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Sunday, January 31, 2016

My apparent concern for Etsy sellers

Okay, get a grip Nicole! Get a grip!

Alright but on the real, our master bedroom is officially FINITO. Now, per the rule I set for myself, we can move onto the next room that needs help! I always say that every room in our house is 70% done after the initial decorating spree (note: initial decorating spree that we actually LIKED), so now it's time to go through and finish the ol' girl up before doing heavy duty work. Next up! A wood panel wall thing in this random architectural square cut out we have in our hallway (I want to do this), then the family room where curtains and a rug are needed. After that, Carter's room needs some love. It's not bad, but it's not great either - a trip to Hobby Lobby and a stroll down the super hero or Star Wars isle for him is needed. See? Nothing is that big of a deal but we've learned that when it comes to "not a big deal" projects, it is ALWAYS a big deal. Slow and steady seems to offer the best results for us Cisneros's!

After that, the heavy duties: bathrooms. Y'all, I just don't really care about bathrooms! Every seasoned homeowner tells us that we should make the bathrooms our next priority because, eek, they are so outdated. It's true they are ugly as heck, but you're in there for such a short period of time! Ours are extreeeeeemely tiny, which will be great on the pocket book as far as heavy duty projects go, but that fact always makes be like, "yeeeeeeah but they're tiiiiiiiiiiny. Why do we need to redo them? If we redo them I want to have legit tile showers, porcelin baths, nice counter tops! Do we really need to save up for all that?? Blah!" Anyhoo, that will happen but not until decor is finished up.

Then flooring if we're still in the mood to invest more into this sweet little house of ours. I really want to do it though but I also really think kitchen counter tops would be a very sound investment. MY MIND!


Okay, this is so random, but I must speak. So the craft I did to finish off our bedroom was a series of stained-by-myself, heavy duty doughlas fur 2"x 6"x 10'-cut-into-thirds-boards with a carefully painted-on design that I copied from Pinterest after constructing a stencil on my kitchen table. The project was very fun and mounds cheaper than what we were going to buy from Hobby Lobby yesterday and I daresay, I like it more than what we were originally going to get. In my excitement, I went onto Etsy to see what these type things would sell for. In ABSOLUTELY no way was I interested in creating these things and selling them myself, but just, you know! I wanted to see how much I'd saved, I guess! The whole thing cost me $17 so I was just snooping around.

For heavens sakes. People were on there selling these time consuming, painfully-thought-out projects for SO CHEAP. This is not okay. Some seasoned sellers had priced themselves a little bit more reasonably, prices one could tell had been conjured up based on their own seller's formula (price of materials, hourly wage paid to themselves, brain power logistics, those type things), but some sellers, less seasoned sellers (myself at one time when I used to sell items I had sewn), were priced as low as $15-20! FIFTEEN AND TWENTY DOLLARS FOR A SET OF THREE BOARDS. There was one person on there for $5! Now yes, those prices do not reflect shipping charges, but come on.

I'm the number one human being to understand pricing low so that way you'll get more traffic and sales (forget about the numerous studies that state that if you price yourself fairly you will actually sell more regardless of the few extra dollars you're asking from people - good buyers prefer quality!), but THAT low? No. It's simply not okay. Say like I actually did want to start selling those boards I had made because, if I do say so myself, they're pretty great quality and Pinteresty (palm slap to the forehead. Not trying to be a douche). I would literally NEVER sell them on Etsy after seeing what I just saw! How could an actual formulated sale price compete with a $5 price tag?

And here's the thing, oh listeners to this rant: pricing so low does NO ONE any favors. Not you, the low-pricer, not the gal next to you trying to sell a similar product, not your "crafter's bottom line," not your gas tank which takes you to Home Depot to get the materials (and the post office, if that's how you do your shipping!), not the time you take away from your kids or hubby during whatever hours you choose to craft - IT DOES NO ONE ANY FAVORS!

I remember when I started selling these little ties that I would make for baby and toddler boys, I would read multiple craft blogs about this wild world of "handmade goods" (and still do!). One of the posts I didn't understand at the time was this VERY successful crafter's abhorrence for Etsy or Big Cartel sellers who priced themselves absurdly low. She said it made all the rest of the people who are making a living out of their hobbies look like a**holes. At the time, I was like, "Hey sista, a gals got to start somewhere," but that was the wrong thought. Truly. If I had actually done myself a favor and factored in all of the things you're supposed to factor into pricing, who knows, maybe I wouldn't have gotten over it because the return was sooooooooo low (well that, and hey, I like to change my mind ;).

