Etsy too, Brute?

Etsy is a savior. A savior for the gift-giver who has no idea what to buy. A savior for the online shopper who is missing out on cool, local artists work. A savior for the artist who's never had the wherewithal or the knowledge to open their own shop or site.

Etsy is not, however, the savior of Mighty Distractible.

Let me 'splain.

As you all know, we did the trunk show a couple of weeks ago. And then I blogged about how we were going to put up the rest of the stock on Etsy. But, as I began the foray into the world of setting up an Etsy shop, I learned a very valuable lesson - Etsy is not for every situation.

The brilliance of Etsy is that, if you're going to have an online shop, they do it all for you - and for a very reasonable cost. Fees are like this:
  • Each listing generates a non-refundable "listing fee" of $0.20 per item so, if you list 100 items, your listing fee would be $20. Not bad, except that the listing is only good for 60 days. If you need to re-list the item (it hasn't sold or it's a standard item that you'll always carry) you pay that 20 cents again - every 60 days - for as long as you want the listing active. Also, it's per item so, just like the grocery store check out lane, 30 cans of cat food is 30 items, not one. If you list 10 of the same item under one listing you pay $2.
  • Then, for every sale you make you pay Etsy 3.5% of the total sale price (not including shipping). So, if you sell one item for $25, you give Etsy approximately $0.88.
  • Fees are paid at the end of the month - they don't come out of your individual sale - so you have to stay on top of it and not spend that entire $25 because at the end of the month, Etsy's coming knocking for their $1.08 (listing fee plus sales fee). This can add up pretty fast so it's important to have halfway decent book-keeping skills. 
For these fees, you get a cool, customizable online storefront where you can conveniently sell your wares. For the average bear, the idea of having to build their own website, with a shopping cart, is too much. It costs money to get set up and then you have all the hassle of marketing your store and dealing with issues like your server going  down or your shopping cart not working. Etsy is a savior.

But if, like us, you really just need a place to sell off some inventory, Etsy isn't really the solution. Can you imagine how sad the Mighty Distractible Etsy shop would be once we were down to five skeins of yarn and two or three embroidery kits??

No... a successful Etsy shop needs to be a living, breathing thing. A constantly restocked, lovely to look at, store. Not a fire sale.

So, we have a question for you all. What would you think if we just posted what we have left out here on the blog and did our transactions via email? We could take PayPal and/or credit cards (thanks to Square!) and just work with you individually. Let us know. Comment below and tell us if you think this is a good idea or complete rubbish (that's for you @pinkundine!).  If you all vote that it's a good idea, we'll put photos, quantities and prices up on the site this weekend and then we can get down to business.

Speak up friends! And thanks. :)


There Was Another Cat in the Bag!

When Alex and I began this blog over a year ago, we had no idea where the journey would take us. The plan was simple: create a place for us to chat about our crafty pursuits and hopefully entertain our readers. Since then we've made friends with people from across oceans, connected with those in our own community, tried our hands as exhibitors in a trunk show, and even seen that folks read our blog by google searching terms as random as "as seen on tv" and "eating". Ahhh, the internet is a weird and wonderful world.

I am pleased to tell you today that another opportunity has arisen for us that fits us from the world of the printed page.

Do you remember when we recently reviewed What Would Madame DeFarge Knit? Well, that book was apparently quite successful because almost immediately after it's release they announced that they were looking for submissions for a sequal. We decided to throw our hat in the ring and send in our idea for a pattern. Guess what? Mighty Distractible will have a knitting pattern and two essays included in the upcoming What Would Madame DeFarge Knit? Vol 2! Squeal! I think we actually held hands and jumped around in a circle when we got the acceptance email from Heather Ordover.

Obviously, mum's the word about the details of our pattern. I can tell you that the concept is right up our creepy alley! We will be so proud to share it with everyone. (I'm not sure when the book is scheduled for release, but I am guessing it will be in Q1 or 2 of next year.)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone...I think we all have a lot to be thankful for this year. :)


How it went....

