The Girl Behind The Pixelette

Crafting – to some it can be daunting with visions of painted elbow macaroni bonded with Elmer’s School Glue onto construction paper, slapped onto the refrigerator for all to see. To others, like me, it is embraced with wide open arms.  It means opening up a world of creativity whether for yourself or for others; a chance for inspiration, creating, replicating, and gift giving.  If your product is good enough coupled with style and just the right amount of uniqueness, it means making a little cash on the side.  Now, aside from how lucrative anyone’s crafting is, it’s about doing something that you enjoy, something that you wake up and look forward to doing.  Not many people can say that about their jobs nowadays.  I’ve only met a few people in my life that can actually say they enjoy what they do.  Me?  No, not yet.  Believe me, I’m working on it though.  I love crafting, designing, I love to write, I love painting and sketching; I love being creative and love the idea of an end result product that has come from my own hands.  Crafting can be done in a mass variety of ways – fabrics, clay, wreaths, paintings, digital art, refurbishing from old to new; the possibilities are endless.  Thanks to the internet, crafting has just exploded on craft specific websites such as Etsy and Pintrest.  A crafter’s audience is now limitless.

Here is someone I know personally.  I have known her for quite some time; it must be about 7 or 8 years or so?  I’m not even sure; my entire 20s are a complete blur to be honest.

Her name is Patricia Moreno and she is the girl behind The Pixelette – an increasingly popular Etsy shop where you can order custom cake toppers, stationary and illustrations made entirely by her.  It’s digital artistry where elegant meets modern then shakes hands with personal touch.  She has been featured in Buzzfeed and Mom.me which is a phenomenal achievement since there are thousands upon thousands of talented artists and crafters.  I had a chance to ask her some questions that I thought would prove beneficial for those just starting out sprinkled with little gems of wisdom coming from someone that has been in this game for a little longer than others.  Take a minute to read through her responses and if you’re interested in getting into something along these lines, this is the article you need to read and soak it in because this is coming from a pro. Plus, she’s just an absolute cutie inside and out!  LOVE this girl!

The Pixelette

Tell me about how you got into your line of work?

Well, I used to sell vintage through Etsy, but I would always follow these real artistic sellers. I really wanted a shop of my own where I could get crafty as well. So I opened up The Pixelette. I put up some zombie cupcake toppers and some cards I made for my wedding. A customer wrote to me and asked me if I could draw her and her husband as zombie fighters for their wedding, so that was the first one I made. From then on it was mostly collaborations between me and the brides.

What is most rewarding about this; what makes it all worthwhile?

The most rewarding part for me is when I get a customer who loved their topper or drawing. Even when I get a message telling me they love my work and describe what they see in it. It blows my mind that people actually like it.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Probably my stats for this year. I had doubled my orders, revenue, views, by the middle of the year compared to last year. I was so excited and I hope it continues.

Who do you consider most influential to you?

Emily Martin of the Black Apple on Etsy. She was/is my inspiration because I saw her shop back in 2008 and it was just her drawings then. I would read her blog and she had goals of being an illustrator and she has accomplished her goals, even been on Martha Stewart and she did it all through Etsy.

What was it like seeing your creations featured in Buzzfeed and in the article “Our 50 Favorite Etsy Moms” by Mom.me?

I was so excited about the 50 favorite Etsy moms feature. It came at a perfect time too, it was the busiest my shop had ever gotten and I was stressed out by also being a stay at home mom, so it just gave me that little reassurance in myself.  And Buzzfeed, I kept seeing traffic sources from Buzzfeed and when I searched it on my own, I was really happy, and actually relieved it wasn’t on a “fails” or “regretsy” types of list!

What is the most valuable piece of advice you can offer to someone wanting to start an Etsy shop?

I would say make goals, like by Friday I am going to add so many products, try to get so many views and have so many sales by the end of the month. Etsy provides you with stats so you can actively try to reach your goals. And plan ahead. Once you do a year on Etsy you can see which months are going to be good and what you can do for those slow months. It’s helpful to setting goals.

patty

In addition to digital art, what else interests you? What hobbies catch your attention?

I love to bake. I used to love to decorate and try baking different things. But now because of Etsy and the one year old, my baking has been cut to sugar cookies…which is ok for now.

