Vomit on my Sweater, Mom’s Spaghetti; a Tale of Stage Fright

What’s your dream job? Mine has always been an SNL skit writer/actor, or comedy entertainer.

One of my (many) goals with my blog was to ultimately make parody videos and skits to really let you all in on my occasionally overly animated and weird personality that doesn’t always translate well in writing or pictures. (Or even in real life unless you really know me and have lived through and understand my level of awkwardness.)

You aren’t able to grasp my tone of voice, sarcastic undertones, facial expressions, impersonations and occasional jerk-off motions in writing, so I’ve been wanting to share more of that with you.  Some of my influences include Rebel Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, the late and great OG Chris Farley, as well as Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, and pretty much every funny person who ever lived.

Five years ago when I quit my office job, I had decided it was time to stop trying to fit this round peg into a square hole and to start living out my creative passions and entertainer urges. So I brainstormed, researched and did a bit of Googling, and I ultimately decided to sign up for a Second City stand-up comedy class in Toronto. Yup, I signed up for a once a week class, in a city 4 hours away from my home.

Some of my favorite comedic legends trained at the Second City, so I figured it would be a great place to start. Having recently completed a Live Your Best Life workshop that posed the question about my passions, comedy was the first thing that came to mind. The workshop focused on self improvement and overall well being, and it helped empower me to break down my fears and visualize what my ideal life and career would look like.

It also helped me to accept myself as a round peg in a square hole, and understand that my mind is completely wired in “R mode” as my 11th grade art teacher referred to it. Right brainers, where you at? Who needs logic when we have all this creativity to use!

So I took the leap! I drove out to Toronto once a week for the entire duration of the program, to try my luck at comedy because I knew I was passionate about laughing and making people laugh. The last “class” was an actual performance in front of an audience at a comedy club in Toronto. GULP.

AND I SUCKED. BAD. Like vomit on my sweater, mom’s spaghetti. I kept on forgetting what I wrote down, the whole crowd got so loud, I opened my mouth but the words wouldn’t come out, I was choking now.

Eminem lyrics aside, my anxiety got the best of me. I wanted to literally DIE as the bright lights shone on my red cheeks and I choked on my own saliva while desperately trying to recall any part of my act.

I even resorted to calling out to my husband in the crowd, “Hey hunny, what the hell is my act about?” which people responded to with laughter (yay!) but only because they assumed it was all part of the schtick. But in my sad reality I was actually desperately hoping he’d throw me any line from the act that I had rehearsed in front of him 800 times and had now forgotten.

It was a huge blow to the dreams I had of becoming an entertainer, much like the former singing career I had attempted in my 20’s. I was capable of singing, writing and recording songs behind the curtains, doing my best Britney stage twirls and hair flips in the comfort of my home, but put me on stage and actually open those curtains and I would forget how to person, much less sing or perform.

One time a bandmate even placed a keyboard on stage with me so I could pretend to play along to the music; my hope was that it would distract people from my awkwardness on stage. Naturally, I then started worrying more about the audience suspecting that I wasn’t actually playing the keyboard than my quivering voice and trembling knees. Anxiety is a real treat, friends.

76d3d34937ec5f9cef780917ba01faaf651b76ea8705a6d49accf9e3e804c6b2

Ultimately, my journey into discovering my passions and looking for a related career led me to home décor and decorating. (Cough, safe, cough.) After the on-stage embarrassment, I quickly talked myself out of comedy and signed up for an online Interior Decorating course. I ended up starting my wood sign décor business for some extra cash, and that kept me busier than I imagined I ever would be.

The home décor business allowed me to be creative and passionate from the comfort of my home, but without the fear of being vulnerable or judged. But this isn’t where I want my story to end. The “problem” with the creative mind is that it is completely full of ideas all the time; add an entrepreneur spirit to the mix and it’s a recipe for a brain bubbling over with Shark Tank visions.

But in comes the self doubt. It is inhibiting my confidence for making comedy videos and REALLY putting myself out there, back on stage but without the stage. It’s a lot easier “performing”  in your own home without all of those eyeballs staring at you in real time

I just haven’t grown the balls or found the time. And I think, what’s the point? I’m 36, it’s not like I’m going to land my dream job on Saturday Night Live now, at nearly effing 40, from a blog or Youtube post, nonetheless. What if I’m not even funny and I suck, and it’s like the stand-up act all over again?

But then I have to tell myself that none of that is the point, the point is that I love and live for humor and I want to bring humor to the world, even if it means completely making an ass out of myself for the sake of making someone laugh and relate. Correction:  ESPECIALLY if it means making an ass out of myself for the sake of making someone laugh and relate.

So why am I telling you about all of this? Well, I’m mostly just warning you about what is probably not destined to happen in the near future, so people don’t think it’s coming way out of left field, because it’s something I’ve wanted to do since the first time I made someone laugh.

I’m also trying to give myself a pep talk in the process. If a couple people are like “yeah girl I laugh at your shit all the time, your Instagram has me in stitches, let’s see what else you’ve got!” then I might build up a bit more confidence to get some of these ideas out of my noggin and onto video. Help me, I’m scared.

And right on cue, in chimes that bitch self doubt again saying, girlllllll, they’d only tell you to record videos because they want to laugh at you, not with you. STAY SAFE, give the people something to pin on Pinterest, people lovvvve that shit!  Talk about your crafts and your home décor hacks, and your stupid diet that isn’t working. Show people all the shit you’ve done from Pinterest, don’t do the weird stuff!

I will say this, we have already made serious progress, friends. I actually started a blog numerous times over the past 10 years and always kept it private before ultimately deleting it. This is my first public blog, hazzaah! Maybe in another 10 years I’ll post my first video, and by that time I’ll be in my late 40’s so it will likely be about menopause and how to make a mean casserole.

Narrator: Stay tuned to the next episode (aka blog post) to find out if Stacey decides to post that funny video, or talk about something truly exciting like home décor. Bom bom bommmmm. Spoiler alert the next episode is about watching paint dry.

One day, maybe we’ll rip that Band-aid off and do the weird stuff.

