Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon

"That only happens once in a blue moon." My mother was always fond of saying that and until I was an adult, I never really understood where the expression came from, but did understand that whatever was being discussed was a rarity. A "blue moon" isn't as rare as I might have thought, actually, occurring roughly once every 2 and a half years when a full moon occurs twice within a month. But to have this occurrence coincide with such an auspicious occasion as a New Year is a bit rarer, the last one having occurred in 1990, with the next one being in 2028. I for one, am happy to see this harbinger as a symbol of the rare and special opportunities that will be presented us in the coming year, which also happens to be the start of a new decade. I choose to believe that---although we make our own luck---the universe is aligned to facilitate the flow of our choices. Greasing the tracks, so to speak!

I don't know about you, but 2009 has been very interesting for me and my family. Many new things were started and our world seemed to get much smaller as we became involved (okay, addicted) with Facebook, and then I also became occupied with Twitter, blogs, shops, galleries, online groups, and lots of other internet diversions. My computer usage increased by leaps and bounds and I found a myriad of ways to postpone less desirable pastimes and in some instances even neglected certain obligations. It's been fun---and also wearisome.

Each year many of us strive to change our ways as a new year begins. Most years I make generalities and don't try to fool myself into believing that I will actually change any of my habits. ('I'm going to eat better in the New Year', 'I'm going to get more exercise this year', 'I'm going to balance my daily life better'...) This year, however, along with some more general "I'll do better" goals, I am setting this goal: to limit my computer time to 2 hours a day---that includes emails, Facebook, Twitter, research for my business, blogging, posting new listings, etc. It'll be tough, because I really have a difficult time walking away from this 'world at my fingertips', but I really must actually DO stuff this year! And since the universe has greased the tracks for me, I'm thinking: maybe I'll even attempt to DO some things that I only consider once in a blue moon!

Wishing everyone a very safe, healthy, abundant, exciting, and Happy New Year!

Visit Made by SwirlyGirl for unique and beautiful note cards and photo art!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Playing for Change

To my blog followers, I must apologize if you have been checking in daily and finding the same old thing every day with scant updates. Like many, I've been so involved in holiday preparations, festivities, and visits, that I've neglected this part of my daily routine. I will be returning to my regular schedule of 5 to 6 blogs per week shortly after the New Year, but until then, I believe I will be too occupied with LIFE to blog very much.

I had a minute to breathe this evening, as I sit here with a glass of eggnog (yum!) in front of my computer watching a variety of videos that have found their way to me and thinking about how much I enjoy my life. I am so fortunate to have family and friends that are the salt of the earth and a life filled with love and art and kindnesses. I have a husband that couldn't be more perfect for me and two incredible daughters that teach us as much as we teach them. Sure, there are things in my life that I wouldn't mind changing, but they are being changed as I write and in the meantime I'll just be grateful for all of the good in my life and work on trying to make sure that those that I care deeply about know that I do.

Inspiration can come from many places and from inspiration comes motivation and then creation and from there, appreciation. In the spirit of the holidays---ALL of the winter holidays that we celebrate on this planet--I would like to share with you another video from "Playing for Change". Every time I watch one of their videos, I am inspired to pass on their message of peace. Their inspiration, motivation, and creations definitely earn my appreciation and I hope that this earns yours, too.

It is unlikely I will be posting another blog before December 26th, so until my next blog post, I'm sending you love, peace, and inspiration and a most wonderful rest of 2009! And for those of you who celebrate Christmas: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Artful Coasters Make Great Gifts!

If you still have more holiday shopping to do, consider some beautiful ceramic coasters from Made by SwirlyGirl's Etsy shop. I am proud to offer these coaster sets which are collaborations between Made by SwirlyGirl and Bill Fantini of House of Six Cats!

The art of the Artistic Coaster has been perfected! With recent upgrades and modifications to Bill's manufacturing processes, you can now add some serious style to your table with these ceramic art coasters! All images are printed with an Epson R2880 Exhibition quality printer, on a state of the art material that is water-proof, smudge-proof, and stain resistant! The material is also self adhesive so it creates a permanent bond with the tile, and this means there is virtually no transitional lip from print to tile!

