Coupons, Gift Cards and Deals

Etsy just sent me an email stating that they would be offering an Etsy Gift Card this year. While I think there are many positives for the handmade site and the movement to get more involved with buying handmade, I don’t really know that this will help MY sales, per se’.

Gift cards will be the perfect present for the Etsy-obsessed shopper in your life, but even more importantly they’ll be a way for us to introduce new buyers to Etsy. Our community of buyers has grown incredibly in the past year, which can be attributed largely to people like you spreading the word and marketing your shops. Gift cards will allow us to be more aggressive in our own marketing efforts by distributing gift cards to partners and creating promotional offers.

If I am reading it correct, someone could purchase an Etsy gift card for someone for a gift for Christmas, then that person goes onto the Etsy site and shops for an item to use the gift card by entering in a code. That would be when Etsy would send me the money for the purchase, if that person shops at Laughing Orange. I am thinking that I will be looking into offering my previous customers a coupon code that they can key in at checkout for a discount on a purchase. This is a way to thank my loyal customers and to bring in money to my shop instead of someone else’s shop. However, I do think growing the handmade movement will help all artists and craftsmen.

I’m trying to think of all the things to get done now before the holidays come around and I am scrambling trying to “make” things rather than have to worry with the online part of my business. One thing that I think will be helpful to add to my Etsy shop will be a “calendar of final purchase date” so that the customer will

Holiday deadlines

know how much time they are going to give me to make their item and still ship it to arrive before Santa comes. I think I am going to do a screen capture of a calendar and where I am allowed to add five photos of the item for sale, add in the calendar with the ship date on it as a reminder to them.

I need to look ahead to when to put the coupon codes into an email to send around to my base of customers so they have plenty of time to use it for the holidays. Having a black friday online might be fun so I would need to plan to have the email blast go out around the first week of November.

I also think that in planning for the holidays it would be fun to “decorate my shop” with some fun holiday images.Maybe the frog that is in the header of the logo will be wearing a Halloween costume, a pilgrim hat and a Santa hat. Want to send me ideas that you might think would be fun to see him wear?


In the past when I have received gift cards, I usually either worry that it won’t work when I get to the check out at the store or that I’ll forget that I have it. I am not one of those people that goes to the web and looks for deals before I go out shopping, however, if times get leaner, I may have to start. I have gone looking for coupon codes that I could enter at checkout online. Some work and some don’t. Some want you to give them information which only fills up your inbox with spam. That has been a deterrent in the past for me.

So as we get closer to the holidays and I start building inventory, if there is an item that you are thinking ahead as a gift for a relative or a favorite person in your life. Be sure and get me the information early so that I have plenty of time to get it to you. I’m not a planner either, but I may have to start focusing on a calendar in the future. I suppose Google Calendar is going to be my new friend.

FREE SHIPPING no minimum order

The holiday catalogs have been pouring into my house for weeks now and they usually go straight to the recycle bin ( or the bathroom ) The photo is just from last week alone. 15 catalogs a week. WOW. So of the 19 billion catalogs mailed out to consumers this year, I am getting a big chunk of catalogs.

Last year I spent a few hours of my time to send out requests to companies to stop sending me their catalogs and gradually the pile has gotten bigger. Some companies are worse than others and will send a catalog a week. I can’t imagine what their print order must be. I work in printing so you would think I would be happy about all the printing going on but my environmentalist brain kicks in and wants to condemn this practice. I am a magazineaholic at heart and am in the correct business but I also have a small house and can only fit so many magazines in it. This spring I managed to purge many of the magazines in my house and took out what I wanted to keep and recycled the rest of the book.

Earth911 has an article on catalog waste that says, ” Of what we throw away, 34 percent is made of paper and only half of this gets reused. These catalogs and paper products in landfills increase the amount of level of methane gas emissions. Methane gas has a significant carbon footprint, as it is about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

According to Catalog Choice, a project sponsored by the Ecology Center, these 19 billion catalogs have a serious environmental impact:

  • 53 million trees used
  • 3.6 million tons of paper used
  • 38 billion BTUs of energy used to produce this paper, enough to power 1.2 million homes for a year
  • 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to the annual emissions of two million cars
  • 53 billion gallons of water used, enough to fill 81,00 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Most catalog companies don’t use recycled paper. Many use bleach and gloss coated paper productions which release chemical toxins into the environment.

All municipal recycling programs accept catalogs. If you do have select catalogs to which you subscribe, be sure to put them in your recycling bin.

Of course with the economy the way that is is the companies are trying to lure us in with free shipping. And I admit, living where I do I am an avid internet shopper during the holidays. But I use the internet to shop and not the catalogs.  Amazon is a biggie at our house because they offer so much that isn’t available in Toms Brook.

There are companies that you can contact like this one Catalog Choice that allow you to opt out of having the catalogs delivered into your mailbox.

