“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

29 April 2009

Artisans Giving Back - Hazelnut Cove

Psst... guess what?

I've found another awesomely generous artisan over on Artfire... so you know what that means, right? Time for the third edition of Artisans Giving Back!!!

I'd like you all to meet Sunday O'Brien. She's the artisan behind Hazelnut Cove on both Artfire and Etsy. I saw Sunday post in the Artfire forums about a walk she does to benefit MS, and I contacted her to try to find out more about her story and how we can help her out! It turns out that not only is Sunday an awesome artisan, but she's also got a heart of gold!

I asked Sunday to tell me a little bit about the walk she's doing, and this is what she said: "I am currently involved in a walk for the MS Society. It's the MS LifeLines Walk Berkshires 2009; and, it takes place on September 27, 2009. According to the MS Society, every hour of every day, someone is diagnosed with MS. The society uses 85% of walk proceeds to fund education, support, advocacy, and research. They do things like modifying homes to make them accessible, funding respite care so family caregivers can take a break, and supporting research into nervous system repair and protection, pediatric MS diagnosis/treatment, and long-term impacts of MS." Sounds like a great cause to me!

Sunday chose to get involved with this walk because her sister was diagnosed with MS in the early 90's. According to Sunday, "Her progression was slow, going from a cane, to a walker, and finally, to a wheelchair. She now needs assistance with many of the most basic tasks - the ones so many of us take for granted each day." She's actually been interested in doing a walk like this for some time, but until now, her life hasn't permitted it. Sunday also told me she's been trying to get into shape for her own reasons, and, by doing that, she's realized that she can do this now! As she put it " The September walk is 5 miles; so, I still have some training to do; but, I know I'll get there. I just keep telling myself that I'm walking because I'm blessed enough that I can. There are those, like my sister, who would give anything to be able to walk 5 feet. This is the least I can do for her and all the others struggling with MS." What an inspiring statement!

If you want to help Sunday, you can go to the National MS Society and sponsor her directly. (The money goes straight to the MS Society; and, they immediately record your name to [her] Fundraising Honor Roll and the amount to [her] progress meter.) You may also donate to her via PayPal, and she will include your information and donation the next time she sends in her batch of donations. Finally, she has items in her studio you can purchase between now and September that will have the proceeds donated to her walk fund.

Regardless of what you choose, or whether you choose anything at all, please let Sunday know we support her and wish her the best with her upcoming walk! And, if you can't help her financially, why not take the time to tweet or blog about her and help her spread the word! (At the very least, please stop by her blog or twitter and tell her hello... you'll be glad you did, I promise!)

*Do you know another artisan who's giving back to the community around them? If so, please let me know! I'd love to feature them here!*


27 April 2009

My Newest Project

Good Monday morning guys!

For the first time in a really long time I am super excited to see Monday roll around! You want to know why? Because it means that the grand old USPS will pick up the new goodies I just purchased yesterday and start bringing them my way!

Now, this might not seem like such a big deal to a lot of you, but these aren't just your average everyday new goodies. Do you remember a while back when I talked about my surprise I have in the works? Well, the wonderful Larry of Chelsea Lynn Designs is the artisan I alluded to in that post. And dear, amazing, hugely talented Larry has finished, listed, and shipped the pieces he is helping me collaborate on!

I am about to burst with excitement!

So, while I won't yet tell you all that I have planned, I've decided to show you what Larry made for me. Take a look at these beauties!

Aren't they awesome!? (They're blanks that I am going to use for new pendant bases!)

I've always had this idea for pendants I want to make using vector images, but until I met Larry I had no way to get the ideas to come to life. But when I saw the wonderful scroll work Larry could do, I knew he was the man to ask!

Hopefully I will have them by mid-week, and by this time next week I will be able to show you at least one finished pendant. So wish me well, and do a little "quick shipping dance" for me, too!

I'm off to wait by the mailbox!