The Distractibles
Last week, Cassandra and I posted about the trunk show we were participating in on Saturday. I thought that, today, I'd give you the "post mortem" (as it were.)

Friday night, at 10pm, the last bit of work I needed to do was put button holes on 15 notion bags and sew on the buttons. The car was packed and I was ready to go except for that last thing. Aaaaaaand.... my button-holer decided not to work. I was so tired and frustrated at that point that I was, quite literally, cross-eyed. So, I resigned myself to the fact that the notion bags might not have a closure and I went to bed.

Saturday morning I was up and running at 7a.m. I sent a text to Cassandra and asked her to stop at the craft store and pick up some elastic to make a button/loop closure on the bags. In the end, we figured it would be true-to-form if we were sewing at our table during the sale. I had a massage at 8a.m. (GREAT way to start the day), then home to clean up, run the last couple of errands, and get to the show by 10:30 or 11. Smooth as silk.

part of our display
I rolled up to the house at 10:30 and started unpacking the car. By the time Cassandra got there at 11, all we had to do was arrange everything and make it pretty. The craft shop didn't have elastic but Cassandra picked up some grosgrain ribbon that was just the right color. Aaaaaaand.... then I realized that I'd never stopped to get change in case people paid in cash. Yikes! Out the door I race, trying to get to the bank before noon.

I managed to get to the back and back to the show-house by noon. A little frazzled but ready to go. *whew!*

All day long there was a steady stream of people browsing and shopping. The crowd was wonderful and seemed to be into the spirit of the event. Cassandra and I got to do what we do best - talking and making friends - while we sewed buttons on the notion bags (which sold surprisingly well!)
sewing buttons at the last minute (not surprisingly)

Overall, we sold about 25% of the stuff we took with us. We're going to put up an Etsy shop in the next couple of weeks and will hopefully sell the rest of the stock. And, if certain items are particularly popular, we may be convinced to continue making them!

We had a great time although it's a lot of work for two, inherently lazy souls such as us. We learned that we have a strong brand that's well received by strangers and that "making physical product to sell" is not really our forte (unless we can just manage the process and have other people do the actual work! LOL)

Keep your eyes peeled for an Etsy announcement soon.


PS - I hope that the people who invented the Square are making $10 BILLION dollars. If you don't know what Square is yet, check it out. Best.Invention.Ever!

Peek #2

As Cassandra mentioned on Monday, we Distractibles are participating in a trunk show this weekend. It's kind of a funny thing because, while we are (we suppose) artists of a sort, we don't actually make "product" like most artists.

The bonafide artists that will be at the show include a potter, a photographer, an illustrator, and others of that nature. We bloggers had a tough time figuring out how to represent ourselves at this shindig.

In the end, we settled on the idea of providing people with things that would allow them to "make" the way we "make" - things to encourage creativity. So, on our table you'll find:

1. Embroidery kits based on our Woodland Series embroidery patterns
2. Custom hand-dyed yarn from a local farm
3. Recipes from the Mighty Distractible archives
4. Knitting patterns
5. Tote bags for the fashionable crafter

It's been a bit of a bear, pulling all this together. We tried not to get in over our heads but, when you don't do this regularly, there are lots of loose ends that have to be dealt with. Personal crafting and, frankly, personal life has taken a back seat to getting this stuff done. Hopefully we'll have lots of attendees at the event and we'll sell out of all our cool stuff! If not, you'll be seeing a Mighty Distractible Etsy store soon after. LOL!

If you're in the Madison area, please stop by on Saturday. It's sure to be a lot of fun.


Peek #1

Hi everyone! The Indie Art & Design Trunk Show that Alex and I are participating in is happening this coming weekend. Yeah! Can't believe the date is finally here. We have been spending so much time preparing our kits and other goodies in the last month we seriously haven't been crafting anything else.

This week on the blog we are giving you a sneak-peek at some of the stuff what we will have for sale on Saturday. Today, we introduce the embroidery kits...