You have two beautiful children – a daughter, 11 months and a son, 3 years, how are you able to manage and maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Lots of help! My husband helps on the weekends and my mom helps when she can. She will even cut for me if I need a break from the work. My husband will make me leave the house to go to the park or to go thrifting, because if it were up to me, I’d probably stay locked in my room all day working on orders. I’ll try to include my son when my daughter naps. I’ll set him up next to me with paper and crayons.

Favorite weekend activity (whether alone or with your family)? 

We do the same thing every weekend, we lounge around in our pjs and watch Netflix, then we’ll get dressed go thrifting, then back home for more Netflix. It’s pretty simple but fun.

What’s your favorite funny story about yourself?

Recently, we went to Sea World and my husband I got on water rollercoaster. I immediately regretted doing that on the way up to the big drop. When we went down, I grabbed the little 12 year old girl next to me instead of my husband to the right of me. When we got off the ride I knew what I had done and my husband reminded me to go and see the photos. I was so humiliated because sure enough I’m grabbing onto this poor girl and it’s documented in a photo somewhere!

What was your favorite toy (or game) as a child, and why?

I’d have to say my Nintendo. I got one right when it came out and even though all of these other game systems would come out I would still play it. When I moved out of my mom’s, I found it and had it hooked up to my TV again! It never really went away!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to draw, like be an illustrator, fashion designer (when I was really little), graphic artist. I was always wanting to do something in that field.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

Probably go back to school and finish my degree.  I’m so close and I would get my Bachelors in Art so that I could learn new skills and maybe actually become a graphic artist.

There you have it, folks. She’s so very down to earth and just an all-around cool lady.  Links to her shop and articles have been included here in this post.  If you have a wedding coming up and looking for a personal touch, visit her Etsy shop and browse!  Everything she’s featured in her shop is so visually pleasing to the eye. Her creations are just amazing and cute and inspiring.  I’m actually thinking of remarrying my husband all over again *just* to have these cake toppers and invitations made by her.  Thank you for reading, cheers!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/perfectly-adorable-ways-include-your-pet-in-your-wedding

http://mom.me/style/14251-our-50-favorite-etsy-moms/item/thepixelette/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThePixelette

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The Only Cure for Hiccups You Will Ever Need

Ladies and gentlemen – I, of course, like many, have occasionally suffered through what feels like hours of torturous involuntary body jerking, feeling exhausted, thinking and saying out loud “oh my God, I just want this to stop” and “will this ever go away”, all this otherwise known as the dreaded hiccups.

I’m not going to make you read through this entire article by building up suspense on what the cure is.  I don’t even know if this method is online anywhere, I don’t think it is.  I can just open up a new tab and Google it but I assume it isn’t online because I think word would’ve spread rapidly through the masses.  I don’t know if it this just works on a few certain people or not.  But here it is:  the cure for hiccups is one, big, fat tablespoon of honey.  Yes, you read correctly, it’s H-O-N-E-Y.  Honey – pure and simple.

On two separate occasions, I have managed to cure the hiccups on two different people.

First occasion – my lovely, handsome and gorgeous (he’s gorgeous inside and out) husband.  When he drinks beer, hiccups ensue.  Regardless of the method in which the hiccups develop, there they are.  Relentless, torturous, and unpleasant. He rolls around in discomfort (as men do) wishing for them to disappear.  Poor guy.  So, judging from what I do know about said annoyance – it was explained to me in a random conversation during my Honors Literature class in high school.  A disruption or irritation in the diaphragm occurs causing the gasp for air.  The reasons for the disruption are eating too fast, nervousness, excitement, ect…  One of the common known remedies in controlling and/or possibly ceasing the hiccups is holding your breath.  There is a strategic manner is which you are to hold your breath by envisioning your diaphragm, taking in as much air as possible and “holding it down” while engaging your abdomen.  One or two hiccups should pass while holding your breath this way and that should take care of it and put it to bed.  If not, just repeat until gone.  This was a rather difficult concept for him to grasp for some strange reason given how intelligent my husband is, but, nevertheless, it didn’t work for him the countless number of times he’s been coached through the “hold your breath” method.  About a month ago, the hiccups reared its ugly face yet again and because of the irritation in the throat or stomach that triggers the diaphragm disruption, I thought to myself, a nice thick coating of honey should help that out.  After the unnecessary debate, he finally gave in, lo and behold… they were gone almost instantly.  I don’t know if it truly is the coating of the honey or the anticipation of the taste of the honey (he just does not like the taste) or even maybe him holding his breath while he placed the spoon in his mouth and swallowed it in a certain way – who knows.  Point is, it worked.

