Talent in the Bluegrass

I have been busy for the month of April, as most of you know, moving from one house to another and it has been a while since I posted. I am taking time now to say we are moved and loving our new rural farm-house. I want to write more and post pictures soon.

This post will be short, but I wanted to call attention to my fabulous Etsy team, Team Bluegrass! This is a group of wonderful artists and craftsmen that specialize in everything from soap, to pottery, to jewelry, to garden decor, and everything in between. There are currently 139 members throughout the state. Everything we make is crafted by hand. (With a smattering of vintage items here and there.)

Making a purchase on Etsy is as simple as any other online site for one of the megastores, except when you purchase from someone on Etsy, you are purchasing from a small business, and if they are a Team Bluegrass member, your dollars go right back into our local Kentucky economy! There is something for everyone and many items are surprisingly affordable. Why not stay at home and have an original, made-with-love item delivered to you instead of going through the hoopla of Wally World only to feel like just another number running your stuff through the self check line and wondering if the quality is really there? Think about it.

For those of you who have not yet discovered Etsy: www.etsy.com

You can browse without a profile, and if you find something you love (and I’m sure you will) the site will walk you through a very simple, free sign up so you can purchase items through PayPal with your credit card, or some vendors (such as myself) have a pay with money order option.

In the Etsy search bar, you can type in any search word to find exactly what you’re looking for, but type in teambluegrass (all one word, our team search tag) and you can browse literally hundreds of items made here in Kentucky. Birthdays, holidays, just because days, a treat for yourself, or just something you have been needing, they are all covered!

Team Bluegrass is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/kentuckyhandmade

We recently decided to create a team coupon code good in many of the Team Bluegrass shops on Etsy. Using this code at checkout will take 10% off your purchase order. You just type BLUEGRASS10 into the coupon code box upon checkout and your order is automatically adjusted. This is our first team code and is expected to run quarterly. This particular code will be available to anyone on every order until July 1, 2011. Below is a list of the shops currently offering this code in their shop, but we expect this list to change and grow as our team grows and as we get feedback on the popularity of this endeavor.

Skyeblue85, Glasgow KY – that would be me! Original works of art that “regular” people can afford. I specialize in wall decor, original paintings, home decor items, ect.
The Loop Designs, Frankfort KY – Quilts, bags, pillows, and fabric goods for your home.
Whimsy Beading, Lexington KY – Whimsy in beadweaving jewelry.
SeeSpace, Frankfort KY – Jewelry, stencil goods, appliques.
Bluebirdheaven, Louisville KY – The original printer drawer jewelry displays.
Lexigirlcreations, Lexington KY – Eclectic, unusual, steam punk, and everyday jewelry creations.
CreativeEyeStudio, Louisville KY – Handcrafted, unique beaded jewelry and greeting cards.
Earth Aria, Florence KY – Unique custom gem, pearl, and bridal jewelry.
Sweet Pea Murals, Florence KY – Custom painted wall murals, decorative borders, and room decor for kids.
Jorgensenstudio, Louisville KY – Stacking and promise rings, engagement and wedding jewelry.
Stephaniemakesall, Bowling Green Ky – Crochet and knit items, journals, soap savers, boot anklets, a variety.
Glory Be Herbals, Lexington KY – Natural bath and beauty products, essential oils, soap, lip balm, lotions.
Charlotart, Louisville KY – Exciting home decor and mixed media art form repurposed items.
Cafecharlot (Jackie Charlot) – Charlotart’s sister shop consisting of vintage items.
Jdbeaner1, Louisville Ky – Baubles by Jill, unique jewelry creations.
Hotoffthelathe, Louisville KY – Beautiful word working, pepper mills, duck calls, deer grunt calls.
JASaromatics, Lexington KY – essential oils, soap, perfumes, bath and body items.
As most of my readers know, I’m a firm believer in supporting small and local businesses. I think the megastores have taken away some of our American heritage. Our country was founded on free enterprise. Mom and Pop stores used to be the beating heart of the American economy. Great products at fair prices, yes, but also relationships and outstanding customer service. You’ll find that by exploring the different Etsy shop profiles, each owner has a unique story and drive behind their online store. Most are very committed to making every purchase feel like a personal experience. You would think an online purchase would be about as impersonal as it gets, but I have found through personal experience that my Etsy purchases are much better experiences than every purchase experience I’ve ever had at the megastores or other online stores. There are message options right on Etsy where you can communicate directly with the seller and almost everybody is awesome about answering questions about their products and working with you to customize your order.
I think I’ve said as much as I can say, I’d rather you just check out these awesome shops for yourself! 🙂

Thinking For Yourself Part 1: Our Economy

I look around every day and see a horrible epidemic in America that scares me and makes me sick. It is not obesity, or cancer, or heart disease. In fact, it is worse than all of these because it is a root to these problems and many more including the declining economy, global warming, and poor lifestyles.

I look around and see millions of people who have stopped thinking for themselves.

T.V., newspapers, doctors, pop culture, the internet, and even blogs like this have made it very easy for Americans to stop thinking for themselves and just keep listening to the most popular opinion among the general public. After all, “if so many people say so, it must be true. ”

Let me describe for you a time in history when political and religious leaders told the masses what to think. One of the most powerful government systems in history crumbled as the masses stopped thinking for themselves and the privileged few made all the decisions. They made laws according to their own advancement and gain, suppressing the populace by dumbing them down until your average person just plodded along in life with no real goal other than daily living and serving their tyrannical leaders. There was no creativity, just a lot of people who worked harder and harder for less and less return.

