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Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer

Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer: April 2010

Monkey & Squirrel - Charlotte NC Photographer

I'm Jenn, a stay at home/work at home mama to Penny, wife to Evan, and daughter, sister, and friend to a lot more. I absolutely love capturing beautiful every day moments from behind my lens, and I'm doing my best to do just that!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

master cleanse- day three

i don't have much time to write but i wanted to squeeze in a little update.

it's day three of the cleanse and things are still going pretty smoothly. definitely not as hungry today, and the headache has been gone all day. the headache has really been the worst part so far, so i'm really thankful to not have to deal with that today. i woke up this morning feeling fabulous, great energy level and no more brain fogginess!

an interesting thing started to occur today though, which i hadn't really noticed on any other days. i'm not hungry, yet i still have the urge to eat something. the past two days it was most certainly the hunger making me want to chow down! it's weird and i don't really know how to describe it, but i'm guessing that it's like what a smoker might feel when quitting. you have these habits that often revolve around cigarettes (or in this case food), and your body still just wants to go through the motions. it would appear as though i've arrived at the part of the cleanse that is mostly the mental struggle now. seeing things that look good, and smelling things that smell oh so yummy, it's all about the discipline now! it's tough, but i really enjoy challenging myself and pushing my body to see exactly what it can accomplish. it's not unlike the feeling i have when getting tattooed. only this will be lasting much longer. having your mind tell your body to do something it really doesn't want to do, and doing it successfully, is pretty amazing. challenging, but rewarding in both cases.

well i've got to head out. i'm delivering some more maple syrup to steph who had to work all day. i'm so thankful to have good friends along for this ride with me. it makes it a whole lot easier!

night folks!

~photo found on flickr~


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

master cleanse- day two

half way through day two and i'm still feeling pretty good. i definitely woke up quite hungry this morning, and the idea of drinking that quart of salt water didn't exactly sound like the most appealing breakfast in the world. then i did my morning weigh in and the day got a little brighter. i'm down 2lbs since yesterday... woohoo! after that bit of motivation i chugged that salt water like a pro!

today has had its tough moments though. all of that food from our celebratory last meal is now completely out of my system, so my body is really just adjusting to running off of the lemonade. i've had a little bit of a headache since last night, which i'm guessing is from the lack of caffeine. i was drinking around 2 to 3 cups a day previously. i also had a hint of nausea earlier, which i think was just from not drinking enough. i mixed myself up a nice fresh glass of lemonade and i'm feeling a little better now. other then that, my energy and mood are just fine. i of course don't have the energy i would had i had my 3 cups of coffee today, but i'm fine with that.

one thing that has been helping are these videos that adam (a fellow cleanser) found on youtube. it's just always so motivating to hear, or in this case watch, other people who have done it and survived. this woman ended up doing it for 40 days and not only survived, but had a whole change of lifestyle because of it. if you're thinking about doing the cleanse, or have done it, or just want to see a video talking about it, you can check it out HERE... she's just adorable and it's amazing to see the change in her face and body as it goes along.

that's all to report for now. i hope to have the hunger feeling go away come day three. i remember last year when i did it days 3 through 7 were a breeze. fingers crossed for that feeling again. i'm actually toying with the idea of going a little bit longer then 10 days, but we're going to have to see how this goes first.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

master cleanse- day one

and so it begins...

my friend steph and i had been talking recently about doing the master cleanse. if you're not familiar with it, it's the one where you just drink the lemonade, cayenne pepper, maple syrup concoction for 10 or more days to completely clean out your system. you also happen to shed a few pounds in the process. while she and i are very excited at the prospect of some nice squeaky clean innards, it's the thought of melting off a few inches that is currently quite appealing to us. we have a good number of beach trips already scheduled for this summer, and we've been having a few to many big dinners and movie nights to feel good about it.

i'll be documenting this entire process start to finish, mood swings and all. i think it will actually be a motivating part of this next week and a half. i've done the cleanse once before, last year about a month before our wedding. i wanted to look and feel my best for the big day, and nothing makes that happen like 10 days on a liquid diet. i actually ended up needing to have my dress taken in again, which excited me, but didn't excite evans mom who was doing my alterations. she gave me a light scolding for doing something so drastic oh so close to our wedding. woops!

so last night we decided to go out and stuff ourselves silly in celebration of our last meal. we somehow even managed to convince stephs boy, adam, to join in with us. he wasn't sure how he felt about it then, but i just received word from steph this morning that he's stoked on it today. woohoo! no amount of convincing would get evan to join our little gang of cleansers. he tried it with me last year and only lasted around 10 hours. one day i'll get him to take part...

