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Monday, December 31, 2012

A Look Back at 2012

I really can't believe 2012 is over! This year seriously flew by. I did a look back on my past year in blog posts to do some reminiscing. A lot has happened this year!

In January, JAA was in full Valentine's Day mode. It was unlike any previous Valentine's Day season I had done and by February it had me dreaming big.

In March, I headed to my first blogger's conference and turned my interweb friends into real-life friends.

The traveling in March continued, as Jordan and I set off to Australia to film a wedding. Aaannd I got to do this:

In April, I shared my struggles with infringement for the first time. I was really cautious in posting this, but now I'm glad that I went through with it.

I had my first big craft show in May. Patchwork was such a great time!
June and July brought on an abundance of summer recipes. Oh what I would give for a sunny day in the yard with a raspberry mojito in my hand right now!

August. The month I quit my day job. I still don't quite know how that happened. September was spent adjusting to the new experience.

In October, Jordan and I dressed up as lightning and struck by lightning for Halloween, while our previous tooth and tooth fairy costume cruised across Pinterest.
November was a world wind of craft shows, as I tried to get more involved in the local handmade scene.

And in December, when I was not celebrating the Christmas season, I was planning and preparing for Valentine's Day!

Overall, 2012 was a really great year! Yeah, I faced some challenged, but I know I have so much to be thankful for. It really makes me excited for what 2013 has in store for me, for JAA, for Etch...I think we have a lot to look forward to. :] Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight + Giveaway: The Wish Forest

The lovely Elizabeth, from Elements Inspired, is back for another month on JAA and I am so happy to have her! She makes really incredible, great quality jewelry. I love getting a glimpse into her creative process!
"My name is Elizabeth Banks and I’m the artist behind the Elementsinspired jewelry line. I live in the Colorado Rockies with my husband, our two girls Zoe and Maya, two cats and our newest adoption, a 10 month old Labrador retriever named Milo. I am outdoors as often as possible, skiing, hiking, running, climbing and boating. I am also a self admitted Sundance catalog junkie. Five years ago, right after the birth of my youngest daughter, I fell in love with a Jess MaHarry necklace that was like $1,700. I couldn’t afford it and I pined over it for months. I still have the torn out framed page of that catalog that inspired me to start learning to make my own jewelry. I began making my own earrings and necklaces, but I was ultimately unsatisfied with the look I got from commercially purchased findings. I wanted to achieve that unique artisan look that only comes when you make it yourself from start to finish.
So, three years of metalsmithing classes and lots of trial and error later, I make beautiful one of a kind jewelry that is inspired by the abundant nature here in my beloved Colorado. I work with a large variety of mediums, but most recently, I have been working mostly with large pearls and gemstones and I bezel set them in silver. I also make long heirloom quality necklaces with completely handmade chains and beautiful earthy stones. My goal is to make one of a kind classic pieces that are the sort of things women buy for themselves as a treat. Sort of that “because you are worth it” sort of purchase. Years later I know they will be passed on to their daughter….still classic and beautiful. I have sold my beadwork for two years out of my etsy shop, and my newest venture with Artisan park features only my newer more artisan pieces."
Show her some link love!
Elizabeth is offering one lucky reader this sterling silver Namaste Wrap Bracelet or Anklet ($32 value)! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

See something else you like in the Elements Inspired shop? Get 15% off your order with the coupon code JULIEANNART.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be announced here in one week and notified by e-mail. Good luck! xo JA

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Valentine's Design Block

You guys, I'm really excited to share my Valentine's Day line with you! The past few days I have been photographing, editing, preparing listings. I've been stamping envelopes, punching hearts, cutting thank you notes. I'm basically trying to get as prepared as possible before shit gets crazy. I'm hoping to get all the new cards in the shop by...tomorrow!? Eek!
I have been anticipating Valentine's 2013 since Valentine's 2012 ended. I want to confide in you about something though. I struggled while designing this year's line. I wanted to make it cohesive with my branding and style...while making sure my shop stays unique. Competition is in high gear, as I am constantly reminded, and I for one, do not want my shop to look just like another card shop. So I struggled, to continue using the style that is recognized as JAA, while continuing to be unique, my own. But I learned to use this as motivation and determination. This challenge helped me to grow as a designer and for that I am thankful. I am now really happy with the cohesive, yet new, line I created. And I really really hope you are too!

