Shalom's Cottage Home Blog

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Rock Island, IL, United States
Hi, I'm Shalom. Artist, crafter, gardener, flea market enthusiast, bargain hunter, and lover of flavor. Welcome to my journey!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Early Bird Sale!!!

Take advantage of these great savings to get a head start on your holiday shopping! Hurry, as these deals will disappear soon after the leaves stop blowing...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2010 Modern Art Calendar

It's finally done, well the art part anyway. Putting a new calendar together is a lot of work - the pressure of producing something "fresh", along with getting all the dates right in time for the holiday shopping season is intense. I typically begin designing it in mid-summer, with the goal of finishing by October. Last year was the first year I'd ever done a calendar, so ALL the artwork was new. This year, while I've mananged to design a few brand new pieces since the end of the Christmas rush, there was no way I could have 12 virgin designs ready to go for the new one - I'm not a factory, thank you very much - so I had to tap deep into my creativity for a solution. I'd toyed with a few unexciting sketches, before the idea came to me while I was working on another project. I'd started designing patterns, to be background images for some new artwork and suddenly I got a flash of inspiration (yes, it really does happen). I wondered what it would look like if I zoomed in on portions of my existing designs and did a little rearranging. After a couple experiments, I fell in love with the "new look". I find it abstract, yet intriguing and I tried to choose shapes and colors that I felt told the story of the seasons. Perhaps the story will be just a little different for each person that looks at my calendar and that, I think, is a beautiful thing.

Now, I just have to fill in all the numbers, still a daunting task, which is why I'm offering my new calendar as a pre-order for a limited time, while I work to get all the dates in place (checked, double-checked and triple-checked - thank God for Google Calendars!) for the new year. Through the end of July at least, customers can get my 2010 calendar at 60% off the price it will retail at when I officially debut it in October, saving them money AND the holiday-rush hassle with the post office. Don't you just LOVE Christmas in July?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Recycle and Renew

Had lots of fun re-doing some old prints last week (the orginals were just the fruit graphics with no backgrounds)...playing with fonts and textures. Think I'd like to continue along this vein, but with "inspirational" phrases...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Delightful Divas in Business

NEW Baby Announcements and Shower Invitations!

I've been toying with the idea of starting a Baby line for a while and I finally had some time to design these this week. I am so in love with them and I can't wait to add more. The best part is they are available as digital files for those times when you NEED IT NOW.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thoughts on Turning 30

Cupcake with Nonpareils by

It's finally here. The day when, from hence forth, I am supposed to dread and deny every succeeding birthday until the day I die. Only, I don't feel any longing for the “days of my youth”. Truthfully, I am happy and relieved to have made it out of my twenties and am now, more than ever before, looking forward to what lies ahead on my path. There aren't many warning signs when you enter your twenties, to advise you that all your hopes and dreams, instead of coming true, may turn to dust before your eyes and/or veer off into scary, itchy, weed-ridden paths you'd prefer not to take. What may also take you by surprise is that some of those paths could eventually open onto breathtaking vistas. You just never know.

I have learned to be grateful for the painful experiences that have taught me valuable lessons, but also to cherish the happy times too. I know now that I am stronger than I thought, but am also very aware that life can change in an instant and nothing – not a cup of hot coffee by a sunny window, a cuddle from my dogs or a smile from my husband – should be taken for granted.

To celebrate this milestone, I've decided to take a quick look back and see what I've accomplished, compared to what I've yet to achieve:

In my 20s, I:
-met my husband
-graduated from college
-got my first “real” job
-got married
-bought a house
-got into debt
-became mom to 2 dogs
-left the rat race
-started a business
-failed in business
-succeeded in business
-became an “auntie”
-decided that my future included adoption
-began to climb out of debt

Not too shabby a list, if I say so myself. It's harder to put in black and white everything I'd like to accomplish in the next decade, but here are some of the more important ones:
-expand my business lines
-give up my part-time job
-build up my savings
-pay off all debts (except mortgage)
-learn a thing or 2 about investing
-finish the basement
-build an addition
-tackle the more challenging landscaping projects
-be more physically active
-adopt a child...or 2
-publish a children's book

Why don't you try making a “Then/Now” list of your own? It might surprise you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coffee Love: Who Doesn't?

