Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Preparing for Christmas 1 - Fine Art Print
JKphotography





It's been a long (and forced) break from blogging for me but between back to back colds, a rush of Christmas orders and packing and traveling to Portugal for our holiday break, there was no time!! 

We'll be back next week and hopefully resume our normal schedule. We also have some new ideas for the shop, new designs and coupons. All of that to come in the next few months.

In the meantime, we would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and wonderful 2011!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Shopping Day


The perfect companion for a shopping day, this shoulder bag has room for all your essencials and much much more! It's made from a sturdy cotton canvas and lined with a super fun and colorful print.






You can find it in my Etsy shop. And in the next few days I will be adding some matching zipper and clasp pouches for the perfect Chrismas present! For now, head on over to Zsazsazsu's blog for more Saturday Shopping day ideas!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Awesome Caddy


With only a few weeks away, I have started working on my way down my Christmas shopping list. And on my search for a present for my little girl, I came across this awesome writing caddy.  She's still too young to really appreciate it something like this so I am tempted to get it for myself! No, seriously, I will have to wait a couple of years but it's amazing how much great educational and fun products are out there for kids. In the meantime, I may have to stick to Legos.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November iCandy



November already. How did that happen? When did the days get so short and the weather so cold?

But it's not all bad!

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month (with a weekend away in Paris to celebrate, yay) so here are a couple of things from my wishlist, just in case you need some ideas - yeah, you know who you are!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shop Update

The last 2 weeks have been a little slow for us. We spent a week in Lisbon,  where we had amazing, Summer-like weather.
Unfortunately, I brought back a cold and spent the first couple of days nursing it. Finally, I started working on a custom order.

I am very pleased with the results!


Today I am starting on a new custom order, this time a laptop sleeve and I am hope that I will be able to add some new clutches to the shop next week.
Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Search for the Perfect Cowl

As the days get colder and the warm sweaters and jackets find their way back to the front of the closet, I have been on the lookout for the perfect cowl/neck warmer. 

I want something soft and cozy that will keep my neck toasty, even out on the bike, on a cold Dutch winter day. Something like this:

1 - Chunky Neckwarmer / Cowl - Oatmeal - Knittles
2 - Fig Larger than Life - Trucks and Pearls
3 - Chunky Scarf in Olive with Coconuts Buttons - Tomiffy
4 - Cable Neck Tube in Heather Grey - Tomiffy


How to choose?....

If you are feeling crafty, though, you can always follow this tutorial from Cheri on WhipUp.net and use an old sweater make your this nifty scarflette! 

Image via whipup.net

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy October!


October is here and there is definitely a chill in the air reminding us that cold weather is just around the corner!

To celebrate the new season and making the most of the local fabric market, here are the new additions to the shop, in a cozy felted wool
:


I'll be adding more bags and pouches in different fabrics and styles in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 17, 2010

DIY Gift Bag and Bow


A few days ago, while making the rounds of my favorite blogs, I came across two very useful and fun tutorials.

Jessica from the blog How about orange, shows us how to make a stylish bow and gift bag from a magazine and a newspaper. Not only the result is very original and striking but it's super eco-friendly and economic!

Whether because you find yourself suddenly with a gift to wrap and no wrapping paper or because you like to present your friends and family with an originally wrap packaged, these two tutorials can come in very handy. 


Making a gift bow from a magazine page:
Get the tutorial here.

Making gift bags from newspaper:
Get the tutorial here.

So the next time, instead of panicking and rushing to the store to buy some overpriced wrapping paper and ribbon (which will end up in a landfill), head on over instead to the newspaper and magazine basket and give it a try!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week Round-up

The days are getting shorter, temperatures are getting cooler and the leaves are starting to turn color. Autumn is definitely in the air. At least in Holland.
 
And even though I will miss the long Summer days and trips to the beach, we have been very busy at Casa b*lota! Supplies have been ordered, new fabrics picked and the sewing has begun.
Here are some of the new listings for this week:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We're back!

It's been a long month and we have done a million things! There was a beach vacation, family visits and weekend getaways and lots and lots of fun. And suddenly it's September and there is work to be done!

