Christmas Memories Last Forever: Cutting Of The Tree – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Rebecca of OrnamentsByRebecca

One of my favorite Christmas memories was going to the Christmas tree farm to cut our tree. It was a Saturday afternoon event. If we were really lucky, there might even be snow falling. After lunch we would bundle up in our warmest clothes and head up the highway to Thompson, Illinois to the “Christmas tree farm”. It couldn’t have been more than 10 or 15 miles but it seemed like a eternity before we arrived.

We paid the $2 per car at the gate. Yup that’s right! $2 got you any tree on the farm! My dad parked the car and I was out before they knew it. I looked out at the acres of uncut trees, holes here and there where someone had already cut down their “perfect” tree. I was in what seemed like Christmas wonderland. Rows and rows of Christmas trees of every size and shape. How could you possible pick just one! Christmas music drifted into the air from speakers mounted on the side of the old barn as we stopped to pick up our ax. And we were off. I ran ahead going from tree to tree trying to spot “it”. Then the bargaining began. Dad saying it was too tall, me saying it was too short, mom saying it wasn’t full enough or had a bare spot. This was serious business getting everyone to agree. Finally, there it was! Our perfect tree! Dad chopped it down and the three of us all pulled together to get it back to the car. A couple of guys were there to help tie it down for the trip home.

Greens for Decorating – Now the next big part of the day came – getting greens for wreaths and decorating. As the farm hands trimmed branches from trees for people, they would toss them onto an old wagon near the barn. You could take as many as you liked, they were included in the $2 price. Dad joined the men near a fire built to take the chill off as mom and I began searching through the wagon full of greens. I still remember you wanted long limber branches for the wreaths and smaller ones for centerpieces. Mom also preferred the long pine needles to the short ones. We carried several arms full back to the car putting them gently in the trunk, and then went to warm up by the fire and have a cup of hot cocoa before we headed home. I can remember the ride home so clearly. Christmas music on the AM car radio, the cold nip on my nose as we waited for the heater to start warming the car. The smell, ahhhh that sweet smell of pine that filled the car as I closed my eyes and tried to picture what the tree would look like once we had finished decorating.

Picking a fresh-cut Christmas tree wasn’t about crossing an item off your holiday to-do list. It was about breathing in the scents, sipping hot cocoa in an old barn, listening to the fire crackle, hearing horses shake sleigh bells as they pulled wagons with big trees towards the buyers car and spending time with family. It is one of those Christmas memories that will last forever.

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Christmas Countdown – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Julie Herbert of Everyone Loves Gifts

My Christmas inspiration this year was organization. We all know Christmas is coming yet it creeps up very quickly and before you know it you are panicking. Every year you run around like a headless chicken and wish you could be more organized. Does this sound like you? It sounds like me as well. It is a good idea to get ready in advance. This way you will feel less stressed about the big day, you will enjoy it more and feel more organized than ever before.

What I suggest are the things that you can prepare before Christmas so you’re ready in time. These can be done anytime in December. So I have come up with a countdown to Christmas so you can feel and be more organized before the big day.

1. Start of the Countdown – First things first, do you have a Christmas chocolate calendar? This needs to be out ready and waiting. Not only do you and your family get a little treat everyday, you can also see the countdown as you eat it.

2. Decorations – We all know how long decorations take to do. You’ve got to get all the decorations down from the loft or garage, sort it all out. Make sure no bulbs have died since last year, nothing else is broke etc. Also doing your decorations ahead of time will not only make you feel more organized, but will also get you in the Christmas mood. Having lights outside? Why not do this now too?

3. Getting in the Christmas Mood – I find the easiest way to get into the Christmas mood is by fragrances, you can find loads of festive fragrances out there for your home around this time. You can use candles, aroma diffuses, incense and more.

Music, Movies or both? Do you prefer Christmas music instead? Everyone likes a sing along to Christmas music and watch all the great Christmas movies.

4. Letter to Santa/Christmas cards – I don’t know about you but Christmas cards are always the last on my list, yet the one that I stress about as I’ve left it too late. Now this year I am going to do my cards ahead of time so it is one little niggle you can forget about.

Do you have children that need to write a letter to Santa? Get this ready now too, also get the little ones to write a separate wish list so again you know ahead of time.

