I am Lovin'TheGoodOleDays!

Welcome to my blog. I'm glad you're here. You'll find information about my shop; favorite recipes; features of other crafters and artisans; tidbits of beach living; and the ups and downs of life.

Yes, there were some things about the past that were definitely great, but everyone's list is slightly different. This blog is my contribution to the things that make life great, and not so great. Like all things, this blog will grow and change as I do. Come grow with me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What Are They Doing That I Can Do?...A Quick Study of Etsy's Top 10 Shops

Successful Etsy Shop Study

Want to be successful? Do what successful people do.

"If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you'll achieve the same results." 

Anthony Robbins 

One of the easiest ways to learn how to be successful is to find someone in your field who has figured it out and then see what they do that you could apply to your own situation. For Etsy sellers, Craftcount has made that search as easy as a click away.

Out of curiosity I decided to to do a quick comparison of the top 10 sellers posted yesterday, August 17, 2015 to see what similarities I could find among them. Some results I had expected, but others I found quite surprising.

Top 10 Etsy Shops
You can see the original treasury on Etsy here.

1.  VintageGypsyRoad
2.  The Velvet Acorn
3.  ThinkPinkBows
4.  Prettygrafikdesign
5.  Rivermill Embroidery
6.  PoshPeanutKids
7.  LayeredAndLong
8.  Yellow Paper House
9.  Herrington Design
10. Literary Emporium

The Stats:

Shop   #Items    # Sales Aug   Total Sales    Date Opened   Date 1st Sale   Website

1              352                 440               30,268               09/27/09                02/06/13            No     
2              317                 297              148,521               10/14/10                12/28/10            Yes    
3              814                 178              196,327               09/17/10                02/07/12            No     
4              880                 177              151,782               08/20/12                08/21/12            Yes     
5            1049                 162              157,280               04/26/11                06/07/11            No     
6              957                 159              113,383               02/08/11                05/22/11            Yes    
7              180                 140                82,554               10/15/12                10/15/12             No     
8                85                 132                23,852               06/30/14                07/01/14            No     
9              530                 114                76,347               01/03/07                02.20/08            No     
10              99                 108                  4,005               04/15/12                04/21/12            Yes     

Even More Stats:

Shop     # of People       Outside Mfg       # Following       #Favs        Social Media Sites

1                      1                         N                                 31                  Private                              I           
2                      1                         N                               138                  Private               TFBPI           
3                    16                         N                               154                  Private               TFBPI           
4                      2                         N                                 71                     882                  TFBB             
5                      2                        N                                    2                  Private                     FB                 
6                      8                        N                                   61                 Private               TFBPI           
7                    14                        N                                   67                  1481                      FBPI          
8                      7                        N                                   14                        5                      FB                 
9                      1                        N                                     9                     143                     FBB             
10                    1                        N                                   65                 Private               TFBPI          

*Social Media Sites... T (Twitter), FB (Facebook), P (Pinterest), I (Instagram), B (Blog)

My biggest takeaway from this is in the number of people these shops/shop owners are following, or rather NOT following and how many of them have made their favs/treasuries/teams private. I found this very interesting. Of the 3 shops who left their favs public their numbers are quite low. My guess is that they are too busy making goods and promoting their shops to play games on Etsy. Did they play games before they had this level of success? I don't know. Perhaps that would be a good study to conduct at a later date, if they would be willing to share that information.

I was surprised that only 4 out of the 10 shops had a stand-alone website. I expected that number to be higher.

All 10 of the shops make items which are reproducible and their photos, especially of the tangible items, are professionally done and visually appealing. There is a strong shop cohesion between the photos and the items available with all the shops.

I included the date of the first sale because I believe that gives a better idea of how long a shop has been in business than the date the shop opened. That is more accurate of the date joined, even though Etsy does not make that distinction.

I did not include whether or not these shops are selling the same goods as they did when they first opened, but when I come across a shop that catches my eye I like to check out their first sales to see how much they have evolved. More often than not the photos are a very different quality and sometimes the items originally sold are no longer offered. This is the case with some of these shops, as well.

I hope you have found this little study to be interesting and informative. All of these shops are great examples of what to do that is working. If you have the time you can follow the links to the websites and social media sites. Maybe you will get some ideas on how to improve your own shop presence. I know I  have.