It's just ludicrous! And disclaimer: in some instances, those prices I was saying up there ($5-20) were for boards that were slightly smaller or flimsier than the wood I had used, but still, for a set of three items? It's the art work, time, meticulousness, energy and all things FOCUSED that needs to be paid attention to when one is selling their goods. It's important!


Okay! That's enough out of this ol' windbag over here! Now the babies and hubs are home and I shall take up my spot on the couch so that we can watch The Incredibles. Cheers to houses being decorated and Etsy sellers being nice to themselves (and the marketplace)!

Thursday, January 28, 2016


How lucky are we to call Southern California home? It's the gosh dang BEST thing in the world to be raising little SoCal babes. Bah!

Leading up to the 28th birthday, we had been sick as dogs. The weekend was to be played by ear: if we all felt a teensy bit better then we would celebrate in whatever way possible. On Friday evening we were still a sad bunch, swimming in germs and grossness, causing me to re-RSVP to a party that we wouldn't be able to make it (we were so bummed!). Then, by some miracle, we woke up on Saturday morning, my actual birthday (and the day we were supposed to attend the party!), feeling just a bit better, but still not well enough to go out spreading germs to other birthday guests. So we heave ho'd up the mountain to Big Bear!!!!! The 4 of us, 3 of which feeling pretty blah but so excited that we didn't care, stopped off at Snow Drift, grabbed ourselves 4 tubes and took to tubin' down the ol' hills! SO MUCH FUN. We are now all obsessed. Kota and I flew down first, then Carter (apparently) kept telling Chad that he "DIDN'T WANT TO DO THIS!" but once Chad threw him down, the guy was hooked. He left us all in the dust the rest of the hour that we were there, hardly even stopping for the rest of us! Truly, it was a great way to get out of the house and to celebrate a birthday!

When we got home, all I wanted to do was curl up in sweats and read my book. I kept looking around myself thinking, "Wow, 28! This is what brings me the most joy: laying around, everyone in jammies, watching movies and reading books." My mind was blown several times in the best way.

Around 4:00 pm, I wanted to go to the beach, but was met by much resistance from Chadly. So I called it quits on that, then couldn't decide on what to eat for dinner, finally picking NYPD. I was SOOOOOOOOO tired after my carb filled meal, the thought of celebrating further with a glass of wine sounded like a straight bullet train to bed time for the birthday girl. So for the first birthday since.... 21... anyone believe me?!.... I soberly went to sleep around 10:00! It was another mind-blowingly-wonderful thing! Hahaha!

Sunday, I was still "the birthday girl," according to Carter and Kota. All I wanted to do was go to get doughnuts (another decision that took me a very long time to make - "should we get doughnuts, or something healthier? Doughnuts? Or healthy? Okay, doughnuts"), then go to church. After that, I told Chad with extreme certainty that my eye balls needed to see the beach so that's where we were going. He was still all resistant, which made me be like, "Listen... Not to be a pushy birthday girl Queen of the World, but everyone keeps telling me that we get to do whatever I want but once I say what I want to do no one wants to do it...." I was having a diva moment! But hey, we got to go to the beach ;)

And so it was! It was a great birthday weekend, if not an indecisive one. Love these people!!!!! And so glad that we at least felt a smidgen better than we had been.
 ^^^This picture!!! Hahaha obviously not Kota's best moment, but THAT LIGHTING. I was SOOOOO OBSESSED with all of the golden light!
 ^^^"Yes dawling, it's MY birthday weekend!"

And then, of course, the TUBING TIME!!!
Sooooooo fun! I loved every second of my birthday weekend, especially because most of it was marveling at California and how happy I was that we decided not to move away from the best state on earth. We were THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS close to moving to TX, which would have been fab because hey, TX, but the snow one day, then the beach the other???? Toooooooo amazing. 28 and feeling great!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The cold season bound to take us down!

This year's cold and flu season is out to get us! Never have we ever been sick for so many weeks. I'm soooooooo tired of the germiness. It seemed like during the entire month of November and into early December, a minimum of one human in the house was sick. We were out of school, it seemed, at least one day per week! The whole ordeal was made even worse by the fact that if either Carter or Kota stayed home on a Thursday, I would have to duck out of my once-per-week volunteer time in Carter's classroom. I swear, it made me feel like I was missing school myself! Like my parents were going to catch me ditching class or something! "Nicole Cisneros, please report to the attendance office to discuss your truancy." The ditching-paranoia was real!

Now that we're into January, we're all sick AGAIN! 

