Friday, September 21, 2012

Oaklands Mansion Museum and Gift Shop: A Day of History In Murfreesboro

Oaklands Mansion Main Plantation House

Gift Shop Sign
 Looking for something fun to do in the area, or a place to visitors? Why not try the Oaklands Park and Mansion; it is a historic plantation home, museum, gift shop, and park with walking trails, in the heart of Murfreesboro. I even found plenty of craft and artisan related items in the gift shop, made in Tennessee, such as hand spun wool, blacksmith goods, soap, rock candy, and honey. There are tours available of the home and other fascination historical evens, like a Halloween graveyard walk by candlelight, featuring a historical lesson about civil war battles and a walk through the soldiers' graves, nearby.

Last Days of Summer in Oaklands Park

The Battle at Oaklands Mansion
Being a northern transplant here, I was unaware of the many civil war historical sites located within the city. While visiting the mansion, I even found out that 20 people were killed on the downtown square during the raid on Murfreesboro and that the street I live on was named for the North Field of this plantation. The home was owned by Dr. Maney, and he cultivated cotton and owned 250 slaves. The current curators of the museum do not know where the slave quarters were located, but the land holdings of the Maney's extended for many miles.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate General
Whenever I visit historic places, I am always impressed by how the activities we enjoy as crafts and hobbies were a part of everyday life and survival. Rich or poor, all families knew how to sew and mend and render the tallow of animals into soap. Gardening was a necessity, not a relaxing hobby. I did not tour the mansion; however, the gift shop offers many period inspired crafts for sale.

While visiting the mansion, make sure to notice the various historical homes in the area and drive around the town square. I purchased a book at the museum gift shop which explained, in terrifying detail, the capture of hostages by the union soldiers, who were locked in the courthouse, while it was set ablaze. Some civilians were lynched on the square, as well, by the Union. During the raid, the Yankees had control of the plantation home, but Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry showed up. They divided into 3 segments, to attack and secure the plantation home, to rescue the hostages in the square, and to secure the railroad. There were approximately 150 deaths in and around the city during skirmishes on the night of the historic raid.

For directions to the museum and to like them on facebook, follow these links:

Historic Neighborhood Home

Historic Neighborhood Home

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Local Business: Shabby Decor and Handmade Crafts at The Blackberry House in Dowtown Murfreesboro

Tennessee Blackberries
 Last Friday, I was delighted to discover a new retail shop, right here in Downtown Murfreesboro, focusing on handmade furniture, crafts, and decor. Located at 423 N Walnut, in a quaint yellow house, this shop is owned and operated by a former interior designer and professional restorer of vintage furniture. The shop is filled with her original creations and upcycled furniture, as well as shabby decor, jewelry, ornaments, knit goods, vintage nick-knacks and more. The Blackberry House would be a wonderful place for holiday shopping!

Some of you might recognize the shop as the former home of The Naughty Knitter, which has since moved.

423 N Walnut Blackberry House Shop

Fabulous Outside Decor
Front Door

Currently, the shop is filled with the owner's original creations and those of her personal friends; however, there may be a plan in the future to expand the selection and space for more artisans. Buying handmade from local artisans supports local families and the community. It keeps our city looking good, with thriving businesses, instead of areas of dilapidation and neglect. The Blackberry House is a wonderful addition to the diverse businesses and architecture of historic Murfreesboro.

To find out more about the crafts for sale at The Blackberry House and keep up with developments on the outdoor craft show, be sure to Like The Blackberry House on Facebook:


Side View

Friday, September 14, 2012

Etsy Seller Holiday Survival Guide

Handmade Snowflake Soap
Is this your first holiday season selling on Etsy or another online venue? What should you expect? What are some of the best ways to prepare for the holidays in your Etsy shop?

I opened my Etsy shop, Mylana, in 2010, right before Christmas and I only had 8-10 items in my shop that first year; however, by the next year, I was up to 100 items, and made over 1500.00 dollars in sales during November, December, and January. That was an exciting time for me, but stressful and I was not prepared for all the work. Today, I am going to talk a little bit about what I have been doing to make this year go a little more smoothly.

1) Work on inventory during the slower spring and summer seasons. Ideally, your holiday themed items should be ready and listed by October, especially home decor. Customers like to start decoration at the end of November and want to make sure their order will arrive in time to "Deck the Halls". For made to order items, be clear in the listing about the time needed to make and ship the item. It is of the utmost importance that the customer can count on when the item will be delivered.

2) Don't discriminate- you might think the most important part of Christmas is Christ, but Internet shoppers represent all demographics and religions. If you use "Christmas" in all of your titles and tags, while neglecting secular traditions and those celebrations of other faiths, you are missing out on sales. Try using tags like "stocking stuffer" and "Hanukkah gift" instead of "Christmas present" in some of your titles. Remember, you want to get the most sales and views for your items, so that means using as many descriptive holiday words for your items as you can, to draw in a larger audience.

3)If you have items you expect to be popular and can make multiples, make and list multiples right away. That way, someone can purchase 2 pairs or earrings or 5 sets of candles. Etsy no longer charges up front to list multiple quantities. Be sure to have the items made and ready to ship if things get hectic. If they cannot be made ahead of time, clearly state the time needed for you to make multiple items.

4) Stock up on shipping supplies. Tape, boxes, envelopes, ink, bubble wrap, along with some gift wrap, are always good investments to have on hand. You can order free flat rate shipping boxes from USPS now, so you have them on hand for the season. Be prepared to ship to gift addresses. If you get this request, the buyer will certainly be impressed if you can gift wrap the item or use some special packaging touch.

5) Learn to use the USPS "schedule a pickup" feature online, so the post carrier comes to you to pick up packages, instead of wasting time at the post office, during the busiest season. Ship as soon as possible to overcome possible holiday delays. Always get a tracking number for the customer, and insure your orders if you cannot afford to replace the item.

