Spring Fling and Easter Critters

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Is it too early to celebrate? No? Happy Spring!!!

I sincerely hope the weather is springlike where you are. I think we can all agree winter was frigid, to say the least, and I know more than a few states in the good old U.S. of A were walloped with weather they almost never have to worry about. Illinois has allllll the seasons, and while I prefer it that way, Old Man Winter was extra cranky this year, resulting in getting more than our fair share of snow, ice, wind, and crazy sub-zero temperatures.

As some of you may have seen already, I have been diligently working on my side hobbies quite ardently in the last few months–namely crocheting cute little things and posting them in my relatively new Etsy shop.

Soooo to celebrate the arrival of what is hopefully better weather and warmer temperatures, in addition to Easter coming up, oh and just ’cause you guys are awesome, I am offering my readers a “Zoe Says” discount in the Etsy shop. Just enter the coupon code SPRINGFLING14 at checkout, and you automatically shave off 10% from your order. There is no minimum purchase required (really!) and I have items for sale for a variety of budgets, big or small.

For those who haven’t visited the shop yet, I sell both crocheted items (little amigurumi creatures and a few wearables) plus photographic prints and canvasses.

And! Pretty much everything is customizable, so if you see something you like but want a different color, just send me a message.

If you want a print but don’t see the size you want, hit me up.

If you are buying an “in stock” item and want more than one, we can do that.

If you have something specific in mind and don’t see it listed, just ask if it’s possible for me to make it. The possibilities are endless and the discount will still apply!

Etsy makes it easy to contact me; just click one of the links on the sidebar in the area that looks like this:

Custom Order

I have had several custom requests from friends and acquaintances and it’s always fun to try something new and give someone exactly what they want. This Spring Fling/Easter sale/Zoe Says “thanks!” coupon code doesn’t expire until April 20, 2014 but order early if you want something in time for Easter, since I like, have to make it and ship it.

To sum up:

It’s Spring. We’re overjoyed.

Easter is a month away and we love pastels and eggs and chocolate and cute little critters.

I’m grateful for you, my readers.

I’m offering a special thank you code through Easter, which is April 20. SPRINGFLING14 gets you 10% off any order, big or small! Just hit up the shop.

Here are some cuteness overload photos, in case you’re still on the fence. Every single thing in these photos is available for sale! Thanks so much, everyone, and enjoy this first month of spring!

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The Best Blog Post You’ll Ever Read. Period.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hyperbolic headlines. They plague even the most banal of stories these days.

I can’t scroll through nary a social media feed without reading grabbers similar to these (totally made up by me):

“This puppy walked by a church….and what this grandmother did next will blow your mind.”
“The Ten Most Amazing Habits You Should Always Do for the Rest of Your Life.”
“Five Post-It Note Colors You MUST Have in Your Office Drawer at Work RIGHT NOW.”

I wish I were exaggerating but here is a screen shot pulled from today’s headlines from one of the worst offenders:

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Really? Things I should “NEVER, EVER” say to a teacher? There are “NO” jobs? You want to applaud “for days?”

Words like “always,” “never,” “only, “best,” worst,” and loads of other superlatives pepper hundreds of thousands of posts each and every day, all screaming for clicks and attention. At first, it was kind of novel. The too long headlines, reminiscent of people who write an entire email in the subject line, appeared quirky and stood out.

Then everyone in the free world caught on and instead of being funny or inviting me to click on the article, the tactic simply makes me hate reading anything on the internet. And that sucks, because I love reading, and I enjoy scanning headlines to see what’s actually going on in the world. Don’t make me want to quit you, interwebs. (Which we all know I can’t.)

Look, we all have to make a living, but the creation of these sensationalized headlines for mundane everyday occurrences has become telemarketing for our eyeballs. Can we leave yellow journalism where it belongs–a hundred years in the past?

There is a glimmer of hope. The folks at Google have begun working on this issue; a programmer has created a plugin for Chrome called Downworthy, which takes hyperbolic headlines and translates them into more realistic language.

Examples include “Will Blow Your Mind” converting to “Might Perhaps Mildly Entertain You For a Moment”, “Can’t Even Handle” becoming “Can Totally Handle Without Any Significant Issue”, “Literally” becoming “Figuratively” and “Right Now” becoming “Eventually”.

I can’t say I won’t be downloading that plugin. It’s one creative solution to this pervasive problem, short of authors (“authors”) actually coming up with headlines that are relevant and non-irritating. (You can read more about the plugin on CNET.)

On the other hand, if you’re not completely sick of clickbait, you can take part in this guy’s competition to create the best, most hyperbolic headline: see markpollard.net.

Since I am one of the ones who is completely worn out by the boy-who-cried-wolf compulsive-liar syndrome that is passing for journalism, my plea is simply….STOP IT!

Evolution of a Crochet Cupcake

In case anyone was wondering, cupcakes have still not lost their hypnotic appeal, and are as popular as ever. Even arts and crafts have become dedicated to whipping out these tasty-looking treats.

When I began (furiously) crocheting again, I came across several too cute patterns for cupcakes and had to replicate them immediately. However, crocheting amigurumi is a practice of patience and making things over and over again. In time, once you’ve mastered a few thousand stitches in different variations across different yarns, hook sizes, and stitches, you begin to understand which patterns will suit your crochet style in particular. The beauty of crochet is there appears to be endless ways to be creative with it.

One of the most crucial lessons I learned about myself with making something new, even if I’m really excited about it and am comfortable with all the types of stitches a pattern entails, is that I will typically need to do a practice run first.

Sometimes you get patterns that turn out to be easy peasy and your first attempt comes out perfectly–such is the case with the chocolate Easter bunny I just made.

But perfecting the crochet cupcake turned out to be something I had to make at least five times over before I executed it to my standards.

Here is how my first cupcake looked. It’s okay to giggle. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

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It looks like a cinnamon muffin wearing a pink sombrero.

In this instance, I was quite glad I used leftover beige yarn to practice with, instead of going for the good stuff.

My next attempts looked like this. The frosting is slowly getting better but the cupcakes are leaning to one side and still kinda look like muffins.

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After a few of these, I grew frustrated and tried a different cupcake pattern altogether, just to see if I was a crappy crocheter or what. I made this little guy and added some frosting berries on top:

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Reassured, I tackled the cupcakes again and whatever “it” was finally clicked into place. I added some heavier filler to get it to stand up straight, didn’t overstuff it so it wouldn’t look like a muffin, and got the frosting to look good, as well. Lastly, I tried my hand at sewing on some beads for “sprinkles.” Voilà!

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After finally mastering this deceptively difficult pattern, my goal is to offer some of these for sale in the shop, so stay tuned! The best part about cupcakes is that you can mix and match all different “flavors” and colors, too, so I’m excited to see what I’ll end up with when I get a half dozen or so complete.

Just for emphasis, here’s a side-by-side shot of all the cupcakes from start to finish. It’s not easy to keep trying at something but when you finally succeed, it’s totally worth it.

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