Sunday, June 30, 2013

Snap Happy - Merry Christmas (Freebie)

I know what you're thinking and no you didn't accidentally hibernate all through summer ... I was more thinking along the lines of Christmas in July!

Small Print: This image is for personal use only! You may also post it on your own blog if you wish, just make sure to link back to me - thanks!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting Crafty - Let's get cozy (again)!

A little while ago, all right that was already back in February, I shared a couple of books from my cozy mysteries stack with you. As I've been in quite a cozy reading mood lately, I now present to you a few more mysteries for equally crafty minded folks!

A Killing in Antiques (Mary Moody)
Treasure hunting is not for the faint of heart. Luckily, Lucy St. Elmo, owner of the Cape Cod antiques shop St. Elmo Fine Antiques, has more than enough heart. What she needs to improve are her tracking skills-or else the wrong man could be convince of a one-of-a-kind murder.

A fresh and witty first in a series revolving around antiques shows!

The Diva Paints the Town (Krista Davis)
When Sophie's neighbor-a reclusive professor-dies, his final wish is for the Domestic Diva to throw a dinner party in his honor, and he's planned everything down to the letter. But what no one planned for is the corpse of a student that Sophie finds in his house.

Classic who-dunnit with a decorative twist!

String of Lies (Mary Ellen Hughes)
Parker Holt has started gobbling up properties housing small businesses in town, and Jo worries that her Craft Corner shop will be next. But when she arrives at Holt's home to learn his intentions, she finds him dead – the victim of an insidious electrical trap.

A light cozy for everyone who likes some beading to go with it!

Cookie Dough or Die (Virginia Lowell)
No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House—and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case a suicide, but Olivia's convinced there's a murder to solve.

A not quite crafty but definitely cookie-licious mystery!

Organize Your Corpses (Mary Jane Maffini)
Charlotte's new job has her digging through years of accumulated junk to find some important documents. Instead she finds her client, the meanest teacher in town, dead under a pile of the debris that plagued her. And there's no end to the list of suspects-starting with Charlotte herself.

A breezy and engaging first in a series for the organizationally challenged!

Did you get your crafty read on lately?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Frugal Life - The infamous closet purge!

Last time I tackled the 80/20 rule and how to break the vicious circle of only wearing the same clothes all the time while others are, often with tags still attached, withering away in the back of your closet. One of the most important aspects to not only make many of your garments finally see the light of day is to wear them, but sometimes there is a good reason why we haven't done so already and then it's high time for a purge!

I realize that it may seem overwhelming, standing in front of your wardrobe and its vast content, but if you go through it step by step, you won't feel as discouraged as you would if you had planned to, say, get it all done in one afternoon.

1. Go through your closet shelf by shelf.
Seriously, don't overdo it. If you divide your closet into sections, taking on one at a time, the whole procedure is a lot more manageable. You'll start seeing results aka new empty shelf space right away too and won't feel like throwing the towel if you take baby steps.

2. Try it all on.
I know what you're thinking! Why should I put on each and every single garment? Because otherwise there's no way of telling how it fits and suits you (or not). And don't skip shirts and sweaters - you'd be surprised how many you'll actually want to get rid of after seeing your reflection in the mirror.

3. Divide into keepers, maybes and goners.
With most clothes it will be clear right away whether you are going to keep them or toss them out, but there are often those where you're just not sure. Something may fit and look good on you, but will you wear it? Keep those for the time being and only ever throw them out if you haven't worn them by the end of the season.

4. Repeat twice a year.
I recommend the good old closet purge twice a year, usually at the end of each season. By that time you will know what you haven't worn all summer/winter long, which makes it easier to part with those above mentioned "maybes".

5. Keep track of new purchases.
Try not to fill up the space shelf you gained with new stuff! Of course you may always replace things, eg you got rid of some basic white T-shirt and now get a new one, but generally you should first resort to wearing what you already own instead of letting your inner compulsive shopper decide for you!

Food for thought ... I recently read that the average person will purchase 70 pieces of clothing each year. That might seem a lot (and it is) but imagine going on a shopping spree once a month and coming home with 5-6 new garments and you will get this result!