Advertisements

10 things I’ve Learned from My Facebook Detox

It’s been nearly two months since I gave up Facebook, and I don’t have any plans for a return as of yet, but here are a few things I’ve observed so far.

1. I don’t know anyone’s Birthdays. Without Facebook I don’t generally keep track of 500 random people’s Birthdays and I’m not about to start now. Sorry not sorry.

2. I no longer have the play-by-play on what Susan is going to cook for dinner every night. (And I no longer have to care!) Yay.

3. My anxiety is 200000000% better. I’m not sure how many “scare tactic articles” I’ve avoided, but I’m definitely not worried that I have cancer or a rare terminal illness quite as often as I used to, which is a bonus. I haven’t been click baited into reading any stories about children or animals being harmed or killed, and that has legitimately improved my mental health.

Side note, who wants to read these heartbreaking stories anyways? Ugh. Apparently me, because I always get drawn into clicking on them, like a kid who’s been warned not to touch the stove and does it anyways. And then does it again because they didn’t learn the first time. And then they are burnt and crying and scarred for life, and that’s how I feel after reading that stuff. 😞😞

4. NO MORE GAME INVITES.  EFF YOU CANDY CRUSH!!

5. Sales spam, be gone! Look, I respect the hustle, times are tough and it’s expensive to live. I GET IT. I am a small business owner myself with 3 kids at home, and we barely scrape by most months. I really do my best to support and encourage those who run small businesses.

But I feel a bit disappointed when I think I’ve made a new Facebook friend, only to receive an invite be added against my own will to their sales group within 3 seconds of accepting their friend request. Then I get a message another 3 seconds after that and they’re soliciting me to buy or sell something. And here I truly thought Brenda and were going to be new Facebook friends, I feel so betrayed rn. *cue ugly cry*

6. People are throwing shade at me for leaving Facebook. I probably made this one up in my head but I seriously feel like some people are judging me for it. I’m sorry if you feel like I’ve committed a social sin by leaving Facebook, but it’s not you, it’s me. I’m breaking up with Facebook for my own sanity, and I still love you boo. I just don’t really need to know how much laundry you did today because it makes me feel super shitty about the growing pile of dirty laundry that I haven’t touched in a week. Text me pics of your cute kids tho, k? (Just not every 5 seconds, save some for the family scrapbook. Muah, love you!)

7. My anxiety is 200000000% better. Did I mention that already? Well I’m mentioning it again, and this time I’m crediting it to avoiding 5 million notifications a day. Kudos to anyone who can keep on top of all these Facebook groups, and run several business pages, and keep their kids alive, and shower every day, and respond quickly to every message from every human in their business and their life, and cook Pinterest worthy dinners, and kill their workouts, and get to places on time and not want to smash their phone with a sledge hammer. I am not one of those people. (Clearly.) 😳

8. I get into way less imaginary arguments with people in the comments sections. Listen Susan, just go back to posting about your meatloaf, because at least it’s slightly less offensive than your rants about breastfeeding in public. (Looks kinda gross though, tbh)

9. I don’t receive any more chain letters. Woo hoo, I am no longer at a risk of death if I don’t share your post in 6 minutes, stand on my head, tag 14 friends and do the chicken dance.🙃

10. I don’t have 500 “friends.” I have maybe 20, and half of them are family. Yup, I haven’t had any interaction with majority of my Facebook friends and I’m pretty sure most of them haven’t noticed my absence. Which I’m not mad about, I’m just making a point about the loose term “friends” on Facebook. Facebook is the new Days Of Our Lives, and a lot of people are there for the show.

I realize that most of these issues are my own issues, which brings me back to #6 -it’s not you, it’s me. And I swear I’m not bitter, I’m just kind of in a disagreement with Facebook right now and the two of us aren’t tight at the moment but I still got mad love for social media. *First bump to the chest*

I love that we are connected more than ever to the world through technology and I realize that there are SO many amazing benefits to social media, but at the same time, it can be completely overwhelming and have negative side effects too.

We can feel alienated by subconsciously comparing our lives to other people, comparing our followers, our bodies, our hair, our dinners, and our relationships. And most of the time we are only seeing the highlight reel, or the staged version of people’s lives, not the bigger picture.

We fire passive aggressive missiles at each other through inspirational quotes and vague status updates instead of actually communicating. And we lose sight of what is real.

Nobody’s life looks like a perfectly color-coordinated Instagram feed. People don’t live in a black and white reality with occasional pops of the colors blush and champagne. Because that would be weird.

I crave a simpler time, like the 80’s and 90’s, where you could eat poptarts with reckless abandon and no one judged you. Your parents sent you outside to play with the neighbourhood kids until it got dark and you always came home (mostly) in one piece.

You would occasionally talk to people on a phone that was attached to your wall, but you didn’t live inside your phone, you lived in reality. You didn’t do everything for a perfectly staged picture for social media, you did it just to live it.

So no, I’m not missing Facebook yet, and disconnecting has enabled me to simplify my life and manage my own anxieties.

If you need me I’ll be over here with my Walkman and fanny pack on, sending handwritten letters to my penpals, like the good ol’ days, not ever knowing what Susan cooked for dinner and somehow still surviving.

YQG Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

IMG_20180130_141307_156000_resized

It’s officially February, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Are you feeling stuck for gift ideas? Well look no further, because we have rounded up some of our favourite places to shop locally, so you can find a unique gift and feel good about supporting your community at the same time. (Click photos to enlarge.)

❤Gifts that pamper
Lashes, brows, and tans, oh my! Give the gift that keeps on giving with one of these pampering services they’re sure to appreciate.

