Monday, May 30, 2011

HF Community: Blog Meetups


Homefront Team wants to offer an offer an opportunity for you to meet one another via your personal blogs.

Featured shop this quarter is Blog coordinator Robin Norgren of Well of Creations

So here is how we will do this:

Go ahead and put the link to your blog in the comments and we will all go around and get to know one another and become subscribers to each others blogs (if you so choose).  Please make sure that if you leave a link, you are planning on making the effort to visit other participant's blogs.  We will keep the link open for 48 hours (until Wednesday's post) and then we will close the comments.  That way no one feels slighted if they add their link later because more than likely they will not get the same visits as others.

OK have fun and LET'S LINK! 

Robin Norgren, Blog Coordinator

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: Submarine Parade (part 2)

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

This feature is part two of the series by 

Choosing a Graphic Designer

You have a fabulous product, idea or service.  You have stellar customer service.  And, you have a marketing plan.  What next?  Now you need to leave the sweat pants at home and show up in a suit like the big boys.  You need to LOOK like you belong.  You need a graphic designer.
Design is, at its core, simply visual communications.
Everything your potential customers see concerning your business, from flyers to websites to hangtags, conveys a message about your business and your product. Having a professional pull all of these elements together for you will give your company a polished and professional look and feel that will translate into sales.
How do you find a designer who is right for you?  Here are the important questions to answer before you begin your search…

  1. What do I need? Do you have existing branding in place, such as a logo that you need incorporated into your design or do you need branding advice as well as graphic design.   Do you need an existing website overhauled or do you need to start from scratch.  Are your needs purely digital or will you need print material?  Will you need help in the long run or is a one time interaction?
  2. How much can I spend? Know your budget.  Graphic design, like most services, can range from a small fee to an enormous investment.  Do you simply need a blog header tweaked and a WordPress template installed or do you need a cutting edge original look complete with concept art, original artwork and a long run high concept branding strategy?
  3. Who is your audience? Hopefully you have already answered this question.  This will be the first question a good designer will ask you.
So, now you start your search.  Ask your contacts for references and take a look online.  Graphic designers range from newly graduated or self taught artists working from a laptop in Starbucks to professionals with years of experience both in art as well as programing working for large design firms.
Take a look at their portfolio.  Do you like their previous work?  Is it similar in platform to what you need?  Are their previous clients still utilizing their designs?
Here are some questions to ask when you find one you like…

  1. Does the designer have experience working with styles and formats similar to what I need?  If you need a Word Press site, you’ll want someone with WP experience.  If you need a 24 page full color catalog, hire someone with experience working in print.
  2. Does the designer do logo creation and branding? If not, you may need to find one that does or have them work with a marketing and branding expert.
  3. Are they in your price range?  Be honest and up front.  Most graphic designers are professionals like you, and you will have to work together to come up with the best solution to your graphic needs.  You will most likely find that your designer will have a range of services and prices, and they may be able to work with you even if you are on a tight budget.
And finally, a few tips when working with a graphic designer…
  1. Communications is key.  The more the designer knows about your business and your preferences the better the end product will be.  Keep all expectations, especially concerning timelines and payment clearly stated and consistent.  If you hate what they are doing, tell them, but be professional.  An experienced graphic designer understands the subjective nature of his or her work and most likely expects to go through a draft or two of a design before finding the perfect one.
  2. Let them do their job.  You are not designing your bedroom. You are designing for your clients, and hopefully your designer will know more about what works best for your audience visually than you do.  That is why you hired them.

Thank you so much Rebecca for sharing this info with us.  If you are interested in being featured in this space, please use the Contact Tab at the top of the blog.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: Submarine Parade

