Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Junk Hose Birdhouse~

I’m literally hell on wheels on my Garden Tractor which is a fancy name for a riding mower.

At least any hose I have had longer than 6 months thinks so anyway… needless to say I have a few, or more, mowed hoses in my junk pile. Obviously, to me they aren't junk just because they are now more suitable as a soaker hose or sprinkler. 

I cannot say how many times JD has tried to haul them off to the dump and I have pulled them right back out kicking and holler’n!

Then I saw this birdhouse on Pinterest. A game changer it was! 
Photo credit unknown - Birdhouse believed to be on the grounds of

You see, we needed to donate a handcrafted item to an event for a charity auction and soon. I told JD we are making a birdhouse out of one of those old hoses for the auction. I got the deer in headlights look. Never fear, PJ was here and soon we were building it! The best part to this junk collector is we didn’t spend a dime. It was all time and material found in my junk pile or lying around. Here is the one we made. 

Now JD still wasn't convinced even with my and PJ's oohing and ahhing. We decided it needed to be put on a post to better "show" at the event. It even had a built in perch!

The junk hose birdhouse sold for $150 at the silent auction and JD had a small serving of crow and an ice cold one to wash it down :)

May all your junk be treasure!

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Etsy History Part 3

I’m going to do a little fast forward here to wrap up the B & A shop days or this is going to turn into a 10 part series! 

At some point, a new customer wanted to take a premade $5.00 banner they had purchased and customize it into the $25.00 range but only wanted to pay the $5.00 and threatened bad feedback if I didn’t. I shut the banner shop. I never did banners for the money as I was probably making $2.50 an hour, but at the time of that incident it was my only creative outlet. It was a sad day.

It had been a good run though. 99.9% of my clients were some of the nicest, most creative, and funny and kind and generous people I have ever come across.  I want to give them all a HUGE public THANK YOU! You know who you are, your patronage and friendship is priceless to me

Anvil Designs was conceived in December, 2009.

I was hosting a “stitch & bitch” for a group who had been stitch’n & bitch’n for a couple of years off and on. There were five of us that evening and we were all working on Christmas gifts. A friend had given me a dog tag he had made out of a washer that he stamped to personalize for my dog. I wanted to make one for a new dog I had as well as doing some for gifts. A couple of the gals loved the idea and one of them said her dad had some stamps so off she went to get them! Nothing we tried to make that night turned out worthy of gift giving but a seed was planted. 

In January, 2010 I/we opened Anvil Designs on Etsy, I had the support of 2 partners. My mojo was back!

The 3 bees in the banner represent the 3 partners. The rest is self explanatory. We had all read and were inspired by Sue Monk Kid's book The Secret Life of Bees. 
A few of our favorite quotes are: 

“After you get stung, you can't get unstung
no matter how much you whine about it.” 

"She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. It comes from years of loving children and husbands.” 

“August: You know, somethings don't matter that the color of a house...But lifting a person's heart now that matters. The whole problem with people"
Lily: They don't know what matters and what doesn't...

August:...They know what matters, but they don't choose it...The hardest thing on earth is to choose what matters.”

“The world will give you that once in awhile, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life.”

Things went very well for us at first. This shop took off like my others never had! There was a strong demand for this type of product. We got two nice wholesale accounts and conducted very successful trunk shows.

However, like this quote from TSLoB There is nothing perfect...only life.” life went on and Anvil is down to just me now. My partners are like a sister and a daughter. The daughter has moved out of state and is getting married this year! I am so happy for her. She may even open her own Etsy shop once the newlyweds are settled. The sister and I will be doing some shows this summer. I'll put a notification in the shop. 
My day job shut the shop down for a while and the momentum was lost. The good news is I "quit my day job" and I'm here to create for you full time! I'm finally following my dream to make a living doing what I love and my mojo / soul is thankful everyday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Etsy History Part 2

The banner shop took off and I felt like my other shops were now being somewhat neglected. Thank goodness for the forums! I found that this was not unusual at all when you had multiple shops and there was a lot of info on how others juggle it all.