I did manage to work on some custom orders in the past couple of weeks and even made this back-to-school book bag!
This sturdy tote is made from canvas and upcycled denim and large enough to fit books, your favorite magazines or to use as a shopping buddy! You can get it soon on my Etsy shop.

There are tons of new projects in the pipeline, so tune in for my weekly updates here on the blog or check out the b*lota Facebook Page.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Vacation!


photo: www.casa-jolie.com

The countdown has started for our holiday! Last orders are being finished, bags are being packed and arrangements are being made for our 2 kitties who will be home alone for a couple of weeks.

As of Friday the shop will be closed but until then, we are having a sale, so hurry!

We'll be back in mid-August, fully recharged to face the busy season head on. Until then, happy Summer!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

b*lota now available at Shak-Shuka!



I am so pleased to announce that the new b*lota sandwich+snack bags and eco wet bags are now available at Shak-Shuka, an ΓΌber cool eco boutique. You can find them under the Out&About section!

Shak-Shula has a wonderful selection of clothing, toys, decor and care items for babies, kids and mamas, all environment friendly and
stylish.
Check out the shop
here!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Sale!


We are having our first season sale: 20% to 30% off selected items.
Ends July 31.
Don't miss it! Go to the shop now!

Friday, July 9, 2010

b*lota is Going Wholesale!


Well, not exactly. I do have a wholesale order for re-usable snack bags and wet bags on which I have been working in the last few days. I can't wait for it to hit the virtual shelves of this super cool, eco-friendly boutique! 
More details to come soon.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer Inspiration

With the hot weather finally arriving in Holland, and after our family weekend by the seaside, beach has been on my mind a lot! And so I decided to put my inspiration to good use and make a versatile summer bag.

I used a funky laminated cotton print - a remnant, so this is truly a one of a kind bag! I lined it with a complementing turquoise cotton fabric with white polka dots an d added a zippered pocket.

It is a big bag and waterproof, making it not only great companion for the beach or pool but also later in the year, when the rain comes, for shopping.

Available on my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Family Getaway

 
Last weekend we went to Texel and had the most wonderful time! The weather was perfect. We went to the beach, rode our rented bikes around the island and even saw seals about 100m from the beach.
I miss the beach. It's one of the things I miss the most about Portugal. Of course they do have beaches in Holland but it's not the same plus the sea water is freezing! Bone aching cold.  I still went in more than once.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer In Our Backyard

 
This is what summer looks like in our backyard. A few more days and our strawberries will be ripe and hopefully they will be just as sweet and tasty as last year's.

This weekend we are headed for the beach, in a island in the north of Holland, Texel. I can't wait. 

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Sisters


Today I finished two custom pillows for two little girls, sisters, Alice and Vera. I used a set of Japanese cotton prints on Vera's and Lizzy House's red Letter Day cotton prints on Alice's. The pillows are 40 by 60cm.

I am so pleased at how they turned out, I hope they will be too!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vespas galore!


My new favorite fabric: Echino by Etsuko Furuya Scooter. Can't get enough of it and plan on making a TON of bags out of it! Have ordered more already.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pinterest-ing!


I stumbled across Pinterest a couple of weeks ago on a blog and was immediately hooked on it! This amazing web tool allows you to collect images from all over the web and organize them in boards or collections. You can then share them with others, and follow collections curated by other members.

 
To use it, you just add a bookmarklet to your bookmarks tab and whenever you see an image you like, you can just pin it and add it to whichever board you want. Easy peasy! I have to warn you, though, this gets pretty addictive so proceed at your own risk...

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Etsy iCandy

 
After a disastrous week and weekend, I am glad it's Monday again! And to get this week started in the best way possible, here's a pretty mood board in summer colors. Unfortunately, the weather outside is less blue and more gray but I am in high spirits, so who cares? I have a busy week ahead of me, with orders to fill (yay!) and fabric to buy (double yay!).

I will come back later and post photos of my work in progress. Until then, I hope you have a great week!

P.S. Did you know that b*lota has reached 120 fans on Facebook and that the shop has been hearted by 113 Etsians? Seriously!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Loans That Change Lives

 

Giving back and helping the world's poor is something that all we all should be doing. Especially in developing countries, where the infrastructure is not available to support industrious, talented and motivated individuals. But how do you make a difference in someone's life, how do you reach these individuals without financing corruption and aid bureaucracy?

