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Archive for the ‘Arts & Crafts’ Category

I am just wrapping up a project I did with a good friend of mine whom I met when we were grad students in the Higher Education Administration program at NYU.  Our program was heavily focused on students of color and students of minority status (i.e. disabilities, sexual orientation, religion or other identity).  Liza was a year ahead of me (our program was small and focused heavily on the 2nd years mentoring the 1st years) and when I graduated, I ended up taking over her place as Area Coordinator of theme housing at Wesleyan University as she was leaving the position for a teaching position at another school.  Diversity is near and dear to our hearts and she is now the Director of Intercultural Affairs at Stonehill College.  Liza was also the source of inspiration for creating Brave Girl and you can read her courageous story here from a post I wrote a couple years back (she is also the person that first put me in contact with FORCE – facing our risk of cancer empowered, the non-profit organization with whom I have a dedicated partnership with).

So Liza recently contacted me for a little project; she was looking for bookmarks to give out to her students along the themes of diversity and together we collaborated on the following pieces:

Practice Inclusion everyday

Our differences make us stronger

Good words to live by and practice daily.

If you haven’t done so, please check out Liza’a amazing story!  (I’m sure you’ve all heard about Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a prophylactic surgery with her BRCA+ status; well Liza made the same difficult decision a few years back and FORCE is THE organization to help women become knowledgeable about their BRCA status and empowers women to make informed decisions and educate the larger community on this issue.  REALLY wish that all the media coverage about Angelina Jolie’s latest news would have included some props for FORCE!  They are a fantastic organization and deserve much more awareness.  You can check them out at http://facingourrisk.org

Thanks for allowing me to share with you all; if you are interested in prints or merchandise of the above images, they are available in my shop now.

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vintage inspired union jack flag j.c. spock

Since having taken that 2 month break from social media I was able to spend a lot of time creating and expanding.

I reopened my Green Earth Images shop on Etsy with a different feel this time; it features my mixed media photography, digital postcard collages and vintage-inspired images as that is more of where my heart is these days instead of just nature photography.

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I also opened my 6th, yes, 6th shop on Etsy (and hopefully my final one!).  It’s called Green Earth Destash and is pretty much my bargain center – where I sell supplies I no longer need or want and overstock/clearance items from my other 5 shops.  I have way too much inventory from things I wanted to try out that either didn’t work out, that no longer hold my interest or no longer fit with the themes of my current shops, so this is a way for me to get rid of things on the cheap (and people love bargains!).

I’ve also been creating like a fiend (more so in the last couple of weeks) and my style is changing.  Though I’ll always be fond of whimsical artwork, I can feel my style maturing a bit.  I haven’t created a girl in months (and to be honest, not sure how many I have left in me) and while I still like to create the occasional heart, cupcake or coffee, I have found myself drawn to more abstract work.

honey abstract j.c.spock

I’ve actually been taken to just “making my typical backgrounds” – that is layers of collage and paint and leaving it at that (of course making that my focal point means a lot more time and effort focused on those backgrounds).  But I’m incorporating even more vintage ephemera than before, including real pieces of vintage postcards, photos and receipts (something I’ve only done with copies before) and now it lends to a more authentic, vintage-esque look.

Vintage diptych

And I’m going BIG…size, that is.  Previously, my largest piece was a 16×20 but now I’m working on sizes like 24×36, 30×40 and even a 36×48 piece for our home.  I enjoy this new phase so much that I am having a hard time falling asleep at night because as soon as I close my eyes, I see different colors, formats and collages on canvas.  I can’t stop thinking about creating, so it’s an exciting time and I’m riding the wave while it’s here as I know I tend to have either insane amounts of inspiration or long creative blocks.

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sailor's delight abstract jc spock

 And because I’m going big, I had to order an easel, something I’ve been working all these years without; it’s on its way and I’m seriously excited!

Here are some of the different pieces I’ve completed recently:

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Inspirational abstracts

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Whimsical coffees and cocoas

Vintage inspired butterfly art

Vintage inspired butterfly art

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More vintage inspired flowers

In addition to going big, I also went super small and cranked out about 50 new mini canvases, like these which include a mix of my newer abstracts along with my older whimsical style:

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Yeah, about 100 new pieces in all (so many more I didn’t share!); as you can imagine, it will take me some time to get them all in my shop, so if you see something you like or want to learn more about a piece, give me a shout!

