The Lost Art of Letter Writing

19 Jan

I have a crazy idea.

For a few minutes, close Facebook, stop tweeting, texting and emailing and sit down and write someone you care about a proper handwritten note. Then seal it lovingly in an envelope, locate your local post office, pay a few cents for a stamp, stick it on and drop it in the mailbox. The extra effort will be well-appreciated when they receive a nice bit of mail the next day. And maybe you’ll get one in return.

When I was a teenager, I had pen pals. They were in New Zealand, Nigeria and Kenya. Of course there was no Facebook. We wrote to each other – not Word document print-outs, but with colored pens and cute stickers. We put little “treasures” in the envelopes with our letters – photographs of our families, pieces we cut out of magazines, a few coins of our own currencies. It was something to look forward to but letter writing is sadly a lost art now.

So maybe it was silly of me to create greeting cards for my Photo Larks shop on Etsy, but I’d like to think it will be a little nudge of encouragement to pick up that pen again.

Here are the designs available so far, but any of the photos in the shop can be turned into cards, so if there’s something you’d like to see, just say the word. Click on the photos for more information or to order some for a rainy day that you feel like brightening up someone else’s.

Have a lovely Thursday!


Four Arches Feeder

23 Dec

It’s been over a month since my last entry. I’m in London now, have moved into a new place, started working full time again and don’t have any of my jewellery making supplies here until my dad comes next week. So the shop has been a bit static for a while.

It will pick up in the new year, which is something I’m looking forward to because there are a lot of different places to find supplies in London that I wouldn’t have found so easily in Colombia or in my suburban town in Upstate New York.

I have been adding some new products from my dad to the shop. One of them is a new bird feeder design:

It’s called the Four Arches Feeder, made from PVC, a decorative piece that is virtually indestructible. It’s part of my dad’s retirement gig. In fact, he has opened his own shop as well so check it out if you get a chance. It’s full of pretty and unique bird feeders and houses and planters will be coming soon as well.

As you can see, there’s some snow back at my parents’ house in New York where this picture was taken. The weather in London has been pretty beautiful considering it’s nearly Christmas. I have a big open green space in the view from my window now, with lots of birds running around in the mornings. I should have one of these here…. it’s a perfect time for bird feeders as well.

I have had a bit of time to take a few photos which I’ve put up in my other Etsy shop. This should grow quite a bit now that I’m back in London because there is plenty of photography inspiration around here. No doubt about that!

Are you ready for the holiday weekend? Have you finished your shopping?

Have a lovely Christmas everyone! See you in the new year with some new products.

Interview: Friday Feature on The Underestimated Mom

21 Nov

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I updated here. I made a spontaneous decision to return to London last week and, well, that’s where I am now. A while ago, I answered an interview for The Under Estimated Mom blog, so I wanted to share that with you here. It was published on Friday but I’ve been super busy trying to find a job and a place to live over here. Hence the reason I haven’t added any new pieces to the Etsy shop this week. I’m hoping to crack on with making some new jewelry and stuff in January. I wish I had the time and resources to do it now but life is in the way!!

Anyway, check out the interview 🙂

Just click the pic.

You can follow my London adventures if you like on my other blog:

There’s a giveaway on now for a few more days!

Dad’s Retirement Project / Craft Show

29 Oct

If you’ve been on the Etsy shop lately, you may have noticed I’ve added a new shop section called Dad’s Retirement Project. It does what it says on the tin!

Dad’s been dreaming of retirement lately and started contributing some of his garden products to the shop which he plans to expand on in the coming years. He works with both wood and PVC. At the moment, the majority of the pieces featured in the shop are his cedar wood nesting boxes for our feathered friends, stenciled and painted by Mom, his partner in crime.

They open up on the side by slipping out a little pin at the back so they’re super easy to clean. The size of the hole attracts creatures like wrens and bluebirds, and they’re perfect resting and nesting places for the winter months when the snow blows in.

He was even featured a few times (and on two different front covers) of Langenbach magazine and in a couple of others. They called him a “master woodworker”.

Here’s his PVC feeder too:

Check it out and keep watch for more…


In other news, I’ll be doing another craft show tomorrow. Stop by if you’re in the area and say hi!

Date: October 30, 2011
Place: St. Andrews Church (Gym) – Sheridan and Elmwood in Kenmore, New York
Time: 9:30 – 3

I have two lined up in November as well. More on those later.

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!

First Craft Show

23 Oct




I did my first craft show yesterday at a small church in North Tonawanda, New York. It wasn’t really a show that reached my target market, but it was very close to my house and I managed to make six sales. Not great, but covered the cost of the table and then some.

