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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Sunday Morning in the Ripper House

So, as I finish cooking and all of the boys come to the table. They are served and everyone is ooohhing and aaahhing about how good it looks... {And yes, that photo is mine, my french toast, YUM!} Anyway, Michael stops and says, "Wait, we should take a picture. You can blog about it." So my oldest son Seth, sits not so patiently as Michael snaps a few shots, I take the camera from him and snap another. Seth says, "Are you done? Can I eat it now?" We laugh. This is a usual Sunday morning in the Ripper house. After my divorce and having joint custody (my ex husband is the primary residential parent) of my three oldest, I have learned to appreciate the mundane. I love to cook for them. French toast, chocolate chip pancakes, whatever they want. A task I used to consider a chore is now a joy. The things you take for granted...


Monday, March 30, 2009

Sitting in a Parking Lot

I am sitting in a parking lot typing this blog entry. It is only 10:25 in the morning. Michael and I met a notary earlier to sign the lease on the studio and gallery. Michael went to work (it is his last week working in the gallery in NC). Quinn and I drove to the county offices because not only do we need to file a business license with the city, which I did in November, but we also have to file a business license with the county. After filing with the county, Quinn and I drove back, stopping at apartment for a diaper change. We loaded back into the car to go back before the notary to sell a piece of property. That is where I am now. Sitting in the parking lot while he naps in the car, waiting to meet the buyer and exchange the deed for a cashier's check. After that, I have to drive to downtown Kingsport to meet Cindy Saadeh, to exchange the lease agreements and give her deposit and lease payment. AND after that (busy day, huh?), I have to go to the insurance agency to write a check for our business property insurance... Then, I will be running Quinn home to meet the sitter, so I can go to work my 3-11 shift. Whew!

I am sharing some pictures that were actually taken LAST weekend of the studio/gallery and the loft. We had three youngest with us when we walked through. As you can see, the boys were being quite silly.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blog Organization

I pride myself in being very detail oriented. I am a planner. My husband says I am obsessive. But he loves me anyway! We are opposites, complimenting each other. So, it is time to ORGANIZE this blog. Now, in organizing, I will allow for flexibility. I will blog about whatever I am inspired to blog about. I mean, that is what blogging is all about, right? But to help with blogging ideas and maybe to work ahead a bit, I will attempt to follow this schedule:

Monday: Weekly update studio/gallery/loft
Tuesday: personal/family post
Wednesday: Etsy feature
Thursday: Photography feature
Friday: New product info
Saturday: Something I learned this week...
Sunday: Something I am grateful for...

So, being that it is Sunday, I am grateful for... A hard working husband. My husband has MANY very admirable traits. But with my grateful posts, I want to be VERY specific. Today, he, Seth (I am thankful for him too, but that is another post), and our neighbor friend, Patrick, spent the day moving equipment to its final destination, well, almost its final destination. But if I get too far into that, I will be getting into tomorrow's post. :) Michael is very hard working, and even when he is "off" of work, he is active. I love it. I love him. I appreciate all he does for me and our family.


Friday, March 27, 2009


I have got to take a moment to blog about a fellow Etsian that I have been a recent customer of. She follows my blog, I follow hers. And I am always looking for new things to blog about, why not blog about fellow bloggers? Okay, I am rambling...

Caroline is also a fellow Etsian, mother, and the list could go on. From the perspective of a customer, I can say I was/am still completely satisfied with her products. She was GREAT to work with. I loved the items in her shop, but wanted custom colors. I had a lot of fun working with her and am ECSTATIC about the final outcome. The designs are meticulous, unique, fun. I can't say enough GOOD things about her, her communication skills, and the TALENT!

Learn more about Caroline from her blog brightcaroline. And visit her Etsy shop bright. Below are pictures of our Quinn in bright's creations. Needless to say, I will be buying more. I just love my little "q" :)

Oh, and Caroline, the new Blogger/Google widget freaks me out too.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meet Seth

I thought I'd blog about each of my sons. The oldest three are from my first marriage, and Michael and I have Quinn.