While I was gone I was also asked to write my story of art licensing and how it just didn’t work for me.  Since nearly a year has passed since that disappointing experience left me in such a funk for so long, I finally felt ready to open up and share why art licensing (and my agent) just weren’t a good fit for me.  You can read the blog post here at the well known art licensing blog, The Moon From My Attic.  Once it was published, I had a major moment of anxiety, thoughts that perhaps I shouldn’t have been so candid and that maybe it would seal my fate as an artist.  But the response was huge on the blog, on the blog’s facebook and I also received a ton of emails from artists thanking me for my honesty (since so many artists are afraid to tell the truth about their experiences out of fear of lost opportunities; I, on the other hand said “hell with it!”)

And wouldn’t you know with all that buzz, I got several inquiries from people wanting me to reconsider, including a consultant, an agent and a greeting card manufacturer.  I politely thanked but turned down the consultant and manufacturer but only after the agent insisted I give her a chance to explain her story and process.  Long story short, even though I was flattered and confused for the moment (was it my experience with my agent or was it truly art licensing that wasn’t a good fit?), my reasons for not wanting to license my art were validated all over again.  It wasn’t just about the agent, it was about the entire art licensing process and now I feel like I can truly put the whole art licensing thing behind me.  As I said in that blog post, it can be a great opportunity for some artists, but not the right move for everyone, and that. is. okay.

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Walking away from another art licensing opportunity felt like being offered a promotion and saying, “nah, I’m good.”  It takes courage not to let your ego get in the way of well thought out decisions.  And now with a bit more wisdom and experience on my side, I consider every move, decision or opportunity by the way in which it affects my quality of life.  I’ve stopped chasing the dream to make it big, to make a lot of money or to become well-known because as an old boss used to say, “you are what you are at the cost of what you are not.”  Typically my life lessons have been after I’ve gone with my ego, took that promotion or opportunity (and money), then was miserable after seeing all that I had to give up (my personal priorities).  It felt really empowering this time to say no from the get go and know I was making the right decision for me.

Thing is, my currency is different now.  It’s quality time with loved ones, it’s life experiences as well as the simple moments in life, it’s flexibility in my schedule and life, it’s fulfilled relationships, it’s time outside in nature, it’s time for creating.  Simply put, it is quality of life.  Not money.  Not notoriety.  Not climbing a social ladder.  I’m returning back to my voluntary simplicity roots and life has expanded ten-fold.

It’s all about priorities and knowing which are yours (nothing wrong in being highly successful or rich if that it your top priority in life).  But when faced with an “opportunity” remember that with every pro is a con.  If that con means sacrificing your personal priorities in lieu of a bigger paycheck or a better title, take a moment to reconsider.  Choosing heart over ego wins every time.

daydream abstract

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Letting Go Girl

I mentioned in my previous post that I felt I needed some time away from the internet (save for my work) to clear my head, my psyche and so I wouldn’t compare myself to the success of others.  But the other reason is because I tend to get over-inspired by ideas on the internet and it can be so overwhelming that I become paralyzed to start!

So when I announced to my husband that I was going on an internet diet for a month, he kindly replied, “Why don’t you try it for a week?”  Though I wanted to do something drastic, I knew he was right and reasonable.  A week was a good start and I could always extend it out.

And so for a week I stayed away from Facebook (my personal page), Twitter, Pinterest, and other’s blogs.  I tried to stay off the Etsy forums (where I spend about an hour each day) but I was unsuccessful because it really does contain nuggets of information for micro-businesses and I learn something new nearly every day (though it can also be a major time suck so needs to be managed).  The only other time spent on the internet was to run my shops, promote my goods and purchase supplies for my business.  Nothing social, nothing recreational, nothing to waste time on.

And the results???  Major productivity!

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I made it a point to be at my painting table by 7pm every night, if not earlier, and found that I was able to create a lot of new material.  It was refreshing.

Knowledge girl

I created new pieces, actualized old ideas and even finished up previous pieces like these square blocks that were once butterfly pieces I wasn’t crazy about that I painted/decoupaged over and made into new tea pieces:

PicMonkey Collage

I only painted Mon.-Thur. as Friday was a date night for us and this past weekend we started working on house projects, but even in those 4 days I accomplished quite a bit.  We are hoping to put our house on the market in the spring, so there is lots to be done on that front to get it move-in ready and turn-key for the next residents so I won’t be able to earmark as much time for continual creating.  But the change in schedule has freed up a lot more time for me and I’m hoping to stick with it so I can tackle my to-do list and find time each week to create.

