Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Three generations of Zalkans


threegen, originally uploaded by bellflowertextiles.

Sofie had a wonderful time with Grandpa Kitty on his recent visit, during which she discovered he's the funniest grandpa ever. Here she is with Daddy and Grandpa posing for the camera...

New product line at Bellflower Textiles- coffee cozy sleeves!

I've started a new product line that I'm very excited about at Bellflower Textiles -- I want to get some more grownup items into my mix, so I'm happy to introduce my reusable, environmentally coffee cozy sleeves!

Here's the first in the line - this one sold about fifteen minutes after I posted it, which I considered a very good sign:


Coffee sleeves are reusable fabric sleeves you can slip on your latte cup to protect your hands from a too-hot beverage. They're lined in soft, thick fleece which provides just the right amount of insulation for a hot cup, and do a great job catching condensation from a cold frappucino. No more using wasteful cardboard sleeves or - even worse - an extra cup!

Coffee sleeves fold down into almost nothing so you can slip one in your purse, bookbag, or pocket to always have one on hand. Here's the same one folded:


And another version I posted today called Blue Skies:



And a hip, cool brown daisy print:



The last two I've listed in the launch of this line are these two - one great cupcake emblem, and one funky monkey.


Stay tuned for lots more of these!

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Goodies At Bellflower Textiles!

It's been a while since I showed some of the newer items I've added to the store, so please allow me to share a few of the recent lovelies I've posted.

First, I just posted this today - I think this may be my favorite crayon roll ever. This fabric is Japanese and was part of a scrap pack I bought from someone on etsy a week or so ago. There was JUST enough of it to make a small crayon roll, with some lovely scalloped ribbon for trim:



One of the things I've beeen surprised to learn about myself is that I *adore* these cutesy Japanese fabrics. I don't think I'd use them in my quilting endeavors, but for children's goods, I just love their unusual characters and bold, graphic layouts. I can't get enough!

Here's another one from the same scrap pack - this time a pencil roll, with a Jack and the Beanstalk japanese print:

I totally sold out of pencil rolls about a week before Christmas, when the last four of the twenty or so I'd had in stock sold all to the same person, and this is my start at replenishing my stock. Again, I just love this fabric. There wasn't enough of it to use it on the inside pocket like I usually do, so this roll is unique in having three coordinating fabrics.

And one last Japanese print, this time a graphic, black-and-white smiling hippo print:


See what I mean about these prints? They are addicting. Thankfully I have a couple of great suppliers.

New treasury!

Want to see my new treasury? Click below to take a look!


Treasuries on etsy are curated collections of items from various shops around the site. Someone like me makes a treasury to show some of their favorite items, and tries to do so in an artistic and appealing way. Usually you pick a theme (in this case, beautiful glass bottles, both vintage and new) and a color scheme and look through various searches until you find just the right combination of items.

It's fun to do (addictive actually!) and if you get enough clicks your treasury can end up on the front page.

I've just started making them, and this one is my third. Click on the box at right to get a closer view of my collection today, called Spin The Bottle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tea Party

Sofie got a tea set from her Aunt Dana and a set of lovely little handcrafted felt cookies from Mommy, and we sat down right away for the first of what I'm sure will be many tea parties. You'll note that big duck, little duck, and new fish were all in attendance and on their best manners.





The art of unwrapping

Sofie was a bit befuddled by how to unwrap a present:


But the payoff was really great:

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish all of our friends and family a very Merry Christmas!



We're having a lot of fun this year with Christmas now that Sofie is fully cognizant of what's going on and has a sense of wonder about it all. She's participated in everything from putting out cookies for Santa to wondering what might be in her packages. "Maybe a cat," she said yesterday.

And yet she's still at that wonderful innocent stage where each and every present is fully appreciated in itself, without the tossing aside of one present in an effort to get to the next one. We got up this morning and let her dig into her stocking (she was delighted with playdoh, new crayons, bracelets, stickers, and a small pack of M&Ms), then made our traditional breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar.

After breakfast we opened about half the presents, to space things out a bit and keep her from getting overwhelmed, and my heart is melting at watching how she stops to thoroughly explore and enjoy each and every one of them. So far she's opened a twilight turtle, which she's now carrying around the house making star patterns on the walls with, and a veterinary kit from my sister, complete with a small cat carrier that she can pt her stuffed animals in. She's beyond thrilled with each of them and has no thought at all that there might actually be MORE presents awaiting. :)

It's innocent and wonderful and sweet. My heart is so full watching her.