24 April 2009

Free Press Friday - Sunny Days Embroidery

Boy am I ever glad it's Friday! This has been one trying week, and I don't think I have ever been happier to see the weekend roll around. In honor of this crazy week I've had, I chose an artisan for Free Press Friday who helps bring the fun back into life. Whenever I have a bad day, or need something to break an angry or foul mood, I go window shop in her studio. I have yet to leave without a giggle.

Meet Fran, the Queen of Quirky. She's the genius behind the awesome patches, lipbalm holders, koozies and assorted other awesomeness at Sunny Days Embroidery. She's been selling on Etsy for three years, and she's been on Artfire since November of last year. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Fran on a more personal level because she's one of my Plurk buddies, and I can assure you she is every bit as cool and funny as her studios imply. In addition to her shops, you can find Fran on Twitter, Blogger, and Myspace. She also has a really cool Flickr page (which is where I stole all the pics in the post!).

Fran holds a special place in my heart because so many of her pieces involve ninjas. On top of that, she's even helping me design a cool, custom ninja patch to repair my beloved snowboard pants! (On one of my many falls last year I ripped them, and now my little ninja booty gets cold and wet when it hits the snow! Thank goodness Fran is coming to my rescue... I guess you could say she's literally helping to save my ass!)

Please check out all the fun, funky finds in her studios! I've chosen my favorites for the spotlight below, but I assure you there are far more goodies there than any mere spotlight can hold! Go say hello to Fran, and remember, she always welcomes custom orders! (Btw, for every order Fran gets right now she's donating $1.00 to her friend JoAnn to help offset the cost of her husband's upcoming surgery. So, not only would you be getting something cool and truly unique, you'd be doing a good deed in the process! What more could you ask for?)

* Would you like to be featured on Free Press Friday? Just leave a comment and tell me that! I'll be in touch shortly!*


23 April 2009

And the Winner is...

First of all, let me say thanks for all the kind words and thoughts you all have sent in the last few days. I am still dealing with some things, but I think it will all work out ok in the end. It really means the world to me to know that so many out there are thinking of me. It's giving me the strength to get through all this mess, and you will never know how much I appreciate it!

Now... on to the fun stuff!

After all the fun responses I got to the "Ninja Facts" post, I've had a hard time deciding which one was the funniest! So, in the interest of fairness, I decided to put everyone's name in a hat and have my wonderful mother draw the winner. But wait! In case you haven't figured it out, one of my weaknesses is that I want everyone to be a winner.... SO.... I've done what I can to at least ease the "pain of losing" a bit.

First of all, I decided to draw two winners, instead of the one I first mentioned. And second, if you left a post and you are NOT one of the two winners, I will be happy to give you 50% off your order from my studio! (Just be sure you remind me when you checkout so I can refund the proper amount!)

I know, I know... get on with it, right?

Drum roll please....

And the winners are:

LaDeDaCreations and Alisuns!!!!

Congrats ladies! Please go pick out something you'd like in my studio! (You can go ahead and buy it so I have your address, just don't pay... I will mark it paid as soon as I get the email!)

Thanks everyone for playing! I had a blast reading all your wonderful facts!


20 April 2009

Manic Monday Post

Hi everyone!

Please forgive my lack of quality posting today. Unfortunately there are things that need to be dealt with immediately in the "real world", and this has prevented me from being able to finish my regular Monday post. I promise I will be back soon with more cool ramblings and awesome artisan features.

Please send some good thoughts and well wishes my way.... as I will be doing for each of you!


17 April 2009

Free Press Friday - Luv2Sparkle

Woo hoo! We made it to the weekend again! Time to trade in those paint-splattered, glue covered crafty clothes for a sexy outfit and some killer heels! Time to put down that tired old coffee cup and go out for some luscious cocktails! Time to grab some of that gorgeous handmade jewelry you've got and go sparkle all over town!

What's that? You don't have any handmade sparklies? Well guess what? This Free Press Friday edition is just for you!

