Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Upcoming Open House

It seems like there are never enough hours in the day when you are preparing your house for sale!! We had a hectic weekend this last weekend, with painting and cleaning and all sorts of other things. It is bittersweet - we are only leaving this home because we cannot afford it anymore, so now it looks clean and brand new all over again and reminds us of when we first purchased it.

We have already begun the search for a potential next house, in the hopes that this home will sell quickly. It should, because we are pricing it below value and it has a lot of incredible features - no neighbors to the back, the neighborhood smells of freshly baked bread, walking distance to Fontenelle Forest and Mandan Park (which has views of the river), and not to mention we had brand new windows installed in September!!

Our realtor is holding an open house this upcoming Sunday, February 28th, from noon until 2pm. There will be free cookies and tea for all visitors - please pass on the information to anyone you know who might be interested in buying a great house! Click here for the listing (pictures should be added later today). There is also a virtual tour of the house so you can see it from many angles - it's really beautiful!

In the meantime, I am trying to find a way to keep the house spotless while continuing to work from home - it's a little crazy!!

Please pray that we can sell the house quickly!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Adventures in Gluten Free Living: A Mouthful of Ick

As I mentioned previously, gluten-free foods are sometimes a shot in the dark - you just don't know if it will be a hit or not!! :)

Our local HyVee has been a great source for gluten-free foods, but for the last 2.5 weeks has been out of my favorite product: Udi's bread.

If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it!!!!! Here is a link to their website.

Supposedly, they ran out of supply and that's why my grocery store can't get it in. In the meantime, my hubs and I have been buying different gluten free bread mixes that you have to prepare.

The ones we've tried so far have been lacking - one had a very strong taste like a rye (which I don't like but thankfully the hubs does), another two were just a little too spongy for my liking but at least the flavor was edible. Last night, we tried yet another mix, and one mouthful in we were both gagging and spitting it back out!

The only way I can describe it is like biffing it in a sandbox and getting a mouth full of dirty sand. Seriously.

I don't list the brands here because I don't like calling companies out unless I LIKE their products, but I will say that I wish there were more companies out there like Udi's that made EDIBLE gluten free products!

Ick. Ick. Ick. I still can't get that gritty texture and taste out of my mouth...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Expanding my horizons...

I spent quite some time yesterday reading over a post on the Etsy discussion forums about ebay vs etsy. I personally have used eBay for other nonhandmade items, but not for my handmade/etsy items, and wasn't impressed. They seem to have high fees, and you never know if something will sell or not but get charged regardless.

There were a lot of great perspectives, and a few links to other places that Etsians liked to sell on, such as a place called 1000 markets.

I have been in business (officially - prior to Java Jess Publishing, I did sell some handmade items on Etsy under the name Creations4Causes) since August 2009, but have yet to make a decent profit (since I am still paying off machinery, etc). I have tried advertising on Facebook, advertising via Project Wonderful, sending out promo postcards to local nonprofits, blogging, having a Facebook fan page, having an Etsy shop, inputting my info at Google, etc. but haven't really thought about selling elsewhere. I also have my own website: http://www.javajesspublishing.com, where most of my items are featured.

Before I spend a lot of time signing up for other venues and/or spending money on more advertising, I thought I'd ask my readers - what has worked best for you? Is there one venue where you make more sales with minimum time spent promoting? What other ways do you use to promote your shop?

I look forward to your input!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Adventures in Gluten-Free Living: Take Two

Last night was my once-monthly gluten-free support group meeting at my local HyVee. I've made it to two meetings so far, so I am still a "newbie" when it comes to this sort of thing.

I love the information that I get, and it's nice to compare stories of gluten-free living.

However, last night was a little... annoying, for lack of a better term. There was a participant there who seemed to think she was the only person who could say whether or not something tasted good, what symptoms were "normal" for celiacs, and sort of butted in whenever she could. Her tastes were NOT the same as the group, as we quickly discovered through our taste test of some new cookie products the store was considering bringing in! The ones she loved the most the rest of us thought were disgusting. She also kept raving about a group of products that the rest of us couldn't stand.

There was also a gal that was very newly diagnosed - she was only diagnosed yesterday prior to the meeting - and her husband was totally obnoxious. Maybe a little drunk, though, so that could have contributed. ;) But he kept talking about things that didn't relate to gluten-free living, and kind of harassed his wife about what kind of lifestyle she would have to lead from now on (while he taunted that he would keep eating whatever he wanted right in front of her - not cool).

