“Jenn, you are one of the most conscientious sellers I've come across. Plus you are so sweet on a consistent basis!”
- Cindy, Artfire Buyer

“My granddaughter loves it!! Thanks for making it "her size"!! “ - Janna from Etsy

“Jenn, I love my perfect little avatile!!! It's adorable. Thanks so much, I'll be ordering MORE! xxoo” - Holly from SpoiledBratzWear

“My fave! Love it!” - J, Etsy Buyer

“Jenn, I love the custom pendant you made for me - it is perfect!”- Marion from Artfire

“Super fast shipping! THANKS SO MUCH!!!!” - Etsy Buyer

“Absolutely GORGEOUS!! Great service, FAST shipping - beautiful work!! I'll be back for more!! Thank you!”
- BWDesigns (Custom Order), Artfire

“All I can say is WOW!!! This is one of the MOST beautiful pieces I have ever purchased - wonderful seller, great communication and gorgeous work!!!! Thank you!!” - Judith (Custom Order), Artfire

“I love it! Thanks!” - Etsy Buyer

“I received my pendant today and it arrived in perfect condition. Thank you so much... it's beautiful and I love it!!!”
- Custom Order, Artfire

"This turned out better than I could have imagined! Even the packaging is A++++! I LOVE IT!! THANKS NINJA!!" - Laura (Avi-Tiles Custom Order), Artfire

"Ninja, so sorry it took me so long to tell you how much I love my cats! I guess it never occurred to me there were 2 pages of purchases! This is purrrrrrfect!" - Ali, Artfire Buyer

"absolutely gorgeous. I will wear her proudly...thanks Jenn" - Joy, Artfire Buyer

31 March 2009

Just a Little Inspiration...

I had a pretty rough day yesterday, and I was sitting at home feeling crappy about it all.... but thank goodness for friends. A friend sent me these in my email yesterday. She said she saw them in a restaurant and thought of me, so she copied them to her blackberry and forwarded them on. They were just what I needed to hear, so I thought I would share:

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered, forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see in the end it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

"There is more to life than deadlines and due dates. Sometimes life is about deep breaths, hot baths, good friends and one more spin around the merry go round. Find the balance. Make time to dream, it's the beginning of goals. Make time to laugh it's the music of life. Make time to play, it keeps you creative. Make time to relax so the good things in life can catch up to you."

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is another new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

There's a lot of wisdom in those words, don't you think?


30 March 2009

Do You Make a Difference?

I've noticed that there are a lot of artisans who generously give of their time and talents to help the community around them. I am continually amazed at the outpouring of kindness and compassion shown in the handmade community. So I want to give back to those who have given so much to everyone else.

I want to start featuring each of these artisans on a weekly basis here on Ninja Jenn. My sincere hope is that you, my wonderful readers, will be both enlightened and inspired by what these awesome women and men are doing. I ask that, as you read their features, you take the time to look at both their studios and their causes. I will hopefully have the first feature up by next Monday, so please check back to see who is making a difference around here!

Additionally, if you are one of these artisans, please let me know! I want each of you to be a prominent feature here, and I want to do all I can to spread awareness of your cause. I promise I will not judge, so, no matter what your cause may be, if it matters to you, let it matter to me!

If you want to be featured in the future, or you know of an artisan that deserves to be recognized, please leave me a comment with your name and a link to your studio/blog!


28 March 2009

You KNOW You Want Some Free Earrings...

Well so do I, which is why I'm hesitant to share this info with you guys...

But, in the spirit of kindness and in the hopes that my overly taxed karma will be kind to me, I am going to let you in on something cool: there is a giveaway going on for some really super awesome earrings and a surprise gift.

Where, you ask? Over on The Vintage Jewelry Collector's blog!

Just head over and read her post and you will get all the information you need to enter the giveaway. I'll even give you hint: go read my post about the AFSP participants, and go find something you like in one of their shops. Just buy that awesome little item you just found, copy your order number, post it on her blog, and you get an extra entry!

See? I can be nice when I wanna be... ;0)


27 March 2009

Free Press Friday - Creative Critters

WOO HOO! It's Friday! And we all know what that means, right? Time to stage a "ninja invasion" of another artisan studio and see what sort of awesomeness we can find!