As for myself, I only bought three new shirts this year. I repeat, three. And I only got those to replace a whole stack of old shirts I had already worn out. I'm always happy to set a good example and hopefully I will rub off on you too, my dear readers!

How does my suggestion of a serious closet purge sound to you? Yay or nay?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Urban Decay NAKED Palette Giveaway (Open WW)

The Urban Decay Naked Palette is a must have this summer because we all want to look good! As another makeup favorite of mine the timing is perfect to give it away. Enjoy, from LeChateaudesFleurs.

This long, lean, seductive case is packed with TWELVE gorgeous neutrals. Shades range from delicate champagnes to dark, gritty gunmetal, with names like Darkhorse, Virgin and Buck. We've also included a range of textures: everything from glitter to shimmer to matte.

Urban Decay NAKED Palette Giveaway

RainShadow Labs
RainShadow Labs

RainShadow Labs provides the highest quality wholesale cosmetics. They offer lotions, washes, cremes, candles, soaps, gels, essential oils and so much more. 

Visit them here: 

AEWR Turbo Wrinkle Smoothing Treatment
One of my favorite products fro RainShadow Labs: 

AEWR Turbo Wrinkle Smoothing Treatment
The name says it all. If there is one turn back the clock product that every person over 25 with skin should have, this is it.  Restore firmness, heal sun damage, increase hydration, erase wrinkles, smooth texture, nourish at the dermal layer, minimize irritation, increase skin brightness and even out skin tone.

Enter to win the Urban Decay Naked Palette:
Open worldwide. Ends 7/8/13. Entries will be verified. See Rafflecopter for full Terms.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Etsy Venture - Three months and counting ...

I opened my shop roughly three months ago and I think this qualifies for a little look back on what happened during that time, don't ya think?

Sales - None. All right, I had been kinda hoping to have my first sale in the first three months, but oh well. I read on the Etsy forums how low sales have generally been this spring, plus I have this inkling that digital downloads aren't all the rage (yet). Come on folks - it's way cheaper to buy the file and print a whole stack of whatnot's on your own printer or through an online printing service than purchasing one measly print which probably gets bent during shipping, not to mention sky high postage costs. Anyway, I digress.

Views - Could be better. Up until now I had a total of 790 views which, if people in the forums can be trusted, isn't exactly a whole lot. And nope, the ad spots on various blogs haven't really helped much in that regard either. Still, I refuse to believe that my photos are to blame, plus I am constantly working on my tags too.

Favorites - Not bad (I think). I got 26 shop favorites and 65 listing favorites so far which I find pretty neat. Now if only they translated into sales, hmmm. Fun fact - the most popular search term that leads people to my shop is ... juke box! And in case you haven't noticed by now, I do not sell juke boxes.

Promotion - I need to do more. Yes, I've got a few ad spots, but I think ultimately I will have to get my foot into popular blogs, do guest posts and get featured, thus get noticed by more people. Maybe doing monthly giveaways for one of my digital downloads might be a good idea as well.

All right, that about sums it up for now! Here's to the next three months!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Lucky Dip - Jewelsalem

My first impression of a dreamy nostalgic atmosphere with its vintage inspired pieces lured me in right away. And you probably already know how my little fairy tale story ends. Why, with a purchase of course!

Where to go? Jewelsalem

What to buy? Jewelry Bag Mystery Grab Bag

What does it cost? $13,98 plus shipping

What's it all about? Sereine will pack a mystery jewelry bag of 5 GOODIE ITEMS which could be anything from: 1. Ring, 2. Earrings, 3. Hair Accessories and it all has a value over 40 USD! Now for under 20 USD!

Content? My little goody box held not just five but one additional item. All in all a colorful mix, but to be honest, I am not that much of a ring person, so receiving mostly rings was a bit disappointing, especially as I had hoped for at least one item of each category.

World Map Ring / Pink Rose Ring / Yellow Rose Ring / Green Stone Ring / Turquoise Heart Earrings / Red Rose Earrings

Most favorite item? I have to say the pink rose ring is my favorite here while the ring with the world map get's bonus points as I am a traveler at heart!