LUX BROWS

Tanya Macri is the professional brow artist behind Windsor’s most beautiful microbladed brows, and Lux Brows is the first salon in the area to offer the hottest new non-surgical skin tightening procedure known as Plasma Skin Tightening. Give your lady the gift of perfect skin, a lash lift, or brows that are on point! Check out her website for more information on pricing and services and to book a service or purchase gift cards.
Photo of Tanya by: Eryn Shea Photography

facebook.com/luxbrowsonpoint
luxbrows.mysalononline.com
Instagram.com/luxbrows_on_point

BEACH BUM SPRAY TANNING

 

Get your glow on and banish those winter blues! Vegan, organic and safe, UV-free spray tanning is the best way to get bronzed any time of year. Book online, @mindbodyonline.com or stop by 13126 Tecumseh Rd East to pick up a Gift Certificate for that special someone.

www.beachbumorganicspraytanning.com
www.facebook.com/beachbumspraytanning
www.instagram.com/beachbumspraytanningwindsor

RESTORE MASSAGE THERAPY

Give the gift of relaxation this Valentine’s Day with Restore Massage Therapy, which is
conveniently located at 1614 Ottawa Street. Call 519 -256-6464 to book an appointment, or pop in to pick up a Gift Certificate.

www.facebook.com/restoremassagetherapyandwellness
www.instagram.com/restoremassagetherapy
519-256-6464

BROOKE ELIZABETH MAKEUP ARTIST AND XTREME EYELASH EXTENSION STLYIST

She’ll be batting her lashes at you for days when you purchase her a set of beautiful eyelash extensions from Brooke Elizabeth Make Up Artist / Xtreme Eyelash Extension Stylist, a home-based business in Amherstburg. Text for an appointment or to arrange to purchase a gift certificate, or get in touch on social media.

519-816-1222
https://www.facebook.com/brookeelizabethmua/
Instagram.com/brookeelizabeth_mua

YOUNIQUE MAKEUP BY ERIKA

The ultimate girl boss, Erika does nails, raises babies, makes cheesecakes, sells Younique and still finds time to be a promoter and encourager of other lady bosses! Check out these gorgeous new lip shades for the perfect Valentine’s date night pucker. Contact Erika for all of your makeup needs, and keep in touch on social media to see what promotions and customer kudos she has going on each month.

www.mzdivanailznlashes.com
www.instagram.com/mzdiva_nailz

❤Handmade gifts, made with love ❤
Support your local artists and crafters this Valentine’s Day and purchase a unique gift that your loved one is sure to admire.

EVB JEWELRY

 

Every Event Boutique is a local handmade business that distributes a stunning line of jewelry and fashion accessories that can be purchased online, in person, or through home parties. You will find a fabulous and fashionable selection of jewelry for every taste and any budget on their website. Check out their beautiful line of “Be Mine” Valentine’s Day jewelry available in their Etsy shop, we totally heart it!

www.facebook.com/EVBJewelry
www.etsy.com/ca/shop/evbjewelry
www.instagram.com/evbjewelry

A CUP OF PRETTY

An Amherstburg based home business, A Cup of Pretty creates unique and affordable customized glitter dipped wine glasses, coffee mugs & mason jar tumblers. Treat yo’ self or someone you love this Valentine’s Day, by purchasing through their website or contacting them via social to arrange a custom order.

www.facebook.com/acupofpretty
www.acupofpretty.com
www.instagram.com/cupofpretty

PICKET FENCE HANDMADE

Our home décor company that is affiliated with this blog specializes in unique, whimsical and humorous wood signs. You can shop directly through our Etsy shop and keep up to date with us on social media. Check out our line of free-standing decorative mini wood blocks made for all seasons and styles; there’s a few Valentine’s Day themed blocks left in our Etsy shop!

facebook.com/picketfencehandmade
Instagram.com/picketfencehandmade
etsy.com/shop/picketfencehandmade

BORDER CITY PRINTS

Border City Prints is a home-based, Health Canada approved provider of bath products that are fun and skin safe. They are offering adorable gift boxes for Valentine’s Day featuring themed bath bombs that look good enough to eat- contact them through Facebook to order.

www.facebook.com/bordercityprints
www.instagram.com/bordercityprints

URBAN ART MARKET


Your one stop shop for EVERYTHING handmade, with Valentine gifts to suit a variety of tastes made by over 30 local artisans. Pottery, jewelry, knitwear, wood signs and stationary are just a few of the amazing items they have to offer. Located at 548 Chilver Rd in the heart of Walkerville.

www.instagram.com/urbanartmarket
www.facebook.com/urbanartmarket

CHAR ELLE DESIGNS

Char Elle designs is a line of fashion forward women’s handmade and custom clothing designed and produced in Windsor, Ontario. Shop online or at their boutique located at 4651 Tecumseh Rd East. Check out these chic and sophisticated red pieces for Valentine’s Day, that jumpsuit and pencil skirt is giving us allll the heart eyes!

www.facebook.com/CharelleDesigns
www.charelle-designs.com
www.instagram.com/charelledesigns

❤Indulge
Whether it’s a gift card to a local restaurant, a Valentine’s Day dinner or something decadent to tempt the sweet tooth, it’s all here!

DENALI CHOCOLATES

Denali Chocolates is a local home-based business that is committed to providing you with the most stunning gourmet chocolate dipped strawberry platters, towers and customizable gift boxes for your special events. We have never seen strawberries look quite like this before; their beautiful tower of roses and chocolate covered strawberries is almost too pretty to eat! Contact them to order in time for Valentine’s Day.

www.facebook.com/Denali-Chocolates
www.instagram.com/denali_chocolates
Denalichocolates@gmail.com

KRISTY’S CUSTOM CAKES

Check out these adorable (and affordable!) Valentine’s gift boxes and baskets made by Kristy’s Custom Cakes, a home-based cake decorating business based out of McGregor.
Kristy’s provides custom cakes for all occasions; birthdays, Weddings, Showers, or Just Because. Contact via Facebook to order!

www.facebook.com/kristycakes15/
www.instagram.com/kristyscustomcakes
www.kristyscustomcakes.com

CARROTS N’ DATES

Are you even living in the #yqg if you haven’t been to Carrots N’ Dates yet? This raw, vegan café now has 2 locations to serve you-one in Walkerville and one in Tecumseh! Square Gift Cards can be purchased online from the comfort of your home, and Valentine’s themed gift cards are available if you want to send a loved one something special this upcoming holiday.