It started with Carter's eye puffing up a little bit, leading us to believe he had pink eye. I emailed his teacher immediately to warn her of our possible germ-spreading ways, then we headed to the doctors first thing the next morning. Turns out it was a sinus infection that got into his eye, so that was good news? Not being pink eye? Still crappy though because the doctor said to keep him out for the rest of the week because the bacteria involved with the infection could lead to pink eye for other kids - more school missed by us Cisneros's! Then I bit the dust... as Wednesday rolled on, the world's WORST cold returned full force! There was ZERO breathing for me, but I wanted to try to beat the damn thing holistically instead of running out for medication (that didn't work in November). So every two hours I took a tablespoon shot of apple cider vinegar, chased it with honey, boiled ginger for ginger water (good thing my taste buds were out of commission - I've heard it tastes horrid!), and steeped enough tea to support all of the UK for a month. Next, poor Kota went to sleep last night crying like the dickens - a tell tale sign she would wake up in a world of cold-pain - and with the same symptoms Carter had with his infected eye (I also woke up with the same darn eye infection!!!!!! Grrrrrrrraaaaaahhhhhh!!!!). So now Carter, Kota and I are doing the prescribed eye drops every 4 hours. Oh yeah, and Carter's ONE eye infection turned into a TWO eye infection yesterday morning. REALLY?!

I went into "what the heck is going on with these weak immune systems of ours?" mode and decided that more prevention needed to be implemented. I'm going to get more on top of clean diets for the 4 of us. There has to be some solution to this craziness! Fruits and veggies need to be increased up in here. I think I'm going to try to get the kids to enjoy a nice cup of tea laced with honey and lemon in the mornings? Anything to fight germs on a regular basis! I legitimately do not want to miss any more school for the rest of the year. This is not okay!
But anyhoo, tomorrow is my birthday! I've been very intense with the back-to-wellness journey in the midst of these horrible colds because I want us all to feel freakin' great for the weekend. WE'RE GOING TO FEEL GOOD AND HAVE SOME GOSH DARN FUN OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, OKAAAAAAAAAAY, UNIVERSE?!" This morning I bleached the whole darn house, cleaned the couches and rug and swiffered the floors, all in an attempt to rid us of germs, so let's hope that will pay off. Pleeeeeeeeease let it pay off!!!! 28 shall not start off in frustration!!!!!!!!!!!


But hey, aren't those pictures cute? They're from this last week. Bubble baths, ice hockey and roller. At least we haven't had to miss any sports! We love them so much!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Not to be forgotten when they're old as heck

I pretty much have nothing of importance to write down, but hey, "nothing of importance" ends up becoming VERY important later on.

So, per usual, I was creeping through the past years of ol' Three's 4 Me the other day, and I came across a post where Kota's first steps were talked about along with thoughts on the kids' new shared room situation. We were living in Lake Forest where we were renting a 3 bedroom condo - to this day, the largest place we've ever lived in! I was in the beginning stages of Stroller Strides, so I moved the kiddos into a small bedroom together and placed the computer and toys in the third room. 

After re-regaling myself with how adorable her first few steps were, I went on to read about how, when the two of them were supposed to be trying to get to sleep, Carter would open the door for his tiny sister, then she would bolt out, full crawling speed, into the hallway right next to where I was answering emails for Stroller Strides! Carter and Kota would be laughing hysterically while this was going on, and when I would catch up to the crawling speed demon, place my hands around her teensy body, she would literally disintegrate into a fit of laughter. It was like her small-but-fierce little frame of a body couldn't handle the giggles! I've been thinking about that memory a lot over the past few days and about how I probably wouldn't have remembered it had it not been written down up in here!

One of the reasons I've been thinking about that particular thought bubble over the last few days more than I would a regular ol' post, was because the other night Kota refused - and I mean REFUSED - to sleep alone in her own bedroom, so she BEGGED Carter to let her have a sleep over with him. He really didn't want to, but ended up folding. It was 8:00 when we put them into bed, but it was 11:15 when those two actually fell asleep! Chad and I were fully aware of Carter's light being on and them playing in there, but they were having so much fun together we just couldn't break up the awesomeness in the name of "following the rules!" About once every hour Chad or I would pop our heads in, pretend to have a stern voice and say "okay you two, time for bed," but we honestly didn't care if they fell asleep or not. Then we would look at each other and silently laugh because it was all so hilarious. 

One of the times, Chad opened the door dramatically in an alright-it's-10:00-time-for-bed type of way, and they were sitting side by side on Carter's bed reading books. Kota looked up and said matter-of-factly, "we're reading books." So Chad was like, "okay... Carry on." and that was that! Hahahaha!