Least favorite item? That would have to be the ring with the yellow rose, as I'm not overly fond of the color!

Value? Let's just say the heart earrings alone cost more than the whole grab bag, so this is a great deal!

Verdict? Apart from the obvious ring overload this is something worth checking out for gals who like feminine dainty jewelry!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Lucky Dip - Gertie & Baxter (Update)

A little while ago I presented my grab bag haul from Gertie & Baxter and as I had already previously prophesied another shopping spree was in order rather sooner than later. Yep, I just had to grab some more bags (love the word play)!

Where to go? Gertie & Baxter

What to buy? Clutch Grab Bag and Scarf Grab Bag

What does it cost? $5,99 for the Clutch Grab Bag and $9,99 for the Scarf Grab Bag, all plus shipping

This time I went for a big splurge ... oh, and have you noticed the floral clutch to the left? This one's part of the Fashionista Grab Bag Giveaway which you may still enter until June 22nd!

Floral Clutch / Charcoal Linen Clutch / Yellow Butterfly Clutch / Hot Pink Satin Clutch
Cream Woven Snood Scarf / Purple & Grey Floral Loop Scarf / White & Blue Batik Loop Scarf

Verdict? I certainly don't regret coming back to snap up some more bags and scarfs! Not as though I'd enjoy much of them myself as they make for great gifts too! All right, some are keepers, obviously! And when all else fails, I know where to get more ...

The Lucky Dip - Mibbi Design

Without my constant search for interesting grab bags I would most certainly miss out not just on great bargains, but also never get to know the loveliest shops. All things pretty? You bet!

Where to go? Mibbi Design

What to buy? Lucky Dip / Goody Bag

What does it cost? £5 plus shipping

What's it all about? Each bag has contents worth at least £10 – many are of value £13+ and are filled with either 1 higher value item, many contain 2+ items, some 3 ...! Contents may include (but not limited to) earrings, rings, brooch, necklaces, locket, bracelet, hair accessories.

Once again I figured why buy one when you can buy three? A decision I certainly do not regret!

Content? All my lucky dips were individually wrapped which means I can present them this way below. As to the content I received mostly necklaces which is perfectly ok with me. Plus there was a cute fabric button in each bag which, as I'm going to assume, is a small extra and not an actual item.

Bag I - Alice in Wonderland Necklace / Gold Star Necklace / Fabric Button

Bag II - Antiqued Locket Necklace / Fabric Button

Bag III - Branch Necklace / Ornament Ring / Fabric Button

Most favorite item? I was instantly smitten with the gorgeous locket from Bag II as I love the vintage look!

Least favorite item? Contrary to what some of you might assume, that's not the necklace with the little bird (which I actually find rather charming), but the ring from Bag III.

Value? A truly sweet deal!

Verdict? I am more than happy with every single one of my goody bags! Great for treating yourself and/or a friend to a lovely surprise!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Snap Happy - Let's talk about copyright!

I guess we'll all agree that pictures spruce up blog posts quite a bit. Seeing how I love to play around with my camera it goes without saying that most, but not all, photos published here have been taken by myself. I realize that not every blogger is camera-savvy and some can't focus on a motive if their lives depended on it, but - and I cannot stress this enough - this doesn't mean you are free to roam the internet and simply use any pretty picture you find on your own blog.

Bottom line is that you have two possibilities - either you snap your own pics OR you resort to free stock photography. Basically, anything else puts you at risk of someone reporting you for copyright infringement, and believe me, you don't want that to happen!

That said, you probably wonder why you find so many photos on other blogs that don't cite any sources and have apparently been copied from somewhere off the web. Well, many just don't know that this is asking for trouble and others simply don't care, figuring that chances are infinitesimal small of anyone finding out. Still, this obviously doesn't make things right!

Respect the artist's work and don't steal it! Of course it doesn't hurt to ask, and many photographers or illustrators will even allow you to use their work as long as you mention who created it and/or link back to their own website.

Familiarize yourself with a website's FAQs! There are sites who will allow you to share some of their content, be it text and/or photos. Comply with their rules, eg linking back to the original post, and you're all set.