And you know what, as addictive as it can be, I’m going to stay off my personal FB page (the drama on my newsfeed just annoys me, so I’m staying off), I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of blogs and when I need inspiration, I’ll just refer to all my journals/sketchbooks which has tons of ideas waiting to be sprouted.

And it helps me to stick to my new year’s theme of decluttering; just getting rid of a lot negative space, negative energy and negativity in my life and that’s always a good thing.

Deserving girl

Hope you take more time to take care of your needs, block out the negatives and spend more time on what you want to be doing (instead of wasting time on the time-sucks and energy-sucks of the world!).  Wishing you all a good week.

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It’s all good!

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I received several sweet comments and warm emails after my last post and so appreciate it.  But sorry for creating drama where there really was none.  I was just going through the typical self-doubt that can creep into anyone’s life, but nothing major by any means.  I know I’m on the right path, I don’t question that anymore; I just sometimes get impatient!  I know that when I read someone’s success story I have to either remember that they’ve been at it much longer than I have or when it’s someone that has been doing it the same amount of time or less than I have, that they caught a lucky break and probably worked their tail off.  I just have to keep at it and not let anyone else’s story be a measure of success for me.

And I always have to remind myself that my initial goal was to work from home doing something I love and to be able to spend more time with my husband, my dogs and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.  And by that definition, I’m extremely successful.

web - sepia bike life is good

I am actually finding that another reason I need to stay off the internet because I’m over-inspired!  I see so many cool things that I end up with a million ideas and never sit down to do any of them (hello Pinterest!).  So I’m going to try to go on a internet fast for a week (save for what I need to do for my shops) and I’m hoping that it will force me to sit down each night and create new paintings and collages.

Inspired mountains - GreenEarthImages

And while digital artwork is fun to do and a great option when feeling creative but not wanting to dive into 3 or so hours of creating, I’m craving the tactile experience that only paper, paint and glue can offer.  So here’s hoping for new artwork in a week!

Thanks for the love all; you are awesome cheerleaders and this girl is grateful for you all! ♥

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But meantime, I’ve enjoyed playing with some of my old photos, textures and quotes…which are kind of like mini workouts to painting marathons.

boats - written no border

I’m going through that introspective phase that typically happens 2 or 3 times a year for me (I swear, I’m not trying to play the dramatic artist card here!)…

daisy - writing no border

Trying to figure where I want to focus my energy and where I want to let things go…

birds - written no border

What people I want to focus on and what people I need to let go…

poppy - written2

And trying to stay away from FB, blogs and the internet save for what’s necessary for my work because it’s hard not to compare yourself to others (especially those that are very successful and not feel bad about where you are).

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So meantime, I’m sorting through my feelings through digital art (even mounted this guy on a 12×12 piece of wood).  But I can hear the decoupage calling…

It won’t be long.

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It has been more than 2 weeks since my last post and I’m headed toward my quietest month on my blog.  But it’s for good reason; I’m recovering from heartbroken mama syndrome.  Shortly after the new year, we had to put down our oldest dog Sierra.  We found her more than 10 years ago on “doggie death row” and though we saved her life way back then, she was the one that brought so much to our lives.  She was our first dog as a couple, our first baby.

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Sierra’s photo from the humane society

She loved the snow…I mean she really loved the snow (it was the husky part in her) and boy did she mush like a snow dog in her younger years (I’ve the scars to prove it!)

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We were warned of her small prey drive and she would spend hours in the yard and on long hikes/walks looking for little critters…

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But she also knew how to be lazy like the best of ‘em…

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She was very tolerant of this curious & mischievous pug puppy we brought in about 5 years ago…

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But she connected with Peanut most (we got them the same week 10 years ago after we first moved to Colorado) and to Peanut, Sierra was her best bud…

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But if there was one word that most described Sierra, it is “sweet” – she was just a sweet, sweet girl…

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Two years ago she was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease which brought a host of physical problems.  I mentioned quite a few times on this blog how she was waking me anywhere from 2-6 times a night for more than a year, which was really hard on both of us.  But she was otherwise holding up well and our vet reminded us that she still had quite a bit of time left.   But in recent months her muscular atrophy was becoming apparent and when she started to have trouble with balance and falling and then her appetite fell off, we knew that she was telling us it was time.  We had planned for it for a while but nothing could prepare me for the amount of grief I would feel after saying goodbye.

So I did what most artists would do to help me cope with the grief and I got creating…

Sierra snow dog - web

I found it cathartic and painful all at once.  I wanted to do something to commemorate her, which felt great, but the more I looked at her pictures, the more I cried.

