Birth Story: Part 1

March 30, 2012
It is amazing how quickly a year can go by. Whether you're planning a wedding or vacation, or on maternity leave, it passes you by even faster than you ever thought it could. A year ago to the day, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and I wanted to share my journey of that day with you.

The last pregnant photo of me -- approx. 30 weeks.

I was due April 16, 2011, and had decided to take a couple of weeks off from work before the baby came -- we did not find out the gender of our child, as it is probably the only genuine surprise left in this world. As I got closer to my last day of work, I started to feel completely burnt out, and decided that I would take the Friday off as well -- April 1st.

On the Thursday, I was in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes from snack-time -- I work in a preschool/daycare centre -- and all of a sudden I felt this horribly sharp pain on the right side of my belly. The girls at work told me to get to the hospital, and they would take care of the clean-up and closing the centre for the night. Once at the hospital, the nurses called my doctor and monitored me for a little bit, but decided to let me go home because I was only having mild contractions -- the whole time I was keeping my husband up to date while he was throwing together a bag of things in case I had to stay.

Out for our last supper as a twosome.

I got home quite late from the hospital, so we decided to head to Boston Pizza for supper. We were both staaaarving, and each ate our own small pizza -- I'm glad that I did, because it gave me the energy I needed for later on. When we got home, we were so exhausted that we just crawled into bed. Well, as soon as I laid down, I felt this punch from the baby, and a goosh of fluids like I had just peed a little -- okay, a lot.

I hurried into the bathroom, and yelled at my husband: "I think my water just broke" and "Get me the phone". I called the doctor's office and they connected me with the doctor that would be delivering my baby. She asked me questions like: "How much fluid was there?" and "Are there white flecks in it?" -- meaning that the coating of vernix that covers the baby should be in the fluid, indicating that it is indeed my waters that broke and not some pee that was punched out. I couldn't give her any real indication, because I had no idea and the fluid was now in the toilet -- which is white. She told us to pack-up and make our way to the hospital.

It was a very surreal experience, that last drive that we made as a couple with no child. We knew that it would be the last time that it would be just the two of us for a very long time, but it was also exciting to think of what lay ahead of us.

We arrived at the hospital at 11pm, and they had me pee into a cup to make sure that it was indeed my waters that broke, and it was then that I noticed the white stuff that the doctor mentioned -- it was happening! They hooked me up to the machine that monitors contractions and baby's heart beat, and checked my cervix to see how much it was dilated -- 3cm, I think. Apparently I was having contractions, but I wasn't feeling them yet. I ran to the bathroom once more.

The nurse came in and told me that they had decided to move me to another room. I ran to the bathroom again. It was in that room that I started feeling the contractions. Breathing flew out the window. I collapsed in pain and started crying, while my husband ran to the nurses' station to get some help and to ask them to give me some drugs. When the nurse arrived, she reminded me to breathe through it, and then checked my cervix again -- 4cm. I was ready to move to labour and delivery.

The nurses in labour and delivery knew that I wanted an epidural -- I was not dealing with the pain, which had decided to start in my lower back and then wrap its arms around to the front of my kind. They immediately began prepping me to get an IV -- which is necessary in order to get an epidural. It took two nurses and three needle pricks. Once the IV was in, we had to play the waiting game for the anesthesiologist -- I spelled that right on the first try! It didn't take long, but it was so hard to remember to breathe the entire time I was waiting.

 Our first little family photo.

The anesthesiologist looked like Sylar from Heroes -- should I have been worried? He did an amazing job, and, surprisingly, I was able to sit still through my contractions -- my husbands hands have never been squeezed so hard. It was probably about two or three contractions later that I started feeling the effects of the drugs. The hospital where I was delivering my baby has walking epidurals, so I was able to feel the pressure of the contractions, but not the pain -- and I was able to walk to the bathroom. It is quite genius, really.

We were finally able to shut our eyes and get some rest.

The nurse would periodically pop in-and-out -- ha! -- to check on the progress of my contractions and my cervix. We eventually reached the point in labour where I was able to call my mom, and the doctor was contacted soon after. 