So, I will start with my oldest, Seth. He is 17 years old. He is a Junior in high school. He is very athletic and a great student. He is a GREAT kid overall! He is smart and practical. He is an outgoing teen and will talk to an adult with confidence. I am a proud mama. I am blessed because he is healthy and hasn't been in any real trouble. He plays football and runs track. He played basketball until this year, and I miss seeing him on the court. Several colleges are seeking him out including Princeton and Richmond. He wants get a pre-med/health degree and says he wants to go on to be a pharmacist. He and his dad just got back from an unofficial visit from Richmond. He has been dating a sweet, beautiful girl, Megan for going on almost a year now. He loves his baby brother, Quinn, which thrills me to death. I thought the age difference would make a BIG difference, but it hasn't. Below is a photo collage. I will share one of each of my sons. I feel like pictures say way more than words ever could...

All elements in the photo/layout above were made by me when I was a digital scrapbook designer at There are many talented artists there and I highly recommend checking them out!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Originally uploaded by Janine King Designs

I stumbled across this Etsy shop tonight at work by using the Pounce feature. I would love to have a stylish laptop bag such as this. What do you think? Visit Janine King Designs at Etsy or look at her Flickr photostream. So many designs! So many fabrics! I like the padded laptop tote bag too. There are also laptop sleeves, Kindle bags, totes, other accessories. I am in love! Hmmm... What to buy? This sure would be handy walking from loft to gallery... With a matching ___(fill in the blank)___.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Help with Packaging

We had an order that we shipped out on Saturday. Usually, Michael takes the cutting boards to work to package and ships via UPS. Well, this time he brought packaging material home to ship out via USPS on Saturday. We recycle packaging material whenever possible, and Michael has easy access to boxes and bubble wrap from the gallery where he currently works in Banner Elk, NC.

Sometimes, I wonder why we, as parents, even spend money on toys :) when a roll of packing tape, old box, and used bubble wrap will more than suffice and entertain. Oh, and excuse the dirty face and floppy socks, just downtime at the house. Real life with the Rippers. Living our art!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!

It's officially here, but brrrrr! Quinn and I just saw Michael off to work, and while we stood at the door and waved goodbye the weather was noted to be cold and foggy, not very Spring-like at all. And as I watched (the Backyardigans are on via DVD now) The Today Show, it is snowing in NYC. Happy Spring!

Last night, I was browsing some items by searching "Easter" on Etsy. I am trying to plan ahead for Easter baskets and gifts. These are some of my VERY cute finds:

..::Neen Jah the Buhn Nee::..
I actually like BlissForest's other Easter bunnies, especially Grassy. You can even have them monogrammed! But, it isn't about me and what I like... My boys would LOVE the ninja bunny.

..::Recycled Easter Egg Crayons::..
I have bought from sleepysillys before for Valentine's Day, so I can PERSONALLY recommend her products.

..::Chick Soap::..
There are a lot of ADORABLE soaps on Etsy for Spring and Easter, but my issue with them is that they look good enough to eat. I don't need my children eating their soap. This is a bar of soap covered in felt. Functional and festive!

..::Cherry Blossom Cards::..
I like supporting original artists, so instead of buying a card that looks like it is made with store-bought scrapbook paper, why don't you buy original art? These cards are made by thecraftpantry and featured are her own digital drawings. Very cool.

You could also send/give an ACEO, but that is another post for another day...


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Michael's Studio

This past weekend, when we walked through the loft, we actually walked through Michael's studio and our future gallery first. The studio/gallery will be finished before our loft. We may even be moving in to the studio next weekend (March 28).

So the first picture is the outside. Where there is plastic, there are windows. They removed the paint from the exterior exposing the building's original brick. They are accenting with dry stack stone. The second photo is in Michael's studio. You can see the original tin ceiling and amazing entrance from the outside with windows to the ceiling. The third picture is taken from INSIDE Michael's studio looking into the gallery. Pictured is the building owner and artist Cindy Saadeh. She has an Etsy shop and a separate web site She will also have a studio on the other side of Michael's studio in the back of the building. The carpenter was putting shelves into niches that were old windows that had been bricked up. In the final photo you see me and Quinn in the foreground watching the carpenter. You can really see the color of the brick. You can also see how they've painted the tin ceiling black. The last major thing needing to be finished is the acid staining of the concrete flooring and then we can begin to move in. This is how close the studio/gallery is to our loft:

See the yellow pins? The loft and studio/gallery are actually on the same city block! We are so excited! It is almost surreal that the time has arrived to begin planning to move in! Wow!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Etsy GREEN

To help you celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I found these items with a quick search of "green." Enjoy!