Sierra always in our hearts - web

Most of it was digital, but I had an idea of something I wanted to do mixing my photography with mixed media techniques.  And I finished it last night…

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I will say that I feel much, much better now.  I think I “frontloaded” my grief that first week.  The first three days I literally could not stop crying; my eyes were nearly swollen shut, my nose was rubbed raw and I think I went through 2 boxes of tissues.  The grief was profound, something I’ve never experienced, even with the loss of friends and family.  But as you know, I don’t have children, I live in a rural area, I work from home and I interact with the dogs 24 hours a day (I typically leave the house only once a week).  So the change in schedule, going through all the firsts without her, going for walks and seeing her paw prints in the snow from our last walk together was excruciating.

But after that first week, the tears stopped and I was able to think of her with smiles and laughter instead of tears and heartache.  And I even had a really sweet dream of her last week where we were in a lush, green field and she was playing fetch with the vigor and pep of a young pup.  It was really heartwarming.

Sierra18

And when I think of her at the “Rainbow Bridge” – the picture above is what I envision.  And I look forward to seeing her again on the other side.

Thanks for letting me share ♥

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So holiday decorating is in full swing and this week I finished decorating our great room (it’s not that big, it’s just one room that holds our kitchen/dining room/living room) and bedroom (where we’ve decided to put the tree this year).  It might be a little silly to decorate as we don’t have any visitors for the holidays, don’t have kids and a random neighbor might stop by once every 6 months.  It can feel a little isolated here so decorating for the seasons really lifts my spirits.

You’ll see a lot of familiar items in my decorating.  I’m big on re-using items in your home in different ways for different seasons.  It’s easier on the wallet and environment.  I’m also big on eco-crafting and upcycling old/unused items into new things and of course, vintage elements which are natural eco-friendly (as they’ve passed many hands and have been used over and over and in many different ways).  I’ll explain as we go…

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If you’ve been following me for a little while, you know I love to dress up our mantel (and yes, it has an unsightly TV above it, but we only have one living area, so the TV’s staying!).

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In this photo, I used my trusty water can o’peonies (I use these in all my decorating regardless of time of year!), the vintage glass bottles I decorated earlier this year for my booth (these are angel/cherub specific so work well for this time of year) and my favorite bird house of all (I usually keep this on top of my kitchen cabinets, but took down for decorating.  The piece itself is made of reclaimed barn wood, a vintage doorknob, recycled aluminum “flashing” and an iron final from an old gate.  Love.

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I have more vintage apothecary bottles here (will be selling in my shop in the future but just didn’t get around to it this year), my vintage kitchen scale topped with discarded library books that have had covers removed and tied up with ribbon and a vintage skeleton key.  The big star used to be our tree topper but it was always too heavy and bent the top branch, so I decided to use it as a decoration this year.  The print is of one of my first angels, Lovely Angel, which I popped into an old frame I used to have and was going to donate, but then I painted white, distressed and voila, now I like it again!

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On our mantel, I also have lots and lots of pinecones (they are everywhere around here and add to the wintry feel) and I added a familial element by transferring some of my grandmother’s white vintage buttons into a mason-like jar.  Adds a personal touch and is a lovely connection to my white Christmas theme.  Have I mentioned I love blue and white for the holidays? *wink*  As if that wasn’t already evident!

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On our endtable, I added some more goodies including this tin of vintage ornaments (mind you, during the rest of the year, our mantel and table tops are not nearly this cluttered but it’s the holidays…why not go all out!).

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In between our picture window and the doors to our deck, there is a small area of shelves that I like to have photos on; I switched it up for the holidays and since I have a bunch of holiday art, I figured I might as well as put some of it up and mix it in with rusty and chippy paint vintage elements we have on hand.

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We live in a log home, so pardon the cracked wood.  Notice all the old doorknobs?  I have a weird obsession with vintage hardware!

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These are just rolled up book pages, which are ready to be made into a vintage book paper wreath (more on that later this week).  The circle piece in the back is architectural salvage that you might see on the trim of a door in an old house.  I bought a couple of these at an antique store (and move them around my house every month or so as a decorative element).

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Over our dining table (which is now my paint area, so it’s not very photogenic at the moment!) we have a simple candelabra (instead of a light fixture) filled with candles and pine cones and from it I hung some vintage spoons that have been stamped with words like “joy” “love” and “peace.”

