Hi! How are you all? Christmas is getting a little close for comfort, isn’t it? No matter how prepared I think I am, it always manages to creep up on me. My shop’s been open almost three weeks, and so far I’ve shipped packages to so many different destinations – much more geographically diverse than what I recall selling on Etsy. I couldn’t have wished for a better shop launch. Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far!
I just finished this little flip book. I would love to design an entire book, from cover to cover. Maybe one day… Meanwhile, this was really fun to make. I thought it would be a more interesting way to show my work than just a regular ol’ pdf. What do you think?
Next on my to do list is to send out a newsletter to my lovely subscribers. If you’re not on my mailing list, you can sign up here. I’ll be announcing a special offer, so you might like to join if you were thinking of doing some holiday shopping in the Magic Jelly Emporium!
I’m so excited, because Cathe Holden, owner of the beautiful craft & design blog Just Something I Made, is hosting a little giveaway this week of some of the new products from my shop (the items at the bottom of this post). Her blog is so rich with creative ideas & beautiful things, Cathe is so talented & inspiring, I’m really honoured that she agreed to host my giveaway. She’s written such nice things about my work, I am feeling really overwhelmed! It’s been quite a day, with an endless flow of visitors to my site, lots of emails, new subscribers to my blog & newsletter, & all the wonderful comments from Cathe’s readers.
If you’d like to enter the giveaway, you just need to visit Cathe’s blog & leave a comment right here. The winners will be drawn on Friday the 9th of November.
You’re probably already aware of Just Something I Made, & visit regularly – why wouldn’t you? There’s so much to see there. I share a love of cigar boxes with Cathe & & am flabbergasted by her enormous collection, & have serious studio envy too! Cathe’s also written a book called Rosette Art, which is due for release in May 2013, & I think I’ll buy a copy because I’ve been trying to make some rosettes myself lately & all I can say is, I need help! Cathe also has lots of ingeniously inventive DIY projects on her blog, & one of my favourites is this gorgeous little cigar box bed. Don’t you just love the airmail envelope pillow & postage stamp quilt?
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Cathe for her generosity, hello to all the new visitors to my blog & shop, & hello to all my old friends too! I couldn’t have asked for a better start for my new shop, I’m thrilled!
Lastly, my best friend Mark has reopened his Ebay store, where he sells really beautiful & quirky vintage photos. He has impeccable taste & always finds the most interesting things – you can visit him here.
It seemed as though this day would never come, but here we are – at last! If you cast your eyes over the the right, you’ll see my lovely new shop slideshow widget, displaying some of my new products in its little shop window. You can click through to the Magic Jelly Emporium there, or via the menu link at the top of the page (or by clicking the image below).I am so excited & happy with my new shop, & once again, have my good friend Julian Lievano to thank for magically turning my designs & illustrations into a working website. Thank you so much Julian! I’ve had lots of moral support, advice & encouragement from my friends & family too! Thank you! (This is sounding like an Oscars speech).
I have already added about fifty products to the shop, but I’m busy adding more, including gift certificates, new greeting cards, textiles, more jewellery, new gocco prints, and original artworks. Anyone with their own shop know just how long it takes to prepare a single product listing – getting all your photos done, writing descriptions, working out shipping rates – it isn’t a quick job!
If you’re a subscriber to my mailing list, I’ll be sending occasional newsletters (don’t worry, I won’t bombard you!) with special offers and discounts between now & Christmas – perhaps a giveaway too. And if you’re not a subscriber yet, you can join right here or by filling in the coupon over on the right hand side of the blog beneath the shop slideshow.
This has been a long process, but an absolute labour of love. It’s quite a relief, really. I’ve been starting sentences with “When I open my shop…” for at least the last twelve months. I’m looking forward now to relaxing a bit, & getting back to my work desk to do some printing & drawing, & make some more jewellery, so I’ll have lots of new things to add to my shop soon.
If you notice my site is a bit slow, the reason is because some of the elements of it are hosted in New Jersey (although the site itself is hosted here in Australia). Everyone over there has more important things to worry about than a slow server, but hopefully things will be a little speedier soon. I hope my blog readers affected by the hurricane are doing okay & that you’re all safe & dry!
This is one of my favourite secondhand book finds this year – Volume 52 of the Penrose Graphic Art Annual from 1958. I bought it from the same market as the King Penguins I posted about a few months ago, & it’s in nearly perfect condition! I can’t quite remember how much I paid for it, but it was something like $28 – a super-duper bargain. I would love to collect more of these, particularly the late 1930s through to 1960, but they can be a little pricey.
One of the best things about this book is that it’s stamped on the front endpapers with “Hardwicke Knight Collection”. Upon doing a little Googling, I found out that Frederick Hardwicke-Knight was a New Zealand author, photographer & collector who died in 2008 leaving behind a lifetime’s treasure trove of amazing stuff. I feel honoured to own one of his books! You can see the man himself & some of his incredible collection here. How interesting!
Toasted walnut and basil hummus with incredibly crisp and light olive oil crackers. Cracker recipe here.
Cornmeal crust pizza. Mushrooms sauteed with garlic & balsamic vinegar, homemade lemony aioli & fresh rocket.
Hooray! It’s been such a long, chilly winter, it’s so nice to start off springtime with a (relatively) warm, sunny day. I’ve been a little absent on the blog front lately, as I’ve been getting over a rather long bout of flu and am now catching up with everything, but I’d like to thank everyone for their comments, emails and good wishes regarding my last post about my Etsy shop. I haven’t had a chance yet to respond to my blog comments, but I will!