Then the next morning (when they woke up at 6:30 am - why?!), we were saying our breakfast prayer, and both of them said something along the lines of "thank you, God, for letting me have a sleep over in Carter's room because it was so fun." Bah! Siblings!
So yes, good times. I've also been very impressed with the few weeks where I've been living with the idea of "YES!" and literally cannot believe I never held the resolution of reading 12 books in a year's span before. Books are so GREAT! I'm on book #3 for the year and sheet, man, it's a great one. So far I've read Wild (freakin' fabulous), Love Letters to the Dead (very depressing, probably because it's about a bunch of teenagers who are up to no good most of the time because they're dealing with their problems - too much for my mom brain to think about because I would die one thousand emotional deaths if those were my kids. I had to read for about 20+ minutes each sit-down before I would get into it and kind of was forcing my way through. It was well written and pretty cool, but after reading it, I told Chad that my next book would be fetched from the "BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD" section of Barnes and Noble. That's a real section! Haha!), and now I'm on The Kite Runner (oh em freakin' gee, so great. So, so great. I think next I'm going to read this guy's other two novels, I've enjoyed it so much). What a great start to 2016 it has been!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fooling around with photoshop

So I've learned a few things.

#1, I'm not the gal to pay for a subscription to photoshop. I had no clue it was an actual subscription - I thought it was a one time $19.99 price for "beginners and hobbyists" like myself. So no - doesn't make sense for a human being who's sole subjects are her very own children who wouldn't be reimbursing her the $19.99 per month, regardless of how flawless (ie. blemish-less!)  their childhoods would appear when looking back in 20 years (haha!). Additionally, I shall not be paying the almost $4,000 for the whole shebang in order to avoid a monthly fee.

#2. My eyeballs hurt! I've been having all this fun doing.... well I have no idea what I've been doing. Fooling around with things like curves? Photoshop is extremely legit for human beings who will be buying copies of "Photoshop for Dummies," but I'm not sure if it's a good sign that my corneas feel like they're going to burn out of my skull when barely doing more than what I've done on free online sites. ALTHOUGH, with my barely-scratched-the-surface playings arounds, I do like how with the 'shop you can define the backgrounds of photos more. That really is beautiful, and unless I just haven't figured out how to do that on other sites, that's a great feature.
^^^I think I like the original better, but I got so far down the rabbit hole of fooling around with this picture, this is where I stopped!

#3. So here's the deal. Unless I took the time to educate myself with the wild ins and outs of the 'shop and then proceeded to save up the cash to put out for thousands of dollars worth of a full program, I'll just have fun being a goof ball on sites like fotor.

In the meantime, though, I shall experiment with the rest of my 30 day preview! Maybe I'll start to sing a different tune over the next few weeks, but no matter what, there's just no way I'll be stepping up my game. But photoshop IS appreciated by my visual self.... just through other people's work!

Photoshop = great!
Photoshop + Nicole = a sore-eyeballin', my-kids-don't-pay-for-photos, further-computer-obsessed, non-patient mama combination! (Okay, a little weird, but true!)

So yes! But I'm sure as heck-ety-heck going to have fun with it in the meantime!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

1st of January and photoshop stuff, oh my!

Pictures from the 1st day of the year right here! This all took place before the sun set and after we had an amazing breakfast with the Fitch's post NYE celebrations the night before, Daddy made chili we kept dipping into, movies up the wazoo and tons of cuddling on multiple couches within our tent of a home (another Wild reference... One day I'll stop comparing our lives to situations from the book). What a cozy beginning it was to what is bound to be a great year.

At the moment, our backyard is legitimately flooded. El Nino doesn't agree with the slow draining system installed into every backyard of the neighborhood. There are real deal pools back there! It's torture to watch Snow walk around from mud puddle to mud puddle, dirtying his white paws and ankles. As soon as he re-enters, I have to wipe off every toe in order to avoid white-rug-turned-mousy-rug's further soiling. But hey, what can ya do? At least we've experienced RAIN!

I'm downloading a free trial of photoshop as we speak! I'm so excited! Now I'll be able to install nicely formed six-packs on myself, Chad, Carter and Kota. YASSSSS.

Oh! It's finished downloading! My next post will be all like...
But not as basic and with less ugly bright white slider windows casting not-what-I-want WHITE light in the back because I'm not sure how to make the white light GOLDEN light jusssst yet, ya know? Woo!
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