Empty Nester – Extraordinaire

creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

Archive for the ‘In the Shop’ Category

In the Shop – Hooking


February 6th, 2013 Posted 6:10 am

I’m hoping to stay busy enough that “In the Shop” can be a regular blog feature. I’m also hoping the regular blog feature will keep me motivated to stay busy.

What a clever girl I am.

Since the beginning of the year, Ravynn and I have been hooking and stitching up a storm. Really. I’ve heard thunder!  Since we’re still working on backing the quilt tops we put together, this post will show off the crochet projects we’ve completed.

Remember that most of what we show off here can be made in almost any color combination.















Some of these photos will be retaken for the website or for Etsy, but I think they give a good view of where we’ve been focusing our creativity.


Death of the Blog


August 13th, 2010 Posted 1:22 am

Not really.

Back in April, I took a temp job as a third shift sewer at a pillow factory in a neighboring town.  The work is easy; the other sewers are sweet; the hours took some getting used to, but I’ve adapted.  Even getting back into the swing of it after a long weekend (I work M-Th, 6:30pm-5am) is easier than it was at the start.  The real issue I’m dealing with -DAILY- is how much this schedule is interfering with everyday life. So many things I did regularly have fallen by the wayside.

I’m not just talking about FarmVille!  😉  Although that clearly shows signs of neglect.

Mostly I’ve been neglecting this blog, my Facebook fan page, and other online communities and message boards where I promote the site and gather advice and hints.  By the time I get back, I’ll need to start over building relationships. More incentive to make time for all of it, I guess.

But when???

… pardon my moment to whine …

Working until 5am, I get home at 5:30 and cannot fall asleep right away. I stay up and catch up on some DVRed shows. I get to bed by 6:30 and sleep until 1 or 2. I do not get enough sleep; I know that.   Having to leave for work before 6, I have about 3.5 hours. During that time I want to spend time with my kids and I have to do errands and household chores. I feel bad about the things I feel there is no time for. And I feel there isn’t time for much.

… end whining …

Hopefully soon this time dilemma will change. I’ve had two interviews this week and I feel really good about them.  At the same time, I’m daydreaming about Bats! meow… being a full time job.

Step One:  revival of the blog!

Welcome back!!


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Posted in Business, Daily Life

We Went to the Mall


April 18th, 2010 Posted 10:06 pm

Jordan and I were out today returning DVDs to the library and getting milk so the kids would have some for breakfast in the morning.  While out, we spent some time discussing the Neil Gaiman lecture yesterday, just checking in to see what we each really got out of it now that we’ve had some time to let it soak into our squishy little brains.  Not surprisingly, we focussed on the same bits – the “just write it” advice directed to an aspiring writer over on the right.  Jordan is working on a novel and needs to get past a sticky point; I need to sketch, plan, and sew. Bats! meow… needs new designs.  So the advice applies to both of us.  In order to help myself, I decided to take a quick tour of some of the nicer kids departments in town.  Keep in mind that in our small town [about 40,000 people], there aren’t a ton of high-end stores and what is considered high-end here, probably isn’t in any larger town.

That being said, I love small-town living 🙂

We ran to the mall and strolled through two stores.  I believe that was all that was available, but it was all we wanted to take time for too – the milk was in the trunk!  One thing that struck me was how much styles haven’t changed since I was a little girl.  I said a dozen times, ‘I had this same dress when I was little.’  The styles were the same – even the colors.  One shop [the nicer of the two] had racks upon racks of red, white, and blue clothes.  Even as a 7 year old in 1976, I wasn’t loving that…  This is me in 1972 [I’m in the blue dress] with my parents and younger sister.

It gave me hope though. I mean the styles running around in my head are the ones I’m seeing on the racks – and clearly they don’t change that much or that fast that I’ll lose the window before I complete the project.  I’m on track!!

Look for more soon.



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Posted in In the Shop

Busy Busy Bees


April 4th, 2010 Posted 11:33 pm

Yes, bees. We saw one today, which means it is much too hot here for what the calendar should indicate.

Good news is that the website update is progressing nicely and may just more into a more indepth change.  We’ll see.  Orders are picking up  – even before the big splash in the press AND before the new version of the site is live.  I have a stack of boxes to go to the post office tomorrow as well as some sewing and crocheting to complete.  Yeah!  I have some book orders and tarot readings to take care of as well.

