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Thursday, October 21, 2010

HOT Topics: Coral - too precious to wear?

Since I was small I have been a bit of a tree hugger. I will bring a plastic bottle home with me if there isn't a recycling bin nearby while I am out and about. I am slowly buying more and more organic and free range foods. While I have always had a passion for the environment and taking care of it, I have been learning more as I try to live an active and healthy lifestyle. I enjoy putting National Geographic documentaries in my Netflix account and will watch several back to back usually about nature, the environment, and health. In a nutshell, I become a bigger and more aware tree hugger on a daily basis.

Recently on Etsy there has been a huge uproar about a blog that was posted in the Storque Blog about Coral and because of it's endangerment, it is "too precious to wear". The blog is written by a woman named Temple St. Clair who is part of a campaign to stop the harvesting of coral for jewelery. Coral, while a beautiful creature is home to much of the ocean's living creatures, as stressed in St. Clair's article, and is endangered because of harvesting. Another aspect that St. Clair didn't mention but is important to bring up is that coral reefs are very sensitive to oceanic temperature changes, and because of global warming they are "bleaching" and dying off. As young children we learn that all living creatures are connected through a cycle of life, and this is not different when it comes to coral. With coral reefs dying off and the healthy reefs being harvested, we are taking more than just the lives of the coral but every creature that relies on the ecosystems created by the coral they live in.

While the article is well-intended, and quite frankly I am in complete agreeance with St. Clair that we need to stress the importance of not using products that are a result of harvesting endangered species, not everyone was happy with this article. Because I am generally a diplomatic person it is easy for me to see the importance in both sides' arguments, I understand why so many people are upset. Just reading through the forums, many people are outraged as seen here. In the defense of the upset sellers, they felt that the blog was implying indirectly that the sellers of coral based products on Etsy are bad. They also feel that it would lower the value of their product. I understand this, and I feel for these sellers. However, I also understand that this was not what the article was implying at all, it was simply trying to spread the awareness.

In my personal opinion I feel that the sellers should continue to sell their product - but when they run out, not to order more coral supply. Our environment is incredibly important and there are so many other alternatives for beautiful jewelery without using an endangered species. SELLERS: You are not bad people! I think it is a bit ridiculous that some are asking for their Etsy fees from coral sales to be refunded to them. And I don't feel that their product value is lowered because of this Storque article. However, I do feel that it is important that as Etsy is a "handmade nation", it is our responsibility to begin the transition into eco-friendly products. Including myself. So, in light of all this uproar, I have decided to feature some great eco-friendly shops.

Dark gray and pink tailored handbag ... ORGANIC fabrics by bymytouch

Large Polka Dot Fish Wall Art Turquoise by recycledwoodart

8 Plantable Gift Tags - Pressed Flowers - with Garden Flower Seeds - Set of 8 - Rose on White by recycledideas

So there you have it! Some amazing eco-friendly shops doing their best to help inspire and influence us toward making the right choice: buy handmade, and buy eco-smart!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Halloween/Autumn Give-Away!

This halloween I will be picking one follower to win a ONE OF A KIND pillow. There will be only one version of this pillow and one winner!


First, become a fan of skinnyhound on facebook!
Second, follow our blog!
Third, leave us a comment telling us that you have become a fan/are a fan, have us followed, and what you like about our shop! (

This pillow is sewn by me (skinnyhound)! I use eco-felt and hand stitch the applique onto the pillow case which fits a 12x12 pillow form. This pillow will be bright and colorful! It will be Autumn themed with leaves. Here are some hints to what it shall look like:

As the days get us closer to Halloween, I will be posting small tidbits of my one-of-a-kind pillow!! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For the Athlete In Us All

 The secret of concentration is the secret of self-discovery. You reach inside yourself to discover your personal resources, and what it takes to match them to the challenge. 

