Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Link List - newsletters

I've been thinking about starting an email newsletter.  For ten years, I've been writing a newsletter for the Museum (where I work) so I think I can handle this.  But... where do I start online?  Here are some sites I visited when doing my research - hope that you find it helpful and interested.

First of all, what services are out there?
There are a number of companies that deal with online newsletters, such as Constant Contact, VerticalResponse and iContact.  These all have monthly fees after the initial one to two months of a free trail.  They all have support systems and link to social networks, like facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.  VerticalResponse looks to be the most flexibilty.  For example, you can pay 1¢ per email or a monthly fee of $8.50.  Then if you want to send a  survey or special event announcement, there is another price.   

I did find an inexpensive service called letterpop; for up to 25 contacts and 10 newsletters, a basic plan can be purchased for $4.95/year.  But that's not a lot of contacts...  Their personal plan ($24.98/year) jumps to 500 contacts and 52 email/year.  That's one email a week.  Plus you can add many more photographs than the basic plan allows and you don't have to worry about ads.  Ugh!  

But I'm looking for a free service.  When I modified my search, I was surprised to find so many opportunities.  

I guess MailChimp is the most popular.  As long as you have less than 2,000 subscribers, it remains free.  Two things that I liked about MailChimp: there are links to Facebook, and if you're interested in "mobile" newsletters like I am, there's a special app.

"We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time."
If you use WordPress for your blogging software, there's a free email newsletter service.  

The easiest way to send out a newsletter is using your gmail account.  All you need to do is create a new account name for the newsletter.   eHow has a good explanation of how to do this.

Has anyone ever heard of tinyletter before?  Their logo: "email for people with something to say."  They make it possible to import and add new contacts, respond to individuals, and customize to a certain extent.  

Nabble is a bit different than the other newsletter sites I found.  They make it possible for you to start a newspaper online.  That's kinda neat!  

There's another option available, if you don't want to go through an newsletter service, and that's using a distribution service for your blog, like Google's FeedBurner.  This will allow you to redistribute your blog posts and monitor the traffic you get.  Here's some instructions on setting up FeedBurner on Blogger

There are alternatives to FeedBurner; you can read about them here on makeuseof.

So, there's a lot of opportunities out there.  I'd love to hear your feedback on this.  
What are YOU doing to distribute your newsletter? 
Or, if you're interested in starting a newsletter, which service at are you thinking of using?  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

AlphabeThursday - F is for Florence

Our day trip to Florence was great - I could have spent a week there!  The Uffizi Gallery was breathtaking; the building held so many beautiful 15th century pieces of art!  I wasn't all that interested in the portraits hanging in the major hallways, so I spent most of my time in the individual "Gallery" rooms.

Birth of the Paper Goddess
There were four good-sized rooms for just Botticelli's art.  I started to cry a few times looking at his work - it's so beautiful.  "Birth of Venus" has to be a favorite of mine.  It was painted around 1485 for Giovanni and Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici and has been at the Uffizi since 1815.

If you're in Italy, you shouldn't miss going to the Uffizi.  We didn't call ahead for tickets, but it wasn't too bad; we only stood in line for about an hour.  I tried to stay away from the masses as best as I could, moving around each rooms several times to get good views.  This was one time I enjoyed just looking at the art; I knew I wouldn't remember all the history that went with it.

There were loads of people around the museums and in the piazza, so we took a walk and tried to get away from the crowds in the late afternoon.  We found a neighborhood park and this merry-go-round.  Isn't it cute?  

Here's my journal entry from that day:
Friday, May 25 - Florence
We set out early to Florence which is about 1½ hours north from the house.  Drove to the outskirts of Florence and parked, then took a tram into the city.  When we got to the Uffizi we queued (stood in line) for about an hour.  Then walked around the galleries for a few hours.  We all went and had a very nice lunch, then had dessert at the best gelato shop in Italy, or so it was said.  On the way to lunch I saw the paper store I wanted to visit, Il Papiro.  I went there after we ate and bought a sheet of marbled paper, an eraser and some ink.  Mitch and Nicki went to the Academia and the rest of us walked around the Duomo Piazzo and window shopped.  I found a second franchise of Il Papiro and got another sheet of paper. 
Handwrapped Florentine Marbled Paper Beads
Thinking back, I  should have bought more than two sheets of paper in Florence, but didn't want to seem overindulgent!  I think if I was by myself, I would have spent much more time in the stores and picked out more sheets!  I've hand rolled some of my marbled paper - they're in my Etsy shop now.  

