Leaning On the Promises

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – Epheshians 6:13 – 17
Canes may not be a listed piece of the armor of God, but remember the miracles God performed using Moses’ walking stick? Judy Goddard, owner of Leaning on the Promises, uses her talent to create beautiful canes. Sometimes a person needs a little help standing, whether it’s on the promises or on the pavement.

What is a puzzle cane?

My canes contain word puzzles. They don't come apart or have moving parts. Each puzzle cane has an inscription that is either a prayer or portion of scripture that is incorporated in such a way that it is very difficult to read unless you know the key. At the bottom of each puzzle cane page in my shop is an explanation of how to read a puzzle cane.

How did you get started painting?

I was a volunteer, working at my local hospital, on the oncology ward. As an artist I would go into a patient's room and start up a conversation. I would offer to paint a picture for them. Usually I would offer to paint a picture of their favorite place, either a favorite vacation spot, a childhood home, a favorite park, etc. I would ask them details and as they remembered, I would try to capture it. In this way, I got them to forget, for at least a little while, that they were the hospital undergoing chemo. It was kind of like a mini vacation. And then afterwards, they had a painting to take home that was a good memory of a maybe not so good time in their life, That was where I learned to stretch my skills and pay closer attention to details.

I love your shop name, LeaningOnThePromises. Did this just come to you or did you sit and think about it a while?

I knew that my puzzle canes would be inspirational in nature, a reflection of my Christian faith and, hopefully, a comfort for others. I fished around for a few days and when the name, "Leaning on the Promises" came to me I knew it was just right!

Are you at a point in your life where you have to use a cane?

Right now I am not in need of a cane. The first one I painted was for my God mother, who is elderly. She had gone through a serious illness and after her recovery still needed a little help staying steady on her feet. Especially as she was preparing to take her husband on a cruise through the Panama Canal!

Any thing else that you would like to add?

Not all of my canes are puzzle canes. I realize that not everyone who would appreciate a beautiful cane is interested in an inspirational one. So I also make beautiful hand painted ones that have no writing on them. I call them, "Non Puzzle Canes". 

I also have a Pinterest account under JudyAGoddard, and Stumbleupon also.  My blog is www.JudyAGoddardArtisan.blogspot.com

Both Judy and her canes are a work of art and a labor of love.  She would love to work with you on a custom cane for you or your loved one.

Precious Prints by Little Pergola

There are two things that I never wanted to be in life and that is an Elementary school teacher and a mom to four girls.  Not because I don't like those jobs, but because of the challenge involved in each of those jobs.  I tried my hand at being a pre-k Sunday School teacher.  We did more coloring than learning.  I grew up with four sisters.  I know the challenges that await, and I am not the mom to face them.  There are rules about locking your kids in their rooms these days, lol.  But the mastermind behind Precious Prints by LittlePergola is all of those things and more.

Nursery Art for Your Baby Einstein

It takes a special type of person to be an Elementary school teacher, especially in today’s crazy world where teachers have so little authority. Of course, the younger they are, the easier they are to teach. What grade do you teach?

I teach first grade. When I first started teaching 9 years ago, I realized that first graders have fresh little minds that are like little sponges waiting to be soaked with their first year of knowledge that will start their journey for years to come. They come in with knowing how to basically write their abc's and leave with making full sentences, amazing!

You referenced in a convo that you graduated on May 11th. Fill us in.

Mommy and Me Print
Yes, another one of the biggest days in my life was on the 21st of May. I graduated from New Jersey City University with a Masters in Educational Technology. Being in today's growing technology driven society, I felt like it would be a great investment to learn something that can support and aid our students technologically driven minds.

How has your recent experience with Heartsy been?

Well before it started I was excited and a bit scared. Only because it was a new experience, I thought it would be over whelming and that it would be too much to handle but once it started it wasn't as bad. Heartsy is a good way to get your name out there and hopefully have repeat buyers!

You are a member of lots of good Etsy teams. Which one(s) have you found to be the most beneficial? (And I’m not fishing for props for the Inside Etsy team, lol.)

Nursery Art for Your Little Man

Yes all the teams on Etsy are extremely beneficial and each is unique in its own way. I don't have a favorite but all the teams help answer any question and help Etsy members come over any hurdle they may have.

What type of printer do you use for best results?

I use an inkjet Canon printer, I feel that the color from inkjet printers looks more vibrant then prints from a laser printer, but that's just my opinion.

Raising four girls is probably easier than raising 3, since odd numbers tend to leave someone out. How do all of your girls get along?