Meet Sharon, the talented face of Luv2Sparkle! She's from Maricopa, AZ, and she has got just what you need! This awesome lady has been super busy filling her studio with all kinds of sparkly treats! But, before we get to those glittery goodies, I wanted to tell you a little bit about Sharon and where you can find her online.

I noticed Sharon's work one day back in February, when I was browsing around on Etsy. She used to sell under the name L0ve2Sparkle, but she's busy moving her things to her new shop, which reflects her updated name. She's also active on Artfire (and, as you know, I'm partial to that studio).

Sharon has also quickly become one of my favorite tweeters. She's great at keeping her page updated, and she is even better at balancing fun, personal updates with her shop promotions. If Twitter isn't your thing, you can also find her on Plurk and Myspace as well!

Somehow, between balancing her "real life" as a pharmacy technician with her awesomely crafty alter-ego, Sharon also manages to find time to blog and maintain her own website. This girl is truly a sparkly inspiration!

Now, it seems like I remember promising you guys some sparkly stuff.... and I am a ninja who likes to keep her promises... so here you go! You may want to set yourself a spending limit before you start browsing. (And if you don't, and you spend too much, don't say I didn't warn you! :wink:) I've chosen just her resin pieces for her spotlight, but be sure to stop by her shops and check out her pearl and crystal work as well. You won't be disappointed, I assure you!

Now go say hello to Sharon! And, while you're there, be sure to mention you saw this blog post... because it gets you free shipping!

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


16 April 2009

New Goodies and a Quick Reminder

Happy almost Friday everyone! Let me start with just a quick reminder: If you haven't left a "Ninja Fact" yet, and you want to be considered for the free prize, please be sure you do so by midnight (EST) on Sunday, 19 April 2009. I'll be taking Monday to review the "facts" and I'll post the winner on Tuesday!

Now, on to the new goodies!

I'm working on something I think will be really awesome for my studio. I can't tell you all the details right now, but I will give you a few hints:

1. It's jewelry.

2. It's a collaboration with one of my favorite fellow artisans.

3. It's totally cool and unique, and it still has that "ninja flair" to it.

I really wish I could tell you more, but we ninjas are a superstitious lot, and I am terrified I will jinx it if I say too much, too soon. But I promise that as soon as I get the first one done I will post pictures and details for your perusal and approval!

Please wish me luck as I try to iron out the details on this latest super secret Ninja mission!

p.s. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Free Press Friday! (You're going to love the sparkly treats I have in store!)


15 April 2009

Sisterhood Award Nomination #1

A while back, I was nominated for my first blog award. The award is the "Sisterhood Award," and it's given to blogs that show great attitude/gratitude.

As a stipulation of receiving this award, I must nominate fellow bloggers who deserve the Sisterhood Award. 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

Today I'm making my first nomination! (Don't worry, there are many more to come!)

I hereby nominate 3zArt to be a recipient of the Sisterhood Award for Blogging. 3zArt not only goes above and beyond to help her fellow artisans/bloggers when they are in need, but she has also set up a wonderful group called the AFSneakers to brighten the day of wonderful new artisans!

3zArt, you are an inspiration to me! I am proud to be able to nominate you, and I hope you will accept this award and display it proudly! Thank you for all you do!

Please go by her blog and say hello to her! Or stop by her studio and tell her congratulations!

p.s. I've also created my very own blog award, which certifies 3zArt as an "Official Ninja"! I plan to give this to my fellow artisans for performing their duties in the most "ninja like" fashion.... So check back to see who the next recipient of these awards will be!


14 April 2009

The Face Behind the (Ninja) Mask

It's been a little under three months since I started writing this blog, and I've gotten to know a few of you quite well through your comments, emails, forum posts, and the like. But I don't feel like many of you know much about me.

I considered doing one of those little wildly popular memes where you list x number of facts about yourself and then tag x number of people hoping they will do the same. But then I remembered that I hate those things. I hate feeling like I'm guilting my friends into divulging information or writing lists (or a combination of the two).