Protect your own work! I've seen so many photos on blogs that show no watermark or anything that would make it possible to track its source. Stealing those is way to easy, so put your stamp on it. Even if you have nothing against other people sharing your images, I'm sure you wouldn't mind that people who find it elsewhere can at least track its source.

Stick to Stock Photography! If you aren't handy with a camera or if you need a photo you couldn't make yourself for one reason or another, use stock photos instead. Apart from sites that will charge you, there are also some great ones completely free of charge. One of my favorites (also used above) is FreeDigitalPhotos which gives you access to thousands of photos and illustrations.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Frugal Life - Stop living by the 80/20 rule!

You've probably heard of this rule before, and in case you haven't, it will most likely feel oddly familiar to you. Basically we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. Consequently the remaining 80% rarely (or never) see the light of day. The important question would have to be, why is this the case?

Now if you're anything like me you probably resort to wearing the first items of clothing that fall out of your wardrobe when you open it. I tend to step into this trap time and again, but have in the meantime worked out a rotary system moving stacks of garments around and doing the reverse-hangers flip (just put the hanger of items you've worn backwards on the rod). In my experience this helps a lot in finally wearing one, or preferably more, of those neglected pieces.

Word of Advice: Make an effort to wear a certain amount of garments you've never put on before (except for the fitting room that is) each week. You could, eg plan to wear at least two new pieces each week and if you end up with stuff you still haven't worn at the end of the season, it's time to let it go.

Trust me, I've been one of those gals who could rarely pass by a good bargain and while I still consider myself a bargain hunter I am not as prone to those pesky impulse purchases like I used to be. Let's face it, it's not as though we actually needed everything we just had to have and ended up buying, because our wardrobes are full already. If yours isn't, just go away, will ya?

Word of Advice: Ask yourself if you don't already own one (or more) similar piece(s) of clothing. Chances are you already have half a dozen variations of said item lurking in your wardrobe anyway. So if it's not a basic item which you wear on a day-to-day basis (think underwear) chances are you merely want it, but not really need it. Buying something just because it's cheap and cute is the fastest way to turn the 80/20 rule into the 90/10 rule and that's not where you want to be headed!

If you really want to face your demons, and deep in my heart I know you do, go through your whole wardrobe, one shelf at a time, and count how many pieces you own. Don't give me that look! I'm serious. When I did this it was like stepping onto the scale and realizing that it must have been more than one tiny piece of chocolate cake that led to that incredible number. Not counting underwear, socks and nightwear my magic number was somewhere at 250 which is just utterly ridiculous if you think about it. My goal was, and still is, to get down to 100 pieces and I'm currently at about 150 or so which is a huge leap in the right direction.

Word of Advice: Purge purge purge. If you haven't worn it in the past two years, wear it, and if you end up not wearing it by the end of the season, out it goes. If it doesn't fit anymore, toss it out. You'll never loose those pesky five pounds anyway, trust me. Donate it or sell it and next time, spend your money more wisely.

Are you living by the 80/20 rule? Want to break that buying-but-never-wearing circle? What do you think of my suggestions? Anything you'd like to add as additional tip?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Etsy Venture - Buttons, anyone?

What's the No. 1 rule for Etsy sellers? Apart from opening the store, of course. And listing items for sale, obviously. Anyone? That's right - getting word out!

Now I'm well aware that you need to invest to get something back, but this time I took the easy route. Why? Or more importantly, how? Good question. I entered a giveaway (in fact I entered quite a few over the course of the past few weeks) for Ad Space on various blogs. And you may have already guessed - lucky me actually won a whole ad space bundle *doing a happy dance*.

Curious? You can find my cute lil' Etsy shop buttons on My So-Called ChaosHealth NOT to Health NUT, Everyday Life and Green Mountain Couple. So you may easier find them, here's what they look like ...

... now it's wait and see, because I really want to get an idea of the impact such buttons have, before actually investing real money in that kind of promotion. Personally, I have to say, I do like to check out such buttons, but I am aware that many simply ignore them. So this opportunity is really perfect for lil' ol' me!

By the way, how do you like the buttons? I created them in like two minutes, but they turned out quite nicely, I think.