Ordering Square Gift Cards Link
www.facebook.com/carrotsndateswalkerville
www.carrotsndates.com
1090 Wyandotte St E in Windsor Phone: 519-962-5115
1125 Lesperance Rd. in Tecumseh Phone: 519-735-0447

HEALTHY MAMA

Why not treat him or her to a delicious 5-course plant-based Valentine’s Day dinner at Healthy Mama restaurant? This is a special set dinner menu that is 100% plant-based and gluten-free with limited spots, so call or email to reserve now. Healthy Mama also offers gift cards and has a retail shoppe filled with delicious products for the health conscious person in your life.

www.healthy-mama.com
info@healthy-mama.com
www.instagram.com/healthymama_food
www.facebook.com/healthymamafood
152 Lesperance rd.
Tecumseh, Ontario
519-956-9467

SUGAR SPOON BAKE SHOP

Specializing in classic and European baked goods and sweets, Sugar Spoon Bake shop is offering a special Valentine’s Day Menu as well as in-store grab and go Valentine themed treats through February 7th-14th. Order now via phone or online, or stop in and admire their gorgeous storefront.

3131 Forest Glade Drive
www.sugarspoonbakeshop.com
https://www.facebook.com/Sugar-Spoon-Bake-Shop-1782793818654491/
www.instagram.com/sugarspoonbakeshop
(519) 956-8484

❤Gifts for him
Treat him to something he will appreciate this Valentine’s Day, with dude-approved ideas for every budget.

WALKERVILLE BREWERY

It’s no secret that we just LOVE the Walkerville Brewery, and this Valentine’s Day you can purchase the perfect gift from their retail shoppe, or fridge. Fill up your Growlers (64 Oz.) and Stubbies (32 Oz.) with your favorite Walkerville beer, or pick up a Valentine’s Day themed gift pack featuring local craft beer. Their featured Gift Package is only $15 and includes: 1 x 750ml Bottle of RIS, 2 x pint glasses and comes gift wrapped w/ Be(er) Mine Valentine tag.

525 Argyle Rd, Windsor
www.walkervillebrewery.com
https://www.facebook.com/walkervillebrewery/

BENT ART & ACCESSORIES

Bent Art and Accessories offers beautiful eco-friendly wood accessories, bbq scrapers, dinnerware, cheeseboards and more, at affordable prices. Are you still searching for that unique gift for him? Their barn wood belt buckles are hand crafted with 115+ year old barn wood and reclaimed hardware and are available in their Etsy Shop and at the Urban Art Market store. Wood BBQ scrapers are another great choice for the grillin’ guy or gal in your life.

https://www.facebook.com/bentartaccessories
bentartaccessories.etsy.com
www.instagram.com/bentartaccessories

❤Gifts for the kids ❤

HOLLY POP KIDS

Dress your little ones in ahhh-dor-able fashion forward Valentine’s Day threads from Holly Pop Kids, an online and home-based boutique. Free local pickup is available, just shop online at the link below, but hurry, clothes this cute and affordable don’t last long.

www.hollypopkids.com
www.facebook.com/hollypopkids
Instagram.com/hollypopkids

 

❤And don’t forget the pets! ❤
Because fur babes need love too

FLUFF PETCARE

Fluff’s entire line of pet products is inspired by a love of animals, and most products are dual-purpose or interactive, meaning they are safe for both you and your fluffy friend. A portion of proceeds from some of their Valentine’s Day products goes to the Windsor Humane Society, so you can feel good about purchasing local and giving back at the same time. Check out their Valentine themed gifts in their Etsy shop, including downloadable pet Valentine’s and Cat Nip pom poms. Locals use code WINDSORSHIP to omit shipping charges.

www.instagram.com/fluff_petcare
www.facebook.com/fluffpetcare/
www.fluffpetcare.com/
www.etsy.com/shop/fluffpetcare

BONZAI GIFTS BY PET NANNY

Treat your pets to a gift pack by Bonzai Gifts by Pet Nanny, a local home-based business catering to your fur babies. Valentine’s Kitty Packs include a collar of your choice, 2 toys of your choice, and an XS cat bandana for only $20. The Doggy Bag contains a plush squeaky toy, medium bandana, 3/4″ collar of your choice and paw wax for only $45. You can shop directly from their Etsy shop or contact them for more information.

www.facebook.com/BonzaiGiftsbyPetNanny/
www.instagram.com/www.facebook.com/BonzaiGiftsbyPetNanny/
www.etsy.com/shop/bonzaigiftsbypetnanny

❤Share the love!❤
Brb, currently ordering everything on this list right now. If you are a local business and you are offering a Valentine’s Day themed gift or service that you want to share, we would love to hear about it! Feel free to post a link to your business or product in the blog comments or on this post on Instagram and help share the love for local. Thank you for supporting our YQG community, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow our Instagram pages.

Xo,
Stacey

Pizza, Pinterest, Wood Signs, and Truth

There are a few subjects that I have been faced with over and over again in my handmade wood sign business, ones that can’t be explained in a brief conversation at a craft show or in a short Instagram post, so I’m going to try my best to unravel the complicated reasons why I have chosen to steer away from copying Pinterest and taking most custom orders, as well as discuss how we try to stand out in a flooded market and tell you how this all relates to pizza.

I think it’s been confusing to some, because for the first year or 2 when we were establishing our business, we were commissioned for a variety of different Pinterest projects and we took on everything from chalkboards to wood chests to wood signs and even furniture.

It was fun to experiment, to fulfill our customer’s wishes and flex our creative muscles so to speak, but we realized we didn’t have the knowledge, materials, time or tools to take on every random project that people found on Pinterest, so we eventually honed in on one main project- wood signs.

I don’t pin nearly as much as I used to but when I first found Pinterest, like most people I completely fell in love and I spent months pinning alllll the things. I think I have 4 million pins and 250 boards at this point, and that’s only a slight exaggeration. That website just set my soul and creativity on fire! Let’s make all these recipes and chore charts and do crafts and plan Pinterest parties, and follow makeup blogs and omg look at that bedroom, we need to remodel our house!