I always say I have two sets of daughters. People say "two sets, what do you mean by two sets?". I have the two older set, 17 and 14, and the two younger set 8 and 5. Each two get along perfectly, but when they get mixed it's a whole different story!

Personally, it is so refreshing to see tasteful art for little guys.  Our family could care less about sports, and it seems like if you have a boy your room decorating options are sports and hunting.  My husband does hunt, but it's for the grocery aspect of it, not the sporting.  So thank you, Amy, for reaching out to us moms of boys!

A Non-satirical Print

I also want to put a plug in here for some of her wonderful satirical art prints.  They come e"quip"ped with the following phrases and advice:

Here is Amy with one the girls from her gaggle.  She can be followed through Twitter @LittlePergola.

Tole Mountain

Box o' Mandolin Strings
They say don't go up on Wolverton Mountain....  Argh, those commercials!  Everytime I hear the word "mountain" that silly song comes to my mind.  But maybe now that I've had the chance to get to know the shop Tole Mountain, she'll come to mind instead.  With over 300 vintage items to browse through, you should spend a little time getting to know her yourself!

How many finds have you had that you just couldn’t bear to part with?

None. Even though I find wonderful & unique items every single week at estate sales & flea markets, everything has it's price. When I find a fabulous item I only see one thing... GREEN! As in money - ca-ching! ha!

Why do you only ship to the US?

I hate turning down buyers who are out of the U.S. because all Etsy buyers are always so friendly and courteous. But shipping costs seem to fluctuate so much depending upon where you're shipping an item and sometimes the shipping can end up actually costing more than the item! And until you actually box it up and take it to the post office you never know for sure what the exact cost will be. If it's an outrageous amount then you've wasted time boxing it up and taking it to the post office and then the customer doesn't want it. So unfortunately I have found it easier to just not ship out of the U.S.

Do you have a specific place that you store your 300+ vintage items or are they just placed throughout the home as decoration until they sell?

One Most Awesome Honey Dipper

I have a lot of my items on shelves in my attic. Actually it's a good thing I started on Etsy because it made me clean my attic! Now I don't have junk in my attic, I have rows of wonderful items that will make me money! But of course there are always those items that I really think are special and I keep them for decoration until they sell. And then I have an excuse to go shopping again!!

Why the name "Tole Mountain"?

Years ago I used to tole paint. I sold to a variety of places such as Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Cincinnati Nature Center, Bob Evans General Stores and a variety of local shops. I was also featured in some country magazines like The Country Almanac. Now besides rescuing vintage items the only painting I do is on bird houses which I LOVE doing. I try to incorporate unique vintage items found at sales into them.

What was the coolest thing you ever found at an estate-sale?

I would say the coolest and most unusual find was a giant authentic steer's skull. And it sold to a lady in Texas! She was thrilled with it.

(I just happen to have a couple of photos of a cow skull in my digital download section.  Go figure....)

What are the things you enjoy outside of estate-sale shopping?

Besides going to sales I love reading Christian romance novels, gardening and making my fabulous bird houses.

Any thing else that you would like to add?

I have a very special little dog that came from a rescue shelter. She means the world to me and makes every day so much fun. Shelter and Rescue dogs bring so much joy into people's lives. They give back so much more than they take. I wish everyone would go out and adopt one!

Well, these aren't dogs, but it is a collection of some very vintage kitchenwares:  lemon press, tea spoon that holds your tea bag, a corn cutter, a cookbook from the '30s, and one of her salt and pepper shaker sets.  All of these wonderful items and more can be found in her shop.

The only place I can be found on the internet is www.tolemountain.etsy.com. I'm probably the only person left on the planet that doesn't facebook, tweet or blog!!

Valley Green Naturals

Valley Green Naturals has got it going on! Not only do they have dreamy products that cover the range of bath and beauty from head to toe, that have quite the "dream team" to back it up. And they get to create all of their body-safe, eco-friendly, and wallet-happy creams, lotions, scrubs, and suds in a beautiful old farmhouse in Virginia with acres of beautiful greenery to help inspire their creative zen.

I would love to see some pics of your 18th century farmhouse where you create all of you natural, organic, and botanical products! Do you have some you could share?

To see this and more photos, visit our blog.  The picture used here is the second one down on the right.

(Notice the resemblance to their logo.)

Do you purchase natural milk for your own consumption? Legally, it can’t be marketed for humans, but you can buy it marketed in different ways and drink it if you want. I’ve read all of the wonderful things about real natural milk and went to a goat farm and got me some! It was good! But too far for me to travel on a weekly basis.