This week's artisan is someone I found on Artfire just recently. She posted in the forums, and I couldn't help but take a peek inside her studio. She's Creative Critters, and her work is so cool, I sent her an email asking her to let me feature her on a Free Press Friday post. She was kind enough to say yes, and I am so happy she did! i can't wait to show the world her awesome art!

Let me start by introducing her to you guys. Her name is Michelle, and she's from Fairview Park, Ohio. She's 33 (which I think is a fine age to be LOL), and she has the ability to take a lump of polymer clay and work miracles with it! When I asked her about herself, she told me "I love all animals, being outdoors and active, anything dealing with fantasy, and working in the garden. When I create, I put my soul into my work- I truly love what I do. And I'm really enjoying getting to know some of the other artists on Artfire!" Well you know what? I couldn't agree with her more! Seems like she's loving her Artfire studio as much as I love mine!

Michelle makes polymer clay sculptures, mixed media jewelry, adorable cloth dolls, knit toys, polymer clay pen sets, and World of Warcraft plush characters, all of which you can find in her studio. She also blogs and maintains a Flickr page (where you can see tons of her awesomely cute sculptures!) If you want to make a more personal connection with her, you can find her on both Facebook and Myspace.

I love that Michelle seems to have a little bit of a "geeky side" (as do I!), and it shows in all her wonderful fantasy based pieces! But don't let her fool you... This girl can make just about anything from clay... as you will see if you look around her studio!

I tried to pick a variety of things from her studio to add to my spotlight, but there is no way I can begin to show you all her cool stuff! Please go shop around a bit... I promise you will be amazed at her talent! (And her prices are so reasonable it's crazy!)

It's been my real pleasure to meet Michelle! She's always so sweet in the forums, and her work is truly an inspiration! Good luck to you, Michelle! I imagine you will have great success around here!

* Want to be featured on Free Press Friday? Leave a comment with your name and a link to your shop and I will be in touch! *


26 March 2009

New in my Studio: Avi-Tiles!

I decided a while back to start making custom jewelry with pet pictures on it, and since then I've been brainstorming about other ideas I can use to stand out in the sea of pendant makers. So I've decided to try a new style of custom tiles.

I like to call these custom tiles "Avi-Tiles". Avi-Tiles are awesome (IMO) because they give you a way to link your online world with your real life persona. Simply put, an Avi-Tile is a small piece of jewelry that has your avatar on it. This is what my Avi-Tile looks like:

So what good are Avi-Tiles?

Well, think about it like this: If you are very active on the internet, chances are you use the same avatar across the board. Your avatar is your "face" online. It's how people recognize you, and, if you are online long enough, people start to associate that avatar with you. It's sort of like branding yourself, or giving yourself a logo of sorts.

But what happens when you want to meet those people in the real world? How do you "define" yourself so that you will be recognized by your online friends? Do you offer to wear some loud, flashy hat? Do you carry a bouquet of yellow roses? Or, heaven forbid, do you stand around holding some silly sign that says "I'm *insert online name here*"?

Avi-Tiles get rid of that need! With an Avi-Tile, you can take that little picture everyone already knows you by and turn it into a fun little pendant, ring, pin, or even cufflinks! Then, when you go to a craft fair with your fellow artisans, or a tweet up with your fellow bloggers, everyone will easily recognize you! You won't spend your entire night thinking "I wonder who these people are... and I wonder if they know who I am.." Instead, people will notice you and introduce themselves! And, you'll have the added benefit of being the coolest person there... because, let's face it, how cool can you really be if nobody knows who you are?

If you want your own Avi-Tile, please check out my studio! They take just a few days to make, they are truly one-of-a-kind, and all you have to do is send me a picture once you place your order!

p.s. My Avi-Tile listings disappear pretty quickly once I put them up, but if you want one and don't see them listed, please contact me and I will be sure to get a listing up for you ASAP!


25 March 2009

My Very First Blog Award! Yippee!

Let me start by saying that I am floored right now!

I just got a comment from Deb (My guild master in the FCW Guild on Artfire) that I've been awarded the Sisterhood Award! This award is given to blogs that show great "attitude or gratitude" (according to nunofakind).

I truly can't believe this! I am so happy that someone would think of me like that! Receiving this award has made my day!