apparently you're supposed to ease yourself into the cleanse, but we decided to take more of a jump through a brink wall at it. we'll see how that goes i guess...

last drink... beerlao (thanks to steph for the recommendation)

last appetizer... tofu with sweet and sour dipping sauce

last supper... red curry with tofu, pineapple, and veggies. delicious!

we made sure to clean those dang plates!

adam made up custom jugs (leftover from last weekends sangria party, and that's one reason why we need to cleanse) for he and steph to take the mix to work with them in.

a small sampling to see what he's in for. the verdict... yummy!

i just drank my first liter of salt water about an hour ago, which you drink every morning to keep things moving along. is that too much info? it was gross, i won't lie. i don't really like salty things in general, so drinking a liter of warm, salty water in one sitting is not ideal. it's an important part of this though and it's all just mind over matter. we'll see how much my mind is conquering my matter come day 7...

in completely unrelated news... as you may already know from my previous post, yesterday was my one year etsy anniversary. what a fabulous day it was, i mean you already saw the celebratory meal! well, one of the etsyversary gods must have smiled upon me yesterday because Monkey & Squirrel was lucky enough to land a solo feature on OhDeeDoh! that's Apartment Therapy's childrens site! there might have been a happy dance or two around the living room. i can neither confirm nor deny that though...


Monday, April 26, 2010

happy etsy-versary to me!

april 26th 2010, it's my etsy anniversary! one year ago today i decided that it was time to stop dreaming about it, and time to start doing it! today i wanted to share with you a look back at my first year and also share some of my etsy photos from the day i opened and how they've progressed to today...

i was working two jobs last year at this time, one at a dog rescue and the other as an artists assistant, and got word that both jobs would be ending in a few months. i had a decision to make, i could look for another job knowing that it probably wouldn't be as fulfilling or enjoyable as my previous two, or i could take a chance, open an etsy shop, and see if i could make a living as a full time artist. i had been a shopper on etsy for a few years, and even opened one shop previously that just didn't work out (i was neither serious about it then, nor ready for the amount of work that goes into a successful shop). i thought quite a bit about it, and the decision didn't take me very long at all. i had a few months to play around with it, where i would still have the two jobs and be able to see how the etsying would pay off. evan and i also didn't have any large expenses, or any kids, so we could definitely afford to be a little risky at this point. it was now or never, so i jumped into it head first. for me, opening up an etsy shop didn't take a huge amount of investment. i had quite a collection of goodies just waiting to be turned into treasures, and the rest would come here and there. every single one of those first earnings was invested right back into monkey & squirrel.

my shop ended up doing fairly well right from the get go. i know that i was really lucky in that respect. i hadn't realized until after i started up my shop, that i didn't see anything else exactly like my items on etsy. i would love to say that i planned that out and researched to find an unfilled niche, but that just wasn't the case. it was dumb luck and i'm not afraid to say it! with that said, i also know that that was just what helped me at the beginning. what has continued to keep me going is the intense amount of work i put into it on a daily basis. the amount of times i've taken and retaken photos is enough to be a full time job in itself.

so after about 5 months of doing all three jobs simultaneously, it was time for my first two to end. i was officially a full time, self employed, artist/designer. it was scary and exciting and also somewhat unbelievable. even still, i wake up in the morning and can't believe that i get to be my own boss. luckily i'm a pretty tough boss and i keep myself in line, but also a great boss who treats myself to ice cream every now and again!

i work more hours, work harder, have more stress, and wake up in a panic more then ever before, but the rewards come ten fold. i get to give myself days off as needed and not have to request them from a higher up (though it's definitely hard to take a day away and not feel guilty), i can sleep in and work late if i'm feeling groggy in the morning, i can take my business in any direction that i see fit for it, basically i can live a better life in general.

here are some of the things that i've learned in my first year...

*this is always everyones first tip. take great photos! i know that mine are not the greatest out there, but i am always trying to improve on them. never be content with your pictures. when selling online, that's all the customer has to go by, so they need to sell themselves. get different angles and make sure your first one is an eye catcher, because it needs to stand out when shoppers are scrolling through a list of thousands of other items.

*read the etsy blog regularly. the articles are full of tips and tricks to help your shop be successful. i never would have known what SEO, or analytics were without it. they also help me stay on top of what etsy will be highlighting in the coming months, thus increasing my chances of being featured somewhere.