If you liked this little study and would like to see more posts like this, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any observations that you would like to share about the statistics that I did not bring up, please share that as well.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Making of My She Shed...The Early Stages

Without going into too much detail, let's just say I prefer not to share the yucky drama of my life. But, things are finally back on track. I've gone from four part-time jobs to one pretty good one, as far as jobs go, and things have settled down in other areas.

I think I take after my mother in that I have what I refer to as a project mentality. My latest project involves turning our shed into my own personal sewing space, which I recently learned is quite popular these days. I was going with "Mom Cave," but when a friend shared a post on "she Sheds," I realized I was smack dab in the middle of a growing trend. My friend also pointed out that men like dark spaces and women tend to like it light. So true and so funny, since I had already asked my husband if he could add a window to let some light in.

Unfortunately I don't have a true representation of the actual before shot. My before picture is relatively neat, but still shed-like.

Neat, but still a shed.

Today I decided to work on my garden planters, finally. I'm all about upcycling when I can, so here is my little tutorial on how to turn a plastic kitty litter bucket into a planter.

Start with two clean kitty litter buckets. These are 35lb buckets, but there are smaller ones. I like these because they have handles so they're relatively easy to move around.

Using a hammer (or a mallet in my case) put some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Now comes the fun part...

I knew those old shower curtains would be useful one day. Using spray paint which can be used on plastic (very important) paint the entire outside, but not the bottom, of the buckets. I actually went back a few times, once to make sure nothing showed through, and then to touch up spots and make sure the handles were all covered. I did not paint the insides because I thought that might not make the plants too happy. One can, just under $4.00, was just enough to do both buckets. I chose Moss Green because I wanted the planters to blend in with the environment, but there's a nice selection of colors to chose from.

All done. (OK, I know the flowers a looking a little sad, but the nursery was going to throw them away, so I got them for free. I'm hoping they pull through.)

Here's the  other one. The handle is all but invisible. (This is another rescued plant. It was my mother's and wasn't doing too well. I'm hoping being outside in a bigger container will do the trick.) 

Not quite sure what the next post will have in it, but I am in the process of cleaning it out even more.

Do you have a she shed? I'd love to see what you've done with it. Please share you blog posts in the comments below.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Promoted Pins How To; Step By Step in Pictures

So, somehow the powers that be in the Pinterest world decided that I am worthy of running promoted ads, as there was an invitation waiting for me when I logged on today. Well, I figured I would have a go at it and add a few items. The first one took a while, as I had to make sure I was doing it right. Then I got to thinking; since this is such a new feature, maybe it would make a good blog post topic. I can't be the only one who likes a good how to, right?

The first thing you'll do if you have a red "promote" button next to your name is click that or accept the offer to promote if that shows up on your page. You can also click on your name, then the settings gadget, then scroll down to "promoted listings."

Now chose a pin to promote. My first campaign was for a sweater dress. This time I chose one of my tank tops.

Once you have chosen which pin to promote you will need to enter in your search terms. I typed in "womens fashion" and this is what showed up. Click on any relevant terms that you want to include. I wanted to add others, so I just entered different words in the search bar until I found enough terms.

 I know I said they recommend 20, but since this is pretty much an experimental run, I thought this was enough. I also didn't see how to separate terms with a comma, as they showed up in the right-hand column when I clicked on them.

This next step is where you will narrow down your target even more by choosing your demographics.


Now you will decide on the details of your ad campaign. You will need to decide just how much you want to spend per click, you will double-check that the link is correct, give your campaign a name, set the length of time you want your campaign to run, and set your daily budget. When you're all set hit "Promote This Pin."

Next up, you will enter in your credit card information. Right now PayPal is not an option, but maybe they'll change that in the future.

All along the way you will see "Learn More" next to the step to be completed. It will take you to The Pinterest Help Center page, Create and edit Promoted Pins. Scroll down "Learn How To" and you can click on the topic for more help.

I'll let you know how my campaigns went. If you already have tried this feature I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thrift Store Bandit

I've learned one very important lesson in marriage...when your husband asks you if you want to go thrift store shopping you say yes! (Of course, that's not the only thing I learned, but it's always a fun time...well, for me it is.)

This Saturday my husband and I went to no less than 5 different thrift stores and it was awesome. I made out like a bandit, just ask my husband. He was on the hunt for a power tool, but I was on the lookout to expand my sweater collection, find sheets for my craft fair both, and maybe even find something for myself.

