Black Friday, Blank Calendars and Multicolored Fashion Statements

Black Friday, Blank Calendars and Multicolored Fashion Statements

So I survived my first retail Black Friday weekend… and I actually feel a bit jipped. After all that extra headache and so many hours of lost sleep, I feel like I should have some awesomely blog-worthy stores to share about crazy customers and unbelievable crowds and fist fights over the GoPros…. but I don’t. Which I suppose is a good thing, since that means we didn’t have anybody trampled in a front door stampede, but at the same time, there could have at least been raised voices around the door-buster televisions. Something. Anything! I only got four hours of sleep for this!

But it’s over and I no longer work at the undisclosed location (whose mascot is a little white dog with a red bullseye on his face named Spot… in case that tells you anything). My three-week employment there was profitable, but I’m glad for it to be over and to be preparing for our pilgrimage back to the motherland later this week. Luckily for us, the majority of our belongings are still packed from when we left Martin the first time, so there is relatively little for me to do before the U-Haul truck arrives. We’ve gathered a few bits of furniture from various places but are still short a dresser or chest-of-drawers and any bookcases or other storage units. So if you or someone you know is selling (or giving away) furniture, please let us know and we might be able to take some of it off your hands.

I start my new job in a week and a half and I couldn’t be more excited. I am already dreaming about a giant 2015 desk calendar and color-coded office schedules. (I’m an office-supply geek to the core.)

In the meantime, however, I have been working with my mom to put some of her creations under The Chesnut Tree. She makes beautiful scarves, which are now available in my Etsy store and waiting to be put under your Christmas tree for those family members who love to make a fashion statement. There are two varieties: fabric ruffle and sashay ruffle.

fabric ruffle scarf

Fabric Ruffle in “white cheetah”

pink dot ruffle

Close-up view of the ruffled edge in “pink dot”

The fabric ruffle options are available in solid fabrics and lacy fabrics to create different overall looks.

Solid pattern options

Solid pattern options

Lacey color options for a more delicate look

Lacey color options for a more delicate look

The sashay ruffle has a more spiraled appearance and, in my opinion, a fuller final outcome.

Sashay ruffle scarf in "conga"

Sashay ruffle scarf in “conga”

Close-up view of a sashay ruffle in "conga"

Close-up view of a sashay ruffle in “conga”

These are available in dozens of colors, including solid neons, multicolored, sparkles, metallics and special fabrics.

multicolored options

multicolored options

neons and special fabric options

neons and special fabric options

sparkle and metallic color options

sparkle and metallic color options

Visit The Chesnut Tree and see which ones might look good under your tree. “Regular” length can be wrapped around the neck 1-2 times and is $11.99, and “long” length can be wrapped 3-4 times and is $14.99. Shipping is $7.50 per box. Order by December 10 to receive your order by Christmas.

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The Penguins have Landed!

PENGUINS are now available under The Chesnut Tree! They are made to order and come in the colors pictured.

penguin group

Each penguin is approximately 6″ high, made with screw-in child safety eyes, and comes with a removable scarf in a contrasting color of your choice. They are $14.99 each plus shipping ($7.65 for one penguin, $1 each additional), and you can choose to have your order gift wrapped for an additional $5. I will include a brief note inside the box as well (if you choose to leave one in the notes section of your order page.)

Get yours today! Order before December 10 to receive your items by Christmas.

penguins hanging around

P.S. – Be advised, however, that penguins are mischievous creatures and might be found exploring your house with their friends while you aren’t looking.

The Question Lady

“How are you doing today?”

“Did you find everything you needed?”

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Is plastic ok?”

“Would you like your (large item) in a bag?”

“Are you paying with debit or credit today?”

“Would you like cash back?”

“Would (child) like a sticker?”

Over my 4+ years (off and on) as a cashier, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can carry on an entire small-talk conversation entirely in questions.There are some customers to whom I never say a single word that isn’t part of a question, and the transaction works out just fine. I could probably be reduced to a set of mechanical arms to slide items across the scanner and a pre-recorded voice asking a standard set of questions to each guest as they approach the register.

Yet nobody really seems to notice. They answer my questions and add in details as if we are having an entirely two-sided conversation and it never seems to occur to them that all I’ve ever said was part of a question. The next time you go through a check-out line, count how many questions the cashier actually asks you. You might be amazed to find out that it can be ten or more in the span of the five minutes you spend paying for your purchases — yet it somehow comes out sounding like a well-rounded conversation. Funny how that works out.

An Exciting Announcement

My goodness the past week has been a whirlwind! I started working at a popular local retail outlet (which shall henceforth be referred to as “the undisclosed location,” or UNDL) last weekend and have been there all day, every day this week.

Except for Wednesday, on which wonderful things happened.

The Mister and I went up to Martin for a day trip to look at rental houses and so I could have a second interview with a local business. The job looked promising and the interviews went well, so I left that office feeling pretty good about myself and our future. It wasn’t a full-time position, so I would have to look for a second job to fill out my paycheck, but a job is a job and I think I would have enjoyed working there.

They ended up offering me the position on Thursday morning, but I didn’t take it.

Because as soon as I left them on Wednesday, I got an out-of-the-blue phone call from my old boss where I worked before vet school, letting me know that they rewrote one of the open positions to meet my qualifications and wanted me to start as soon as possible.