Don't forget to come by and visit other AlphabeThursday posts in Ms. Jenny's class, on my tangent...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blogging Business Artisans Team Feature - JN Originals

Two Etsy treasuries, curated by JN Originals

Since the treasuries I'm in are both curated by Judy (JN Originals), I thought I'd put together a featured post about her.  Above are the two treasuries that I'm in this week: Passion's Pleasures, where she featured my Striped Petunia mixed media flat art, and Butterscotch Bounty with a Touch of Sunshine, where you can see my Handwrapped Paper Pumpkin Beads.
felted wool needle book
In Judy's JN Originals shop, there are crocheted and felted accessories, including some of my favorite multi-purpose items. Like I've said before, when pairing art with a purpose, the product becomes doubly valuable.  Her other TWO shops have the same feel; Mister PenQuin (with unique papercrafted gifts) and 2nd Chance Treasures (full of recycled supplies for crafts and stitching).
lavender bliss mini blank book
I feel a special fondness for Judy.  We're both boomers (though I'm not a BBEST team member), we are both born at the end of January (she's an Aquarius - I've always wanted to be one!), and we both joined Etsy in 2008.  I've come to know her through other Etsy teams and recognize we have something else in common: a love for journals and written art.   I've learned about her volunteerism and work with Destination Imagination (DI), which just blows me away.  You can read all about DI here.  Judy has also been involved in the 52 Week Challenge and the Sketchbook Challenge, two groups I follow and wish I had more time for!  She's a real inspiration, and someone I admire.  Thank you, Judy, for including me in your treasuries.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Link List - Chautauqua

The Oklahoma Chautauqua (a week long of learning) is presented by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa.  The theme this year is "Behind the Screen: Hollywood's impact on American culture." Our five scholars are: Doug Mishler (portraying Jack Warner), Ilene Evans (Ethel Waters),  John Anderson (William Faulkner), Charles Pace (Gordon Parks) and William Worley (Bob Hope).

So what is a Chautauqua?  Here's a page from the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture which explains it.

Chautauqua Tent and Buggies, postage stamp art by John Falter
I found this great postage stamp that portrays an old-time Chautauqua!  Isn't the art wonderful?

You can come and  listen to famous people who have lectured in the past at the Chautauqua Institution.  People like Jane Goodall, David Kozak, Alan Simpson, and Jesse Jackson.

This year, our town's Chautauqua didn't meet under a big tent, like we've done in the past.  Last year, the temperatures were over 100 degrees and everyone decided it would be better to meet in the new City Hall, which is actually the old high school.  During the day, the local university and the museum (where I work) were they venues for the workshops.  I always love attending the workshops!

All through the month of June, our five scholars traveled around the state, performing and lecturing about their characters.  Here's our state's Chautauqua homepage.

Does your state put on a Chautauqua?  You can search the internet and find out.  Maybe even get your town involved!
The Library of Congress has historic photographs of Iowa's traveling Chautauqua in its collection.  How great to capture history like that!  

Tonight we hear from Bob Hope... our last performance.  It's been a great week!  Afterwards, the committee is having a "closing party" for the scholars.  Don't know what next year's theme will be, but I'll make sure the Museum will be involved!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

AlphabeThursday - E is for euro

I really enjoyed using euros on my trip to Italy (I live in the US).  Yes, one euro is larger than one dollar.  The exchange rate: €1 = $1.26.  (BTW, to type a euro on your keyboard is Alt + 0128; don't forget the 0!)  I believe that once you get to Europe, you need to live as Europeans do.  If a sandwich costs €7, that's what it is.  You aren't home anymore.  

I was gone for two whole weeks, and knew I would need something more than just credit cards overseas.  If you're traveling to Europe like I did, I have a few suggestions:

€1 and €2 coins
1)  buy some euros.
I bought €100 from my credit union before I left.  Sometimes cash is the only way to pay, especially for city  transportation, such as taxis and buses.  And small business owners prefer transactions in cash.  There are one and two euro coins, which are very handy.  Don't worry, all money denominations are easily identified. And numbers are universal!    

my currency card, from MasterCard!
2)  get an euro currency card.
This was very handy!  I've never use a debit card before or had to deal with ATM machines, but they're all over Italy.  The euro card was great to have when I didn't have enough cash on me.  You can just give the card to a store clerk and they use it like a credit card.  It's already in euros, so if you decide to spend only a certain of month on say, gifts, just use the card until it's all gone.  

The whole gang, except Greg and me, in Siena.
3) same your credit card for large purchases.
Such as eating out!  We all ate lunch together (there was 8 of us!) at restaurants and had supper at the villa (the house that we rented).  Food was one of the more expensive items, but eating home cooked meals for dinner certainly made it easier.  Credit cards are also good for hotels and museum gift shops  {:-D

We splurged and took a water taxi back to the parking lot island of Tronchetto
4) use up all your euros before returning home.
I think this is what a lot of stores at the airport are expecting.  But I say, it's better to buy an extra few presents or splurge on something unexpected than dealing with the bank when you get home.

 Hope this helps you plans for your next vacation.  Bon voyage!  