I credit Pinterest with reigniting my creative urges that had been mostly lying dormant in my 20’s when I was preoccupied with socializing, dating, going to concerts, and eventually having a baby and getting married. It was in 2010/2011 that I first discovered Etsy via Pinterest when I was planning my wedding, and I was instantly hooked!

I remember sitting procrastinating at my desk job at the time poring over the beautiful handmade wedding décor and accessories for hours (shout out to Bryon, my very cool boss at the time who probably knew I was avoiding work but didn’t fire me). I was in awe of these talented people who owned these little shops and whom I thought were incredibly lucky to sell things they created themselves, sometimes as a full time career.

There was a subconscious bell going off in my head that I didn’t quite recognize at the time, a foreshadowing if you will, but it would be a few more years until I acknowledged the bell and made the equation.

There were so many variables that went into my decision to inevitably quit my job and embark into the scary world of entrepreneurship and self-employment, and it was a lonnnng, bumpy road filled with trial, errors and doubt that ultimately led to that decision. We were faced with illness and almost lost our first born son when he was 15 months old, and that was also a HUGE influence in me wanting to be home.

I will discuss my journey into entrepreneurship in a future blog post, but overall it took a lot of guts, I faced a lot of judgment, I went back and forth a million times, and I have zero regrets.

So let’s just cut to 2013 when we launched our little business that we initially called Uniquely Chic Creations (now Picket Fence Handmade). I started out doing random crafts from Pinterest including decorated Mason jars, chalkboards, painted furniture, and pallet wine racks. I launched a Facebook page, then immediately took it down after a couple of comments sent my self doubt pummeling.

Our first sale in November of 2013 was a massive pallet wine rack, and then two, three, four, five more. We made a pallet sign with the word LOVE across it, and the interest in our work took off from there. I launched the Facebook page again, with more confidence this time, and we were commissioned for piece after piece and project after project.

I was having so much fun tapping into my creative urges and I was amazed by the interest we were receiving. At the time I only knew of a handful of people in the area who made wood signs, maybe 2 or 3, so we were taking on a lot of work. I was officially working from home and loving every minute of it!

Over the years we evolved and my style changed, I actually cringe at the sight of some of my earlier work, BUT I realize it all helped me grow, and growth is key. Plus, some of those early signs truly made people incredibly happy! We eventually stopped working with pallets and started buying our wood, I started creating more of my own designs, and I fell in love with felt flowers and whimsical things and a more modern look.

When I was able to create more from my own imagination, only then did my business start receiving attention from a larger scale of customers and Instagram accounts. Only then did our following start to expand from local to other cities and countries.

Something else changed; a million wood sign makers popped up in the area seemingly overnight, and although the demand for signs didn’t change, my goals did.

Once you become part of the Instagram community of makers, you get to know a ton of amazing people who create beautiful things, and you form friendships with crafty people from around the world. These days when I go through Pinterest and see wood signs come up in my feed, 8 out of 10 times I actually know the business name and the face behind the person who created those signs on Pinterest.

And I don’t want to copy my friends and fellow makers. I don’t want to copy anyone who put their heart and creativity into something and had that idea taken from them, because I know how that feels, and it sucks. Customers may not completely understand that, but makers/creators and artists do, and it’s a whole other world between them.

Like many of my creative friends, I’ve taken it very personally and gotten upset over copying, I’ve fed off of other people’s opinions and I’ve allowed it to get to my heart. I never intentionally sought it out, it was brought to my attention by others who had good intentions and were trying to support me, which I appreciate. But I was eventually affected by it in spite of trying to focus on my own work and put my blinders on. But I’ve also learned from it.

Realistically we can’t claim to own the rights to a specific color, or a mass produced craft supply that Michael’s sells, or heart shapes, or premade silhouette designs, famous quotes or lyrics or glitter, or wood rounds and felt flowers. There is a ton of overlap and not everything is 100% original when you really analyze the elements that were gone into it. I’ve had ideas that pop up in my brain that I thought were original, but before I’ve had a chance to make them, I’ve seen something similar pop up in my Instagram feed.

In this way, I can’t claim that everything I do is completely original, I’m not saying I’m friggin Picasso over here, and I’m not claiming to be the only person to come up with a new idea. I’ve done the signs that everyone has done, I’ve done the quotes that everyone has done. I’ve done the pieces that I just know my customers will love and buy. But there’s a difference between being creative and just creating.

There’s a difference between mimicking an end result and being a person who came up with the creative idea that led to that end result. I’m not saying one person is better than another, I’m just saying these 2 types of people have different values, and different goals.

I realized over the years that for the most part, custom orders are not my forte. I want my customers to have my best work, so I’m always striving to improve from my last creation. I can honestly say that I’ve only been satisfied with about 50% of the custom orders I completed in the past, and I can admit that I really struggle with them and I doubt myself through the entire process.

In the past I would receive the customer’s idea and start creating it only to find that I mis-read their idea and totally made my own idea in my head without realizing it. The creative mind does what it wants and fights against being put in a box.

I got tremendous anxiety. I re-did the sign 10 times. I cried. I felt defeated. I felt bad about myself and I felt bad giving it to the customer. Even if they were happy with it, I didn’t feel proud or fulfilled. I didn’t feel like the customer could possibly be happy with it, and then I’d beat myself up.

Of course I want you to have something special that is meaningful to you, and I appreciate my customers SO very much, but I found that I have to work with my own strengths and time restraints in order to produce my best work FOR you. It wouldn’t be fair to choose only the custom orders that I know I would excel at, and abandon the others.

My hope is that you find value in having a unique piece of wall art that doesn’t come from a store or from Pinterest, but from my heart, from my imagination and from years of devotion to my craft and my values as a maker.

In the last year or two, we focused on doing craft/art shows because it allowed me to create anything and everything and not have deadlines to adhere to, because life happens, kids get sick, and it’s sometimes challenging to meet deadlines.