Template printed directly onto fabric.

You may already be familiar with the free embroidery patterns we offer on our site. Well, we made some modifications to the animal designs and had them printed on a medium-weight cotton/linen blend. No transferring needed! The designs are now smaller (6-inch) and circular. Absolutely perfect for quilt blocks, pillow fronts, or wall art.

A sample I've been stitching up.
And, these kits are great for the beginning stitcher because they are smaller and include a far more robust set of directions than our free downloads offer. Each kit includes:
  • fabric with printed embroidery template
  • cotton floss (for a monochromatic design)
  • embroidery needle
  • instruction booklet
  • copy of the design to use to transfer it to another piece of fabric if you want to try it again!
This is just peek #1...check back this week for more! And come to the show on Saturday and say hi!


Friday Finds

We're launching a new feature here at Mighty Distractible - Friday Finds. This is our attempt at passing on some of the cool things we find on the web, without the normal verbose exposition*.

*Verbose Exposition is my Talking Heads cover band.

I'm pretty sure that Cassandra wanted to do this to see if I could, possibly, post something without having to include a 500 word essay with it. LOL  No way, Jose.

Anyway, at lunch I declared that I'm only ever getting recipes from the Internet from now on, since the ham and scalloped potatoes recipe that I made for today's potluck came out so amazingly. So, for today's Friday Finds, I give you The Best-Ever Ham & Scalloped Potato Recipe. (see below for the changes I made)


Changes I made:

1. I was too lazy to cut the potatoes so I used defrosted OreIda Hash browns instead.
2. I used prepared brown mustard instead of mustard "spices" like he shows.
3. I cooked it in the crock pot - on high for 2.5 hours and then low for about an hour or so.


Before we had our two littlest kids, my husband and I were quite serious antique hunters. We would spend our weekends at auctions and flea markets coming home with treasures to clean up (and sometimes take apart, refinish, and reassemble) and make our own. Our house is full of these items that had a long history before they came to us.

I have really missed the hunt these last four years, but frankly, I have no regrets not trying to go antiquing with babies. But the time has come to get back on the horse. Now that my brood is old enough to mind their manners, we are back at it. This past weekend we drove down to St. Charles, IL and hit one of the biggest antique fairs in the Midwest.

Unfortunately, there are fewer vendors in November than during the warm months, but there was still plenty to see. On this visit, most of the folks who bring in large furniture were absent so I set my sights on fun, small items. (I generally try to focus on shopping for something specific so I don't get overwhelmed by all the stuff.) What really caught my eye this week was tacky statuary.

Like this:

Se weird, so wonderful.

Highbrow kitsch.

I'm a sucker for bunnies in clothes.
I actually came home with this:
Fawn bookends for Little Bear's room. All clean and shiny now.
Way less tacky once you get them in the proper environment (she tells herself).
The vintage "made in Japan" little fawns are so adorable in the woodland themed room. Love!

There were other things that caught my eye that didn't come back home with me:

I don't know what kept me from buying more. I think I'm out of practice. I'm totally excited to be back on the prowl though. So if you are out at the flea market and see a woman telling two small boys not to touch something every 2 minutes...that will be me!


Best.Movie.Ever. (Suspense Edition)

Ask 100 people what the best movie of all time is, and you're likely to get 100 different answers. The art of storytelling - whether on the screen or on the page - is subjective nearly beyond reason. Every nuance of a story affects the listeners enjoyment, from the setting, to the characters, to the basic plot. And the right combinations of these elements - along with the right conditions - can create a perfect storm known as a blockbuster.

Movies, and books before them, could become popular for a lot of reasons. However, intrinsic to any story's popularity is an intriguing tale that keeps the listener glued to it.