To be honest, the more I think about listing out facts about me, the more I wander if anyone will even care. So here's what I'm gonna do: If you guys want to know something about me, you have to leave a comment and make up one random fact about me. It can be something funny, something serious, something totally random... whatever you choose. For every "fact" you guys provide, I will provide a real fact in reply.

If you want to know more than one thing, leave more than one fact. And if you are content to let me continue being a faceless ninja, then feel free to say that as well!

I can't wait to see what "facts" you all can come up with!

p.s. I've also decided that the fact that makes me laugh the hardest will get a surprise gift. So be creative! I know you have it in you! :wink:


13 April 2009

Artisans Giving Back - Spoiled BratzWear

Before we get to this week's artisan, I just want to thank each and every one of you who helped to make last week so wonderful. It means the world to me. After the resounding success of the first Artisans Giving Back feature, I feel certain that it's a post I will continue to do for as long as I can. I sincerely hope that together we can continue to help our fellow artisans make a difference. ♥

This week's featured artisan is Holly Mastromatto, from Flagstaff, AZ. Holly is the creative genius behind SpoiledBratzWear, and she is truly a joy to know. I've had the good fortune of considering her a friend since my first week on Artfire, and I know there are so many other lives she's touched as well. Holly is creative, kind, outgoing, and supremely generous. I have repeatedly seen her go out of her way to help others on Artfire, and she is always there when someone needs a kind word or a burst of encouragement. So it should come as no surprise that Holly is also actively giving back to the world around her.

Holly is the founder of Silver Hounds, a senior greyhound rescue assistance site. She started her organization about 4 years ago, because she met and fell in love with Speedo, a wonderful senior greyhound. According to Holly, "Speedo was turned into rescue when his owner could not afford his medical care and was facing cancer herself. He was in pretty bad shape and I realized that a lot of the smaller, private rescue groups could use help paying for these medical bills, since they are all privately funded." Sensing that there was a need, and that she could make a difference, Holly set up Silver Hounds to give assistance to as many of the "Speedo's" in the world as she could.

Silver Hounds is not an adoption agency. Rather, they are a support and assistance group. They work hand in hand with other rescue agencies to help provide funding for these wonderful seniors that, for one reason or another, have found themselves in need of medical care or housing in their last years. When asked to describe what Silver Hounds does, Holly told me "We run online auctions and collect donations from across the country. We have volunteers in several states who keep an eye on Petfinder for senior Italian greyhounds who could use some assistance and we contact them. We provide shelters and rescue groups with a handbook about this unique breed and a FREE martingale collar which they can't slip out of."

Holly works hard to ensure that senior greyhounds are given the love and care they so deeply deserve. All too often, these wonderful animals end up in bad situations with no hope on the horizon. Thank god that Holly (and so many others that help her) are willing to step in and take over to show these beautiful seniors that they are still loved and valuable.

Holly runs several auctions a year to benefit Silver Hounds, and she has already raised over $1,000 to help with medical bills. If you want to help her, you can go to the Silver Hounds website, or contact her through her studio.Holly is happy to take donations for future auctions, and, don't forget, if you buy your own special dog a cool outfit from SpoiledBratzWear, you're helping Silver Hounds as well! You can also check out Silver Hounds to see all the dogs she's helped to rescue, and you can even find the ones that are still looking for their forever homes. Be sure you also follow Holly's blog and twitter, as it's a great way to keep up with all the wonderful work she's doing!

At the very least, please stop by Holly's studio and say hello. While you're there, be sure to tell her how awesome she is for all that she does, too. (Because, let's get real, she is awesome, and she does deserve to hear it, right?)

* Please help spread the word about Holly and her wonderful organization. Feel free to retweet/reblog this anywhere you'd like! *


10 April 2009

Free Press Friday - Broken Hallelujah

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have awesome plans for the weekend, and I hope you are all giving yourselves some much deserved time off! It seems we all work so hard so many odd hours of the day and night, so we definitely need to learn to kick our shoes off, let our hair down and just relax sometimes! In honor of that, this week's Free Press Friday featured artisan is one who has some awesome goodies that will make our relaxing all the better (and more stylish!). Her name is Brandy, and she is the artisan behind BrokenHallelujah.

Brandy is from College Station, TX, and she just graduated from college at the "ripe old age" of 22. For the last four years she's been selling her crochet online, and let me just say, this is not your grandma's crochet! I honestly never knew crochet could look so cute and fashionable! Brandy makes items that are not just gorgeous, but useful as well! And we all know how important that is in times like these, right?

Before I show you all the cute things I found in Brandy's shops, I wanted to let you know where you can find her if you just want to get to know her a bit better. First of all, she's on indiepublic, and if you check out her page there you'll see she has great taste in music, and she's interested in photography and sewing in addition to crochet! You can also find her personal page on Facebook, and, while you're there, be sure to go over and become a fan of her studio page as well! If you're like me, you'll also want to follow her on Plurk and Twitter, so you can chat with her. (Btw, she's super fun to chat with, in case you were wondering!) Brandy also maintains a blog and flickr page where you can see all her wonderful creations come to life!

Now that I've given you everything you need to stalk her, let's talk about these great little relaxing goodies Brandy makes! She has some cute little cloths for when you're kicked back in the tub, and some handy handmade lipbalm cases for when you need a "lip break on the go". But those are just the beginning! The real treats (IMO) are her slippers and headbands! Head over to her Artfire studio or her Etsy shop to pick up some pampering for your tired tootsies, and an awesome crocheted headband (because let's face it: just because your hair is down doesn't mean it has to look bad, right?)

Here are just some of the cute things I found browsing her shops:

Feel free to stop by and say hello to Brandy! And be sure you spread the word to the rest of the world, too! We all need a little extra handmade pampering, you know! :wink:


09 April 2009

My Stalking Abilities Have Been Challenged!

I was in the Artfire forums the other day and came across a post about Blockhead Radio and its "stalker challenge". It seems that they are searching for the biggest, baddest stalker they can find, as they wish to award said stalker some fabulous free prize.

Well, hello!

This is a contest made for me! Not only am I a nosy ninja stalker already, but i love fabulous free prizes! I simply must win this contest!

I signed up with them the other day, and I'm pretty impressed with the small bit I've seen thus far. To show my love, I've added Blockhead Radio's blog to my blogroll, set up scheduled tweets to help promote them, and plurked about them as well! I even did the "extra credit" step of adding Chris Huff to my blogroll!)

I plan to add widgets to this blog and my other one, and I am trying to find them on the various social sites so I can follow/friend them!

They've suggested extreme measures, such as strapping oneself to a telephone post and proclaiming the love, naming stars after them, and getting tattoos with their logo. While I have no objection to permanent ink on my body, or purchasing celestial bodies, I am afraid climbing a phone post is out of the question. (The local authorities have reminded me more than once that they do not find ninjas scaling public property amusing...)

My question is this: what do you propose this ninja do in order to prove her "commitment to sparkle motion"? I have a few ideas in mind, but before I let you in on them I'd like to hear what you suggest!

I look forward to hearing all your creative ideas! And remember, no idea is too far-fetched for this ninja!


08 April 2009

I am so proud right now!

On Monday, I had my first "Artisans Giving Back" feature, and yesterday I saw the most amazing thing happen! I watched as Amy talked about her cause in the forums, and other artisans blogged, tweeted, plurked and did their best to spread the word about Amy's event. It was awesome to watch as Amy's passion spread throughout the community, and word of what she was doing made it around the globe.

The part that amazed me the most though was watching as my fellow artisans not only gave of their time and energy to help Amy promote, but so many gave so freely of the money they had as well. (Let it be said that, in this economic crisis we are facing, the handmade community didn't even think twice before they reached into their hearts and wallets and gave all they could to make a difference!)