So while you may notice some differences in these new cards, you'll still find the simple, hand-drawn, "just the right amount of punch" style that is, and will continue to be, JAA.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas In Instagrams

Hi! How was your Christmas? Mine was nice, pretty low-key. That tends to happen when you don't have any immediate family within 3k miles of you (sad face). Jordan and I spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day with his sister, brother-in-law, and adorable niece Bella. Other than that, we pretty much just enjoyed doing nothing but getting fat on yummy foods. Here's a glimpse through Instagram photos. Do you follow me? Username: julieannart!
1.) We went out with our friend who was in town on Saturday. I contemplated wearing a Santa hat.
2.) I've been doing daily sneak peeks of my Valentine's Day line! Very exciting time for me!
3.) My Dad always sends me the sweetest cards.
4.) I got my new JustLovely headband on Christmas Eve! LOVE it! You can get it here.
5.) Penny in a Santa hat. Cutest thing ever?
6.) Most of Christmas Day was spent like this.

What did you do to celebrate Christmas? Big family gathering? Or pretty low key? Either way, I hope it was wonderful! xo JA

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight + Giveaway: OhSoAntsy

I'm so happy to partner up with Jessica, from OhSoAntsy, today! Her product really hits home for me, being from Michigan and now living in California. It's always nice to think about "home" and remember "where the heart is" and Jessica's jewelry help remind me of that. Here she is:
"Through my shop, OhSoAntsy, I am able to create jewelry that people can relate to and remind them of a place or person they love or gifting that experience to someone they love. It’s a wonderful feeling to get to be a part of so many people’s lives through what I do and hear so many sweet and touching stories everyday. What started out as a side business for me back in January of 2011 has now turned into a full time handmade business and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I would love to hear your story!"

OhSoAntsy is offering one lucky reader one regular-sized state/country necklace of their choice! ($58 value!) Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Can't wait? Get 10% off your order with the coupon code JULIEANN10.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be announced here in one week and notified by e-mail. Good luck! xo JA

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Work and Work.

Hi guys! Whatcha doin today? I'm trying to finalize my Valentine's Day line so I can get them up in my shop after Christmas! Lately, I have been dealing with some emotional crap and it started getting in the way of my design process. Today I am working on keeping my head focused, and using the "emotional crap" to motivate and push me.

So, while I attempt to finish the line today, I wanted to leave you with the latest wedding video J and I shot! Etch has been doing well! We have three weddings lined up for January. I am freaking out a little bit since January is the busiest time in my shop, but I'm very happy to see the business growing.

I hope you like this video. The 2nd song is my favorite! I really think it shows how much fun this wedding reception was! It makes me want to dance (and FYI: I suck at dancing).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sponsor Call for January

It's time for a sponsor call for January! In the past month, JAA received 80,000+ unique visitors and 124,000+ pageviews!

And guess what, I'm in the Christmas spirit. Use the coupon code ITSCHRISTMAS for 20% ad space! This offer ends Friday, December 21st, so jump on it!

Medium ads will go live as soon as today. Large ads will go live at the end of the month.

If you're interested in advertising on JAA, you can find more information here. Happy Holidays! xo JA

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Ritz Cracker Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Years ago I did a cookie exchange with some friends and one of them brought chocolate covered Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches. They were...amazing. The chocolate, the peanut butter, the salty crunch from the crackers....is there really anything better?
Last week I bought some Ritz crackers because J came down with a stomach bug. That's when I remembered these cookies. I found this recipe and knew I had the rest of the ingredients in my kitchen already (bonus!) so I got to work.
What you'll need:

2 c milk chocolate chips
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
32 crackers (about 1 pkg)
Sift the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl with the peanut butter. Whisk until smooth (I got in there with my hands at the end). Spread a small amount onto a Ritz cracker and create a sandwich using a second Ritz cracker. Place the sandwich onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Continue until the peanut butter is gone.
Put the baking sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips. Dip the sandwiches in the melted chocolate using small tongs. Let the excess chocolate drip off before placing the sandwich back onto the parchment (This part got messy for me). Once all sandwiches are coated with chocolate, let sit for about an hour. Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight + Giveaway: iLikeMaps