I couldn't tell you how long it was, but those minutes waiting for the doctor to arrive and tell me to start pushing were the most uncomfortable minutes of my life. I literally felt like I was holding in the most giant poop in the history of ever. Each time a contraction came, and that little baby inched closer and closer, I had to tense up my legs and clench my butt cheeks in fear that he/she would come gushing out!

My nurse decided to stay with me even though it was the end of her shift. She had been with me the entire time, and she said she wanted to see this baby. It was only about 20 minutes of pushing, but it felt like forever. Baby was not wanting to come around the curve of the cervix, so the doctor decided it was best to suction him/her out, and at 7:28am on April 1, 2011 my little boy was born.

They immediately put him on my chest, and the three of us -- my mom, my husband, and I -- just stared and cried. It really is an experience unlike any other, and I will never forget it as long as I live. It truly is an out-of-body experience.

 My little boy! 6lbs 1oz and 19in.

Part 2 is here!


More Birthday Preparations: The Day is Almost Here

March 28, 2012
Throughout this month, and pretty much since the beginning of the year, I have been eagerly planning the first birthday party for my little boy. I shared with you a couple of items that I had bought for his party, including mustaches for a photo booth, but today I wanted to share a little DIY project that I did, as well as a couple of other items that I have bought for the party.

I bought these two super, awesomely, ugly 1980's photo frames from the local Value Village, and decided to spray paint them to make them a lot nicer and more likely to be used.

The frames even came complete with gold around the edges -- what could be more fantasticly 80's than that?

I decided to paint the frames blue because I already have a couple of items that are this colour of blue in my house, and also because I love blue and the way that it makes the colours around it pop -- think blue sky with yellow autumn leaves...beautiful!

I know what you're thinking: "Why does the frame have the wrinkly crackle effect?"

What happened was, my husband had moved the cars out of the garage so that we could move a new sofa in through the garage door -- it's a more direct route through the house. While the cars were out of the garage, I used it as an opportunity to spray paint the frames. I did two coats of paint, and realised that they needed another coat once I brought them into natural light to get a closer look at them. Well, the frames ended up sitting out in the garage for another few days until I had time to sneak out there while my husband's car was gone, and the little boy was sleeping. Long story longer, I didn't end up cleaning them properly after they sat out in the dusty garage -- I just wiped them off with my hands -- and the wrinkly effect is what resulted.

Anyways, I think they're kind of cool.

On Monday, we went to Bulk Barn -- I love that store -- to get some candy for the party. These will go in the goodie bags for each guest. I only hope that there is enough, and that my husband doesn't get his paws on them.

Do you recognise any of the candies that I bought?

It is hard to believe that my little boy is going to be 1-year-old in five days! It is also hard to believe that a year ago I was ready to explode due to a rather large baby bump. I realised the other day that there are very few photographs of me and my son together, so I have made a conscious effort this week to take a photo of us together each day before I go back to work, he grows up, and all of a sudden he's 18-years-old and going off on his own.

Sorry for the last part -- sappy, I know. What was the most memorable birthday party you have ever had?


It Hit Me...

March 26, 2012
It hit me this morning.

I will be going back to work next Monday.

I will not be with my little boy all day anymore.

Me and my little boy last July - 3 months old.

It made my heart hurt.



March 23, 2012
"Are you ready to go back to work?"

I have been asked this question so many times in the past few weeks. I know as soon as I see someone that I haven't seen for quite some time that they will be asking me that question. It's almost as if they are jabbing at me, trying to make me feel bad about something -- what, I don't know -- but I know that they are just trying to be funny.

It's not funny.

My first thought is usually: "What do you think?"

Does anyone really want to go back to work after being away for a year while being paid to be at home with a baby that they know they will rarely see once they get back to work? In most cases, the answer will be no.

I actually knew that I would be going back to work. My husband and I live a lifestyle that we want to continue living, and share with our child. Some may argue that being at home with their child is more important than a vacation to Disney World, but I didn't have a childhood filled with fantastic trips and being able to take dance classes. I want to be able to give my little boy these things, and so much more.