--Arnold Palmer

For the past year I have been on a journey of exercising, eating right, and getting fit. Since January 15th of this year (2010) I have lost 52 pounds! But it did not come easily. Not even a little bit. Starting out, I could barely run for a minute straight on the treadmill! I had to push myself harder and harder every day both physically and mentally, and when I felt that I just couldn't push any harder, that was when I dug deep inside and pushed even harder. 

A few weeks ago, after a few months of training, I ran my very first Half-Marathon, which is 13.1 miles. It was brutal, but I never stopped or walked the entire  time. I went from hardly running for a minute straight, to running an entire 13.1 miles, without stopping or walking, in 2 hours and 39 minutes. How is that for accomplishment?

No matter who you are, or what your situation, you can be an athlete. Anyone can. When you say, "I could never do that" or "I am only able to run this far or this fast", you are WRONG. Maybe you have been hitting the treadmill fairly regularly but you never see any results? Sports and all athletic ventures are 10% physical and 90% mental. If you tell yourself you can do it, you can and you will. 

As an athlete I was searching through Etsy for things that may appeal to my sporty side, and oh boy did I ever! Here are some great items from some really great shops.

Tattoo Print Multi Purpose Backpack Drawstring Bag by DesignsByAmbiana

I Run. Glass Pendant Necklace- White and Black by noelleorozco

Vinyl Wall Sticker Decal Art - Karate Kid by urbanwalls

It has been my experience that many of the Etsy shops are run primarily by women, and often times they are mothers and have very little time between running a family and a shop to hit the gym. Don't let that be your excuse. Take your kids for walks and runs and playing outside in the grass or parks. You can ALWAYS make time for exercise and living an active and healthy lifestyle, no matter what your situation is. And don't give up, it is supposed to be hard at first. 

Start your healthy new lifestyle with some of these inspirational items! Or, add to your regular fitness regime with these useful and cute items! Start today!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Etsy Finds - Getting a little bored?

Every day, I peel off the covers, shove my cat in a tangled mess off of me, and reach for my iPhone. Gotta check my email. Wow, I must be pretty popular, right? Nope, I am checking to see if I made any sales through my slumber or if I have been featured in the daily "Etsy Finds" mass email. If you are a seller, this may sound familiar to you as we all are chomping at the bit for that next sale or more exposure. If I am lucky I will make a sale, but more often than not I am just disappointed at the lack of "featured-ness" in the Etsy email.

As I scroll through the email I just see the same thing over and over again. Dress. Boots. Earrings. Necklace. Crochet. Knits. Steampunk. Something Holiday related. This is all, of course, great for the sellers that sell these types of things because it adds to the desire and interest of buyers who may want to purchase similar items. And of course, I do not want to down play at all what amazing creations are featured in "Etsy Finds" because quite frankly the items tend to be top notch. BUT. What about the weird, eccentric items laden throughout Etsy? Why must I look at shoes and scarves and hats all the time? I honestly don't even click through to any of the items anymore because there is just no variety day to day. While this email full of features should help out the shops being featured, the lack of variety could ultimately hurt (or just not contribute to) shop sales because we are bored!

So what do we want to see on Etsy Finds? Well I made my own little gallery "Skinny Finds" to give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Crazy Pink Cupcake--Polymer Clay Figurine by blamethemoon

Who doesn't love cup cakes? These are hilarious and even though they have no practical use, people need to see these awesome items!

Lab Rat PDF knitting pattern by CraftyHedgehog

Okay, so I know I said I was bored of knits, but this isn't a sweater or scarf.... This is AWESOME!

Origami Moose Journal by jukyandbeatrix

Just because...moose...they are pretty excellent.

So by now it is likely understood that I personally have a strange taste in items, veering way off the normal course of jewelery and hand bags, but Etsy must understand when they put together their "Etsy Finds" that there are people out there, such as my self, who prefer the strange and interesting over the "popular" consensus.  So Etsy, "find" some awesome new stuff every once in a while, will ya?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Robots Are Cute and Silly!

photo source:

Who would have guessed that a hunk of metal and artificial intelligence could be so darn cute? Well it can be! Robots seem to be popping up all over the place these days on t-shirts, purses, and more! Or maybe I am just slow to catch on... Either way, I was scanning through the Geekery on Etsy and found a bunch of super cute and silly robots. Enjoy this collection!