You say, “I know this period in history.” Do you really? Am I describing the Dark Ages … or modern-day America.

At this point, there are many of you who are laughing and thinking I’m crazy. Let me stop you right there. First, I will point out that this post is not designed to get you to side with me. I do not need a following to give credit to my words or point of view. This post is a plea from a fellow, concerned American to clear your head, remove all the preconceived notions, the headlines, the things you’ve been told your whole life, and have an original thought. Life itself depends on it.

The second thing I want to point out right here in the beginning is I am not going to receive any kind of monetary gain if you read this. I don’t get paid to say this, in fact, I don’t receive any kind of compensation other than the hope that these words might take root in a few hearts and spread as effectively as the lies you are told every day.

American Economy. To fix our economy you can’t just treat symptoms, you have to get at the root of the problem. Let’s go back to when things were good. What were we doing when our economy was strong and our nation was growing? Back in the  40’s and 50’s we had a generation who had come from the poverty of the Great Depression and had a wish to make life better not just for themselves, but for their kids. People were not afraid of physical labor, lack of convenience, or even fighting a war over seas to insure that their kids would grow up in freedom  and have more than what they had as children. Mom and Pop businesses were prevalent, small communities helped and supported one another. There was no Super Wal-mart, there was no obesity problem.

Today, we shop at super stores, one stop shops boasting ease and convenience, but at a high price. Giving our money to giant corporations leaves less for the independent business. Farmers suffer as taxes and increased regulations make it impossible to profit off their crops. Slowly, the small-time farmers are diminishing as competing with bigger operations becomes more difficult. As they let go of their multigenerational livelihood, jobs decrease but the demand for them climbs at double speed as their children no longer inherit family land and equipment. Starting from scratch for a small farmer is virtually impossible these days.

This ugly situation is compounded by the people. Since it is easier to run to Wal-mart, farmer’s markets are little more than novelties. The average American does not even know what a farmer’s market really is, let alone know where to find one, how to use it to their advantage, and realize the chain of benefits this resource holds.

We have a little farmer’s market here in Bowling Green, not even the biggest one I’ve ever been to. It’s modest at best, open in the spring and summer months one or two days a week for several hours each day. I like to think I am a very down-to-earth kind of girl, I can garden and get my hands dirty, but I didn’t even realize all the wonderful products that were available at our farmer’s market, all in one little place – for a great price! In addition to truly flavorful produce and fruit, (unlike the tasteless, nutrition free, wax and cardboard produce at the mega stores ) there were hand crafted goods, local wines, home-made jams and jellies, home canned pickles and preserves, artisan cheeses, and much more. After spending twenty dollars, I walked away with more and better quality items than the mega marts could ever provide, and I also had the wonderful feeling that my money was actually supporting my local economy, my friends and neighbors right in Bowling Green. As an independent artist, I can appreciate this because these are the people who in turn will support me by purchasing my products.  It’s kind of like investing.

Many people think of the Derby and Bourbon when they think about Kentucky. Some might go so far as to envision tobacco and hay. Not many realize we have wineries, cheese makers, mushroom farms, great independent restaurants, craftsmen, artists, beautiful land with all kinds of natural resources, amazing hospitality, and the list just goes on and on. Research these local places of interest and make it a point to patronize them the next time a need arises instead of the convenient mega stores. You will be surprised how many items get checked off your list. You will be surprised how your lifestyle will change, your diet will improve, your community will prosper, and many other little perks will be enjoyed if you stay consistent and gradually get into the habit of supporting local economy. What’s more, our national economy will steadily improve. More jobs will be created as demand for these products increases. Our children will have a brighter future.

This is not just for Kentucky. There are local products throughout our country, some unique to that particular region. Take advantage of these blessings! You know much better than me what is available in your area – or you should. Challenge yourself, and start small, to make one change and stick with it. When that becomes second nature, add another change to your lifestyle that will help not only you, but your neighbors, then just keep going. I am committed to shopping for all my produce from the farmer’s market from now on. I refuse to buy fruit and vegetables from any mega store or super market. Here in Kentucky, we are blessed with stubborn vendors that set up their truck and a sign on the side of the road in rural and suburban areas to sell sweet corn, melons, tomatoes, you name it. It is not very difficult to find a good source of local produce in the summer.

“But, I can’t cook…” or ” I don’t know how to use that stuff…”  Well shame on you! That is just another excuse that doesn’t hold water. All you have to do is Google “How to cook corn” and you will get 5 million different websites with recipes and knowledge for every level of expertise. The “I can’t” and “It’s not convenient” attitudes are the reason our economy is in such bad shape. Do not be that person that waits for the government to swoop in and tell you what to do or think. Your brain is an amazing organ, use it.

This is just my first idea of how to remedy our declining economy. There are so many more out there just waiting for people who will think outside the box. One thing is certain, you can’t wait for somebody to fix this problem. This is your problem, you fix it. Don’t just be another person sitting around complaining about the bad economy and then get up and buy your week of processed dinners at Wal-mart. As with any problem, it will take time and effort to fix, but if we don’t get started now, then it will never begin.

Please leave a comment here for me and others to see your original idea on how to make a real difference. I would love to know there is somebody out there who also cares about the world our kids are going to live in.