A lot of people may think that it's impossible to work and be a good mother, but I know both sides of the spectrum. My own mother was a stay-at-home mom, and I absolutely loved it -- though I wouldn't have told her that at the time. I loved being able to come home for lunch everyday and eat a warm meal; I loved being able to come home at the end of the day and not have to go to some after-school program or a day-home. She was a great mother, and still is. Even though my family could not afford the things that I wanted, I know that I grew up in a loving home.

My husband's mother, on the other hand, was a working mom that still loved her children -- he may not have had a warm meal for lunch every day, but I think that both of us turned out pretty well. Even though my husband grew up in a home where he got pretty much whatever his little heart desired, he is not a bad person, and he grew up with a loving family that taught him the exact same things that my family taught me.

My mother-in-law knew that she had to spend all of her time with her children in the evening and on the weekends, and that is exactly what I plan to do:

~ We will go for walks to the park.

~ We will visit the art gallery -- I'm hoping he will enjoy art as much as I do :)

~ We will watch movies on the comfy sofa in the basement and eat popcorn.

Just because I'm going back to work does not mean that I will neglect my child. In fact, my job teaches me the exact opposite. I am fortunate enough to work with pre-school children in an early learning environment. My son will actually be coming with me and stay in the baby room. I am looking forward to being able to see him play outside in the sand, and chase after balls on the grass. I am a lot more fortunate than most moms, in that respect.

I love my job.

I love my child.

It's not one or the other, and it never will be.


Evolution: My Little Blog Turns One

March 20, 2012
It's amazing how quickly a year can pass you by. I can't believe that's it's been more than a year since I first opened my shop, and almost a year since I gave birth to my little boy. It only seems like yesterday that I made my first post on this here blog. 

I had originally intended for this blog to be a way to share what was going on in the shop, and to share any new items that I would be listing for sale -- a lot of the artwork that I posted is actually no longer available...amazing how things evolve. I finally figured out that no one is really interested in a blog that's just about a shop and products -- unless you are very successful and everyone loves you.

 I shared many photos and the stories behind them from the shop.

Slowly, I began introducing other aspects of my life. I introduced the blogging world to my son in May -- though not through the very popular way of a birth story. Next, I began telling you tidbits from my childhood and what I do for a living -- though I've never shared the entire story.

I shared my history of gardening.

Through-out the Summer months, I continued to share aspects of the shop, and even attempted to have a giveaway. It turned out to be a bust, but the lady who won, asked me to do something quite inspirational with the little drawing. I was also sharing with you some very personal experiences and started letting you know what my thoughts are on some touchy subjects.

I'd say that it wasn't until September that I really switched the blog over to more about sharing personal experiences and thoughts than stuff about the shop. I started telling you more about my home and family life, and that's what you seem to care about more. Since then, I have shared recipes with you, and showed you how to do some fun little projects.

 I showed you how to make paper trees with an old book.

I eventually reached a point where I knew that I had to make regular blog posts so that people would know when to visit with me, and not wonder where I was -- like you all think I've gone missing or something. But I don't think I really found my voice until earlier this year when I wrote about jealousy and blogging. That post was like therapy to me, and since then I have found myself creating the blog that I really want to see  -- not something that other people might be interested in, and not copying what other people do.

This past year has seen quite the evolution, and, although the first initial steps were shaky, I think I've finally found my footing. I will continue to share my thoughts, recipes, little projects, and my family, because that is what makes me, well, me!

So raise your glasses, and let's toast to letting ourselves be who were supposed to be -- both on the internet, and off!


A Little Bit of History

March 18, 2012
My little blog's first birthday is coming up, and I just wanted to share a bit of my blogging history with you. I have mentioned before that this is not my first blog. I have had a total of three other blogs before this one under the name "whiteorchid" -- perhaps you knew me back then. When I started blogging in 2005, it wasn't nearly as popular as it is now. People did not use them as a source of income. The blogs that I visited used them to share little parts of their lives photographs, news, and maybe a short story or poem. 

One of my very first blog banners.

I first started blogging as a way to share my poetry and my photography -- I had just started taking a photography class in university -- and, after a quick Google search, found a group called EFX. I don't remember what it stands for, and I don't remember everything about it, but I do remember that it was a tight-knit community that didn't welcome outsiders and had issues with the creator of the website. Something happened with the servers, and the site ended up being recoded and called EFX2. We all had to start our blogs over again, and nobody was really happy about it, but we loved the community and almost all of us started again.

