“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now All Our Neighbors' Chimneys Smoke

OK, so it serves me right for not driving my car for a week during the bitter cold. The battery is dead. Dead as a door-nail, whatever that means. Anyway just dead, it makes that awful clicking sound, but won't start.

I'm stuck here in the house until this afternoon when my hubby gets back from a business meeting and can drive me to the store. Our polar plunge in temperatures has finally ended and I thought I could get out on my own to do some shopping. Instead I have to be driven around by my beloved!

I hadn't been housebound that entire time, mind you, my dear hubby had been around and so I had been hitching a ride with him. But honestly, I think I had only been out of the house a couple of times during our extreme cold spell.  Since most of you that read this blog are also introverts, I don't think I need to explain myself! I would make a perfect hermit!

Getting on with it now, I decided to share some insights about my Etsy shop and selling online.  It's been a real learning experience for me that past couple of years. I am not particularly advanced when it comes to technical skills, but I am pretty good with writing and design, so I think that's what has saved me.  I have seen quite a few shops/blogs that started when I did fail and just disappear.

One thing I've learned is that you never stop learning! If you do, you fail. Simple as that!  I do tons of research online about how to make things better. How to handle social media, how to take photos, where to spend my time etc. That's just the marketing part, I also spend lots of time researching my vintage items and finding out accurate information about them. It takes a lot of time and am I making any money at this? I would say no, I am breaking even.  But I love what I am doing. I love that it is my business and I run it myself and I have figured all this out by myself. 

Another thing I figured out after lots of reading and research, is to "tag" and "title" my shop listings the correct way. I won't bore you with the details, but who knew that for the first two years I was doing it wrong!? Well, I certainly didn't and I'm surprised I made any sales at all!  The competition is fierce and about a bazillion more people are selling on Etsy and other venues now compared to just a few years ago.

After I changed my listings to show up better in Google searches, I have seen an increase in my sales. Suddenly my books are selling better than anything else. For example I've noticed an increase in the sales of my cookbooks, especially Public Service Cookbooks. These are the quirky ones put out by local utility companies as a thank you to their customers.  This was the type of thing that was quite typical back in the 1940's - 1970's. The only thing I get from my utility company now is a bill.

Now for the good stuff! Check out some of these fun images from a few of the books I recently sold.

This first one is my favorite! The book was sent out to customers by the Wisconsin Public Service Company during the 1960's. The deer in the Chefs' Hat cooking the holiday meal is just fantastic. Unfortunately, no illustrator was given any credit.

My blog post title was taken from this cookbook. Across the front of the book it says,

"Now all our neighbors' chimneys smoke, 
and Christmas logs are burning;
Their ovens they with baked meats choke,
and all their spits are turning..." 

Quote by George Wither

The deer in the illustration above has obviously become an omnivore! The illustration below shows our Chef Deer stirring up a stew perhaps?

Here are a couple of the recipes from the books. There were three in the collection that I sold.

Another favorite image of mine! I think I will be using this one again in the future! The dishes look like my house after a party!! Notice how in each picture the candle has burned down to almost nothing! I love those little details.

So here I am housebound and freezing to death in my office downstairs because my space heater also died. Another thing on my shopping list...
now where is my dear hubby?? 

Hope you're having a great day! See you all soon! ~ Diane


  1. Oh dear, dead car battery -- been there, done that. I too remember when utility companies all used to have "home economics departments" to give advice and publish cookbooks. They've pretty much all gone the way of the dodo bird now but here in Alberta, ATCO Gas still has such a service. They publish a couple of good cookbooks every year and at a very reasonable price.

  2. We have just had the dead car battery on my husbands car, first day back at work after Christmas. I love these images, so simple, make me smile :)

  3. Oh the cold, dead battery! Blech. Before husband and i moved from Maine to Oregon, my battery had to be jump started at least once a week so i could get to work mornings. Sometimes i'm homesick for Maine, but not so much in the wintertime. lol

    I love those illustrations. They are absolutely adorable. :)

  4. A dead car battery is not fun! But very common this time of year. Thankfully we haven't experienced that in a very long time. The illustrations are wonderful!

  5. Fellow hermit here! :p

    The timing for you speaking about Etsy is strange. I've been wanting to set up an Etsy shop, but fear it'll be for naught because 1). It is so popular and I'm likely to just get lost in the crowd, and 2). I have to make pretty good money with it. (No hubby or anything, so it's just one income). I NEED for it to work out though. I just cannot stand substitute teaching, or the 9-5 grind. (It's just awful, but I can't see a way out, especially since now I'm being forced against my will to purchase health insurance I can't even afford). I just don't know which route to go; etsy, etc. It's overwhelming trying to decide.

    I hope your car battery gets fixed soon, and I'm glad the temps have warmed up for you. Myself, I love it but I do miss the sunshine. We really need it here.

  6. I love those type books, and that one is great. No wonder you are selling. Ugh, dead battery. I hadn't driven my car in 2 weeks when I injured my leg, then the cold came. I finally made hubby drive it to charge it up. Funny, I can easily tend to be a hermit, but I'm afraid if I let myself I could become agoraphobic.

    Stay warm. Glad your Etsy shop is succeeding.

  7. Dead car battery...yikes. It makes me glad that I use public transportation. Your post is once again lovely, and the music is so soothing.

  8. Hi Diane, I’m taking a bit of a blogging break just now, but I thought I would pop over and see how you are doing – so glad I did, I love that little deer! I also wanted to say my sister loves her new cookery books (thank you) there are a few receipts (like stewed brains!!!) she won’t be trying, but most of the others she will.
    My listings used to show up at the top of Google all the time, but now it’s difficult to find them at all – I must be doing something wrong, or something must have changed. I just don’t have the energy to try to work it out right now. I hope hubby has taken you out to the shops now and sorted your car. xx

  9. Always a good read and your illustrations speak for themselves! Hope your battery troubles are over. I just had to replace mine. Love the Lewis quote as it is so true! Yes, perpetual education when it come to the net or owning an online business. Thanks for visiting the team blog and see you round the TVV campus!

  10. Congratulations on the success of your Etsy shop, and to learning and sticking with it. You must be very proud! I love the book illustrations!

  11. I imagine it's not easy keeping up with all that is required to make an online shop work - good for you for taking the time. I LOVE that deer series! But yeah...aren't they supposed to be herbivores? Kind of like that scene in the end credits of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving where Woodstock eats turkey.


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane