I have no words.  I still think it's March.  The year is almost over and New Year's resolutions and posts about "this is my YEAR!" are going to start to flood the blogosphere and here I am wondering what the  hell happened to 2012.

The years need to stop flying by so quickly.  The older I get, the faster it goes.  When I'm 70, I assume I will blink and a year will go by.  

November was such a busy and awesome month for {Acute Designs}.  All of you out there reading and buying my designs and just in general supporting this business, thank you, thank you, thank YOU. From the bottom of my heart, I love you all.

A few of my favorite posts from November ~

*I had a really, ridiculously good thrifting day at the beginning of the month.  
*And I celebrated a birthday - 32!  Sheesh, so old. 
*My Ikea dining room table went from boring to awesome with a simple makeover.
*I love my president.
*My deepest, darkest blogger secrets.
*Eggnog Muffins and Fall Salads - YUM.
*So much to be thankful for.
*Let's talk about pricing...again.
*12 days of merry started up with my entertaining tips and an advent calendar diy.

In other news....

If you have any {Acute} on your holiday shopping list, please get your orders in before December 15th!  I am leaving for Ireland on the 17th and both shops will be shutting down for the year.

shop the {Acute} etsy or the {Acute} online shop

Enjoy your last day of November and the first weekend of December.  

xoxo, Gina

12 days of merry {day 2} ~ brown bag advent calendar

When I was a kid, we had an advent calendar that my grandma made.  There was a large felt tree and beneath it were 24 little pockets with felt ornaments in them.  I loved this advent calendar.   The countdown to Christmas was the most exciting part.  

This year I made an advent calendar for my niece.  I had a lot of grand ideas but when I remembered I had to ship the thing, I decided to go simple.  

To make the calendar, I used items I already hand on hand - brown paper bags, clothespins, and twine. I created the numbers in photoshop and printed them on sticker paper and I filled each bag with trinkets I got at Target, Michael's, and The Queen Bee Market.

This is pretty much a three year old's dream.  I think I might win the award for aunt of the year....not that I was trying or anything ;). 

Do you have an advent calendar tradition at your house?  

around here

The Thanksgiving weekend was so nice.  I feel like I had a good mix of relaxing and prepping for the next few busy weeks.  And we saw Lincoln which I cannot recommend enough.  SO well done and entertaining and interesting and I won't give away the end but a certain someone is shot...

It was the best movie I have seen in a really long time.  If Daniel Day Lewis doesn't won the Oscar, I will be shocked.

In other news, I'm a little bit in denial that we leave for Ireland+Chicago in less than three weeks.  I still have to buy 95% of my Christmas gifts, prepare for two more shows, get a lot done on my blog for when I am away, and so much more.

I have a feeling these next three weeks will be crazy town, usa.  Luckily I have three weeks of vacation waiting for me on the other side.

How was your Thanksgiving weekend?  Did you eat too much and shop too much for yourself?  Me too.  

12 days of merry {day 1} ~ holiday entertaining tips

12 days of merry is back!  Last year, I decided to do 12 days/posts of holiday-ness.  If you were around last year, you might remember some recipes, diy's, and gift guides.  This year, it will be more of the same except....better.  Well, one can hope.

Day one is a little post about tips for holiday entertaining.  This year I won't be doing much entertaining at my house.  We leave for Ireland on the 17th and my business is taking over my life the next three weeks.  However, I do plan on throwing a small party while in Ireland and I cannot wait.  

I really, really love the holidays.  Thank god it's the week after more crazy looks for blasting the Mariah Carey Christmas album.

My holiday entertaining tips ~ 

{image via}

1. You can never have enough ice.  Or alcohol.  The worst thing is when someone wants a beer and you are out.  Whomp whomp.  I am not implying that you need to have enough alcohol to get everyone a little too merry, I just mean have a good variety.  Beer {something basic like Stella}, wine {a few red and a few white}, and a cocktail {I like to do something festive}.

{image via}

2. Don't over-do the food.  If you don't cook at all, buy all your snacks at Trader Joes {or somewhere similar} and cookies at a local bakery. If you love to cook, just do a few things and supplement with store bought items.  I have done the "I will make everything myself" parties and they become such a hassle.

{Image via}

3. Have a small variety of food choices - someone might be a vegetarian, another person cannot eat gluten, a third is a health nut. You get the point....all the snacks don't need to contain meat, dairy, and gluten.  And, include something sweet.  Even a simple bowl of red and green candy or quality store bought Christmas cookies will do.

4. Don't put all the food in one spot.  People looooove to crowd around the food, so place the appetizers in a few different spots.  I personally hate a table packed with random mismatched appetizers that everyone stands over all night.  If you have a friend who would like to help out, ask them to "work" your party and walk the room with trays of appetizers.  That way people can disperse and not crowd around the food.