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

This  2 part series is given by Rebecca Litton of Submarine Parade

Branding [n] -  The promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.
To successfully brand your business, you don’ t need a team of top designers and a New York ad agency.  You just need to remember a few rules.
  1. Know your audience
  2. Be Unique
  3. Be Consistent
So what does design have to do with branding?  Design is, at its core, visual communications.  Everything your potential customers see concerning your business, from flyers to websites to hangtags, conveys a message about your business and your product.
The first thing most people think of when they think of corporate design is logo creation.  The look and feel of a logo is key to creating a good solid business identity, but it goes much further than that.  Think about the reigning king of corporate identity, Apple.   They don’t even have the name of their company on their stores, just a shape of an apple…. THE apple.  But, think about the rest of the store front.  If they took the apple down, you would probably still recognize the sleek metal and glass facade.  Everything they make, from packaging to usb cords is sleek, simple, happy tech and so very apple.
The design aspect of branding  your business encompasses things like your logo, business cards, letterhead, catalogs, ads, websites, web banners, packaging, tags, flyers, social media avatars and even your email signature.

 1. Know Your Audience
This first rule applies to all aspects of building a business, and is especially true when finding the right visual qualities to represent your company or product.  Are you targeting upper class middle aged women?  Perhaps you have your eye on tech savy pre-teens or maybe young, work at home moms?
Knowing your audience and your product helps you make the big design decisions.  For example, you would not choose a pink calligraphy font when marketing to men aged 25-35 and you would not use a heavy metal font when marketing ruffle covered little girl’s clothing.
Choose colors that both appeal to your audience and speak to your product or service. Here are some common sense suggestions.  Keep in mind that the sky is the limit and the little list below is just a starting point.
Color suggestions
Mom gear, baby products
Pastels, ballet pink, baby blue, spring green, yellow, lavender. Keep dark colors like black as accent colors only.
Clothing, accessories
Bright, hip colors.  What’s in season this year?
Products or services
Keep it masculine with greens, blues, reds and browns.  Stay away from pink, purple and yellow
Products or services
Edgy. Go bright or bold or both.  Stay away from grey, brown and beige
Babies and Kids (Moms are your real audience)
Toys, clothing, services, etc.
Primary colors, pastels, bright and happy.  Stay away from black, beige, etc.

2. Be Unique

Don’t be intimidated by this rule, you can keep it simple and still stand out.  The most important part of this rule is to take a look at what is out there already and make sure your take is just a little bit different.  That said, this is not a fine art project. Be original without being unfamiliar.  There is a line out there, if you cross it you will cease to be edgy and start to be just plain weird, or worse, confusing and ambiguous.
Look at your choice of font for your logo.  Do you see the exact same font on Chinese food menus, banners at the grocery store and twelve other businesses just like yours?  Then you may want to choose something else or move towards a more classic font.  When you type in “free rose clip art” into google, does your rose logo appear as the fist five options?  Then you might want to look around for another graphic (or better yet, hire an artist, or even an aspiring one, to help you out).

 3. Be Consistent
Just like parenting, branding your business takes consistency.  If your business card has blue flowers and bold fonts and your website has script fonts and a bright yellow color pallet, you might think about redesigning them to match.  The idea is for all of your visual material, print and digital, to be instantly recognizable as your company.  Repeating font, color and images is key.
A Note About Copyrighted Images: I need to stop here and mention copyrights.  When searching for graphics to include in your design, especially something as visible as your logo, you need to be sure that the image you use is not copyright protected.  Currently, you can swipe any image off the web that you like, but using most of them to promote your business is illegal.  My first suggestion is that you have a unique logo created for you, that way the copyright is yours and only yours.  If that is not an option for you and you need a graphic image to incorporate I suggest looking at a stock photography and stock illustration site such as iStock Photo.  For between $20 and $50 you may purchase a stock image for use in marketing.
  1. Get inspired.  Browse the internet, magazines, see what others are doing and make it your own.
  2. Simple is better.  Keep it clean and to the point.  Your logo doesn’t have to convey EVERYTHING about your business.  It just has to be the tip of the iceberg.
  3. No imagery is better than bad imagery.  Be selective about what you include.  If you can help it, only show images that showcase your product or service in the best light.

THANK YOU SO MUCH Rebecca for sharing this info.  Part 2 of this series will post on Friday May 27, 2011
If you are interested in being featured on this blog, Contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Rebecca Litton

Monday, May 23, 2011

Team Captain's Corner: Stop Hiding and SEEK

I ran into a woman who took our family portraits the other day.  I was at a concert and the woman was sitting in the front row. She caught my eye because she was wearing a scarf on her head-one of those Bohemian inspired ones where I would probably see it at the store, bring it home, sit it in my closet and then pass it on to my other friend who looks good in scarves! So my eyes are fixated on the scarf for the longest time.   When the concert is over, I took one more look at the scarf and realize that the woman wearing the scarf is the photographer!