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was a prolific writer of compelling stories. The author of many popular novels, she had an artists ear for words and a creative upbringing (her parents were both actors and her grandfather a famous caricaturist) that contributed to her ability to spin a suspenseful yarn. Literary critics of the time (she was at her publishing height in the 1930's through the 1950's) admonished her work as being too lightweight as she wrote in the style of the old gothic tales, such as Jane Eyre. However, a good story is a good story and, when it's all said and done, du Maurier's works still stands up today. As if the world needed any more convincing, one just needs to look at he list of du Maurier books that have been made into blockbuster movies.

Because of the suspenseful nature of her stories, Alfred Hitchcock was tapped to direct three of the films adapted from her work: Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and The Birds. And, while all three are considered classics and one could successfully argue that The Birds is the most ingrained in our popular culture, my favorite - by far - is Rebecca.

The genius of Rebecca is in the telling of the story. The title character, Rebecca, never makes an appearance in the story and the lead character is never given a name. Every character is shrouded in mystery and the chilling story unfolds around the poor, unnamed narrator. There's the mysterious husband who's harboring a secret that causes him untold grief and guilt. There's the menacing housekeeper who makes our narrator feel unwelcome in her new home. Then, all around, there are the whispers and the gossip that drive our heroine to the brink of insanity. While the twist at the end is more satisfying in the novel (blame it on movie censors of 1936) the movie brings the entire story to life in a way that is rarely seen in Hollywood.

 For years, Rebecca was unavailable on DVD. However, since 2008, there have been a few versions released. There's a remastered single disc version with a booklet included, a multi-disc set of remastered Hitchcock classics that includes a number of extras for each film in the collection, and one that I can't find online anywhere - but is available on Netflix - that has the bonus disc to end all bonus discs. If you have a Netflix subscription, I highly recommend getting that version for the extras. It chock-full of insights into Hollywood circa 1936 with notes, memos, and letters written between Hitchcock and the producers of the movie (the best of which is a blistering lecture by David O Selznik given to Hitchcock regarding the screen treatment that Hitchcock delivered). There's a nice short history on du Maurier and her influences for the book that include photos of various houses and excerpts from her diary. And, best of all, you can see screen tests of a variety of actresses who were trying out for the part. It's a slice of Hollywood-history-heaven.

So, if you ask me what the best movie of all time is, I'll ask you "in which genre" (because you can't really pick just one...) But, if you ask me to list my top five films of all time, Rebecca is firmly ensconced there - pretty close to the top. :)  I hope you'll watch this classic story and enjoy it as much as I do. And, if you're even a little bit of a Hollywood history buff, definitely pick up one of the bonus discs and check out the screen tests. They really give you a sense of the difference an actor can make to a role.

Dreaming of Manderlay,


Food and Fall

The other night I went through my recipe box and in the interest of simplicity, tossed away most of its contents. Pouring over those cards and clippings was like taking a trip through the different ways I've chosen to eat over the last 20 years. My meals of today are (mostly) meatless so if a recipe could not be adapted to my current lifestyle, it was a goner.

Brandy slush is meatless.
But even in throes of therapeutic purging there were some recipes that I couldn't possibly get rid of... my Grandma's. While I may not be making these mostly beef and veal dishes anytime soon, they are close to my heart. The food I grew up eating was home-made, simple, ethnic, and delicious. As a matter of fact, I have had big plans to gather all of my Grandmother's recipes and create a family cookbook to share with my cousins. I need to make that happen soon.

Slovenian beef-broth soup just like my Grandma's.
For now, I am evaluating, sorting, and organizing what I have chosen to keep out of my own collection. The plan is to type them all up neatly into Word docs to store electronically so I can easily reprint a damaged copy or be able to share with a friend. I have a spiral bound notebook with plastic pocket pages that I will neatly fill with all these recipes. Eventually I will embroider a pretty heirloom book cover that hopefully last 100 years.

Fall makes me sentimental about food. What can I say? :)


The Definition of Distractible

Today, I am the very definition of distractible.

Picture my brain as a ball in a giant Plinko machine - bouncing around a shiny field of pins with no discernible path.

