Baking

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

This was probably my original Pintertest. Unfortunately, the original post has disappeared, so this isn’t an official Pintertest. Anyway, this recipe is adapted from another blog that I found through Pinterest, and I’ve made it a lot over the past few years. With that much time for experimentation, I found the best way to make these and I’m going to share it with you. Also, I would like to say that I have been making pumpkin spice lattes with real pumpkin before Starbucks made it cool. This recipe makes two 12-oz (tall) servings.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients

  • Heaping 1/2 cup of real pumpkin puree, like Libby’s
  • 1 cup milk (any milk you want)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 12 oz of strong coffee
  • Additional sweetener to taste
  • Whipped cream and extra pumpkin pie spice (optional)

Directions

Step 1: In a blender, combine pumpkin puree, milk, brown sugar, and spice. Blend on medium for 45-60 seconds.

Step 1-2

Step 2: Pour pumpkin milk mixture into a microwaveable measuring cup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir.

Step 3: While the milk is warming, prepare 12 oz of strong coffee.

Step 4: Pour half of each of the coffee and milk into two large mugs. Add your choice of additional sweeter to taste. (I use two packets of stevia.) Top with optional whipped cream and a sprinkle of pie spice and enjoy!

Step 3-4

These tend to be a little grainy, but they’re very delicious and a lot cheaper than a PSL at Starbucks. Perfect for your fall PSL cravings!

Jewelry

The History of My Etsy Shop: Part II

Last week, I posted Part I of this story. It covered my first Etsy shop and the events that led to opening it. Here is the rest of the story, covering my experience in architecture school and what led me to reopen shop.

Architorture

This is my foam core model that looks like
This is my foam core model that looks like “crap”. It has a lot of right angles. It does not resemble crap at all.

My architecture professor seemed pretty laid back. At midterms, his true colors came out. He told us not to divulge our grades with our peers because it might cause jealousy. If Joe gets an A and you get a B, but you think your work is better than Joe’s, you might get upset and try to sabotage poor Joe! Basically the prof can get away with favoritism and students don’t know what “A” work looks like. (If your prof ever tells you not to share what grade you earned with your peers, either ignore them or change classes. You have a right to know what an “A” looks like so you know what to strive for, and you have a right to know if your prof is picking favorites so you can take that up with the dean.) Anyway, during a private review session, he deemed one of my drawings “the worst in the class” and my foam core model he claimed “looked like crap.” Then he told me, “Your work is okay…if you’re happy with a C.” He also claimed that I was rarely in studio working and that my work was that of a lazy student. He gave me a C+ for midterms.

I thought his comments were okay because I’d heard architecture school was hell and that the profs hate all of your work, so I never complained to the dean. I should have complained because his criticism was not constructive at all, and I left that review not really having a clear idea as to how to improve. Never had a teacher called me lazy before and I knew I wasn’t – I was in studio several hours every day, working my butt off. We had learned how to use these tools only a few weeks ago, but he was already expecting perfection.

I took his comments a little too seriously and started to think they were true. I was lazy, I was the worst in the class, I could spend more time in studio and less time sleeping like an architecture student is supposed to. During class, he would come around our desks and give us brief critiques and tell us to make a ridiculous amount of models and/or drawings by the next class and I knew I couldn’t find the time for all of it. (But there’s always at least one kid that does, so you can’t even tell your prof that nobody could do it all because Joe did. And if Joe can, you can. Why is Joe any different from you?) Basically, his comments and expectations left me stressed and wishing I could magically create more time. There were times when I would get so stressed that I’d take a bathroom break during class so that I could cry in private.

There was some silver lining, though. I did make lots of good friends since you create really strong bonds going through hell and seeing each other in studio for several hours every day. I also picked up a thing or two about design.

When it was time to sign up for the second semester, I was tempted to change majors. But at the end of the first semester I decided that I should give architecture a whole year before deciding. I’d also have a different prof for spring semester. When spring semester started, I got super overwhelmed by all the work we’d already been assigned on the first day. That didn’t help my homesickness after a month off at home enjoying every minute I didn’t have an architecture project looming over my head.