If you want to read more about the history of St. Patrick's Day, go to I found this beautiful photo on

Please feel free to post your GREEN Etsy items in your comment!


Monday, March 16, 2009

This Weekend's Loft Update

Me, Michael and Quinn spent Friday in downtown Kingsport. We met with the owner of the building where our studio and (future) gallery will be. We met with the bank regarding our small business loan. We also took the time to stop by neighboring merchants after getting lunch at The Kingsport Grocery Company. We met neighboring artist (she has her studio on the same city block) Suzanne Barrett Justice. We also went by the loft to check progress. We met the project forman who walked us through the space.

Since we had walked through last, the ceiling studs/joists were moved opening up the ceiling more. The ceiling studs/joists were moved opening up the ceiling more. You can see the finished effect in the first photo. The framing is almost complete! We now have a better sense of size. We both realize that on paper the space seemed bigger than in reality. The loft is over 1300 square feet, but it feels smaller than we imagined. You can see the curve of the walls. This is one of our favorite features. Tomorrow I will post pictures of the studio and gallery. The studio and gallery space will be finished before the loft. The loft and the building that the studio and gallery are in are on the same city block, just around the corner. Maybe I can Google Earth it and show you tomorrow. Click on picture to see larger.

Please look at the weekend's posts. New products posted! Leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another Center Cut!

This board is handmade by Michael, and pieces of wood are handpicked by Michael to emphasize natural beauty and contain knots and curl. This board is made from solid, mineral stained {by nature}, wormy aka ambrosia maple {if you look closely, you will see a few bird's eyes} with two handles made from black walnut! This piece has very unique markings in the wood. Dimensions are approximately 9.5" by 15.5" without handle, 23.5" long with handles, and 3/4" thick. Hole in the center is approximately 4 1/4 by 1 1/4 inches.

"What?!" You may exclaim, "You want me to buy a cutting board with a HOLE in it?!" Well, the hole serves a purpose. You can place your cutting board on top of your pot or bowl and rake ingredients into it THROUGH THAT HOLE! No more messy stoves or countertops! The two handled design also makes it the perfect size to place over your sink. Add the convenience of the hole in the center, and you can quickly and easily scrape food into a colander or your waste into the garbage disposal! Very clever, if I can brag on my husband and his ORIGINAL design.

To see more photos, go the the listing page:


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Recycled Walk in the Woods Merino Wool Neckwear

I loved working with this yarn. I'm sad I can't buy more. Definitely one of a kind! Made from this beautiful recycled merino wool yarn by play at life fiber arts called "Walk in the Woods." The name and colors of the yarn inspired the design. Three individual pieces which can be worn together or separate. One is a long, thin, double crochet scarf. The second is a twisted spiral, simiar to a vine of sorts. The third is a freeform leaf design so intricate that there is a center vein raised up on each leaf. These three pieces make a fantastic combination of textures.

This piece is ready to ship. Crochet by me. Individualize and show off your style! Wear not only as a scarf, but also as a headband or belt. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cute {Recycled} Find

Looking at recycled, repurposed, upcycled, eco-friendly products on Etsy, I found VintageRetro's notepads/notebooks. What a neat idea! VintageRetro has some specials going on. For the month of March, she is offering free lip scrub with purchase and free shipping if you spend $20 or more. VintageRetro is a new shop, having just opened in February. So support a new Etsian! If you don't make a purchase, visit her shop and send a convo. Share the Etsy love!

As a mother of four, I also think creating recycled notebooks/notepads would be an excellent craft for kids to try. It teaches repurposing, creativity, and thinking "outside the box." I know my Jacob would just LOVE it. After making, they can, in turn, give as a gift to a grandmother or teacher.