And our poor dietitian that was trying to lead the meeting seemed pretty annoyed at the lack of structure in the meeting.

Plus, the gals that I was hoping would be back from the last meeting (who knew a whole lot more about gluten free living) weren't able to make it to this meeting, so I walked away with a lot less information.

Overall, a disappointing experience. Especially considering the drive it is from our house to the HyVee, added to the blistering winds and occasional whiteout conditions.

But I know we'll hit up the next meeting again - if nothing else, for the free gluten-free foods we get to try. ;)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Everything you need to know, you can learn from blogs...

Ok, maybe not everything. But I was catching up on the blogs I follow today, and here are some things I learned:

1) How to make felted fortune cookies, from http://lizswares.blogspot.com/2010/02/craft-of-day-felt-fortune-cookies.html?showComment=1266251269541_AIe9_BEiEWUptACRBAeGmUPhgKBaBo1aWwjKrwLhp2PYlS3mUWy8RbeOjcX-BvZs-iiMq0_pX7Q2HSaYh5PPWZUNjmgdDn3r1j6GLOAyYIvzE0goYzWH1iL_oCEvRBqmgNTxwi6yCRk2UE4PMTFu9fwTZQJ0qNYK2lRwXjE89PntGguxH4y4DcaxvVrgcYxvlo4br-Mi0dCJPNets1JXexNaq7UvD_NCGJV5Xv8zgCA_EMOd7kJopaTnZUVoelvaokrvN8q-nYwt#c3960681417082367301

2) How to get a shorter Facebook url (I already knew this, but there are TONS of others out there that haven't discovered it yet so I felt it was worth passing on), from http://findingcharm.blogspot.com/2010/02/marketing-tip-of-week-facebook-vanity.html

3) That I am not the only person who celebrates "Caturday", from http://cherylspurplecow.blogspot.com/2010/02/its-caturday.html

4) That I am also not the only person who gets frustrated by the incredibly low bid prices expected in Alchemy, from http://jenjiescraftystuff.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-stand-corrected-and-other-thoughts.html?showComment=1266251485238_AIe9_BH7k39n9vhlXB74ks5djpbrDerCN9yvSJ9LWsCkivMDJ3Mg3ZocIHeD2kuyQJhK4ZrV5H6hcGYmdJVtTbE9U7qjLi-MnC1yAfRAjfYhSJhxGsjjmNUKVl_CjzSyf0qpcOPMWu4OK_nB73J-Bcg0r5UhhA1ylySH3TaHiI3hDQL9e272ipv_D0GeDoFcv8b7l1IZJhmU0TyK2CeS9MEniMA04rSRnw0cV65TWNfcuhjvkuaPaMGGbv8ryERstLHtAx-qDEgg#c1659738291618209897

5) And finally, I learned that no matter how hard I try, I will never get caught up on ALL the blogs I follow, so I better just be happy that I catch up on a few every couple of days. ;) hee hee.

Happy Monday everyone! Just a reminder that there is a SNEAK ATTACK planned for this evening! For details, go to: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6438189

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Trying NOT to fall in love...

with another house, that is. ;) I thought "love" would be an appropriate topic for Valentine's day, despite the fact that my hubs and I personally do not celebrate it (we think it's silly, we can buy each other cards or gifts any time, not just on an overpriced holiday).

My real estate agent is incredible, a great friend, and is sure she can get our house sold for us, but I'm still scared it won't sell. Next weekend we will be doing all the touch up paint and cleaning before taking the final pics to list it... SCARY! But in the meantime, she has been sending me links here and there of houses we could downgrade to (we are going to be getting a much cheaper house, we just can't afford what we pay right now).

Yesterday, she sent me a link to what could be "THE" house... it fit almost every criteria we had, and it was still cheaper, and wow wow wow... but, we haven't even listed our house yet, and by the time we list it and sell it that house might be gone! :( So I am trying hard not to fall in love with it. We can try to ask for a contingency (where they hold that house for us until our house sells, within a certain timeframe of couse) but 99% of sellers aren't interested in that.


In the meantime, I'm still hoping we can find a buyer for this house before we list it, so we can save a ton of money on fees, etc. I put up a post not long ago with pics, address, etc - please forward the info to anyone you know that might be interested in buying this house!!! :)

Thanks everyone... now it's off to work on cleaning and packing...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adventures in Gluten-Free Living: Take One

The more I thought about it, the more I thought I might as well share a few of my gluten-free experiences with all you lovely readers. Why? Well, first of all, it provides me with something to talk about when I can't think of anything else, or when I've already featured other Etsians several times this week. ;) Secondly, there are a lot more people out there that have celiac or other gluten-intolerances, just like me, who might appreciate the humor in what I've gone through. Thirdly, I think there are some myths out there involving being gluten-free, and I'd like to dispel them.