In a little while Mom and Dad are coming over and we'll do the rest of the presents and have some coffee and leftovers from the great Christmas eve dinner we had last night. It's been a wonderful holiday so far.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow in Seattle

We're in the midst of the biggest (and longest) snowstorm Seattle has seen in the last twelve years, and boy is it a doozy. Seattle, for those of you who live elsewhere, is an oddity in that it almost never gets snow, despite being further north than Maine. Once or twice a year we get a nice little dusting that's gone the next morning and that's it, usually. Something about the huge mountain ranges that shield the city on both sides and keep major storm systems away.

So when the city really gets walloped, everything skids to a halt. Even a few inches of snow can bring this major metropolis, which owns a measly 27 snowplows, to a standstill.

And this storm, my friends, is not a few inches of snow. It started off Saturday afternoon with about 6-8 inches, then it snowed most of the day Sunday, and now we're up to about 12 inches in the city and much more outside it. Today we're getting a short break (it's supposed to snow later) and this is supposed to continue off and on for the rest of the week.


This is my backyard - note the picnic table, which looks like a big fluffy cupcake with over 12" of snow on it, and the forlorn looking swings with their burdens. And the little cat tracks, probably from Maddie, our one long haired cat who still seems at least a little willing to go do her business outside. Under the bush in the back corner, apparently, from the way the tracks go.



My car -- the forlorn looking station wagon in the pic above -- is totally buried in more than a foot of snow, despite doing our best to shovel an area out in front of it on Sunday morning. Just in case we had to get out. But this is craziness because there's no way we could drive it. With the lack of snowplows there's no chance that the side streets can get plowed, and even the bigger cross streets near us are still unplowed and a real mess.

And here's an artsy fartsy pic I kind of like:



Red berries against a white, white sky. Yes, it is beautiful here right now, and I'm trying to appreciate that without angst. But it's been a long time since I was a midwestern girl, used to being snowed in for long periods of time. I don't even own any snow boots! And my poor friend, Dianne, is due to give birth any day here and is freaking out about how she's going to get to the hospital and I feel so bad for her. I hope it melts soon just so that she can have an easy and non-dangerous drive to the hospital when the time comes!

In the meantime we're well stocked on groceries and in walking distance of the store if we should need more, and getting out to play in the snow with the little one (who's delighted) as often as we can, and just trying to enjoy being holed up at home. Lots of hot cocoa and baking of cookies and watching of movies.

And hey, we're definitely going to have a white Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

CPSIA lab estimates - so outrageous!

Another great CPSIA post - this time Happy Panda, one of my favorite online sellers of children's items, shares the estimates she got back from a testing lab showing exactly why it would cost $675.00 to test one baby shirt.

Yes indeed, that is for ONE shirt out of the whole set of inventory she'd need to test. A shirt that sells for, I dunno, about $20?

And to test one of her bibs? $750

http://www.happypandababy.com/blog/2008/12/16/cpsia-testing-research-for-happy-panda/

Unbelievable.

Monday, December 15, 2008

100 Sales!

This lovely little item from Bellflower Textiles, pictured here:



...just sold right now and therefore became my ONE HUNDREDTH SALE ON ETSY! Which was my goal to reach before the end of this year, and I did it!

I'm so totally psyched. Reaching 100 feels like a really huge milestone to me, even though there are lots of power sellers with way more sales than that -- but I've gotten to this point in just a little bit under three months, which feels huge to me! My first sale was September 23rd, and my last out of the first 100 came in on December 15th.

Thank you so much to everyone who's been supporting my store, whether you've bought items or just offered your encouragement and advice and support -- I can't thank you enough!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A great bit of info about the CPSIA

From http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/national-bankruptcy-day/ :

"The problem we have is that this is a very popular law with consumers and legislators. Because it is so complex, they don’t know what it really means or what its effects will be. ... ... The vast majority of Americans think this is a Great Law, striking back at unethically made low cost imports and thus, legislators are leery of what high level representatives say. That’s why it’s up to you to talk to other consumers like you. We need for consumers to know that this law will put many of us rather than importers out of business at a time when the economy can least absorb it.

They need to know that come February, many of the products they expect to find in stores won’t be there. I think consumers will start to get the hint once they start getting tickets for transporting their infants without car seats because they can’t buy them in stores.