The Lucky Dip Giveaway (Europe only)

How about yet another grab bag fest? This time I put together a mix for all those fashionistas out there. Except for the bag, which was part of my latest haul from Gertie & Baxter, all of the content has already been shown off in one of my reviews in The Lucky Dip feature. Of course all the goodies are brand-new and in need of a stylish lady!

Please note that this giveaway is not sponsored by the Etsy shops whose grab bag contents I'm sharing. It's just my way of spreading the love by giving away some awesome goodies and at the same time it's also a shout-out for equally amazing Etsy sellers!

Up for grabs is a Fashionista Grab Bag with a Floral Clutch from Gertie & Baxter, a "Red Sunglasses" Pocket Mirror from Modern Girl Blitz, a Flower Hairclip Set from The Bloomin' Cute Boutique, and maybe I'll throw in one or two additional surprises too.

Based on the original shop prices, this grab bag has a € 35 value!

Last but not least - as I'm sending the grab bag out myself this giveaway is open to Europe only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Lucky Dip - Outpost 8

How about something for your inner geek? You know, the one that's hooked on computer games and is secretly preparing for the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. I think I found the perfect shop for you then.

Where to go? Outpost 8

What to buy? Mystery Box

What does it cost? $25 plus shipping

What's it all about? You will receive a handmade origami mystery box filled with awesome jewelry and accessories worth at least twice the price listed. Just pick a theme: Fantasy, Nature, Kawaii, Gamer, Boho/Rustic, Fallout, and Legend of Zelda and receive at least 5 items, which may include: bracelets, earrings, rings, pins, keychains, pendant charms, barrettes, or even figurines!

Content? I immediately knew I had to go for the Boho/Rustic theme after checking out this style in the shop and, as promised in the listing, I found five pieces that go perfectly with that theme in my little origami box, which is a real nice extra touch of handmade goodness.

Rustic Keychain / "B" Inital Ring / Boho Necklace / Stone Bracelet / Spiral Pin

Most favorite item? I adore the cute little pin! And the ring with "my" initial gets an honorary mention.

Least favorite item? Ok, I'm admittedly not too fond of the keychain (which won't keep me from putting it to good use with spare keys).

Value? You really do get your money's worth with this varied mix!

Verdict? Browse the themes in the shop and then pick the one you like best. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Lucky Dip - The Wish Forest

I've been secretly admiring this shop's gorgeous artwork for literally months now. But, as you know, there is a right time and place for everything, including shopping. So imagine my delight when I suddenly saw a surprise pack available here!

Where to go? The Wish Forest

What to buy? Surprise Art Pack

What does it cost? $35 plus shipping

What's it all about? With this listing you can get yourself a selection of my art at a great value, consisting of these fabulous items: 8x10 inches art print, 5x7 inches art print, ACEO print, Original ACEO drawing, Handmade blank cards with envelopes (2 pcs), Gift tags (2 pcs) with an original value of $75!!

Content? Granted, you don't know which of the many available prints you'll get, but seeing how I am smitten with pretty much everything in Amalia's shop that was a "risk" I happily took. Was I disappointed with what I got? Of course not!!

"Return to Me" Print / "At the Meadow No. 1" Print / "Rose in Dreams" ACEO Print / "Little Nymph" Original ACEO / Two Greeting Cards / Two Gift Tags / Bookmark

Most favorite item? That's a tough one ... I'd say the large print is my favorite of the lot, but the rest really isn't that far behind!

Least favorite item? I have to say, it's even harder to point a finger at what I don't like, so let's say the greeting card not shown in the photo (as it's in the same envelope as the one with the girl and owl)! Easy way out, eh?

Value? Great compared to normal prices, though if you're not that crazy about the ACEOs, I do recommend buying prints separately.

Verdict? If you love Amalia's art as much as I do and if you're one who likes surprises, this is the grab bag for you!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snap Happy - Sweets For My Sweet (Freebie)

Got a bit of a sweet tooth? Same here. Of course, these yummy treats have no calories ... if viewed from afar, that is.

Small Print: This image is for personal use only! You may also post it on your own blog if you wish, just make sure to link back to me - thanks!