We don't purchase natural milk for consumption, but we have talked about getting a dairy cow for this purpose. At one point, I considered getting a couple of goats for their milk to use in our products. The problem with having your own goats (just like a cow) is that they need to be milked twice a day, at the same time every day. With our busy schedule, that's something that would be very difficult to do. So, the goats are on hold for now.

Milk-based products for you and yours

We do buy a lot of other natural food products. We love farmer's markets with fresh and organic produce, and we'll travel 40 miles to buy fresh Amish butter in the Shenandoah Valley. There's nothing like it! Here's a link to a blog post I wrote recently about buying natural goods.

So Valley Green Naturals is co-owned between you, your husband, and another couple. How did y’all link up on this business venture?

Our business partnership came together when Valley Green Naturals began to really grow. Art and I couldn't keep up with daily orders, while taking care of accounting, inventory, supplies and marketing all at the same time. Our business partner, Mary Hill, is a longtime friend with whom I had worked in Washington, D.C. She and her husband joined Valley Green Naturals when the company was a year old, in 2010.

Who gets to do what within the company?
Mary takes care of all of our accounting and supply orders, which is a huge job. She also works many days in the Valley Green kitchen, managing production for the ever-increasing number of orders we receive each day. Mary's husband, Doug Hill, is an expert in online marketing, and he acts as a consultant in our marketing efforts. My husband, Art DeVore, specializes in Information Technology, and he manages our customer database, web site, and social media links. My job involves developing formulations for our products, studying ingredients, press relations, customer communication, shipping, and lots of work in the Valley Green kitchen. All in all, we make a pretty good management team!

Sometimes, it just all comes together in a perfect blend.  Seems they've got four-part harmony.  Maybe a barber-shop quartet is in their near future.  I bet that would sit fine with the folks in Virginia's Piedmont.

Regardless of location, their day spa package is sure to be a hit with the loved ones in your life.  Lots of weddings, birthdays, and all around hostessing are ahead.  Show your thanks and appreciation with style, while doing your part to help "organify" the world around you.

To learn more about Valley Green Naturals, you can hook up with them at the following locations:

Main web site: www.valleygreennaturals.com

Etsy page: www.cindydevore.etsy.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Valley-Green-Naturals/125929227439654

Twitter: @valleygreengirl


Spring Cleaning, A Second Look

Hello there, my faithful followers!  My life kinda got turned upside down, but in a good way, so I have been a bad blogger these last two weeks!  I am working diligently at getting back on track to give you an interview to read every day.  I've got my questions out to LesperanceTile and to AshleySpatula.  As soon as I get those back, they will be posted, which should be within the next two days.  Maybe today?  It was completely my fault for not getting them over in adequate time.  Both of those ladies have extremely successful shops and need more than 24 hours' to write their responses.

And that's why I love my dog!  She really thinks I am perfect!  Shhh...don't tell.

Since I have no interview today, I am posting an article that I wrote for http://www.handmadeology.com/ a few months ago.  It is called "Spring Cleaning--A Second Look".


I only thought I was getting a head start on my spring cleaning list this year. At first glance, my cluster of wild plum trees still appeared to be skeletal. However, with a second look, I saw that, while yet unopened, the blossoms had already formed. I still had time, but barely, to rake all of the dead leaves out from under the tree and prep the trees for their spring debut. After two afternoons of raking and burning leaves, it was time to really get down and dirty.

If you take notice of the country roadside, you will see that wild plum trees frequent the fence lines. Now my personal theory is that birds eat plums. Birds sit on fences. You get the idea. Upon closer inspection you will notice that most of the time only portions of the tree cluster is still producing its sweet meat. Look even closer, and you’ll see the cause of the problem: webbing in the fork of the tree limbs. But it’s not the webbing that’s the problem. It’s what is inside the webbing, or, rather, what was inside the webbing. Hundreds of baby caterpillars. Hungry ones. And what do you suspect that they eat, this mass of hungry baby caterpillars? Blossoms and leaves.

Three springs ago, I went out to check on the trees and from tip to root was a train of caterpillars in every direction. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was really just amazing. So Etsy! I couldn’t really be mad at them. They were just doing what they do. After all, it was MY FAULT for not preventing this problem, for not inspecting my trees sooner. Thankfully, I am surrounded by plum trees up and down the country roads, so my passion was sated elsewhere.

