Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chicago Lakeview Taco Festival

A few weeks ago, I went to the Lakeview Taco Festival in Chicago. I had never been to this event before so I thought I would go. 


The event was free to attend. The festival focused on just tacos for food. The vendors sold tacos from local restaurants that were both traditional and speciality. 



I had a hard time finding vegan tacos. I did find one taco was the specially made vegan. But they were all out. You could order tacos without the meat though.


Besides food, the event also had two stages of live music with several bands. The live music was pretty good. They had a lot of cover bands.


It was a fun event overall. I would go again. Have you been to any festivals lately? Let me know in the comments. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to Meal Prep + Free Meal Plan Printable


Do you meal prep? Meal prep is a method of preparing meals on bulk ahead of time. 

Plan Ahead

Keep a meal plan so you can plan ahead. You can find free meal plan printable at the bottom of this post. Also keep a grocery list for when you go shopping. Use apps like Yummly to help you find recipes in advance. I like that Yummly allows you to find recipes on different blogs and add ingredients to a shopping list the makes it easy to grocery shop. 


Prepare in Batches 

When you cook, try making your meals all at once in batches. You can chose a day of the week to make your meals for that week, such as Sunday. If you make a meal, make it on bulk so you can split it up throughout the week. For example, many soups and bean dishes are good to make in bulk in advance. Cut up vegetables and other items in advance. For example, carrots can be chopped up and saved to snack on. 

Store Food

You can store meals in tubberware, such as 20 piece sets you can find. Check how long certain foods last for and if you can freeze certain meals. Some foods will store better than others.

I sometimes try to meal prep if I am on a busy schedule. I like preparing my meals in advance to save time. It also a good way to know exactly what you are eating and eat healthy.

Click here to download a free meal plan just for blog readers. I would also appreciate if you share on social media. To use, print out for each day you want to meal plan and fill in recipe ideas or recipes for each day. 


Do you meal prep? 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Vegan Vortex Autumn Craft Show

#VeganVortex in Chicago is a community-oriented, seasonal artisan craft and vegan pastry market, founded by Paper Moon Pastry.

I decided to try out this market. This show was different from most craft shows I go to because it was an all vegan market. None of the products sold used any animal products. A lot of the vendors were food vendors, but I saw a couple other crafters.



My shop, Move the Needle  sells paper products that are vegan and cruelty free. 

I sold a couple items! I sold some greeting cards and this Pumpkin Mini Journal:


I tried out a vegan black bean taco that was wrapped in a banana tortilla on my lunch break. I also tried a pumpkin muffin which was really good. I think it would be fun to try to sell food sometime at a market like this. 


It was overall a successful show and I would go to it again. 

Have you been to any craft shows lately? 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What are Your Favorite Halloween Costumes?


Halloween is a great time to dress up. I am curious what your favorite Halloween costumes you have been were.

Let me know by e-mailing:

Include a photo and brief description of what you were dressed up. They can be old photos or more recent ones. You can even include ones of pets or group costumes. 

If I get enough, I will post them on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How to Price Your Handmade Products


If you want to sell items on Etsy, it's important to have a good product pricing strategy. You want to make sure you cover all your costs. You also want a consistent pricing formula throughout your items. People are usually willing to pay more for handmade items so don't be afraid to price a little higher than you think you should. 

Use this selling price formula as a guide for pricing your handmade work. See what price you come up with for each type of item you sell.



The most important thing you want to cover in pricing is the materials you use to make your item. If your item price costs less than the materials you used to make it, you are losing money. 

Save all your receipts for Etsy related shopping trips and materials. Keep these in a folder or some other way to keep them organized like through the online service Shoeboxed  You will also use your receipts, especially ones for smaller and non material expenses, to calculate expenses. 

When you calculate your materials price, you should consider how much material you use for each item. I like measuring items like fabric or decorative paper in square inches. You can use the method of measurement that works for you. For example, find out how many square inches are in the full size of a product you bought. Then find how many square inches of a material you use in your item and use it to calculate the approximate price of the material you used. If you buy a roll of decorative paper that has 100 square inches and costs $4, a measurement of 25 square inches of decorative paper you use in a product would cost about $1. 

You only want to include the main materials you use in a product. Don't include smaller materials like thread or glue in your materials price. These go in to the expenses price. 


What are expenses? Expenses are those hidden materials and costs. Hidden materials are things such as glue, measuring tape, scissors, thread and needle and other materials you use multiple times to make your products. 