I'm thinking about getting an over-sized wall mural made of this print, to put in my kitchen with the hope that it will give me a jolt of energy every time I walk by. If you are a non-morning person like me, then you probably understand the comforting feeling that settles over you when you A) take a big whiff from the coffee grinds jar and B) hear the coffee pot start bubbling on it's way to bring you salvation. Still, all the "reasons" in the world to drink coffee can't compare with the fact that it is just plain delicious! Staring at this print, thinking of what to say next, I can practically smell the glorious scents washing over me, each offering just a hint of the promised taste it advertises.

As an artist, I have often found myself staring, mesmerized, into my cup for several seconds, watching the swirl patterns created as I stir (and am always thankful that no one else is around to witness my neurosis). I finally, just had to put my fascination to good use and design a piece that would remind me of one of my very favorite things every time I looked at it.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Poppy Ring by, $42. It's so adorable - a tiny little flower for your finger to make you smile every time you look at it.

Contemporary Red and White Swirl Pillow by, $38 (set of 2). At 18" each, these really are a steal. Fabulous and fun don't hurt either!

Japanese Chiyogami (old-paper) Votives by, $54 (set of 12). I was instantly drawn to the intricate and cheeful paper designs on these glass votives. They are re-usable and would make great gifts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adventures in Gardening: Starting from Seed

Every year around mid-January when all the holiday hype REALLY has worn off and the weather is just depressing, I get a little gardening bug buzzing inside me and feel the urge to draw elaborate plans and make to-do lists for my upcoming outdoor masterpiece. I usually only make it as far as a few extra pots scattered here and there before both the money and the enthusiasm dry up, because, as easy as they make it look in the magazines, gardening is A LOT of work. So this year, in an effort to make my outdoor dollars stretch a bit farther, I decided to try starting seedlings indoors, to avoid having to pay full price for plants later in the season.

I bought one of those peat pellet trays (mine has 72) for a reasonable price - I want to say around $5 or less - and it really is as easy to get it started as it looks in the picture. I measured 2 quarts of warm water, as directed into a pitcher and poured it on the dry pellets (shown above). It got pretty splashy, so I had to go slow and was glad I'd chosen a "safe" spot at the kitchen table.

They expanded almost instantly. I was surprised. I didn't have to pour off any excess water, because they soaked it all up and I could feel the heat radiating off of them - weird. I wonder if they were "drier" to begin with because my tray is actually 2 years old (never got used last year)? Oh well, they seemed usable enough once watered. The next step was to "carefully" peel back the top of the netting (it does rip easily) and "fluff" up the dirt inside. These things are only about an inch and a half wide, so I used a chopstick, to make it a little easier. This part took about 30 minutes.

Next, I opened my seed packets, one at a time and poured the contents onto a saucer for easier access. I quickly determined that I would need about 10 trays to plant all the seeds, so had to settle for 1-2 rows in my starter tray per seed type. Some of these little buggers are impossibly small, like the size of a seed bead. I found it best to pick up one at a time and rub my fingers until it fell out over the spot I wanted.

Occasionally, one went astray. Thank God for tweezers!

Finally, all the pellets had been seeded. Most of the seeds were small, so I put 3 in each pellet (directions recommend 2-3). With the larger, zinnia seeds (slightly smaller than sunflower) I put 2 per pellet. About an hour. Pressing the seeds into the dirt and covering them "lightly", as directed, took another 15 minutes or so. All together, this was about 1.75 hour project.

As you can see, I have ambitions to have access to both fresh herbs all summer long as well as a variety of colorful flowers. I suppose it's a good thing that I wasn't able to get ALL the seeds started at once. If I start a new batch outside in about a month when the risk of frost is gone, perhaps I will have another burst of blooms later in the season when the first ones have faded. I usually try to pick plants that have long bloom periods though...I'll have to check and see if there are any shorter ones that it would be worth planting several times. Then I just have to remember to do it!