These are my plum trees in bloom 2011, pic available in my shop

I was also at fault for not knowing that this was a potential problem. If you have fruit trees, then sooner or later, you will have bug problems. (Learn about the tent caterpillars here.) Sometimes maybe just here and there, but eventually your tree will be the product of a swarm. Unless you know how to prevent it. The wise man knows, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." After googling my problem and what to do, I decided to take matters into my own hands. (PETA members, I urge you to turn away!) I mean, instead of purchasing a chemical to kill the caterpillars with, I was just going to kill them myself. After raising babies and having all manner of bodily fluids on you, what’s a little caterpillar gut gonna hurt? So the next spring, I inspected my tree daily, starting early in the year. I would tear the webbing down, smush it with my foot, and squish any remaining caterpillars on the tree with my fingers. They’re so extremely tiny at this point; it was a quick, painless death. The return was a beautiful bounty of wild plums. Already this year, even in February, I already had tent caterpillars hard at work in my trees, preparing for their emergence. Alas, this is not to be, for I have been hard at work, laboring for my love.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? There are so many parallels here to shop-ownership.
  1. It takes a lot of hard work to have a productive shop
  2. Most shops come from humble beginnings but grow into something beautiful if given time and room to grow.
  3. There is always something that can cause damage. This could be either something you have done or something that you allowed to happen.
  4. If you have bad policies, bad customer service, or bad products, a quick hands-on approach is best. Put everyone out of their misery, and take care of the problem immediately.
  5. Your customer just has to go a little bit down the road to find an equally satisfying product.
  6. Not knowing might be a good excuse once, but never twice. There is tons of help out there for you. Utilize it.
I hope you have been enlightened with part I of my Spring Cleaning series. Here is another great Handmadeology read: Give It To Me Straight – Truth in Business.

(And if you have never tried cleaning your house in high heels and pearls, well, you are missing out! It really tones those glutes, girls.)


When Shannon Udell of MukiBubb looks at a swatch of fabric, she's piecing together her signature, sketchy-styled patches, pillows, potholders, and dolls.  She brings form, function, and funk all together to create some flair for your home.  After all, it's the little things in life that count--like having the absolutely cutest, funkiest potholders on the block! 

I love the out of the ordinary house-themed potholders that you have. Where did you (or why) come up with this outside of the box idea?

I developed the Su Casa potholder the year my oldest daughter went on her first mission trip to Mexico. The kids go every year to build a house and get to know the community. I wanted sell something unique to raise funds for the trip. The house shape was symbolic of the mission and, I hope a happy reminder to buyers of the good their purchase has done. Though my mission mom days are over, the design is too cute to quit and I absorbed it into my repertoire!

What part of your life would you describe as "crunchy" (per your profile)?

Given the choice, I'll go natural. My kitchen is stocked with homemade almond milk, kombucha, hummus, and whatever bread we've baked this week. I've taught my daughters (like my mom taught me) to cook, sew and generally do for themselves. Heck, my deodorant is homemade! Many the fabrics and materials I use in my dolls and patches had previous lives and still have a lot of beauty and use to them. It's that tactile, homespun sensuality I try to bring into my shop items.

Personally, I don’t eat avocadoes. I just didn’t grow up eating them, but I’ve heard they are delicioso. Do you have a favorite avocado recipe to share?

Avocados are a staple in our California kitchen. They have become iconic in my pot holders and patches. Lately, I love to cut them into spears and roast them for salads, but here's a sandwich recipe my mom and I love to make when we’re together.
  1. Cut a baguette into sandwich length pieces, split so they open like a roll.
  2. On one half, brush your favorite Italian dressing, on the other side put slices of sharp cheddar. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and broil to melt the cheese.
  3. Pull the sandwiches from the oven and spread avocado slices. Close up the sandwiches and nom nom nom! Note: This might just be the messiest sandwich you've ever enjoyed!
What type of photography did your father work with most? What was your favorite piece?

When I was young, I remember driving up and down dusty Gold Country back roads with my dad in search of "just the right shot in just the right light." I learned a lot about color, composition, patience and a sense of place back then! My dad's photo experience has run from portraits, to advertising, to abstract art to landscape documentation. He has recently picked up his musical roots and tours with his band. You can find a lot of his work at  hilaryfmarckx.com

So you survived California in the 70’s, huh? Was it a wild ride or were you just a people-watcher?

I was a kid in the 70's and in they were some very creative years. Sacramento was still sort of a small town back then and I recall exploring alleyways, churches and galleries while adults were busy elsewhere. I remember our home full of artists and musicians, and I’d listen in on a lot of wine-soaked conversations about poetry, ecology, theology and self-expression. There was a lot of open space and freedom then and you'll see that freedom echoed in the birds and blooms that are iconic in my appliqué and machine embroidery. Whenever you see wavy horizontal lines in my work, you can be sure I was thinking about the Sacramento or American Rivers!

Anything else you want to add?