5. Shopping – If you already know what you are buying friends and family, buy them early before the mad rush takes hold. This is also a good time to purchase the decorations or bulbs that may have broken from last year. If you want, this may also be a good idea to purchase small food items that you may need for Christmas dinner.

Going to purchase some gifts online? Do it early so you get it in time. At this time all postal workers are maxed out, so doing your online shopping early means you will get what you want before it is out of stock and you will receive it ahead of time.

PS. Don’t forget those batteries on your shopping list. Everyone needs batteries at Christmas. Get them before everyone else does.

6. Gift wrapping  – Yes, it is a job that is a love and hate type but it needs doing. Wrapping ahead of time will take the stress away instead of doing it Christmas Eve, which is a time you should be relaxing in front of the TV with a nice beverage.

7. Visiting Santa  – Got little ones? Why not book to see Santa now before all the places are full?

8. Having friends and family over to stay? If you’re like me I like to have a clean(er) house if guests are staying over. I start with the guest room. Wash the bedding, hoovering and polishing will make all the difference. After the guests room are complete I then start deep cleaning the rest of the house (you don’t have to do this). This is also a good time to clean away old toys or clothes to give to charity.

9. Setting the Table – I know friends who set their table at the beginning of Christmas and no one is allowed to sit there until Christmas Day. You don’t have to do this, you can set the table Christmas Eve like I do or you can do this before, which ever is your preference.

10. Need any last minute gifts? Off you go.

11. Week beginning 17th of December – This is the perfect week to look at everything and make sure you are truly organized. Do you have everything prepared? Anything else you have missed?

12. Christmas Eve – Now you can start to relax and enjoy Christmas, spend time with friends and family. Bake or cook the items that you can now instead of doing it all on the big day.

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Christmas Eve Luminaria Tour – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor Post By Mike Of BurntEarthHorseHair

New Mexico’s early Spanish colonists made little bonfires of burning pinon to light the way for the Christ child’s visit on Christmas Eve. These small farolitos brightened processional routes to midnight mass in the village/ pueblo church. They were placed along pathways to homes, and a little fire in front of each home was kept burning throughout the night.

BurntEarthHorseHair

Modern New Mexicans continue this traditional luminaria lure, by using commercial candles, sand, and paper bags. Candles flickering in these ceramic clay horsehair fired luminarias bags made by BURNTEARTH HORSEHAIR FIRED POTTERY continue this festive Christmas customs. I cut into the front of the bag and leave open spaces to show the light of the candles.

Luminarias today are still lit by simple folk whose hearts believe the Christ child wanders softly through the night and blesses all who set a guiding light.

When I escaped from Kansas at a very young age to New Mexico that first year was learning about the customs and traditions of New Mexico. One that we truly fell in love with was setting up luminaria bags on Christmas Eve. It became so popular that 10’s of thousands of people would come to Albuquerque to stay on Christmas Eve and tour the city viewing the lights. It became so commercialized that after I became a traffic cop I spent too many years to remember directing traffic or leading tours of buses full of people enjoying the view. We have done this in my family for years and have pasted it on to the grandchildren. In the 22 years of doing this, it only snowed once on Christmas Eve and that night it was the most beautiful and memorable Christmas Eve I had.

I offer different size bags and prices range from $5-$50. Along with a wide variety of patterns including a Southwestern Adobe Home with drying chiles, a Native American turtle symbol and several NM pueblo churches are drawn on the front along with first American symbols.

Here is a great photo of our luminaria’s in Los Angeles, CA! No snow and they use electric lights!

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Fun Facts About Christmas – #CIJParty 2018

Contributor post by Cindy of Cynhumphrey

Christmas is an ancient celebration celebrated in many different ways. We all love Christmas but do we really know about why Christmas is the way it is? Some of the seasonal favorites of many have surprising origins! Continue reading to see some fun facts and find out how many surprise you!

FUN FACT: Santa wore a variety of different colored suits through the years but legend has it that the popular red coat came from a Coca Cola ad in the 1930s.

FUN FACT: Rudolph was almost named Reginald.