The rules to getting this award are these:

1. put the award logo on the blog and/or post
2. nominate other blog(s) that you feel show the spirit of the award. (attitude and gratitude)
3. let the nominees know about the award, comment on their blog
4. link to the nominees in a blog post
5. to show gratitude and friendship to the person that gave you the award, link to them in a blog post

I am truly grateful for the wonderful women who have passed the torch on to me! Please go check out their blogs and say hello!

p.s. Check back soon as I will be making my nominations for future "Sisterhood Award" recipients! ;0)


24 March 2009

Just for fun...

In honor of all my wonderful readers, I'd like to award you each with a little "blog love".

I've created a few little buttons you can add to your blog to show the world that you are a Ninja in Training!

Just copy and paste the code below the button into a "new HTML gadget" on your blog layout!

* These two will link back to Ninja Jenn:

<a href="http://ninjajenn.blogspot.com" target="_blank"><img alt="iheartninja" width="80" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3381087815_bdce5f5cc0.jpg?v=0" height="15"/></a>

<a href="http://ninjajenn.blogspot.com" target="_blank"><img alt="ninjalover" width="80" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3642/3381087841_593c04e826.jpg?v=0" height="15"/></a>

* These two will link back to Ninja Knowledge:

<a href="http://ninjaknowledge.blogspot.com" target="_blank"><img alt="ninjaaddict" width="80" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3418/3381906944_4dcb65a3be.jpg?v=0" height="15"/></a>

<a href="http://ninjaknowledge.blogspot.com" target="_blank"><img alt="NewbieNinjaButton" width="80" src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3539/3381087887_7a87198817.jpg?v=0" height="15"/></a>

Feel free to use as many as you'd like, wherever you'd like!


23 March 2009

Soy's Wolves

DISCLAIMER: This post is NOT craft/handmade related. This post may also have some views that you disagree with. In no way am I claiming that all the information in this post is 100% factual, but I did the best I could to cite only credible sources and to stick to verifiable facts. My sincere hope is that I don't offend anyone with this post. I am posting this because I feel strongly about the subject matter. Additionally, I made a promise to a fellow artisan that I would help her spread the word, and I believe VERY strongly in following through on any promise I make. I hope you will take the time to read this post, but if you choose not to, I totally understand. If you do continue reading, I hope you can see that I am not trying to spark any sort of political debate, nor am I trying to incite any riots. I am simply trying to draw attention to the plight of a group who can not speak for themselves. <3

When I first joined the Artfire community, I became an active member of the forums there. Not long after, I had the pleasure of meeting Val from SoyScentual. My first impression of Val was that she was kind, witty, and extremely passionate about her beliefs. It wasn't long until I saw those beliefs in action.

Val started a thread in the forums trying to bring attention to the fact that Sarah Palin has no regard for wildlife in the beautiful state of Alaska. Unfortunately, the thread quickly took a turn for the worst (as such sensitive topics often do), and Val's well-intentioned thread was moved to a "lesser seen" forum. While I understand the reasons it was moved, it saddened me that something so obviously important to so many was now being overlooked. So I offered to help Val spread the word by posting about the topic here. It's taken me a while to write this, and for that I truly apologize. It isn't often that I have such a hard time writing something, but this time I wanted to be sure that I was both being honest and doing this topic the justice it deserves. I sincerely ask you to continue reading with an open heart and an open mind, and to let go of your political biases long enough to hear what Val, myself, and so many others are trying to say.

So, with that in mind, here's the issue:

Sarah Palin, as governor of Alaska, has repeatedly and purposefully created and enacted legislation that endangers the wildlife of her state. She has used tax payers' money to carry out her personal agendas, and she has completely disregarded the voices of her constituents time and again. She has offered bounties for the legs of freshly killed wolves, promoted ariel hunting of those same wolves (even though the state of Alaska has voted TWICE to ban this practice), and she is suing the federal government to prevent polar bears from being listed as endangered. She also sued to have the Cook Inlet Beluga whale removed from the endangered species list. As is sadly obvious, Governor Palin is no fan of wildlife preservation.

In the past, Governor Palin has used various reasoning to support these actions, the most prominent being that "Alaska has a wolf overpopulation issue" (which is not true) and "Alaskans need moose for food, so the wolves (natural predators of moose) need to go" (this too is bad logic, because it costs FAR more to kill the wolves than it would to just feed the hungry in her state). Realistically, it appears that Mrs. Palin, a very active big game hunter, is just using her political platform to further her personal interests. IMHO, it's a sad thing when someone who has the potential to make changes for the better chooses to use her power to harm our already overworked planet.