Remember when I shared my new maps from iLikeMaps that I hung in my studio? Well they are back today with a giveaway for you.
"iLikeMaps creates rich and detailed map prints of the cities you love. The map prints created by iLikeMaps are designed to be presented as work of art, rather than an orientation tool. Map lovers frame the prints and display them in prominent places in their homes. Place, colors, sizes: every map is entirely customizable. iLikeMaps is the project of Andrée-Anne and Olivier, a couple of Montréal crazy about maps and design. Map prints are stylish and versatile decor item. They are also a great gift for family and friends that live in another state or oversea."

iLikeMaps is offering one lucky reader a $30 credit to their shop! And don't forget! Location, size, and color are all customizable! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Can't wait? Get 15% off your order with the coupon code JULIEANNART. Offer valid until Feb. 28, 2013!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner will be announced here in one week and notified by e-mail. Good luck! xo JA


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Makeup Stocking Stuffer Ideas by Jac&Elsie

Hey guys, I have my lovely sponsor Jaclyn chiming in here today to give us some cute makeup stocking stuffer ideas! I think this would make such a fun Christmas gift for a friend or sister.

Howdy, happy Julie Ann Art readers. Jaclyn here, of Jac & Elsie, my little corner of Etsy filled with vintage, upcycled and handmade pretties. I was super honored when Julie offered up a guest post on her blog and even more jazzed when she asked me to talk about something I adore: makeup. I always figured I’d be a hair stylist/makeup artist in my next life (in this one, I’m a features reporter for a daily newspaper), and adore trying new product and playing with new looks.

So grab a killer stocking (this one, this one!), pick a beloved friend, and get gifting for that perfect beauty bag gift.
1.) The base of a beautiful face is, yes, a clear face. If you have the porcelain skin of a China doll, I envy you like mad. And maybe you can skip this stocking necessity. But I am beyond obsessed with Befine Exfoliating Cleanser. I can only find it on Amazon. The scrub is super fine and dissolves, so it’s not rough on your skin.

2.) I am also a major fan of toner. Sometimes when I’m especially broken out, I spray on a few squirts of c. Booth’s Tea Tree Therapeutic Toner (which my Ulta store stopped carrying [curses!] and now I find on drugstore.com). Tea tree oil is especially awesome for oily skin because it controls shine, helps with pimples and doesn’t overdry.

3.)The best concealer I’ve ever used is the green stuff. You know what I mean -- it’s the green concealer that makes you think “Why on EARTH would I smear green stuff on my face???” Well, the green actually makes the red look less ... red. Less angry. And it works wonders. I’m currently using an Ulta brand one, which it appears to no longer carry (curses some more!), so I’ll throw my support behind Maybelline’s Corrector Concealer, because it’s my fav drugstore brand and as a rule, Maybelline’s face makeup rules.

4.) Over the past few months, I’ve seen lots and lots of hoopla over BB creams. It stands for “beauty balms” and yes, all the hoopla is deserved. It acts as a foundation, and a moisturizer, and a concealer (though if you’ve an particularly angry blemish, you’ll still need a separate concealer). BB cream is uber lightweight and helps keep skin matte. I like Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm. It’s a bit pricy (yay Birchbox points), but the tube’s a decent size, and a little goes a long way.

5.) Now ... the fun stuff! Black eyeliner looks awesome on everyone. As someone with olive skin and dark features, there’s really no point in me wearing any color but black (OK, purple is fun sometimes ... as is green), but for you fair-skinned and -headed beauties, I still say you should be using black eyeliner. It makes your features pop like corn, and who doesn’t want that? I’m currently loving on stila smudge stick waterproof eyeliner (in black) on Birchbox, though in general, I much prefer an actual pencil. I feel like it’s easier to draw a line, and it’s less va va voom for everyday wear. And, let’s be frank: Cheap totally works here. The most recent pencil eyeliner I purchased might have been from the dollar store. So not even kidding.

6.) I think bright, bold colors kill for the holidays. Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipsticks feel soft and pack a fabulous punch on the color front (berry rose, anyone?), and CoverGirl Queen Collection Lip Glosses are about as bold as a lip gloss gets (flame! flame).

7.) I’ve never been much of a blush girl, and when Birchbox threw a liquid blush (that doubles as lip gloss??) in my box a few months ago, I thought I’d never use the bright frickin’ red gel. But oh ... it’s amazing. It gives a beautiful flush and acts as an ideal lip stain. It’s called Staniac, and I say you need this stuff in beauty queen. (JA swooping in here to say I use this on my cheeks every day and love it!)