So I walk up to her and we talk for a few minutes and I congratulate her for completing a masters program in social work. We chit chat about the shell shock one experiences after accomplished such an amazing amount of work. Then I ask, “Have you gotten a job in your field?” And she says, “Actually yes, I am a full time photographer.” I respond,You mean you make enough money to pay your bills with photography?” She smiles and says, “Actually, yes I do.” Can you believe it? Someone is working at a job that inspires them? She went for it and SHE MADE IT. In this economic slump, no less. 

When I saw this photographer, I realized that I am playing the hide and seek game in my life. I am Moses. Send someone else Lord. I am trying to figure out why I am so pompous as to think I have the opportunity to go for it and not the next person who has just as many dreams to realize.   Any indication to the contrary feels self serving. I would much rather shrink out of the spotlight, become an amazing wing woman:” a sidekick. Allow others to surge forth in their dreams. The hard work of criticism and rejection-I am too old and too tired to handle it. And I do not care. And a part of you must care in order to dream big, right? To keep creating fearlessly, rather than to copy cat, piggy back off other’s ideas. Wait to be noticed.

What I find is that this is not working for me anymore. So now what?  When the photographer asked what I was up to, I gave some vague response like, “I am still trying to figure it out”; well that is partially true. More than anything, the fear holds me down and chokes the life out of me. I can barely move without fear as my companion. I want to go back to the cookie cutter way of doing life. Or….leap!  We really do have a choice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

HF Support: Military Families Debt Planning

I wanted to share this special feature from The Dave Ramsey Show geared toward military families dealing with debt consolidation and effective budgeting throughout deployments. Of course, the information offered here pertains to any household budget. I appreciate Ramsey's decision to take on the special pay challenges that the military tends to come up against.

Well of Creations - Blog Leader

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: The "In Between Time" of Busy Seasons

This feature is submitted by Sarah of Florida Scarf

For the Record: If graffiti is illegal and subject to fine or imprisonment, even if it's not permanent, that is not me in the photo.

I recently got together with a couple of girlfriends and did a photo shoot. The purpose for me was to get better at using a camera and get some new, and fun, shots for Florida Scarf. The general purpose was for my friends and I to hang out, enjoy the weather, take advantage of our location, and do something new and creative. As a bunch of grown women we explored make-believe for the first time in a while. 

      With Florida Scarf I have found that it isn't enough to just be good at making stuff. You must also be good at photographing it, describing it, putting it on the Internet, and letting people know that it's on the Internet. All of these different duties can make a creative business practically impossible to maintain. Going through this cycle can be draining. It is wonderful to stop and take a breather. I am thankful that my business is seasonal. It is crankin' from September to January. February to April is a time I take, not to sew, but hone all of these other skills needed to be successful. In this time I focus on enjoyment and refreshing my creativity.

Every January I do an assessment. It is awesome to reflect on your business and lifestyle to find out what is working and what isn't. In doing this you must be honest with yourself for maximum improvement. For me, one skill that constantly needs updating is my photography ability. I am not alone in this deficiency. Luckily, I have a few friends who have needed to get better at wielding a camera as well. We decided to take a day and spend it working with our cameras and our creativity. It was great. I recommend doing a photo shoot with girlfriends no matter who you are and what kind of camera you have. It is simple to do. You get a couple of friends and any crazy accessories you all may have. You find a kooky location, preferably outside, and you go at it. If you are like us you might be shy or nervous at first, but give yourself time you will open up. Once we all got comfortable we got some really awesome shots. The day was a success on many levels. We all bonded, obviously. I got some new, and fun, promo shots for Florida Scarf. Chrissy got some rad photos of her guitar. Laura got to do the Hobo shot she always wanted. Sarah found out she is pretty good with creating an interesting composition herself. The list is endless. We took a ton of pictures. I recommend this activity as not only something that can refresh creativity, but refresh life in general. As I said, it was interesting as an adult to go back to a form of entertainment revolving around our imagination. It was so much more fulfilling than shopping, going out to lunch, or going to a movie. And we've got something to show for it.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your story.  If you are interested in being featured here, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Story Behind the (Shop) Name: Addie Bean Blossoms