Your packaging supplies and any materials you use to ship things are also expenses. Think of mailing envelopes, packages, bubble wrap, tissue paper and computer paper and ink to print out shipping labels. 

Materials you use multiple times and other things you pay for in your business can count as expenses. Your laptop and studio space are considered expenses. For bigger items, you should calculate the monthly price of them by thinking of how many months the expense will last and dividing it in to the total cost of the item. For example, if a $1200 laptop lasts for 12 months, the monthly cost is $100. 

Think about online expenses. Did you purchase web hosting or a domain? Do you pay for any Etsy related applications or services or computer software? This counts as an expense.

As you can see, the cost of expenses can add up. Every time you think of an expense, jot it down. 

So how do you figure out your "expenses" cost in the pricing formula? Add up all the expenses you thought of. How many items do you think you will sell in a month? Divide that number in to the total expenses costs. If you don't like the price you came up with, try altering what expenses you think you should include in your cost and play with the number of items you think you will sell in a month. 


How do you find a fair labor to give yourself? Start by looking at the minimum wage in your state. If you don't want your price to be too expensive, start with the minimum wage. 

However, you should take in to consideration what is actually a fair price to pay yourself. Research what artists are paid per hour. Think about the skills you do. Do they require a lot of work? Is your talent unique? Do you do a skill not a lot of other people know how to do? Take all these things in to consideration.

To find your labor cost per item, time yourself or estimate how long it takes to make each item. For example, it may take you to 1 1/2 hours to make an item. Don't count drying or waiting times in to your timing. 

Now just multiple the hourly wage you gave yourself by the number of hours you worked. If you pay yourself $10/hour and it takes you 1 1/2 hours to make an item, your labor cost would be $15. 


Last, but not least is profit. Profit is how much you want to make per item. You can make this whatever you feel the item is worth. You want your hard work to pay off. You may tweak the profit depending on what your final price is. 

Wholesale Price

Add up everything in the formula sofar. This is your wholesale price. Where do you use your wholesale price? If you sell items in bulk or wholesale (such as to shops that want to sell your item), you should use this price. List your wholesale price on your line sheet if you have one. If you don't sell items in bulk or wholesale, your can just keep the price in mind if you have to use it later. 

Retail Price

Retail is twice your wholesale price. Retail is the price most customers will see. Use your retail price for your Etsy items. If you have a discount or sale on an item, just calculate the percentage off for the retail price. You can list your retail price as MSRP or manufacturer's suggested retail price, or list price, on your line sheet. 

I like using this formula to calculate my prices for each type of item I sell. Try plugging in the formula again for a different type of product. You may find using an exact formula works for your item or you may prefer to use the formula as a guide and come up with your own price. Other things you should consider are market trends and competition for similar items. You don't want a price that is completely different from other similar products being sold. Do what works for you and your business.

Want more tips on how to run an Etsy shop? Check out my new eBook, Needle and Thread. This eBook is all about running a creative handmade business on Etsy including pricing tips and how to grow your business. 

What pricing tips do you have? Let me know in the comments. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's My Birthday!

It is my birthday today! 


These are a couple goals I have for the upcoming year:
  • Move to an apartment
  • Travel more
  • Make more money
  • Spend more time taking care of myself 
  • Try out more recipes
  • Make more art
  • Get more subscribers and followers on my e-mail list, blog and social media 
  • Journal daily
  • Spend less time on time wasting activities 
  • Practice gratitude 

The artwork pictured is by Margaret Berg

Want to celebrate? Get 28% off any order in my shop, Move the Needle, by entering the coupon code 28BDAY at checkout. 28% off is more than I usually do for sales do this is a good deal. 28 stands for the age I am turning this year.  

What do you like to do for your birthday? 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Recipes to Make for Your Birthday

With my birthday coming up, I thought I would post some birthday inspired recipes. 


For a birthday cake, I love this Funfetti Buttermilk Birthday Cake


I thought this Birthday Cake Popcorn was a creative idea to try instead of traditional cupcakes. 


This Cake Batter Cookie Dough dip uses chickpeas and quick oats. I have tried a couple recipes on this blog before and would love to try this one. 


These Funfetti Gooey Bars use cake mix and a couple other ingredients. They see a twist on the classic birthday cake. 


These Baked Funfetti Donuts are great as a breakfast treat. They are glazed donuts filled and topped with sprinkles. 


Have you ever made puppy chow? This Cupcake Puppy Chow is perfect to celebrate birthdays.

What do you like to make for your birthday?