Ok, so I don't have time to tell you everything I've already learned in the short month and a half that I've been gluten free, but I will share some things.

First, my story: I've had icky stomach issues for years. I was told it was IBS; I was told I needed more whole grains; I was told it was the arthritis meds I take (which is actually pretty legitimate there, that has been part of the problem); I was told it was all in my head (SOOOOO tired of that one!); I was basically told all sorts of things that never helped.

After switching to a new primary care before the new year, I approached her with my ideas on how what I eat might be affecting my arthritis pain, and whether or not I could try this diet that I created after doing research. As we talked, I mentioned all the stomach stuff, and she said "Have you tried going gluten-free?" She then explained that she could give me a test, but that it would cost a lot (let's just say my insurance is basically nonexistent), or that I could try gluten-free for two to three weeks, and then if I didn't notice improvement, I could stop.

So I went home, talked it over with the hubs, and from that point we agreed to go gluten-free (at home - my hubs eats whatever he wants when he is at work because he doesn't NEED to be gluten-free). The long and short of it? I saw improvements within DAYS of switching! All those years of thinking I needed to shove more whole grain bread down my throat to feel better was actually making me SICKER!!

I have now been gluten-free since the beginning of the year, and feel wonderful.

So, myth #1: If you find yourself irregular, you need to consume more whole wheat. FALSE! Sometimes you have a gluten intolerance - go get tested, or at least talk it over with your doc.

Myth #2: Only people who are super-skinny can be celiac. FALSE! I found out that many people - myself included - actually gain weight with worsening symptoms, because you bloat out and retain a lot of water, and you aren't getting the nutrients you need from your food. In fact, at the gluten-free support group I went to, at least 50% of us newly gluten-free were "chunky".

Myth #3: Gluten-free foods taste nasty. TRUE and FALSE! lol. There are definitely some incredibly nasty, barf-worthy gluten-free foods out there. I should know, we've tried many of them! But there are also some really great products.

And here is where I want to give a shout-out to an incredible local company that has provided me with a reason for living (yeah ok I would have kept living anyway, but this made my gluten-free life more enjoyable):

Pudgy's Pizzeria in Omaha, NE. Click here for their website.

Of all the things I was missing, pizza was my top gluten craving!! Pizza is probably one of my most favorite foods of all time. I had made a few homemade versions, but nothing beats pizzeria pizza.

We heard that Pudgy's had gluten-free pizza, so despite the fact that it's a good half hour drive from our house, we drove out last night and tried them.

I AM IN LOVE!! *throws handfuls of hugs and kisses into the air*

Not only do they have gluten-free pizza, but it's INCREDIBLE in taste and is just like regular pizza! Plus, they have gluten-free breadsticks, they have salads, AND they have gluten-free hot wings!!! AND THEY LET YOU CHOOSE ANY AND EVERY TOPPING IN ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SIZE! That is way better than our local Godfathers, where you are limited to a small pizza with one of the following: pepperoni, hamburger, combo (both meats), or cheese.

Their service is incredible - the owner is there, friendly, and more than willing to strike up a conversation - and their prices are even better - we got a 14" pizza, one deluxe Chicago-style hotdog with the works (for my hubs), an order of breadsticks and a drink for under $25!! Plus, they had out gift certificates that you can sign up for free to receive special deals from them, and they have a coupon magnet program - you get 1 magnet per $15 you spend, and once you have 10 magnets you can turn them in for $15 off an order!!

Let me tell you people - this is the best of the best when it comes to Gluten-Free restaurants! If you are near Omaha, NE you really need to stop in and check them out!!

Anyway, on with other work. I will post some other time about some other gluten-free experiences I have had. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Catching up on the blogs I follow...

Wowza... thanks to link love, I have a flood of blogs that I now follow. I try to keep up, but honestly with everything else I do I'm lucky to catch one or two decent updates! ;)

I am up to over 60 blogs that I follow, 99% of them being fellow Etsians/Artists, while the remaining 1% are Gluten-free blogs - hey, a gluten-free girl has to eat! lol. I thought about posting some of my gluten-free experiences, but I'm not sure if I'd have the follow-through to make a decent series out of it. We'll see - I might just add a few here and there. The gluten-free life is definitely interesting!

