Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wedding Veils and Chihuahua Tales

Hi, everyone!  I haven't posted for a while, since I've been busy with three custom orders (yay!), designing items which will be listed within the next few weeks, and finding more scrumptious recipes. 

The regular buyer I mentioned at the end of my last post ordered not just one dress for one of her three Chihuahuas, but two of them.  She's so happy with the fit of the clothes she buys from me, and she also likes the combinations of prints and stripes or checks I've used on some of my items.  Here are the pics of her most recent purchases, which I mailed day before yesterday:

So far the buyer has asked me to put D-rings for leash attachment and rosette-style bows topped with buttons on each dress.  I'm looking forward to finding out what she'll want in the future.  As I've said before, my favorite custom project involves sewing things for teacup-sized dogs.  They are soooo cute (not that I think Dom is ugly - far from it!)!

The third custom order I mailed two days ago was for a black and white fleece houndstooth coat of the same style as the one listed in my Shop.  Business is indeed picking up!

Onto a different but related subject.  Today I designed a predominantly lace veil to match the doggie wedding dress in my Shop.  I was so excited when I came across the perfect applique in Etsy's search.  I ordered two sets of four each, and they'll go on the headpiece part of the veil, which will be the same ivory color as the listed dress.  Stay tuned.

Recipe time.  I've found some simple ones which make good use of leftover ham.

Ham and Corn Sandwich Spread:

This recipe can be made with chopped cooked chicken.  Delicious eaten cold or grilled between two slices of French or whole wheat bread.

2 cups chopped cooked ham
1 1/2 cups shredded Havarti cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 3 days.  Bon appetit!

Be back later.  Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Transcending the Seemingly Impossible

Hi, everyone!  In my last post I shared my frustration with photo editing.  Since then I've put my trait of perseverance, which comes in handy when dealing with digital photography, to use again by returning to my favorite photo editing sites to do more tweaking, and reshooting a few as well.  With the exception of two or three pics, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with the final outcome of my recent major reshoot project.  The few that still have tan or gray backgrounds are that way for one of two reasons: as a result of the item being mostly white and therefore needing some contrast (otherwise the item would be pretty much invisible), or the photo just refused to yield to my TLC.

I've been getting more views of more items than was the case when I photographed Dom the Pom on grass, and I can see why Etsy prefers photos with a white background - they look more professional than those taken on things like grass or carpet.

Here are a few of my new, improved (largely) photos.

To change the subject, a while back Victoria, my fellow Etsian, blogger and Pom-owning friend, gave me eleven questions to answer in hopes of her acquiring more followers on her blog (, and suggested I formulate eleven questions to ask eleven other people so I can end up with more followers on my blog as well.  Last week I finally found the time to embark on that project, and so far I've gotten two respondents.  I'm going to go ahead and publish my questions here so that my followers might spread the word and recruit others to answer them and start following this blog (a domino effect):

1) What would your dream house look like?

2) What was your favorite subject in school?

3) If you could turn the clock back, choose one thing you would have done differently.

4) Describe a recurrent dream.

5) If you never had to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

6) If you had all the money in the world, what would you use it for?

7) What is your favorite beverage?

8) If you ever became a hoarder, what would you hoard?

9) What do you like least about computers, and do you like most about them?

10) What is your favorite childhood memory?

11) If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

A regular buyer has promised to place another order, so I need to check my Convos.  Bye for now.  Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Photo Phrustration

Hi, everyone!  A few days ago a fellow Etsian and friend, Victoria, emailed me with a suggestion to remove the grayish background that has stubbornly remained in a few of my Shop photos despite zealous attempts on my part to get rid of it by using photo editing programs.  My first thoughts were, "Well, I've done everything I could and can do no more." 

This morning I had a change of heart.  Something I can justifiably call divine inspiration came over me, a moment of truth, so I sat in front of my computer, pulled up a no-brainer photo editing site, and went to work.  Some of the pics turned out really well, but in the case of a few others, President Obama would have declared them a disaster area - manipulation of the Contrast lever with my mouse yielded the most ghastly hues of purple, red and yellow imaginable.  I took to using various exposure levers, with mixed results.  At least there was some improvement.  Feeling discouraged, I pulled up Picasa, which produced a better outcome, but not to the degree ofimprovement I'd hoped for.  Persistent gray remains in a few, white tinged with green or yellow in a few others.

I started to wrack my brain for a viable solution.  A memory of the old Pepsodent toothpaste commercial came to mind: "You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent."  I wished I could put a little of the toothpaste on my toothbrush and swipe the computer screen over the photos with the yellow-tinged background.  But what about bleach?  That won't work either.  That's sheer desperation for you!

Victoria had suggested use of FotoFuze.  A more practical idea than toothpaste or bleach, but for me that won't work, either.  I say that only because I tried going that route a while back, and it made no difference whatsoever (I followed the directions to the letter,).

I take comfort in knowing that quite a few Etsy Shops have pics with gray backgrounds, yet they're selling like hotcakes.  But since "Perfectionist" should be my middle name, I'm still determined to have white backgrounds in all my photos, so I may just sooner or later reshoot the offending ones and hope for the best.

Onto a more tantalizing subject than that rather disgusting gray color in photos: cuisine.  In the email Victoria sent a few days ago, she also asked me about my culinary background, since my recipes seem to reveal that I'm an accomplished chef.  I've never attended culinary school nor was either of my parents a chef (my mother worked, so dinner was, more often than not, out of a box), but I've always enjoyed cooking for guests, and years ago I subscribed to the now-defunct Gourmet magazine.  To me a gourmet dish is like a work of art, calling for the right brushstrokes and color, and the sense of accomplishment a gourmet cook feels when something comes out of the oven is similar to what I feel when I've put the final stitch in a pet garment.