Regardless of whether you are a republican or a democrat, a liberal or a conservative, I think we can all agree that humans are steadily eating away at this planet's resources. As it stands right now, Alaska is the last state where one can see such magnificent wildlife in its natural habitat, and for that reason, if no other, I feel we should pull together and lobby for a change. As artisans, we often talk of "saving the planet" and "being earth friendly"... we recycle, we try to reduce our waste, and we try to do the right thing at every turn. But I ask you: what good are these actions if we leave ourselves as the only species on the planet when it's all said and done? Are we saving the planet for the planet's sake, or are we just saving it for our own selfish use?

If you agree with me that every aspect of this planet is worth saving, then please, take action to do what is right. Write a letter, make a call, donate to the right organizations... anything you can think of. And if you can't think of anything, feel free to ask me or Val... I'm sure we can point you in the right direction.


p.s. Thank you for taking the time to read this far. It means a lot to me.


22 March 2009

Ninja Knowledge

I just wanted to let you guys know that I've started a new blog! I will still be blogging here on a regular basis, but I'm moving all my "How To" posts over to the new space!

I'll be focusing on how to do all those blog and internet related things that make life so frustrating sometimes. I'll also be talking about things like time management, using social networking sites effectively, and marketing yourself well.

If you think you'd be interested, please come check it out!

You can find it here: Ninja Knowledge, or you can click the tab at the top of this page that says the same thing.

Thanks, and I hope to see you guys there!



20 March 2009

Free Press Friday - Painted Bull

Happy Friday everyone! It's my favorite day, as it's the day that I get to spend window shopping and picking out my favorite things! This week, my focus is on Painted Bull. I first saw her studio on Artfire, but if you keep reading, you will see this talented lady is all over the internet!

Painted Bull isn't really a bovine at all (in case you're curious!). She's actually a very lovely and talented artisan named JJ (This makes her extra cool in my book, because I'm a "JJ", too! LOL), and she's from the mountains of Georgia. JJ has a degree in Medieval History, which, according to her website, makes her "fascinated with the historic aspect regarding art and culture".

JJ is a weaver, and, to be honest, until I actually visited her studio, I thought she made blankets.
Boy am I embarrassed! But I'm also happy to see that I am wrong... and even happier to see what she does make! (Not that she can't make blankets... she's just too busy making other cool stuff I think!) On Artfire, she sells woven jewelry, the likes of which I can almost guarantee you've never seen. She also has hair accessories listed there, and categories in place for rugs, scarves, and even homespun yarn. JJ also has a studio at 1000markets, and you can see even more woven awesomeness there!

If you're just looking to learn a little more about the face behind Painted Bull, you can visit JJ's Facebook page or her Myspace page. She also has an indiepublic page you can check out where you'll see more of her work exhibited and also learn about her favorite movies, book, and artists! Also, if you're like me, and addicted to Twitter, you can even follow her there!

My favorite thing about JJ has got to be her blogs, though. You can read her "normal person" posts on Blogger, but if you're more the adventurous type (and you can stand a few "bad words" LOL), head over to Wefty Woman and check it out! Be warned though, it's not for the feint of heart! And I would advise taking a snack with you... 'cause the reading there is totally addictive! (WARNING: do NOT drink while reading Wefty Woman. Your monitor will be in perilous danger!)

Check out all the awesome stuff that JJ is making these days! I'm sure you won't be disappointed if you head over to her studios!

(I'm trying something new this week, and using ByHand.me to make a spotlight. You guys tell me if you like is this way, or if you'd rather I go back to just choosing two listings each week.)

Thanks, JJ, for letting me feature you! It's been a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you all the best with your art!



19 March 2009

Fun, Cute & Whimsical Guild

In case you didn't know, over on Artfire all verified members can apply to be accepted to something called a guild. Essentially, a guild is a group of like-minded artisans that you partner with in order to promote yourselves and share ideas. For instance, some guilds are formed based on the locations of the artisans, others are formed to showcase artisans in a certain field, and some are started to celebrate a certain theme.