*speaking of features... work those tags! when etsy tells you in their blog that they will be highlighting things in the coming month, be sure to tag your items accordingly (only if they fit that description of course! nobody enjoys a mistagged item) this increases your chances of landing in treasuries, and possibly even the coveted front page! it also helps to look over your tags every few months to fine tune them and make the best use of all 14 spots given.

*when i was first starting out, i hung out in the forums quite a bit. mostly just reading what other folks were asking and chatting about. if i had questions, that was where i went to get them answered. i don't hang out there quite as often as i used to because i found that along with the wealth of information, there tends to be quite a bit of negativity in there. i like to keep a positive mind and i find that i get a bit debbie downer if i read some of the threads. you can certainly connect with some fantastic, really helpful folks there though, so if you're a newbie definitely browse around a bit.

*when things are slow, work on your shop. don't freak out (which i still admittedly sometimes do), the shoppers will return, and when they do it would be wonderful to have a nice cohesive shop with fabulous new goodies in it!

*have a strong online presence. my facebook fan page and twitter are two places where i get most of the traffic to my shop. keep in mind though that being spammy on either of these is a quick way to turn people off to your shop. keep it really genuine and don't just post links to your items to get views. in addition to those, i also read TONS of blogs! i've been so very lucky to have had my shop featured on some great blogs, and it often happens just by being a great honest follower. leave thoughtful comments on an article if you've found it interesting, and don't leave a link to your shop at the end of a comment. it's like trying to sell something to someone who has invited you over to dinner. tacky tacky! if someone finds you're comment interesting they will click on the automatic link back to your blog (as long as you have a blog that is) and that is where you should have your shop link.

*this might seem like an obvious one to many folks, but print your shipping labels through paypal. at first i was doing them through the usps site and it took 3 times longer. paypal makes it so simple, just make sure that your etsy and paypal addresses match up and you're good to go! i wasted quite a few months not doing this and it still bothers me...

*get organized! having a system for everything helps. i used to not enjoy the packing and shipping end of things, and thought it a necessary evil. then i got a system! i set up all of my tools for shipping (scissors, tape, tags, twine, boxes, packing material) in one area, and now i can easily grab for thing, and they are always where i last left them. i find it really enjoyable now, making the packages as cute as possible, and imagining the excitement someone gets when it arrives perfectly packed at their house. i find it to be a relaxing part of my day to day.

*one great tip i received was to add some more pricey items to my shop. in general my goodies are not that expensive, but i was told that if i added a few higher ticket items i would probably see the average amount spent in my shop go up. at first it didn't make much sense to me, it seemed like people would just ignore the higher priced item and go for the less expensive things, simply because bargain hunting seems to be pretty prevalent these days. however, the logic behind it is that even if those higher ticket items don't sell as often, your now mid-range priced items won't look as high in comparison. then if you happen to get someone who is looking for a higher priced item, you've also got something to offer them. it's hard to track a direct result of this, simply because my shop was still very new when i got this tip, but i think
it's a great one to share!

*last bit of the day, be sure to step away from it all every now and again. my days used to be totally all about my business. i even felt like i never had enough hours in the day. though i still believe i could use an eighth day in the week, i've realized that etsy, and monkey & squirrel, aren't going anywhere. i've started going back to the gym (thankfully) after feeling like i just didn't have the time for so long, and i've found that my days are actually more productive. i can, and do, fit more things into a single day then i thought possible, and i'm in a much better mind set after getting a good work out in.

well i hope some of you have found a bit of this helpful, or at least to be an enjoyable read. i'm still learning and am really excited about working on expanding my business this year. if you've got any great tips that you've learned from etsying, please feel free to share them in a comment.

side note... one thing i noticed when looking back on my past year was that i can track the evolution of my hair thanks to etsy. ahhh, this site is great for so many reasons!

kinda rusty...

little redder...


current hair, dark brown and growing out the front...

happy monday folks and i hope great weekends were had by all!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

we've come a long way baby!

i just realized that i hadn't yet shared the most recent progress on our kitchen renovation. we've come leaps and bounds since my last post. take a second and refresh yourself with the before pictures, before scrolling through the after ones that are about to come... go ahead, i'll wait.......

since my last kitchen update, we've gotten all of the the cabinets, and cabinet fronts, installed. the counter top is in, dishwasher is working, we are still waiting on a stove, but we're making due with our little toaster oven for now. amazing just how much you can cook in these guys! we finally got to unpack all of our dishes, and if look hard you can even see my new teacup collection proudly displayed on the top shelves!