Maybe I’ll join the One Tree Club and get a patch to wear around like the one on the site. Students are joining this club and taking the Catalog Cancelling Challenge. On their site they state that if 360 catalogs come from one tree (19 billion catalogs divided by 53 million trees per year), then canceling 60 stops 360 and saves one tree. Using this DOWNLOADABLE LOG (click here) kids can track their canceling and aim for 60.

Be sure to at least recycle the catalogs that you get this year and consider contacting some of the companies to take your name off the list so you don’t get so many next year. That is certainly what I am going to be doing in January.

Remember to “Be Thankful”

As I look at the design blogs that inspire me, I have been noticing some simple natural Fall decorations. So I am making a “Be Thankful” garland to hang in the dining room as a reminder to all of us as we gather with family to pause to think of how lucky we are to have the things that we have. These days, it seems that it is hard to find enough to be thankful for with the economy as it is, but I think our focus should be on our relationships with our family, if we are healthy, and the peace that comes from sharing a delicious meal together and enjoy each other’s company, if only for a few hours. And not so much on things but good food and good company. (Well, and maybe a small fire in the new stove in the living room and an old dog to keep you company too.)

So, I have created the garland with some simple items and my printer. I printed out the letters that will form the words, “be Thankful” and put them into circles that I am going to cut out and string together to create the garland. To add interest, my letters are all in different fonts but all about the same size to fit within the circles. I also chose a fall color of brown and a beige. I know that I have yarn or a string to thread them on and will probably have to drill holes in the wood pieces and the acorns.

When Herb and I went for a hike in the Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, I gathered some acorns and sticks and brought those home. And at my workplace there are sweet gum trees that litter our parking lot with these natural spiney balls that will work great to string together with the acorns and I will gather some of the colorful leaves that are still available from the yard and string all this together to form my garland to hang on the rafter above the bar in the kitchen.

Things you will need if you want to make one:

  • A drill to put the holes in the acorns, acorn tops, pieces of wood and sweet gum balls.
  • some glue for the letters
  • string
  • a vice or vice grips to hold the acorns, etc while you drill them
  • some floral wire
  • a nail to push the string through

I had made two copies of my letters so that my garland can read from either side. I cut out all the letters and laid them out so that I had the letters in the correct order The “L” was on the back of the “B” etc. and cut the string to length and found the center of it. Then I used a glue stick to put the letters on the string. I glued the top and bottom , leaving the middle of the letter glue free so that it would slide on the string. That way I could position it if I needed to later.

Use the drill to drill the holes in your items.  I put a piece of wood under the nuts so that I didn’t make a hole in my table. Then you just string them onto the string and hang it from nails on the wall or in my case from the rafter between the kitchen and dining area of my house. I also went out and got some fall leaves that still had some color in them and put those on either end of my garland to hide the nails and to add some color. Then I strung the natural items on either end making it balanced with knots to spread out the items.

After all the items were strung, I then hung it up leaves that I wired with floral wire to cover the nails on the rafter and to add some color to the ends. ( sorry this one is out of focus some.)

And from the back of the garland on the kitchen side.

So, if you have time to take a walk this afternoon, pick up some “treasures” and turn them into a natural decoration for your house tomorrow before the rain comes and use it as a gentle reminder of the simple things that make us thankful to be here.

Kiln Results

As you can see, I had some breakage in the firing from yesterday. This is the plate that had the glass on and I imagine that there may have been too much glass and that is the reason for the breakage. The colors did run together so now I will know in the future to either use one color or to place the color in the approximate area of where I want it to melt. This was the only casualty though because many of the leaves that I did turned out great.

The leaf in the foreground is from my earlier post with the glass strips laying on it.

The leaves that I put the glass on managed to melt and stay put and look like they are holding water. They are really pretty and I will definitely try this again because it seems that they did fine.

leaf with red glass





bird nest pins

These small bird nests were created with an extruder tool that is like playing in “playdoh.” I have lots of dies that create lots of fun shapes and textures. These were made using one that extrudes a spaghetti like string of clay and then I made small balls to be the eggs. The blue of the eggs aren’t as vivid as I would like so I may end up using an oil paint or an acrylic to color the eggs. They will make a nice little pin for a bird lover for Christmas.

I used  a metallic glaze on a few of the leaves so they look like they have been dipped in gold. They are incredibly shiny and will look like jewels on the Thanksgiving table.

metallic gold leaves

My winter garden will now be more complete since I now have markers to mark some of the greens that are not really traditional greens. I now have a marker for the Mache, the Arugula, my carrots, cabbage and broccoli. I don’t have Kolarabhi planted but when I get some seeds I will be able to mark those as well.








And finally, the frog tiles. I did four of these and have bought some trivet frames to put these in. They are 4″ x 4″ and the frames are black. There are 2 black tiles, a green one and a chocolate brown one. I already have someone that is interested in purchasing a couple of these. They are fun because they look like fossil frogs appearing in the surface of the clay.










And some additional images of the leaves:

fire engine red with celadon froth







3 oak leaves







golden lustre glaze











group of leaves