Yeah, here's a fun fact. I can't stand twitter. Not as a concept or anything, I'm sure they are lovely folks, but it just does not suit my way of encountering the world. So just recently, I stuck my tongue out at the e-guru world and pressed the delete button. Come on over and check out my blog at thingsarelovely.com or my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ThingsAreLovely

Or, hey, just shoot me a convo at my shop. I'd love to see you there!

Thanks so much for giving me a chance to share and for offering these daily artist’s stories. They are a real inspiration!

Thank YOU, Shannon, for being a willing participant.  I'm so glad I asked you all of those wonderful questions, because you had some wonderful answers to go with them.  And, while I don't eat avocadoes, my husband does.  Maybe if he's nice to me today, I'll actually make him some dinner tonight.  Sandwiches again?  :)

BirdyBoots / UpAndAwayPatterns

Necessity is the mother of all invention, and I know that mothers of squiggly children's feet everywhere will love BirdyBoot's line of handmade soft soled baby/toddler shoes.  Not only are they eco-conscious (made from upcycled and recycled materials) but they also look cute doing it!  The elastic around the back makes sure that shoe ain't going nowhere!  (Also available in a ballet-flat style without the elastic.  And she has boy styles, too.)

But she has more than just shoes available.  She has organic wood blocks, children's clothes, headbands, and more wooden toys.  And that is just in her first shop, BirdyBoots.  In her second shop, UpAndAwayPatterns, you can find the patterns behind some of her products so you can get creative all on your own.

I just love looking that the picture you use for your shop’s logo! It is hilarious. Very Maisy Mouse. Who thought this up?

When I first started my Etsy shop, I sold only children’s soft soled shoes so I wanted to base my logo around that…in about 30 seconds, I used a Sharpie pen to sketch out my ‘bird in boots’ logo and uploaded it to my computer. (I am not known for my patience.)

Have you made any adult-sized slippers? They look so comfy!

No, I haven’t, but I do want to make myself a pair when the weather gets cooler! My dad requested a pair last Fall and went so far as to trace out his foot for me, but I have yet to make him a pair!

Hmmmm...would she make these in adult-size also, I wonder?
Wow! You have your products from coast to coast literally. They can be found at Stoopher & Boots in NYC and at the Bella Vita Boutique in Oakland, CA. How did your products find a way into those two stores?

The owners of both of these boutiques found me on Etsy and asked if I would do larger orders for their shops...wholesale is a great thing!

Are you the one doing the hand-cutting on your wooden toys?

No, my husband cuts out our wooden toys. He also does the initial sanding and then I take over painting and finishing the toys.

I have to insert here that as the mother of a 4 year old, she wants everything pink.  Yesterday she asked for  pink alligator.  Sadly, I had to tell her no.

My husband met on the job and we liked it so much we worked together a second time. Have you worked with your husband before or is teaming up with him on the shop a first-time thing?

No, this is a first-time thing... and I think it's good we still have our day jobs separate :) (big smile)

And here is her big smile (And what a wonderful smile it is):

Her two young daughters also make her smile, and her blog is dedicated to leaving them pearls of wisdom.


She also runs sample sales of her clothes, for all of you moms who love a good bargain.  (or aunts, grandmas, friends, or if you are a hoarder and just can't pass up a great deal, lol.)

Cloudberry And Moss

Rules were made to be broken.  (At least that was my mantra as a teenager, lol.)  In order to bring you the best products and best shops, I have to hold each shop up to a set of criteria.  One item on the punchlist is that the product either has to be unique or be the best of its type.  (Like The Wishing Elephant--she makes baby onesies, but they're above and beyond the usual baby onesie.)  Also, excellent product photography, and great customer feedback play a large part.  Then we come to number of sales.  One of the goals of this blog is to show you successful shops or shops that are on their way to being successful.  So, of course, I have to look at sales.  Right now, CloudberryAndMoss only has one sale.  BUT what caught my eye is that she is a single mom.  There's no doubt about the fact that she has an outstanding product and top-notch photography.  She just needs a little promoting. 

One reason that I chose to promote you is that you are a single mom. I am married to a wonderful husband that I have two kids with and it is difficult getting it all done, even with all of his support. What is the thing that you struggle with most as a single mom?

Hands down, it's getting time to do the things that need to be done. My beautiful 5-year-old rocks my world, but it's hard work, raising a child on your own. I need to get everything done between the time I drop her off at school, until I pick her up. I work as an independent contractor on top of my jewelry business, and I find that to be a great fit for me. I don't understand how other parent's are able to have regular 9 to 5 jobs, given all the unpredictable circumstances that parenthood entails.

I know what moss is but what is cloudberry?