{image via}

5. Make a little something for guests to take home.  A small bag of homemade {or store bought} cookies, spiced nuts, a small plant is a great little memento from the party.

Overall, just have fun!  This is the season to eat, drink, spend time with friends and family, and be a little extra merry.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Breville. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules

zomg cyber monday.

I spent a large part of the weekend shopping and eating.  I couldn't STOP.  I got a lot of my holiday shopping done and bought myself super discounted clothes from Gap and Forever 21.  

Saturday I did my part to support small businesses and picked up a few small biz Christmas gifts, both online and locally.

I also made a mini Thanksgiving dinner last night.  I think I have a problem....  

Anyways, are you sick of shopping yet?  I'm not.  I have a few more items on my list and I am crossing my fingers that they will be marked down for Cyber Monday.

If you haven't shopped yourself to death, check out my Black Friday post {a lot of the shops are carrying their deals through Cyber Monday} and the spend more, save more {Acute Designs} sale!

discounts automatically applied, no code necessary

If you prefer to shop on Etsy, take 15% off the {Acute} etsy shop with the code CYBER15.

I hope you guys enjoyed your holiday weekend!

shop small

Do your part to support small businesses today.....we are the driving force of this economy.

The {Acute Designs} 20% off sale is continuing all weekend - use code BLACKFRIDAY in the {Acute} Etsy shop or code GIVETHANKS in the {Acute} online shop.

Wishing you all a very happy weekend!

xoxo, Gina

black friday madness!

I don't know about you guys, but I am staying far away from the mall, Target, etc tomorrow.  I actually never go shopping on Black Friday.  A few years ago we decided to do our Christmas shopping on Black Sunday {?} and everyone was full of rage....yelling at each other over parking spots. I totally do not get it.

Just because I am not venturing out this year doesn't mean I won't be doing some major bank account damage online.  

A few of my favorite small biz and handmade shops are hosting sales this weekend.   Get out there or browse the internet and support handmade, small, and local businesses this holiday!

And the {Acute Designs} sales ~

early bird sale only applies online shop
all other sales apply to Etsy or online shop

Happy shopping, friends!

let's talk about pricing....again

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about pricing that has become the most widely read post on my blog.  The fact that it gets so much attention and traffic makes me happy because I want others in the handmade/indie business world to correctly price their items. It is important that we as a community value our work.

I also wrote about pricing and valuing your work on Design*Sponge about a year ago. Obviously it is something I am passionate about :).   My blog has a small reach, but Design*Sponge has a ridiculous reach, so I know the message is out there and I know many of you have the same frustrations.

My personal frustrations stem from the fact low prices hurt the entire handmade community.

After vending at The Queen Bee Market last weekend, I saw so many LOW prices.  As I walked around and shopped, I was constantly impressed with the quality of work and the creativity that each and every seller possessed.  And I will admit, as a shopper, the low prices were enticing but they are damaging in the long run.

Don't get me wrong, many vendors set their prices just right - high enough to make a profit but low enough to be competitive.  However, every few booths, my eyes would pop out of my head when I would spot jewelry priced lower than that at Forever 21 or Claires.  

I know how much certain materials cost and I know that some of these materials are really inexpensive but we cannot forget all the other factors.  Factors such as marketing costs, packaging materials, booth fees, and your time.  Your time and my time is worth SO much more than a few dollars per hour.

The whole pricing issue in the handmade world can be a really frustrating topic.  I know I shouldn't let it frustrate me and I should just focus on my own product and blah, blah, blah.  But this isn't my hobby, this is my livelihood.  And when I see products similar to mine priced for a third of what I sell mine for, I want to scream.

I know so many of you who read this blog are also small business owners and we all struggle with the fine line of making a living and setting fair prices.  It isn't the easiest thing to do.  

When I first opened my business, I was in the mindset that "lower is better," but over the years I have realized that that couldn't be further from the truth.

There is no need to be greedy when pricing, but we do need to focus on fair pricing.  Our culture is addicted to cheap goods but trust me, there is room for reasonably priced goods.  

This is how I price my items ~

When I attend a handmade market,  I am expecting to pay a little more than I would at say, Target.  If we continue to price our items at a Target level, then we will create a thinking that handmade is cheap.  Cheap is a word I would never use to describe my business, so why would I want to give that impression with super low prices?

fall salads

I have a confession to make - roasted brussels sprouts are one of my newest obsessions. This is coming from a girl who cried, literally cried, when forced to eat brussels as a child. mom was right all those years.  I wonder what else she was right about? {Don't tell her, she will just gloat :).}

I love salads and eat them almost every day of the week.  Lately, since it's Fall-ish and a little chilly around here, I have not been in the mood for a crisp salad.  I have been craving warm food.  So, my latest m.o. is to put something warm on a salad and it's perfection.  The mix of cool lettuce, warm veggies, and creamy cheese turns a salad into a comfort meal.  