Android Pillow by Craftsquatch

Robots are so much fun! Has anyone ever heard of Invader Zim? It is a cartoon by Jhonen Vasquez and it features an alien robot...look it up, it is uh-mazing!

Coming up: Soon we will be having another competition. It won't be a caramel cook-off like last time, but more details will be released soon :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sellers Beware - Etsy Horrors

Every now and then I like to bounce through the Etsy Forums. Usually I participate in the critiques, or do my own promotions in hopes of more exposure. Last night as I was aimlessly clicking through various threads I happened upon on in particular that caught my eye.

The seller, apparently, had sold an item to a buyer and waited patiently for the payment. To back up a little bit, it is important to understand that there is a huge gap in the Etsy to PayPal transaction process. A buyer can "purchase" an item from an Etsy shop, causing the item to be listed as "Sold" and therefore unavailable to other buyers for purchase. Although the item appears to be sold, the buyer does not have to pay for the item because the shopping cart program on Etsy is not directly linked with PayPal, the buyer is simply given a button to push that sends them to PayPal.

So the buyer, in this case, took advantage of this gap and "purchased" the item via Etsy but did not follow through on payment. In fact, the buyer went so far as to say that their PayPal was not currently working, and asked to make a payment at a later date. It is my experience as both a seller and a buyer on Etsy that shop owners are extremely polite, helpful, and giving because most the time it is just one person behind the shop, and not a huge company. Being a kind-natured "Etsian", the seller granted the buyer some extra time to follow up with payment... 3+ weeks to be exact. No Payment. Not only that, but after the seller decided to re-list and sell the item to another buyer after non-payment for an extensive amount of time, the buyer decided to leave extremely negative feedback on this seller's shop before the cancellation had been completed!

While I would love to totally put this EVIL buyer on blast and tell you which "buyer" on Etsy it is, I won't. (But you can read more about it here and search for the evilness yourself should you so desire:

Anyway, the point of this entry was to warn Etsy sellers of the dangers of selling and potential risks. Just as buyers should make sure that the shop they are buying from has generally good and positive feedback, sellers need to take caution and check out the feedback their buyers have. And also, don't just look at the % on the feedback, take the time to actually READ the feedback, just because someone gave a bad review doesnt necessarily mean the shop is BAD.

I went through the feedback that this evil buyer was receiving and decided to promote some of the shops that he/she/it decided to try and defraud.

The Most Fabulous Vintage 1950s Navy Blue and White Polka Dot FULL CIRCLE Skirt Party Dress HANDMADE by DecadesBaltimore

A Glass of Bubbly Vintage 80's Lillie Rubin Strapless Black Silk Petal Dress, S by cricketcapers

Vintage 1970s Green/White Gingham Print Summer Dress - Size Sm/Med by danadaisys

Gorgeous items!!! All of these are clearly great shops that have been a victim of this evil buyer attempting to defraud them through non-payment. So beware fellow Etsy sellers!

Friday, October 15, 2010

On my Christmas list

3 Original Itty Gift Packages, Holiday in Red by CornerShopofLove

So time is quickly pushing us all forward into the holiday season. Halloween is at the end of this month, then we are struck by Thanksgiving (or as I personally prefer to call it, "Turkey Day"), and then suddenly it is Christmas! It has been a long time since I have thought about what I really want for Christmas. Last year I wanted a newer/bigger set of tools and a power drill (happily supplied by my family I got this great gift) and a couple of years ago a new vacuum that would suck up all the pet hair in my carpets without getting clogged. But what do I really, truly want?

I perused Etsy and found some great items I would love to have:

I love these earrings! They are so cute, and I love the color!!