BUT it wasn’t business savvy to post something online that I had made for a show and when people would express interest in buying it, I’d have to tell them they could only get it by coming to a show. “Uhh, yeah so there’s only one of these and you have to come to the show to get it. And I can’t sell all these pieces I made for the show or I’ll have nothing to bring to the show. Sorry” Forehead slap.

I know, that sucks. But I was afraid that I wouldn’t make sales on Etsy, and I’d always had success making sales at a show. After adding twins to our family, and realizing time and balance was becoming harder to achieve with 3 kids, two of whom stay at home with me, and my husband working 6 days a week at his day job, shows were a way to have a bit more control and a more guaranteed income. The lack of time and balance (and energy) have also been a contributing factor in our discussions about shutting down the business.

But I love creating for people so much, and with my busy family life, it’s the only “me” time I get these days, so it is also a great way to incorporate some semblance of self care into my life.

So, to make this long story longer,  this year I have loaded up my Etsy shop with designs and I’m open for business with many of the signs people have asked for! Depending on how Etsy sales go, I don’t have plans to do all that many shows this year other than a few big ones, due to lack of time and resources as well as health issues with arthritis and bulging discs in my neck. Wood signs aren’t light, and all the lifting involved for shows causes me a lot of pain. My husband helps when he can but he is usually home with the kids in order to allow me to do shows.

I will do my best to keep the Etsy shop open and will only close temporarily if I’m overly flooded with orders or prepping for any shows I do commit to. Turnover times are currently 1-3 weeks, and locals can use code PICKUP at checkout to omit shipping charges.

I am absolutely honored that people buy my signs on Etsy, and I have made most of my signs customizable by color, size, shape, etc so you can get a custom feel without completely changing the style or design.

I am working on adding new designs regularly, as well as ready-made seasonal pieces. I have so many more categories to add to, including weddings, mother’s day, father’s day etc. I plan to add more personalized items as well, but you can always request to add a name or date to a piece. Suggestions are always welcome also!

We are headed into our 5th year of business and I’m still learning every.single.day. I’m not perfect, I screw up, I haven’t always done everything for everyone and I’ve said no to a lot of projects or collaborations that I knew wouldn’t vibe with my goals, values, time restraints, resources, tools or abilities.

You can’t make everyone happy, you’re not pizza. And even if you are a delicious slice of pizza, some people have allergies or they’re vegan or gluten-free, or they don’t want to pay for pizza or they don’t value the ingredients, or would rather go somewhere else for pizza or make their own pizza. And that’s ok.

Here’s a link to my Etsy shop and our Instagram page related to the handmade business.

Handmade Products aren’t Cheap, Here’s Why

I know some people may look at a beautiful handmade wreath or a piece of jewelry on Etsy, and wonder about the price or why prices vary so much from shop to shop.

If you are in the handmade business, it’s not very often that customers are going to flat out ask you why you charge the way you do, except for maybe the odd person at a craft show. And you may find that those people generally don’t care what your explanation is for your pricing or process, usually they’re just low key accusing you of over-charging and making things super awkward before they mutter something about making it themselves and walk away.

But when you look at a completed sign, or a craft of any sort, you see the finished project, not the time and energy that went into making it, or the cost & quality of the supplies, the difficulty there might be in obtaining the supplies, etc, and it truly is hard to see the value behind it. Only the maker or artist truly knows what goes into their work and what’s behind the dollar sign.

There have been many pieces of art that I have adored that have been out of my budget too, so trust me, I get it. I would be the person at the craft show admiring and complimenting your work and walking away sadly if I couldn’t afford it. That beautiful reclaimed wood table I’m ogling won’t be looking so great if I can’t afford to put food on it this week.

I’m sharing the attached felt flower tutorial that is time lapsed, just to give you an idea of how much work goes into ONE felt flower. ONE. Even in a time lapse, (where it completely skips the steps where she has to cut all those millions of petals btw) it’s still taking her forevvvvver to make, not to mention deterring me from ever wanting to make that style of flower or continuing to watch the video.

I don’t make the type of flower shown in the tutorial, but even the simple ones that I create still take a ridiculous amount of time. I don’t use a die cutting machine, I AM the cutting machine here, so everything is cut by hand and glued together piece by piece.

They are a labor of love, a love that I’ve thought about ending many times over how tedious they can be. But damn, they just make the signs look so much prettier sometimes, don’t you think?

When I started using felt and burlap flowers in 2013, I bought them from a friend who made them because I had no clue that I could attempt to make them myself and I also did not understand the time that went into each one. Bless her heart for charging me so little for her adorable flowers!

I loved the look of them and thought they added something unique to the signs, and this was way before I actually knew how to use Instagram or had a clue what other makers were doing with felt flowers over in the US. Turns out that they were doing some next level stuff in the states, but the felt flowers on signs were unique around here at the time.

The round signs I make with over 20 felt flowers on them that cost $80CDN? Welp, for anyone who has ever wondered why, just take a little glimpse at the attached tutorial to get an idea of the time that goes into a flower. Be forewarned though, you may want to tear your own eyeballs out after only 20 seconds of video footage.

This doesn’t factor in the cost of the board itself, which is a gorgeous and thick piece of wood that has smooth curved edges and is actually intended to be used as a tabletop, so it’s nicer quality than if we were cutting our own rounds. The rounds themselves cost about $15.

I buy all my felt online, so it’s costlier than going to Michael’s but the felt I use is a wood blend and is higher quality, easier to work with, and comes in more variety in terms of colors.

We hand sand the rounds, stain or paint the base, create a design on a software program similar to photoshop and then cut a stencil, paint the stencil on, clear coat, make all the flowers, glue them on, add hardware, and voila! Sounds easy when I sum it up like that, but it’s definitely hours and hours and hours and hours of work, not to mention tools and materials.

Add in a hand-cut shape like the unicorn or mermaid, and that tacks on even more time that my husband spends on the scroll saw, afterwards sanding all the tiny grooves and edges by hand. Then I take the shape and paint or stain it, glitter it up, seal it and glue it on the sign.

