Saturday, October 31, 2009

This Week's List 10/25-10/31

I figured I would make a quick list of the handmade items I use every week with a quick hit review of where I got them, what I like and dislike about them, and whether or not  recommend the seller.  this is also only goingot be a list of consumables, you don't really need to know which artist made my mug every week. I will probably do a different listing of glass and pottery...

OK, THIS WEEK (10/25-10/31):

Soap: Dirty Sanchez SPAWN.
Source: Little Black Box Sample
Pros: Washes well and cleanly. The scent is light and refreshing, and he soap itsel f is creamy. SO creamy, I did not have to use a body moisturizer this week.. The sample lasted the whole week and still has a few pieces left in my little crocheted soap baggie.
Cons: No ingredients on the sample, since this was a wide, thin sample, about half way through the week, the soap split down the middle. Because the soap is so creamy, I had a hard time squishing it back into one piece, so I ended up putting it into a crocheted soap bag from Unicorn's pride.
Would I buy it? Yes. It is on my favorites list.
Grade: A

Shampoo and conditioner: Heaven and Earth Essentials HYACINTH AND HEATHER
Source: Bought it from their website after using a sample in a LBB
Pros: The shampoo thoroughly washes my very limp, fine, oily, color-treated hair without stripping the color or weighing it down. The conditioner gives my hair a nice sheen and helps with the tangles from teh thorough cleaning I get from the shampoo. I also love that the shampoo is a solid. GREAT for travel. They also customized an order for me, which I LOVE!
Cons: This scent is a little bit overwhelming for me, and I can smell it ALL DAY. Because of this, I didn't wear any perfume all week. Also, the conditioner is pretty light, which I love, but I found myself, even with my oily hair going over to a commercial deep conditioner in the middle of the week for the ends of my hair.  This, is actually my own fault, as they sell a deep conditioner, I just foolishly didn't buy any.
Would I buy it (again)?: Not this scent, but I WOULD buy a different scent. I have a bunch more from them to try out.
Grade: A- (shampoo and conditioner were GREAT, scent bought don the grade,m btu not enought o have me even consider not wanting more)

Source: eBay Store
Pros: burns cleanly and lasts a nice amount of time. I used this out in the backyard while my husband was grilling too get the WORLD OF MOSQUITOES away, and it definitely worked pretty well, considering that we were being eaten alive before I pulled these out. (Remember, I live in Houston. It's still pretty warm here)
Cons: None with this scent.
Would I buy it again? Yes, eventually.  I still have a lot of it left.
Grade: A

Incense: Ecclecstacy Arts SPRING LEAVES
Source: Free sample with eBay purchase
Pros: burns clean. Smells nice.
Cons: spelling "Ecclecstacy", the sample is a small cut. Not sure how the full size is.
Would I buy it? Probably.
Grade: B+

Candles: Woodcrafts and Candles - HARVEST SPICE 2 votives and a palm wax pillar
Source: purchased from Etsy store
Pros: wonderful scent. burns a long time. votives fit in votive holder. Layers on pillar are very pretty.
Cons: palm wax split down the middle and the pillar melted all over everything before I could blow it out. I'm still burning the candle in a glass bowl, so we will see how it burns when it gets into the puddle.
Would I buy again? Yes.
Grade: Votives A, Pillar B

Ok, for tea, I drink a mug or two every day, some comercial, some my own herbal blends, some artisanal. I will only list the artisanals I get here.

I am just going to list maker, flavor, where I got it, and grade.

TeaMan Christmas Blend tea bag (free sample with purchase): A+
BlueRavenTea Autumn Harvest loose tea (repeat purchase): A+
SBS Tea More than Fabulous loose tea (purchased as part of sampler after LBB sample...I also got my tea balls from them): A

I hope this helps!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Not many of you may know this, but when we moved to Texas, one of our 8 year old cats ran away and was never heard from again. My husband and I were very sad, but since he is such a lovable cat, we are consoling ourselves with the hope that he went off and found himself a new family.

We had had our two cats since the September 13, 2001. We had originally planned for our 1 year anniversary on going out to dinner to the restaurant where we had our first "real date": Windows on the World.  Needless to say, we never made it. Instead, we went to the mall by our house to hit a restaurant there.  while we were walkign around, we saw some kittens in the window of the pet store with a sign saying they had been abandoned there, and wouldpeople please adopt them. Well, this was too much for my husband and myself, espeially since he had been talking about getting a cat, so we went in and got a couple of kittens.  They wre my first pets ever. I was so scared to even hold them. We named them Merlin and Morgan. They were both boys.