this sink is probably our favorite purchase. we did a little splurging on it and it was well worth ever penny. it's a big ol' ceramic farm sink, and it is heavy as all get out!

so that's where the kitchen stands as of today. we still have to trim out all of the cabinets, windows and baseboards, install a gas line for the stove, move a water line for the washing machine (which used to be where the dishwasher is, but is now in a built in closet on the other side of the kitchen, that you can't see here...), pick out light fixtures, and decide if we're going to get a little kitchen table, or a small island with stools. so much to do, and miles to go before we sleep...

you can see the whole kitchen progress, start to finish, here!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

my ideal booths...

that time of year is upon us crafters once again... craft fair time! i'm giving myself ample time this year to plan a well thought out booth that works fabulously with my goodies to really draw folks in. i've been doing quite a bit of research, collecting photos for a few weeks now, and i thought i would share a few of my top faves here...

i absolutely adore this set up done by fantastic toys. it's so cute and welcoming, i would love to play in here awhile!

i had a hard time narrowing it down to just one of paper pastries photos. i would love to see this one in person!

i've realized that i love the set ups that have a candy shop/ice cream parlor feel about them. this one from somethings hiding in here just tickles my fancy!

i also love the idea of using vintage trunks as display cases. chicadecanela has the perfect little gathering of goodies showcased here!

more luggage on display here from artsy tartsy jewels!

and one more from pit bull lady designs.

i love this simple little pricing idea from oh hello friend! who knew that a little bit of hand written paper mounted on a wooden cube could be so cute!

i do love a neat and clean appearance, but i can also really get into a booth that is overflowing with goodies. this display from holland fabric house is so visually stimulating, it's like a thanksgiving feast for my eyeballs. love it!

and last but not least is a photo of mcmaster and storms booth that was snapped by contented sparrow. all of the bows speak to my inner girly side... so beautiful!

so basically what i've realized after all of my hunting and researching, is that i love booths with an old timey feel about them. quite surprising to me is that i really love ones with a lot of pink as well. i found that those were the ones that i was most drawn to, and picked out of the crowd. i've never been much of a pink loving lady, but apparently it looks like when it comes to making up some displays for my stuff, that will be the direction i'm heading in.

most of these pics were found browsing the craft booth, indie fair groups on flickr. if you too are in need of some inspiring visuals come this craft season, i recommend sitting down with a cup of jo, and giving them a browse.

for you crafters who have been doing this for awhile, what sort of set ups do you enjoy most? or perhaps you have a few tips for us newbies on the craft fair scene. feel free to share them in a comment :)

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

yippy skippy!

wooohoooo! ok, i just had to get that out of my system. i'm pretty darn stoked this morning and let me share with you why...

a few months ago i set a goal for myself to break 1000 etsy sales within my first year of selling, and last night i met that goal with 10 days to spare! i've been working my butt off and it's so gratifying to have it pay off. this doesn't mean i'll stop here though. i've got bigger fish to fry in my future and this is only the beginning! watch out world, monkey & squirrel is out to conquer!

with that said, here's a little shop update on what i've been working on this past week. i'm all about the spring/summer accessories these days!

super girly pink ruffle headband... more headbands coming to M&S soon!

it's no secret to you regular readers that i'm currently obsessed with brooches. here are some of my newest...

oh, and did you know you can pin a brooch to an elastic headband and sport it that way too? i do so love me a bit of variety!

well that's all for now folks. i'm off to enjoy this lovely 75 degree weather we're having today. fabulous weather weekend makes this gal happy!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

green pop!

i'm so excited to be taking part in poppytalks handmade market this month! i've been working on lots of new spring goodies and am stoked to have this opportunity to show 'em off! here's one newbie that's recently been added to the group...

i've been a fan of poppytalk for quite sometime now, and a shopper in their market for just as long. i'm honored to be showcasing my items in the company of so many other talented folks! here are a few of my faves from this months gallery...

sleeping bunny #1- green thread

ruffle tunic/dress- spool and sparrow

bull cloth pouches- humunuku

up at the lake- jane heller

woodgrain clock- bliss in a teacup

pink cupcakes- stephanie levy

mustache crayons- chase dreams

the playground- kiki and polly

hop on over and check out all of the other amazing artists that have a little gallery spot in the market this month. it's sure to not disappoint!