To be honest, I could charge $150 for these signs and I might feel like our time and supplies were being compensated, but I definitely wouldn’t sell any at that price, or feel right about selling them at that price, so there has to be a happy medium. I absolutely LOVE creating and coming up with my own ideas, and I want to be valuable and as unique as possible but not completely out of reach. That’s my personal approach, but everyone is different, and each artist has their own guidelines for pricing. Sometimes it’s hard to put a price tag on creativity and originality.

I know that many customers appreciate the time and effort that goes into handmade and (budget permitting ) will pay for a unique or personalized product that they won’t find in stores or on Pinterest, but this is just a bit of insight for those who are genuinely wondering what is factored in when it comes to the pricing of my handmade products. I hope it’s been helpful if you’re a customer or relatable if you’re a maker.

If I could do a timelapse video of the entire process for one sign, (or even one small $5 magnet), it would probably bore you to tears but also give you a greater idea of how much effort is involved. But ain’t nobody got time for making videos when I have a boat load of felt flowers to make! So I’mma go do that instead. See you in 400 years from now. 😉

31 Reasons Moms are Late

 

Dear Mr Principal of my child’s school
Re: Chronic Lateness

As per your request I am confirming receipt of your letter in regards to being late 30 times this school year. Thank you so much for pointing this out, I hadn’t actually noticed that we have been late nearly every day; this is absolutely brand new information!

I’d like to apologize for our tardiness and offer 30 reasons why we have not made it to school by 9am this school year. (Make that 31 since tomorrow will be another inevitable sh!t show).
1. 2. 3. 4. 5 This accounts for many days of lateness, but robbers keep breaking into our house at night and stealing our hats, gloves, and shoes. They only seem to steal one piece to each set, so they’re obviously working for some next level covert operation that we don’t even know about. We have contacted the police and we are hopeful that they can locate the mysterious disappearance of our cold weather gear, but in the meantime, we are sleeping with one eye open.

6. Did you know that car seats are infested with sharks? I didn’t either. But based on the force with which my screaming toddlers refuse to be strapped into their car seats in the morning, I’ve concluded two things: 1) car seats have shark teeth that gnash at children’s bottoms upon being seated 2) Making your body as stiff as a board for as long as possible while screaming uncontrollably is the best way to avoid being put into a car seat, and causes optimal stress levels to your car seat assailant.

7. My child decided he needed a shower at 8:55 am because he “had to go poop and the toilet paper wasn’t working right.”

8. 9. The dog snuck off in the night and hid a poop in the shag rug. What a fun game! The toddlers discovered said poop in the morning and decided it would be fun to play in it and eat it. This accounts for 2 days of lateness because only in my household can we be blessed with this wonderful ordeal occurring multiple times.

10. “Get dressed for school” translated to a child is “do something completely irrelevant that wastes 15 minutes and do NOT get ready for school.”

11. Peanut butter breakfast fight. Aka I’ve lost my will to live.

12. “Why is your brother bleeding?” and “stop eating dirt” are apparently just things I say in my house now. Cue the bath and band-aids.

13. It was 8:57 am and I’d been informed that the dog peed on my son’s winter coat. The replacement coat offered was not sufficient for the child as per his screaming refusal to wear it for 16 minutes straight.

14. 15. PARKING ENFORCEMENT was being all enforcey about not parking or stopping anywhere in the vicinity of the school or the planet earth. I decided that I wasn’t going to park 5 miles away only to wrestle toddlers into their stroller (see #6 re: shark teeth car seats and appendix b: getting them into strollers takes 40 minutes ). I opted instead to drive around the block until they vacated the premises.
Still received a $75 parking ticket in the mail a week later.

16. 17. 18. 19. Oh hey mom, we’re in the car now and I thought this was a good time to let you know that it’s wear red day, or donate something day, or show and tell day, or I need to bring money for something and now we’re going to have to go to the bank before school day.

20. 21. I laid in bed a little too long in the morning imagining I was drinking a pina colada on a beach in Mexico by myself, with the hot sun burning on my skin and hearing nothing but the sound of the waves and…….
“MOM”
“mommm”
“MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!”
Nevermind, my alarm clock went off.

22. 23. That time I walked into the twins room and found a war scene of explosive diarrhea. That time happened twice.

24. 25. I ran a marathon before school. And by marathon, I mean I chased toddlers in circles for 40 minutes trying to put on their socks, jackets and hats. It’s a great full body workout, and at the end, no one is wearing their socks, jackets or hats but you’re still breaking a serious sweat.

26. There was an argument with my child because I told him he could not in fact wear his underwear to school with a toothpaste stained Tshirt.

27. That day we made it to school on time and it was a PA day. No, it doesn’t fit into this list of reasons why we have been late but I thought you should know we were on time that day. Yas!

28. 29. There were no clean underwear or pants or socks. My job title should be laundry maid, and apparently I should be fired because even with the 8 million loads I do per week, there’s still never anything clean.

30. Sliding screen doors and naked MacGyver toddlers who escape sliding screen door lock mechanisms to go streaking in the back yard.

31. I don’t even know, this is just our life now.

In conclusion, I’d like to offer my apologies once again for our lateness and let you know that I’m being proactive about finding a solution as I am in the beginning stages of developing an app that allows you to send children to school using only your mind. I’m hoping it can also send me to that beach in Mexico where I have a Pina Colada waiting for me.

In 2018, we simplify

Screenshot_20171219-195525

I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions because as corny as it sounds, I feel like every day is an opportunity for self improvement, not just when the calendar changes.

Plus I’m a rebel and I don’t always like to follow the crowd. Case and point, I haven’t downloaded Snapchat, I’ve never tried a pumpkin spiced anything, and I don’t understand what the heck Rae Dunn is. *waits for someone to throw a plain mug with plain writing at me.*

But a New Year and a clean slate really makes for a perfect opportunity to trim the fat, literally and figuratively.

I want to simplify my life so that I can get back to actually living it. I want to spend the time making memories with my kids, not worrying about getting the perfect picture of the moment, because the best and most real moments tend to be those we don’t capture on camera.