The husband had had cats before...and is allergic to them. We quickly had to get him to an allergist and get him the desensitizing shots and allergy medication. For a while we even had to think about giving the kittens away, but ended up changing our minds at the last minute when the husband found some meds that worked.

Well, not a week after we moved to Texas, Merlin got out of the house and never came home.  In New York, they had been indoor/outdoor cats, so we had had a hck of a time keeping them indoors while they got used to the new house, but we were hopeful he would ocme home soon. 

After 2 weeks, we were prety nervous.  We started putting up signs and calling local shelters and vet offices. Finally, it looked like he had turned up at a shelter way up north in town. I hopeed int he car and went to check.

It wasn't him.

As the tech and I checked to see if the tuxedo they had brought in was mine, a little orange kitten kept trying to get my attention. he mewled, he batted at my arm, he rubbed himself up against the cage. I caved.

The cat at the shelter was not Merlin, but in 3 days, Kevin was going home with us.

I checked the other shelters.  Glinda came home from one, but a trip to the vet showed that she was very ill.  She went back. :(

At the SPCA, we found Jake. He is either a Siamese or Tonkinese breed. He's a beautiful little kitten. my daughter saw him and had to have him.

Now we had two new kittens and a grumpy 8-year old cat.  they are starting to get along, though Kevin is a little trouble maker.  I have been wearing a long, flowy top all day, and he keeps trying to either hunt my shirt or go farther, and get up under it and hunt my butt. His little claws HURT!

Kevin is into everything. I forgot how much work having a kitten who gets into everythign can be.  I am constantly getting him off of counters, pulling him out of the trash can, dragging him out of the washing machine, re-folding the laundry, finding little wrappers and papers that he hunted and batted around the house, etc. We got him kitten toys, but apparently, they aren't enough fun.

All Jake wants to do is be held.  he lives to be in laps. He will even climb into my 6 year old's lap. He cries if there are people int he house and they are not petting him. I swear, he thinks he is a dog.  He especially loves to perch on my husband's shoulder while he types.

Morgan (the old guy) just wants to be left alone. He putrs up with Jake better than Kevin, because Kevin always wants to play. And woe be to Morgan if he wants to eat in peace.

The kittens are adorabl;e, and Morgan is my big old fluffball. Now if I could just get Kevin to stop hunting ME and start hunting something else......

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pottery Habit

I have a serious handmade pottery habit. I love it.  I have bought a bunch of awesome pottery through the years off of etsy. Some of my favorite sellers include Jeff Guerrero, Lean Dog Pottery, Clear Mountain Craft, red hot pottery, and so many others. I think I listed onyl the potters I have actually bought from, thought here are so many more in my favorites list.

I think I am going to start hilighting a pottery seller once a month. That'll give me an excuse for some lovely online window shopping.

All you potters reading this: I buy pottery EVERY YEAR for Christmas. Help me find you. My husband loves it, too. *Hint hint*

Sugar Scrubs

Am I the only one who's kind of confused and (to be honest) icked out by sugar scrubs? I assume I don't know really what they are about or how to use them properly, but wouldn't they leave you sticky from the dissolved sugar, and then turn you into a bug feast? How do they cleanse you if you are rubbing sugar onto your body?

Please someone, enlighten me. I hear people singing the praises of sugar scrubs, but am too scared to use them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

back problems

I finally got my MRI read by a neurologist this week.  It turns out I herniated my L5/S1 disk and have moderate to severe arthritis in my lower back.  They are trying to schedule an MRI of my neck to see if more arthritis is causing my hand problems.  I have been prescribed physical therapy and told to lose a bunch of weight.

So, the hubband and I made a deal

There is apparently a big city-wide garage sale here every April.  We already have stuff to sell at it.  I am going to try to lose an average of a pound a week. In the time period before this garage sale, I am not going to buy any new clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry, or a few other little things he and I agreed on, adn he is going to start putting aside a certain amount of money every month. 

Assuming I lose a minimum of 20 pounds:

I will sell all of the clothes I can no longer wear at the garage sale.
He will take me shopping and buy me one "Special" item per 10 pounds of weight loss.
He will also give me a set budget to complete my wardrobe with the money he has set aside.
And I will get one surprise something of his choice.

Hopefully this will be enough incentive to re-lose all of the weight I gained while he was unemployed and then some.