Recently I was accepted into the "Fun, Cute & Whimsical Guild" on Artfire. This guild revolves around, well, just what the name says: all things fun, cute and whimsical! I like being in this guild because membership is limited to one artisan of each area. For instance, I am the only "scrabble tile gal" in my guild. This allows us to feel comfortable promoting each other freely, and doesn't lend itself to jealousy or unhealthy competition in the least!

My guild master is Deb Cards Etc, and she's a fellow North Carolinian! Deb sales the most adorable items, and i simply love her "signature turtle"!

In addition to Deb, we have tons of other great artisans in our guild. We have 3zArt (who makes custom switch plate covers), PicardCreative (our resident wise ass and magnet making machine), and InkWear (specializing in custom, tattoo-inspired art)... just to name a few! To see all the members of the FCW Guild, please check out our blog page!

If you're interested in joining the FCW Guild, please go to Deb's studio and use the contact link to get in touch with her. Or, if you're just in the mood to shop for things that will be sure to brighten any day, head over to Artfire and search for "fcwguild". I promise you will not be disappointed in what you find!

P.S. While you're roaming the internet, take a second and go sign up for the FCW Guild March Giveaway!



18 March 2009

I Was Noticed by MarionsDreamWorks!!!

WOW! I woke up to an email this morning saying I had been blogged! What a great surprise!

And I couldn't have been noticed by a nicer person either! Marion allowed me to do some custom work for her a short while ago, and I never dreamed it would end in such a sweet write up!

You are welcome to read her post, but please, go check out her wonderful studio first!!!

Thanks so much, Marion! You have been a pleasure to work with, and an even greater pleasure to befriend!

(Now everyone head over to Marion's blog and show her some love, please!)


17 March 2009

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

Well, not really... I'm only like 1/4 Irish. LOL

But I do love green! Maybe that's why I've always celebrated St. Patrick's day to fullest... or maybe it's the beer... Regardless, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the awesome handmade goodies I found over on Artfire. They're all perfect for getting you in the spirit of things today, and they have the added benefit of keeping you "pinch free"!

Feel free to click on each picture to get a better look at the item!

Happy St. Patty's to each of you!



16 March 2009

Artfire Stimulus Package

Over at Artfire, we artisans are certainly feeling the burn from the tanked economy. But we aren't quitters! Instead, thanks to the initiative and innovation of Rocky Creek Gems, we have pulled together to form the first ever Artfire Stimulus Package!

Essentially, tons of artisans from Artfire have come together and decided to create items which they can offer at cost! It's a great way for people to still get their hands on awesome handmade items without going totally broke!

So, when you start looking for the next thing you "need", please take a look in the AFSP participating shops!

Here's the list so far:

A Kimberly Design
Aimee White
Andrea Designs
Bead All About It
Bijoux Designs For You
Book Wormz
Calys Jewelry Creations
Creative Haven
Designs by CHAZ
Liberty Doll
My Doggie and Me
Nite Owl Creations
Pinkfinks Creations
Prairie Bouquet
Rocky Creek Gems
Rouge River Beads
She Designs Jewelry
Shine Your Hiney Soap
Spoiled Bratzwear
The Craft Shoot
The Jewelry Shop
The Scent Diva
The Soap Seduction

You can also just go to Artfire and search the terms "AFSP" or "ASP" or "Artfire Stimulus" to find the latest listings! Happy Hunting!



15 March 2009

Twitterfeed and Your Artfire Studio - A Tutorial

Hi everyone! I was planning on waiting a bit to go all "computer nerd" on you again, but it seems that a lot of people are eager to learn to use Twitterfeed, so I thought I'd go ahead and post this now.

In order to use Twitterfeed, you need a basic understanding of RSS Feeds first. If you haven't already done so, it may help to read my post about RSS feeds before you try to tackle Twitterfeed. (Go ahead... I'll wait... :wink:)

OK. You guys ready? (This is so easy it's gonna blow your minds!)

*** I'm going to use my studio again, but you can feel free to use yours so you don't have to do this twice! LOL ***

First, you're going to need a Twitter account. (If you haven't set that up, please go here and do so before you go any further.)
Once you have your Twitter username and password set up, follow these steps:

1. Open one window and go to Twitterfeed. Click the blue link that says "Login to twitterfeed" and you should see this:

Also, you need to open another window and go to your Artfire studio feed. (Just use the directions you learned in my earlier post to get there!) Once you have this window open to your studio feed (and it looks like this:)

go back to the Twitterfeed window.

