoven | UnrulyEdges | Lepetitmoose | PineapplePhi | midgins | amandajfrench | FirandField | krystleweaves | lightsofeden | BarefootDrifter | LittleWeavebird | CakeSpun | byheartmade | TheWeavingLoomShop | ilLOOMiKNOTiWeavings


And here is my first weaving, not the colors I would have chosen but they came with my loom and then I bought the off-white.

 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Silly Spooky Skeleton

I got this amazing skeleton dress from Hot Topic clearance and the bones glow in the dark, so obviously every night when we're about to go to sleep I take advantage of the lights being off to dance around in my dress singing "spooky scary skeleton".  (Although I've actually been getting it wrong and singing spooky ooky skeleton because my brain got it mixed up with The Addams Family)  This is what I'm referencing, in case you don't know about spooky scary skeletons.  Anyway I've been being really silly because my options are pretty much to be silly or be frustrated and depressed so I try to be silly and I was pretending to be a spooky scary chicken skeleton flapping my arms like chicken wings.  I tried to make a joke about Jordan not being scared by it so he must have nerves of steel, but my brain couldn't think of the phrase nerves of steel so I said iron lungs.  Because even through the brain fog my brain knew the phrase involved a body part and metal.  Sometimes brain fog can make things funny.


It has rib cage bones and arm bones.  I don't think I knew that they glow in the dark when I bought it (or if I did I can't remember) but I love it even more because they do.  I got it because Fall weather is here and I only have two long sleeved dresses which is NOT ENOUGH because dresses are the easiest clothes to put on when you can't lift your feet off the floor.  Plus Hot Topic was having a buy one get one for $1 sale on clearance and that is too good of a deal to ignore!

By the way, I hope this is actually funny to other people and not just a you had to be there sort of funny story.