In the banner shop I sold a lot of premade banners but at this point with so much competition I had to offer more custom work and people also wanted matching business cards, blog templates etc. I was not trained in graphic design, I played with images and editing programs because it was fun.

I now have 3 shops and a very demanding “day job” that totally sucks the life out of me.
That is something that had been building. As my day job became more demanding, my creative edge became duller. I stopped creating everything except banners as I still got some joy from doing that. I wasn't listing many new items in the other 2 shops as I didn't seem to have the time (or desire) to do the photo shoots, editing and descriptions. Not to mention I was on dial up.

Etsy was changing during this time as well. New owners and management, new search etc. Now there was a new learning curve for tagging and SEO. Previously all we did to stay on top was renew. Now I had to research and play around with tags, titles and descriptions to find what worked. I had no extra time in my day for this.

I remembered being so happy with 3 shops that were so diverse and realized it was just that, a memory.
In fairness, I had moved to a new place not long before opening my first shop and the man I’d been with for 27 years told me he wanted a divorce not long after we had moved. All alone, a day job that was killing me, 3 acres in a remote location (14 miles to town), 3 dogs, 5 horses, a cat and some chickens… It took half a day on Saturday just to mow the property. I was drowning. I put the CJ shop and the boho shop in vacation mode, stopped doing custom work in the banner shop except for return customers and tried to figure out what I really wanted to do going forward. My mojo was gone and without it I didn’t even know who I was.

Part 3 tomorrow~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Etsy History Part 1

I opened my first Etsy shop, Cowgirl Junk in the summer of 2006.

I’ll be honest, I was mad about changes going on at Ebay where I had been selling for 10 years. I thought, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket girl! Cowgirl Junk was mostly vintage items with a little handmade jewelry. Being a DIY kinda gal I made my own banner for that shop. I had a lot of compliments on it and people asking me how I made it, could I make one for them etc. I gifted some and took a few special orders. It just kept growing! I began listing some and as I felt so many people didn’t have a nice banner or the skills to make one I listed PIF banners and just asked that the person purchasing Pay It Forward to someone else, in some way.

One day I looked at my shop and didn’t like how fragmented it looked. Vintage, banners and my handmade, it was a mess. So I opened a second shop, Bohemian Flea Market! I sent my banners and handmade items there and listed some destash that I felt didn’t work in the CJ shop.

The banners were taking off! 
I enjoyed the creativity of it and not having to go to the post office was a plus as well. Soon the Boho shop was a mess and another new shop was born, Banners Avatars.

I digress for a moment, how awesome is that name? I no longer make banners but how many people who do would love to buy that shop & name from me? We should be able to sell shops we no longer want I think. Of course there would have to be some disclosure, maybe mark the existing feedback with “former owner” or something…

To be continued in part 2 tomorrow.


The above is what happens when you make banners!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

For PJ

My dear friend PJ suggested I blog.

We used to live in the same neighborhood, one house in between hers and mine. She’s a designer with a great eye and as a southern girl her projects always have what I call a “southern comfort” about them. She recently moved back to Texas and I miss her so much, but the upside is getting to visit.

When we talk on the phone the conversations always lead to “I need to send you pictures of the project/s I’m working on”. Of course, that rarely happens. It’s not fair, this gal came over and wielded a pry bar, sledge hammer and Sawzall to help me demo my master bath.

This is where the blogging comes in. She thought other people might be interested in some of these projects too. So here I am. 

This one's for you PJ!
The photo on the left before - On the right, a progress shot.

The staining is finished and holes have been drilled for the hardware on the drawers. It needs one coat of sealer and then we form the pour in place concrete counter top template.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Welcome to Anvil Designs Blog

Hi All,

This is my first go at blogging. I'll be writing about and posting pictures of my before and afters as a DIY re-modeler, gardener, recipes, projects both personal & for the shop and more!

Thanks for stopping by!