Each tile measures 4.25” x 4.25" and is backed with black foam that insures against table abrasion and sliding. Alternatively, these tiles can also be used as back-splashes in the kitchen or bathroom.

These are great gift ideas for your friends or family, and make a perfect housewarming present! And for these items, shipping is FREE! But order soon!!

Custom cards from Made by SwirlyGirl are available only through Friday, so if you're thinking about sending some very unique holiday greetings this year, order soon! Other holiday card sets will be available through the middle of next week.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful season!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Bubble Over" with Made by SwirlyGirl

Still looking for the perfect holiday gift for someone---perhaps even for yourself? Pop over to Made by SwirlyGirl on RedBubble and check out the photo art! You might find the perfect thing for that wall that has been screaming for a little attention.

These images are available in a variety of sizes, as well as on blank cards.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting to Know Jen Kiaba of Jen Kiaba Photography

Jen Kiaba, of Jen Kiaba Photography, is a photographer from New York that I've become acquainted with online through a group that we both were involved with as well as through her blog and Facebook posts. Her fine art, of which I became aware before her commercial work, is alluring in its romanticism and drama. She frequently stands in as the subject in her photos and her photogenic beauty makes one wonder why she hasn't done more in front of the camera! What is clear, however, is that Jen has a style unlike any other I've seen and that whether it is in front of or behinda camera, she's chosen the right medium. Enjoy Made by SwirlyGirl's interview with Jen Kiaba!

MBSG: Please share with us your name, the name of your
business, where you are
located, and how long you have been
in business.

JK: My name is Jen Barry. If you were to Google me, you would
never find me in the
wash of women with the same name. So I
go by my first and middle name: Jen
Kiaba. My business is
eponymously called "Jen Kiaba Photography." I have been

working as a photographer since 2006, but I only recently
became serious about
being a business woman this past year.

MBSG: What was your path to where you are now? Do you work
at another job at the
same time, and if so, what?

JK: My path to this point was a little winding. Previous to 2006
I was
pursuing a career as an actress and a makeup artist. In
2005 I went to
have my headshots done by a photographer
named David Morris
Cunningham. We became instantaneous
friends and through him I
developed an intense interest in
photography. I went back to school
and began taking photography
classes. One evening I was in rehearsal
for "A Streetcar Named
Desire" and was taking some photos for a school
The director offered me a job as the theater's house
and all of a sudden the world kind of opened up with new
for me.
These days I make all of my money on photography, whether
it is work
I do for myself or freelance work or assisting other,
more established

MBSG: Do you have a space that is dedicated to your business?      

JK: Yes and no. I have an office and craft space dedicated to any
processing I do or for the work in my Etsy shop. However
my studio is
kind of mobile. I can convert my craft space into a
studio for a
photoshoot. While the weather is good I prefer to
shoot outside. The
area in which I live is amazing as a backdrop!
But I also have access
to a great studio at the theater where I
work plus I have studio space
available in Woodstock, which is
one of my favorite places in the
MBSG: What is a typical day for you?

JK: Well, right now I am also studying for a graduate degree,
so my days vary. But
a typical day goes as follows:
Wake up around 6ish to brew coffee. With a cup of coffee in hand,
make my way upstairs to tempt my boyfriend into waking up.
If I have class that day then I make it through class and then rush

home and log into Etsy. I answer any convos and emails I may have.
update my Facebook Fan pages with any news (ie new products,
treasuries, contests or cool stuff I come across) which feeds directly
into Twitter. I usually have Tweet Deck up on another monitor
I find that Tweeting has a pretty nice impact on traffic in
my shop.
After that initial round of updates, I blog. My blog has
been a great
place to share photography tips, works of other artists
and to just
connect with a really awesome audience of readers. I also
have a
newsletter that I have been *trying* to keep on top of.
From there I study a bit about how to make improvements in my shop.
like reading the Storque articles [on Etsy] and doing little things
everyday to
improve my SEO. About once or twice a week I try to
explore new ideas in a photoshoot.
Sometimes I come up with fun stuff,
other times I don't. Sometimes I
will leave shoots for weeks at a time
and then revisit the photos and
discover a diamond in the rough and
begin to work on it.
By now it is probably anywhere from 5-7pm.
When my boyfriend comes home from work we spend some time together
talking and cooking dinner together.
If the next day is a shipping day,
then around 9pm I will begin to
package any orders. All of a sudden
10pm rolls around. I might crawl into bed and read for
a bit, or I may
pass out. =)