And that's the true suckiness of this legislation. Chinese toy firms that are the ones who have been flooding the market with poorly made, unsafe toys with high levels of lead and pthalates? They'll probably survive just fine. But the American manufacturers of quality products are likely to suffer badly and/or close up shop all together.

Small Businesses in Jeopardy - Please Help!

Have you heard about the upcoming Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act? In response to the rash of lead-rich toys that were imported from China last year, Congress has enacted a stringent and utterly misguided new bill that will put nearly all small business people who make children's goods in this country out of business as of February 10, 2009.

The bill requires anyone who manufactures children's items to undergo stringent and costly testing for each and every item in their inventory, even if the materials that item were made from were all tested by their manufacturers. Each test costs upwards of $400 each, and must be repeated for every unique item, each size of identical items, and each color of an item you produce in multiple fabrics. In addition, everything you've created prior to the February 2009 deadline in your inventory must be tested.

If you don't do this testing, your items are thereby classified as hazardous goods and will thus be illegal to sell them across state lines. Fines are upwards of $25,000 and can include jail time.

Which means that small business Internet children's goods and apparel sellers, like me, who have spent their blood, sweat, and tears building up a business of carefully handcrafted goods, are faced with a difficult choice -- go bankrupt trying to adhere to these new policies, or operate illegally. This act has already passed and a second hearing to take another look at it this week was CANCELLED.

The situation is so dire that February 10, 2009 has been dubbed National Bankruptcy Day as businesses across the nation will be forced to shut down on or before the deadline.

HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO HELP: Please please please click here to send a prewritten letter to your congressmen in support of small artisans! And here is some more reading material on this atrocious and misguided attempt to address a very real problem at the expense of hardworking folks:

http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/national-bankruptcy-day/
Handmade Toy Alliance
http://mollyodesigns.blogspot.com/
http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/1320853/H_R_4040_the_CPSIA_truth_and_fiction
http://detroit.momslikeme.com/members/JournalActions.aspx?g=191230&m=3001735&grpcat=

New Etsy Seller Showcase - StarkHorizons

This week's new featured seller is Stark Horizons, a lovely fellow Seattle-ite and maker of felted wool jewelry, scarves, cards, and photography. Emily, the proprieter, and I met at a craft show last weekend and in addition to looking at her fabulous wares I got a chance to see her make some of her felted wool creations. This lady is talented!

My favorite item in her shop, without a doubt, is her Gertie the Goldfish pendant. How cute is this?



Her ear hats are also adorable. I was coveting one of these for Sofie at the show and will probably be ordering one very soon. So cute!


StarkHorizons opened up on September 25th, and is off to a really good start. Please visit her and check out some great holiday shopping opportunities.

Thanks very much!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sofie's second joke

A week or so I posted about Sofie's first joke -- basically screaming "A TROUT!" very dramatically and then collapsing in giggles.

Yesterday she seemed to come up with round two. It goes like this:

"TOE truck!!" (much chortling) "A truck filled wif TOES!"

Such a funny funny girl.

Monday, December 01, 2008

How's Business? Month two at Bellflower Textiles

At the end of October, I posted my results from my first full month of running Bellflower Textiles and set some bold goals for the rest of the year.

Here's a recap - at the end of October I had:
  • 31 sales

  • 100 hearts (people marking the store as a favorite)

and I was shooting for 60 sales by the end of November and 100 by the end of the year.

I'm happy to report that yay! I did it! I ended the month on November with 66 sales and 224 hearts! Overall I averaged more than a sale a day all month. Business is definitely picking up and I feel really hopeful that I'll break the 100 sales mark before the end of the year!

I've already got my first two sales in December this morning and three more expected tonight when a customer picks up a custom order they put in a few days back, so we're off to a good start for this month too with five (probably) sales the first day of the month. Woo hoo!


On other news, I've got an add running this month in Modish's Holiday Marketplace - take a look for my listing under the Babies/Kids section. And those of you not familiar with the fabulous Modish blog should take a look -- this is such a great site full of crafty goodness.


Thanks very much to all of my wonderful customers - it's been so much fun to send you goodies!

If you haven't been by the shop in a while, today is the last day of a free shipping special I was running for Thanksgiving weekend, so please come by and take a look! Anything ordered before midnight on Monday will ship for free! Visit at http://bellflowertextiles.etsy.com.

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