Full-time. With health benefits. And a tuition break for the Mister’s classes in January. And some moving expenses.

We pulled over in the First State parking lot and I cried. I would have done a happy dance right there by the road if there hadn’t been so many people in the drive-thru.

So, while the official signatures are still being processed, I am excited to announce that I have officially (over the phone, anyway) accepted a full-time, three-year position with the University of Tennessee at Martin and we will be moving as soon as we finalize a lease.

God has been good to us and blessed us beyond what we could have asked for for ourselves. He knows what we should be doing, and thank goodness He looks out for His own.

It’s good to be going home. 🙂

Happy Friday!
/the missus

Under The Chesnut Tree

So about a month ago I finally got my online etsy.com store started, and I am proud to say that I have TWO items available for general sale!

(Only two? Yes, two. I know. But I’m also trying to finish special island orders and make Christmas presents for my own family and find a job with a regular paycheck, so just bear with me for a little while longer.)

For those of you who may not know already, I crochet blankets and stuffed toys of all kinds. Most of my items are made with children in mind, but would be wonderful gifts for anyone.

Currently looking for homes are Felix the Frog and a snuggly elephant lovey blanket (a blanket with the head and arms of an animal attached).

stuffed frog toy

Felix is 18″ tall when standing and 11″ tall sitting down. Felix is floppy, so he does not sit or stand on his own, but he does make a wonderful toy to be dragged around the house by a small child. He is made with acrylic yarn and high-quality cotton fiber stuffing, and has no buttons or choking hazards. He would be a wonderful, huggable playmate for any frog lover. His pattern is provided courtesy of designer Mari-Liis Lille (lilleliis).

Felix is available under The Chesnut Tree for $40.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

The elephant lovey blanket was actually an accident. Sort-of. I wanted to make an elephant blanket and I chose colors that complimented the animal… and then realized later I had essentially made an Alabama Crimson Tide blanket. Shame on me. (The colors in my family are more orange and white, if you know what I mean.)

Photo Oct 16, 8 46 26 PM elephant blanket

The blanket itself is gray, maroon and white and is 21″ square with a slight scallop ruffle around the edges. The elephant portion is 6″ high and is made with locking child-safety eyes for a realistic look without the choking hazard. This brave little elephant is afraid of nothing and will keep your little one safe in all conditions. Completely handmade, he is a wonderful keepsake and friend for the growing Alabama fan in your house.

This blanket is available under The Chesnut Tree for $60.00 plus shipping and can be mailed within three days of a finalized order.

I have a few other items listed but they are designated for special order pickup and are identified by the buyer’s name in the title. Those are custom orders from the island, so please admire them but allow their owners to order them first.

My shop also has a large blue “request custom order” button on the left side, so feel free to use that option to ask about special types of orders. I love creating new things and I will try to honor special requests as often as I can.

I try to keep costs realistic, however I know many will see the prices on the above items and think “Sixty bucks for a baby blanket? No way!”. But you do have to consider the time and effort put into making a unique handmade item. I do not add high profit markups to my items; I only charge for the materials used and the time put into creating the piece. Some items take longer to make than others, even though the finished product might turn out to be roughly the same size as another listing. It all depends on the techniques and materials used in its creation.

So please, before you shut down the idea of handmade gifts – either bought online or at a craft fair table – take a moment to think about the love and dedication that went into creating a one-of-a-kind piece that you or your child can treasure forever.

Thanks for reading, and please follow the bolded links to see what else is available under The Chesnut Tree. You can also follow my original crochet Facebook page at Chesnut Crochet Creations for updates.

The Mess of Motherhood

I have always had an aversion to mess. My messes, I can ignore. Other people’s messes, I feel my skin start to crawl and my hands start to twitch and my brain starts screaming “clean it! wipe it up! keep it from spreading!” This is something I know to be true about myself and I keep it under control most of the time, but the times it comes out worst are the times I’m interacting with small children. You know… those little creatures that live almost solely to create messes and don’t care where or how bad they are?

Yeah. Those things.

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law was volunteered at the last minute to teach the one- and two-year-old Wednesday night class at church and I got pulled in by association. The class went well and we didn’t have any tears from anybody, and in the last ten minutes we put all seven of the toddlers into the floor to play with the puzzles, etc. This is when the problem began.

I suddenly found myself following the children around, trying to pick up their pieces as quickly as they could scatter them around the room. I realized that, while my mother-in-law watched the group as a whole and waited for the bell to ring, I was desperately trying to contain the mess without keeping the kids from playing… an impossible balance to achieve.

It dawned on me right there in the floor that this will be my biggest problem as a mother. I feel like I will be able to handle boo-boos, tantrums and nasty poopy diapers, but it’s the food on their faces, the blocks in the floor, the odds and ends scattered throughout the house that will drive me insane. I am going to have to learn to let the kids play and make what messes they will (within reason, of course), and then get it cleaned up after they go to bed.

Because I know, logically, that no matter how quickly I wipe the sauce off their highchairs they will always manage to smear more onto their faces before I can stop them. It’s a never-ending battle that can only be won by waiting for dinner to be over and then putting the child – probably clothes and all – into the tub and cleaning up the kitchen table after bedtime. I know this. But my brain has a very, VERY hard time accepting it.

Because that child – *twitch* – has gravy – *twitch* – in his hair – *twitch twitch twitch*…….