So I made the decision to come back home, even though I was starting to like the little college town where I was going to school. I still have no idea what I want to do instead of architecture. I had to wait a few months to start up at the local community college since they’re on the quarter system. I had a lot of regrets about leaving because maybe the solution would have been to change majors, but I didn’t know what I wanted to change it to and I didn’t want to be “undecided” for whatever reason. Regardless, I’m glad I took some time off from school because a one month Christmas break was not enough to recover from the four month architecture school burn out.

Steph’s Etsy Shop 2.0

In February, my friend Yvette told me that she had started a blog, and I decided to join her. I saw no reason that I might regret starting a blog, and maybe one day if I reopened my Etsy shop, I would already have a network of followers. Hey, a girl can dream. And to blog about jewelry, I would obviously have to make some, so I would also be slowly building an inventory. Despite all this, it was really easy to talk myself out of reopening. (Licenses and taxes and paperwork, oh my!) I even wrote a blog post on why it’s hard to sell jewelry on Etsy to further talk myself out of it.

In July I realized that I had amassed a fairly large inventory. In order to buy supplies to make more things, I would need money. And all this jewelry was just sitting there when it could be making me money, so what was holding me back? The last time I felt like I kept putting money in and getting none out. All I had to do this time was set a budget.

And Architectural Beads would need a new name. Although architecture is still a part of my journey, it’s no longer something in my future, and I wanted a name that would work well in any future.

Yellow Raspberry Jewelry
I made this.

So Yellow Raspberry Jewelry was born! The yellow comes my favorite color, and the raspberry comes from my favorite fruit, and the jewelry part is obvious and also because the name “YellowRaspberry” was already taken. And yellow raspberries are a real thing, so that’s an added bonus.

This was my final project for my first semester of architecture school. I didn't even lose a finger in the woodshop.
This was my final project for my first semester of architecture school. I didn’t even lose a finger in the woodshop.

I feel like this reopening is symbolic. I had tried my hand at selling online before and quit because I thought I sucked at it and wasn’t making many sales. Then, I tried my hand at architecture and quit because I thought I sucked at it and was told I sucked at it. Since I quit architecture, I’ve had time to reflect and realize that I didn’t suck. In fact, I did okay; I got a B and made a kick-ass final project that’s now proudly displayed in my jewelry studio. And I didn’t suck at Etsy my first time. I did okay and made three sales.

Everything Is Awesome

So thank you, Professor Herman, even though you’ll probably never read this. I thought you’d taught me how to deal with difficult people, but you actually taught me how to deal with myself when I’m faced with difficult people. Never again will I let others determine my worth by telling me that I’m lazy and my work is crap. I know what I can do and what I have done in the past, and I will be the one to determine my worth, thank you very much.

If you’re ever bullied in this way, stand up to the bullies. And stand up to yourself if your inner critic is becoming a bully. Don’t tell yourself you’re worthless because then you will be. Tell yourself you’re awesome because then you will be!

I’ve found that jewelry can help me feel awesome, or also serve as a reminder for something, like a tattoo that can come on and off whenever you want. (I have a little elephant necklace that I wear to remind me how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time – so that I don’t get overwhelmed.) I hope that in my jewelry you can find some deeper meaning and that you feel awesome when you wear it.

I also want to you thank you, my readers. I don’t normally post about personal things, but it couldn’t be ignored for this story.

This is my little studio space. The model is right next to the purple boom box.
This is my little studio space. The model is right next to the purple and silver boom box on the shelf.

Use the code BLOG10 to receive 10% off any purchase at Yellow Raspberry Jewelry through September 16.

Baking

Lemonade Freezer Pie

Summer is drawing to a close, and I knew I needed to include this easy pie recipe before before summer’s gone. The recipe is adapted from one by my Southern grandma, so you know it’s gonna be good. It is a bit on the sweeter side, but it tastes just like ice cold lemonade and it’s a great refreshment on a hot summer day. You’ve gotta eat it quick, though, because it starts melting as soon as you take it out of the freezer.

You have no idea how hard it was to slice a photogenic piece.
You have no idea how hard it was to slice a photogenic piece.

Ingredients

  • 3 pre-made graham cracker crusts (you might be able to get away with only 2, but I haven’t tested that)
  • 2 cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 cans of cold sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 8-oz tub of regular Cool Whip, thawed
  • Additional whipped cream (optional)

Directions

Step 1: Combine lemonade concentrate, sweetened condensed milk, and Cool Whip in a large bowl. Mix by hand until all lumps are gone. Do not use an electric mixer.