6) Participate on etsy team threads and treasury events to get maximum holiday exposure. Many teams will have a "show off your holiday items" thread or do a blog feature with Christmas items.

7) Change up your tags and titles with seasonal words to get in more treasuries. "Winter", "Snow", "Christmas Tree", "Men's Gifts", and more are all popular treasury themes and can be used in tags and titles.

8) Consider using search ads for your most popular items during prime shopping season.

9) Actively use pintrest, facebook, twitter and other social media to promote your newest creations and holiday sales.

10) Use some of your profits from sales and buy from another handmade seller or local supplier to pass on the good Karma.

11) Don't forget to change your holiday tags and titles after the season is over.

The more you can do now to prepare, the less stressful holiday season will be on Etsy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Must Have Accessory For Your Handmade Soaps

Crocheted Soap Savers from Zadzukki
Do you make soap or enjoy using luxurious handmade soaps? If so, you want to use every tiny scrap and piece and not waste an ounce. I've been making handmade soaps for over 10 years and I often give my mom my end bars and trimmings. She was using them as air fresheners or to make sachets; however, we recently discovered a hand crafted item that enables her to use the scraps and trimmings in a pampering bath, soap saver sacks. Since I don't knit or crochet, I purchased the ones for my mom from Zadzukki, a young crochet artisan from Smyrna, TN. You can get a custom made one for five dollars here:

To use the soap saver, simply open the drawstring at the top and insert your scraps, or as I prefer, the whole bar. Then, pull the strings and tie to close the sack. You can hang the soap saver from the shower head or faucet so your soap dries between usings and lasts longer. This also prevents your fancy soaps from turning mushy in the soap dish. Another thing I love about using the soap saver is that you wet the whole sack and scrub with it, making abudant lather and exfoliating your skin.

If you know how to knit, I found this free pattern online for you:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Special Blankets For Special Kids

Flannel Weighted Blanket

Sabrina, from Smyrna, Tn, is a crafty mom, with a special daughter to inspire her. She makes weighted flannel blankets, tote bags, and other baby items for her daughter, Little Bit. Today, Sabrina is going to tell us how her daughter helped motivate her to create theraputic blankets, like the one to the left. She sells the blankets and more online at Hugs 'n Love on Etsy:

1) What is SPD and what difficulties do children with SPD face? Can you tell us a little about your family's personal experience with SPD?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within the own body (visual, auditory, tactile, olfaction, gustatory, vestibular, and proprioception).

For Little Bit, it causes her to act out when there is too much noise or visual around her. There are days when she can take more in but then other days, when a slight sound is annoying and makes her cranky, for lack of a better word.

I had never heard of SPD until about April of this year. We were having issues at Mother's Day Out and at one of the teacher meetings, one of the teachers mentioned SPD and asked if we would be willing to get her evaluated. We agreed since we knew something was "off" but wasn't sure what. We got her evaluated and the OT did say she had SPD. Her case is slight but it does still cause issues, especially now that she is in preschool. We are going to have to move her to a different school because the current one does not know how to handle Ashlee.

2) Why is sensory therapy important and how did this lead you to start making your weighted blankets? How does your child interact with her blanket?

Sensory therapy is very important because it helps the child calm down or stay calm, in our case. We have learned her triggers and how to minimize the exposure to them. One of the suggestions of her OT was a weighted blanket for times when she was resting to help keep her calm and relaxed. Little Bit likes pressure and a weighted blankets gives her just that. Normally we just use it at night time to help wind her down and keep her relaxed during sleep. I also use it in addition to a bean bag chair that kinda surrounds her. That gives her a "hug" and the blanket gives her the pressure. She likes to sit like that to eat and watch TV.

3) What plans do you have for making blankets in the future (size, design, fabrics) and do you take custom orders?

I hope to make more blankets soon. Right now I am keeping them smaller, mainly about 30"x20" for a nice lap blanket for an adult or for a small child. I normally use designer 100% cotton for both sides but have used fleece and minky, though minky is more expensive and I try to keep the cost down. I also put a layer of muslin on the inside as a protection layer between the pellets. I use Polypropylene pellets, which are washable. I wash LIttle Bit's blanket weekly.

I do take custom orders for different size, weight, and fabric. The weight recommendation is 10% of the body weight plus 1lb, however, I always say to ask your doctor or OT first for a correct weight and size. I do ask for payment up front due to having to customize the fabric to your needs but I do ship out within 2 weeks unless we have discussed a different time frame. I ship via USPS Priority Mail, flat rate medium box. I don't ship internationally due to the high cost of shipping.

4) Do you make or do anything else for personal use to help your son with SPD (sensory tables, music therapy, etc).

I have made a necklace and bracelet made out of tubing and ribbon. She likes to chew on the tube. Part of her SPD is that she likes to have something in her mouth. Normally I can tell when she at her max when she starts biting her arm so I get her some chips, pretezels are her favorite. But when I can't get chips, I give her the necklace or bracelet until I can get her something else. Other things we do is let her play in the bathtub with shaving cream, write on the glass door with window markers (she loves markers above pencils, colors, etc). She also likes classical music as music with words can be too much for her. She does like to watch TV and will sit for an hour watching a movie. We keep it on Disney Junior. To help with her writing, which she does not like to do, she plays a game on my tablet which is touchscreen so she can just use her fingers. Another calming thing is swinging, she loves to swing. Motion is fun to her so she is always on the move, running, jumping or twirling. We have a small trampoline for her to jump on. We are still learning daily what she needs as it does
change daily.
Get your own custom made sensory blanket from Sabrina here, they are 30 dollars for ready to ship or 40 dollars for a totally custom designed blanket with your choice of fabric: