Tag Archives: Etsy

Shipping and Handling

Shipping charges are pretty much fixed. Oh, sure, you could add insurance and other services to the postage but at the end of the day you know how much it cost to ship an item. Then you’d have to include the cost of the packaging…the box, tissue paper, bubble wrap, peanuts, tape, labels, note card and whatever.  But again, you can arrive at a proximate cost.  The handling, ah the handling, that is another matter.  Do you establish an hourly rate, estimate how long it will take to pack something and arrive at an appropriate handling fee?  I pack all kinds of antique, vintage and other items that have been sold at my Etsy shop.  I don’t include a handling charge because, in some instances, it would be exorbitant to the point of ridiculous.

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I sell a good deal of silver plated items.  Most are antique from the late 1880s. I take care in packaging these items but it really doesn’t take that long.  I’m not really worried about the package (and item) getting damaged, I’m concerned that it will get lost somewhere in the system.  It’s really a leap of faith to leave a package with the USPS and hope that it reaches the recipient.  I have lost sleep over a rare antique julep strainer that didn’t reach a bartender across country for days after its expected delivery date.  Although it was finally delivered, I think of it as a reflection on my service.  I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

Packaging more delicate items is not so simple.  An antique transferware plate is not extremely difficult. But packing a coffee pot does present challenges.

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The spout and handle have to be carefully protected, as does the top. Constructing three sided cardboard protectors for the handle and spout works well. It takes thought and time. Double boxing is a good idea.  You can write “FRAGILE” all over the box. But you never know, do you?  The word “fragile” might provoke playfulness with those whose care you have entrusted it.  I can see it being tossed across a sorting room… I have to remove those negative thoughts from my mind somehow.

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Antique paper is another nightmare.  Paper that is 130 years old is fragile.  It crumbles if you just look at it. Carefully rolling it in tissue paper and inserting in a plastic bag (to protect it in case it is left in the rain) before you place it in a shipping tube is nerve wracking.

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As some of you might know, I sell pieces of wood from my yard.  Yew is popular.  And you might think it has to be a piece of cake to package a stick.  Well, if it is a nice, straight stick that easily slides into a tube, it is!

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The following photo shows a root end of a piece of yew.  It might not look that large in this photo but it was. It was huge.  I’m lucky I had a box big enough to hold it.  And it had to be well packaged so that it didn’t bounce around inside the box and break through one end.  The buyer of this piece of yew paid a good deal in shipping but the handling was free.

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Another sort of wood that I sell is hawthorn.  It is bought mainly for the thorns which can be up to two inches long and sharp as you know what.  Not only do you have to be careful to not impale yourself in the process of packaging it, you have to be very gentle with it as the thorns are fragile and can break.

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Moving right along to the harder substances, I sell antique bricks as well. Certainly, you might think, bricks have to be simple to pack.  But they’re not.  These four bricks had to be individually bubble wrapped and then separated by a cardboard grid to keep them from bumping up against each other.  The exterior sides of the box had to be protected by a double layer of cardboard as well.  Antique bricks break easily. I wrote “FRAGILE” all over the outside of the box too. They have to be protected.  And carrying that box into the post office wasn’t easy either! (Talk about handling!)   “What do you have here, lady, a box of bricks?” Yup.

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And lastly, I also sell some unusual rocks from my property. wp-1486299618053.jpg

The heart shaped rock above was purchased by a woman who said she had just gone through a very difficult time in her life and this rock was perfect. She was so looking forward to receiving it.  Broken rocks are fragile and crumble easily.  I wrapped it in tissue paper and bubble wrapped the heck out of it.  “FRAGILE” was written on this box as well. It arrived safely and she was so happy.  I was happy too.

 

 

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Looking Out My Back Door – October 20, 2014

We’re almost mid-way through Fall 2014.  The days are getting shorter and I’m going to bed earlier.  My internal clock seems to tell me that if it’s dark out it’s time to go to bed.  However, once I’ve had enough sleep, it doesn’t matter if it’s dark out or not, I’m awake and I get up.  Some mornings that’s as early as 4 a.m.  I’m a morning person and I don’t mind.  And Graycie is delighted to have her breakfast a little early.

Colors of Autumn

Colors of Autumn

The last several weeks have been dry.  We’ve had a few rainy days but we are in a rain deficit, which I guess you could call a drought.  The grass hasn’t really grown much and I haven’t had to mow much over these last few weeks. Rain is forecasted for the next couple of days, and that’s a good thing.  Although we haven’t yet had frost, we’ve had some cold days and nights.  My pole beans are still producing and I picked a nice handful this afternoon which I had for dinner tonight.  The basil is still growing in the planters. 