Believe it or not, I have purchased a print from this person before. The watercolors are just so beautiful, and you know me, I just LOVE sight hounds! This one is super cute and I wish I could have it blown up real big to hang above my bed!

This duvet cover set is the essence of me and what I like my bedroom to be. Clean, simple. elegant, and Earthy. I absolutely love this set and hope that someone will be so kind as to purchase this for me. I hope that this seller can recreate this if it gets sold because one day I want one for myself!

So there you have it! These were just a few items on my secret Christmas wish list. Happy holiday shopping to everyone! And remember: buy handmade!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RESULTS!! Caramel Cook-off Competition!

So, over a week late past the date we said we would post the results, I am finally putting together this blog! I apologize for the long wait, things got super hectic and I wanted to make sure that this blog was worth the while because our winner and runners up deserve it!

Our FIRST runner up is: CC Confectionary .

1. Taste: 9/10 these caramels were SOO GOOD! We loved these and couldn't stop eating them!
2. Presentation: 5/5 Everyone agreed that the packaging was absolutely gorgeous and it felt like we received a great little gifty.
3. Uniqueness/individuality - shape, color, ingredients: 4/5 One surprise to us was that there was lemon in the recipe! Although we couldn't taste a distinct lemon taste, it obviously added to the quality of the caramel.  Another thing that we adored about this caramel recipe is that everything was organic, natural, and GMO-free. Over here at skinnyhound, we are health freaks and LOVED this aspect.
4. Desire for more 5/5 we recommend that everyone try these caramels because they were phenomenal! We ate both boxes pretty much in one day.
5. Quality/accuracy of caramel description 5/5 Wonderful description that VERY accurately described the taste and experience of the caramel. Well done.
6. Did you follow the rules? 4/5 We were hoping to receive the photos of your kitchen/you, but no such luck! Don't worry, though, it did not bring you down very much at all. Besides, these caramels speak for themselves!
Bonus: 5/5 we received more than the required amount (and were so happy that we did!)

Great job, Catherine! Here is an excerpt from CC Confectionary's write-up:
"I have been baking and cooking since I was teeny, tiny with my mom. I love all things sweet and became frustrated because I couldn't find a good caramel to bake with and always had trouble making it from recipes I found. I was on a mission to figure out how to make caramel and came up with my very own concoction. I love these caramels and hope you enjoy them as much as my family and friends do." (Catherine of CCConfectionary).

And oh boy, do we love your caramels, Catherine! I know we will buying from you in the future and encourage our readers to do the same!

And now the moment you have all been waiting for...the WINNER of the Caramel Cook-Off Competition!!!

Goodies by Deidre Wood

Congratulations Deidre!!! Your caramels were fabulous!! So, I went to the mailboxes to check to see if any packages arrived. I found a key in my box which meant that a package came and was in one of the bigger lock boxes. *so exciting*. I opened the door and found this nicely sized packaged. I ran upstairs with it and immediately started cutting into the box. I open it to find bubble wrap and tissue paper. I tear both away and see two beautiful bags of caramels. Two bags! Lucky us! YUM! But wait. There is more. Just like a kid on christmas or your birthday, I wanted to rummage through the rest of the packaging to see what else there was if anything. There was! Another layer of bags of caramels! And then ANOTHER layer! I would like to say that I think we received either 8 or 10 bags of delicious caramel goodness!

So gosh, what to do with so much caramel? Well Deidre, you had our work cut out for us because each back was a different flavor from your kitchen! We received fleur de sel caramels, butterscotch, chocolate, marzipan, pecan pie, pumpkin spice, and more! You name it, we got it!