 One of the very first photos
that I posted on Whiteorchid.

I actually found my blog on EFX2 the other day. It's a little sad looking, but it was really neat to look back at my photography and thoughts from almost 4 years ago. Now it is a ghost town. Most everyone has moved on; perhaps stopped blogging, or just found a new place to share their words. 

After EFX, I moved on to a place called VOX -- which also no longer exists. A lot of my friends from the EFX world moved there, and so I moved along with them, but it wasn't the same. The People of EFX had scattered around the internet, and, by then, blogging was beginning to make it's presence known. A lot of people also started their own websites -- I wish I knew where many of them were now, or even remembered some of their names.

Once VOX went under, I decided to take a break from blogging. I didn't know when I would be back, or if I would ever come back; but then I opened up my shop and decided to start a blog to share what I was doing with the shop -- but that is a journey for another day.


Puppy Love: Another Saturday Self-Portrait

March 17, 2012
It's Saturday already! Wow! I guess it's time for another Self-Portrait Saturday with the lovely Dana at Wonder Forest. This week, Dana lost a beloved pet, and, so, asked us to take our self-portrait with a pet today.

My pet is my sweet little pup, Ivan -- whom I've mentioned before. He was not a fan of being part of my photos, and so I promised him after the second photo that the next one would be the last one. Thankfully, it turned out quite well, as the other two made it look like I was a) choking him and b) forcing him to be with me -- you could tell by his eyes that he wasn't enjoying it one bit!

This one was the best of the three photographs, but he still looks like "you promised me a cookie if I did this for you...I better be getting that cookie..."

Poor guy.

Also, Happy St. Patty's Day!

And also, this is the reveal for my new haircut! Not much of a change, but at least I can now see out from under my bangs :)


Who Doesn't Love Delicious Vegan Cupcakes?

March 15, 2012
I discovered the most delicious recipe for cupcakes back in January on the blog of the lovely Elsie Larson. She shared a very simple recipe for how to make vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes -- both vegan friendly -- and then showed us all how to take them to the next level -- like making them into PB&J cupcakes :)

So simple to make -- and such an easy recipe to read -- all you do is simply whisk the ingredients together to make the batter.

I loaded up the batter into the little paper cups, and got them ready for the oven. The recipe says that it only makes one dozen cupcakes, but I was able to get two dozen -- I was even being a little generous with the batter.

The cupcakes cooked so nicely, and were pretty much exactly the time that was given in the recipe -- remember that all ovens are different, and you know yours best! We tried the cupcakes before we even put any icing on them, and there was a different taste and texture about them that we weren't too sure about.

But then we added icing to them, and -- kazing -- did they ever become delicious! Elsie has a recipe for frosting in the same post, but I've never been good at making icing, so we just bought some from the store. They are still sooo good! My husband asks me to make them all the time.

Since I found the recipe, I have made the vanilla cupcakes two times. The next time I make them will be for my son's birthday. I plan on getting cute little wrappers just for the occasion.

I love cupcakes.


Autism Awareness Art: Till All the Pieces are in Place

March 13, 2012
A new friend of mine that I met through my Facebook page approached me to do some art prints for a Facebook page that she has created for Autism Awareness called Till All the Pieces are in Place. Having worked with several children that are all over the Spectrum, and because I absolutely adore Maria, I jumped at the chance immediately.

I just wanted to share with you a couple of pieces that I have already made for the Facebook page -- available now -- and to tell you a little bit more about the project:

Maria told me that a lot of the symbols for Autism Awareness include puzzle pieces, rainbows, and butterflies. She gave me quite a few ideas to get started with, but she also wanted to keep with my style of drawing -- little animals and what-not. This little print was the first idea that popped into my head: a parent and their child.

I started drawing hedgehogs and porcupines recently for my newest pieces of work, and so I knew that I had to incorporate them into this project as well -- and, really, what's cuter than a hedgehog? At first, the drawing started out with a rainbow in the parent hedgehog and one of the child hedgehogs, but then I decided to have the rainbow encompass all of them, because Autism affects the entire family -- not just one.