The first person I noticed go "above and beyond" was James from BirdysKnits. Less than an hour after Amy first mentioned her sale on the Artfire forums, James posted to say that he and his wife, Birdy, had decided to donate $5.00 for each sale that Amy made on Tuesday! I was so happy to see such a warm and generous gesture!

Then, on Tuesday, as I watched my own tweets get retweeted over and over again in 6 different countries, I got an email from 3zArt and LaDeDaCreations. In that email, they told me that the AFSneakers (a group I belong to that "ambushes" sellers on Artfire who haven't made a sale yet) had decided to ambush Amy and her son Dean. Realizing that not everyone could afford to purchase something from Amy, they offered to set up a donation site where we could give what we were able in support of NADS, and in honor of Dean. We discussed that if we could raise $50.00 we would be thrilled, and we all began spreading the word as best we knew how.

Boy were we in for a shock!

Within the first hour of setting up the donation site, the AFSneakers had raised $46.50! By the end of the eight hours we had allotted to collect our donations, we were able to raise $182.50 to give to Amy and Dean for NADS. Even now, as I type this at nearly 3:00 AM, I am moved almost to tears by such a fast and astounding response!

As of 10:30 PM, Amy reported that she had made 3 sales, was matched for each sale by James and Birdy, recieved donations through her studio, and (including the donations raised by the AFSneakers) had a total of (so far) $265.50!!! I also know that donations are continuing to come into the AFSneakers site, and I feel sure Amy will make a few more sales before her day is over. I can hardly wait to hear the final totals!

I am so proud to be part of such an amazing community. The kindness, compassion, and generosity I've seen these last few days has reaffirmed for me that I am just where I should be right now. Thank you, each and every one of you, for reminding me of the good in this world. May you each be blessed for the kindness and love you've shown! (BTW, if I didn't mention you by name in this post, please do not think it means I didn't notice. I assure you that each of your names has been permanently engraved on my heart after this!)

* Want to learn more about the AFSneakers? Come join us for our next Artfire Ambush! *


07 April 2009

The Artfire Easter Egg Hunt

Just wanted to give you guys a quick little reminder about the Artfire Easter Egg Hunt.

It's going on now, and you can find the full details over here. (Just so you know, you can win some awesome gift certificates, and there are now extra clues available for those who got stumped the first time they went hunting!)

I apologize for not posting more today, but I'm feeling a little under the weather... I promise I will be back tomorrow as my normal self.

Now grab your baskets and get going before all the eggs get found!


06 April 2009

Artisans Giving Back - AmyDesigns

A while back I asked you guys if you knew of any artisans that give back to the community around them so I could start featuring them here on Ninja Jenn. I've had a small, but awesome response to that post, and today I get to feature my very first "Artisan Giving Back"! Her name is Amy Cavaness, and she's the artisan behind AmyDesigns on Artfire. I hope you will take the time to read about her and visit her studio, and I am sure you will be as moved and inspired by Amy as I've been!

Amy is an amazing seamstress, and in her studio you will find all sorts of gorgeous goodies! She has aprons, clothing, wall hangings, and purses, all made with the most amazing attention to detail! But, being an amazing artisan isn't all she does. Amy is a mother of 4, a wife, a dog and horse owner/lover, and an avid dancer! She and her husband love to line dance and trail ride in their free time, and they even train horses using Natural Horsemanship methods. You can find Amy on facebook, blogspot, and ByHand.me as well!

As busy as she is, Amy still finds time to give back to a cause that's very near and dear to her heart. Amy donates what she can to the National Association for Down Syndrome, a Chicago regional organization. According to Amy, "They train moms of young kids with DS to visit brand new moms in the hospital or shortly after they get home, give them up-to-date literature, etc. They have area playgroups, and lots of other activities. And they're basically a clearing house for info you need when you discover your baby isn't like the ones in the "baby books". Their advocacy continues through adults with DS."

