Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dressing up for Spring

When I was young and I dreamed about the type of house I wanted to live in some day, it was always an older home with a big, wrap-around porch. It had a swing and a scattering of wicker chairs and tables.  There were flowers in canning jars, a pie cooling in the window (made by whom, I have no idea) and old, faded patchwork quilts draped over the rails.

I'm still waiting for that steeped-in-Mayberry dream home. For the last 20 years we've lived in a great room ranch in a subdivision. I actually love our home, despite the fact that it doesn't match the one in my fantasies. At least it has a porch, even if it's small and compact and there's no pie in sight.

After the long, nasty winter we had, here's what that porch looked like Saturday morning:





 Yes, the snow shovel was still out, because believe it or not, we had flurries last weekend. It's the Midwest, we expect this kind of thing.

After a trip to Home Depot for some color, I got to work removing all the stuff from the porch, dragging the wicker up from winter storage in the back yard, and cleaning everything off. Then I set about arranging the furniture, hanging the lights and then I finally got around to the planting.

The lights are new for this year, and I'm still trying to decide if I like them or not.  One thing's for sure, when I turn them on at night, it's very bright.  Kind of Clark-Griswold-lights-up-the-house-for-Christmas bright. I'm still hoping to hang these in the backyard one of these days. My hubby has a vision for a corn hole court, and I think these would be perfect overhead. If we get around to that project, you'll see it here.

There are a lot of fun pieces packed into a very small space, but I love the coziness of it.  From the laundry tub full of plants, to the table my hubby made out of pallet wood and the scattering of enamelware, there is always something to look at.  This year I also added the little wooden piece with the glass insulators. It was just laying among the pile of pallet wood that we use for signs and it seemed perfect for something. I'm still thinking I might want to letter it but I haven't decided what it needs to say.

So this is my little piece of country in the suburbs. Feel free to pull up a chair, shell some peas and catch up on all the latest gossip.












Tuesday, March 18, 2014

4 Left Turns


It's no secret that dirt racing is a passion of mine (Valerie). You've seen my posts about following the POWRi Midget Series, and we continue to add more racing-themed products to our line up all the time.

Because the racing fan base is quite different than the handmade customer profile, we decided it was time to ratchet things up a bit and set up a separate brand exclusively for our motor sports products.  Conveniently enough, I have had the Twitter handle "4LeftTurns" for quite some time, and since that seems to fit what we do, it has become the new brand for Poverty Barn's high-speed productions.

We are currently working on a web site, which will eventually be found at 4LeftTurns.net.  Our Facebook page is up and running and we've added a separate section in our Etsy shop so you can easily find 4 Left Turns items. Our plan is to incorporate an online store on the web site as well. You will still be able to find announcements of new racing signs and more on the Poverty Barn Facebook page and web site, here.

We hope you will join us on this new adventure, where our products are "made for race fans, by race fans".  Even if you are not a race fan, we would love it if you would share our information with anyone you know who is.  As we build our base, and expand our product line, we look forward to engaging more with our customers. Also, once the web site is up, we have a contest planned exclusively for drivers, but we think you will enjoy following the action as well.

Thank you for your continued support of our little endeavor.  It has grown far bigger than we could ever have imagined and we owe that to you.

Your friends,
The Barn Girls

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Background, Check!

We've all heard that saying "There's no 'I' in 'Teamwork,' which is true.  However, if you rearrange some letters, you will find the word "we" which is the perfect word to describe our home-based business.

Quite often, when I come up with a new idea or something with which I need help, my hubby is the one who becomes my sounding board.  He lets me bounce stuff off of him, listens when I ramble about crazy things I'd like to do, and solves problems that I run up against.

Today was one of those days where he came through in a pinch and solved a problem that I had kind of created for myself.  Back in the blur of the Christmas season, I bought some beautiful vinyl photo backdrops to use for photographing products. They came from Etsy seller Swanky Prints and I absolutely love them!

I've never used backdrops before but I just knew that they would add a little something to the images I shoot for our online listings.  Plus, they would mean that when it's brutally cold outside I won't have to freeze my face off taking pictures on my front porch.  The only problem was, I didn't really know how to set them up so I could actually use them.

Hubby to the rescue!

We stopped in at Home Depot to look at torpedo heaters for the garage where all of our pallet signs get built. (Did I mention that we're in the midst of a deep freeze here?)  While we were there, I mentioned the backdrops and how I needed some kind of contraption on which to hang them.  At first, I could tell he wasn't all that interested in the project, but after walking around a bit, he asked me to tell him more. When we walked down the aisle with the PVC pipe, I knew a solution was close at hand.

After looking at some pipe, calculating flimsiness and discussing how the drops would actually hang, he figured out exactly what we needed.  The best part, I spent less than $4 on supplies.  The next best part, he had it built within about 15 minutes of our return home.