Stop #1. The ACTS. What can I say? I rarely leave here empty-handed. In my opinion this is the best local thrift store in the area. As you can see, folks like up waiting to get in. I, myself have stood in that very line many times. You just never know what goodies are waiting, and sometimes you need to be quick or they're gone just like that!

A typical day before the doors open at the ACTS. Photo courtesy of The Coastal Point

So, my haul from the ACTS? Four sheets and 5 sweaters! I'm collecting the sheets to make a table cover and side walls and the sweaters get upcycled into new sweater creations.

4 wool sweaters, 1 silk sweater, 4 flat sheets

Next up, The Frankford Presbyterian Church's thrift shop. My prize?

Two beautifully detailed tablecloths (I'm thinking sundresses or skirts)

New, crushed velvet burnout Liz Claiborne blouse
in my favorite color, still with tags attached 
After a quick stop at a local gun shop for some browsing and a mini lesson in gun parts we headed up the street to Peddler's Alley; a combination of antiques, crafts, and thrifty treasures. Still no power tools, but I scored big time, again! How often do you find an Ann Taylor sundress for $15, still with the tags?

New Ann Taylor sundress with a
previous thrift store cashmere cardigan treasure 
 Not done yet. You never know what fun stuff you'll find at the Goodwill. Little Man scored this time with a new-to-him WII Star Wars game. Then on to yet another one...Wohoo! Let's go.

There's a great thrift shop in Millsboro. We found a few books on personal finance and survival skills(?!). Oh, and this Kathy Ireland sweater, also new, with tags.

The faux fur collar is detachable. Nice, plus it's purple!

Last stop, a row of antique shops on Route 113 near Dagsboro. I love looking through these shops. Big ole chairs, vintage advertising, ornate tables and dressers. I was lucky. I had been on the hunt for shutters for my craft booth and we were in luck. Plus, I found a perfect little magazine rack for our growing magazine collection. I still can't believe we fit all this stuff in the car.

These are going to be my clothing rack for
 my craft fairs. Scored some poles from
 the ACTS a while back and they match perfectly.

$6 for them, priceless for me.

So, my husband never did find that elusive power tool, but he's a little closer to being prepared for the zombie apocalypse and he did find a screwdriver and some jeans. But, I had a fantastic day.

Are you a thrift store enthusiast? Have you written a blog post about some of your fabulous finds? Share them in the comments below.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I Made My Own Social Media Icons

This year one of my goals was to come up with a color scheme and use it pretty much everywhere.  After discovering the design seeds website I found exactly what I had been searching for. It's a lot like love at first sight. I just knew this was perfect for me. Aren't these great colors?

fallen hues from design seeds

As you can tell I have changed the look of my blog using these colors and I'm really please with it, so far. I'm still working on tweaking it to really make it all mine.

My latest venture took place last week when I decided it was time to tackle the hodgepodge collection of "follow me" icons. I know they are a necessity for anyone who is looking to build a social media following, but I wanted them to match my color scheme and take up less space in my sidebar. I've seen enough blogs to know it can be done; I just had to figure out how.

I watched several YouTube videos and started working on my buttons. This was my original plan. I had my matching background and all the icons. Since my sidebar is set at 310 pixels wide I made the "Follow Me" banner 10 pixels narrower. I used PicMonkey to create my icon graphic.

I used the rounded square geometric shapes, 55 pixels, evenly spaced, for the buttons. Then I did an overlay for each icon. For bloglovin, Etsy, facebook, google+, and twitter I just found a font that matched the originals. For instagram, networked blogs (which I later removed) and pinterest I found images online. I was quite pleased, but I couldn't figure out how to add this lovely image, with clickability, onto my sidebar.

Yup, once again I had jumped in too soon. It wasn't until I watched How to Install Social Media Icons on Blogger Sidebar - The EASY way! by Emily M I knew what I had to do. The video explained every step clearly enough for non-techies to understand.

The key is to NOT have a background (facepalm). So I went back to pickmonkey and cut out all the little icons and the follow me banner and came back to my blog. 