8.) Last but not least ... we need some mascara. Oh sure, eye shadows are fun to play with, but sometimes, the $1.99 bin at CVS can dredge up some awesome colors for experimenting. But mascara is a product you don’t want to scrimp on. Yes, my Rimmel Lycra Last Extender Mascara is great for day-to-day wear, but there are two glorious mascaras I swear I’d sleep in if I was a rich lady: Anything by Dior (seriously, the company doesn’t know how not to make your lashes long, lush and lovely) and Benefit they’re real! mascara. It’s truly one of the only mascaras I’ve ever worn that doesn’t look like you’re wearing mascara; it just looks like you woke up and your eyelashes decided to be awesome forever.

If any of those treats ended up under my Christmas tree, I’d be a happy camper. Now ... what are your favorite makeup treats? I love hearing about new products to try.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creating Relationships Using Social Media

I think it's really important for bloggers to make 'blog friends.' I know that the thought can be daunting. There have been days where I've felt like I'm late to the party, where every blogger is bff's with every other blogger. (Dramatic, much?)

So how did I get over that? How did I put my shyness to shame and put myself out there? Two words: Social media. Social media is the key to networking for an online site, whether it's a blog or a shop. You might think "But do I really need Twitter account AND a Facebook account?" Yes. If you want to make an online presence for yourself and your site, then yes, you do.
These days, when everything from paying bills to buying Mom's birthday present is done online, it is so important for those who run an internet-based business to participate in and have knowledge of the latest and greatest social media site(s).

So you have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy, Blogger, etc, now what? It may be easy to think that social media is used solely to gain fans or followers, but it should be used for so much more than that. It helps you develop real relationships, not just with customers, but with other independent business owners.

Obviously these sites are used for self-promotion, whether it's announcing a sale or sharing a new item in your shop. But go beyond that. I always make it a point to "like" my favorite bloggers Facebook status's or start a friendly conversation via Twitter. But make sure what you have to say is relevant. No one likes the "Hi, I love your page! Would love for you to come like mine!" comments. Remember, the goal is to make a real relationship, not get borderline spammy.

For me, Twitter has been the most beneficial way for me to make friends with other bloggers.  I'll admit it took me some time to figure out the "right way" to use Twitter. For a while there, I just didn't get it. I think the key is to incorporate personal tweets, not just "new blog post!" or "new item in the shop!" Self promoting tweets are fine, but if that is all you're typing it's going to be harder to get people interested in what you have to say.

The best use for Twitter is communicating with other people like you. It is so much easier (especially for us shy girls) to converse with another blogger or Etsy seller through a tweet, rather than meeting in person (insert awkward hello and a "Oh hi, I read about your life all the time" moment here). It's also less formal than sending the "I'm a huge fan of your work!" e-mail. You want to use Twitter as a conversational tool more than you want to talk to yourself about your new blog post. I mean, WAY more.

By reaching out and making relationships with other independent business owners you create a network that can be used in any way you want it to. You can make a friend. You can make a business partner. They can help you advertise. They can write a guest post for your blog when you're extra busy (wink, wink). I mean, the possibilities are endless. Remember, you don't know how a relationship will effect you until you reach out and give it a try. For example, did I know that casual tweets with Rouge&Whimsy and YellowHeartArt would result in monthly g-chat video dates with them?? I mean, they're my best blogging bitches now and I know I can always rely on them. I can't imagine if we had never started tweeting at each other some random day.

Social media allows you to create a support system for your business. I have made real life friendships through it (Remember when meeting people via the internet was scary? I guess it probably still is in a lot of cases...) and I know my business would not be where it is today without them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photography

My good friends Cynthia and Kurt are getting married in February. Etch is shooting their wedding and I'm really excited because it's at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and that place is awesooome. This weekend I shot some photos for them to use on their wedding website.

I was kinda nervous. Although my degree is in photography, it has been a long time since I have taken photos of people (lately it feels like it's been food or crafts or Penny). But they were really cute so it made the job pretty easy.
It's funny, I remember the day of my college orientation when I realized people already knew what they wanted to do in life, what courses they wanted to take. I picked photojournalism as a major because I had taken photography all through-out high school and it was something I liked. Even though photography is no longer my job, I still am really thankful that I had that background and training. It makes taking product photos and blog photos a lot easier.

We celebrated J's 30th birthday over here this weekend so I am playing catch-up a bit. Sometimes work just has to get put on hold for a sec, ya know? What about you? How was your weekend? xo JA

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight + Giveaway: Jac & Elsie

Today I want to introduce you to my friend Jaclyn! It has been a pleasure getting to know her via Twitter. She even inspired this card from my shop!
"Hello, all! I'm Jaclyn, of Jac & Elsie jewelry on Etsy. I fell into my little shop sort of on a whim -- a friend who made jewelry let me play with her one day, and that was that. Over the years, my style and changed, but my goal hasn't: to enjoy myself, and to provide affordable, adorable jewelry. My favorite things include my mom's spaghetti sauce, Donald Duck, Stephen King and, yes, the holiday season. The 20 minutes at my folks' house right after I wake up Thursday morning, when it's just me and my mom in the kitchen with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on in the background, is possibly my favorite 20 minutes of the year."
Blog // Facebook // Etsy // Twitter

Today Jaclyn is offering Julie Ann Art readers this lovely set of three friendship necklaces! ($28 value) Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
The winner will be announced here in one week and notified by e-mail. Good luck! xo JA

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Studio Space

If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I set up a second printer in my studio last week. In all honesty, this printer has been sitting around for months. I finally got around to moving around some furniture and setting it up next to my desk. Now I get excited every time I get to have two jobs printing simultaneously! Total timesaver I should've done a long time ago.
I also added some new artwork to the walls that I got from my awesome sponsor, Olivier, from I Like Maps. When Olivier asked me if I wanted some maps of my own I immediately said yes. I don't know if it's the lines they create or the locations themselves, but I just think they are so cool!
I Like Maps offers completely custom maps so I was able to choose the location, color and size. This was really cool to me because the possibilities were endless. I thought about going with Sydney, Australia since we had an amazing time there this year. But in the end, I went with my hometown, Detroit WHAT?
Since these maps would be great personalized handmade Christmas gift, Olivier is offering 15% off with the coupon code JULIEANNART. Check out his shop to find the perfect customizable map for you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Being Myself

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this on here before, but I often have a hard time writing this blog. Or even tweeting on Twitter or posting on Instagram. A lot of times I find myself erasing and re-typing, editing myself.
My whole life I have been shy and it's always been a struggle to be myself in front of people. I have that same issue with my "internet persona." I'll type the first thing that comes to my mind, and then over-think it. I worry what people will think. I worry that they will judge. Or think I'm weird. Or inappropriate.

But you know what? Sometimes I am weird. Or inappropriate. It's who I am.  I swear. Often. (I mean, have you seen my Etsy shop?) And I can understand that some people don't like swearing and don't want to see swearing. But why edit who I am? I mean, I see blog posts that I don't agree with, or don't have an interest in, so I just don't read them. I don't judge anyone based on their opinions, and I especially don't think one should be judged on how they are perceived on the internet. It's hard enough to read sarcasm correctly through a text from your friend, how can you make a true judgement of someone based on what they say online?

Am I on a tangent? I feel like I am. The point it, I don't want to censor myself anymore. I want to be confident in who I am and not worry so much about people liking it or not. There are some bloggers who are so great at being true to themselves on their blogs and I really admire them for that. It is just something I have never found easy. But I'm working on it. xo JA


Monday, December 3, 2012

December

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it's December now. With two local craft shows and the Thanksgiving holiday, November flew by. It was a really great month for my little Etsy shop. I continue to feel so humbled by your support.
I have actually had December on my radar for a while. Last year, right after New Years things started getting busy. I had though that in January I would be able to design new cards for Valentine's Day and that never happened. I was still working my day job and staying on top of Valentine's orders was hard enough. But, it was a learning experience. So this time around, the preparation, the planning, (and the list making) begins now.
I'm really excited! Valentine's Day is obviously my biggest season and it really was last Valentine's Day that made me start thinking I could do this full-time. I'm really looking forward to using what I learned last year and working towards new goals this time around.

Also, please give a nice welcome to my new lovely December sponsors over in the left column! Lots of good Christmas gifts to be found in their fun shops! xo JA
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