Here's the story behind her shop name: 

I chuckle every time I think about the baby shower that was thrown for a fellow expectant teacher and myself last May.  I was due in June and she in August.  Our fellow staff members had organized a lovely shower with gifts, games, and of course, cake.  One had been prepared for each of us.  My colleague’s cake had a sweet welcome message and her future daughter’s name.  Mine said, “Welcome Bean!”  As one guest read the cake, she exclaimed, “You’re naming the baby ‘Bean’?”

Well, of course we weren’t naming our baby ‘Bean.’  My husband and I had decided we wanted to be surprised about the gender. So, very early on, we started calling our baby ‘Bean.’  We speculated about which features ‘Bean’ would get from each of us, what ‘Bean’s’ personality would be like, and if ‘Bean’ would  be interested in the same things we were.  Well, we got so used to the name it just kind of stuck!  Once Adelyn (Addie) was born, she was already more of a ‘Bean’ to us than anything else.  So now, and forever more, she is our Addie Bean.

When I decided to open my Etsy shop selling the fabric flower hair clips inspired by her, it just made sense to name them after her.  Plus, I’m a sucker for alliteration.  And so, Addie Bean Blossoms bloomed!

Thank you Rebecca for sharing your story! If you are interested in being featured in this space, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Military Life...From a Spouse's Perspective: Colleen Bay

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

  This Feature is written by Colleen Bay, shop owner of Her Hero

Military Life….
From a spouse's perspective

      In the last 6 years, I have lived in 4 different states and 6 different homes. I stutter when asked for my social security number, but I can rattle the last four digits of my husband’s without hesitation.  I am an acronym diva, flat rate shipping superstar, and my resume looks like a patchwork quilt.  I am a proud military spouse and My Military Life is an adventure.
5 things I have learned to be true in military life and how I thrive: 

  1. We move all the time. We are never in one place long enough to get tired of it. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; the next PCS. I make new friends each time. Our kids are exposed to different weather, culture, and traditions first hand.  Honestly, I get the PCS itch after being in one place for more than 18 months. 
  2. His job is dangerous. “Look! EOD is listed as the #1 most dangerous jobs again on Discovery channel!”  It is emotionally draining at times; the constant worry, the many good-byes, and the disruptive but glorious homecomings. It is a nice feeling, however, that others are in awe of what my husband does for a living. I am very proud of what he does, not what he brings home. My husband is a real hero.
  3. My home will never be featured in Towne and Country.  I do not spend a lot of time constructing the perfect looking home. Forget flowers that match the matting on a picture in the parlor. What looks great in today’s dining room won’t fit in the next one. We buy items based on the “will-this-make-the-next-move” mentality. Our garage is filled with “military issued” junk, but we certainly don’t have hoard piles anywhere (I do a “PCS” purge with every move). Our home-sweet-home is each other, our little family unit; the dinners at the table, the weekend adventures in our new land, the family pictures from our military life adventures surrounding us.
  4. Separations are lousy:  Deployments are the worse. Anyone who has made it successfully through one, however, will tell you that your relationship will be stronger because of it. Separation makes the heart grow dearer. Being separated so often has forced us to really look hard at how we communicate with each other: calls are cut short and emails can be misconstrued so many bad ways. Should I complain about how the last 10 emails from him have been less than just one of my loving emails, or how the shortage of hand written letters has been duly noted…no- instead,  I will talk about the new things the kids are doing. I also learned how important it is to always tell each other you love them. (And yelling it through the receiver after a short disagreement before slamming the phone down counts-)  There are additional separation perks that should get recognition here: a clean house, all the girly tv you can stand, and my all time favorite- cereal for dinner.
  5. Free healthcare rocks. Healthcare was expensive when I was in shape, single, and waiting tables. Now I have had 2 babies (free), that have grown into adventurous kids (one broken arm, pink eye at least 5 times, snotty noses every winter, and multiple ear aches)- also free. Additionally, I got a fancy IUD at no cost; the same brand of IUD that was going to cost my sister-in-law $600 (she never got it because of the cost and recently had a baby #3 scare).
The key to surviving military life is knowing “it is what you make of it” and that finding friendships with other military spouses will get you through some difficult times (try explaining to a non-military friend how DFAS screwed up your BAH and you can’t access his LES because he is TDY again…meanwhile DEERS is saying that your daughter’s name is “Baby Girl Bay” and so TRICARE will not pay for “McKenna Bay’s” ear tubes).
Military life is an undertaking. Not only do I try to make the most of our lifestyle by keeping a rosy outlook, but I have found other military spouses to be a source of great strength. I am honored to be amongst the other courageous, influential military spouses that have stood by their heroes in the past. I am thankful for the strong network of today’s military spouses, lending advice and a hand when needed.
My Military Life is an adventure because that is what I make it. And in that adventure, I have met mentors, made lifelong friends, and have learned that life and love are the most valuable things to me. All this in just 6 years…