Good thing I just got a bunch of new teas.  Yummy tea, no calories, since I drink most teas without milk or sugar.

I have my diet plan, I have my exercise plan, and I have my doctor's approval of my plans.  *sigh* I hope this works.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Singing the praises of Teaman

Today in the mail, I got this lovely lot of tea samplers that I had ordered from TeaMan on etsy. I couldn't decide what I wanted, and they had four different awesome looking tea samplers, so I ordered all four.  Way more tea than I needed, but as has been pointed out before, I have a weakness for tea.  I'm glad I succumbed to the urge.  The teas look great, and there is an awesome variety.  Everything smells so wonderful, fragrant, and fresh, I am boiling up some water for a cup as I type this.

But there's a kicker. WHY I am writing this blog, and not just sitting pretty with my yummy tea. Yes, it's this:

Yep. That's right.  An ENTIRE BAG of wonderful smelling, exciting Christmas tea. An ENTIRE BAG of tea that was not part of my original order. This is the mack daddy of thank you gifts.  Yes, I spent a lot of money on tea, but I did not expect anything extra, especially when buying samplers, but I'll tell you, I am doing a serious happy dance right now.

This kind of thing puts TeaMan at the top of my "buy from" list when I need more tea, and prompts me to talk them up.  Yes, TEAMAN, high quality teas, both loose and in pre-portioned bags, super fast shipping, and yummy thank yous!


Bring on November!

October has been a stinky month. I want a Mulligan. the breaker my FULL garage freezer was on blew yesterday. This would not be a HUGE deal, since I never went into the freezer yesterday, and normally the ood would still be pretty frozen. But NO.  Because this is the October from heck, I also got to find out that along with the breaker blowing, the seal on my freezer is bad, too, so EVERYTHING defrosted/melted in a 24 hour period.  I now have about 3 days to cook 5 lbs of chicken breasts.  Pretty much everythign else was a goner. :(

On a good note, some of the samples I ordered this month have arrived. I will probably have to wait until this weekend to break into them today, as it is a BUSY day today. Just got back from the neurologist, am shoving food down my throat, and then am picking kiddos up for their annual physicals.

Here's hoping November makes it up to me.  Winning Mega Millions should do it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trying something new

I am all excited, as I have a new project I am trying out.  It's just something for me, but if it works out, I will be really excited.  More news on that coming soon!

Tea Ordering

I have ordered or am in the process of ordering from the following artisanal tea companies:

Blue Raven Tea - THis is the third time I will be ordering from them.  My favorite is their Autumn Harvest Rooibos, though seven treasures is running a close second.  I am eargerly awaiting their Christmas Past Rooibos, too. Yum. I first was introduced to Blue Raven Tea from their sponsoring The Little Black Boxes about a year ago.

SBS Teas: I just had my last sample from them from my Little Black Box. I wanted more, so I ordered. :)  They also carry tea balls, fillable tea bags, and other tea accessories. Always a plus.

IvyKeep: Their customer service is great.  I just got a sample in October's Little Black Box (GO BUY ONE!).  They are in the process of putting together a custom order for me.  Also, they are moving sites, so expect a little bit of internet funkiness on their website. I recommend their etsy site for now.

BhakTea: I ordered from them because they had a strainer, and their sampler sounded good.

TeaMan: again, they offered a sampler pack. I love tea. I ordered.

I will let you know what I think of the new people I ordered from, though I will tell you, you can't lose with Blue Raven Tea good customr service, and quick shipping every time.

As I'm sure you can tell, though, I am very disloyal, and am constantly trying "other people's stuff". I find everyone does things a little differently, and I love different people's blends.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Living on the Edge....

So, I have a confession: I have been using soaps that have "fragrance" and "essential oils" listed in their ingredients instead of a complete listing. I even used a perfume sample yesterday that just mentioned the carrier oil and that it was "all natural". Why, you may ask?

Because I am a REBEL!!

....and they smelled really good.

Fortunately for me, I have no life threatening allergies, yet. The worst I will do if I use something that contains something I am allergic to is to break out in hives.  I am still very careful to sample everything in a small easily washed area, though.

Since I went off about ingredients, I have been thinking (and talking to friends).  I know a lot of small home-based manufacturers just have a general "ingredients" label printed up and don't have a special unique one for each and every scent, because that would be cost prohibitive. Most people I know are very understanding of this practice, and not knowing every essential oil that went into a product is USUALLY not a big deal, especially if you are nice about the occassional email reading, "Hey, I love your soap, but does thisscent have bergamot in it? My cousin is allergic to bergamot."