The second occasion was the same basic concept but from eating a lunch too quickly.  Hiccups gone almost instantly.  I will not bore you, nor myself, with that story.

I hope that anyone reading this finds relief and some help in this.  I hope it wasn’t a stroke of luck.  If anyone happens to read this and it does or does not work, please leave a comment with your experience and whether it worked or not.  I’m very curious to know!

Thanks for reading!  Cheers!

My Grandfather and the Axe

This was a very memorable life lesson and the method in which it was communicated to me was perfect.  It was taught with patience, understanding, the right amount of urgency, and above all else – kindness and respect.  This was a lesson taught to me by my grandfather about nature and that it should always be respected.  Whether he knows this or not, it was one of the five greatest lessons I have learned in my life thus far.  I love him so much for that – among the many other reasons that make a grandfather a really great one.

In 1984, I was 5 years old.  I developed a strong, close bond with my grandparents.  So strong, in fact, that I did not and could not go a day without them and their company.  I began staying the night at their house and I cannot remember if it was only during the weekends or on weekdays as well.  Nevertheless, this particular memory took place on a Saturday morning.  I know this for a fact since my grandfather got up early every Saturday to do the yard work for our ritual Saturday barbecues.  Till this day, I cannot understand why people here (in San Antonio, at least) barbecue on Sundays.  I associate all barbecues with lots of beer and margaritas and a gathering of family and friends.  If the same holds true for those that choose to barbecue on a Sunday, assuming people drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages, do they not wake up hung over on Monday morning with instantaneous regret; therefore, ruining what could possibly become a pleasant work day?  I dunno, it’s something I’ve never understood.  In any case, the smell of barbecue wafting into my open windows on any day is welcomed with open arms… and windows, in my case.  I’m sure it’s nothing more than a husband/dad type simply barbecuing to provide a hot meal for his family.

All right! Back to my grandparents…

I finished my bowl of Frosted Flakes while Looney Tunes animated the living room.  There were only two kinds of cereal in that kitchen – Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes and I never chose the latter.  It was spring when the air is still cool but the warm, bright sun provided unforgettable balance.  My grandfather had just finished mowing the lawn and he was kneeling down transferring grass clippings into the aluminum dented silver trash cans.  Not plastic trash bins but actual trash cans.  Those were the days, huh?  His Saturday apparel consisted of  jeans, a white t-shirt with a left-side pocket carrying his Marlboro Lights Soft-pack and a fishing hat.  He still has lots of those hats in an assortment of colors and I absolutely love that he wears them even in present day.  As I made my way onto the freshly cut grass, we said good morning to each other.  I noticed Grandpa had an arsenal of lawn tools strewn about the yard – a long tree pruner, a few axes, a rake, shovel and the gas + oil mix edger.  He kept that yard so manicured and it was gorgeous.  Perfectly pruned and sculpted trees swayed in the sky above my head accompanied by plush, green St. Augustine grass from fence to fence.  Of all those tools, my eye darted to the axe.  I had always wanted to get my little hands on one and swing it into a tree or something – anything! I was so curious to see what the fuss was all about.  At that point in my life, there were two things – good and bad.  An axe  was obviously bad and could do some serious damage both to its purpose and as a weapon. I remember picking it up and surprised at its weight. I aimed for the trunk and as much as my little wimpy muscles would allow, I swung.  The axe (versus my strength or lack thereof) chipped off the bark revealing green skin. I peered in closer trying to understand and make sense of what I had uncovered.  I felt the axe being removed from my loose grip.  In his voice I detected worry sprinkled with a little bit of fear of what would’ve happened.  He proceeded to tell me, “No no no, Lisa.  You have to be careful with this.  This axe here can hurt you.  Do you see what happened,” he pointed at the green skin, “you hurt the tree with the axe.  You hurt its feelings.”   I stood there confused.  I never thought of trees having feelings or a heart or lungs or even a personality.  Feelings?  Inside a tree?!  I felt really sad that I did that to a living thing.  My grandfather proceeded to tell me that in addition to trees and plants having feelings, they take care of us.  They feed our lungs and make the world, the parks and our backyard pretty to look at.  He stated that as long as I take care of the plants and trees, they will take care of me.  He, of course, put the tools back into his tool shed and I went on to bounce around the yard with my conscience newly alert.