About the Project

Maria is an Aspie mom to two amazing little boys who are also on the Spectrum -- one Aspie, and one mid-range Autistic. She is passionate about creating awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and decided to start with her Facebook page.

Maria showcases Autism awareness items from different vendors on Facebook, and, each month, a donation is made by each vendor to Achimota Centre for Autism in her hometown of Barrie, Ontario -- or to the artist's local Autism centre.

Anyone who is interested in being a vendor, please email Maria at

Remember! Different, not less!


Use Your Voice

March 11, 2012
I know that this post is a little late in the game, as a lot of people have been talking about this since last week, but I wanted to share this later so that some of the buzz had worn off. Hopefully it will give you a good reminder of the greater issues that are out there, and maybe give you some ideas of what you can do in support of all the people that have no voice.

I have always known how fortunate I am to live in Canada where I have the freedom to do anything that my heart could dream of, but I never realised how fortunate I am until I watched the video -- you can watch it below -- from Invisible Children. I pictured my own son being abducted, given a gun, and forced to kill and mutilate other people. While I realise that this issue of children being turned into soldiers in Uganda is no longer as great as it once was, this is still going on in other countries. There was a time, before my son, that I would have been touched and then kind of forgot about it all, but this video really hit me; it was hard for me to watch.

Of course, like any story, there are two sides. Many people are bringing up the issues of Invisible Children's finances or the fact they are going about everything the wrong way. To me, this video is about awareness. I personally had no idea who Joseph Kony was until I watched this video, and, with how viral this video has gone, it is clear how under the radar this still is for a lot of people. If you want to check out Invisible Children's side of the story, you can find it here.

If you don't want to support Invisible Children, then don't, but I urge you to do some research to find out other groups that you can give your support to -- even if it is something like giving a loan to a woman so that she can start a business and make money to support her family through Kiva, sponsoring a child through World Vision so they can become educated and get proper nutrition and water, or donating to Doctor's without Borders so they can provide quality medical care to those who would otherwise not have it.

For me, this is all about helping the children and their families. As I sit here, looking at my son, I am thinking of what a wonderful life he will have. First of all, he is a Canadian citizen; secondly, we are able to take care of all his wants and needs; lastly, he will grow up knowing that he has a voice, and will be able to speak out and support anything that his little heart desires. These are things that all the children of the world deserve.

If anything, all of this Invisible Children stuff -- including the financials, and other information -- has used the platform of social media like never before. They used their voice. How will you use yours?

Please note that this video contains some graphic content. 
I recommend viewer discretion and parental viewing 
prior to letting children watch the video.

KONY 2012



A Hankerin' for Pie: A Saturday Self-Portrait

March 10, 2012
This week, Dana gave the Saturday Self-Portrait assignment of using a prop, but not letting it take centre stage. I feel like a model with all of these fun assignments, without all of the work. I decided to tell a little story with my photos this week:

I made the most delicious cherry heart pie

Mmm...can you smell it?

It smells soooo goooood!

I'm going to eat it one bite :)


Which Came First?

March 08, 2012
I know what you're thinking: "Easter cards are for old ladies and cats."

I beg to differ. I remember getting handmade Easter cards from my great-grandmother every year when I was a young girl -- she was a fantastic artist -- and I have great memories of receiving those cards each year. You don't have to be religious to recognise that Easter can be a day for celebrating Spring and the new life that comes with it -- be it eternal life, or cute little baby chicks.

That's why I have created three different cards for Easter: a couple for the not-so-religious type, and one for the religious type:

Who doesn't remember the classic causality dilemma about the chicken and the egg: "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" Clearly, that was the inspiration behind this card. I often get the little song stuck in my head, but I can't figure out who sang it -- no, it's not the one that was on Sesame's much older than that.

The religious Easter card is simple and to the point, yet powerful. If this isn't your cup of tea, that's fine, there's more where the chicken and the egg came from -- which ever you think came first.


Come on, Vogue

March 06, 2012
Yesterday, I picked up my new glasses from the optometrist. I have never had glasses before, but I knew that I would eventually reach a point in my life when I would need them. I found out last Tuesday that I would need them for night driving and other low-light situations. Well, I don't really need them, but they definitely make a difference when it comes to seeing words that are far away -- like street signs.

I chose a cute pair that are a redish-brown colour, and are of the Vogue variety. So I decided to do some Voguing --  allbeit very horrible Voguing -- to show them off.

Here I am sans glasses.

Here I am avec glasses.



Well, you get the picture.


Birthday Preparations

March 04, 2012
My little boy is now 11 months old -- as of March 1. It is so crazy to think how quickly this time has gone by, and how many memories and amazing developments we have witnessed from this little being that only 11 months ago was incapable of staying awake for longer than one hour.

He is now able to stand and walk with the help of chairs or our hands -- though he is unable to keep his pants up for lack of a bottom. He can also communicate with us and understand what we are saying to him. I often fondly look back at the moments when he was sleeping on my chest, or watching the world in wonder. He still watches the world in wonder, but now a lot of things aren't new to him. He doesn't have that seeing-it-for-the-first-time wonder. But I'm trying to cherish every moment with him while it is happening, and look forward to the developments and adventures that will happen in the future.

In one month from today, we will be celebrating his first year on this Earth, and I just wanted to share with you a few of the items that I have for his party. I have big plans that are going to be awesomeeer, and I can't wait to post photos of his party for you -- but that will not be until April.

I sent the invitations out about three weeks ago because I made them myself and, well, I was just so excited about them and the party. I haven't heard back from everybody yet, but I'll hunt them down.

I found these straws at a shop called Hey Yoyo that is filled with fantastic goodies! I also picked up a few little paper bags for goodie bags. I'm not going to tell you my plans for the goodie bags because don't want to spoil the surprise, but I'm sure you can figure out what we'll be using the straws for -- spoiler alert: they're for drinking.

Last year, I bought a friend of mine a mustache from Whisker Works for her birthday -- I had so much fun playing with it that I actually gave it to her early. I want to have a little photo booth with fun props set up for the guest at the party, and I immediately knew that I would be going to that same shop for the mustaches. They are too much fun!

A little while ago, I saw this fantastic tutorial on Julie Ann's blog for a DIY wedding centrepiece. I knew it was something that I wanted to do, and I just-so-happened to have the exact frames that she used in the tutorial. They are such incredibly crappy frames that never want to stay standing up that I knew this would be a perfect use for them.

Then, a little while later, I saw this tutorial for decorating chalkboards and using them as frames for art on the blog Creature Comforts, and knew I had to do that one too. So, I combined the two tutorials to make my own little project. These little beauties will be greeting the guests and telling them what to do -- a-la Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Those are all of the secrets that I'm going to share. You'll get the bigger picture in about a month, don't worry :)


Just My Eyes: A Saturday Self-Portrait

March 03, 2012
I really enjoyed doing the self-portrait last Saturday, and I just couldn't pass it up this week when Dana requested that we all take photographs of our eyes. I love my eyes. They are my favourite part of my body because they are so unique. I have yet to come across someone that has yellow in their eyes.

I currently have my bangs cut asymmetrically. I used to have all of my hair cut asymmetrically with the left side being a little bit longer, and my bangs just kind of flowed with the entire haircut. But, I grew tired of it and cut it all back to normal -- except for the bangs, as you can see. It's time for another haircut; I am growing tired of this one too :)

There! Now you can see both of my eyes. I kind of take issue with the left-eye because the eyelid is a little bit lazy, and likes to hang out a little bit lower -- to help you out a little bit, you should be looking at the one to your right. If I'm not conscious of it, it can often make me look a little bit drunk -- I actually took my drivers license photo probably 10 times because of this reason.

What I learned:

- To be conscious of the natural light that I am using. Just because you are by a window, doesn't mean your photos will look good. Curtains make the light a lot softer -- even if they are white.

- Also be aware of the fact that your husband may have recently used the camera and changed the setting to "Auto". That can also get you some photographs that you aren't too happy with.


Happy Birthday, Little Shop!

March 01, 2012
Today is the official first birthday of my little SHOP, and I just wanted to share with you the evolution of my shop: from the very first items that I listed, my first shop banner, and my horrible photography, to the shop that you see today.