Since, I will have no clue otherwise what is what when these pellets start sprouting, I made myself a chart, complete with pink mark so I know which end is up (see corresponding on above photos), and wrote down which seeds I'd planted where.

The directions said to cover the tray with clear lid and place in a warm spot, out of direct sunlight (wonder why?) until all pellets have sprouted. So I chose the only out-of-the-way/out-of-sunlight/warm spot I could think of, which happens to be under my printer cart in my office, in front of the heating vent. When I pulled the tray out this morning to take a pic, there was a lot of condensation on the inside of the lid. I hope that's a good sign.

Update on 3/2/2010: OK, I never got around to finishing this post because the results were, frankly, depressing and not worth blogging about. I waited as long as I could to transplant the seedlings (a few weeks at most), but they quickly outgrew their little greenhouse. Next, I transplanted them and acclimated them to the outdoors for a few hours each day, just like the instructions said (and every non-newbie gardener knows to be proper). Then, when it was warm enough, I left them outside for the summer. I watered only when the soil was dry (hint: over-watering is the biggest plant killer) and I used an all-purpose liquid fertilizer occasionally, as directed. The big payoff for my meticulous efforts? What seedlings didn't die within a few weeks, remained scrawny and pathetic all summer until I finally gave up, dug them out and planted store-bought versions when there was just enough time before fall for me to enjoy them.

Maybe it was just a stroke of bad luck. Maybe I should have gotten a more expensive brand of starter pellets, or seeds. Who knows? But, I won't be going this route again. For people like me who HATE spending lots of time on worthless projects, it's better to leave some things to the professionals.

On a side note, I did pick up a couple of plantlings from a lady at a garage sale last year that have absolutely thrived in my garden. That's saying something about home-grown goodness!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life Is All About Celebrations

Isn't it? We seem to trudge through the day-to-day of our "regular" lives, going to work, paying bills, making week night dinners, doing laundry, etc. with little excitement and the only thing that keeps us going sometimes is looking forward to the next big get-together/pig-out with friends and family. Make it a lovely, sunny day in April and a crowd of 20 women packed into a tuna-can sized house where someone will be opening presents and you have instant fun. Here are some of the highlight's of my sister, Tabbi's, weekend wedding shower.

Is there a more glorious sight in all the world than this? A room filled to the brim with fluffy, shiny, sparkly presents!

Guests with barely room to wiggle their elbows, still having a jolly time is always a good sign.

We feasted on lots of healthy things...

...and unhealthy things too. It's all about balance, I say.

Aren't I the bestest sister in the world? I think I deserve an award. I should have stolen her hair flower at some point, at least, to honor myself (me on the left).

To prove I'm not completely selfish, I'm going to share this word scramble game that I personally, scrambled in the first place (not fun), in case any of you are planning a shower of your own soon. I gave my guests 8 minutes and the winner got 16 out of 20. You may want to go a little longer or shorter depending on how generous you feel at the time:

Wedding Word Scramble

1. wfoerl rlgi _____________________ _____________________

2. yrerpa _____________________

3. grin arbere _____________________ _____________________

4. ekca ptorpe _____________________ _____________________

5. isesoalnporc _____________________

6. dalbcenara _____________________

7. tanivtinoi _____________________

8. edaimsrbid _____________________

9. tinirsem _____________________

10. quobetu _____________________

11. nargomosm _____________________

12. pecritnoe _____________________

13. adlirb harmc _____________________ _____________________

14. rafvo _____________________

15. dindewg owsv _____________________ _____________________

16. nislece _____________________

17. gortporapheh _____________________

18. hotbeclatl _____________________

19. axhenceg sirgn ____________________ ____________________

20. aorgces _____________________

(1. flower girl 2. prayer 3. ring bearer 4. cake topper 5. processional 6. candelabra 7. invitation 8. bridesmaid 9. minister 10. bouquet 11. groomsman 12. reception 13. bridal march 14. favor 15. wedding vows 16. license 17. photographer 18. tablecloth 19. exchange rings 20. corsage)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

FRIDAY FINDS: Here Comes the Sun!