Roasted Brussels Sprout and Apple Salad {serves two}
-1 to 2 cups of fresh brussels sprouts, chopped into quarter pieces
-1 medium apple, cut into large pieces
-2 servings of salad greens {I used baby romaine, but use whatever you have}
-a few tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds
-a few ounces of goat cheese
-olive oil, salt, and pepper
for the dressing
-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons honey

1. Heat the oven to 350.
2. Put the brussels sprout and apple pieces in a baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat and roast in the oven for about 35 minutes...until the brussels are fork tender.
3. Right before the brussels and apples are done, heat the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Continue cooking for a minute or two until the vinegar reduces and is nice and syrupy.
4. On each plate, pile the greens and top with the roasted veggies, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, and the warm balsamic.  Serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Salad {serves two}
-one small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into quarter pieces
-2 servings of salad greens {I used baby romaine, but use whatever you have}
-a few tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds
-a few ounces of fresh parmesan cheese shavings
-a small handful of dried cranberries
-olive oil, salt, and pepper
for the dressing
-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons honey
-1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1. Heat the oven to 400.
2. Put the squash pieces in a baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes...until the squash is fork tender.
3. Right before the squash is done, heat the balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Continue cooking for a minute or two until the vinegar reduces and is nice and syrupy.
4. On each plate, pile the greens and top with the roasted squash, pumpkin seeds, parmesan cheese, dried cranberries, and the warm balsamic.  Serve immediately.

These salads make a perfect lunch or would be a nice first course for a Thanksgiving meal.



It is the time of year to reflect on what we are thankful for.  I personally try to do this year round but, you know, life gets in the way and it is so easy to get caught up in the stupid little things.

I am thankful for...

....the fact that I am able to live a life I love every day of the week.  Being able to build my business is one of the greatest life experiences I have known.  Some days suck and some days are amazing but overall,  every day is full and I love it.

....a supportive husband who is willing to sacrifice certain things in order for me to have the opportunity to live said life and make a go of it building my business. family.  You don't get to choose your family and I feel really, really lucky for the one to which I was born.  I truly enjoy their company.  

Speaking of family, I am also incredibly thankful for my in-laws.  I have heard so many horror stories from friends who seem to have the most awful in-laws.  My experience is totally different.  I honestly love all of them and enjoy spending time with them. health, my education, my dogs, and my quality of life.  

On a less serious {and cheesy} note, I am ridiculously thankful for high speed internet, a good meal, reality tv {especially anything Bravo}, blogs, and good books.

What are you thankful for?

Julie Ann Art

weekend instas

My weekend was good and so tiring.  I vended at the Queen Bee Market Friday and Saturday and it was good {more on that later} but these shows are always so tiring.

I spent the rest of the weekend accidentally eating McDonald's breakfast, cuddling my puppy, fulfilling online orders, cleaning the house, and ended up at Target.  Naturally.

How was your weekend?

Follow me on Instagram

queen bee & happy weekend!

I have very little to say this morning because I have been working non-stop all week preparing for the Holiday Queen Bee Market.  It takes place today and tomorrow at the Sheraton in Carlsbad.  

If you're in the area, stop by and start your holiday shopping!  You won't be disappointed. The quality of vendors is pretty awesome.

I am off to finish a few last minute details and pack my car.  I finally bought a cart so I am optimistic that this will be my easiest set-up yet :).  

Have a great weekend you guys!  

xoxo, Gina


Lately I have been....

Creating much for this weekend's Queen Bee Market, online orders, and inventory for a few shops that stock my product.  Lots of creating.  It is a good thing.

Eating ...cookie dough.  I have a problem with raw foods.

Watching ...the modern day Sherlock series from the BBC.  I found it on Netflix and highly recommend it if you like mystery/crime type shows.  It is really clever and really well done.  I find all these Sherlock Holmes shows and movies fascinating.  I wonder what Arthur Conan Doyle would say if he could see what his stories inspired?

Worrying ...about Gordita.  She had surgery Tuesday to remove a lump on her leg {it was just a fatty deposit - not scary cancer} and now she won't take her pills.  I have given her antibiotics in the past and she would just eat then on her food or tucked in dog treat. Until yesterday she never refused anything nominally edible and now she is spitting out all the best human foods {with treats inside} and puking.  I know she will be ok but it freaks me out and makes me sad.

Excited ...for the new Anna Karenina movie.  I loved the book and I am sure the movie will be dark and beautiful.  I am also excited for Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season.  Food and shopping - it's a great combination.

Planning stuff - diy's, recipes, gifts, and our trip to Ireland.  We leave in about a month.  Crazy.

Thankful ...for Facetime.  Yesterday I Facetimed with one of my best friends {and her little son}.  They live In New Zealand and Facetime makes them feel like they aren't so far away.   It is such a great invention.

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