Step 1

Step 2: Pour mixture into pie shells. Freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Step 3: After many failed attempts at slicing pieces, I discovered that using a sharp serrated knife works best to saw through the frozen crust. Top with optional whipped cream. Return to freezer ASAP.

The pies will keep in your freezer covered with tin foil for about 2 weeks.

Jewelry

My Etsy Shop’s Journey: Part I

A month ago today I reopened my Etsy shop. It has had a major overhaul in the photo department (at least, I think so because I worked my butt off on those photos and they better be good), and now offers international shipping to many countries, and has a lot more inventory. Taking a break from Etsy allowed me to reflect on my shop and how I could improve if I ever reopened. I also grew a lot as a person, which I’m hoping will help me succeed the second time around. This is a bit of a long story, so I’ve broken it up into two separate posts. The second part will be published next Tuesday.

The Inception

My love for beading goes way back to when I was a kid, stringing plastic pony beads on plastic cord and making jewelry for myself and my mom. As I grew up and entered high school, I started looking into more serious jewelry making and found a ton of how-tos on YouTube. The local craft store even had a lot of the tools, and, of course, a lot of beads. I started out making things for family and friends, and even donated a few pairs of earrings for my church’s Christmas craft sale. It was fun, but expensive for a high schooler with no consistent income.

These were among the first earrings that I made. I wear them every year on Fat Tuesday along with my Mardi Gras beads.
These were among the first earrings that I made. I wear them every year on Fat Tuesday along with my Mardi Gras beads.

My grandma got me a subscription to BeadStyle Magazine, and they would occasionally publish articles of tips for selling online and at craft fairs. I’ve always liked the idea of being able to make something by hand and sell it to someone and watch them enjoy it and cherish it. Selling my jewelry would be a good way to keep making more, which I loved, since I would have some income to buy more beads. Craft fair booths, however, required a large-ish investment and inventory, which I didn’t have. So online it was! I found Etsy and it seemed like a good deal to me, given that there was no monthly subscription fee and high traffic.

I explored a little around Etsy, observing the community and finding inspiration in other jewelry items. Back then, I thought everyone’s prices for jewelry were outrageously expensive, but I know better now. I read through the details of how to set up a shop, and soon discovered I would have to wait until I turned 18. Then I read that you couldn’t sell vintage items and call them vintage unless they were 20 years or older, and somehow translated that into sellers have to be 20 years or older to own a shop. So I kind of gave up, and made little effort to grow an inventory in case I ever did open up a shop.

My First Shop

In January 2014, I was daydreaming and reading through how to set up an Etsy shop again, and discovered that I had been mistaken about having to be 20. Seeing as I was old enough, I opened up shop as quickly as I could. I originally named it Architectural Beads, since I wanted to become an architect. Some of my jewelry even made it into architecture school applications as examples of design.

These are some earrings that went into my application. You can buy them here.
These are some earrings that went into my application. You can buy them here.

I made a few sales just by flying by the seat of my pants, and grew my inventory from like 5 items, to 30. That was a lot for me back then, and I’m proud that I made that much, but ideally it should have been a lot more. I also struggled with pictures, pricing (If you bought something from me back then, you got a great deal!), and search engine optimization. I didn’t accept credit card or gift card payments, or offer international shipping. All of those things combined made for low views and sales, which was really discouraging. Also, I expected that once I had stuff listed, it would just sit in my shop and accumulate views and favorites and hopefully a sale or two. I didn’t know that an Etsy shop is like a plant that needs to be watered and pruned and fertilized regularly in order for it to thrive.

I soon realized that I was supposed to have a business license. Looking into all that paperwork and confused about taxes overwhelmed me pretty quickly. In June, just as my shop was starting to gain traction, I decided to close shop. Besides, I would be leaving for architecture school soon, and from what I’d heard, I wouldn’t have time to even think about selling jewelry. Not knowing what to do with all this jewelry I’d made, I gave a few pieces away to family and friends, but still had plenty left over.

Honestly, I was a little put off jewelry-making after all the stress it had caused me. I was also a little put off the idea of owning my own business for the same reason, but the hope that one day it might be better remained at the back of my mind.