This seems like such a simple solution, but for the life of me, I couldn't seem to come up with it.  What's great is that I had the grommets and the rings already so once he did his part, mine was easy and it was up and working in no time.  It's lightweight, comes apart for storage or transport, and I can use it anywhere!

He's going to make one more modification that will allow me to lower it a few inches if I want to, but to me, I think it's already awesome.  It sure is nice to have a man who not only supports this business, but isn't opposed to helping out when his nutty wife throws new problems at him.

You should all be jealous.  :)

Valerie









Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

As this year winds down, Jess and I would like to take the time to wish each of you a very Happy New Year.  We hope your Christmas was wonderful and we hope 2014 brings you nothing but blessings!

T-shirt for my son, the railroader.
We made the decision this fall to close our Etsy shop from December 1 to January 2 so that we could finish up all of the orders that had already been placed, and get them shipped out. We also wanted to have time with our families after the craziness of Craft Season. It was the perfect decision for us, and I feel confident that we will continue that practice next year.

Because of this break I (Valerie) must admit that I had the most relaxing Christmas season I've had in years!  Without the stress of having to worry about orders, I was able to get my own shopping done, wrap the gifts, clean the house and even bake cookies!  Honestly, since we started this business, I don't think I'd done that at all.

Special request sign for a customer.
While we feel bad for anyone who wanted to place an order after December 1 but couldn't, we made sure to make the announcement regarding the closure early in November to give everyone plenty of warning.  Since we will do this next Christmas, and we could do it again if we ever take vacations, we encourage you to follow us on Facebook so you don't miss out on any important announcements.  That's one of the places where we post new products, discounts and other information, so following along will help you stay current on all of the latest and greatest Poverty Barn goodness.

Speaking of new products, Jess and I are both brainstorming about some really fun new projects, which we will roll out in the coming year. For my racing friends, I will be attending my first Chili Bowl in mid-January, and several of our racing signs will be in various auctions there throughout the week. A new one will make its debut there as well.  Be sure to check with the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and the Kick-It Cup Charity Auction events if you plan to be in Tulsa.

Special request sign for
a customer.
Here are a few photos of items I made as Christmas gifts and some that were ordered by customers.  Visit our Facebook page, where I will be adding even more.

Thank you again to everyone who has supported us over the past few years.  We look forward to working with you again in 2014.

Blessings!
Valerie

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jesse's New Office

I (Jess) have been very busy lately. Not making goodies like I should be, but MOVING! We finally found and bought a house and are now moved in (for the most part).

Our awesome new house has the most perfect space above the garage for me to run wild with Poverty Barn creations. It needed a little work before it was a functional space, but luckily I have some awesome and handy men in my life that helped me out a ton with getting that taken care of.

It's not quite done yet and probably won't be until sometime early next year as the busy season is now upon us. However, I can't wait that long to show it off so here are some sneak peeks of the progress so far:

Here is what it looked like before the floor was put in:

Our little Poverty Barn girl checking out our new space. 

There are 3 dormer windows on one side.
Looking from the stairs.
Dormer Windows
Another view from the stairs

 After the floor was put in and starting to move things in:

Look at all that work space!

Pretty new flooring!

Attempting to get my desk organized again!


The wall where my cabinets will go

Looking towards the stairs





This is a panoramic picture of the space from the corner by the stair rail. 

Here is Popsicle with the awesome gate he built to keep our Muchie safe. 

This is the cleanest my desk has ever been (and will ever be).

More to come...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Day in the Life of Frisco

Today we welcome a very special guest blogger, our dog, Frisco.  He is witness to everything that goes on in this home and in this business, so we thought you might like to hear from him. Enjoy!
Hi!  My name is Frisco. Welcome to my first attempt at blogging. Mom is typing for me because I didn't listen to her and refused to take keyboarding in school.  Can't say as I've ever missed it. Until now.

Anyway...

A little about me. I'm a mixed breed Labrador and Field Spaniel.  I was abandoned at about the age of 7 months, incarcerated in puppy prison and freed when my adopted parents posted bail.  That was 7-and-a-half years ago.  I have to say that my current home is much cushier than "the joint." Shudder.  Fortunately, I was young and the passage of time has helped the memories to fade.

My parents say that the reason they adopted me is because I chose them.  Apparently, I was the quiet one in the room, sitting humbly in my cell, using my Puss-in-Boots eyes to lure them in.  Dad was hooked and the kids followed suit.  Mom was a harder sell, but she eventually caved as well.

Fast-forward to the present. I am now eight years old (that's 56 to you humans) and the senior member of the family.  With age have come a few health issues, but I don't let them slow me down.

