Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St Jude's 'Thanks and Giving Campaign' - Nov 2011

By My Touch has joined the 'Thanks and Giving Campaign' by St Jude Children's Research Hospital in honor of my baby nephew James Henry Rudkins who died of a brain tumor in 1993 at the age of just 21 months after a heroic battle. He loved chocolate buttons and splashing in the bath - I can still see his beautiful smile and delightful chuckle!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Craft fair tips ...

I was recently in London and took a trip to the market at Spitalfields.  I was immediately drawn to this vendor's table; it just drew me in and I started to wonder why.  It came down to 3 features that I think were done really well:

1.  The stall itself was inviting because the background and table skirt were attractive from a distance and had clearly been chosen carefully - they were mirror images of each other and the pattern and color did not overshadow the cards on display.  It was a playful pattern which subconsciously told me the cards would be too.  The table top itself was covered with a plain green cloth which meant the cards stood out.  The green was featured in most of the cards, as were the lilac and white, giving the whole display a cohesive, professional look.

2.  The cards were displayed to be seen easily.  Some were hung from lines with pegs which meant the vertical area of this small space was fully utilized.  Others were displayed on the table with most raised up slightly on small wooden blocks making it easy to see the ones further back.  The additional cards were neatly displayed in the rack on the end so two sides of the stall were accessible to customers, with a few more in small boxes on the table.  There was plenty to look at without it feeling overwhelming.

3.  The stall was customer friendly – the price was clearly displayed with a discount for purchasing more than one (great incentive!) and the vendor was very approachable.  She clearly took pride in her work and it showed.

A big thank you to Bryce - although still setting up for the day, she was kind enough to let me photograph her stall and blog about it.  Thanks Bryce!

Bryce Russell, Cross and Broken Hearted cards
Spitalfields Market

Kiva loan November 2011

Sometimes a photo 'speaks' to me.  That is what happened when I saw Barno from Tajikistan. 

Although she is married, her husband works in Russia so she works alone to raise cattle, grow potatoes and process fruit in order to support and educate her children.

I've always had the greatest admiration for single parents and her quiet dignity and kind face moved me to want to help.  She will purchase more cattle with this loan which will improve her income once they're fattened up for sale.

This loan is the 5th through Kiva and once again, I am so grateful to my customers for supporting me in these efforts through their purchases.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breakthrough Breast Cancer donation October 2011

This has been a great month so far - two donations to wonderful charities!  The second was made in support of a old friend who is running in England to raise money for charity.  You can read about this event here

Kiva loan October 2011

I am delighted to post the details of my 4th Kiva loan! 

This is Magdalena.  She lives in the Philippines and is 51 years old, married and has four adult children.  The family lives happily in their village planting and harvesting rice and vegetables for sale.  Magdalena and her husband work hard so that their children can finish their studies and lead a better life but it is very difficult and they endure hardships.  To make additional income, she raises ducks and this loan was requested to buy feed and additional ducks that lay eggs for sale.

You can read a little more about his loan here

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sunflowers bring hope in Japan

This story made me smile - sunflowers are being grown and distributed by local buddist monks to absorb the radiation at Fukushima. 

Many years ago I visited Rome in August and as we drove to the city many fields were full of sunflowers in full bloom. It's a sight I've never forgotten - to see these very tall plants with their huge yellow heads all turned to the sun was so uplifting and the color was just amazing. 

The sight of such a mass planting in Japan will not only be stunning and helpful to the people and environment, but I find it touching that in the face of such tragedy, beauty and hope still exists.

Thanks to the GoodNews Network and Reuters for sharing this story

Friday, September 2, 2011


Major success this week, I finally secured a proper Facebook URL to replace the daft long one that I had previously. 

I'm a little technologically challenged so it's taken me most of the week on and off to try to work out why I could not get the username before.  For some reason it was not available which I couldn't understand because I trademarked the name! 

After many cups of tea and some serious thought I did a search with it and guess who was using it?  Me!  It turned out I had some how connected it to the Profile page (still don't know how but I'm sure it was very clever :)).  After some intense pfaffing around, I discovered I could appeal to Facebook for trademark infringement.  I'm sure they thought I was a twit, but nevertheless I gathered all the necessary information and appealed to them to help me ... 24 hours later I became the proud owner of this URL

Facebook still makes me squirm a bit because I don't want to be a nuisance, but whilst I get over myself, I have been posting something each day to all the lovely people who 'like' my shop Page and feel I am one step nearer to using social media to help get the word out about what I'm doing and, more importantly, why I'm doing it.

Maybe next week I'll tackle Twitter?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fibromyalgia and CFS

I was honored this week to have a blog post written about me.  It was written by Winn the designer of the purse frames that I use in my shop and came as a result of several emails which started when she complimented my workmanship.  It meant such a lot to me that she felt my work to be exemplary given the number of purse makers she sees, and it meant even more given the tears I've shed when my fibro and chronic fatigue syndrome have made it impossible to work on a purse I've been excited to make.

It's hard to explain fibro and cfs but this blog post gave a snap shot into my life and the ways I try to work around my limitations.  To me it's just my life and for every good day there are at least an equal number of bad when I'm a weeping mess, but I like to focus on the bright side so I'm sharing the link to my story here.  I've been contacted by someone already who was cheered up by the post as she realized she was not alone - my hope is that it might help someone else too. 

Kiva loan August 2011

Whoopee!  I have been able to make another loan through Kiva as a result of sales in my little shop.  I am incredibly grateful to all that help me do this and it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

The latest loan, the third now, has been given to Sanoat.  She is 38, married and a mother of 5 children who lives and works in Yavan, Tajikistan.  Her husband works abroad: with a husband who also works away from home for brief periods of time, I cannot imagine the difficulties of trying to raise 5 children alone. 

I was moved by her request to buy seed to grow the vegetables she raises and sells to make a living, and whilst her photograph is beautiful and lush, I felt it also depicted a woman who looked a little overwhelmed by her surroundings.  I am honored to be able to help support her request.

When making a loan, the hope is that it will be repaid as agreed so that it can be lent to someone else in need, but it is always possible given the dire situation of some of the borrowers, that circumstances may work against them making it impossible to repay the loan.  That has indeed happened to the first loan made to a farmer in Kenya. This loan is currently delinquent (Kiva's word) which I am assuming is due to the severe drought.  I hope to receive more information and if/when I do I will post it here.

'Do not loan more than you can afford to give away' is very wise advice and I make these loans in that spirit.  If the money comes back, that's wonderful because it means the loan improved someones life as it was meant to.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

American Red Cross donation August 2011

The images out of the Horn of Africa are heartbreaking and it is hard to believe that such a disaster has happened once again.  With the economy being so bad around much of the world, private donations are harder to come by than ever as family budgets tighten, including my own, which is why I created By My Touch.  I wanted to try to earn the money so that we could continue to donate to charity.

This latest donation was given to the American Red Cross to aid relief efforts for those suffering the drought.  Where I live in the Pacific Northwest where we have copious amounts of rain, it can be hard to 'step into the shoes' so to speak of those who have walked for days or weeks to find food and water to survive, but as a parent I can relate to how it feels to see your child suffering and even to experience the loss of a child.  For these reasons, this particular donation is especially meaningful to me and, once again, I am grateful to my customers for their support of my little shops and their purchases which enable me to make these donations.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kiva loan July 2011

I was delighted to be able to make a second loan through Kiva yesterday.  With so many wonderful people asking for a little help it can be hard to pick just one, so the way I do it is to find a person and story that speak to me.  I know it's not scientific, but I've always found that the only decisions I regret are when I don't follow my gut.  I really do believe that the eyes are the windows of the soul, even when you can only see them through a photo and when I saw Anthony's, I felt an immediate connection and am honored to be able to support him.

