Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mailbag...

I get a lot of correspondence from readers of the blog. Sometimes it's about technical issues like links that didn't post right or about Thursday Giveaway sponsorship opportunities. Sometimes it's an elaboration on a comment left or it's something that someone wants to tell me, but not in a public forum. For the most part, I enjoy this. It gives me a chance to get to know the readers of my blog better and in some cases has created some lifelong friendships. On rare occasions, I get hate mail or scathing reviews of my content, but generally, most of the people who write in are thoughtful, positive and very amicable.

For instance, one reader wanted to send me a birthday present. My birthday is at the end of the month and she wanted to send me something. I said that she didn't have to do that, but it was very kind of her to offer. She insisted and asked if I had an Amazon Wish List – which I do. I sent her the link and she told me that I should post it, in case others were interested. I told her that I didn't want to seem like I was pandering for gifts or anything like that. She wrote back saying that it's a wish list and not a list of demands and that it was up to them to decide and that if people were going to get me something, it might as well be something I wanted. So, at her request, here it is: Amazon Wish List

But, really... you don't have to get me anything. And if you do, don't feel pressured to get me something on the list. I love handmade and vintage things. I love plants and used books and owl figurines. And really, knowing that there are folks who take time out of their day to come visit my little corner of the Web is gift enough. I enjoy being able to share my world with others. Now, that is a gift! (And of course, I love anything Anne Choi.)

Another reader wrote in to ask where I got my plants from. I've actually gotten several emails about this. I get them from a lot of different sources. Mainly I try to stick to local nurseries and farmers' markets. The Johnstown Famers' Market is downtown every Friday from 9AM to 2 PM that runs until the end of October that's really good. (They also have cooking demos from local chefs.) Usually the plants are grown locally and best suited for the area/zone. I'm lucky that one of my neighbors is Tantlinger's Greenhouse. Not only are they extremely nice, but they are also incredibly knowledgeable about the plants they sell. I'm also lucky to be a member of the Botanical Society of Westmoreland County. They have an amazing plant auction in May and many of them have been longtime gardeners with lots of experience. It's an incredible group of friendly individuals always offering to bring a cutting or share tips. They also have great tips on where the plant sales are going on and where to find deals. I must admit that I do frequent the garden center at Walmart. They have a one year warranty on their perennials and Wanda at the Blairsville location is the best! When I can't find the more unusual plants that I'm looking for locally, I turn to the web. Amazon has a great Garden Section and they get some of their orders filled from a nursery in Ohio with a similar growing zone called Hirt's Gardens. I also use catalogue companies like Breck's for bulbs and Gurney's and Spring Hill Nursery. They've generally got promotions going and if you're clever, you can get plants at a fraction of the cost.

One of the big requests that I get are recipes for the food that I show pictures of on my blog. I know it must be frustrating to see something and want to make it and it not have a recipe. But this generally is due to two things: I'm an intuitive cook, which means that many of the dishes I make are one shot deals. I've worked in restaurants, but have never had any formal culinary training. It's almost like performance art – depending on what's in the cupboards, what inspires me at any given moment, and what bits and pieces of recipes surface in the convulsion of my memory results in dish. Some of the things I've made turned out to be perfection one time and disastrous at other times, even if I think I'm making it exactly the same. The second reason why I don't generally share recipes is that (for the ones that I do know and have perfected) I am saving them up for an eventual cookbook. I don't think I'm the best cook out there and there are definitely people out there with far more experience and ability in the kitchen, but for me, creating a cookbook would be paying tribute to the people and places in my life that have influenced me. So... one day... I will share all my recipes.

Another thing that I get a lot of email about is Big Cartel and why I don't sell on Etsy. I've had my regular Shop on Big Cartel for almost a year now. It'll officially be a year old near the end of this month. I've also started the Sale site and have had that just shy of two weeks. I love Big Cartel! If you're not familiar with Big Cartel, it's a selling platform designed by independent artists for independent artists. It's easy to use, they bill you once a month with a low fee that you decide on, and the shops can be customized and manipulated to your specifications. The customer service is fantastic and the shops (depending on what package you get) have all sorts of tools to track traffic, referral links, most used search words, top selling products... the list goes on. Big Cartel is wonderful! I always suggest to people who get a Big Cartel shop to check out the Help Section; it's loaded with helpful tips on ways to customize your shop and really make it your own. My one complaint, which they've happily discussed with me, is that there's a 100 item cap for their largest plan. I've been told that they are currently looking into expanding their packages and offering larger shops.

Now, there's no real reason why I haven't started selling on Etsy. I love to shop on Etsy and it's one of my guilty pleasures. I can sit down in front of the computer, sign on to Etsy and hours evaporate from the clock. Who knows if I'll eventually start selling there or not? Maybe one day I will. There are definitely a lot of perks, but for me, I'm really happy right now with my current selling options and will continue to operate the Big Cartel shops.

I think I might start periodically answering email questions, comments and concerns here. If you have anything you'd like to know about me, the blog, my shops, or the things I'm involved with, feel free to send me an email.

5 comments:

Anne said...

I think because you are so kind and giving that people want to respond in kind. Accept your karma!

Anne said...

PS When are you adding more lots to the sale?!

Andrew Thornton said...

Anne Terry, you're positively psychic! I'm finishing up the editing right now. I should have things listed some time tonight. It'll be a big upload. It was delayed a few days due to some important deadlines that I had to meet. I should have updates throughout the weekend as well. I'm having a visitor in for the holiday weekend, but I think I'll be able to squeeze in a few updates.

Janet said...

When that cook book comes out Ill
be the 1st in line!

AST HRT said...

We're hunkered down for Earl..it would be nice to be able to shop!