Like a lot of older folks, I have a daily regime of medications.  It started with hip dysplaysia, for which I take a nasty fishy-smelling pill.  Mom disguises it with mini marshmallows, which helps, but she's not fooling anyone.

Early last year, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now I take insulin injections twice a day.  They don't hurt much, and I get my favorite chocolate-chip cookies as a reward for sitting still, so it's not so bad.  I know I look ridiculous when I have to balance those cookies on my nose, toss them up and catch them, but they are worth it. Yum!

Late last year, I noticed that things started to get fuzzy. I began bumping into furniture and walls. Finally, one day, I could no longer catch treats because I couldn't see them.  Dad and Mom took me to a doctor, who gave me some really good drugs.  When I woke up, I could see again. It was a miracle!  Mom cried the first time she looked into my eyes and knew I could see her again.  She's such a sentimental wimp.

So now, on top of the pill and the insulin, I have to get drops in my eyes three times a day.  They don't hurt, and I know that if I sit still it's all over with in a blink, so I sit, turn my head, get the drop and wait for my mini marshmallow. Gulp!

You would think that all of these routines would really cramp my style, but they don't.  I still love to get Dad up at night (hey, my bladder ain't what it used to be!) and I enjoy chasing those pesky rabbits that trespass in our yard. I also like to go after skinks but they are hard to catch.  And they don't taste all that great when I do catch them.  It's more of a game than anything.

I love a good rawhide chew, and playing with my toys and chasing after a ball.  Of course, the best part is when I get one of the family to do tricks.  They seem to think I'm the one who "learned" something when I roll over, crawl across the floor, speak or sit, but honestly, they are the ones with the treat in their hands so who's really winning here?

For a brief time, I became a YouTube sensation when I got the mail from our mail man.  Not sure what the big deal is there, but everybody who sees it thinks it's cool.  You can see the video here: Frisco Gets the Mail

My family is awesome. It's just the four of us here now, since my sister got married and moved out.  She comes around quite a bit and brings my niece, who kind of freaks me out. I'm trying to get to know her, but I'm just not used to tiny people and I don't want her pulling my ears or biting my nose. Her language confuses me too, but once she learns to speak English instead of Minion, I think it will get better. We'll work things out eventually.

I get to sleep whenever and where ever I want to, and at night Mom or Dad help me up on the bed since it's too tall for me.  My family members give me hugs, pat me, play with me, pray for me and most of all, they love me.  And I love them right back.  It's a pretty sweet gig.










Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On the Air

Yesterday was just another one of those typical, summer, work-at-home days. I get up, go through the morning routine, make a list of everything I want to accomplish for the day and get to work.

SIDE NOTE:  Do any of you other compulsive list-makers add a few extra, simple things to your list, just so you can cross them off quickly in order to feel like you've accomplished something?  No?  Hmmm, must be just me...

Anyway, I turned on my favorite local talk radio station (yes, I'm at that age) and sat down to peruse my Etsy stats, Facebook count, Twitter feed and Pinterest updates. (I'm a go-getter, can't you tell?)

Before long, it was time to head out to the kitchen to put our dog, Frisco, through his morning routine.  He's got hip dysplasia, diabetes and is post cataract surgery so we do three different eye drops, glucosamine pills and insulin shots every morning and night.  At this stage in life, I expected to possibly help one of my parents out with this kind of stuff, but I never expected to be nursemaid to my dog.

And God laughed.

Anyway, as soon as we finish up, get our his treats and head back to the office, my phone starts lighting up with text messages:  "Just heard Jamie talking about you and Poverty Barn on the radio!"  and "Hey, a friend just told me they heard about you on 97.1FM."

The first one was easy to brush off.  I figured someone was just confused.  But then they kept coming, on my phone, Facebook, etc.  What the heck?

So I posted that I couldn't believe I missed it, and after the commercial break, he start talking about me and the business again!  I'm cracking up, and grinning ear-to-ear because as anyone with a business knows, there is no such thing as bad free publicity!

How did we end up on the air?  Well, it turns out that the host, Jamie, and I have met a few times, and we're Facebook friends, and he had seen the picture of this sign I made:

He even quoted it on the show while describing our business!

Pretty cool stuff, to be sure.

Later on, I sent him a message to thank him for talking us up, and I also emailed the station for the podcast because it wasn't posted on their site.  They were so nice!  They actually sent me a clip file of the segments that were just focused on Poverty Barn, and gave me permission to use them!

Unfortunately, I've frustrated myself beyond belief trying to get the file to work on this page and I've given up.  There is no way to put an audio file on Facebook either, so I guess y'all will just have to take my word for it that it was pretty cool!  :)

 So, what started out as quite the ordinary morning, turned out to be pretty fantastic!
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