We’ve had lots of windy days, though.  The leaves were just beginning to turn brilliant fall colors and then the wind came along and blew a good portion of them off.  I took the photo below before many were blown away.  It was beautiful for a short while.

Fall Color

Fall Color

 I managed to catch the following photo during one of the rainy days that we have had recently.  Know what it is?

Drop In the Bucket

Drop In the Bucket

It’s a drop in the rain barrel.  That’s how exciting it is around here….I’m standing there, camera in hand, trying to catch a drop of water hitting the surface of the water in the bucket. 

My Etsy shop provided a little excitement recently.  I had a child’s transferware tea set that had been listed for quite a while.  There was not that much interest in it and then, wham, all of a sudden there were views and people favoriting it to beat the band (favoriting is an Etsy term for liking something; you click on the little heart next to the item, the heart turns red and it is now officially your favorite) .  This went on for days.  Why?  I had to unravel this mystery.  As it turns out, the woman who was the first to favorite it at the beginning of the mad rush had over 1,000,000 followers on Etsy…no shop, just a hoard of followers.   For those of you who don’t know the Etsy lingo, a “follower” is someone who watches everything you do on Etsy (they actually get an electronic feed of all your Etsy activity).  I think it’s kind of asinine myself.  I don’t follow anyone on Etsy.  What do I care what someone else is doing or liking?   I’ve got enough problems just keeping track of what I’m doing, or supposed to be doing.

So it was this person with over a million followers who started the whole thing.  Some of her multitude of followers just mindlessly jump on the bandwagon and follow what she follows and one of those things was my listing.  No one probably really liked it and certainly no one was remotely interested in buying it.  It’s just an Etsy game and a waste of time in my opinion. 

So, then I did a Google search for this person’s Etsy name.  And I saw that name connected with something called “Polyvore”.  What the heck was Polyvore?  Well, it’s a site that’s something like Pinterest (if you don’t know what Pinterest is, it’s a site where you create “boards” that contain pictures of things you like and links to those websites.  Things like recipes, or wedding dresses, on souvenir spoons or whatever).  But this Polyvore thing had a twist to it.  You didn’t create boards, you created sets.  And a set is a collage.  You add photos to your set in a certain order…you layer one on top of another, you can move them around and resize them but the layering part is really the most important part (or at least so I think). 

And this woman who had over 1,000,000 followers on Etsy had over 1,000,000 set views on Polyvore.  I found it interesting.  It had basically a fashion theme to the sets but there was a home decor and art twist as well.  So what the heck, I joined Polyvore.  I thought maybe I could load some of the photos of my Etsy listings on Polyvore and use them in sets and maybe someone would be interested, click on the item and end up at my shop.  Couldn’t hurt.  Right?  Well, then I got addicted.

Polyvore!!!!

Polyvore!!!!

The ashtray, map of China, no smoking sign, chopsticks and Kent cigarette boxes shown in the set above are all listed for sale in my Etsy shop.  I came up with a Chinese take out theme, added other photos and produced this set shown above. I produced several sets with my items in it as an attempt to promote my shop.

And then I caught on to the Polyvore contest thing.  They routinely have contests where you have to incorporate a certain thing, say a pair of boots, or hand lotion or whatever into the set.  The sets are judged and winners picked.  If you win you get an electronic trophy displayed on your Polyvore profile.  Sometimes you even get an actual prize.  So, in any case I figured I’d try my hand at this contest thing.  It was sponsored by a furniture manufacturer called Aerin and the theme was fall entertaining.

Polyvore Contest Entry

Polyvore Contest Entry

I picked a light beige background and white rug.  Then I chose a photo taken from the movie “Far From Heaven” with Julianne Moore.  It showed a late 1950s station wagon in a fall residential setting.  I created a window with that photo and put drapes around it and a table and lamp in front of it.  I placed a mirror on the wall, two chairs in the foreground with a coffee table between them.  Put a pillow on one chair and a dog on the other.  Put a small bowl and a picture on the coffee table.  I even found a nice photo of Julianne Moore to put in the picture frame.  Would anyone get the connection between the scene out the window and Julianne Moore’s photo?  I doubted it.  But I found it entertaining.

It has since dawned on me that this is an enormous waste of time.  Creating sets with my own items is one thing but entering contests to promote someone else is ridiculous.  I joined Polyvore two weeks ago.  I’ve had 7,600 set views and only one view to my Etsy shop via Polyvore (I know this thanks to the great stats that Etsy provides).  My fascination with Polyvore is over…it was fun while it lasted.

