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Thanks for stopping by Irene Design.  The blog has now moved.  If you would like to keep up with Irene Design, please visit us at

http://irenedesign.blogspot.com

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I am back, folks!  After a busy week of dinner guests, going to an out of town wedding, and celebrating Easter, I feel like I can sit down and spend some time catching up.

I made a special trip to one of our local quilt shops to buy fabric for a placemat and napkin set.  Do any of you shop locally for your fabrics?  I wish I could do it more, but when the price is $9.90/yard and I can buy it online for $7.50 it is hard to do.  With only one yard, the difference is not too bad, but with multiples, it adds up quickly!

Speaking of fabric, I have been seeing images of vintage sheets being used children’s clothing, pillows, and a whole host of other projects recently, and I am ready to get in on this!  While I was at the quilt shop, I also stopped by a thrift shop.  Of course they were in the process of sorting all of their “spring” items and all of the housewares were off the floor!  My step mom will be here in two weeks, and she is the queen of thrift shops, so I’ll take her with me then.  I’ll let you know what we find!  I did find some skirts and a dress for the wedding which I will tell you about in another post…I’m still waiting for the files to load on the computer!

How did you spend your weekend?

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by a thread

I was this close to not being able to finish the custom napkin set I was working on last night.  I will tell you that I had taped the loose end of the thread to the spool and held my breath through the last two!

In honor of the Easter weekend, as well as the wedding celebrations, I will be offline the next few days.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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New Photo Preview

Whether reading through the Etsy Shop Makeover Series, or a list of tips on the Indie Biz 2.0 course, one of the most common pieces of advice given to sellers is

TAKE GOOD PHOTOS.

I will admit to using less than worthy pictures in my listings, but from here out, I am focusing on photos that would make me want to buy the product.

Remember when selling something online, the customer cannot actually pick up the item and see that “it is so much better than the pictures lets on.”

For me, this means photographing in the afternoon in my kitchen, backyard, or dining room.  These are all places I get plenty of indirect natural light. It also means taking 20+ pictures of one item, using different backgrounds and various angles, to find a few that really work.  I have some great pictures with horrible hues because I photographed at night in my sewing room rather than during the day when the sunlight is pouring in.

I then spend some time editing.  I enhance the exposure, crop around the image, add backgrounds and even text, all to make sure that my photo shows how great the product is.  I am not a professional photographer, but thanks to programs like iPhoto and Picnik, I can make some minor adjustments that can really show off the images.  When I do not take the time to do this, it really shows via poor photo quality and no sales!

Once that is all said and done I’m ready to add the photos to a listing.  That’s another story, or another post. For now I have lots of editing to do so I can get these items listed!

One of my goals for April is to photograph all of my unlisted and listed items to make sure they are really spectacular.  By the end of April I hope to have no more “so-so” photos in my shop.

{Shameless} Plug: Today on Quest for Real Food: Tips for Buying Local Foods

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New Years Resolutions seem to be something you either love or hate.  For some people it is a time to set unrealistic goals that will be forgotten a week later.  For others it is a time of reflection on the past year and anticipation of the year to come.  I fall into the later group.

Why am I bringing this up in March?  And what does this have to do with surprises? Or food? Good questions!

Back in December and early January, I spent a decent amount of time reflecting on what I wanted for the year ahead.  None of my resolutions were truly groundbreaking or even life changing.  Not yet at least.  But I did want to continue, deepen, and strengthen one aspect of my family’s life throughout this year, that being changing the way we eat to keep up with our views of how best to treat farmers, the farm, the animals, and the earth.  With this in mind, I also realized that we work with a limited budget; although sometimes if you look at my grocery bill you would not believe that.

So what was my resolution?  To keep our budget under $100/week but to continue to incorporate as many local, fresh, organic, and sustainably-produced items on our receipt as possible. Of course that incorporates a pretty big ambition and a lot of buzz-words, so to keep myself accountable, and to help the many others seeking to do the same,

I have started a new blog.


Actually, my friend Megan and I are starting this blog.  She is knee-deep in boxes in her new apartment in Texas (which she shares with her husband, dog and two children) so she’ll be posting a bit later this month.  Megan is amazing when it comes to planning, using coupons, and basically sticking to a budget.  I’m looking forward to seeing all that she offers in that department.  She is also transforming the contents of her kitchen, so she’ll have plenty to offer there as well!

It is of course a “work in progress”, but after several weeks of thinking about this and brainstorming ideas, I am so excited for you to see it! We will be posting recipes, recipe reviews, shopping tips, and of course chronicles of our own experiences.  I hope this is something that will be of value and not just “another blog”.  Feel free to let us know if you have any questions, ideas, or comments.  We would love to hear from you!

And for those of  you who actually read this far down, I’ll let you in on one more tidbit: today’s post is a little how-to for Chocolate Covered Pretzels!

What are you waiting for?  Check it out!

http://questforrealfood.blogspot.com

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Sunday Driving

The weekend has been filled with naps, lunches out, rain, flowers, sunshine, walks, church, catching up with friends, and time in the sewing room.  I am working on some new zipper pouches (let’s call them zippies from now on, OK?  That’s easier to type.).  The zippes are for the Female Art Collective, and have learned a little something new about myself along the way.

What started off as a one evening, 90 minute max. project has turned into a two (maybe three if I do not get off the computer and up to the sewing room!) evening trial of new designs.  Rather than just form a little assembly line and make 3-4 zippies that are all similar, albeit utilizing different fabrics, I had to make each one unique.  Not that this is a bad thing.  I like unique.  I also like productivity.  “unique” does not usually equal “productive” in my world!

These zippies are different sizes, some are pieced, and some have special stitching.  Each will be beautiful in its own right.  Each will take more time than it should!
In case you have been on the edge of your seat wondering, I have yet to decide on a dress pattern or even if we are actually going to attend the Ball.  That means you still have time to chime in and let me know which you like best!

I am also incredibly excited to reveal my big secret to you tomorrow
(remember, it involves food!)

I hope your weekend has been filled with many good things!

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I distinctly remember a day–just last week–when there were no flowers in sight.  Now they are everywhere.  I may have mentioned it once or twice, but let me just emphasize that

I
love
Spring.

I love the longer days, the bounty of color after a long winter of brown, gray, and white, the birds singing, the fresh foods that will soon be arriving on my table…the list goes on.

Speaking of fresh foods. I have a little surprise for you. No, it’s not a puppy. Or a cheesecake.  But it does involve food, me, and you (yes, you.)  On Monday I will tell you what it is.

Until then I will be enjoying the sunshine if it chooses to come back, but definitely the flowers and the birds and quite possibly even a little time to get creative between now and then.

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