Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's resolutions

This year, like so many before, I've decided to NOT make any New Year's resolutions (or New Year's promises as they would be translated from Finnish). This is not a shock, I guess there's more people deciding not to make any than there are of those who do.

In celebration of 2012, even though I still won't make any personal ones, I've decided to set up some goals for this year when it comes to my business. There are so many things I know I need to do, but making Brinner-related resolutions should help me re-organize and prioritize the year for my shop!

So, here goes (not necessarily in order of priority)

1. Revamp the blog

I'm genuinely enjoying blogging. I always wondered how it would be like and when I finally got the guts to start, it's been so much fun. This year I want to continue writing, but also think about the look of the blog as well as the photos... Which brings me to the next resolution

2. Learn to take better photos

I spend so much time taking as good product photos as I possibly can. I actually feel very good about some of them and I know I've come a long way from where I started. However, the photos I take more spontaneously are less than stellar. Now, I don't expect every single one to be perfect, but get a better sense of what works.

3. Less thinking, more creating

This should be obvious, but I realize that I tend to over think things (ok, my friends are laughing now, shocker!). Since I started making Brinner more of a priority, I tend to play it safe. My resolution for this year is to keep on making things and try to learn how to not feel bad when things don't work out. It's trial and error.

4. Participate to more craft fairs

Puces POP was a blast! I will absolutely want to take part in more fairs.

5. Stress less

This is really something I need to learn not only with Brinner, but in life in general.

Are you making any New Year's resolutions?

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Since it seems like I have a one track mind, today's inspiration is (can you guess it? if not, check previous post) craft spaces! As my crafts business is starting to grow, I need a functional space that's inspiring at the same time.

Photo through Pinterest

This is clearly a trial and error type of a process, but looking at inspiring spaces from others never hurt...

Photo through Pinterest

For comparison, my own space from about two years ago, soon after moving into our current place. Oh, how optimistic I was being then! (a.k.a. "sure this closet will be large enough, I'm just happy to have my own space")

As I go along in this (never-ending?) project, I'll post some updates as I have them. Clicking on the photos you can see my Pinterest board for inspiring spaces and clever storage solutions.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time for a clean up

It's something I've been pushing off for a while. I know it's just waiting for me to get started, but somehow there's always something more pressing to do (like, you know, reading... eating the last of the Christmas chocolates... that sort of pressing obligations). That's cleaning up the craft space. I know that I'll be very happy once it's done. I also know I will find all these things I totally forgot about. It's just a monumental task to start. Now would be a good time too, since I have a few days without anything particular on the agenda.

So, I finally did get a move on. I tidied my desk and craft closet, so it doesn't look too bad. The biggest job has only started though. I'm going through boxes of paper. I have a tendency to save all sorts of pieces of paper, but after a while they start to get out of hand. Since I use paper in practically all my crafts, it piles up. To make it slightly more manageable I started going through all the piles and boxes and cutting the paper into appropriate sizes. At least they'll be easier to store afterwards.

I feel extra organized since I made tiny labels with the actual sizes written on them! (what do you mean, "avoiding the actual work"?)

I feel nice to have made some serious progress today. Of course I try to avoid thinking that this is only a fraction what's waiting for me...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things I learned from the craft fair

So, like I mentioned, I attended the Puces POP craft fair. Also, I mentioned already, it was my first craft fair. (Ok, I'll try to stop repeating myself) I wrote about it here.

Now it's time to recap the things I learned.

1) make sure you have plenty of time to prepare. Start early. I found out about being accepted to the fair about 5 weeks before (from which I was out of town a week). However, I didn't have too many things ready. (First fair, didn't actually believe I would get accepted) This should be an ongoing project, since I plan on taking part again.

2) think about the display. And then re-think. I did try the display at home. I had ideas, but more ideas never hurt (Flickr's a great source for more). I learned that I need some height to my table set up.

3) Clear list of prices. I had a few price lists, which worked out nicely. However, I should've added a separate price tag per product. Adding the individual price on the section of the display where the products were would've helped a lot.

4) description what I make. I was there the whole time, talking to people about what I make. However, a little introduction would've been great. Maybe another frame with some more info...

5) Sit down every now and then. I was so excited to be there that I wasn't really sitting down much. Not that it hurts the sales, but it did hurt my feet the day after.

These are the first things that come to mind when I'm thinking about what to do differently next time. I'm sure there will be more things later.

Next Puces POP is in June. Do you know of other ones here in Montreal before then?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blogging Assistant

You have one?

Turns out the keyboard is the best place to lie down. Or at least make sure there's a paw on me any time I want to write something.

The absolute best though, is to walk over the keyboard when I'm writing an e-mail or a blog post. Best. Idea. Ever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Which day do you celebrate?

Today, December 24th, is THE day to celebrate in Finland. I've also learned from some of my friends they also celebrate today. However, others say that the 25th is the right day...

It all works out for me, because I've taken the best of both worlds and get to do this twice. Score!

Whichever day it is you celebrate, I wish happy holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Christmas lights. How can you not love them? I always find that the lights is really what makes it feel like Christmas is close by.

 Lights on University in Montreal
Lights in Chicago

I don't have a lot of places to put them in the condo, but I do enjoy seeing what other people have done with their houses.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Awesomeness

So, this year the tradition continues. Although, there's a little twist this time. It's not a house, it's a

Yes! It's a gingerbread train. He looks a bit angry.

I have to say it was fun to make. Next year we'll try something new again... Or go back to a gingerbread house. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas decorations in Hawaii

Last year we went to Hawaii at the end of November. The Holiday season was just starting, so my guess is there will me a lot more decorations out as it gets closer to Christmas.