Here's the nitty gritty of how to set this up once you have your icons. (You can also find a plethora of downloadable icons to use if you don't want to make your own.)
  • Create a new post, titled "Important Do Not Publish or Delete."
  • Add your first icon image.
  • Click on the image to add a link. You will need to do this twice ( I don't know why, but you do.) 
  • Enter the website info.
  • Repeat until you have all your icons added and linked to a site.
  • In "HTML" mode copy the whole code.
  • Go to "layout" and click on "Add A Gadget," then click on "HTML/Javascript"
  • Paste the code you just copied into the content box. Leave the title blank.
  • Place it in your sidebar.
I had to tweak mine just a bit by adding a space between the images and I originally did not have the "Follow Me" banner, but then I added it before the first icon image. (I also had to resize it because it was just a touch too wide.) Remember, every time you make changes to the code you will need to copy and past the new code into the content box for it to be recognized.

And here's the finished, and clickable, social media icons now...

So, I had to forgo the background, and it pretty much took a whole day, but I didn't have to pay anyone and I like how it turned out. The hint of color on the edges of the buttons reminds me of tea-stained tags. Neat.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Hotel Review I'd Rather Not Give

The Days Inn Hotel in Wilmington Newark, Photo Courtesy of HotelPlanner.com

So, this past weekend I had to make a trek up to Wilmington for a project. I needed to be there by 7 am Friday and Saturday. It's a good two hours north of me, so I decided to stay overnight so as to not have to leave the house at 4:30 both mornings.

Sure not used to seeing this kind of  weather in Delaware

I used my DubLi account to search for a hotel in the area. With my membership I would get 9.8% cash-back from Hotels.com and I found a Days Inn less than 15 minutes from the meeting place. It had a three star rating, plus the room was discounted from $79 down to $59.

The hotel was conveniently located right next to the Concord Mall and there were plenty of places to eat within walking distance. Since it was below freezing, walking anywhere other than to and from my car was out, but it was still good to know.

The front desk clerk was very courteous and helpful and the lobby was clean and inviting.  My room was around the side and even though it was just me, I had chosen a room with two beds because it was less than a one-bed room.

The room itself was nice and clean. This was my bed for the night and it was so comfortable. It had been such a long day and all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers with my book. 

However, I must have jinxed myself by sending my husband a text message that I was going to get a good night's sleep, because a little before 11 pm I was awakened by loud voices, a door slamming, and the kind of loud, thumping music that makes the walls shake. I was hoping they were either getting settled in or getting ready to go out. But that was not to be the case. About 20 minutes later I called the front desk to let them know what was going on. A few minutes later the phone rang in the next room and I could hear a very angry woman's voice demanding to know who had complained and what she would do to them. They did quiet down, but not for long. Cars pulled up and dropped off even more people and the volume went up yet again. At this point I cranked up the heat in my room to help drown out the noise from the party-goers. Either someone else called the front desk or had enough because suddenly people ran from the room and took off in various directions as someone from inside the room shouted that the state police were on their way. Finally, I could get back to sleep...

But, alas, not long after the police left the party kicked back into high gear. The heat was uncomfortable and I got up several times to turn it down only to hear the party raging on, so I would turn it back up and just deal with it. I needed to get some sleep. I tried it again at 4 am and they were still at it. This time I called the police myself. They did come, and I was sure that would be the end of it...

When my alarm went of at 5:30 I turned down the heat for the last time and surprise or not, they were still up, not that it mattered to me anymore. I got ready for my day and was gone in 30 minutes.

While the hotel itself was nice, the fact that I had to put up with this drama all night was unacceptable. I had booked my room in advance. This could have all been avoided if the hotel had not put us next to each other. I'm sure there were other guest who actually wanted or needed to sleep and it just baffles my mind how, after the noise complaints to the front desk and two visits from the police, that these people were even allowed to stay there. I did consider asking to switch rooms, but it was freezing outside, and the moment I opened my door they would know I was at least one of the people who had complained and I was actually afraid for my own safety. When I left in the morning I left as quietly and quickly as I could, not even waiting for my car to warm up, because I didn't know if they were going to come out when they heard me start my car.

To top off my visit to Wilmington, what should have been a two hour drive home turned into four due to yet even more snow.

This is fun...Not! 

Yup, if  I have to do another two night stay, I'll either be staying elsewhere or getting up at 4 am, from the peace and quiet of my own home. Sorry Days Inn.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Meeting 2015 Shop Goals By Setting Monthly Goals

Every year folks far and wide make New Years Resolutions or goals. I've done it...and failed right along with countless others. And, just like a lot of them, I'm going for it again this year. But this time I've got a plan. I sat down and wrote out my long term plans for each of my shop goals and then I am breaking down my goals by month. I have them printed out and stuck (right at eye level) next to my computer, so I am constantly reminded of what I need to do and by when.