I'm linking this AlphabeThursday post to Ms Jenny blog, on my tangent...
See what other fun E posts there are!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - no one was talking

This is the funniest cartoon, drawn by Mike Baldwin.  
It was in my book, Talking About Detective Fiction, by P.D. James, 
that I'm reading for my book club.  
I didn't get it at first, but then I burst out laughing (yes, I'm a librarian!)

Monday, June 18, 2012

June Challenge - Under the Sea

I love the water and usually don't have trouble creating themed pages about the sea.  But for some reason, I had a bad day this past weekend and couldn't put together a page in my art journal.  When this happens to me, I have to walk away and come back later with a fresh attitude.

And this is what I did.  Later in the evening, I created this page, and got it ready to post.  

Black Turtle found the
Treasure chest, and made fast friends
With the fetish drops.
Do you remember my Treasure Turtle necklace?  It's my favorite piece and I still own it.  That's where my idea originally came from.  I added a few sand dollars that I had, printed an image of a treasure chest, stenciled some fish and taped down a silver bead.  Don't know how long the sand dollars will last whole, but they are taped down to the page, so they shouldn't move.

One of my Blogging Business Artisans team requirements is to participate in six of the twelve challenges presented every month.  June's challenge is called "Under the Sea," brought to you by Erika of Artful Rising.  I will be submitting this post to our Team Blog linky at the end of the month, to join the other "Under the Sea" challenges.  Come join us then and see what everyone is up to!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Etsy Treasury - Multi-Tasking Art

This week, I made a treasury called Multi-Tasking Art.  It's a funny sounding title, but I think everyone knows where I'm coming from.  I love art but can't always justify buying something.  Now, if I can use this art in a productive way, such as holding food or helping me organize, it has a better chance of ending up in my house!

I think others feel the same way, so I try to make things for my Etsy shop that buyers can use.  Such as my paper beads

and art journals.  Come by and check them out!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

AlphabeThursday - The Dolomites

Before we left Bolzano, my brother asked a local resident which was the best road to drive through the Dolomites, on our way to Venice.  The gentleman gave us directions going east and south through a mountain pass that was open.  I'm glad my brother was courageous enough to drive on the twisting roads; it was just beautiful!

I used an app on my smartphone to keep my diary going.  I recommend this to anyone on vacation - it's so helpful to whip out your phone (and camera!) and take notes.  I also took a tiny journal and carried plastic bags with me, where I stored tickets and cards that I picked up along the way.  When I got home, I emailed my diary to myself, so I could cut and paste the days where needed.  Here's what I wrote about our Monday:

Monday, May 28 - Bolzano to Venice
We left Bolzano and headed east into the Dolomites, tremendous mountains in the Italian Alps.  I have a lot of photos - they were hard to shoot unless we stopped, which we did several times.  I bought a cute little clock when we were at the mountain pass.  We got to Venice late because it took so long to drive out of the mountains.  We parked on Isola Nuova, an island devoted to visitors, and took a vaporetto (ferry) in with our luggage.  We're staying at the tip of the Grand Canal in the Accademia section of town, where the museums are.  Had dinner near Saint Mark Basin, what the Grand Canal spills into.  I finally had a pizza (tomato, artichoke, ham, olives) that I shared with mom.  Very good. 

The Dolomites' highest peak is at 10, 964 feet and it has glaciers!  There are lots of mountain climbing and many ski resorts, but because we were there in the Spring, there was snow only at the mountain pass.  Lots of bicyclists and people riding motorcycles.  

Here is a video, halfway up.

And then at the mountain pass:

I was so happy my brother decided to take this side trip to Bolzano and then through the Dolomites.  Actually, he was the one (or so I believe) who decided to take a few more days and go to Venice.  Thanks you, BB!

And thank you for walking down memory lane with me.  You can visit other blogs participating in AlphabeThursday and find out what they were thinking when asked, "D is for .... "

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Walls in My Home

Everybody on the BBArtisans team thread has been talking about painting rooms, and what colors they would use.  We've shown our "studios" and work rooms previously, but what about the rest of our homes?

Bathroom waterscape
I always wanted to decorate my bathroom walls, to make the space into a water scene.  So that's the first thing I did when we moved into this house, about 14 years ago.

Indian Corn foundation
We painted the kitchen orange after I bought this Indian Corn poster which I love.  I don't like the kitchen floor, which is an old linoleum but decided if we replaced it, then we would want to redo the cabinets, add another room, etc. and would be forever in debt.  Needless to say, we love the neighborhood and backyard - and we're still here!

So, anybody else want to show us their walls?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Art Journaling - Why I loved Bolzano

Why I loved Bolzano
Yesterday I printed one of my travel journal pages and created a collage in my art journal: "Why I loved Bolzano."  After we left Florence on our trip, there were five of us that drove north into the Dolomites and the city of Bolzano (called Bozen by the German-speaking population).  It's just on the Austrian border and seemed like we left Italy and entered a different country!

