Archives for the month of: July, 2012

At the beginning of the summer, I was all nervous about surviving the entire summer with my 3 monsters.  They do nothing but bicker and fight all day long.  Unless they are fully entertained.  So I came up with this list of fun summer time activities to have in my back pocket in case of emergencies.

Its about 1/2 way through the summer and, as you can see, I’ve checked off several ideas so far.  I try to get us out of the house at least every other day to do some inexpensive activity.  I have the extra added bonus of our $300 Intex swimming pool in the backyard (best investment ever made), a free pond behind a nearby college, and a free beach about 5 minutes down the street.

So far this summer has been great. Surprisingly, I’ve really been enjoying playing with my kids!

The second craft fair we were in, we did better; about $100 profit for the day.  But when you take into account the amount of time it takes to get to the location, set up, sell all day, break down, and get back home times 2 people, we ended up making about $6 an hour.  We could make more than that working at McDonalds (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

So we decided it was time to focus our efforts on selling on-line.  Our long term plan was to set up our own e-store, but in the mean time, while we were working on that very large project, we would sell on Etsy.  If you haven’t heard of Etsy, you have to check it out: http://www.etsy.com.  It’s a site dedicated to helping independent artists and craftmakers sell their wares and it has some of the coolest handmade and vintage goods and supplies.  They make it all so easy. Or so it seemed.

In order to publish a listing, you need to take photographs of your product. Many of them.  And here I was with nothing but a Canon point and shoot. But Etsy had videos and tutorials and blogs to help us amateur types figure out how to take a pic that would pass. Best thing, they say, is natural light.  So I took our little lego peeps crayons outside, lay down a sheet of white paper, and tried to snap off a few. But every time I went to push that button, the wind would blow the littly guys over!  Done with outside.

Next project was to build a photo booth.  Not too tough.  Find a big cardboard box, cut big holes in 3 sides, line them with white tissue paper, put strong lights on either side of the box, set up a tripod with the camera and click away.  But they all came out green.  Thats when I learned there is something called white balance on my camera – that saved the day (although I have to admit, each photo session still produces a slightly different shade of white!).  I figured out how to use the manual settings for the shutter speed and I do a bracket every time so I can pick out the best lit pic once I see them on the computer screen.  Always need to have options!

What I haven’t figured out is the aperture setting to get a little depth of field in my photos.  Perfect focus would help too! I need to get my father down from Maine to give me some photography lessons because I’ve hit my plateau which is certainly not professional looking.

I have to say that believing is half the battle! Its taken me a really long time to learn to believe in myself. Not that I think I can do everything, but the things I do want to do, I’m pretty sure I can! What a change.  It took a backpacking trip around Europe at the late-blooming age of 29 for this change to happen. The first week out on the road I was afraid to even inquire how much a night’s stay in a hostel would cost. At the end of the trip, I was all alone in the Czech Republic sleeping with about 50 strangers in a huge gymnasium. I survived it all and it taught me that I can do whatever I set out to do.

And I’ve taken that belief with me into the business world. From working my way up in the advertising, to starting this LeeLee thing.  You can’t succeed unless you try. And try and try and try again, if thats what it takes. But first you have to believe you can.

Well, I’ve been hesitating to write this blog because I’m so completely bummed that I don’t have any great photos to show the results of all the hard work and planning that went into this bat mitzvah! Both Leslie and I had camera issues. Mine was that I still don’t really know how to use my new one, and hers was that she needs a new one. I didn’t have mine on auto focus so my photos are not all that clear.  Her’s took all double images.

But, that said, the event itself was great! The guest of honor did an exemplar job during the services. She and her mom should be proud of what a wonderful young woman she has grown into.

It was truly an excercise in working with and around what we had – which included a host who honorably wanted to stress the significance and meaning of the event more than the celebration afterwards.  This meant keeping the decorations and theme very limited in the function room for the luncheon.  The only place we could have at it was in the kids party room, but that room had many physical obstacles to work around.  And everything had to be done on a very limited budget. It was a challenge, but a fun one that we really enjoyed!

Kids table

I only have one terrible photo to share of the function room and the set up for the luncheon.  But as a quick run down, the dining tables had gathered fuschia runners with a centerpiece in the middle.  The adult tables had galvanized steel buckets planted with wheat grass and gerbera daisies.  Kids tables had rectangular lime green blocks wrapped in candy button strips with swirl and regular lollipops arranged on the top.

flower centerpieces

In the center of the room was the cupcake table covered in a fuschia tablecloth with 75 cupcakes in green and blue cupcake wrappers, frosted in white and adorned with a small swirl lollipop all stacked on a cupcake stand and overflowing onto the table itself.  Food tables ran down the side of the room, covered in fuschia table runners and displays of scrumptious lunch selections. At the end of the room was a beverage and a dessert table.

setting up

Down the hall, the kids party room was decorated in a candy shoppe theme.  The colors, pink, orange, lime and light blue with a little purple, were determined by some very fun balloons, found on line, that spelled out Gabby’s (a.k.a. Giselle’s) name. These were hung over the DJ’s table. The room itself was a little too big for the amount of guests and there was a LOT of junk like ladders and vacuums and kids toys and a piano, that we had to hide.  So we used the room dividers that were also there to do so, while keeping as many of the windows unblocked to optimize the natural light.

To try to liven the room up a little, we made “curtains” by draping plastic table cloths in our fuschia color behind the existing valances.  We also took advantage of the room’s chalk board to block off the fireplace opening and put a table in front of that for the candy.  All kinds of classic candy options in various glass containers were arranged on the table with some raised up for visual interest.  The table they had was 8 feet long so to fill it up, we put the galvanized drink bin on the table too. For continuity from the function room to the party room, on the candy table there were flowers similar to the centerpieces, but in a taller french pail and added large swirl lollipops.

the banner

The “Gabby’s Candy Shoppe” banner was made using paper to match the balloon colors, hand cut and sewn onto pink ribbon.  The letters were cut on a Cricut machine and glued on.  For a little more pop, we added tissue paper pom poms – they give a lot of bang for the buck. They were hung on either side of the bulletin board as well as from all the ceiling light fixtures.  To keep them from flattening out on one side, we left the tissue paper folded and didn’t fluff them out until the morning of set up right before they were hung.

“lollipops”

To fill in some empty wall space, we made huge lollipops out of white painted wrapping paper rolls with balloons covered in cellophane attached to the tops.  There was a big chance these were going to look tacky, but they turned out to be pretty cute! To conceal a bulletin board that was bolted to the wall, we covered it with lime green wrapping paper, glued on talk bubbles, and hung a pink marker so that everyone could leave well wishes for the guest of honor.  She ended up taking it home and hanging it in her bedroom she liked it so much!

The DJ kept the party rocking all afternoon with great music, dancing, games and prizes.  The kids got way too sugared up on all the candy. And the adults had a great time watching (and some even participated in) the shenanigans. All in all it was a very successful day. And a huge congratulations goes out to Gabby!