2. Go to the little box that says "OpenID Login". See that little "Blogger B" to the right of the box? If you click it, a pop up will show up that looks like this:

The easiest thing to do is to use your Blogger ID (assuming you have one). As you can see, mine is already showing in my example. (If you don't have one, you can use your google login, your yahoo login, your LJ login, and so on. Hopefully you will have at least one of the logins listed. Just use whichever you prefer! Be sure you remember which login you use, though, as you will need it to edit your feed or add new feeds later!) Anyway, to use your Blogger ID, just click on the Blogger icon in the popup box. You will see that the box now looks like this:

Just highlight the part that says "username" and change it to your own username, then hit "login".

3. Your page should now look like this:

Click the blue link that says "go to my twitter feeds (or create a new one)". This will take you to a page that looks similar to this (Yours will be different, because I already have 4 feeds set up... don't panic if yours doesn't look exactly like this yet! LOL):

4. Near the bottom of the page, you will see a link to "Create a New Feed". Click that, please. You should now see this:

5. In the "username" box, type your Twitter username, and in the "password" box type your Twitter password. Just to make sure you did it right, click the link that says "test twitter authentication ". If you did, you will see a green check mark. If not, retype it until that green check shows up. (If you can't get it to show up, you may need to go to Twitter and make sure you can login using the info you are typing.)

6. Go to the 2nd window you opened (the one with your studio RSS feed showing) and copy the address from the address bar. Come back to the Twitterfeed window and paste that address into the box that says "RSS Feed URL". Be sure you click "test rss feed" after you paste the address, and make certain you get another green check mark! If you don't get that check, you won't be able to create your feed later!

7. At this point, you can change how often Twitterfeed checks new feeds, but it's already set to check once every hour. This is usually sufficient (unless you're one of those "power listers" out there LOL), so I'd just leave it as it is. Also, you can type up to 20 characters in the box labeled "Prefix each tweet with:" if you'd like. For my Artfire feed, I typed "New on Artfire". You do not have to do this, but if you do, each time Twitterfeed tweets for you, it will place whatever you type at the beginning of the tweet.

8. The last thing you need to do is to click "Create". Once you click "create" it should take you back to this page:

As long as you make it back to that page you are done! You have now created your very first Twitterfeed! Now, all you have to do is wait an hour or two and check your Twitter page. You should see tweets showing from Twitterfeed! (Just FYI, the very first time Twitterfeed checks your newly created feed, it will only show the last thing you added to your studio. After that, it will show up to 5 new listings. This means that if you add more than 5 listings between checks, only the last 5 will be "auto tweeted" for you. Likewise, if you only add one listing, just that one new item will show on Twitter.)

I hope this has been helpful. If something isn't clear, please let me know, and I will do all I can to make it better. Also, if there are any other things you'd like me to try to help with in the future, please leave me a comment and I will do all I can to help!

p.s. You can also use this with your etsy shop! Just follow the steps but substitute your Etsy feed for your Artfire feed! ;0)

p.p.s Please add me to your Twitter friends if I'm not already on your list! I would LOVE to see all of your Twitterfeeds in action!



14 March 2009

The Mysterious RSS Feed Button

Recently Artfire added an RSS feed button to each artisan's studio. While this made me super excited, it has come to my attention that this little button is a source of confusion for quite a few people out there. So, in light of this new revelation, I thought I'd try to do a little "de-mystification" post and hopefully help some of you guys use and understand this valuable little tool.

First of all, let's start with what an RSS Feed actually is. If you try googling "RSS Feed Definition" you will come up with all sorts of computer mumbo jumbo. You'll see all sorts of "geek speak" relating to "XML documents", "aggregators", and "metadata". But just ignore all that for now! What you really need to know is that an RSS Feed is essentially a nifty little way to get the newly-added contents of a web page delivered directly to your virtual doorstep. Instead of waking up and having to go to each page you frequent to see what happened, you can use an RSS Feed to make the information come to you. RSS Feeds are a great way to keep up with your favorite studios, as a properly set up feed will deliver all the newly added listings right to you every single day! To do this, you'll need a few basic tools.