For our latest recycled product, check out yesterday's post. Also, to read our Green Statement, go to our Shop Policies and scroll down.


Go Green!

Sorry to have skipped yesterday's post, but I took a much needed computer vacation! Now, back to blogging...

This is what we are all about! Michael loves to re-purpose whenever possible, and here is an example. He saw this amazing wood from a shipping crate at work. He thought he could make some very cool cutting boards (yes, we have more than one) from it...

This board is made from an unknown exotic wood (sometimes referred to as "jungle wood"). It is very lightweight. There are very cool nail marks on the back (seen in last picture). Handmade by Michael and hand finished with 100% food safe exotic nut oil. The board pictured is the one you are purchasing. It measures 13" by 4 3/4" and 5/8" thick. Perfect size for use as a sandwich board! Or if you'd rather, use it as a display board. Place candles or incense on it. Decorative and functional!
If you'd like to see the listing on Etsy, click on photo. If you'd like to see the listing on ArtFire, click here. See affordable price and more pictures!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Etsy Resources

Cool and easy way to see if you are currently featured in a treasury. Craftopolis:

I am still figuring this site out, but it looks like it has some cool resources.

Craftcult has an easy way to see your hearts. I like to see the trend of hearts per day.

If anyone can shed some light on etsyfeeder, I'd appreciated it. I can't get my favorites to show up?

Let's Ets has an awesome, quick, easy way to upload your entire shop to Google base.

We've yet to be Etsy feature on Feasty, but it could be that We've not been featured.

I just found this site, too. Joined, but haven't browsed around much or made myself at home yet.

There is also a site called Craft Juice. I have not been able to determine what kind of help this would provide. I need to scope it out some more.

My major complaint is there is so much to do... Listing, promoting, blogging, renewing... There isn't enough time in the day! And you know what I went and did last night... Registered on ArtFire!!!! What in the WORLD am I thinking? Not to mention our future brick and mortar store/gallery. ACK! I'm just asking for it, huh?

So, any other Etsy resources out there? Any tips, comments, suggestions?


Monday, March 9, 2009

Zachary Michael Cruz

Not sure if my readers have heard about this, so I wanted to do my part to get the word out. As a mother of four boys, I cannot imagine (nor do I want to try to imagine) what it would be like to lose a son. This story touched my heart.

Zachary Michael Cruz
March 12, 2003 - February 27, 2009
Zachary Michael Cruz

Read about Zachary at his web site.

The family needs help with funeral costs (which I believe were this weekend). Etsians are coming together to help. Check out the thread in the forum here. Oh, and I just found this blog, keeping a current list of shops donating a portion of their sales to Zachary's fund.

A special thanks to Lori at The Dirty Lowdown. I first read about Zachary there.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don't You Just LOVE Puppies?!?

I have a coworker/friend, Becky, who on occasion helps me by babysitting Quinn if his regular sitter is unavailable. Becky is genuinely sweet and helpful. I am grateful to have her as a friend. Lately when she's been babysitting, she has brought her puppy Doc along with her. He is going to be a big dog! A mix of breeds including Mastiff. He has an amazingly mellow temperament and is very smart.

Becky arrived early one day to keep Quinn with Doc in tow. She went out to walk him while I was washing some bottles before going to work. My phone rings. It is Becky. A little confused, I answer, "Hello?" She says, "I wish you'd bring your camera out here and take some pictures of him." And so I did. If these don't make you feel all warm inside, I don't know what will. :)


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Following My Shadow

So cute... Look at the curls, even in the shadow! Just had to share. We are blessed to have Quinn and all of our boys. :)


Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Another Treasury!

What a wonderful thing to wake to this morning! I got a convo from Irith/RioRita letting me know that I was in her treasury. Please, check it out! To make a treasury "hot" leave a comment and visit each shop featured. Also, take a look at RioRita's! She does amazing jewelry work. Pictured here is on of my favorites. Take the time to read her bio. What a dreamy place that she lives and works. Thank you Irith!