Antony Ndirangu has practiced farming in Ndunyu Njeru town in Kenya for the last 11 years. He is 44 years old, married to Mirriam and they have five school-going children. He's a great example of how these microloans through Kiva change lives: Antony hopes to become a leading farmer in his area, and is working towards this steadily with our help. He has had 3 loans previously and repaid them all as agreed, so it was an easy decision to support him in his request to buy a dairy cow to boost his farming income. 

Here is the receipt for that donation:

This has been one of the best organizations I've ever donated to.  If you'd like to help others help themselves, I encourage you to check out for yourself. 

Thank you to my customers for your support of my little Etsy shops, and therefore your support of people like Antony.

Capturing a screenshot

Having just made another Kiva loan, I wanted to copy the receipt to display here.  Easy thought I.  Not at all!  The receipt had been emailed to me and I wanted to copy the whole thing and that required taking a screenshot, pasting it to 'Paint' then removing the private link to my account, 'snipping' the receipt and saving it in jpeg to my 'documents' - phew!

To a slightly less than expert techy, this proved quite the challenge.  I use Windows and here's how I did it:

Press ALT and Prt Sc - this copies the screen (in my case an email)
Open 'Paint' by pressing Start > Accessories > Paint
Press Ctrl + V - this pastes the graphics file into Paint
Click the little pink eraser and 'rub' out any private information (account details for example)
Open the 'snipping' tool by pressing Start > Accessories > Snipping
Press 'new' then put the '+' in the top left corner
Press the left mouse whilst moving the '+' to the right, then down
You'll see the info you've snipped quite easily as it's in focus (the rest is blurred out)
Save to a folder of your choice remembering to save it in JPEG format from the dropdown menu

And that's all there is to it!

You can see the result of this effort in the next post which is about the latest Kiva loan made to a Kenyan farmer to buy a dairy cow. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Eco Friendly Cards

Gosh, where did the time go.  It's been two months since I posted a blog and a lots happened! 

I was worn out in April and took a break from everything prior to a trip to Europe to recharge our batteries.  We visited family and friends before heading to Switzerland for a week.  We'd planned to hike in the mountains and stop off along the train route at cities we'd never visited before heading down to the Matterhorn, but unfortunately a bacterial infection made us both so sick that we couldn't do much more than lie in bed and look at the fabulous view out of the windows.  We love Switzerland no matter the weather or our health, so if you're going to be ill, that's the place to do it for us and we had a wonderful time in spite of things.

Once we were home again, I was laid low for 3 more weeks but emerged full of enthusiasm to make my new shop 'Eco Friendly Cards' as full and gorgeous as can be.  I've been working hard on it ever since and now have 116 handmade cards for sale as of today ... phew! 

I've been investigating making a light box as I'm having trouble with shadows, so that's my project for the next week and I'll blog on it shortly.

In the meantime, the latest update as far as charitable donations is that I have $12.50 set aside towards the next Kiva microloan - that's halfway there, so my goal before the end of June is to have raised the rest and made one donation if not two!

Train ride from Interlaken to Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Amazon universal wish list

I just discovered this really cool 'Wish List' button from Amazon which might be worth trying out.  You simply add the button to your browser bar then when you're shopping on ANY website, you can click the button and the item will be added to your Amazon wishlist so you have everything you're desiring in one location.

This is great for not only keeping organized, but you can give access to the wish list to your friends and family and they'll always be able to get you something you really wanted.  This is in the eco spirit as far as I'm concerned because it'll cut down on the 'stuff' we often receive because people don't know what we'd really like!

This is a screen shot of the Amazon page where you can find out more information

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lady D's Indulgences

A very exciting thing happened today - Donna of ‘Lady D's Indulgences’ in the Country Village, Bothell, WA, was kind enough to welcome my cards into her shop!