First of all, you will need a feed reader. There are primarily two types of readers available: a standalone reader or a "plug in" reader. A standalone reader is an application you download and install to your computer that compiles the information for you and works as its own, self-functioning program. You can often find these for free at sites like Download.com. Standalone readers are great because you can pull and read the information as you need it, but on the other hand, you have to actually tell the application to open and run every time you want to see your new feeds. I prefer to use a plug in reader, because it eliminates that need! The difference in a plug in reader is that is functions as part of another application you are already using. For instance, your plug in reader will work in conjunction with your web browser or Outlook. By using a plug in, when you open Outlook, IE, or Safari (just to name a few possibilities), the content you are being fed is right there waiting on you! One caveat though: if you already have a lot of information running (like bookmarked items or tons of email folders) you may end up slowing down your browser too much to make this a viable option. I would recommend trying a plug in reader first (and most of the standard browsers already have these built in!). If you find it slows you down too much, or you feel like your pages are "bogging down", you may want to look into a standalone reader.

The next tool you will need is the feed itself. I'm not going to go into making a feed at this point (if you need to know that, please email me or leave a comment and I'll make a seperate post on that later!). For now, we're going to stick to pages that already have that wonderful little RSS Feed button showing. That button makes this whole thing so easy, and after you figure it out you will be eager to have that button on all your personal pages, blogs, and studios I'm sure! Anytime you see this button () it means that the page you are viewing has an RSS feed available and waiting for you. The words attached to the button may change, but that is the universally accepted symbol for RSS Feed, so keep an eye out for it!

Ok, we know what a feeder is, and we know what button we're looking for, so how do we put it all together? Easy! Follow these steps and you can't go wrong:

(I am going to use my Artfire studio and Safari in this example, but the steps are essentially the same across the board)

1. Go to a web page. (Let's use this one: Ninja Jenn's Artfire Studio)
2. Locate the RSS Feed button. If you clicked the link above, you will see this:

Now scroll down and look to the left of the page till you see this:

3. Click the middle button (the one that says "RSS Feed for this Studio"). Your page should now look like this:

4. Look at the address bar of the page, and you should see "feed://www.artfire.com/rss/studio.php?id=20464". As long as the address you see is prefaced with "feed", you've done it right! (And we're almost done! LOL)
5. Bookmark the page once you are sure you're on the feed page. I keep my feeds in a folder called "RSS Feeds", but you can place them in any folder you like. (If you're using a stand alone reader, copy that address and drag it to your feed reader.)
6. (Final step!!!! And this is a "one time only step, too!!!) If you're using safari (like I am), you need to tell Safari to check your feeds for new information. To do this, go to Safari ---> Preferences and click the tab that says "RSS". Make sure you see this:

Now, just tell Safari what to check and when. For me, my feeds are in my Bookmarks Menu, so I will check that box. Also, I need to make the drop down menu "Check for Updates" say "Every Hour". (This is a good default checking time, just FYI)
*You can also choose to change new article colors and discard posts after a certain time, but you don't HAVE to ever throw them out.*

To read your newly fed articles and updates, just go to the folder where you save your RSS feeds and they will be there and waiting on you!

P.S. I know this seems like a lot, but I promise, once you do it once, it will be super easy sailing from then on! ;0)

Let me know if you have any questions, and check back soon because I will be posting about how to use your new RSS Feeds with Twitter!



13 March 2009

Free Press Friday - Deronda Designs

Time again for Free Press Fridays! This week's featured artisan is Deronda Designs. Let me start by saying that I am super jealous of her work! Glass work is a skill I have always wanted to learn, and Deronda is definitely talented in this arena!

Deronda is from Fessenden, ND. According to her blog, she lives there with her husband Jeff, and is an "empty nester". Being an empty nester has given her time to perfect her lampworking skills, and, amazingly, she is self-taught! This blows me away, because i know how hard glass work can be WITH a teacher... I can not imagine trying to teach myself such a wonderful art!

In addition to her blog, Deronda maintains her own webpage, and studios on both Artfire and Etsy. If you visit either of her studios you are sure to be blown away by her beautiful beads! You can also take a look around her Flickr account and see some other work she's completed recently... but be warned, you WILL be tempted to start shopping with her soon!