She featured my Fuzzy Flower Crochet Necklace. This necklace is made from recycled handspun yarn that I purchased from CRAFTY. Treasury's direct link:


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Common is defined by as "belonging equally to, or shared alike by, two or more or all in question: common property; common interests." I have recently met an amazing Etsian. Of course, our "meeting" was only online, through Etsy convos, but I am truly inspired. It is a great feeling, indescribable really, to meed someone who has achieve success doing what you, one day, hope to do yourself. I should say that in first person. Kate has achieved success doing what I hope one day to do myself. Live our art!

She, in her shop's announcement says, "Welcome to the Radical Thread Co where art is our full time income and way of life. Where family and career meet, where the kids are underfoot and learning is unstructured and free!" I was immediately intrigued! Kate is where I so want to be!

Michael and I, living together, working together, creating together, loving together, inspiring together, teaching together, making our art our way of life. Raising the boys in a respectful, loving, creative environment. I wish it could happen overnight. I know it is a choice, but it is also a process. As someone (another Etsian) said, be patient little one... And although she was speaking in reference to something totally unrelated... Her words still echo in my head. Thanks Anhoki. :)


Degrees of Separation

Vaguely familiar with Six Degrees of Separation, I had to do some reading on Wikipedia. Did you know that there is a web site "bringing social conscience to social networking" and a Facebook group Six Degrees? Okay, I'm getting sidetracked...

Back to my original blogging subject...

Well, I met Linda in the forums. We shared a few convos where she let me know about a treasury she created. And although there are many talented artists featured, I was struck by photography by Jared (in Kansas). Look at his art! Pictured here is my favorite, and believe me, a favorite was hard to pick. This one is titled "Morning Glory Pool." I love photography. I entered his shop curious and left inspired. Check out his shop, I am sure you'll feel the same.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Blog Giveaways for March

Theresa has this AWESOME little felted purse that she is giving away on her blog Magnificent Obsession.

Enter this week to win a Scrabble pendant of your choice from Hyla's blog Green Earth Journey. Pictured is one of my faves.

Ayala Levinger has the cutest little fiber art key chains. She will custom make one FOR YOU if you win. Check out her blog!

A Parent's Life to Behold, Through the Eyes of Insanity and Bliss... Well, I just stumbled across this blog today... And it is HILARIOUS! She has a giveaway that ends on Midnight March 4th, so hurry and visit!

I know there are more out there, but I had to quit searching to go to work. Please, if you have a giveaway you'd like to share, just post a comment!


For the Love of Yarn

I am here to confess my love affair with yarn. I can get lost for HOURS, yes hours, on Etsy looking at yarn... Handdyed, Handspun, Recycled... yarn. The colors! The textures! The possibilities!

I have happily purchased from Evergreen Creations, CRAFTY, and play at life fiber arts. My favorites are filled with listings of yarn. I am constantly window shopping. Do you share this love of yarn? Have a favorite that I haven't listed? Please! Leave a comment and let me know.

And if you haven't seen these previous posts, take a look...

Some favorites (listed top to bottom correlating to image above left to right):


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another Loft Update

These pictures were taken with my iPhone last week. Demolition is finally complete. Things have been a bit delayed, but framing should begin tomorrow. I also have some pictures of Michael's studio and our future gallery. They were taken on the same day. Both the loft and studio/gallery are being restored by Urban Synergy. The studio/gallery will be finished first. We actually met with the electrician yesterday to plan to add some additional electrical outlets. Workers had primed the walls and were cleaning up the exposed brick walls. It is all so exciting! Next time we walk through, I will take some photos with my REAL camera.


The Basics

Michael and Talina Ripper met online and when they met in person, they knew they had found something special, a once in a lifetime love. Michael obtained BFAs in both Wood Design and Ceramics from ECU. Talina has always been a creative/artistic spirit, but has her BSN from ETSU and still works as an RN. Talina has three sons, Seth (17), Aaron (8), and Jacob (7). Michael and Talina have a son together, Quinn, who is 17 months. They are getting settled in their downtown loft just around the corner from Michael's studio and the gallery. Their dream of living their art is coming true!


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