Online Group Etiquette

Congrats, how fun, you've decided to join a new online group! You have similar interests, you're networking, you're learning new things- the internet is amazing and full of new friends. Maybe the last group didn't work out so well or you've never joined a group before. Here are some tips for being a polite and considerate group member while you're jumping in.

1. Look before you speak. Scroll through the threads, see what topics have already been covered. If it's on Facebook, look at the Files tab. A lot of groups will have their page policies posted in there. It's good to know up front what the expectations of group members are. It's not a good first impression to start with a post that's not allowed in the group.

2. Notice the tone of the board. Is it playful? Is it strictly business? Take that into account when you start posting. Often posts that are not in step with the rest of the page get ignored. No matter what the tone, when you are new, you must be careful not to come on too strong. A first impression is hard to break, especially online. I'm not saying don't be yourself, just be your best self. In time, when you've made connections and aren't just a random poster, you'll know what's appropriate and how accepting the group will be of your inner freak. Give it a little time though!

3. Introduce yourself! We all lurk a bit, but don't go too long without introducing yourself. When you comment, people want to know who you are and if you know what you are talking about. A nice introduction will help with that. You want to include the name you like to go by and what has brought you to the group. People will not read more than  4-5 sentences, so keep it short. No one cares about your life story... yet. Here's an example:

 Hey all, newbie here! My name is Julia and I'm really excited to be part of this group. I have an Etsy shop that I sell vintage in. I've been dealing in antiques for almost a decade so I hope I can help others who have questions and also learn more about selling on Etsy.

Friendly, informative, readable- that's all you need.

4. Don't drop and run. I'm in a handful of Facebook groups and a moderator for two. It's really annoying when people only post when they want or need something. If you want the group to help you, you have to be around and an active part of the group. Even if you have nothing to say, you can like posts and comments. 

5. Look before you plan. So you've got a great idea- a project or an event. Look around, look at the event tab, and then ask if something's being, or been, done. It really steps on people's toes if they've been working on something and a newbie comes in and tries to take over or get people to jump to their idea instead. Most group leaders are thrilled when people take the initiative to plan things, but just check to see if it's not already being done.

6. Be nice and be positive. In my favorite group, we vent. It's sales and that can be frustrating. Our closed group is a supportive place to vent. However, if it was all venting, the negativity would be overwhelming, so we also use a lot of humor and encouragement as well as useful tools. It works. When you are new to a group, don't post only negative posts and definitely don't make antagonistic comments on other people's posts. You don't have to be Suzy Sunshine if you are naturally more of a Debbie Downer, just think before you post and try to imagine how it will come across to other group members. It's a great practice in diplomacy and self control. Later, once you've proven you are not a whack job, you'll be able to make more off the cuff comments, but in general, the internet would be a better place if we all used a little more tact anyway.

So what are some other helpful tips you'd give a group newbie? Made any rookie errors that are funny or that we can learn from?

Summer Daytrip

Took the kiddos to The Florida Aquarium for the day. We had a great time. We've been before, but the last time it was super crowded and I somehow forgot Jane's stroller, so I had to schlep her all over the place. This time, she was on wheels and that was a game changer. We got there right when it opened and almost had the place to ourselves. Here's some of the better photos we took:

The Florida Aquarium at Channelside in Tampa
 Julian loves all the hands on stuff
Crazy about sea dragons.
Lining up a great shot

Even baby girl had a wonderful time
Glowing moon jellies
Momma's got to have some fun too!

Right now Tampa Bay area McDonald's have coupons- "Buy an adult ticket, get a kid ticket free". LivingSocial is also running a deal right now. You can always save a couple bucks by buying your tickets online. To visit the official aquarium website go to

Nice Oyster

That is, nice SPINY oyster! What are you visualizing? If it's a clam type shell covered in long spikes, you correct. Here's one I have in my collection of shells.

Can you imagine stepping on one of these at the beach? Fortunately in modern times they inhabit the waters of the Pacific Ocean and not the Gulf of Mexico. These are actually in the scallop family and are sometimes called Spondylus, which is Latin for "spines on it's back".  Historically, these were used as currency in the early Andean culture. Now they are mainly found in southwestern, Native American type jewelries. Let's end this natural history lesson with a fun little fact. These often are born male and then change to female when they are older! 

I put together a treasury on Etsy that shows the range in jewelry that is currently available. View it here. Below are some of my favorites from it. 

From Navajo master silversmith Albert Jake, available at the Bugz Store

By Ecuadorian artists, La Perla, available at Organic Jewelry by Allie

Scott Grady ring available at Classic Southwest Jewelry Design

Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :
Spondylus more commonly called the Thorny Oyster

Read more :

India on my Mind

It is hot. Florida mostly is so this is no surprise. Still, my mind always goes to India when it's hot like this. It's the hottest place I've ever been. While I definitely remember the sweat, I can't help but also think about how bright and beautiful it can be. 

At a wedding in Bangalore
I've created an Etsy treasury of some of my favorite Indian pieces. Click here to see it. 

This awesome bag is from Seven Billion Buddhas.

Gorgeous photograph by LK Phipps available at their Etsy Shop
Isn't this mirrored and embroidered wall hanging versatile?! From Hunter Gatherer

Etsy Craft Party 2014 Recap

The big day went well! I'm not for outdoor events in the Florida summer, but even despite that I think everyone had fun. I did anyway. Here's some photos I snapped. My phone is pretty wretched for taking pictures, but I'm just glad I managed to snap a few. For more, better quality ones, go to the Tampa Bay Etsy Crew's Facebook page.

We had a nice variety of vendors- everything homemade or vintage!

The crafting area was most popular.

The craft demos were well received. I loved Crystal's yarn spinning one.