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At the wall near our entrance is a wreath I made last year after buying up a bunch of marked down ornaments the day after Christmas.  Yes, I know this isn’t eco-friendly, but I couldn’t bring myself to use delicate vintage ornaments on this (not to mention this wreath took about 75 ornaments to make).  I did however use up some jingle bells that I had fallen out of love with (and other blue ornaments that I was going to donate) but then utilized in this project.  Now I’ll be honest, it was a bit time intensive and if using regular priced ornaments, would be quite expensive (hence the reason why most of these sell for $50 and up on Etsy).  Since I made it last year, I can’t quite remember the exact tutorial I used but here’s a good one as well as this one.

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At our entrance, we have have a “sofa table” that we use to put our keys/wallets/phones/mail when we walk in the door (and has bins underneath to hold our shoes).  Usually I have a photo of us and some light decorative element on it, so I also jazzed it up for the holidays…

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Look, more pinecones!  In this shot you’ll see an old clock in the background (a $2 thrift store find that was black, but I painted white and distressed for a shabby chic look).  I did the same with that heart baking tin (I always find a ton of these at thrift stores for under a dollar).

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And look, another scale (another weird obsession I have – you may also recognize this and the tall tin from previous displays)!.  The paper cones are from a deconstructed giant paper wreath that I made last year (my first one and not so well made, so it started falling apart).  Then I have another birdhouse also made with reused/recycled materials.

So, there it is…holiday decorating which incorporates a lot of vintage/used/recycled elements (and shopping your home for items that you can use in new ways).  I still have Part 2 to share which includes our bedroom and tree…to come later this week.  Here’s a sneak peek:

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Season’s Greetings!!

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Christmastime is here

Gosh, I’ve been gone a while!  After I got back from spending the week at my sister’s for Thanksgiving and into the first week back, I had over 50 orders to make/pack and get out the door, so I’ve been a bit tuckered out but happy to catch the wave of Holiday sales.  Things have started to slow down quite a bit so now I’m getting time to do some holiday decorating and even paint!

I’ll share some holiday decorating posts over the course of the week, but meanwhile, I’ll leave you with these two pieces inspired by Charlie Brown’s Christmas special, my favorite one of all for the holidays!

Silent Night

Don’t forget to check back on my holiday decorating posts including some linked tutorials on things like paper wreaths, ornament wreaths, vintage button garlands, etc.  See you soon!

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Yes, this may be a bit old news, but I wanted to share with you this quick (and eco-friendly and free!) decorating idea that came up while spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s.  The merchandiser and creative spirit in me can’t help but decorate and when it came to Thanksgiving morning and I realized I had nothing, I got resourceful and went for a walk.

First I grabbed any decent leaves I could find in her yard and then gathered some dried fountain grasses and twigs; with scissors, I snipped away at some hedges and found dried flowering buds all around.  I didn’t have to look far, just had to open my mind and think of the possibilities.  I then took a piece of cardboard, pulled back the top layer to reveal the rustic, corrugated parts which I cut into leaf shapes.  Then I adhered pieces of paper upon which I wrote Thanksgiving themes, like “love” “family” and “gratitude.”  Tied ‘em into bunches with some bakers twine and voila!  Easy-peasy, eco-decorating!

And for a good laugh, my sister put out a Thanksgiving craft I made with my nieces about 10 years ago made with walnuts, pipe cleaners, felt and faux feathers.  Told ya, I was always crafty! ;)

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving!  And next time you’re crunching for decorating ideas, just take a walk outside and get creative!

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Credit: Facebook via Jennifer Pasalakis

I just love this sentiment, especially as a small business owner myself!

And as an artist and small business owner who is grateful to her customers, blog readers and fans, I’m offering a 25% off sale from Thursday 11/22 to Monday 11/26 in my art shop and Goodies shop (which takes us through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday!) *not eligible on wholesale orders which are already discounted

This is my biggest sale in my Etsy shops to date so I hope you take advantage of this sale to get some Holiday (or personal) shopping done!

I’ve just added a bunch of original pieces of artwork, so here’s a chance to get 25% off for that one-of-a-kind piece you or a loved one may have been eying!

Or if you need to send Christmas cards, I’ve got you covered…

Need unique holiday trim for your gifts or cards?  Check!

And stocking stuffers?  Oh yeah, I’ve got plenty of those…

When checking out use the code HOLIDAY2012 to receive 25% off in my JCSpock shop and my GreenEarthGoodies shop

I’m so thankful for the love, support and encouragement I’ve received here, on Facebook and in my Etsy shop this past year.

Grateful today.  Grateful everyday.

Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving week! xo

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