Anyway, so I thought I'd share a few blog updates that really caught my attention.

First, Mommysdream at http://mommysdreamcreations.blogspot.com/ was featured in a blog that is offering a giveaway for a set of her beautiful handpainted butterfly glasses! I have been coveting those fabulous glasses for ages, no lie. I'm just too darn broke to invest in them at this point. So the idea of getting them FREE obviously not only caught my eye but caused me to drool compulsively while obsessively trying to enter every single way that I possibly could in order to win the said glasses. If any of you want to help in my name, please do! :) I really really really really really really really really REALLY want to win them lol!

Next, Happycloudmoments at http://happycloudmoments.blogspot.com/ wrote about her personal reaction to reading "New Moon," which is the second book in the Twilight series. Before I go any further - no, I am not a tween or teen. I don't read the books because it's "cool", and I don't see the movies because the guys are "hot." lol. I read it because it sounded like a great book, and I've been a fan of vampire fiction/shows since... well... probably since I was a teenager (which we'll just say was a while ago). In fact, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were two of my fave shows back in the day, and I own both series on DVD. Anyway, so now that I've proven I'm just a nerd and not some silly pre-teen drooling over poster boys, on with the story. I left her a comment because frankly, I loved the series except for the end! It felt like the books just ended... I don't want to say too much more in case you are still working on reading the series. I also felt like some of the book felt "censored"... although I suppose when your primary readers are tweens and teens you have to be sensitive to that. Anyway, it was nice to see that another Etsian was enjoying the books.

I had to stop and browse the story left on this blog, http://keepingthefarm.blogspot.com/ , mostly because I thought the dog looked like a Border Collie. We have a BC, and he is the smartest dog - when he feels like it. ;) Ours is a little unusual in that he is primarily white, with just a couple of black spots, and has one blue eye and one brown eye. It used to be back in the day that white BC's were put down because they "blended with the sheep," so white BC's were mostly bred out and you don't find many. Even when you do, they tend to be either blind or deaf. Thankfully, our boy is neither of the above.

Speaking of our dog, I was sad to find out that I missed the FREE dog portrait contest on http://houseofpawzpetportraits.blogspot.com/ ! Like I said, I just have too many blogs that I follow to keep up with each one, and I was a little late in hearing about this one. I'll have to remember in the future to keep my eyes posted for that - it would be fun to have our dog's portrait done!

Finally, I learned something new from http://www.crazysockscrochet.com/ ! I have been crocheting for years, and have never heard about "applying lube" to your hooks. It sounds a little crazy but makes sense... I may just try it on my next crochet project. :)

Anyway, off to get things done. Please feel free to visit these blogs to read their full posts, and let them know I sent you their way! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010


It's amazing the things you can find when you are packing! :) We have been preparing the house for sale, which this week involves packing any "unnecessary" stuff up so that all that remains is the important things.

That being said, I have found so many more things I was planning on selling but never listed! I also found one item that I had listed previously, sold it, and then couldn't find it and had to refund the price back to the buyer! Talk about embarrassing. It had slid behind a file cabinet.

So, I suppose I'll be filling up my eBay and etsy with some of my destash and findings soon enough! I just hope it doesn't take away from my actual business, which is shirts, totes, onesies, mousepads, etc. ;)

But, a sale is a sale, and if I can sell this stuff, it is one less thing I have to pack!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Selling Our House

My husband and I just recently made the decision to sell our house. It was not an easy decision, since this was our first house, but it was a necessary decision due to some impending health issues. We have been struggling with my health for years, but it has taken a turn for the worse and the bills have become overwhelming. Plus, my health makes it very hard to make it up our entry stairs.

Regardless, it has still been scary and stressful, and has been a difficult decision.

We know this home will find a great new owner, and we are hoping that by spreading the word we might be able to find a buyer before we list the home, saving us on some seller fees. Even if you yourself are not interested in the home, please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested! :)

This house is a WONDERFUL house. When we purchased it, it was a one-owner house, and you could really tell. The house is a 3 bed, 1 and 3/4 bath house located within walking distance to Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE. The exact address is 2405 Chandler Rd E, Bellevue, NE 68005. We are listing it for $119,500 - it is appraised for $130,000.

It features an enclosed front porch, walk out basement, easy access to the interstate, and many updates on a large private lot. The kitchen was completely remodeled in 2007 (including new cabinets, countertops and floors), the main floor bathroom floor was newly added in 2007 and the tub surround was new in 2008. There are new ceiling fans in every bedroom, and the third bedroom has completely refinished hardwood floors. There are hardwood floors located throughout the main floor in every bedroom, the hallway and the living room under the carpeting, which was new in 2007. The windows are brand new, installed in September of 2009! They are energy star certified and very beautiful.