Thank you Colleen for sharing your story! If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog. 

 Robin Norgren, Blog Coordinator

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Tutorial: Quick and Easy Souvenir Magnets

This tutorial is brought to you by

Forget about those overpriced souvenir magnets!  Here's a quick project you can do with the kids.  All you really need is:
  • a paper bag/decorative paper/Christmas Cards/something you want to use as a graphic for inside the bottle caps
  • glue
  • bottle caps
  • magnets
  • modpodge  
  • (optional) a stick 
  • (optional) resin or resin stickers
About a month ago, the Navy Reserves sent me to San Diego.   Since my husband is off in Afghanistan, I brought the kids along.  They had a great time and wouldn't stop talking about it even after we came home.  Like everyone else, we are trying to watch our budget, and didn't buy many souvenirs.  

1. Here, we have a bag from the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. You could also recycle theme park ticket stubs, postcards, wrapping paper, photos from all those Christmas cards, or anything else you happen to have laying around the house.

2. If you are using standard bottle caps, then you should cut out 1 inch circles from the bag to fit into the bottle caps. I happen to have a 1 inch circle punch, so that's what we used. You can also trace circles lightly with a pencil and cut with scissors.  If you are using light or thin paper, you might want to cut out some circles out of plain white paper as a backing, glued on behind your desired image... just to be sure you don't end up with something translucent that shows the bottle cap liner.   Since this bag was printed on "kraft paper," I didn't need it for this particular project.

3. Now, for the fun part. Mod Podge! Mod Podge is the bomb.  It's an adhesive AND seals your paper without that permanent "wet" look.  Get a stick or use your fingers and smear a thin coat on the front and back of your circles. Then stick it in the bottle cap and voila!  Well,  you're not quite done, but almost.  Let them dry and go eat lunch or take a nap or something.
4. Now, you have a choice.  You can leave the bottle caps the way they are, slap some magnets on the back and call it a day
  You can put something over the paper to help preserve your souvenir.  Typically, folks choose either poured resin (usually found by the jewelry making supplies) or using clear resin stickers (normally found with scrap booking/paper craft supplies).  Since my 2 year old was helping me, I went with the stickers.  (If my 12 year old was the only one around, I would've mixed up some Ice Resin to pour into the bottle caps since that lasts a LOT longer.)
5. After the kids finish putting the stickers over the paper, I used E6000 and glued rare earth magnets onto the back.  You can pick up E6000 and rare earth magnets at just about any craft store.  The magnet will be attracted to the bottle cap.  Use enough glue to get a little "ooze" around the edge, but not so much that the glue builds higher than the actual magnet. 

You could use regular magnets and Tacky Glue, but those magnets aren't as strong and Tacky Glue takes longer to set.  Don't use Tacky Glue with the rare earth magnets.  If you do, I guarantee that the first time you try to pull the magnet off of the refrigerator door, the bottle cap will come off in your hand and the magnet will be stuck to the fridge

There you go!  Ready for the fridge.  Or get an old baking pan and let the kids play with the magnets in the car.  Ta da!

