Friday, January 20, 2017

5 Signs Your Craft Booth Needs

 If you have ever sold your handmade items at a craft or vendor show, you know how important signage can be. Many customers will never ask you any questions, but they'll read a sign and get the same information. And even if they do talk to you, there's no way you can tell them everything about everything in your booth. That's why having these five types of signs displayed will solve those problems.

1. A sign that details what form of payment you accept. Few people carry cash anymore, so it's important that they know you'll accept cards or an online payment. They'll be much more willing to look with the intent of buying if they know the payment options available.

2. A sign that tells bulk pricing. Most of my items have price tags attached but not my greeting cards. That's why I have a sign or two that tells how much the different sizes cost. If customers already know those prices, you'll be able to talk to them about other, more important things.

3. A sign that gives some ideas about how to use your products. If it's not a card or a journal, I try to label my pieces with what they are and how they work. This picture is a great example of that, as many people see the pictures on the front but not the clothespins on the back to attach them. A quick explanation will pique their curiosity and encourage them to pick it up and look at it.

4. A sign that is both informative and fun. I don't have duplicates of anything in my booth, but nobody will notice that unless I tell them. Customers want to give original, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else has ... so tell them that you can provide that service for them.

5. A sign that thanks your customers for coming to see your work. I have two chalkboard signs that I made specifically showing my gratitude for everyone willing to buy local and handmade. I've had several people thank me for thanking them — I think that makes sense. No one is obligated to spend money on your creations, so it's an easy, heart-felt way to show your appreciation. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Healthy Portable Snack And Lunches

Sweets have always been my downfall in the healthy eating department. I would much rather grab a handful of chocolate-covered anything than celery and carrot sticks. That's why, for me, having healthy food handy and already prepared is a smart idea. It lessens the temptation.

In our fridge right now, you'll find several small containers of healthy food that we can grab anytime. It takes just a few minutes once a week to get them all prepared, and thinking ahead helps me know that I don't have to resort to junk food because it's easier.

To make your own, choose your favorite fruits and vegetables, cut them into smaller pieces and divide it between the boxes. I added a hard-boiled egg for some protein with hummus and Italian dressing as dips. All of these get stored together on the same shelf in the refrigerator. Add some lemon water or another favorite drink and you've got a healthy snack or small meal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DIY Wood Burned Cooking Utensils

It's amazing what will spark your creativity when you're not even looking. I spotted a collection of boring, plain wooden kitchen utensils at the grocery store last week, and I couldn't just leave them there. They had to come home with me and be turned into something fun.

After watching Danny use his wood burning pen to create some amazing art for his customers, I wanted to give it a try myself. He is able to put some breath-taking detail into his pictures, but I'm definitely not to that stage yet. These utensils were a great project to get me started.

I started with the words, measuring the space I had to work with on each handle.

 Then I printed out phrases that would fit in each handle.

I cut a strip of carbon paper to fit...

...and lay the words on top.

I burnished the letters on the paper, through the carbon paper and onto the wood.

This gave me the template I needed for burning.

A thin tip let me run in the fine details of the words. It's so important to move slowly and carefully, staying on the lines and not getting carried away. The slower you move, the darker the burning will be - it's not about pressing harder or you'll singe it instead of burn it.

For the dots, I switched to a thicker tip and let it rest longer on the wood. The random pattern here is my favorite, but I have a few other designs I would like to try. Back to the store for more wooden kitchen utensils!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Thirsty Soul

Have you ever worked outside so long that you feel like you were dying of thirst? What you wouldn't give for a tall glass of ice water, something cold and wet to quench your thirst. Tea, coffee, pop and other beverages just won't do - water is the only thing on your mind.

This is the same feeling David writes about several places in the psalms. No matter his circumstance, no matter the current events in his life, the only thing that will satisfy the longings of his heart is God. He could try - and did try - other ways of quenching the thirst in his soul, but there was no substitute for standing in the presence of the Lord.

While there are several passages of Scripture where David talks about that thirst, one that stands out the most is Psalm 63. While running from his son Absalom and hiding out in the wilderness of Judah, the king writes words that lay aside the situation around him and put the focus on his need for God.

O GOD, thou art my God; early will I seek thee, my flesh length for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; Psalm 63:1

From the moment he woke up, David felt that longing in his heart to be near God. With every ounce of his being, he rose early and sought the presence of the Lord. There was no other water available in the drought of fleeing from danger, so he naturally turned to the God who promised to stand by David in every situation.

To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Psalm 63:2

David was about as far away from the temple as he could be, but he could still praise God for the power and glory He had shown no matter where David was. With no fellowship at the tabernacle, he could have been discouraged and disheartened, but he chose to reflect on what the Lord had already done in his life and how He had come through time after time.

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Psalm 63:3

It would seem like David had a whole lot to praise God for right now, as he was hiding and running and hiding some more. But instead of dwelling on the terrible, negative situation he was in, David focused on the love and kindness God had lavished him with. Recognizing the extent of His love for this man after His own heart, David filled his mind and his words with praises to the almighty God.

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. Psalm 63:4

There was no promise that this wouldn't be the last day of David's life. Absalom could catch up to him at any moment and kill him, or other enemies could find him while he was away from the holy city. Even in the face of potential danger around every corner, the king is filled with words of blessing and praise. This dark chain of events wasn't enough to stop David from giving God the glory and honor due Him.