If you just want to get to know Deronda a little better, head over to her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter or check out her IndiePublic page! No matter where you look, though, you'll find Deronda is as kind and humble as she is talented... and that says a LOT!

My two "picks of the week" from her studios were both found in her Artfire studio. I've truly fallen in love with both of these pieces, and at this point I just have to decide which I love more so I can make my purchase! LOL

Take a look, and I am SURE you will agree:


It has truly been my pleasure to get to feature yet another talented artisan this week! Good luck, Deronda! I look forward to seeing all your wonderful pieces as your collection continues to grow!



12 March 2009

Online Jewelry Party!

I've decided to try having online parties as a way to drive more traffic to my studios. Below is the text from emails I sent out last night. Please take a look and let me know what you think! (And feel free to host a party with me if you want! :wink:)

"Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know about a new type of party I will be having in the next few weeks! I am sure some of you have heard about "purse parties" or "makeup parties", so you are already somewhat familiar with how MY parties will work. I am currently looking for hosts for my parties. All parties will be held online, and I will handle all of the details except for the invitations. That part will be up to the host(s). These parties will be a great way for the hosts to get free jewelry, and all party guests will given great deals on awesome handmade items! If you (or anyone you know) is interested in hosting a party, please contact me by email (jennjoyner76@gmail.com) or by phone (980.253.0464) for more information. Please feel free to forward this to anyone else you think may be interested!

*** To see the type of jewelry that will be sold at the parties, please click on both of the shop links in my signature! To see how the parties will work, check out this blog post: http://jewelrytokeep.blogspot.com/2009/03/online-jewelry-party.html (This is NOT my blog, but it will at least give you a general idea of what I mean!) ***

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from each of you!


Support your local economy... buy handmade!




11 March 2009

RiskyBeads April Giveaway

So I realize it isn't really April yet, but I just listed this to add to her giveaway:


The theme for her April giveaway is "Earth Day, Eco Friendly Items", and i'll post more about the giveaway as it gets closer, but i just wanted to brag a little bit before hand! ;0)



10 March 2009

Twitter Confusion

Ok... so I've had a Twitter account for a while now. Actually, I've been there almost a year. But, for the dang life of me, I can NOT figure it out! This is SUPER frustrating for me as I am usually VERY good with all things computer related. I honestly think I am just making it WAY harder than it is.

The thing that stumps me the most is how to "auto tweet" something. Meaning, how do I set it up so that my blog posts and shop listings are twittered as I post them?

Anyone wanna help me out? LOL



08 March 2009

My New Custom Tiles

Well, thanks to the advice and kindness of SpoiledBratzwear on Artfire, I have decided to try to offer a new type of listing. I won't bore you with the details (as you can click the link and read them yourself LOL), but here's the first one I have up:


Please check it out and let me know what you think! (And FWIW, I realize that the picture quality isn't the greatest... I plan on retaking that in the next day or so, but I was so excited I just couldn't wait to get it listed! LOL)



06 March 2009

Free Press Friday - LaDeDa Creations

This week's artisan is the lovely Laura from LaDeDa Creations!

I met Laura when I first came to Artfire. She was in the forums causing drama (not really LOL) and she was SO very welcoming to me! She's been a true Godsend! She is one of the first to jump in and help you when you have a question, and, along with Catinalife, she helps keeped me entertained on the late shift.

LaDeDa is from Catoosa, OK, and she can work wonders with polymer clay! She also sells handmade body products, and supplies. She's fun, kind, and honest. She is happy to ship anywhere in the world, and her feedback is nothing less than stellar!

I love how she always stands up for herself, too. And, on top of that, she won't hesitate to defend the people and sites she loves, either.

You can find her all over the internet these days. She has shops on both Artfire and Etsy. She blogs, she twits, and she maintains a Flickr account. And just in case that wasn't enough, she also keeps up a Facebook page and a MySpace page!

I have no idea how she has time to keep up with all that, but I'm glad she does! She's a delight to know, and her work is lovely!

My favorite things in her shops are these:


Head over to her shop and show her some love! And while you're there, ask her about her new kittens! ;0)



04 March 2009

Sick and in recovery...

Well, I had a GREAT birthday weekend, but it seems that I've contracted some sort of flu bug in all my travels. I promise I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, nor am I ignoring you guys... just trying to get back to my old self.

I'll be back ASAP to update you on all sorts of crafty goodness



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