Bolzano is an incredibly bike-friendly town (they are seeking to become carbon neutral by the year 2020 - neat)!  If your hotel doesn't have a bike for you to borrow, you can go anywhere in town and rent one.  

This is a great view of what I remember most about Bolzano, the beautiful landscape!  I'm not sure why all the locks were placed on this bridge... guess they belong to the local residents.  It reminded me of lovers, locked together.   

We didn't realize it was Pentecost weekend (which included a Monday holiday), so the stores were just about to shut down for the long weekend when we arrived Saturday afternoon.  Many of the designer shops were expensive, but I bought a reasonably priced blouse just before closing time.  We enjoyed walking along the shopping promenade the rest of our time there and looking at the beautiful scenery.  Our hotel opened the Sacher candy store which was in their building.  Very nice of them!  I bought chocolate to bring home for my co-workers and DH.

Luckily, the Sudtirol Archaeology Museum was open on Sunday and we took the opportunity to visit the Iceman.  This museum was designed around Otzi, a mummy found by two hikers in 1991 on a high Alpine pass along the Italian-Austrian border. Otzi lived over 5000 years ago; his body was frozen in a glacier with his clothes still intact!  There were also tools; he was carrying a copper ax, bow, arrows, and tools for making fire.
I wish we had visited Bolzano at another time during our trip, since we didn't get to see too much of the  historic sites, like the castles, because everything closed down.  We had our meals on the historic piazza - the hotel was on the piazza too.  My mom and I took a short walk on Sunday afternoon, while the others were cycling.  Monday, our last city: Venice!

Here's a 360 from the bridge where we found all the bicycle locks.  Please excuse the shaky video, and the yellow piece of ....  something, in the water.     

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BBArtisans Team Treasuries

Last week there were two beautiful treasuries curated by members of the BBArtisans team that I was part of.  Both used blue as a foundation color, one of my favorite colors to work with.

Nancy (NFallonDesignStudio) started out five days ago with her treasury called "How Do You Spend Your Summer Days?"  One of the things I do is go outside and work in my art journal.  In this treasury is one of my early doodle journal, with a bright blue cover, courtesy of a Canson Mix Media sketchpad.  I thought her Knit Tote Bag would be the perfect way to carry my towel and journal down to the beach.  

The next day Janet (HoneyFromTheBee) made a wonderful treasury, called "Waiting for something to happen" with different shades of turquoise and red.  This time, the journal she picked of mine was a maroon covered junque (junk) journal.  I love junk journals, which I now call art journals; you can find out more about my artistic process on  storybeader's "About" page, courtesy of Etsy.  

Janet has gorgeous jewelry, in all colors.  It wasn't hard to find something in her shop to coordinate with the treasury she created.  I love the mix of glass and silver beads she used for her Y style necklace.  Her title describes everything involved; it's called a "Y style Glass Necklace in Purple with Aqua Chalcedony Briolette"  That's a mouthful, and certainly an eyeful too!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Link List - Food, Glorious Food

This past month, I've been so thankful for all the good food that's been shared.  Some came from blogs that I frequent, and there's a few new sites that I wanted to pass along.
homemade strawberry jam
Nancy at N Fallon Design Studio always has delicious and healthy recipes from scratch, whether it's fruit, salads or even tacos.  Just scroll down her blog and click on the link labeled Food.  She also has instructions on how you can made your own jam and and pizza!

recent recipes gathered by randomcreativeart
Rose, over at randomcreativeart, usually devotes one Saturday Link List a month to food; here's some recipes she's listed recently.

deep fried stuffed olives by Chuck Hughes
After eating all that delicious food in Italy, I thought I'd look for some recipes with an Italian flavor.  Like olives!  Everyone in Italy has olive trees growing in their yards - we ate some great big olives with our home-cooked meals.  They were packages in heavy plastic, not canned in water.  Have you ever had olives stuffed?  One day in Rome, it was on the menu and I just had to taste it!  Not bad.  Here's Chuck Hughes' recipe for fried stuffed olives, from

chicken piccata from Rocky Mountain Woman
One of my linky friends from AlphabeThursday, Rocky Mountain Woman, always includes recipes (and luscious photos) of food on her blog.  This week she's offering up Chicken Piccata, for her Letter C post.

   from "What's New", Grace Young tells about popping popcorn in a wok.

I remember when traveling for work, someone would always whip out their smartphone at mealtime and start looking for a restaurant nearby.   An even better idea is a site my sister introduced me to on our family vacation, called Chow.  You can use their Chowhound to find a restaurant anywhere in the world.  The site also has a section called "What's New" and you can participate in home cooking threads.  If you love food, then this site is a must.
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