So, I did a little bit of asking around, and came up with the two biggest things that have caused problems for people I know unknowingly getting them in their bath and body products:

Nuts (this includes almonds)

Yes, if you are allergic, it is your responsibility to check, but I am mostly concerned about gifts, especially with the holidays coming up. I would hate to buy someone I know a lovely perfume or soap that she loves the scent of, but cannot use because her boyfriend/husband/kid is allergic to something in it, and smelling it makes him/her sneeze.

OK, that's enough for this soapbox (can you tell I broke out when I opened a new soap this evening?).  I think I will go back to whining about my life and talking about all of the wonderful people I have been buying from.

Coming soon: Who did I buy from this month, and how was the experience? AND Thoughts about my GRAVEL back yard.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sample sum up

My husband suggested I sum up a few of my important points in my advice to sample sellers that turned into "How to get Angela to buy from you"

1. Ingredients are important. in ANYTHING going onto or into a body. Especially if pine, nuts, certain foods, etc are used, PLEASE List them.

2. Whenever possible, include instructions. Not everyone is familiar with sugar scrubs, wickless candles, melting body butter, paraffin hand treatments, that special kind of tea blend you just sent, or whatever. instructions put you HIGH on the "repeat buyer" list.

3. food scented bath and body products make a lot of people nervous. Especially chocolate and/or sugary treat products.

4. propaganda of any type is evil.

5. the best things to include in samplers are things that need to be purchased relatively regularly. Give us just enough to be addicted (for me it takes about a week). When we run out, we will run to your store and buy.

6. Make it easy for us to find you. Clearly label where your items come from, even when including a free sample in a previous purchase. Sometimes, those purchases are a gift.

7. Free samples (especially coordinating ones) tossed in a box with a purchase are awesomeness.

8. Sampler packs are the best way for handmade afficionados like me to find you. We may not always BUY from you, but at least we will know who you are. I have a whole file of business names from companies I have gotten great products, service and/or samples from, what I got that I loved, any pother thing special about them, and what type of products they have. If I need a gift, and it is not something specific, I frequently go to this list....and YES, there is a "black list" for people I have had problems with, people whose products have been lousy and/or caused allergic reactions, and people who have sent propaganda....and the reason why is on THAT list, too.

9. If you send something scented, please wrap it up, at least in a Ziploc bag so the scent doesn't get everywhere. I will get sick of the scent before I use the item.

10. Packaging is important. If your promotional sample looks a mess, what will your product look like??

11. Again, this is the most important thing on the list: INGREDIENT LISTS ARE IMPERATIVE!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some thoughts from a sample consumer

As someone who is a regular purchaser of Little Black Boxes, and who LOVES free/low price samples, I have some thoughts I figured I would share with anyone who is thinking about submitting samples to a sampler pack and/or offering free or inexpensive samples in some sort of capacity.

First some info about me: I buy at least one Little Black box every month (If there are a lot of people in the box, I will double up for a bigger cross section, especially around the holidays). I also shop etsy for sampler packs from sellers I find interesting. The category of things I most frequently buy from the samples is bath and body items.

If you send me a free sample of something else yo make with a purchase I already made from you, I will be more likely to return to you for future purchases. If I get a sample I don't like/won't use, I usually put it into a little gift basket I put together for hostess gifts/teacher gifts/last minute gifts, etc.

I have used samples to direct my purchases (or dissuade me from purchasing) many times. Though I do not have a lot of extra income, I do like to pamper myself with handmade items, and whenever possible, prefer to purchase handmade items.

An important piece of advice on samplers: Make sure your item is clearly and securely labeled who it is from. It's always annoying to have to connect business cards with products. If your item is well and clearly labeled with your business, website, and product line, I will be more likely to choose your website of the many I have to choose from to look at first for whatever it is I am looking for.

The biggest place I go to to discover new handmade sellers is Etsy. the next place is eBay. I am not a fan of Artfire, though I am trying. If you supply a sample and you only have a personal website, make sure it is labelled as such, so I can go check it out.