Here are some of the things that I'm interested in today:
  • Diaspora*Alpha - a new social networking site that's been in beta for, like, ever. I finally got my invitation today. It's lovely and simple and seems like a cleaner version of Google+. I'm not sure what value it will have for me but I love trying new, shiny social media sites so that's cool.
  • Food52 - My new favorite food site. Part social network, part foodie blog, part recipe exchange - there's a lot of user generated content here but the site is slick and the users have a lovely sophistication that means you're not going to end up with 25 variations on tuna-noodle casserole. Plus they have contests!
  • This could win the prize for Best.YouTube.Video.Ever. (unless you have no idea who Dr Who is and then it's just a randomly silly video)
  • Food. Food. Food. Food. The seasons are changing and it's cold and all I want to do is eat. At this rate, I'm going to weigh 1000 lbs by spring.
    • And on that note, I have a couple of recipe ideas that I've shared at the bottom of this post.
  • The new Gmail "look". Really...why? Change for change's sake is stupid. I checked it out. There's no significant difference in functionality that warrants screwing with something we're all happy with.
  • Wisconsin's brand new concealed carry law. Woot! As of yesterday, for a mere $50 and four hours of "training" I too can carry a gun around with me wherever I go. Legally. So, you know, the next time someone pisses me off in traffic, people better watch out.
    • When this law passed, Wisconsin was one of two states left that banned concealed carry. This mortifies and astounds me. And now we're part of the majority. Oh...and today the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that makes it okay for homeowners to use deadly force. Where the hell do the politicians think we live? Texas? (no offense to my Texan friends but, you know, your state is sort of "wild west".)
  • NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I wanted to do it this year for the first time but my time must be spent prepping for the awesome trunk show coming up on the 19th (damn priorities). So, all my scribbling friends are rubbing salt in my proverbial wounds every time they post their word count online. Of course, I wish them all no writers block and the ability to leave the editing until the very end. 
Here's the deal.. I could keep this up all day. As my thoughts fly around like so many bees I realize that this was probably a bad day to try to write a coherent blog post. However, it does demonstrate my distractible nature and, perhaps, provided a little entertainment for this afternoon.

So, without further ado, here are the promised recipes. Have a great, focused Wednesday evening everyone!

- Alex

Sesame Tilapia
(I stole this recipe from a diet cookbook but it's pretty basic so hopefully no one will sue me.)

2 Tilapia filets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Raw sesame seeds

Line the broiler with aluminum foil. Curl the edges of the foil up making a "bowl" to hold the liquid marinade. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the filets on the foil lined broiling pan.

Whisk together well all the ingredients except for the sesame seeds. Pour over the fish. Coat the top of the fish with the raw sesame seeds. Place under broiler and cook for approximately 12 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork.

Gluten-free "Lasagna"
The idea for this came from my desire to have a lasagna but no noodles.

Polenta - the easiest thing to do is buy prepared polenta in the tube shape but you could make it from scratch.
Mozzarella cheese
Ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Tomato sauce (jarred spaghetti sauce is fine)
Vegetables and meat as desired (I like Italian sausage, red bell peppers, onions, spinach, etc)'s easy. Just cut the polenta into thin (1/4" thick) slices and place on the bottom of a greased baking dish. Then layer the cheeses, sauce and any meats/veggies you're going to add. Place another layer of polenta, then more cheese, sauce, meats/veggies. Continue until the baking dish is nearly filled. End with a layer of polenta topped with sauce and Parmesan cheese only.

Bake at 350 until bubbly - about 40 minutes.

Alex's Favorite Autumn Cocktail
(I stole this recipe from a local fancy restaurant. Hopefully they won't sue me.)

Spiced rum (Captain Morgan's or make your own. Don't use Sailor Jerry's as it has too much vanilla in it)
Apple cider
A healthy splash of ginger beer

Can be served over ice or warm. If you're going to serve it warm, warm up the cider by itself then add the rum and a good splash of ginger beer before serving.