Thank you so much Mandy! If you are interested in sharing a tutorial, please contact us via the Contact link at the top of the blog!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Story Behind the (Shop) Name: The Navy Baby

Here's the story behind her shop name: 
     I was sitting at my computer contemplating starting up a new Etsy shop.  But, wait!  Before I could even register I had to create a shop name! AHHH!!!! After wiping the sweat off of my brow, I wrote a bunch of items down that I loved:

--Cherry blossoms (We just did a 3 year tour in Japan)
--sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom)
--crawfish (I am a Louisiana girl) 
--beaux or belles (I have 2 boys and a girl)
--boutique (The old buzz word)
--heirloom (Doesn't that just tug at your heartstrings?)
--fleur de lis (My Louisiana roots yet again)
--purple or pink (My daughter's two favorite colors)
  This was just the short list!  (I won't bore you with the long list)  

    I literally had to stop registering and come back a day later. When I did and re-looked over my list, I noticed I didn't put the one thing I love the husband.  It is because of him that my most of my list even exists!  He is a Naval Aviator and we are a Navy family and we have three Navy babies!  So, once I realized that, I knew that was my shop name:  The Navy Baby.  Just as I was writing it my daughter walked into the room with her smocked dress on wearing my heels and a long strand of play pearls.  Just at that moment I knew I had to add a cute "motto" and so came "Where classy meets sassy" was born! 

Thank you Nicole for sharing your story! If you are interested in being featured on this blog, Use the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creative Homefires: Camelot's Treasures

Creative HomeFires is a series which highlights the value that creativity offers to family members of a deployed spouse/significant other.  We offer stories of the creative life and the beautiful benefits experienced during some of the most difficult seasons.
Let me introduce
Here's her story:

 It’s important to keep busy while your husband is deployed, it helps time pass and keeps you grounded.  But it’s also important for you to remember that you are separate from your family, and that you can have a life all on your own.  For awhile, I found myself in a position where I was just “mom” and no longer “Guin.”  I missed “Guin.”  That was one of the major reasons I started my business, and am grateful that I decided to do that as I watch it slowly bloom.

My business definitely is an asset when dealing with the crazy lifestyle the military involves us in, with long distance moves and short notice deployments.  But it’s mostly a benefit to my sanity, knowing that this is a representation of myself apart from my family.  Having been a military wife for a combined 10 years, I am definitely self-sufficient and independent as most military spouses are; we learn early on how to get things done.  I feel though, a lot of times we forget that we need to be ourselves also, not just a provider and caretaker.

So, sometimes I’m selfish, and go hide out in my office for a little bit, whether my husband is home or not.  I close the door, turn up my iPod, and just create.  Because creating is bliss.

Thank you Guin! If you are interested in contributing to the blog, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Team Captain's Corner: Things to Do When You Experience a Lull in Your Business

“To remain healthy and vital, artists must stay proactive in their own behalf”
-Julia Cameron, Finding Water

The beginning of things offer instant rewards – the rush of discovery, the thrill of a new adventure, and (if you are lucky) the backing and encouragement of friends and family.  What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of things?  On a quest that leads through the detours of the mundane?  Bogged down by the repetition of making the same object in large quantities or the reality that no new ideas are coming forth from your heart OR your hands?
Julia Cameron of “The Artist Way” fame has provided extraordinary guidance in my journey toward continuing in this work that we do as artists.  Imagine art as work!  Many people hide that little tidbit away don’t they?  And if newbies are not careful, we might ASSUME that if the art is now becoming mundane, we must be doing something wrong or possibly we do not have what it takes.  But I would submit that even things that we participate in that we LOVE –yes even artistic endeavors- will reach a plateau. 