It took us a long time to score your delicious caramels, but here you are:

1. Taste: 10/10 Obviously the first package that I wanted to break into were the Fleur de Sel caramels. All of your caramels were DIVINE, but these totally took the proverbial cake! Phenomenal. After the judging was over I ate these without stopping. I was extremely sad when the bag was empty! But my second favorite were the Pumpkin Spice caramels - and just in time for the holidays too! Another judge favorite were the Chocolate because of the tiny hint of fleur de sel sprinkled on top. YUM
2. Presentation: 4/5 Wonderful packaging we were wondering how you were able to create a plastic airtight pouch the way that you did for these caramels! What is your secret, Deidre?!
3. Uniqueness/individuality - shape, color, ingredients: 5/5 I think it is safe to say that when it came to unique-ness, you won! With so many different flavors to taste, we had to cleanse our palates constantly. But oh boy it was worth it!
4. Desire for more 5/5 Each flavor left us begging for more. My personal favorite was the Fleur de Sel, which was phenomenal and I kept the rest of the bag to myself!
5. Quality/accuracy of caramel description 5/5 Great write-up which we will post at the bottom.
6. Did you follow the rules? 5/5 Yes! And believe it or not, you were the only one that sent us a photograph!
Bonus: 5/5 I wanted to give you a 10/5 because of HOW MUCH we received, but that would have been unfair :-p. Thank you so much Deidre, for sharing so graciously with us!

Shop Name:  Goodies by deidre wood
Web Address:
The baker behind it all:  I’ve never been one for cooking, but baking – now that’s my niche.  As someone who’s always searched for that perfect job, or spectacular school and never really felt that strong connection and desire, I’ve felt like my future has been a continuous ‘when I grow up, I want to be _____’ mentality.  Through it all though, baking has always been what I’ve resorted to in order to relieve stress and truly have a good time.  It’s what I do for fun.  Then the thought occurred to me, at a time that I was working my butt off going to law school, why not work my butt off at something I love?  The thought had honestly never occurred to me to do what I love as a career.  And with the stress of law school, believe me, I was baking a lot!  In this arose goodies by deidre wood when I discovered that not only were the items I made good, but sellable.
Every item is made with care and the desire to spread a little goodness and sweetness.  Every recipe made from scratch, each truffle hand dipped, every batch of caramel poured with precision, hand cut and hand wrapped.  Every item that I make is one that I’d not only devour myself, but also gift to a loved one.  There is no better end to a rough day (or even a fun one at that) than to bite into a delicate caramel or decadent truffle.
It is my main desire and motivation to not only enjoy life but also indulge in the goodies that life itself has to offer.  

Caramels featured: 
Chocolate caramels – All the delicate, chewy goodness that chocolate has to offer – in caramel form.  The only thing better to give than chocolates, is chocolate caramels.  Or, according to my front-toothless niece, ‘chocolate - ‘nuff said.’
Ingredients: sugar, cream, dark chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, fleur de sel salt
Pecan pie caramels – perfect caramel counter part of fall’s best pie.  Chewy pecan goodness with a crunch and salty kick.  A Mess-less alternative to complete Christmas dinner.
Ingredients:  sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, fleur de sel salt, vanilla, pecans
Vanilla Bean caramels – A flashback to childhood sweets in the summertime.  Light and delicate with a sweet aftertaste that lingers and makes you eager for more.
Ingredients:  sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter, vanilla beans, vanilla, fleur de sel salt
Fleur de sel caramels – The ultimate addiction.  This will fulfill the caramel deprivation in any purveyor of confection.  Satisfyingly sweet, salty and seductive.
Ingredients:  sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, fleur de sel salt, vanilla
Marzipan caramels – the sweet, salty excellence expected but with a smooth, nutty finish.  The unanticipated aftertaste completes this caramel decadence.
Ingredients: sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, marzipan, fleur de sel salt, vanilla
Butterscotch caramels  - Like stealing candies from grandpa’s candy jar! The ‘old-school’ nature of this caramel is not only smooth and scrumptious, but competes with any cookie or candy grandma can make!
Ingredients: sugar, cream, butterscotch chips, butter, corn syrup, fleur de sel salt, vanilla
Spice caramels – Reminiscent of pumpkin pie, starbuck’s spice latte and, of course, fall.  So bring on the turkey and those beautiful fall colors and bite into a spiced caramel!
Ingredients: sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, fleur de sel salt, cloves, allspice, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla
Golden caramels – Buttery deliciousness topped off with the sweet succulence that leaves you wanting more.  Truly mouth-watering excellence.
Ingredients: sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, butter, vanilla