My soul shall be satisfied as with morrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: Psalm 63:5

As if that weren't enough, he still has more words of praise. Two or three sentences of joy weren't enough, as David's heart was filled to overflowing and he couldn't keep it in. Instead of turning to the problem at hand and asking God to destroy the enemy - his son - he tells the Lord that it is well with his should because he had fellowship with his heavenly Father.

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Psalm 63:6

All night long, in the darkest time of the day, David's mind is stayed on the Lord and His blessings. David would lay in bed at night and think back to all God had done in his life up to this point. These memories of God's goodness were assurance to his heart that what the Lord had done previously, He would do again in the present day. Through the night watches he would go over and over each blessing, meditating on every good thing that God had promised and performed. This was how David fell asleep and, as he said in verse 1, how he woke up.

Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. Psalm 63:7

While meditating on God's goodness, David came up with a litany of moments when He had helped him through difficult times. Because he had those events fresh in his mind, David was able to rest in peace in the shadow of God's wings knowing He would be the same today and forever as He had been every moment of the past. It was easier for David to face the future when he was fully aware and grateful for the blessings of the past.

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. Psalm 63:8

Here David returns to his first thought, that his thirsty soul only needed to follow after God to find refreshment. While his body was running hard to escape imminent death, his soul was following hard after the God who could actually do something about it. The right hand of the power and authority of the Lord would be David's salvation in the midst of chaos and danger.

But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. Psalm 63:9

Notice here that David won't even mention his son's name. He knows perfectly well that Absalom is the danger he is facing, but he only refers to him as "those who seek my soul." Imagine the pain this must have caused David when he prayed about his child, knowing that Absalom's evil heart would have to be judged.

They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. Psalm 63:10

The truth can often be painful, but David is not afraid to ask God to deal with the situation as a just and honorable judge. He also knew that it would take something equally violent to stop the man determined to take the throne no matter who he had to run over to get it.

But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. Psalm 63:11

The true king, David, promises that he will rejoice in God no matter what the day might bring. He anticipated the glory and protection of the Lord in the midst of these trying times. He knew God would end the lies and deceit in David's family and trusted that he would be back in the place God had promised him so many years ago. For the reasons he wrote here, and so many that he didn't write down but pondered in his heart, David resolved to let God quench the thirst in his heart and then give Him all the honor and praise as He showered him with blessings all of his days, even this dark one.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Week Of Being A Doer

I have so many paper craft supplies stored up in our craft room. There are papers, embellishments, templates and doodads everywhere just waiting to be used. I even have two shelves full of idea and instruction books so I can learn something new and different any time I want.

But what happens when I never go down to the craft room with the intention to get a project done? I just bring more supplies, more books and more stuff and leave it there. It's simply a collection of potential pretty things, but I never actually use any of it.

This is what Paul is talking about in the fourth chapter of the letter to the church at Philippi, only he was talking about spiritual knowledge and wisdom, not craft supplies.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:9

These believers learned, received, heard and saw, but Paul wanted more from them. He wanted them to take that head knowledge and turn it into life-changing wisdom. They needed to take everything they knew and put it into practice, apply it to their lives and grow in their walk with the Lord. It was like taking the scrapbooking paper out of the racks and turning it into something beautiful.

Make this a week of being a doer. I pray that you'll spend the next seven days taking all of the knowledge you have stored up in your mind and turning it into something beautiful in God's eyes. Use it, apply it and let God change you little by little into the mature, useful vessel He knows you can be. Surrender your week to Him and let Him do the rest.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrating 14 Years With The Sadie Dog

After 14 years as our miracle puppy, Sadie passed away this week. It was just eight months ago that Bailey died, so it was an emotional few days.

Sadie was a parvo puppy, so when we took her to the vet we were told she wouldn't live through the night. When I called the next morning, our six-pound puppy had chewed through her IV. I told them she would be fine and that I would pick her up at the end of the week. That was almost 15 years ago.

Bailey was only four months older than Sadie, but there was quite a size difference in the beginning. There were many places Sadie could go to hide that Bailey wouldn't fit, which was incredibly frustrating for the big dog.

They were sisters in every other sense of word, and they never went anywhere without the other. Mostly, I think, because they were afraid of missing out on something.

 When Sadie turned 1, it was a momentous occasion. She was full-grown by then and we took her back to the vet to show him the miracle he'd given us.

Sadie had the best personality in the world. She was a people dog, and she was always ready for attention. She had a single white spot on her belly that I would "take," making her squirm until I "put it back." Then she'd lick my hand to say thank you.

She was born with hip dysplasia in both back legs, so neither of her hips were in their sockets. This caused her incredible pain all of her life, but that didn't stop her from doing what we did and going where we went. She would just sleep soundly when we were done, snoring louder than anyone I've ever heard.

Bringing Molly home was quite an experience for Sadie. Molly was already twice her size at nine months old, and still just a puppy. Molly adored her and tried desperately to get Sadie to play with her. Most of the time it didn't work, but Molly would always stay close by and keep an eye on her big sister.

Sadie will always be our Little Bit, and we treasure every one of the 14 years we had with her. If there's a special puppy in your home, too, give her a little extra love today in Sadie's honor.