The Village is a collection of often quite unique shops, and it doesn’t get better than Donna’s. When you open the door, you are met with a glorious fragrance and you instantly feel relaxed. She stocks handmade bath products, candles, scarves, lingerie, perfume bottles – anything that we girls like to make us feel special.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, and Spring Weddings amongst the many occasions when something so feminine makes us feel wonderful, I’m certain you’d enjoy a visit and if all you need is a card, well she now has a wonderful selection care of By My Touch!

Lady D's Indulgences website:

Donation - March 2011

This months donation went to the American Red Cross to aid in the relief efforts for Japan - a total of $105.80 was donated today.  Thank you to everyone that helped me reach this goal through your purchases.

The backstory ...
What an exciting month it's been! It started with a revamp of the shop to make it more streamlined and focused. That led to a massive 40% off clearance sale of the all the bags that didn't fit the intention to be a shop known for beautiful, eco-friendly bags, purses and greeting cards. I was feeling really good about the changes, and fascinated to see what would happen through the rest of the month.

Then, devasting news came of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Wanting so desperately to help, I spent the following weekend talking in the forums with other Etsians as to how we could all group together to raise the most money for donation. Having been told from Etsy Admin that we had to operate independently in order to stay within their rules, I continued to change my listings to draw attention to the fact I was donating my net profits for March to the American Red Cross to aid in the relief efforts, and then started to promote heavily. The result was the busiest month I've had! I sold a lot of bags and was enjoying watching the donation total slowly climb. Every sale but one was for an item in the sale, so my net profit was small for each item, and while it took a while, I eventually surpassed my $100 target! I had intended to donate the net profits for March, but chose to also donate the gross profits where I could to maximize this total.

Thank you so much to everyone that supported my shop and my efforts this month.  I am SO grateful to each of you :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seafoam and Black canvas handbag

I asked for feedback recently, and it was a wonderful thing because it has set me off in a new and even better direction.  This handbag takes much of this into consideration - larger size, sophisticated design, rigid base and handles.  This is, without doubt, my favorite purse to date which goes to prove that good things happen when you take a risk!

To view the handbag in my shop, please follow this link:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blog feature ...

It's always lovely when someone does you a good turn, and today I was contacted by Nikki of as she'd written in her blog about Etsy shops, like mine, that are trying to raise funds for the Japanese relief effort.

What was especially nice is that she has also discovered that when you give to someone else, you gain far more, and her blog was in this spirit.  So thank you Nikki for not only helping raise awareness for my shop (and therefore my Red Cross donation this month), but for proving that 'what goes around, comes around'.

Nikki's blog can be read here

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sir Hip-Hop

With Easter just around the corner, I thought I'd share the story of Sir Hip-Hop ...

Sir Hip-Hop

The Land of Floom is a very happy place where every year, a big Fancy Dress Parade gives everyone the chance to make a costume and walk through the town with the local brass band.

One little egg has dressed up as Sir Hip-Hop, a local bunny who played the lead character in the recent remake of The Easter Parade at the local theater. It was a wonderful production and every member of The Burrow had a role - isn't that great!

People come from far and wide to watch, and they fill buckets with coins as a thank you. This year, the money will help buy some new instruments for the band so that more little eggs can join in the fun!

EtsyRAIN meetup ...

What a happy morning I've had!  I met 4 lovely fellow Etsians at the EtsyRain meetup at the The Village Bean, Country Village, Bothell.  We had a lively chat about all things Etsy and I learned a few new things as well as shared what I've learned over the last year.

I also discovered a new and rather fabulous shop called Lady D's Indulgences run by the owner Donna

The first impression as you open the door is just lovely.  It's very feminine, inviting and, because of the many different soaps and candles, it smells wonderful.  You can't help but relax :)

Donna also carries a beautiful line of intimate apparel which would be perfect for a honeymoon - it reminded me of my own so many years ago now. 

She was kind enough to view a small sample of my cards and purses.  As I go out so rarely, it was great to get some feedback and Donna's was very positive.  My cards would be a good fit for her shop, and she was interested to carry them on commission, especially the Land of Floom cards which made her chuckle.  So, Dear Blog, watch this space!