 Well there you have it, Guys!!! I will be creating little icons for both our runner up and winner of this competition shortly for advertisement. I will also be sending Deidre a surprise gift!! (Please email me your address deidre to or convo it to me on Etsy to Both of these wonderful candy makers did an amazing job, and so did the rest of our submissions!! Great job :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Caramel Cook Off - RESULTS SOON!!!

Hey readers!!! So the Caramel Cook Off Competition is complete! We had a really great turn-out and some AMAZINGGGGGG caramels to eat! All of you were so so so generous in how much caramel you gave to us judges!

We tallied up the results and have our winner - but before we announce the winner I am working on the results blog. The results will be posted Monday October 4th so keep your eyes peeled!

Once again, all you cooks/candy makers did a phenomenal job and we just couldn't eat enough caramels!!! Thank you so much for the great turn out and I can not wait to post the winner and our runner up!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caramel Cook Off! Update again!

Okay all you caramel cook off competitors!!!

I had to change one of our judges because my boyfriend, who is a chef, has decided to enter the competition! Just so everyone knows - This is a blind taste test, so we will not know who's caramels we are eating until after we have completed judging. Just because I am a mean girlfriend I will also not be naming him the winner even if in fact his are better. I want to do this because I want to promote all you Etsy-ans out there that are working hard to promote!!! Of course I forced him to get a shop on Etsy, but this competition is supposed to be about the people that I don't know :)

Good luck all!!!

Critique - RockStarHottie

So our very first featured shop was RockStarHottie. Today I received in the mail our very first critique gift box!! RockStarHottie has sent us here at Handmade Hound blog a plethera of goodies!

These arrived in a fairly small box so I was not expecting to receive so much greatness in one little box! So, shall we begin our critique?

Monkey Owl wash cloth/baby wipes. What do we love about these? Oh my gosh, first of all they are just super cute! RockStarHottie did  such a cute job piecing these little owls together!
Secondly, they are so soft! I can just imagine getting my baby booty or baby face wiped with one of these super soft, super cute towels!


We also received this adorable clutch! We love the fabric used for this small wristlet clutch (RockStarHottie, where did you get it?!). We also love the ribbon flower that is attached in the corner. The seaming on this bag is very well done and there are no frayed or raw edges - which we LOVE. Great quality!

Next in our box of goodies we received some bobby pins and alligator clips! The flower bobby pins are beautiful and securely attached to the bobby pin its self. We especially adore the bright blue flower bobby pin. The alligator hair clips were also very nicely executed. It appears that the are very cute ribbon attached to the alligator clips. The great thing about these is that they do not look cheap, but rather look like something you would find at kids r us. There are no signs of glue gunning or any other type of adhesive which is great because there is nothing worse than a cheap looking hair clip!

We also received this set of hair clips. This is actually a set that I bought from RockStarHottie from her Etsy shop as a gift for my two year old niece. These we are keeping all for her!! We love these clips because the are so cute, well made, and are great gifts for little girls.

Finally we also received this gorgeous large paper crane. This crane is made with a sturdy and beautiful rose origami paper. It is enhanced with glitter sprinkled gently over it, and a pearl bead and hook at the center which makes it perfect for hanging!

All in all, the quality of these products is outstanding and we recommend that people check out her Etsy page, RockStarHottie, to find more wonderful products. Thank you, RockStarHottie, for sending us these beautiful and wonderful items to critique here at Handmade Hound!!

If you wish to be a featured seller, please email, and send a freebie to be critiqued in this blog to:

Handmade Hound by skinnyhound
10270 East Taron Drive #266
Elk Grove, CA 95757

You will be promoted and featured in my blog, your item will be critiqued, and you will receive a premium ad-space good for one week!