Coming from a much colder climate, I was loving the fact that there were Christmas lights on palm trees. Not that it was a shock to me, it was just really neat to see.

We happened to be there for a Holiday parade with marching bands and Santa. Unfortunately the photos of Santa were too blurry to post here. He was riding in a fire truck.

Although I'm used to associating Christmas with pine trees and (usually) a lot of snow, a different kind of a Christmas setting was great to see. And since Hawaii was wonderful, maybe I'll get to see it again one day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

It's been a tradition since I was a kid that we'd always have a gingerbread house. I've kept the tradition alive and still insist on assembling one every year.

This was the house in 2006. We tend to make it a competition and somehow it made sense to divide the house from the middle. Does that make it a semi-detached?

We were a bit more coordinated with the 2007 house. We also took part in a competition at my husband's office. We didn't win. Which is probably a good thing since in hindsight I think it was a competition for kids. (In our defence, we weren't the only non-kids attending)

House from 2010. Definitely not our best work, but at least we worked together that time...

This year it's time for something different. We're attempting to put together a gingerbread train. No idea how that'll work out, but I will definitely post some photos once we get assembling.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas decor in Prague

In the spirit of Christmas, I was looking through photos from our travels and checking out some of the holiday decorations. We went to Prague after New Year's in early 2010. We spent New Year's in Paris and headed for the Czech Republic afterwards. Obviously it was after Christmas, but the decorations were still up.

I loved Prague. The city is beautiful, so much history and incredible architecture. The food was amazing (I love food, I'm sure I've mentioned that several times already).

There was a holiday village in the centre of town, with cute little cabins. They sold all sorts of decorations, souvenirs  and tasty treats. My favourite, and something I ate as often I could was something called "Trdlo" or "Trdelnik". I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it was great.

It tastes similar to a cinnamon bun and it's basically a sweet dough wrapped around a stick (or in this case a cylinder). It's then cooked and covered in sugar. How could you not love it?

The city was beautiful, it would've been wonderful to see it just before Christmas. I think I'll write more about the city at another time.

Have you been to Prague? What did you think?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas

It's time to put up the Christmas tree. I'm usually ready a lot earlier than this, but this year I had the craft fair to prepare for. So, we'll put up the tree this weekend. I'm actually a bit concerned... We now have two cats who might just think the tree is a new toy...

So, the plan is to put the tree up, but leave it without decorations for a few days, just to give the double-trouble some time to get used to it.

This is our tree from two years ago

We've collected Christmas tree ornaments from our travels for quite a few years now. There's (among a lot of others) the yellow taxi cab from New York, the starfish from St. Marten, and the newest addition from Vegas, some glass dice. Most if the ones we've collected are glass. Yeah, smart idea. It made sense at the time.

Let's see how the cats react to the tree before putting the nice ones up. Perhaps we'll only use the non-breakable ornaments this year...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Today's inspiration is a blog written by a Finnish graphic designer Aino. I've been reading this blog for a long time and it's one of the first ones I always check when I have a moment to catch up on my favourites. It's in Finnish, but even if you don't understand the languages, the pictures speak for themselves.

Every time I check the blog I marvel her creativity. I love the drawings, paintings and photos. And if you can read it, you'll surely agree, she writes with a sense of humour about every day things, like what it is like being a freelance graphic designer, a mom and a crafter. This blog just makes me happy.

To visit the blog, click on the picture or HERE

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puces POP - the recap

So, I participated in my first craft fair last weekend. And it was just amazing! I had a blast the whole weekend. I met some awesome people, including my craft fair neighbours Haley from 100% ferments and Mary from Crankyhayes. Not to mention all my awesome customers! Thank you everyone!

My display for greeting cards made from old book pages

I definitely learned a lot too. I realized there's so much more I could do with my display and packaging, and how to set up the table for optimal browsing ease. I think I was right on target with the amount of items I bought with me, but was surprised how the items that sell great online we're not the biggest seller at the fair.

Other side of the display with stationery sets and sticker sheets

All in all I was extremely happy with the outcome! I got a lot of feedback from my items and thoroughly enjoyed myself the whole time.

Did you go to the fair? How did you like it?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So it begins...

A few more hours and it's time for the Puces Pop Holiday craft fair. This is my first one and the day is looking good. If you're in town, please drop by. If you're not in Montreal, keep yours fingers crossed for a great two days!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Map-tastic Holidays

I'm working hard to get everything ready for the craft fair I'm attending next weekend. One more week to go (so exciting)! It is the holiday fair so I'm making a lot of holiday appropriate items. Currently I'm chopping up old maps into stars

The stars will be used for my new holiday cards. They are pictured on my vendor introduction on the Puces Pop website, so I want to make sure I have plenty of those.

This is the final result. It's a lot of work, but I still love making all of these. How could you not!

Friday Inspiration

I've been thinking a lot about gift wrapping recently. I have friends and family all the way in Finland, so if I  want them to get their presents on time, they need to be in the mail latest now. I spent a day wrapping some presents and am happy to say that the ones going to Europe are now done.

Photo from Pinterest

 I've always liked wrapping presents, so it's not even a chore for me. I do, however, try to come up with innovative ways to pack some of the gifts. And, as I'm always interested in upcycling, so I was looking for some inspiration online for re-using different types of paper.

Photo from Pinterest

Additionally, I also love experimenting with non-traditional Christmas colours (Are there any?) and different types of decorating. The pictures on this post are great examples of clever ways to pack gifts this year.

Photo from Pinterest

How do you wrap your presents (Christmas or any other occasion)?