Amy first learned of this organization on April 7, 1988. That's the day her second child, Dean, was born. (Dean has Down Syndrome.) When I asked her why she chose this cause, Amy replied " I was too young for pre-natal testing, so I didn't know he had DS until after he was born. This organization was a godsend and I felt empowered by the knowledge they gave me."

As trying as I'm sure this path has been for her, Amy has been able to find beauty in it. She told me (when asked what she enjoyed most about her work) "I've loved encountering moms with young ones with DS-especially if Dean is with me-so I can "testify" a little bit! Dean is an awesome guy and my life has been so enriched by him. It hasn't always been easy, but I know I'm a much better person for knowing and loving him."

Amy wrote a poem about 15 years ago that has been featured on the landing page for the Malta Down Syndrome Assoc. and a website for people who want to adopt kids with DS, among others! I'd like to share that poem with you:

I Dreamed-by Amy Cavaness
I dreamed he'd be born beautiful and healthy.
He was.

I dreamed he'd tell me that he loves me.
He tells me every day.

I dreamed he'd be bright and funny.
He is - his humor is wonderful.

I dreamed he'd ride a bike, catch a ball and wrestle with his big brother.
He does and his brother loves it.

I dreamed he'd have big birthday parties with lots of friends and cake and presents.
He's had six.

I dreamed he'd one day get on a bus and go to kindergarten.
He did it yesterday - my heart full of love and my eyes full of tears.

I dreamed he'd make us proud.
He has, and he's inspired us.

Dean has Down Syndrome.
I never dreamed that.

On Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, Dean will turn 21 years old. In honor of his birthday, Amy will be donating 100% of her sales to the National Association for Down Syndrome. Please stop by her shop and take a look... you may see something you love that will help out this wonderful organization! (Also, birdysknits on Artfire has graciously offered to donate an additional $5 to NADS.org for each sale that Amy makes on the 7th. Please stop by and say thank you to them as well!)

* If you'd like to learn more about NADS, or how to donate, please visit NADS.org. Additionally, you can google for information on local organizations that benefit children & adults with Down Syndrome. *


03 April 2009

Free Press Friday - Birch Soaps

After a week of not having a clue what day it is (yes, it's been that kind of week), I am happy to find that it is officially Friday! It's time to kick off our shoes, take a long lunch, and get ready to celebrate the weekend! It's also time to check out the work of a fellow artisan!

This week's Free Press Friday featured artisan is Birch Soaps, aka Katie. She's from Seattle, WA, 22 years old, and engaged to another artist. (Lucky girl... Can you imagine the creativity in that household?) Katie works as a design consultant and conservation framer for Museum Quality framing during the day, and creates her wonderful handcrafted goodies in her off time. In her studios, she sells handmade beauty products, including soap, lip balm, and lotion bars.

As I was browsing through her shop on Artfire, I found myself starting to drool a little. All of her products look so inviting, from her awesome pictures to her delicious fragrance descriptions. I also kept going back to stare at her Chocolate Covered Strawberry soap so much I made my own stomach growl!

Katie has studios on both Artfire and Etsy, and she also uses Trunkt to reach out to wholesalers. She's an active tweeter, and you can also find her on Flickr and indiepublic. I would advise that you go check out her Flickr page, and don't just look at the soap (as tempting as it may be to get stuck there!)... click over to her other albums and check out her awesome shots of fire spinning! (This is something I've dabbled with in the past, and I know how challenging it can be! I am super impressed by these pictures!)

Please stop by Katie's studios and say hello her! And, while you're there, if you find something you like, mention you saw this post (at checkout) and she will send you a free lip balm with your purchase! (Thanks, Katie for your kind offer to my readers!)

Thanks so much for letting me feature you, Katie! It's been a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you best with your studios!

* As always, if you'd like to be featured on Free Press Friday, please leave me a comment with your name and link to your studio(s)! *


02 April 2009

April 2009 Artfire Giveaway!