A couple of years ago, I came across Kiva and the answer was obvious! 

So, what is Kiva?
Kiva is an micro-lending platform that connects investors from all around the globe to small entrepreneurs from developing countries, who are looking for funding for their business. 

How does it work?
Kiva partners with existing micro-finance institutions, called the Field Partners, to collect information on the loans needed and risk involved. They also provide the details, stories and photos that are uploaded onto the Kiva website. The lenders then browse and decide which projects they would like to fund. You can lend as little as $25 and as much as the full amount! The Field Partners then disburse the loans. Depending on the terms of the loan, entrepreneurs start paying off the capital and interest - the interest is used to cover the field partner's costs.

How you can participate?
You can create an account at www.kiva.org, browse though the fund-raising loans available and start lending!
You can make a real impact in someone's life, in a community and ins't that what giving back is all about?

Friday, May 28, 2010

iCandy - A Creative Mint

A little pretty today, to celebrate the end of the week!

One of my favorite blogs and go to place for beautiful and inspiring images is a creative mint. Leslie, the artist behind it, shares her projects, ideas and inspiration through breathtaking collages of pictures and color palettes. All her photos are also available on her Flickr stream so if you have some time, I encourage you to check it out, it's worth it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Treasure Hunting on Etsy


My learning curve in all things Etsy has become increasingly steeper in the last few weeks. Especially since opening my shop and joining the Dutch and European Street teams, I have been discovering new things everyday! Treasuries, what they are, who makes them and what for, is just one of them.
So, what is the Treasury? It's an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery of handpicked items. Members can feature their favorite items, items selected on a theme or just whatever they like. Etsy’s staff (“Admin”) often choose whole or partial exceptional Treasury lists to promote to the featured, handpicked items on Etsy’s home page. 

They are a lot of fun to make and the more you make, the better and prettier they get! I try to make them as beautiful and cohesive as possible and my primary goal is to promote quality items from European sellers and fellow teammates.
I have also had a few items featured in a treasury last week and one of them actually made it to the front page, which was super exciting! Plus, I got a million views on my shop and tons of hearts!!

I am currently featured in 5 treasuries and I am keeping my fingers crossed that one of them will end up on the front page again, bringing in all those new viewers that might not otherwise find b*lota! And wouldn't that be a shame?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meet me at the fair!

My first fair! I finally received the confirmation from the organizers that I can join in the Sunday Market on the 6th of June. Not only will it be a great experience selling my things to the public but a lot of Etsy sellers will be present so I'll get to meet them all!

There is a lot to prepare and get done before the big day, though. I need to make more bags, mage price tags, decide on table decor and props, packaging, etc, etc. Luckily with the fair season kicking off, there are tons of blog posts about fairs and how to prepare for them, checklists and helpful tips! I have made a round-up of some of the resources available in case that, like me, you are getting ready to attend your first fair:

 - 10 tips for a craft show booth, Going Home to Roost 
 - Let's make a list: craft fair preps, Dutch Handmade  
So, wish me luck and if you are in the area, be sure to join us at the Sunday Market at the Westergasfabriek! We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making your own fabric labels

When I started thinking about setting up my business and starting to sell my bags and pillows, one of the things I started looking for were labels. Labeling your work will help people recognize your products, making it easy for them to find your shop or website and refer you to their friends.

I wanted something simple and smart looking, with my logo and shop url. I wasn't ready, however, to invest a lot of money and end up stuck with 500 labels. What if I want to change the logo, or the colors?

So I turned to the Internet and found a few tutorials on how to make your own fabric labels!

I ended up using a combination of this tutorial by Allyson Hill and this one by Bonnie from Going Home to Roost:
First I created my logo/label using Photoshop. Then, with Word's Envelopes and Labels, played around with the format, number of rows and columns per sheet. It's important to know how you are going to used them so that you have enough space between them. I wanted to be able to use them individually or double sided.


When I was happy with the format, I hit print. You may want to test it first on paper, to check the size of the labels and make sure the image is sharp enough. I had to go back to Photoshop and adjust my logo a few times until I got it right.
 
Finally, I was ready to print my labels onto fabric, cut them up and following the manufacturer's instructions, apply them to my items. Easy peasy!