Cloudberries grow in the mythical Swedish forests, often in secluded and moist glades. They make great preserves and liqueur.

On my banner in my etsy shop, you'll be able to see my artistic interpretation of a cloudberry. These beautiful berries remind me of my childhood when my mom and I would take trips with baskets, into the deep, dark forest. They help me remember the wonders of being a child, and the legends that surround the vast, Nordic forests. Who knew what would be lurking behind the big boulder in the shadows of the ancient fir trees. Or if the fog in fact was a band of fairies making their way over the pond. It was all very exciting, and it still is!

How awesome to have grown up on the Swedish west coast. What age did you leave there and why California?

When I was 24 I met my Californian ex-husband in a little coastal town in the north of Spain. I was working there, and he was traveling through. I came to Oakland to visit him and - here I am - seven years later! Sometimes life just takes you places you would have never imagined.

You really do have a beautiful line of jewelry. I love the understated tones and the sweet simplicity in your pictures. Do you have any new pieces that you are working on?

I'm working on some longer silhouettes for necklaces, and I will be adding a category for bracelets as well. My felted flower pieces are my latest creations and there's a lot of unexplored territory there...felted flower earrings are next on my to-do list!

Go support CloudberryAndMoss!  If you can't make a purchase from her shop right now, she could always use words of encouragement.  Can't we all? 

Attic Rat / Cedar Junction

From Cedar Junction
I have always been an avid reader. As a child, brand new worlds would be opened as the child in the story inevitably found her way to the attic. Who can forget that most awesome of childhood movies, "The Neverending Story"? Especially the part when he opens the window in the school attic and yells out a name, although it was deliberately obscured. I longed for an adventure in an attic! Any attic. But neither my school nor my house had a movie-style attic. My adventure was only complete through my imagination.

If you have an attic or just like vintage lovelies, Teresa Yates has two Etsy shops of vintage items. AtticRat is dedicated to stand-alone vintage finds, while CedarJunction is dedicated to vintage collage, assemblage, and mixed media. She is currently restocking her stores, after her recent gallivant across Germany.

Even though I had an attic, there was nothing up there but insulation. Did you have a grandmother’s attic that you grew up treasure-hunting in?

No, but it was very fun to explore at my great aunt's house. She had lots of interesting items all around her house in Oklahoma.

You had your shop closed for a bit while you went on vacation. Personally, I would have a hard time putting my shop into vacation mode, but I’ve only had my Etsy shop open for a few months. You’ve been at this for over 5 years. Have you had any negative experiences with vacationing your shop?
Mini Harmonica at Cedar Junction
I put my shop on vacation so that I don't have any negative experiences! I would really hate to keep my customers waiting for their orders if I am unavailable to ship them. I know that when I order something, I want to receive it right away.

Why did you choose Germany as your vacation spot?

My husband was sent on a project for 3 months and I was blessed to be able to spend a month there with him. While there, we also visited France and Belgium and celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Germany was beautiful and I would go back in a heartbeat. It was very hard to leave.

Does your husband use his scroll saw for creating "for sale" pieces or is it strictly hobby-use-only at this point?

I sell his crosses in my shop when he has extra ones. He is usually behind on his orders from friends and family because his work is so popular.

Your second Etsy shop, or should I say your first, has been opened since 2006. You’ve been through lots of changes within Etsy. Can you pinpoint a specific change that you feel was the most beneficial?

I've been with Etsy since it was still its the beta version. One change that I really like is the ability to see a customers order history. It's nice to see the ones that shop with me again and again.

Anything else that you would like to add?

I am always on the lookout for interesting and unusual items. It sure is lots of fun!

Such a busy lady (and a pretty one, too)! Notice that she has a blog for EACH shop.  I seem to be attracted to fellow dog lovers and fellow Texans.  I think she's got a cat, though.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cedar-Junction/91192725800
Blog: atticrat.blogspot.com/ and cedarjunctionstudio.blogspot.com/
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/AtticRat
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/CedarJunction


I am all about some form and function in my life.  Soapapilla's Shower Puff Soap takes soap on a rope to a whole new level.  I don't know about you but when I'm showering with my husband (it saves water you know!) the last thing I want to do is drop the soap, lol.  This is just one of the many fun soap products you will find in Soapapilla's shop.

How did you get started making soaps and body products?