When the seasons change, I always feel the need to do something new – do you? It might be a new handbag or sketchbook, or spring-cleaning the house. This time around, I’ve decided to implement a more structured schedule to my work day, making sure I get enough sleep, always have good food in the fridge so I don’t live on tea and toast, and I’m trying to get into the habit of nice early mornings, with a daily walk on the beach before work (no excuses now the weather’s improving). My aim is to be more focused and productive and to stop procrastinating. I have so many plans and ideas, and I’m just not using my time as effectively as I could. My springtime resolution is to get to the end of each day knowing I’ve done my best to pack it as full of productive activity as possible!
Anyway, happy first day of spring to my fellow southern hemisphere dwellers, and to all you people up the top, I hope you’re looking forward to autumn, because that’s a lovely season too! For my fellow procrastinators, I’ve included a little video after the jump to help you fritter away an extra 4:17 of your life. By the way, did you know I have a Facebook page? I’d like it if you liked me (if you like).
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably gotten used to me saying “My shop is almost ready!” My relaunched blog has just had it’s 1st anniversary & is now one year & two weeks old. I’d hoped last year, that my shop opening wouldn’t be far behind it. Alas, things don’t always go to plan, but it will be so nice, & such a relief to open soon, in plenty of time for the holiday season (yay!). Here’s a screenshot of my shop so you can see my progress. I wouldn’t have such a beautiful shop (& blog!) if it wasn’t for Julian, who took my designs & illustrations & turned them into a working website – thank you so much Julian! My shop just needs a couple of tweaks, & I’m also finishing up on a couple of new products before launching. During September-October, I’ll be adding lots more stock, including textiles, more jewellery, new gocco prints & some original artworks. I’m so excited!
I also planned to reopen my Etsy shop at the same time, but sadly, that won’t be happening. By protecting my intellectual property & showing my packaging in my product photos, I am apparently breaching Etsy’s policies – they classify it as fee avoidance. I’m very disappointed.
I wrote recently about the importance of online exposure for independent micro-businesses like mine, & the constant vigilance needed to make sure your content is shared with correct accreditation & linkage. We all know how photos can end up floating around the internet on Pinterest, Tumblr, etc, & I bet we’ve all seen a really interesting photo here & there & been curious about its source, but not been able to trace it back to its owner (isn’t that annoying?). I also mentioned in that article how one of my photos was used without my knowledge by BuzzFeed & received in excess of 3.5 million views, but because I wasn’t credited, I didn’t benefit from any of that traffic. It was in fact, one of my Etsy product photos. It’s for reasons like this that I now discreetly watermark every image I upload with my url, so that interested people can always find me when they see my photos elsewhere. I see this as a vital part of successfully running my business. You never know when someone is going to see your work somewhere, which might lead to a new blog reader, a sale, commission, press feature, etc.
Unfortunately, Etsy interprets this practice as “fee avoidance”. It all stems from their policy that you can’t link to an alternative site where you sell the same products. I can understand why Etsy wants to keep shoppers on their site & not have them tempted away to another venue, & why they would put a stop to any blatant attempts by sellers to poach traffic. They have a business to run. So do I, & as an Etsy customer, I should be able to protect my work, build my brand, & not feel that my Etsy shop & my independent shop are in competition with each other. It is so obvious in my case that I have a genuine reason for watermarking my product photos & am not trying to steal away Etsy’s shoppers. I like to think that each case is judged on its merits by Etsy staff before they go ahead & close someone’s shop, & that genuine shop owners are allowed to stay open.
Before we get to the yummy food, I’d just like to mention that I have finally put up my About Page. I should have done it a long time ago, but I really struggle with writing about myself. My Google Analytics tell me that little Magic Jelly Story book on my sidebar gets clicked a lot, so it was pretty remiss of me to leave that page empty for so long! Now, on to dessert…
Whenever I buy a new vegan cookbook I go straight to the index to check out the cheesecake recipes. I am always so disappointed if the recipe starts with “2 tubs Tofutti cream cheese” – I just really prefer making things from scratch. It’s so much more satisfying, usually tastes better, & you know exactly what the ingredients are.
So I set out to create a baked cheesecake that was authentic in terms of taste, texture & appearance, & in my humble opinion, this really does taste just like a ricotta-based cheesecake (confirmed by my guinea pigs) & is relatively inexpensive to make! The drawback is, there are a few steps (you’re basically making your own cream cheese from scratch!), but none of them are difficult – soaking the beans & nuts overnight, making the cheese mixture next day, letting it chill before making the cheesecake itself, which then has to bake & chill – so give yourself a couple of days preparation. (Please don’t be put off by the inclusion of beans -you will not know they’re there at all in the final product!)
The other good thing about this recipe is that you can make it with whatever non-dairy milk you like, so it can be soy free if necessary. I made the cheesecake in the photo with almond milk. It’s easy to make a gluten free version too by using GF biscuits in the crumb base.
This recipe is for a classic lemon cheesecake, but I’ve provided some ideas for variations. Just think of the “cheese” mixture as a neutral base that you can flavour however you like. It’s not tasty enough to be eaten alone in place of cream cheese, but works perfectly as a ricotta/Tofutti alternative for cheesecake. But you needn’t stop there – you can also use it as a creamy base for dips & spreads, etc. For example, last Christmas I used the “cheese” mixture to make a caramelised onion dip, as well as adapting this cheesecake recipe to make a Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake. I added toasted hazelnuts & cocoa powder to the crumb base, omitted the lemon & added melted dark chocolate to the cheese mixture, then when the cheesecake had baked, pierced the top all over with a skewer, drizzled it with Cointreau, then decorated the top with raspberries & poured an agar-based raspberry & Cointreau gel over the top. It was dee-licious!