For the eco-conscious crafter, check out this blog post from Crafting a Green World. It has some good ideas on how to make your labels greener!

There are tons of tutorials and resources out there so  take your time, have a look and choose the one that works for you. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grand opening!

My Etsy shop is open! After weeks of preparation, sewing, fretting and stressing, I finally started listing.

It's been really exciting, and I keep going back to check the number of views, number of hearts, or just to look at the pretty pictures! 

It is taking me a some time to list all the items I made for this batch so expect a few more things in the coming days and keep checking the shop or my fan page for updates!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

iCandy



I have been really busy setting up my Etsy shop Etsy shop and I am thisclose to start listing but until I do, here are a few pretty things I spotted online in the last few days!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Handmade Marketplace

I have been sewing like mad for the last few weeks, trying out new patterns, deciding what I want to make and sell. The plan is to start listing next week.

Along side this work, I have started reaching out to the online community. I am tweeting (@b_lota), plan to launch my Facebook Fan Page soon(b*lota), and I am reading TONS of websites and blogs directed at small businesses, crafts in particular. The amount of information out there is immense and sometimes it's hard not to get lost.

Enter "the Handmade Marketplace: how to sell your crafts locally, globally and online". This book condenses the information you need if you are starting out or even if you are already established. It's full of tips and tools that you can easily apply to your business and it does it in a fun, fresh way! The author, Kari Chapin, has invited about 30 successful bloggers, entrepreneurs and designers to contribute and the result is an indie craft bible which will help and inspire you get your small business to a new level. For a full review click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I heart Facebook

A few days ago, on Facebook, I came across a group of Alumni from my old school and decided to join.

It is a catholic school, at the time, an all-girls school un by nuns, and I joined when I was 2 and left just before turning 14. The environment was very special, not just beautiful and spacious but with small classes, where mind, body and soul were equally developed and nurtured. I made some wonderful friends there but after we left we lost touch, over the years, as we each followed our own trail, moving to different cities, different schools and paths.

 I am sitting in the bottom row, fourth from the left.

Once I started tagging myself in photos, all these girls I had been such good friends with started sending messages, friend requests, was it really me? I hadn't realized that, by using my married name and without any info on there I am pretty hard to find!
It has been wonderful to re-connect with old friends, look through all the photos and remember such a wonderful period in my life. Hopefully, with Facebook, it will be easier to stay in touch, this time around.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My blog is carbon neutral!


As I was scrolling down my reading list on Blogger, a post jumped up from a blog: "My blog is carbon neutral, is yours?". Well, no, I thought. Can it be? I clicked through to read the entire post and found out that, with just a few clicks, yes, yes it can.

How it works:

Just write a short blog post about our programme “My blog is carbon neutral” and include one of the buttons below on your site (ideally in the sidebar). Send the link to your blog to CO2-neutral@kaufda.de and we plant a tree for you, neutralising the carbon dioxide emissions of your blog. The trees will be planted in the spring of 2010 by the Arbor Day Foundation.

So, this spring, somewhere in Germany, a tree will be planted for B*lota, making the world a little greener!

To find out more about this initiative and how to participate, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

First listing all set to go up!

I am getting ready to launch my Etsy store! I finished making the first two items yesterday, and will be sewing like mad in the coming days so I am ready to start listing before the end of the month!

It has been a busy week for us. I have registered my company, opened a bank account, upgraded my PayPal account andam almost done with the shop policies. Once I have my bio ready to go, I am all set. At least for the first stage. 

On a later stage, I want to go live with my website, Facebook fan page and post more consistently on the blog. So, I have a lot of work ahead of my! If my daughter cooperates and sleeps solid 3h naps each day and my husband picks up the slack in the weekends, I might be able to get it all set by May. Wouldn't that be something! 

Of course, with all the excitement of opening up the shop comes a lot of insecurity. There are so many talented people out there, selling wonderfully crafted things that it is hard to not get discouraged and give up! What if no one buys anything? What if they come back and demand their money back? What if, what if? So, I make everything as perfect as possible and hope for the best. Worst case scenario, I won't have to get stressed about Christmas shopping. And if it works out, well, that will just make each successful sale that much sweeter!