In 2009 I was staying in New Mexico with my Uncle Steve & my Aunt Janet. My aunt had started making her own soap and very graciously taught me the art (thank you, thank you, thank you, Aunt Janet!) I was instantly hooked and inspired to push the medium as far as I could. I immediately started to do research on the best methods, best ingredients, and sourcing my area (northshore Massachusetts) for local suppliers. I had (and still have) so many ideas popping into my head for soaps. I started making the soaps myself and giving them to friends and family, which quickly grew into selling them at craft shows and now on Etsy. I have now expanded to include scrubs, lotions, and conditioners & I am continuing to research and experiment with new product development. I made it my New Year’s Resolution for 2011 to get my products in stores, and now Soapapilla can be found in Scrub and in Roost in downtown Salem, MA!

Your birthstone line is perfect for birthday gift sets! When will you have this line completed?

Pearl is June's Birthstone

My handcarved Birthstone & Geode soaps are some of my favorites! I have created a birthstone for each month already and will be completing the postings on my Etsy site over the next month. When I was a little girl, my mother worked in a gem & mineral shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, making jewelrey that we would sell at the flea market on the weekends. I would go to work with her and play with all of the raw stones, crystals, geodes & agates. Those memories and the Southwest landscape is what inspires the look for my Birthstone, Geode, and Fossil soaps, which are each very close to my heart.

Do the colored soaps leave any type of colored residue either on the body or in the tub?

Nope – no residue whatsoever. They create a nice thick, white lather that feels lovely and leaves your skin nice & soft. I use mostly natural micas, iron oxides, and ultramarines to color my soaps instead of synthetic dyes & pigments. This creates a pure, gentle product that does not stain– plus the micas give the soap an incredible shimmery, pearly finish. My focus on using gentle, natural ingredients is not limited to my selection of colorants – I focus on using the highest quality, skin-loving ingredients in every step of my soapmaking process.

Here in East Texas there are almost as many Mexican restaurants as there are churches. But for the rest of our readers that are not familiar with our Southern ways, explain what a sopapilla is please.

A sopapilla is a kind of fried bread commonly served in the Southwest, USA and Latin American countries. In New Mexico it is usually served after meals and you eat it with honey – completely delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

When I was trying to think of a name for my company, I wanted New Mexico somehow represented in the name, since it inspires me so much. When the name “Soapapilla” came to me, I just knew I had found THE name for me.

Which soap is the most difficult to craft into it’s finished product?

The most labor-intensive soaps are definitely my handcarved Geode soaps. But it truly is a labor of love! They go through so many stages and carvings to get to their final shape, but its worth every second of it. I get excited every single time I’m finished and get to cut open the soap geode rock to reveal what’s inside. Each one comes out completely unique – just like the rocks themselves.

How is New Mexico treating you this time around? Quite a difference from Massachusetts.

New Mexico is wonderful! I love Boston, and especially the beach, but the sun and the mountains never cease to inspire my creativity. I feel so lucky to have lived in two very different landscapes. I’m also getting the chance to spend time with my family members and I just have to thank them for all of their support! While I’m here I’m also taking the time to seek out some stores to work with to hopefully get Soapapilla available locally in New Mexico. And of course, I’ve been eating plenty of sopapillas (and green-chile-chicken-enchiladas, and tamales with red chile, and breakfast burritos…YUM!)

Any thing else that you would like to add?

Well, there are so many people I am grateful for. I have to thank my family for supporting me in my soaping efforts – even when I manage to turn our kitchen into a soap laboratory. I especially have to thank my brother, Luke – you have truly become a shrink-wrapping master! Thank you, Aunt Janet for starting it all in your “House of Wonders”. Thank you, Aunt Donna for recognizing & encouraging my artistic abilities. Thank you, Aunt Gogi for supporting me and helping me make my trips to New Mexico. Aren’t I lucky to have such a great family?

Soapapilla and the beautiful young lady behind it can be found at the following locations:

FB: facebook.com/soapapilla
Twitter: twitter.com/soapapilla
Blog: soapapilla.blogspot.com
Online store: lovesoapapilla.etsy.com

A Letter to My Future Self

I was inspired to do this after reading Artlife's blogpost.  It's where you write a letter to your future self one year from now about all that you hope/want the coming year to encompass.  Share with me and be inspired to write your own!

We are currently in the process of getting our home listed for sale.  The realtor will be here this Friday, the 13th to take pictures so that's why my posting has been off-schedule.  But I'm still trying to post something each day, so here is what you get for today. : )  I do have my interview ready for tomorrow with LoveSoapapilla.


Hello there, Future Self!  Wow!  What a crazy year.  I never would have thought that I would have sold my forever home.  We built this home 8 years ago when our son was just one, and we worked diligently, molding it into our little country version of paradise.  If someone would have told me even two years ago that we would be traveling the country evangelizing, I would have laughed.  Guess that old saying "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans" is true.  I am so proud of my husband and my children.  Our bond as a family continues to be strengthened daily.