Ok, let's get to it. This will be rough for a while while I just get my thoughts down....

the things I love to get free/cheap and that will almost certainly lead to my making a larger purchase if I love them and they meet my requirements, and why:

Soap - I love handmade soap. It tends not to dry my skin out, and sample sizes are usually the perfect size to use before I get sick of the scent. Offering a lot of samples for sale is a great idea if you sell soaps, because I like to see how a soap goes before committing to a whole bar. Make the sample a decent size, enough for about a weeks worth of washes, so I can get a good idea of how it washes, and if you are providing one sample, please provide a popular scent. If it smells nasty, I will never use the soap. Also (and this is VERY IMPORTANT), include an ingredient list, including the scents you used. I have family and friends who are allergic to nuts, pine, certain herbs, etc. You don't need to tell me the amounts, but would you rather tell me what scents you used and get a customer, or have your soap hit a trash can because I can't know whether or not using it would require an epi pen?

incense - I know this is not a common item to offer in a sample, but if your incense burns clean and maintains the smell it is supposed to, I'll love you. If you make incense, toss a stick or cone into a box with a purchase. I recently had a store do this for me with my permission. I was back the NEXT DAY buying a 20 pack of that incense.

tea - I am a huge tea drinker. EVERY free tea sample I have gotten, except for one has led to a large follow up purchase by me. Again, please say what herbs/spices are in the tea.

perfume - a small one ounce sample using a non-nut oil or alcohol base is best. If it smells good and wears well, expect an order from may be a while if I am using a perishable perfume I need to finish up, but you will hear from me. If it is a scent I do not like, I will gft it to someone I think WILL like it, and if she likes it, she will likely want more.

bath salts - It is so hard to find good hand made bath salts, so if you make them, let us know! Same suggestions as with soap regarding ingredients.

candles (with wicks) - I not only burn a lot of candles, I give a lot of them as gifts. Not everyone likes and/or uses wickless candles, and I got tired of having to explain to people how to use them (they can also be very messy if you only burn them for a short while). I tend to stick with traditional candles, but if you make both, I understand the wickless or tartlet samples, just let people know in your insert/card both how to use them appropriately and that you do wick-ed candles, too.

shampoo/conditioner - Do you know how hard it is to find good quality, handmade hair products? If it works well with my limp, baby fine, super oily hair, I will love you forever.

**A word of advice on bath and body product scents: it makes me and many people I know nervous to use/wear food (Especially chocolate and/or sweets) scented products. I constantly worry I will attract bees, wasps, and/or mosquitoes,a nd that the soaps near the sinks will attract bugs into the house. Chocolate makes me the most nervous. I find I don't even wear Aquolina Pink Sugar because of this. Normally, I would blame my own paranoia, but talking to some other women I know, I find I am not alone in this fear.***

**another word of advice: It's impossible to smell over the internet. I know, duh, but I can't really go by "OOOOh, this smells so decadent" or whatever your description. describe the undertones of the scent, and maybe some of the major things it smells like ("lemony with a hint of amber"). Even better: offer a low-cost sample, if feasible. Sell one tea candle or one soy tart in the scent. Sell a 1-oz sample of the soap. Whatever. heck, I am one of those people who would LOVE to buy your soap ends (and orphan tea candles). Label them up and offer a random 5 pack of .5-1 oz ends for the same price as a 4oz bar. I may not love all of them, but if I like one, it will have been worth my cost, and may net you a bar purchase or weren't going to do much with those random bar ends anyway, were you?****

Things I like receiving that I MIGHT make a follow up purchase from:

body scrubs - EVERYONE seems to make these. NO ONE includes directions for using them. Also, rubbing sugar on my body seems weird, especially if I don't fell like I am using it right. Aren't I just asking for bugs that are attracted to sugar water? I did end up buying a huge lot of whipped soap for one family member who I gave a sample to, and she went ballistic over, though.

Pet foods/treats - If a friend of mine with dogs likes the sample I give her, I give her the name of the company and/or buy her some for the holidays. I have 3 cats, so I use the kitty treats and toys. If my cats love them, expect to hear from me over the holidays.

lotions - Again, everyone seems to make them. I have very oily skin and live in land of humidity, so I don't use a lot of lotion. A lot of handmade lotions also tend to be very rich and heavy. Unless you do lotion well, be careful about the lotion being your only exposure to a consumer. It takes me a LONG time to get through that little sample jar, even of the whipped stuff, whereas I will blow through your soap in a week. Since I get 2-3 lotions a month, I tend to give these away a lot, too. An exception to this is if you either have those sealed little packets or those tiny twisty jars that are great for taking with you on a plane and only last about a week, or if you send me a coordinating scented sample with a purchase. Again, INGREDIENTS ARE IMPORTANT.