* So I'm a little late posting about this, and for that I profusely apologize. But, on the good side, I'm only a day late, so you still have plenty of time to participate! *

There is an awesome, eco-friendly giveaway going on this month on Artfire. Thanks to the hard work and innovation of RiskyBeads, there are 11 studios participating this month. All of the products are earth-friendly, and it's super easy to enter.

The giveaway is going on from April 1st until April 7th, and you can see all the participating studios and the rules here. Each artisan has provided a product for the giveaway as a way of promoting both themselves and Artfire. Additionally, all the sellers are offering 10% off in their studios for the duration of the giveaway! (To claim your discount, enter this code on checkout: RBAPRAF10P**.)

I'm not going to list all the artisans here, but I will tell you that the discount code works in my shop! I posted earlier about the Earth Day pendant I'd made for this project, and if you win the giveaway it will be in your basket of goodies!

So please, head over to RiskyBead's blog and read all the rules. You have nothing to lose, and you might just end up with a whole lot of cool stuff!


01 April 2009

A Trip to the Beach

Since the day I joined Artfire I have been in love. I love the people in the forums. I love the art on the front page. I love the staff who treat us like real people (not just dollar signs and statistics). I love the sense of community and feeling of family I get when I am there. I even love the off color humor and tiffs we get into sometimes. I just love being there.

But I feel like that is all about to change.

You know that feeling when you're standing on a beach and the tide goes out? The way you can feel as the ocean pulls away from the sand, desperately trying to take you away with it? How it seems as though, at any moment, the very earth beneath you will just crumble and erode away?

Well, that's how I feel right now.

This "beach" that I am on is washing away.... and I am scared I may have built my sandcastle a little too close to the waves. I can feel my walls crumbling a bit.... and I can look around this "beach" and see a lot of other castles that are in danger as well. These waters we've seen lately have been kind of stormy, and a lot of new things have washed up on our beach. Some days have brought beautiful things, while other days have deposited only debris.

In the last few weeks our beach has seen a lot of new castles being built. There are small, simple, almost timid ones. There are the standard "straight from the bucket ones". There are grandiose palaces with all sorts of adornments. And, sadly, there are even some builders who have chosen to build forts designed to do nothing but keep the other builders away.

I love these castles around me. Each one is different. Each turret is unique. Each gives me a glimpse of the heart of its builder. I don't want to watch them all wash away.

But the tides are inevitable. They are ruthless and unforgiving. They will go out. They will take with them at least some of these things I've seen lovingly built.

My only hope is that when the tide does go out it won't take me with it.

I've poured my heart and soul into the castle I've been building here. I've walked this beach, day after day, offering help to my fellow builders. I've wiped sand from eyes when it was kicked there by another. I've helped rebuild after bullies stomped castles to the ground. I've even tried to draw blueprints when newcomers couldn't find how to begin their own castles.

I know that not all castles are built on a strong foundation. I realize that some are too close to the sea, others are too far. I am aware that the bullies may not ever fully leave this beach I love. I understand that there will always be days when the waters are rough, or the winds are too strong, to be any good for building.

I just hope that I can remind myself, and my fellow beach lovers, that the tides, just as they go out, will one day come in again.

I pray that when they do turn, I will be able to look down this beautiful shoreline and see each of those castles I love still standing, mine included. I will not be taken out with this tide. Try as they may, the bullies will not storm my castle and get away with it. This beach is mine, and it is yours, and it is our job to defend the things we've built upon it... and to rebuild when necessary.

I know it's scary when the bullies are around. I can see see the fear in the faces around me. I can hear the doubt in your words. But I am begging each of you to not be taken in by them. Don't let yourself become a destroyer. Don't let our beach become desolate and ruined like so many other beaches we've seen. Remind yourself that it is more fun, and more wonderful, to take this sand and make something beautiful from it. Remember that storms will pass and sunny days are ahead. Know that the bullies will one day tire of this beach if we just ignore them and continue to build.

And, in the meantime, if you need help building (or even rebuilding) your castle, just let me know... I will do all I can to help beautify this beach I love...


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