More importantly I got to do a bit of networking, met some great people in the area including some fellow Etsians who stopped by to show their support and say hi. I handed out a whole bunch of business cards, online discount codes to people who attended the show and got a lot of great feedback on the products.

People were very interested in the story of how Made in Mogotes came to be. I put together a display book of photos from the village, how fique and guadua turn into bags and jewelry. I heard a lot of life stories. I learned a lot – about what people actually purchase at churches in small towns, about things I need for the display, about bits and pieces that may have come in handy.

Overall, even though I didn’t exactly make a killing, I didn’t ever expect to in the first place and I think it was a successful experience.

The next one will be a shopping night in Lancaster on November 11, but more details on that closer to the date.

On a side note, I added a section called Vinyl Ventures to the shop. It’s for some garden products like bird feeders made by my dad. They’re perfect for winter, maintenance free and classy so check it out if you get a sec.


Interview with Lemon Dear

21 Oct

Yesterday I had the honor of being featured in a an interview on the blog of the lovely Lemon Dear. She asked me some great questions and the layout looks fab. Click the screenshot below to check it out!

Newspaper Article on Made in Mogotes; First Craft Show

17 Oct

Hey guys! Sorry for my lack of writing lately. I’ve been busy making lots of new jewelry for the shop and got another shipment of bags made by Eliana in Colombia which I’m working on photographing and posting this week.

I’m also doing my first little craft show on Saturday (Oct. 22) at Payne Avenue Christian Church in North Tonawanda, New York. It’s from 10-4, Saturday only if you live nearby and want to stop in.

Also, I wanted to share this front page article on Made in Mogotes today from the Dunkirk Observer!

SUNY Fredonia grad forms business in Colombia

October 17, 2011

There are no seasons in Colombia.

Every night at 6 p.m., the year-round sun sinks below the mountains and the villagers of Mogotes chat on their doorsteps, swatting away mosquitoes. A small woman called Amilce switches on a low light, picks up her worn-out needle and a roll of fique and sets to work weaving a handbag, her children playing quietly in their bedroom. She has a custom order to fill from California.

It is the situation now taking place thanks to the ingenuity of Stephanie Sadler, a Fredonia State alum and North Tonawanda native. In August of 2011 Sadler launched an e-commerce business entitled Made in Mogotes, a platform for crafters in Colombia to help sell their work.

Her venture, however, actually began in London following her graduation from Fredonia State.

“It started after I left Fredonia. I moved to London and about a year and a half ago I met a Columbian guy and we kind of got pretty attached. When his Visa ran out he asked me to come to Columbia with him, so I said sure, why not. I quit my job and left everything behind and went to Colombia,” Sadler said. “While I was there I was on a tourist Visa and that meant I couldn’t work. We were in a tiny little village, middle of no where, so I wouldn’t have been able to find a job anyway. The first thing I did was take an artisan class on how to work with this material called guadua which is like bamboo, making jewelery.”

After discovering talent on the cobbled streets of Mogotes, Sadler said she realized their potential. Many artisans in Mogotes don’t have the English language skills or the Internet access they would need to sell their work beyond the borders of Colombia.

“I started meeting all of these women who were making these crafts and I thought they need somewhere to sell their stuff, to promote it, because it was just kind of sitting around in their houses and they weren’t doing anything with it,” she said.

“Someone suggested, so I started putting stuff on Etsy and people were interested. So I ended up making it an official business in Colombia.”

The products are colorful, handmade and customizable. There’s jewelry, handbags and wristlets, hair accessories and home decor. A very resourceful group, the artisans gather most of their materials from local plants fique, which is in the pineapple family and guadua, which is in the same family as bamboo.

Sadler, who majored in English and minored in journalism and business marketing at Fredonia, described the village of Mogotes as a town find through winding mountains with a dirt road entrance and large farms along side the road.

“You see the mules with sugar cane loads on their backs, and all the guys are carrying machetes in their pants,” she said. “You have the typical sombreros that they wear. Most Colombian little villages are surrounding a church, so there is a big central church in the square and then there are houses that come off of that.”

Sadler is currently living in North Tonawanda and communicates with her boyfriend back in Colombia via e-mail.

“I have a couple custom orders that they’re working on right now for people in California and Canada,” she said of the business some 2,500-plus miles away from her current location. “While I’m in New York I’m just trying to get the word out there and when I get orders I just give them by e-mail and then they send me the stuff.”

For more information on Sadler and Made in Mogotes visit one of the many websites available:;;