Fried Egg on Roasted Vegetables and Greens

Fried Egg on Roasted Vegetables and Greens

I’ve touted the wonders of roasted vegetables and listed a myriad of things you can do with them in earlier posts.  My latest culinary treat is a fresh greens and tomato salad with roasted vegetables topped with a fried egg.  Serve that with a few toast fingers to dip into the yolk and you have a marvelous lunch!

Kerry's White Chocolate Bark with Cherries, Apricots and Cashews

Kerry’s White Chocolate Bark with Cherries, Apricots and Cashews

And talk about culinary treats…the photo above shows a box full of white chocolate bark studded with dried cherries, apricots and cashews.  This is magnificent!  The white chocolate is creamy and luscious, the dried fruit is tart yet sweet and the cashews provide a buttery crunch.  I don’t know which I like better, this or the spicy dark chocolate bark with cherries and pepitas.  And now I see that Kerry has added a spicy nut mix (with chocolate or without) to her Etsy shop offerings. 

You can find Kerry’s shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KerryCan

Out by the Barn

Yet another perfect morning…bright and beautiful.  And I’m on the hunt for happenings in the yard with camera in hand.  The sun is still low and the angle seems perfect for light and shadow.  I head over to the back side of the property near the barn.

Yellow Lamium

Yellow Lamium

The vibrant varigated folliage of the lamium attacts my attention; the soft yellow flowers dot the green and silver leaves.

Wintercreeper Euonymus on the Old Barn

Wintercreeper Euonymus on the Old Barn

The dark glossy green wintercreeper euonymus is shimmering in the morning sun as it climbs up the side of the old red barn.  I’m glad to have it there…perhaps it’s helping to hold that barn together.

The dancing shadows of branches on an old log next command my attention.  The cut end of the log has a thick coating of moss ranging from golden to green with a bit of copper color thrown in.  It looks like thick velvet with subtle hues and shadings that only nature can produce. 

Even from this distance, I can see the kerria waving its bright green thin stalks covered with bright  golden yellow flowers.  Above is a brilliant patch of blue sky framed by the branches of trees just starting to leaf out.

Moss Covered Log

Moss Covered Log

The kerria frames the lower part of this photo:

Blue Skies

Blue Skies

The redbud tree blossoms are peaking out from behind the white birch.

Redbud Peaking From Behind Birch

Redbud Peaking From Behind Birch

I thought I would lose a good portion of this white birch during that October snow storm.  Branches from surrounding trees had broken off and fallen on the birch, bending parts of it way down.  You can see the slender trunk on the left side of this photo bending slightly.  It had been bent much further toward the ground but has come back to more of an upright position.  The white bark is so pretty against the blue sky and green foliage of other trees and shrubs.

Even from this distance I can spot a clump of purple violets near the base of one of the maple trees.  These are large flowers and leaves, not the more compact type in the lawn that have been stunted due to mowing.

Purple Violets

Purple Violets

This would I think I’ll take some photos of that unusual old metal funnel over by the barn to include in my Etsy listing.  That funnel has been a puzzle for quite a while.  It must have been used on a large piece of machinery, like maybe a tractor, as the funnel itself is over 12 inches high.  It has three roundish protrusions around the  spout which I have not seen on any other funnel.  I’m thinking these protrusions were to provide stability to the funnel but I’m not sure.

Antique Funnel

Antique Funnel

This funnel is listed for sale at my Etsy shop and can be found here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/150523068/antique-primitive-industrial-funnel

And that’s the news from out at the barn, May 7, 2013.

Chobani Macaroni and Cheese Recipe: Variation with Cauliflower

Somethings should be simple.  But I’ve learned that nothing is simple.  Not even finding a good macaroni and cheese recipe.