I want to focus on more real, face-to- face communication as opposed to digital communication, get back to real hobbies that I used to enjoy and live slightly more outside the social media box.

I took time during the holiday break to look at our life, think about what was working and wasn’t working at home and in my business, and decided that changes needed to be made to simplify things.

I started by purging my craft room, my basement, my closets, the toy room, and worked on ridding my life of excess STUFF as part of my simplifying plan. (yes, I donated for those who are wondering. I’m a frequent flyer at my local Value Village).

Clutter and my brain do not go well together, and I read a study that said there’s scientific proof that clutter can affect your well being by deterring you from focusing on important tasks, because you are distracted by the chaos and junk around you.

I didn’t need a study to tell me that my brain is wired that way, but it definitely helped validate it. Now if only it affected my husband and kids in the same manner, then maybe my house would resemble less of a tornado on any given day.

In addition to purging my home, I started to purge other areas of my life, including my Facebook account. As I started going through and unfollowing and unliking things that didn’t pertain to me, I realized that it would be easier to completely deactivate my page altogether.

Facebook has changed a lot since the days of writing on someone’s wall and eagerly awaiting for them to reply back on your wall, or being on the receiving end of the infamous poke. It has evolved in a lot of positive ways that allow us to communicate with people all over the world, stay informed on important news and social events, and generate income and sales through groups and pages, BUT it has also become completely overwhelming for me in many ways.

This isn’t even at the top of my list of reasons for deactivating but sometimes I think we get wrapped up in everyone’s highlight reels that we forget it isn’t always an indication of their everyday lives, and I know that my brain subconsciously compares other people’s lives to mine, even when I logically know there’s no need to compare.

I am not an insecure or jealous person by nature, but you really can’t help but sometimes feel inadequate or question your own life when you’re constantly watching how other people live theirs.

Why can’t we go on vacation every year like the Smiths? How do the Anderson’s take such perfectly posed pictures with their kids? Should I have put more presents under the tree like the Applebee family? How does Frieda seem to have her life put together, (and white furniture!) when she has more kids than me? Why did my friend share Heather’s craft page and not mine?

I will talk more about my Facebook hiatus in a separate post but overall as part of my 2018 plan, I felt the need to disconnect from it for awhile to clean out my own brain.

On a business perspective, I was feeling overwhelmed by the notifications coming from far too many angles- from my personal Facebook inbox, two Facebook business pages, several email accounts, Etsy messages, DM’s on two separate Instagram accounts, text messages and website messages.

I know messages were getting lost in the shuffle, organization was becoming difficult, and I would remember receiving a notification for a message, but had to search to figure out WHERE that message came from. And by the time I found it, there were kids who needed snacks, socks, a bandaid, a booger cleaned, a toy retrieved, a snuggle, a bath, etc, and I’d lose track again.

So I have scaled back and streamlined my business while trying to come up with a better system for everyone. I will discuss all of the changes to our business in a subsequent post, but overall it’s a learning curve and it’s hard to find balance with 3 small children and a husband who works 6 days a week; we are just doing our best to stay afloat most days, and to keep the kids fed, clothed and happy. Some days a shower is an accomplishment.

This year we are making the necessary changes to better ourselves and our lives, and most importantly, our children’s lives. 2017 was a challenging year for our family and we realized that change was necessary for everyone to have a happier, healthier home, so that is the main focus.

In addition to everything I mentioned about simplifying and focusing on my family, a couple other goals I’ve set for myself this year are to plan a family vacation this summer, lose 20lbs of stress weight or learn to be happy with 20lbs of stress weight lol, start blogging and singing again, and find more time for self care.

Did you set any goals for 2018?

The Blog is Born

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

And so begins another chapter in my business and life goals with the birth of  my new personal blog that aims to cover a variety of topics including mom life, beauty, reviews, food, crafts, fashion, decorating, diy, mental health, various issues I feel strongly about, and of course tons of tongue-in-cheek articles by yours truly.

This is isn’t my first time blogging or writing, so I’m not jumping on a band wagon per se, but rather trying to flex the old writing muscles that have been laying dormant over the years, save for my long winded Instagram captions and Facebook anecdotes. I’m rusty, so go easy on me.

My passion for writing dates back to elementary school when I did sports write ups for the Essex Free Press and wrote a script in 5th grade for a play that myself and my Program for Advanced Learners Club (aka Nerd Group) performed in a national contest in Colorado. I was published in small papers and won poetry contests at school, and I was sure that the only thing I wanted to do when I grew up was to write my heart out.

And boy did I write! I have diaries filled with personal thoughts and stories dating back to the age of 9. (They’re actually quite hilarious, and I plan to give you a little taste of those in a future segment.) I wrote raps (YES RAPS, I was really into Kris Kross okay? I even shaved my eyebrows attempting to imitate those badass slits they had in theirs. Side note it was a fail).

I wrote poems, my own music, how-to articles, and during college I had my own Fashion Do’s and Don’ts feature in Windsor Social magazine as part of my Journalism field placement. My goal was to eventually publish my own local magazine or write articles for a big fashion/beauty mag like Chatelaine or Glamour.

Journalism has changed over the years, and thanks to social media, YouTube and blogging, people can write and share the things they are passionate about and connect to a huge audience on the internet. In my day (yes, total old person terminology) we had to work hard to get something published in print, and we just hoped that a handful of people would get to read it.

I love that we can connect on such a large scale with people who share similar interests from all over the world. I love that because of Etsy, my wood art travels to homes all over the US and Canada. It’s very cool to be this connected, and I hope to form some new connections with my Blog. In fact, I want to share YOUR stories and anecdotes and YOUR creative work or businesses and talk about things that YOU love too! I see a lot of talent, passion, and interesting people and businesses on Instagram, and I want to feature and interview people who catch my eye or my heart. (Food is always a great way to my heart btw.)

Over-sharing and satire are my jam, and I plan to bring you plenty of both to this blog. If there is anything else I am passionate about, it’s laughter. I like laughing, laughter, making people laugh, comedy, memes, comedians and finding the funny in literally everything.

Thanks for following along, I hope you’ll stick around!