Speaking of dog/cat apparel, business has picked up, and I put a doggie dress in yesterday's mail for a 2 1/2-pound Chihuahua.  What fun it was sewing that little dress!  This dog is my smallest client to date.  To me there's something especially appealing about teacup dogs and their clothes.  Here's a pic of the dress:

 This is the pic I sent to the buyer for approval prior to shipping, so I felt no need to perfect it to the point of readiness for use in an Etsy listing, but you get the idea.  It's the Poky Little Puppy print and stripe, with a D-ring for attachment of the dog's leash, and a bow topped with a pink and white polka dotted ribbon.  It was my first attempt ever to make a bow of this type, and the buyer and I think it came out really well.  For safety's sake I sewed them on with enough thread to sink a sub.

Now for the recipe I promised in my last post: Lemon Thyme Chicken:

1 3/4-lb. boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. canola oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
3/4 cup white wine
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
8-10 whole sprigs fresh thyme
4-6 whole sprigs fresh oregano
1 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP. water

Preheat large pan on medium-high heat 2-3 minutes.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place oil in pan and add chicken.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.  Stir in lemon juice, wine, broth, thyme and oregano.  Cover and cook 8-10 minutes or until 165 F is reached,, turning chicken occasionally.  Remove chicken, oregano and thyme from pan.  Do not wash pan. 

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth; pour into pan and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until thickened.  Slice chicken,

Friday, February 8, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy (Sound Familiar???)

Hi, everyone!  What a busy day today has been.  A very fulfilling day, though.  We all know how a day might not be fulfilling, when you get a bill that's higher than anticipated, or whatever.  Makes me realize how grateful we Floridians are that it's wintertime, when our utility bills are at their lowest. 

Besides getting ready for a two-day spiritual assembly, planting the rest of my annuals - orange marigolds, red dianthus, white petunias, and pansies, which provide my patio area with a blaze of color - I cleaned off of my honey-coolored wall-to-wall carpet some dog hair that keeps accumulating despite frequent brushing of my dog plus her having her luxuriant winter coat - what a good feeling to have clean floors! - and I listed my 113th item on Etsy: a red, black and white pet bow tie with paw prints galore.

Yesterday evening was not so fulfilling.  The new Kindle Fire refused to cooperate, so I got in touch with Amazon Tech Support.  They were wonderful, trying so hard via Live Chat to help me to try to get the thing to do what it's supposed to.  It was an ercise in futility;  the dumb steadfastly remained on sit-down strike, so I'll need to return it, and Amazon is sending me a replacement device which is scheduled to arrive on Monday the 11th.  Modern technology can be such a pain in the neck, which made me even more grateful that today was fulfilling!  The replacement device is being shipped UPS Express to make up for the frustration I went through.  As I said, they are truly wonderful!

No recipe today, but I'll have one in my next post.

Here's the photo of the new bow tie:

Be back soon.  Take care!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Here's the pic I tried to upload earlier:

Long Time No Post, Glad to Be Back

Hi, everyone!  I apologize for making you wonder if I'd breathed my last, since I hadn't posted for almost two weeks.  I've been so busy reshooting all but one of the Shop pics with Dominique modeling the garments.  Not just one shot of each item, but two or three of each pose, just to make sure at least one of each would turn out well, so my digital camera - a Canon Powershot A-4000, which I absolutely love - got an honest-to-goodness workout!  The project took longer than anticipated, because I was not satisfied was the pose I'd put Dom in for some of the listings, so I ended up doing them over with the back view of her sitting.

I said "all  but one of the Shop pics" because there is one I like so much I can't bear the idea of replacing it.  It's the main pic of my Cotton Multicolored Daisies Dress: a closeup of her modeling the dress, with part of my flower garden in the background.  The delicate while alyssum and orange marigolds were a built-in prop.  They complement the print of the dress so well, and they aren't distracting, IMO (hopefully humble).

The ideal photo background in Etsy's eyes is white, but try as I did I could not get the tan out of some of the pics.  How that got there mystifies me, since I took them at the same time of day with the vertical blinds fronting my bedroom window wide open.  At least I have the satisfaction of having done my very best, using Picasa to crop and to adjust the color, contrast and brightness.  I really like Picasa because of its simplicity.  All you need to do is click on the "color" and "contrast" buttons, click on "crop" to use the cropping feature, and move the brightness "lever" with the mouse.  For adjustment of the background, since it sometimes comes out blue or yellow, I resort to Picmonkey's color balance feature.

Enough rambling about the new, improved (a term borrowed from the advertising trade) photos.  Now I'm practically counting the hours until the UPS truck makes its delivery here tomorrow.  I'm getting a Kindle Fire, which I ordered from Amazon.  It will put a happy end to my having to lug a heavy bag full of books to my spiritual meetings and will thus be a boon for my degenerated lumbar spin, which is about ready for the dumpster.

About a week ago I somehow managed to squeeze in the time to sew and list a fleece coat, the print/stripe of which is similar to the one with green on the sides and is also different in that it has a pocket on the back for keys, doo-doo bags, etc. 

I just tried uploading a pic of the coat - an exercise in futility, which means the server is probably busy.  I'll try again later.

Recipe time:  Tuscan Sweet Potato Salad.  This yummy concoction serves 4.

1 lb. sweet potatoes, cooked and drained
2 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced
1 cup bell pepper strips
2 ox. mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 TBSP. fresh basil, cut into thin strips
2 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP. balsamic vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and cheese; add basil.  In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together oil, vinegar and garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over salad, and toss to blend.  Cover and let stand up to one hour to blend flavors.  Enjoy!

That's all for now.  Be back later.  Take=care!