But… not forever.  I came across one suggestion from Julia Cameron’s book “Finding Water” called the LAY TRACK EXERCISE.  In a nutshell, I take a piece of paper and I write down small actions I can take on my behalf as an artist to keep making small movements forward.  I wrote my five based on my writing endeavors:
  1. write consistently on my blogs (at least every other day)
  2. find a community of like minded artists and ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE
  3. Consider the premise behind my blog-does it have a clear vision?
  4. READ!
  5. Organize blog posts into categories (I have written on my blog for over a year and rarely have I listed a tag = YIKES!)
Some have to do with basic “housekeeping” but others are opportunities to delve into new areas where the potential for spark lurk. 

What are your 5?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Tutorial: Marinated Chicken Breast

This tutorial is brought to you by HoldsIt

Marinated Chicken Breast

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
Dash of freshly grated ginger root or ground ginger to taste
1 (8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Sprigs of parsley or basil for garnish

To make the chicken breast:  In a medium bowl, stir together the teriyaki sauce and ginger.  Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

If you would like to submit a tutorial, contact us via the tab at the top of the blog.

Well of Creations-Blog Coordinator

Friday, May 6, 2011

Creative Homefires: Moose Threads (Part 2)

Creative HomeFires is a series which highlights the value that creativity offers to family members of a deployed spouse/significant other.  We offer stories of the creative life and the beautiful benefits experienced during some of the most difficult seasons. 

 shop link
  This is Part 2 of a Feature written by

Kristin Gumpert

  shop owner of
    I attempted occupy myself by freelancing for some area publications, but found it financially draining. Gas prices, low pay and child care often left me paying to write, rather than the opposite. I was starved for an emotional and creative outlet with no idea how to fill the seemingly bottomless void - until I walked into Wild n Wooly.
Wild N Wooly was a Local Yarn Store (LYS) that my family soon lovingly referred to as my own personal "crack den."  Every nook and cranny was filled with the most amazing fibers, colors and notions. I felt like Charlie walking into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for the first time. It was all I could do not to taste or touch everything in the store.  It was there, surrounded by all these amazing yarns that I recalled my near-forgotten love for crochet. Taught to me as a child during long summer vacations with my mother and grandmother, I used to revel in the scraps they let me practice with, combining textures and colors to my heart’s content.  

As I grew into an adult, the hectic nature of school and career responsibilities pushed this creative outlet into the dark recesses of my brain.  But in Wild N Wooly, surrounded by a Technicolor fiber rainbow, it all came flooding back.  A very social person at heart, my lack of friends and family had left me withdrawn, and I felt timid and almost scared standing there with my son tucked safely into his stroller. I was afraid to touch anything - all the while wanting to touch everything. I was a frozen ball of nerves.
It wasn't until I heard the welcoming voice of Wild N Wooly owner Caroline that I felt myself start to relax.  It was the first time since moving to our new duty station that I felt truly welcomed. I was encouraged to explore my surroundings and even invited to join the weekly group that gathered there every Wednesday to knit/crochet and catch up. It was among this group that I discovered what true friendship really is.  No matter how horrible my week or day was, how difficult I was finding a particularly long patrol, I knew that come Wednesday night I would feel better. It was a group filled with women of all types - military, non military, old, young, career-oriented and stay-at-home mothers. People who knit, people who crocheted, people who knew how to do neither but wanted to learn. 
It was a place without rank, rate or repercussions, but most of all it was a place filled with respect for one another as individuals.

Knitting Group peeps
 I've always been an off-the cuff, color outside the lines, type of person. It translated into my writing as a journalist and eventually into my crocheting.  As I became more confident with my crochet abilities, I would often deviate from patterns in order to create something resembling the pictures in my head.  Sometimes my creations worked and sometimes they didn't, but I always knew that my friends at Wednesday Night Knitting would give me an honest opinion.  Soon they encouraged me to sell my creations - resulting in the eventual opening of my Etsy store and a renewed sense of value in myself as a creator. Instead of using words to convey my thoughts and ideas I was using yarn. 
That was more than three years ago.  Though we no longer meet at Wild N Wooly, our core group is still going strong and the long lonely nights of separation from my spouse are filled with laughter and creative chaos. 

more knitting group peeps

Moose Threads
Custom crocheted items for infants-adults

Thank you so much Kristin for sharing your story! If you would like to be featured on the blog, please contact us via the tab at the top of the blog. 

Well of Creations - Blog Coordinator