I was inspired this week by the rare appearance of the sun warming us up to a comfortable 50-something nearly every day. To think, it SNOWED last weekend! (actually I'd rather not think about it)

Yellow Bursts Tote Bag by , $15. An adorable tote at an adorable price. Perfect for lunches outside...just around the corner!

Let the Sun Shine in 16x20 poster by, $28. I love the quirky, hand-drawn look and of course the colors. It is impossible to be in a bad mood after looking at this hand-printed poster for long enough.

Yellow and Orange Concrete Ring by, $49.95. This is not something you see every day behind the glass counters in your local mall. Exactly the reason why I love it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Have You Found Your 'Niche' Yet?

House Rule No. 10 by

This forum post on Etsy poses some interesting questions on both the benefits of catering to a smaller, more defined market and figuring out how to narrow down what yours is. Bottom line - unless you are mega-store with cash and employees to spread out over as large an area as possible, you will most likely get more out of your time, talents and investments if you cater to specific needs/wants of specific people groups. But, I digress...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day of Flea Market Season: SCORE!!!

A good friend and I woke up at an ungodly hour this past Saturday morning to go, not the animal kind. But the thrill of the chase/capture is just as real, I dare say. What other motivation, would I have to drag myself out of bed after only 5 hours sleep? I definitely scored big, though. Considering, I had no idea what I was looking for when I started out, I managed to bring home quite a bit of useful & fabulous stuff - all for around $40! And it's just the beginning of the season!!!

Large blue glass "Ball" jar (hard to find) - perfect for flowers. $5.95

Milk glass and Monterey serving bowls. I'm having a bridal shower at my house this weekend, so they'll really come in handy. $1, $3.50, $8.25 (front to back)

Luxurious, twin-sized, creamy throw. $8.99

Throw texture.

Large white enamel stock pot, $9.95

I've already put it to good use.

Jade glass sacuer = soap dish. I love the subtle swirls throughout the glass. $2

Letter press blocks, which spell my name (backwards of course). This really is the coolest find ever! $.50

Friday, April 3, 2009


I'm a bit late posting these, but it's just the beginning of the weekend, so still plenty of time to shop! This week I was inspired by a few rich, jewel-toned beauties...

Orange Swirl Nightlight by, $15
It casts fantastic, dreamy shadows on the wall when lit and looks cool during the daytime too!

Banana Smoothie Soap Bar by, $4
What else is there to say? Indulge.

Beaded Bracelet by, $32
I just love the mixture of colors and textures as well as the little leaf that snuck in.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It Doesn't Have To Make Sense Right Now...

"Unblocked" by

Keep dreaming anyway. In searching for a piece of art to illustrate the article I'm linking to, this image of a typewriter immediately struck me as fitting. To the casual observer, it just looks like a bunch of random letters spewing out of the machine. But if you look closely, you can see that the letters which spell "live" are colored in red.

That's how it is with most of life and with our dreams. The pieces of our lives and the significance of the choices we make are not always immediately apparent, but that doesn't mean we should give up or give in to despair. We just have to keep doing the best we can, with hopeful hearts, trusting that the "puzzle" will come together someday. At the right time. When all the pieces are in place. It may be months, it may be years, but it will all be worth it.

Soldier on with a smile!

Friday, March 27, 2009

FRIDAY FINDS: Easter Treats

There's still time to order some pastel cheerfulness for friends & family (or yourself). Here are some delectable delights from Etsy to whet your appetite.

Plush Bunny and Squirrel by - $35 each.
Made by hand from wool blend felt and stuffed with bamboo fiberfill, one of these adorable creatures is sure to produce smiles for generations.

Set of 3 Mini Terrariums by - $25.
It can be green all year round with these lovely indoor gardens that are super-easy to maintain. The plant inside is a gorgeously wispy citron green Scottish moss.

Set of 12 Large Chocolate Dipped Pretzels by - $10.99.
Each hand-dipped pretzel is 3"x4" which makes this gift set an incredible deal. Pretty too!

Orangy Olive Pea Pod Felt Brooch by - $10.
At just over 4" long, this darling brooch with pearl beads is the perfect Spring accessory for your jacket or handbag.