The biggest part of this lesson is how he communicated with me.  I was a child that grabbed and held an axe.  He did not yell at me which I was very used to from my mother and father. I can understand why an adult would yell at a child with an axe because of the what-ifs and the severity of injuries that could potentially occur; the panic a parent experiences when they see their little baby hold something so destructive.  But that was not the case… not even close.  I didn’t have a scratch on me and my grandfather did not yell at me.  He never did.  Even at 5 years old, he respected me in the sense that I didn’t know any better and he did not make me feel like a stupid kid.  That is what stands out to me.  I respect him so much because of this and many other instances but this is the first time I understood him and listened to his words without being yelled at and forced.  I know I keep reiterating respect and how he didn’t yell at me.  You would have to understand my upbringing by my father and mother.  They just yelled at me so much.  My father forced me to respect him by yelling partnered with a furrowed brow and gritted teeth.  I thought this was absolute normalcy.  My mother was a toned down version of this but she did yell at me, not the situation – at me.  I felt like a huge burden and like I was in the way all the time.  That’s another post for the future, I suppose.

I know my grandfather will never read this and that’s okay.  During that time, he was about 45 years old making him 75 as of today.  He will be turning 76 in 22 days.  Any probability of him navigating through the interwebs to my little blog  (let alone touching a keyboard) is highly unfavorable. Maybe it will be read aloud to him someday; who knows.  I will always carry this memory and the feeling of mutual respect for him, from him and toward nature until I die.  I can’t even pull off a blade of grass or pull a leaf off a tree without feeling this weird, subconscious nagging sense that I did something wrong immediately followed by guilt.  Like I pulled off a part of their body… like a hair or something.

THE Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

As the title implies, this is THE (pronounce it as “thee”) ultimate in chocolate buttercream frosting.  I’ve searched endlessly for a recipe like this for a few months.  I’ve come across many that are certainly tasty but not quite like this.

Her name is Alice Currah.  As her “About Me” section of Savorysweetlife.com states, she is the cook, baker, writer and photographer for the website.  She is also the author of Savory Sweet Life, a book featuring 100 recipes that I’m desperate to feast my eyes on.  Now, this link includes step by step instructions with images and examples of the frosting.  I, along with a couple of other eager bakers, have found that the end result does not turn out as brown/dark as her images.  Not saying that this is a bad thing at all.  Mine came out a little pale in comparison; it might be the cocoa powder I used or my method, I am not completely sure.  In any case, I highly doubt the lucky person consuming it will sit there hand-over-chin critiquing the outcome of your frosting.  If that person chooses to judge and criticize, snatch the dessert from their hand.  They don’t deserve to taste it.

The recipe is short, simple and easy to follow.  It makes 3 cups – enough to frost 24 cupcakes but I do not like to pipe a huge mountain of frosting on top of my cupcakes.  You may want to make 1 + .5 of the recipe or even double it if you like a little cupcake with your frosting.  In addition to this amazing buttercream, there are dozens of recipes that look just absolutely tasty and worth a browse.  Bourbon Bacon Jam? I am salivating over the photo. I took a quick peek at the recipe and again, it is short, simple and appears to be easy to follow.  I say that because I’m a pretty experienced baker.  The webpage containing the recipe features lots of great images and technique.  I have included the link to the recipe on her website and also pasted the recipe below.  I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

http://savorysweetlife.com/2011/04/chocolate-buttercream-frosting/

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
 Author: Savory Sweet Life
Recipe type: Dessert
 Prep time:  2 mins
Cook time:  3 mins
Total time:  5 mins
Serves: 3 cups
A simple recipe for classic chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfect for frosting cakes, cookies, brownies, or cupcakes.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.