Life is good.

Also good, yet totally unrelated, Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins.  Uncle Buster and Daddy are cheering right along with me 🙂

~ sheila


Whine, Whine, Wine


March 7th, 2010 Posted 11:35 am

Eric ran out to a long-overdue poker game Friday night.  Not only was it time for a game, but it was also a needed break with some old friends.  Truth be told, I also enjoy having a night home alone every now and again.  To read, write, or work on business stuff after the kids are in bed and the house is quiet.  Yes, I can do all of that with Eric here, but I hate to feel like I’m ignoring him. And I get so caught up in what I’m doing that sometimes I actually am.

Friday night I took full advantage of the situation.  Kids and I ordered in pizza and sat around watching TV favorites until the girls went to bed.  At 10:00, we switched to a movie, but the boys were tired and asked if we could finish it Saturdya when they got up.  Sure thing 🙂  Throughout the evening I was busy plugging away at the data entry on the new shopping cart.  So much of it could be copied and pasted from the existing site, but the setup is changed enough that the current product descriptions look lost on the page.  I was struggling to beef them up.  And letting my frustration get the better of me.  Although I love writing and don’t normally have a problem with getting text on the page, I did find it really difficult to write promotional copy.  Pimping, if you will.

There was a lot of whining; my children mocked me.  I am sure that every five minutes, there was a wee cry of ‘I hate this job,” and a response of, “maybe whining will help.”  Brats.  But there were right.  Whining didn’t help.  So I took a deep breath, poured a glass of the only wine Eric and I have ever both liked and settled down  under a blanket on the sofa.

I love red wine, but Eric doesn’t.  It’s the spices that do it for him 🙂  I have to admit, I love them too.

Before long, I wanted to be a little more comfortable and moved into the bedroom with the laptop, all my notes, and my new copy of  ‘Practical Magic”.  I love that movie!  And it’s a good one to watch while I’m working – I’ve seen it so often that I don’t even have to look at the screen to know what’s going on.   But the plan worked – all of the items are into the database and today will be spent beefing up those product descriptions – as well as grocery shopping and doing laundry.

Exciting life, I lead.  No?


Pink? Really?


March 3rd, 2010 Posted 12:29 pm

Getting back into the habit of blogging is HARD.

Initially, I was away with several sick kids.  We spent the 18th celebrating the Pip’s birthday at a local Mexican place.  It was a great time. Despite Jordan having been home sick that day with a bad stomach ache, he was feeling better and in a party mood.  The other kids were chipper and didn’t even fight over who got to sit next to Mama.  We laughed and sang together as the servers helped the birthday girl enjoy her special dessert.

Unfortunately, about an hour after we got home, three of the kids were complaining of the same stomach ache Jordan had earlier.  No other symptoms – just a pain that on more than one occasion had them laying on the floor yelling out in pain.  It was heartbreaking. Throughout the next week, we had kids home from school; one on the first day; two on the second; one on the third; I even got called to school several days to bring meds or to bring home sick children. It was a mess.  But, we’re done.  Whisper, the lucky birthday girl, never did catch whatever it was.  YEAH!!

Even after the recovery, it was easy to just stay away and not look for witty and interesting topics to talk about.  Naughty.

Although, I’ve not had much time for sewing, I have taken steps toward a new sachet design. I’m researching a design to embroider on the front of the sachet and then need to work on the smelly mix for inside.  Quite a change from what I normally favor, I’m looking toward a more ‘girly’ pink and green palette for this new item.  Mostly because of the color significances to go along with the aromatherapy, but the girls suggested it was about time. I’m looking forward to cutting and stitching.

And I need need need to spend time formatting the new shopping cart we’re using for the website.  I have a HARD deadline of March 25 [and yes, I know how soon that is!] so the site is ready for showing off and [ahem!] pimping by April 2.  We have plans in the works that have great potential for more traffic.  And our customers must be happy.


When I Grow Up, I Want to be an Artist


February 15th, 2010 Posted 10:48 am

I had hoped by this point to have new product to show off.  Unfortunately, even with a basic template for the art that I want to drop onto this new item, I am failing mightily.  I trace and edit and it’s still not working.  I think I’m close, but I need a couple more pair of eyes to check it over to figure out what exactly I’m doing wrong.  It may actually be nothing, but…  I’m too close to it.