Like a lot of people out there, I thought to myself: "How hard can it be to have an online shop? Just throw some stuff in there and people will come running!" Boy was I wrong. I still have so much to do and learn, but I am proud of what I have done with my shop so far.

I had no idea what branding and marketing were -- and still struggle with what they are. I don't remember if I had a banner right when I opened up the shop. If I did, I have no idea where it is, but I did find other banners in which I tried to be creative and showcase my items, but they don't have the same impact as the banner that I use now.

They're not awful or anything, but they sure don't look anything like what I use now, and I do realise the importance of creating something that is simple yet memorable and easily recognised. I think this one does the trick.

As you can see, I've always had a similar layout and idea, but the one that is in use now is definitely more streamlined.

Another area that always requires a lot of work is photography. You'd think that being a budding amateur photographer would put me ahead of the game, but it did not. I was anxious about getting my items up for sale right away, and because I was still working, I ended up taking a lot of photographs at night with the flash -- a big no no!

I have been very spoiled being able to take product photographs during the day while my son is sleeping, something that I will not be able to do come April. I will have to get over the want of putting an item up for sale as soon as possible, and get the best photographs that I can on the weekends -- and maybe some summer evenings.

The shots of my first items don't look absolutely awful, but there's something to be said about using natural light. I eventually started taking photographs in my bedroom, using the sheer curtains as my backdrop. This was fine, at first, until the Sun started getting lower in the sky and I just couldn't take the same photographs anymore -- they weren't very consistent.

I liked the softness of the curtain behind the frame, but it just didn't give anyone the right idea of how it would actually look on the walls of their home. The glass in the frames also started causing difficulties with reflections and what-not, but I read somewhere to take the glass out and that helped a lot.

I ended up placing the frame on a piece of paper to make it look like it was on a wall with funky wall paper, and took out the glass to avoid my reflection peering down at it while I took the photograph. 

I no longer sell photographs in the shop, instead I am focusing on my little art prints and my small greeting cards. I wrote about that here if you're interested in find out why I'm no longer selling my photography.

The first art prints that were available in the shop were three abstract art pieces that I did -- that are no longer available. I slowly added more, including the "Odd Bird" series that I later just simply renamed "bird illustrations" -- original, I know.

I added the little monster series during the summer months, but let them expire because there wasn't a lot of interest in them -- although I think they are pretty cute. I'm actually thinking of bringing a few of these guys back into the shop. Stay tuned!

I have added several other prints to the shop since opening it a year ago. Many of them are of little animals like birds, monkeys, and cats, while others are of trees and flowers. All of them are quite simple, and I love them.

My little prints have also made quite the evolution. At one point I was selling 8.5"x11" prints, ACEO (art cards), and little prints, but I made the decision in January to no longer sell the large art prints or the art cards. I couldn't be happier with my decision. I have never been a fan of giant art -- save for the paintings that I have created for my home -- and figured that there would be other people that feel the same; there are!

In May, I added stationery to the shop. At first I was creating my own cards, but then I noticed that I was getting lazy and the cards weren't looking as nice as they were when I first started. I ordered cards from a cute little shop and absolutely loved the paper. I had been looking for a way to add my drawings to the cards, but my printer wouldn't allow it, and the paper that this shop used was the perfect size for my printer. I ordered up some paper, and added the new cards to the shop in mid-October -- Christmas was right around the corner.

Before switching to the new cards, the old cards were photographed several more times as well. This one is much brighter with the natural light, but do you notice the edges of the classy white piece of paper that I used to put the cards on?

Once I got my little hands on the new paper, I was creating cards like crazy! I now have 44 cards -- and counting -- available in the shop. I like coming up with new ideas, phrases, and little drawings for new cards. I shared my card making process recently with you -- here.

Like all the other photography in the shop, the way I photograph the new  cards has also changed, although I still include the head-on shots so that people can get a good look at the card. I know that the photography aspect of the shop will probably never be done, but I like how clean and streamlined everything looks now. That seems to be my theme, doesn't it?

I thank you -- and applaud you if you read through this entire post -- for following me through the evolution of my shop. It has been such an interesting journey filled with many happy moments, and lots of frustrations. I look forward to what new paths I will take during this next year!


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