The famous reindeer was a marketing gimmick for Montgomery Ward’s holiday coloring books created by a copywriter named Robert May. Robert May considered naming the misfit Reginald and Rollo. Rudolph originally wasn’t going to have a red nose either because a red nose was associated with a sign of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to seem like a drunk. Good thing they changed it too! Reginald the blue nose reindeer just doesn’t have the same ring to it at all.

FUN FACT: Jingle Bells was originally a Thanksgiving song.

An organist from Georgia first performed a song he wrote, “The One Horse Open Sleigh” at a Thanksgiving concert at his church in 1850. The song was republished in 1857 and given the title of “Jingle Bells”.

FUN FACT: America’s first batch of eggnog was made in the Jamestown settlement in 1607 but by the time the Puritans settled in Boston, Christmas was illegal.

Its name comes from the word “grog”, meaning any drink made with rum. Nonalcoholic eggnog is popular as well.

From 1659 to 1681, celebrating the once-pagan day could cost you a fine of as much as five shillings. And after the Revolutionary War, the new Congress found the day so unimportant that they held the first session on Christmas Day, 1789. It wasn’t proclaimed a federal holiday for nearly another century.

FUN FACT: “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop.

St. Nicholas had inherited a great deal of wealth and was known for giving it away to help the needy. When sainted, he became the protector of children.

FUN FACT: “Silent Night” is the most recorded Christmas song in history, with over 733 different versions copyrighted since 1978.

FUN FACT: The period of time between the 16th and 19th centuries was known as “a little ice age”.

Global temperatures were lower than normal during this time. However, Charles Dickens grew up during this era and experienced snow for his first eight Christmases. This “White Christmas” experience influenced his writing and began a tradition of expectation for the holidays.

FUN FACT: In Poland spiders are considered to be symbols of prosperity and goodness at Christmas.

In fact, spiders and spider webs are often used as Christmas tree decorations. According to legend, a spider wove baby Jesus a blanket to keep him warm.

FUN FACT: Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.

FUN FACT: The tradition of hanging stockings comes from a Dutch legend.

A poor man had three daughter.s He couldn’t afford to provide a dowry for these daughters. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down his chimney and gold coins fell out and into the stockings drying by the fireplace. The daughters now had dowries and could be married, avoiding a life on the streets.

FUN FACT: If you gave all the gifts listed in the Twelve Days of Christmas, it would equal 364 gifts.

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Secrets Of An Old Fashion Christmas – #CIJParty 2018

Guest Contributor post by Rebecca of OrnamentsByRebecca

When we see pictures from Christmases gone by, we so often let out a heavy sigh and say “I wish Christmas was like that again”. Let me ask a question… why can’t it be?

Take a step back and say “this year will be different”.  What made those Christmases gone by so special?  Time was spent with family… Watching Snoopy’s Christmas with the family and a big bowl of popcorn. Decorating the tree together. A night out to ride around and look at Christmas lights.

You know what else… Family time did not include cell phones, Facebook, video games, computers and all the other distractions that have taken over our daily lives.  Gifts did not come in the form of plastic cards with dollar amounts on them. Yes, it takes time and conversations and listening. It takes disconnecting and reconnecting with each other. So this year bring back the Christmas of yesterday. Bake cookies together, watch those classic Christmas shows, get a group and go Christmas caroling at a senior home, go shopping with your kids. Start a new tradition. Give up Starbucks for a week and send Christmas cards… in the mail, not a eCard. Invite everyone to your home for a old fashioned Christmas and don’t be afraid to let everyone know what you are doing and how much it means to you.

The secret of a old fashioned Christmas….. you taking the first step to make it happen.

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Holiday Goals For Your Shop – #EtsyCIJ 2018

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

As a shop owner we all set goals to achieve, especially monetary. Some of us set ourselves goals of item listings,  time spent working each week and so on. Our holiday goals are usually much higher or grander in scale because of the amount of buyers out looking to buy at this time. We want to know what are your holiday goals for this year or for years past? What was your reasoning behind these goals?

spoiledfelines1 from SpoiledFelinesArt says I wish that I could say that my goals for the holidays is something grand … sure I’ve love to get lots of sales and make lots of money, but I hope that I get to create some custom order gifts for the holidays!

Most of my sales tend to be custom order wooden trinket boxes where I hand burn special sayings/sentiments on to the top of the wooden boxes …

While I do make and keep some “ready to ship” wooden boxes with special generic sayings already on them in my shop … it is the custom orders that I find special …

When a customer commissions me to create a gift for that special person in their life, I feel very honored to craft their item … and in past years I’ve gotten several custom orders where the customer was going to give the trinket box (with engagement ring) and propose to his/her significant other!

I guess as its said … “money can’t buy happiness”!

SpoiledFelinesArt

Mairi from mairidesign said my goals, for this summer, are to master the art of getting found in Etsy to be able to make more sales. I need to identify who my customers are and what they would like to see me make. I’m also going to redesign my logo and banner and build collections of designs. Then, be ready for the festive season by September. Ultimately, I want to be able to go on holiday to the beach at Christmas time and collect more sea glass to make more jewellery.
I can do this!

mairidesign

Britney from LitByBrit states I just recently opened my shop and am still trying to learn the ins and outs of Etsy. I hope that by the holiday season I will be more of an established shop. I am testing new fragrances for my soy wax melts and plan to have more listings (including holiday scents) in my shop by Christmas.

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Memories Of The #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

During the month of May 2018 the Etsy Christmas In July team hosted a photo challenge.

The Photo Challenge opened May 1st and ended May 31st! We saw may stunning floral photos from our team members!

Many team members shared their photo during day of the challenge. Please join us as we celebrate the closing of our #EtsyCIJ #FloralChallenge!

We will be hosting another #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge during the #EtsyCIJ 2018 event July 1st – July 10th. Watch for details both here in our blog and our team forum on Etsy!

Thank you so much for joining us on our #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge!

Alicia, Cindy, Mairi and Michelle1. M Mendoza from MendozamVintage Instagram: mendozamvintage

2. Rebecca from OrnamentsbyRebecca Instagram: ornaments_by_rebecca

3. #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge

4. Cristal from DesignsbyCristal Instagrm: Creativedesignsbycristal

5. Mairi from mairidesign Instagram: mairidesign1

6. Nancy from EponasCrystals Instagram: eponascrystals

7. Mairi from mairidesign Instagram: mairidesign1

8. Nancy from EponasCrystals Instagram: eponascrystals

Member Feature: Vadjutka

Contributor post by Cindy Humphrey of Cynhumphrey

Please join us in welcoming Judit Wild of Vadjutka, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.

I am Judit Wild, a Hungarian jewelry designer, but I wasn’t born as a jewelry designer. I studied photography, journalism and sociology. I was working as a journalist and a market researcher for 15 years in total, and I slowly changed to making and designing jewelry.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

I opened my Etsy shop 10 years ago, in February, 2008.  At that time I was already making jewelry for 6 years, as a hobby, and I wanted to have a consistent online presence.

 

Tell us a bit about your products.

I design and make jewelry. You can see my sterling silver work in my Etsy shop.  I love to combine all sorts of materials. My newest love is plexiglass, and it goes with sterling silver very well. Back in the time of opening my Etsy shop I was using glass beads, fused glass pendants, later fabric, and then wood.

What inspires your work?

My greatest inspiration is the sea / ocean, and the sky above.  My main aim is to express feelings via my jewelry, so anything can inspire me from food to buildings and nature.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I have a small shop in Budapest (capital of Hungary, my home) and my plan for this year is to have only silver jewelry in my shop. Currently I have the fabric / wooden jewelry as well as the silver ones.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

Honestly, I have no idea. I haven’t seen too many people so far combining sterling silver and plexi.

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

Yeah, I have a shop in the heart of Budapest, and I make my jewelry there. For the sterling silver jewelry line I work in a different studio, that is suitable for silver smithing.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

Many-many things. Actually it is a constant learning process. I will try to highlight a few.
1) Being persistent and patient.
2) One should really mind his/her own business, and not look at others too much.
3) Balancing between my own way (artistically) and what people like / want.
4) Listening to my gut feeling. Rational decisions are important, but one cannot neglect the gut feeling.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

I think that being active on 1-2 social platforms is essential for any online businesses. I chose Instagram and Facebook for myself, because they suit me the best. Others may prefer other platforms. The main point is, that the platform you use, suits your skills. (I am strong in photography, but not in 160 characters texts, so Twitter is not for me.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Photography, dance and cooking.

What is your favorite quote?

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. (Oprah Winfrey)

You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever, because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference. (Steve Jobs)

Where can people find out more about your business?

I have a website: http://vadjutka.hu/eng/about-myself/
A Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vadjutka.design/ (mostly in Hungarian)
An Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/vadjutka/ (mostly in English)

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for reading this through!

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

Member Feature: Claudia Marie Felt

Contributor post by Cindy Humphrey of Cynhumphrey

Please join us in welcoming Claudia Marie Lenart of ClaudiaMarieFelt, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.

I am a self taught needle felt fiber artist, children’s book author and illustrator.  My career was as a community journalist, but I always practiced some form of art. I’ve played with watercolor painting, sketching, colored pencil drawing.  I also learned all the handwork arts as a child – embroidery, crochet, knitting, and sewing. When I discovered needle felting, I knew I had found what I was meant to do.

When did you open your business and what made you decide to do so?

Claudia Marie Felt was born in 2012, but I had an Etsy store previously in which I sold vintage and antique picture books. When I started needle felting, it was natural that I would start offering my items for sale. My first pieces were bunnies and flower fairies. I was felting as a hobby back then as I was working full-time as a journalist.

Tell us a bit about your products.

My creations fall into three categories, needle felt animal sculptures, angel and fairy dolls, and wool paintings. My animals are known for their realism and character. I focus a lot of energy on their faces and I use soft fibers like alpaca, cashmere, mohair and yak. My Waldorf angel tree toppers are very beautiful and distinct. My wool paintings are fairy tale interpretations or they show children playing outside in the seasons.  My Waldorf Seasons wool painting actually inspired my book “Seasons of Joy: Every Day is for Outdoor Play.” It was illustrated with dreamy wool paintings that show children joyfully playing outside through all four seasons.

What inspires your work?

I am inspired by my love of nature and animals. As a young adult, I worked in three national parks out west and observed wildlife up close. Today, I enjoy hiking in the woods with my dog and I often see the regional wildlife – deer, chipmunks, cottontail rabbits, red-tailed hawks and various birds. The animals I see in my backyard tend to be my most popular felted items.

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

I’d like to grow the print side of my business. I also aim to continue to improve my work and to create some new amazing designs.

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

My customers tell me they like how I capture the personality of animals. I spend a lot of time felting the details of the animal’s face, especially the eyes. My angel tree toppers are distinct and customers have told me that they are the most beautiful.

needle

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have an open floor plan in  my house, so my work space is a corner surrounded by windows, with a couch, a table and a cedar chest overflowing with wool.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

To account for all the costs when pricing an item, the time it takes, the supplies, the fees and even the time you spend marketing. Don’t undersell yourself.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

My advice would be to always do your best work and also always aim to improve. Reply to customers promptly and always be extremely polite.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

I like outdoor activities — hiking in the forest preserves and kayaking on the lake. To relax I play guitar and read. My favorite books are novels with a touch or fairy tale.  I also enjoy playing with my dog, gardening and spending time with family.

What is your favorite quote?

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” St. Francis of Assisi

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudiaMarieFelt
Website: http://www.claudiamariefelt.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudiaMarieFelt
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/claudiamariefelt

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

________

If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.

May Etsy Christmas In July Photo Challenge – #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge

Contributor post by Alicia from AliciasFindings

Good Thursday evening everyone!

We’re super excited to share with you that the month of May the Christmas In July team is going to focus on a photo challenge.

Use the hashtags #EtsyCIJ, #EtsyCIJPhotoChallenge and #FloralChallenge!

Be sure to share the article on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter!

 

Please follow the team!

#EtsyCIJ Facebook: EtsyChristmasInJuly

#EtsyCIJ Instagram: EtsyChristmasInJuly

#EtsyCIJ Pinterest: EtsyCIJ

#EtsyCIJ Twitter: EtsyCIJ

Be sure to check on our social media sites every day!

In addition to liking the floral items it’s important to comment and share!

Thank you and please let us know if you have any questions!

Alicia and Cindy