In Our Image 004-35My quest for the perfect mac ‘n’ cheese recipe was prompted by two novels that I’ve written.  The story line involves various topics such as extraterrestrials and UFOs, Rh-negative blood, out of body experiences and sleep paralysis (and I’ve had experiences with all of them in real life).  But the main character in the first novel, “In Our Image”, and its sequel “Abode of the Clouds”, is a down to earth, middle aged woman who loves to cook.  She cooks up a storm in both books and I thought it would be fun to put together a cookbook containing the recipes she makes in both books.Abode of the  Clouds 008-35

Our heroine, Connie, made a supurb macaroni and cheese.  Everyone raved about it (in the book, that is).  But, hard as it might be to believe, I had never made macaroni and cheese.  I think that could be because I felt that it was not good for you.  Loads of butter, cheese and pasta…I can almost feel my arteries clogging up just thinking about it.  So I began asking family and friends for macaroni and cheese recipes.  Some responded by looking at me like I was crazy, how can you not know how to make macaroni and cheese?  So, I started acquiring some recipes and started experimenting.  Most of them were absolutely revolting….gummy and dry or soupy.  And, I swear, my arteries were, in fact, clogging up just trying them.  Stephen2aaaaa

My dear brother, Stephen, (photo left, taken many, many decades ago) took my request to heart and started clipping macaroni and cheese recipes out of newspapers and magazines.  Over the past two years I’ve received dozens of recipes from him.  Most were not even worthy of a try.  There was one that had mashed butternut squash in it that sounded intriguing, and it really wasn’t bad, but just not exactly what I was looking for.  So I kept searching and found a recipe for Chobani Yogurt macaroni and cheese.  There was only 4 and 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and just slightly more than 8 ounces of cheese.  The yogurt was the ingredient that supposedly worked magic in this recipe.  It certainly sounded worthy of giving it a try.

My mother was always tweeking recipes.  She just couldn’t make it as written and I am certainly my mother’s daughter.  For some reason it occurred to me that this recipe might benefit from the addition of cauliflower.  Even though it had a relatively small amount of butter and cheese, subconsciously I must have thought that adding cauliflower would make it a health food or something. 

I made the recipe pretty much as writtenchobani mac n cheese 010-35 and can be found on the Chobani website.  http://chobani.com/kitchen/recipes/mac-n-cheese/

I added about 1/3 of a head of cauliflower, chopped into florets measuring maybe 1 1/2 to 2 inches.  The recipe calls for the pasta to be cooked al dente; so I added the cauliflower to the cooking pasta just about 2-3 minutes before the pasta was done.  The result was amazing.  The flavor had a little tang, the texture was creamy and the cauliflower worked beautifully with the pasta and cheese sauce.  Yes!  This was it!

The next time I made this, I used brown rice pastachobani mac n cheese 002-35.  I had recently become a fan of “Tinkyada Pasta Joy” brown rice pasta.  I have a friend who is gluten intolerant and I made shrimp lo mein with these brown rice noodles and loved them.  The package says “good consistent texture, not mushy” and they are right.   This brand is available in the health food section at my local major grocery stores.  I highly recommend it!

And, since broccoflower was on sale that week, I replaced the cauliflower with broccoflower.  It turned out great! 

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So now I’m finally getting to the recipe.  It calls for 8 ounces of pasta and 8 ounces (or even a little less as you are adding cauliflower) is all you should use.  If you use more, there will be less sauce and less flavor.  This recipe will easily feed 4 as a main course.  I haven’t tried to use any other yogurt other than Chobani as it is so good with that brand I don’t want to chance it with anything else.  Plus the inspiration came from the folks at Chobani and I feel a sense of loyalty I guess.

My Chobani Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Cauliflower Recipe

8 oz       macaroni
4 1/2 T   butter
1/2 C      onion finely chopped
1/3 C      flour
1 C         milk
1/2 C      Chobani plain non-fat yogurt
8 oz        cheddar cheese (or combo of your choice), shredded
2 T          parmesean cheese, grated
1/3 C      Chobani plain non-fat yogurt (scant 1/3 cup)
               salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 C      Italian flavored panko breadcrumbs

Grease baking dish and preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water.  Calculate the cooking time to be 1 minute less than the al dente time (as the pasta will cook more in the oven).  About 2 to 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the cauliflower to the pot.  Drain and  rinse with cold water.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in pot and saute chopped onion for about 3 minutes.  Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to onion and once melted, add the flour and whisk over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in milk and then the 1/2 cup Chobani; once mixture has thickened, remove from stove.  Mix in cheddar and 1 tablespoon of parmesean.  Add the remaining Chobani (note: best to use a little less than 1/3 cup…like somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup).  Mix in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some cayenne.  Taste and add more salt and cayenne if desired.  Remember, the pasta and cauliflower wll dilute the saltiness somewhat, so keep this in mind.  Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs and remaining tablespoon of parmesean on top.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned.

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I served this with a side salad (always trying to get those veggies in somewhere).

My books are available at my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/89318648/in-our-image-a-novel-signed

https://www.etsy.com/listing/89394842/abode-of-the-clouds-a-sequel-to-in-our