Outside there is 1/2 acre of yard with plenty of vegetation and wildlife. The back of the house faces a large open field with no neighbors!! The house was newly painted in 2007 and won't need to be repainted for many more years. There is a small storage shed off the back of the property. The retaining wall is a beautiful red stone that was newly built in 2007. The yard features low maintanance zoysia grass - no watering needed! It also doesn't require a lot of mowing.

Because we are so close to Fontenelle Forest, we get a variety of wildlife on our property. We have seen everything from deer to turkeys and even a beaver once! It is a beautiful view from the dining room and master bedroom.

The basement is the size of the home itself and is unfinished, so there is a lot of room to expand! It also contains plenty of shelves, and there is a mini shop in the garage, making it a great home for anyone who likes to build or create! The basement also contains a storm shelter that could double as a pantry.

The neighborhood is very quiet and safe, with little to no crime and a park within walking distance that has views of the river! All the neighbors are very friendly and quiet. Just two blocks down from the home there is a Sara Lee Bakery, so the neighborhood almost always smells of freshly baked bread. It is wonderful!

We are more than willing to have our agent show you the home prior to when we list it, so if you are interested you can just let us know! You can find our contact information on our website: http://www.javajesspublishing.com under the contact us link. We can't post our email here because there are numerous internet "trolls" out there that would use it to spam us.

Thanks so much for looking! We hope to have more pictures soon, if the snow will ever let up. ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fun blog contest

I was introduced to this fun blog contest by one of the members of the contest, and couldn't help but join in!

Not only is this contest challenging - part of it involves trying to figure out the secret item "hidden" in one of the participating shops - but you can win either the prize OR a cash prize! It is also a unique contest that involves many Etsy shops. I wish I had thought of something so fun! Maybe I'll be able to join in the next one they host...

Anyway, so here is the link: http://organicmamasblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/first-clue.html

The rules for participating are listed, all you need to do is follow along! :)

On a related note, what contest do you think I should host this month? I have posted a similar question on Facebook but haven't gotten any suggestions yet. The last contest I hosted was a holiday shirt design contest, and the winner received their design on a shirt FREE! She really loved it, too.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Some of my Etsy Favorites

With link love, I have found MANY great new sellers and have been amazed at all the wonderful items out there. There is something for everyone, and I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of my holiday gifts through my Etsy favorites!

I thought I would share a few of my favorite items with you to brighten your Monday (especially because here in Nebraska, it is dark, cold and snowy):

Handmade Liquid Soap
I like this because while there are a million soap sellers on Etsy, this is the first shop I've ever found that offers the liquid variety! I don't like bar soap, so it's nice to see that there is a shop that offers liquid soap!

Handmade Recycled Wine Bottle Cheese Tray
This is just so unique and fun! I think it would be a good gift for anyone who likes to host parties, or as a table centerpiece. I kinda want it for myself....

Handmade Tree of Life Pendant
This reminds me of a shirt that I painted using a batik method. The shirt was beautiful, but too small for me to wear, so I had to sell it.

Handpainted Butterfly Wine Glasses
These are REALLY beautiful, and they remind me of my Grandma-in-law. :) She loves butterflies. I've been thinking I should probably get her a set of these before Christmas, it would make a great gift for her.

Beauty of Soul Print
I just love the vibrant colors in this! I have a friend that has canvas prints similar to this in her home, and I think she would love it.

Handmade Plastic Canvas Flag Puzzle
I have 5 nephews and 2 nieces, and I think the younger ones would really appreciate this puzzle! Plus, my husbands side is a military family, so I know they would love that it is an American flag. :)

Handmade Cat Key Rack
My family is a cat-loving family, and this cute cat would be welcome in any of our homes!

Handmade Coffee Table Runner
Though I don't drink coffee, I'm a little obsessed with java items for my kitchen. :) This would look awesome on my table.

Handmade Sterling Silver Garnet Ring
I previously purchased an absolutely breathtaking ring from this seller to replace my wedding ring, and love that she offers layaway options for more costly purchases! She is great to work with, and has absolutely beautiful items for sale. I like this one because my birthstone is Garnet.

These are just a few of my favorite items on Etsy! As you can see, there really is a little something for everyone, and it's a great place to buy gifts for others while supporting Independent Artists like myself!