Packing it up at Built.
I was up at the Welcome area for most of the event so I got to meet a lot of TBEC members and tell interested guests about our group. I just hate that it was so hot and the second I get warm I go full sweaty tomato- not attractive! Anyway, after the success of this event, there's talk about adding a fall one and we're definitely already thinking about our Holiday Market.

Tampa Bay Etsy Crew's 2014 Craft Party

Can't believe this is just a few days away! I'm looking forward to it so much. I love getting to meet my Crew members and see their wares. One of my favorite roles as a TBEC team member is matching up sellers and customers so these events let me check out a lot of stuff in person. It makes me feel more confident when I give a recommendation.

I also love meeting up with the friends I've already made in the Crew. When I started TBEC, I never, ever would have dreamed it would be something that would so impact my life, but I've made real friends and learned so much about leadership and event planning and marketing and much, much more.

For more info or if you have questions about the Craft Party, click HERE.

St. Patrick's Day... and all

(Whenever I don't post for a long time, I feel the need to apologize for my absence. So sorry, all two of you who read. =p)

It's St. Patrick's Day! We'll all wear green, but what we really get happy about today is it's my dad's birthday. Wish he was here to celebrate it with us. (No, he's not departed, he just lives on the other side of the world.)

Some other random green musings:

  •  I made a fun treasury for my Etsy team. Click on this link to view it.
  • There will be no green beer for us today. I'm watching my sugar and my awesome hubs shared a shamrock shake with me yesterday, so I'm trying to recalibrate things today. Not to mention, green beer is just gross.  
  • I'm a big fan of Marvillosa Jewelry and this is my favorite piece in that shop right now. It's not Irish, but I'm more into the Scot thing anyway.

  • St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD.
  • Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.
And that's all I got. Hope it's a good day and you don't get pinched or leprechauned on.

Christmas Musing

It's the day after Christmas. There's still gift bags and tissue paper piled high on the loveseat. The coffee table is full of Christmas bounty. Jason's back to work. Julian is crawling around the house in his new sleeping bag pretending to be a worm. Jane is sleeping off a crazy jam session in her fancy exersaucer. I'm feeling the usual mixed emotions that come with the holidays. This week between Christmas and New Years is always kind of long and strange, especially with school being out.

We spent Christmas day with my in laws. I'm so lucky to get along with them well. My mother in law made it a relaxed, delicious, beautiful time. We've established a tradition. We open presents at our home and then head over there for breakfast and time with all the family. At some point presents are opened. By noon, everyone heads back to their houses for a Christmas nap. We don't have other family in town so we go back for a nice holiday dinner. There's usually a non-related guest or two that joins us. It's a nice day.

I do miss my family though. My parents are overseas. My brother is in California and my sister and her family live in Texas. We try to talk, or at least text, Christmas day, but I think that only makes us miss each other more! For me, there's always a little undercurrent that something is missing during the holiday season and I know it's being with my family. Hopefully we'll all be able to celebrate together in 2015.

I also went into this Christmas thinking that there would not be many presents under the tree. We've had medical  bills to pay off, stuff with the cars, and just a lot of financial drama this year. Jane is pretty small so I wasn't worried about her being disappointed, but Julian has had some major Christmas hauls in past years. I also love finding perfect gifts for friends and family members so, by my own choice, I normally have quite a few people to shop for. This year, we had to seriously slim down the list. We mostly just bought for our kids, nieces & nephews and our parents. 

Much to my surprise (and gratitude!), we were flooded with gifts from family and friends. The grandparents got the kids' big items: a bike for Julian and a deluxe exersaucer for Jane. I'm pretty sure neither of the children minded that some their gifts from us were not entirely new. Julian even said that this was the best Christmas ever. We all loved hearing that!

Of course, as much as family means and as fun as all the gifting is, the real meaning of Christmas also brings me mixed emotions. I can't express enough thankfulness that I don't have to earn God's acceptance. Jesus made that possible, so celebrating His birth is the highlight of my year. This holiday and the whole Jesus story is about love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace... and it makes me very sad that those are not words that are associated with Christians in general any more. That's another blog post entirely though! 

'Tis the Season...

My wish list is all about Etsy this year! The newest gadgets hold little allure.(Okay, well, with the exception of the cell phone watches, but that isn't in the cards this year anyway.) Here's my picks:

Siobhan ( coincidentally the Irish form of Jane meaning "God is gracious."! ) earrings from Maravillosa Jewelry
These bat vases from Castle Rock Pottery are right up my alley!
From Gypsy Thread, love this vintage fabric and the whole Japanese knot bag design
I still prefer books to e-readers, so I need these vintage bookends from Elon Vintage
FunnyPeopleCo vintage navy blue boots- do not have, really, really want! (And, yes, these are my size!)
One can never have enough pillows. This cover from Pillow Loft Home Decor is so cute!
And this is what I want in my stocking- Lychee lip scrub (already have the balm!) from Lola's Handcrafted

Freak Show Favorites

This is a post I've been wanting to write for awhile, but wanted to wait until Halloween. One of my favorite Etsy shops is Freak Show Follies. I'm a bat freak so that's how I originally discovered Stacy's shop and then we ended up on the same Etsy team and I've been collecting ever since! They are beautiful and so well made that I wear them year round, but this time of year they definitely get noticed more. And here is my Freak Show collection- try not to be jealous and do go visit the Freak Show Follies Etsy shop to get your own collection started! 

I wear this one the most!

This spider bracelet gets the most attention

This was my first purchase from Freak Show Follies

This is a ring- Stacy does her own custom resin work so her stuff is really one of a kind.

These go with either necklace or just by themselves.

I have worn these, but I think the display card is adorable, so I've left them on it. Stacy's packaging is always fantastic!

I love the range of the Freak Show stuff- it goes from cute to bizarre to buggy!

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