Faux Fireplace with Tablecloth “Tile” Surround

Fabrics & Materials, Inspiration, Stunt Double

I’m always on the lookout for unusual solutions to decorating problems. The fireplace below certainly applies: despite it’s traditional looks, the reality is very non-traditional.

DSponge Schroors Netherlands Fireplace Sm

It’s from the Drachten, Netherlands, home of Mindy and Theo Schroor. From their description (the mantel is “purely decorative”) it sounds like the fireplace is a faux one built around an electric stove. The tile surround is actually a tablecloth mounted to the wall.

I’ve seen clever faux fireplaces before. In this one, it’s the tablecloth surround that really makes the whole, however: the print displays copies of Dutch artists’ work and details from Delftware ceramics, repeated tile-style, as a lovely nod to the local history. The history nerd in me definitely appreciates the choice!

Found via design*sponge.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Experimental Cooking: Popcorn Nachos

DIY, Food & Drink

Due to various dietary restrictions (some old, some new), we’re trying out different versions of old favorites and recipes completely new to us. This means food experiments! Here’s Husband’s latest: popcorn nachos.

Experimental Cooking Popcorn Nachos

It works surprisingly well, even if the result is a bit crumbly. As long as you’re using a fork, it’s fine.

You don’t need a recipe as such, but here’s the how-to:

  • Pop a batch of corn and pick out the unpopped kernels. Spread in the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Top with a light layer of salsa, chopped peppers, olives, mozzarella, etc. – whatever you’d put on regular nachos.
  • Bake in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit / 175 Celcius until the cheese melts.

Did you try it? What did you think?

Some Self-Promo Stats

Ahem Ahem!, Behind the Scenes, DIY

As any creative knows, self-promotion is hard. Really, really hard. And most likely you signed up for your creative job specifically for the creative part, not necessarily realizing that self-promotion is a part and parcel of that job. I know I did – rather, I thought I knew about the challenges of the promo aspect, but the reality, as they say, has a way of sneaking up on you.

Buy My Stuff

While being excited to share your work with the world is understandable – it’s a product of hard work you’re proud of, after all – it’s easy to lose yourself in the promotional whirl. I can think of nothing worse than to inadvertently cross the fine line from sharing your excitement to unsolicited pestering. In fact, I dread it. Like author Delilah S. Dawson says about self-promo:

“…[I]f you do certain annoying behaviors, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and actively repelling people instead of interesting them.”

The equation often feels impossible. I have marketing needs and goals. I need to get out certain information like holiday schedules or rising shipping costs. I also want to let people know about new arrivals in my shop, like the breast cancer awareness items I made in 2014. Achieving those needs and goals seems opposed to the way I want to promote my business, though. I fear becoming yet another spammer, barging uninvited into other peoples’ spaces with my Exciting!! opportunity to purchase my new Exciting!! thing right at this Exciting!! moment. Also, I can’t have my blog to turn into a boring, soulless infomercial channel; I couldn’t stand that myself.

How much should you be talking abot your business, then? There are various rules of thumb with proportions like 4-1-1, 6-3-1 or 5-3-2:

  • 50-75 % signal-boosting other people’s content / curated content
  • 30-15 % original content created by you / owned content
  • 20-15 % sales-related content / promotional (or, in one version, personal status updates)

Or, more simply, there’s the 80-20 rule:

  • 80 % curated content
  • 20 % owned content

Short, informative explanations of these ratios (and more) can be found by Kevan Lee on Buffer.

To see how I was doing, I pulled some statistics. From mid-2013 to the end of 2015, I’ve written 267 posts here. 18 were in my business promotions / notifications category (Ahem, Ahem), which amounts to under 7 % of all posts.

On the basis of these numbers, I could increase my self-promo posting. I have, in fact, been thinking of writing the stories of how some of my items came to be, from the idea to design to prototypes and making the final products. They take a lot of time and effort, though, so before deciding, I need to have some idea of whether it’s worth spending that time writing or whether it would be better to design and sew instead.

What do you think – too much or too little as it is? More pictures? More text? Or more of the general Behind the Scenes posts on running a small creative business? Let me know what interests you!

Signal Boosting: Help Families of Charleston, SC Mass Shooting Victims

This Is Important

I’m signal boosting efforts to help out after the mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina. Please consider reaching out for example by:

Screencap from CNN.

Screencap from CNN.

Image above: screencap from CNN.

Increase in USPS Rates & New Shipping System in Place

Ahem Ahem!, Behind the Scenes

USPS is raising their rates on Sunday, May 31, 2015. I ship through the post office, which means shipping and handling costs for my Etsy shop are also affected.

Since I was going to have to modify my shipping charges in any case, I decided to join Etsy’s new calculated shipping program for U.S. sellers. It means that shipping charges are automatically calculated based on 1) a buyer’s actual location, 2) the seller’s actual location, and 3) the size and weight of the item(s) being shipped.

Changes for buyers are minimal. When viewing an item, buyers enter a U.S. ZIP code (or a non-US country) on the Shipping & Policies tab to generate shipping costs. The price shown will be for the least expensive shipping method offered by the seller that is eligible for the total weight and dimensions of the item(s).

Weighing and Measuring

For me, calculated shipping means I’m both able to give shoppers more accurate shipping costs and save time myself with the new back end settings. Previously, it took a lot of work for me to to determine shipping costs.

I spent last weekend weighing and measuring every item in my inventory, creating new shipping profiles, entering the figures into my shop interface on Etsy, and making sure all t:s were crossed and i:s dotted.

The new settings are now in effect. I have checked my data entry, and everything should be in order, but if you see anything odd, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note.

Happy weekend!

Social Justice Class Cross-Stitch Wall Art

Arts & Crafts, Colors, DIY, Fabrics & Materials, Geek out!, Inspiration

Inspired by the social justice class buttons by Sara Nixon, I busted out my cross-stitching supplies, refreshed my skills and made my own version. You know what they say – if you don’t see what you want, make it yourself.

Social Justice Paladin Unframed

These are meant as wall art. I wanted a social justice paladin; Husband requested a druid.

Social Justice Druid Framed

The social justice druid is already framed and in its new home [not this window sill] but I haven’t framed mine yet. The word “druid” is actually in hunter green, but the dark grey of “social justice” almost drowns the green out. I may have to choose another color floss and/or background if I should end up making more.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Movies & TV

I posted on Saturday about my charitable giving in connection with my business. That was really a Money, Meet Mouth post, Part 1. Here is Money, Meet Mouth, Part 2.

Annoyed at the limited theatrical release of the movie Belle by director Amma Asante, I pre-ordered it earlier in the summer.

Belle DVD Arrived

And now it’s finally here! YAY!

As an Anglo-Saxonist, I like early history more than recent history. However, being a fan on Jane Austen has gotten me interested in late 18th / early 19th centuries to some extent, and Belle sits squarely in that era. Plus, it most emphatically is not yet another re-hashing of the most often repeated story of the past two hundred years, i.e. the story of a white dude with father issues. (I can’t tell you how tired I am of that cliché.)

Looking forward to watching Belle!