When the kids get home from school, I’ll have the boys check it over.  Also, Eric is on his way home from work, so maybe he’ll look it over. After confirming the office wasn’t closed for President’s day and also after answering work email [that came in this morning] from home, he drove in.  Only to find the office closed.  He’s supposed to get a phone notification when the office is closed, but no call came.  He’s cranky 🙁

We may head out for lunch, but at the same time get some work done on this new product.

I’m crossing my fingers.


I just talked to a friend who owns a design company out of Pittsburgh and he’s willing to help out with the dog ‘problems’.  I know good people and I’m happy for the support we give each other.


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Posted in New Items

time well used


February 9th, 2010 Posted 10:05 pm

Although we started this morning with news that EVERY school in the area was not just on a 2-hour delay [those are so common we don’t even celebrate them], but was closed, my four monsters were loaded into the van for a trip across town to the dentist.  At 8am.  I suspect I’m a bad mother, wasting a perfectly good snow day in that manner.  I issued reminders for them to bring any homework they hadn’t finished the night before OR a book OR some game device.  They complied and we were early.

I also was a good little student and grabbed a stack of books I picked up at the library last night.  Just a few on different ideas for kid’s clothing – sewing, knitting, crocheting.  I found some great ideas for hats and dresses – even some dolls 🙂

The most exciting information in any of the three books I had time to browse through during the cleanings was found in an appendix, included like an afterthought, was a brief tutorial on freezer paper stencils.

There is a project that’s been bouncing around my brain for several years that I couldn’t quite figure out how to make work.  But this new information brings me so much closer.  Also found today is this photo from iStock that should help as well.

I’ll need to make some changes, but it’s great inspiration.

Now, if only I can make this work.  I feel good about it.  More to come.



Dollies, dresses, and blankies… oh my!


February 6th, 2010 Posted 12:25 am

I have great plans for new items for Bats! meow… I also have great hope that the time I need to draft the patterns and sew some samples will just appear in my life.

First up are a couple of new dresses or, maybe skirt and top sets.  The way this usually works is I determine what my girls want and then sew for them.  If the design is a success [as determined by the ooos and aaahs of the 6- and 7-years old girls  in the house and in the neighborhood], we’ll photograph, do the price workups [cost versus profit], create the web listing, and work on alternate size options – not necessarily in that order.

Next up are a set of rag dolls.  Or something of that nature.  I’m super excited about this.  When I was a little girl, all of my baby dolls [and I had a LOT of baby dolls with ALL the accessories] were little blonde things with bobbed hair.  They didn’t look anything like their mama.  Even the baby dolls in our house are 90% blondes. I do believe it’s time to expand the market to include more of the ‘looks like me’ variety.  Of course, there is more in the plans than just brown hair and grey eyes.  I’ll share more as soon as something has been sewn and stuffed. I’m really looking forward to this!

Finally, I want to incorporate my love of quilting into our designs.  More housewares, some quilts for babies, even some pillows for bigger kids and adults.  But not just any design will do – we’ll need something special, so more designing on real life graph paper.

So much to do.  Such great plans.  But time, again, is the enemy.



wednesday wednesday


February 2nd, 2010 Posted 10:57 pm

On the table in the sewing studio are the parts for one of the cutest girls dresses I’ve had the pleasure to design: The Wednesday dress.  Just like Wednesday Addams. It’s a goth favorite.

I made one for Ravynn when she was 2. She wore it until Whisper grew into it and Whisper wore it until she couldn’t. Now, that very dress is hanging in my fabric storage closest ready to be pulled out and used for inspiration.  When I feel my energy level slipping or when I’ve clearly overloaded my schedule and simply need the reminder that “Your children love what you do and who you are.  Carry on Mum,” I hold it in my hands and I feel stronger, better, more determined.

I want to sew for the girls [and the boys], but I have pending orders [note the Wednesday dress I just mentioned] to finish and ship.  I also have website updates to finish and discuss with my designer.  There are minor updates needed to Etsy and ArtFire.  And I have sketches for more designs  that I desperately want to mock up a pattern of and get ready to promote.

But first things first, so tomorrow I will complete the dress.

Maybe after that, I’ll photograph the sewing studio to share with my bloggy friends.