Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I used to be a Top Etsy Seller, but I'm not anymore. And why I'm Okay with that (Usually)

They Are Not Long - Ernest Dowson

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

I came back to my little old blog because this is where it all began. That picture on my blog? It was taken almost exactly 6 years ago, right after I opened my silly little Etsy shop with zero expectations. I feel like I've lived 100 lifetimes since then and become someone I don't even remember becoming.

So allow me to sit on my rocking chair, children, while I tell you a story. How my silly little hobby became a business that at one time provided half my family income. How I went from 0 sales to nearly 30,000 on Etsy and how I ultimately, failed.

Six years ago I was a stay-at-home mom with five children and I was just trying to navigate the economic times, which for us were...bad. My days were spent figuring out how to make it all work. I baked, I sewed, I took care of children. I loved it. But I thought I could help stretch the budget a bit by making soap. Then I thought I could sell a few bars here and there for some extra cash. Oh, poor, sweet, naive 2010 me!

Well, anyway, it ended up exploding more than I could have imagined. On April 16, 2015, I found myself standing on the selling floor at Nasdaq, along with other Etsy sellers, ringing handmade bells as Etsy.com went public. At six months pregnant, I traveled to New York and walked down Broadway. I sold my products at a booth in Times Square. It was amazing and memorable.  In the last 6 years, my business has kept food on the table during the worst of the Great Recession. At one time, it paid for a bi-weekly cleaning service and a part-time employee. I bought my children clothes and books and shoes and gadgets. We went to Disneyland twice. And then I had my son, Felix. From the first night in the hospital, I suffered from extreme PPA which meant I couldn't sleep and sat on my bed crying while worrying over my Etsy reviews, which were suffering. I simply couldn't keep up anymore and my husband and son were taking over most tasks. After I got over the worst of my depression, which took at least 6 months, I no longer had the desire to outsell everybody. All I wanted was...peace.

Yet, how could I continue contributing to my family in the way we had become used to? So I soldiered on. I stopped being able to create new fragrances and products, so I just kept making the same old things. I lost my competitive edge. I didn't keep up with changes, I didn't keep my product line fresh. I phoned it in for a good year. And it showed! This past summer, I found out I was pregnant with my seventh child, a girl after six boys. A child that will likely be my last child ever. I do not want a repeat of July 2015. I need to find joy in my life again and move on to the next step. I don't have the energy to compete with other shops, I'm not good at innovating right now. Basically, I suck. I'm no Estee Lauder. And that's okay.

This fall, I enrolled in Northwest Nazarene University in order to ultimately get my Master's Degree. I have plans for the future again! I'm a full-time student at 36, pregnant with my seventh child! I have a son that will be going off to college himself in 2018. It is a busy and exciting time. I have cried a lot of tears at the prospect of my Etsy shop becoming a footnote in my life, or maybe a sidebar. It certainly will not be the focus of my day-to-day activities as is has for so long. I will still continue making products but likely I will cut my product line down by at least half.

It has been a grieving process realizing that I need to do this, it feels like somebody died. I've cried a lot of tears over this.  But I hope, in time, it will just be a happy memory of what I did from 2010-2016, and I won't feel the embarrassment that I currently feel at having not "made it big" or "created an empire" or whatever if was that I was so hell-bent on doing for so long. I've learned so much in the last six years. Mostly, that where I am truly happy and fulfilled is right here, planning my weekly grocery shopping or baking bread. It was quite a ride, and now that this era is coming to an end, I'm both sad and grateful.

Thank you to everyone that helped me make it happen.

I will be back!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tired Mama Cooks

I love tuna casserole. It reminds me of being a kid! Unfortunately, my husband does NOT like tuna casserole. Something about texture. Whatever.

He recently told me to stop not making all the things he doesn't like (enough double negatives there?) so I threw together a made-from-scratch tuna casserole while he was at the gym. No sodium laden condensed soup here or weird cracker crumb topping (though I secretly like that). It's so easy and cheap! And it was a win with my kiddos.

Tired Mama Tuna Casserole

  • Large can of light tuna (12 oz) in water
  • Two cups milk (lowfat is fine)
  • 4Tbls olive oil or butter
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 4 TBLS flour
  • 1lb whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded colby-blend cheese
Melt butter in saucepan, add flour, stir into a smooth paste. Add celery salt, sage, and milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly and then 1 minute more. Drain tuna, add to sauce. Cook pasta (I do mine in a rice cooker!) to just past al-dente, drain. Grease large casserole dish, add noodles, then sauce, mix gently with a wooden spoon and smooth the top. Add cheese, then seasoned bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.