MBSG: What is your favorite part of the process of creating your

JK: I love every step of the way. Having a shop on Etsy is such a joy,
even when
sales are slow. Coming up with new products and new
images is a such a joy for
me. When people express appreciation or
desire for one of my products, it just
makes me so happy. And I love
connecting with other artists. I have begun to
collect the art from women
that I have been interviewing for a blog. This is all
such a process of
discovery and I really love it all!

Where can potential customers find you?

JK: My main website connects to all of the places you can find me: There you will find a link to my blog
(, my twitter (, my
commercial portfolio (click
on "Images") or my Etsy shop

MBSG: What inspires you and why?

JK: I am inspired by the idea of a personal mythology. All of the
things that
influence us to become who we are (experiences,
dreams, literature, film, music)
fits into the creation of that
personal mythology. My personal work seems very
to a lot of people, because much of it is metaphor for certain
or experiences in my life. When people can relate that to their own
lives, or even just derive pleasure in viewing my work, that is a very
gratifying thing for me. And it, of course, plays back into that flow
influence and mythology.

MBSG: If you weren't doing what you have chosen to do with your
creativity, what
would you like to be doing?

JK: I would probably still be performing. I still do on occasion, but not
to the
same degree I was before. Previous to discovering photography
I was doing a lot
of performance art, which was very gratifying in the
same way that photography
is for me. But photography can be a much
more private performance, in a sense,
and doesn't require an immediate
audience. That is appealing for me! =)

In regards to your business, what is the most valuable piece of
given you and by whom?

JK: My friend David has always been a great source of wisdom.
We have coffee and
work together about once a week in Woodstock
to keep our heads on straight. The
most important thing that I have
learned is to develop your own voice in terms
of your work. Don't try to
imitate because someone else's work is good or
successful. You have
to be true to what it is you are trying to convey with your
work and hone
and develop that to it's highest potential.

How would you like to see your company grow and develop?

JK: I am going to be rolling out some new products after the Christmas
season that
will incorporate my photography. But other than that I am
hoping that I can
begin to make this business take off and become my
main source of income within
the next year!

Click on the links and become a fan of Jen Kiaba Photography or 
Jen Kiaba Photography on Etsy! Be sure to become a blog follower, too!

Don't forget to check out Made by SwirlyGirl on Etsy and RedBubble!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Favorite Etsy-Inspired Day

My favorite type of morning starts out slowly, with me sitting at my laptop with a cup of delicious hot coffee and feeling warm and comfy in my pjs and slippers.

After eating my breakfast, writing my blog, answering emails, checking in on Facebook and Twitter, I begin to get myself ready for my day, beginning with a shower and moisturizing.

Dressing and putting on a cozy scarf and hat, I head out for a nice long walk with my dog.

After a brisk walk, I run a few errands, taking a sack with me so as not to have to bring more plastic bags home.

Returning from the market with some groceries for dinner, I've chosen a family favorite that requires little effort and cooks in one pot and ladles into big bowls. With a sourdough baguette, a side salad and a glass of wine (milk for the kids!), dinner will be complete.

I check my Etsy shop and find that several items from my shop have been purchased, which I then package and prepare to drop off at the post office.

Off I run to pick my daughters up from school, bringing snacks for the ride home. Stopping at the post office and then the library to choose a video to watch together, we head home for a cozy evening, eating dinner and then cuddling together on the couch under a soft blanket and eating a bowl of popcorn!

It was a simple day without much to check off my "to do" list, but it was a wonderful day, that ends with my husband in a delightful way! ;-)

Stop by Made by SwirlyGirl on Etsy and on RedBubble!