This was the view from my front porch.  It's now someone else's!
Jace has just finished his fourth grade year, and we are still homeschooling.  I am so thankful that we chose that option three years ago.  He's a very unique and intelligent child, and he's been allowed to blossom into a young gentleman who opens doors for ladies, willingly helps with housework, and respects both his elders and his peers.  My little blonde hair, blue-eyed man.  He makes me so proud!

Ginger is now 5 and has finally gotten through that lisp we worked so hard to overcome.  Genetics are very powerful, because I had a lisp when I was a young girl, too.  We never "baby-talked" with her, so it must be genetics.  She sings like an angel and the congregations love to hear her sing, "Jesus the most beautiful name that I know.  No other name, no other name I know."  She's delicate but can climb like a monkey at the same time.  She continues to amaze me with her indivduality.  I can't wait to see her as the young woman she will become.  Well, maybe I can wait.  I'm not ready for her to grow up just yet.

My online business has not wilted but has thrived!  Since I get to travel the country, I make tons and tons of new contacts that I never would have had the opportunity to make secluded in my country paradise.  Several boutiques have taken my items as wholesale, and it is a wonderful feeling to walk into a shop and see a customer buying one or three.  I still can't wrap my mind around it.  God has been so good to me.

Of course, all of this traveling and business-growing has given me tons of great information for all of the various blogs I write for.  What will the next year bring?

Take care of yourself.  You're the only one you've got!

I love you!

Melinda Martin

P.S.  Remember when you still had your crown on from the Ladies Meeting and you forgot and wore it to Wal-Mart and no one even looked at you funny.  Haha!  You rock, Past, Present, and Future Self!

Dot's Diner

Well, now, I collect aprons but they're sweet little vintage aprons that someone's grandma wore.  If your MeeMaw wore these aprons, then you must have had one smokin' hot grandmama!  I picked just a few of her scrumdiddliumptious aprons to display, but you will definitely want to check out Dot's Diner and add some of these to your cart or to your favorites at the very least.

OMWow! These aprons couldn’t be any cuter if they had to be! Which one is your top seller?

Aw, thanks, lol! My top sellers are my car hop polka dot, and car hop cupcake aprons. I think people like it that they have a lot of black in them. Black works really well in my shop for some reason. I also make this style extra sweet with eyelet lace and hot pink ric rac. It makes me smile. I make a lot of pink stuff, I like pink.

Do you think most women are wearing these in the kitchen? Or the bedroom? Lol

I started this shop with the intent of selling costume-like aprons to pinup girls and burlesque performers. I am pretty well connected in the burlesque community, so I just used that base of friends to start my Facebook page. So, a lot of my aprons get worn on stage, and stripped off! Lately, a lot of young women who are starting their own cupcake bakeries are finding me, and ordering their "uniforms". I am so envious of these young ladies; I mean really, a cupcake shop!? Also, a lot of my customers wear them for sexy photo shoots, or pinup style photo shoots. I love it! I don’t cook, so when people ask me if they are good for the kitchen, I’m like, huh? Oh yeah-I guess so! Lol!

(Click here to see the full frontal of the Alice Apron.)

Have you had any great Etsy finds to add to your vintage kitchenware collection?

Well, actually, what I buy a ton of on Etsy is vintage fabric, and artwork. There are so many wonderful photographers and artists on here I can’t resist. I have no idea where to hang it all, so I just place it around my work space and stare it all. I use the vintage fabric in my aprons from time to time. My favorite thing to find and buy is vintage pillow panels. I use them to make aprons and my customers eat them up.

What did you do with all of those clothes you made for you dolls? It’s hard to throw stuff like that away.

Well, I don’t know, most of it I gave to my nieces years ago. I wish I still had a lot of those things.

How many different styles are you currently offering?

I usually have about 20 styles in my shop, it seems like I can’t get my inventory over that number. I have a day job, it is my curse. ( I work in engineering, doing CAD drafitng and circuit board design, I know, zzzzzz).

Any thing else that you would like to add?

Well, I am just having like a ton of fun, and trying not to be too obsessed with Etsy. Ha ha

The group photo is a burlesque troupe I was in when I owned my pole-dance studio, it was the most fun I ever had. I made all the costumes we are wearing- the troupe was for any age, one lady was like almost 60, adorable, we caused quite a scandal.

Follow Dot's Diner around the virtual town as she continues to create scandals!

Note:  The pettislips are not included, but I would like to recommend Swank Underpinnings for a custom order for your apron.  Her feature can be found here.

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