While January was not a total success, it was not a total loss either. I started a discussion thread with The Etsy D-Listers aka The Dteam (my Etsy family) to help me stay accountable. I ask you, kind reader, to also be my accountability buddy...and if you ask I'd be more than happy to do it for you, too.

I'd love to hear you thoughts or advice on my goals so far. i actually have my goals picked out for February, but I'm saving that for another blog post. Would you like me to help you stay focused on your goals? Just leave me a request in the comments below.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Forgotten, But Not Gone

It's true. I've been remiss in my literary duties here. I have been gone, but hopefully not forgotten. However with a new blog color scheme (I hope you like it) and some new blog post ideas in my head just itching to get out into the virtual world, I am ready to get this show back on the road.

This particular blog post is one I have been planning for quite some time actually, and truth be told, I'm not sure it's actually ready to post, but I figured I can save other photos for a follow up post.

"Forgotten, But Not Gone" came to me as I was driving around Lower Slower Delaware, observing the many abandoned structures, just left to decay. What did they look like when they were occupied? Were there giddy children chasing each other up and down the stairs? Did the smell of fresh baked bread draw a hungry family toward the kitchen? Why were they abandoned? And how long ago? How long will it take for them to all but disappear into the surrounding environment that grows around them? Am I the only who mourns their loss?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day on El Galeon Andalucia

Labor Day. The un-official end of Summer. Quality time with the family. We decided to head down to Ocean City (Maryland) to check out the Spanish ship, El Galeon Adalucia. Monday was the last day it would be there before it set sail once again.

It was a beautiful Summer day; hot, but with a nice breeze. We actually found a free parking spot less than a block away. (If you've ever been to O.C. you know how hard that is to come by.)

And there she was. My pictures don't do her justice. She was really quite grand. It was so neat checking out the different parts of the ship and learning its history. Enjoy the tour.

                      The Mast overlooking the bay.     The bell that I can't believe my son didn't ring.

There were two cannons on the deck and two rows of them down below.

                     A little history about the ship.  The view of the upper deck behind the wheel.

The guys chose some props to make the picture more authentic. I came prepared;)

So, while it was a really neat ship, and we all enjoyed checking it out, especially my history buff husband, I realized that I am much more comfortable on dry land. Bummer, but now I know not to waste my time dreaming of taking a cruise of living on a houseboat!

So happy together <3                 Now, that's a view!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Just Slap a Big Ole "L" On Me

If you were to ask how my August goals turned out I would pretty much say this would have been a good month to hang out on the beach. I didn't, but I might as well have. Yup, I'm on the road to Loser City.

So, let's see...my goals for this month... If you want to read the post I wrote at the beginning of the month, you can find it here. And how did I do?

My social media campaign blitz was a bust. As you can see from the post I did about the Week #1 update, I was really giving it my all.  So, what happened? Three main things:

  1. Lack of tools to analyze posts. Facebook was the only one I could really track. With Google+ and Twitter I had no data to work with. (Wouldn't you know it,  Twitter added analytics at the end of this month.)
  2. Time. It took more time to find and schedule posts than I had anticipated.
  3. The results were pretty dismal. Regardless of the type of post, and the increased frequency, the views and engagement were about the same as they were before.
My second goal was to have 70 items in my shop. Yeah, that did not happen either. Why not?

  1. I did not set a realistic goal for how long it would take me for each piece, or add in the distractions from trying to work out of the home. I was off to a good start, but by the end of the 2nd week I was already behind. Momentum lost.
  2. Family (including the fur babies) always came first, then the paying job, then if there's time left over I could work on my shop. 
  3. I did not plan exactly what I was going to make.

My third goal was to retake some of the photos of my aprons, my cloth napkins, and my checkbook covers. There were days early in the month that I could have gotten this done, but I told myself I still had plenty of time. Yup, I am a procrastinator, big time. I know it, and yet I haven't overcome this obstacle I keep putting in front of my self that blocks me from being more productive. (I wrote this blog two days ago, except for this last part. I waited to finish writing this post because I still was hoping to get this one done.)  On Friday I ended up running all over doing errands, I worked on Saturday, and today we have plans for the family to spend quality time together.

So, if you've had a goal that you fell short from reaching, how did you handle it? Did you give up the dream? Did you shake it off and set more attainable goals for the next time? Did you stop setting goals?