makeup - this includes lip balm. If the make up is good quality and doesn't bother my skin, I might be back, especially if you offer colors/flavors that I haven't seen elsewhere, or if your prices are great. Lip balm is a favorite stocking stuffer for me, and I love flavors that are fun and tasty with balms in creative packaging/labeling that are sturdy. Remember, LIST YOUR INGREDIENTS!!! I am very allergic to artificial sweeteners. I know others who are allergic to other things. ANYTHING that goes on my body, I need to know what's in it.

food/candy - if it's awesome, I will be back. (AGAIN, ingredients are VERY IMPORTANT. I cannot repeat myself or stress this enough)

crocheted items - if you are selling something I need or thing a friend will like, I will appreciate a sample. If it is something a little bit different or creative, I will remember thee xtra time you put into your sample, and it will stand out. Make sure your sample is WELL MADE!! If it falls apart when I wash my face with it, or the colors bleed onto my laundry, face, or countertop, I will not be buying your washcloth set for my friend who is getting married or baby sweater for my other pal's new baby.

sewn items - again, it had better be great quality. If I have a need for something you make, I will remember you and check out your site.

Pens - I know, nobody makes pens, but if you make some sort of item that sending a sample isn't really the most feasible idea, a pen with your website URL, business name and a brief description of what you do is a great idea. I keep the pens and use them. If I am using your pen and look at your business name, and it is for something I might want to get for someone (or myself), there you are right in front of me. I especially love free pens with purchases.

Things (Not already listed above) that I have given to others that have led to sales:

Cards - I am not a card person (I buy Christmas cards 2 boxes for a dollar). Some of my friends and family are. I always make sure if I get a card in a sampler, and give it to someone, where I got the card from is available to them. Many of them have turned around and purchased.

magnets - my fridge is stainless steel and not magnetic. I have given magnets as little gifts and on the tops of gifts as a little topper. At times this has led to turn around sales.

calendars - same as with magnets.

bookmarks - I love to read, but I am again the type to mark my place with a business card. You send a free bookmark sample, I will use it and love it. If someone sees it, I will tell them where I got it.

Keychains - Keychains are a great thing to use to put together a gift, and aree awesome as a sample that coordinates with a purchase. Unfortunately, how many keychains does one need? I usually end up using them in gift packaging.

Things I love to receive in sampler packs that almost NEVER lead to a follow up purchase...though if you include them as a supplement to a purchase I have already made, I will remember you and put you higher on my list for return business:

Jewelry of any type - Jewelry is just too personal a thing, and the samples are always nice, but nothing to make me feel compelled to buy from YOU and not someone else. Also, you just gave me a piece of jewelry, now I don't need one of those. True, if I get a sample from you, I might check out your site when I wouldn't have otherwise, but the likelihood that I will buy from you is very low. If you include a free little pair of earrings or something with a necklace I just bought from you, however, I will DEFINITELY remember you and return if I have a need for another piece.

recycled paper notebooks and/or envelopes - Again, I am not a card person. Most of the little notebooks are too little to really use, and crush easily in my purse. If you make larger, more functional journals, please make it clear in your packaging, (though I rarely buy those either). I basically give those little notebooks to my 6 year old to shut her up when she whines that everything in the mail is for me.

insignificant discounts - a little card with 5% off expiring next month, at best will become a bookmark. 5% off will not drive me to check out your site. 20% plus will. Also, time constraints are tough. I understand the need for them, but allow a few months, especially if I am giving these as a gift to someone who might then wish to make a full-fledged purchase.

Anything that I cannot figure out what it is, how to use it, or what it is for - I think this is pretty self explanatory.

Things that, if you include them in your packaging, I will specifically NOT buy from you again. EVER.:

-religious propaganda
-political propaganda
-lifestyle propaganda
-feedback threats
-why _____________ is wrong/evil/a bad idea
-why _______________ is smarter/better/more ethical
-pretty much anything that is not either a "thank you" note, a receipt, a catalog or list of your goods, a business card, a discount card, and/or a free sample.

In case you were wondering, YES, I do have a "black list"

Finally, a thank you:

Thank you all of you wonderful people who make items. Artisan, crafter, whatever you wish to call yourself, thank you. I have received some of the most fabulous items ever from small independent artists. Please keep up the great work. And thank you so very much for that little gift and/or thank you note. it is ALWAYS appreciated.

Ok, I will edit soon. Please forgive the rambling, redundancy, and tangents.