Setting Fire to New Year's Eve

About 4 years ago, I stopped making New Year's resolutions. My husband and I own a bar and we wanted to bring in our own new years traditions for our business  - resolutions just really weren't doing it for us. They don't really seem to do it for most people.

So we just started setting stuff on fire.

And we asked other people to set stuff on fire with us.  

Every New Year's Eve, we would hand out paper and pens and ask people to write down the worst parts of their year...

self loathing.
getting fired.
financial troubles.
getting laid off.

Whatever was terrible about the year, we wrote it down. We folded up all of our terrible things and we threw them in a metal bucket. We doused the paper in charcoal fluid and at 11:45 pm we set it all on fire and watched it burn.

We burned it before midnight because we were not going to take any of that into the next year. We couldn't, because we burned it. It didn't exist anymore.

At midnight, we celebrated all of the possibilities that the new year was going to bring to us.

And when spring came in the new year, we took the ashes of the previous year's heartache and we mixed them in with the dirt of our wildflower garden so that something beautiful could come from the things that seemed to want to break us before.

Happy New Year.

I know you will do amazing things with it.

It's Like Trying To Eat the Entire Pack of Starburst at Once...

...because you love Starburst so much that you just want to eat all of them, right now. And then you end up with a huge ball of Starburst in your mouth that you can't chew and and it's actually stuck in your mouth and rainbow drool is dripping down your chin and everybody that you love is looking at you like a giant idiot because everybody knows that you're supposed to eat Starburst ONE.AT.A.TIME.

This is my life. I am forever trying to cram the entire pack of Starburst in my mouth. And when you cram the entire pack of Starburst in your mouth, you usually end up having to spit it all out just so you don't choke to death on the giant wad of rainbows that's lodging itself in your throat.

 I am forever trying to cram everything that I love into every single day. I have a bar/restaurant that I love and I have so many big plans for it but wait!  Because I volunteer with dogs and I have big plans for that but I have a store and I have big plans and a freelance job with really huge plans and a community association with so many big plans and I just started wholesaling and AND THERE ARE SO MANY BIG PLANS!!!!

I can't breathe. I am choking on all of these rainbows.

I have taken on too much and instead of getting everything done, I am spitting all of my rainbow flavored candy into the garbage and am accomplishing very little.

So, it's time to scale back. Everything that I am doing is doing ok.  The bar, the store, the dogs, the community association, any number of other projects...they're all hanging on. But not a single one of them is really living up to it's potential.

I am a part owner of Blue and I work there but I have never really helped manage it. My husband has always managed it and I've always had something else going on.  Blue deserves two managers and my husband deserves a little bit of a break. Our customers deserve more from both of us and our primary business deserves a little more focus.

I own Hey Lola and have had it in some capacity for 10 years now. Once I re-opened the retail location, I quickly realized that in order for it to succeed, I would have to really be a retail store manager. Which means I create less. Which is why I started Hey Lola in the first place. So while Hey Lola the store is doing fine, I'm not really sure what I'm doing here anymore. Especially since I am receiving more and more requests for custom work that are continually being delayed because I have to run a store.

Hey Lola the store is competing with Hey Lola the merchandise and at this time, they can't exist together. They just can't. In order to keep loving and nurturing Hey Lola into the romantic and recycled and beautiful line that I KNOW it can be, I can't spend my days trying to be a shop manager. Especially if I need to spend my nights being a bar owner.  So Hey Lola the store is closing it's doors in the middle of January.  Not because the location isn't great - because it is. Not because business was bad, because it isn't. It's not fantastic, but we could have stayed here indefinitely and been just fine. Our customers are loyal and wonderful and add a bright spot to every day.  But I need to focus on the creative side of Hey Lola, and I'm losing quite a bit of that by trying to maintain the store.

We are fortunate enough to have studio space in our home, and that's where I will continue to work. Hey Lola merchandise is already being carried in 3 stores here in town and is available online. I hope to expand that, so that these beautiful pieces are carried everywhere. I am slowly building our Etsy shop back up and hope to be able to incorporate that with this blog and our website and create a real online home for all things Hey Lola. I have already made plans to take part in the Riverfront Market next year and will more than likely be taking part in other vending opportunities.

My husband and I are lucky enough that our customers at Blue have supported us through this journey and that we can afford to make decisions like this. I think in the long run, that this will benefit Blue, Hey Lola and the neighborhood in general. I am still committed to Renaissance Park/West Main and I still think it's a great place to locate a business.  Even more so, because I've now had two here, both of which have been successful and one of which isn't going anywhere.

I recently read this in a Forbes article and it struck a chord with me - (It's about Kathy Ireland and I LOVE Kathy Ireland.)

"Not every move you make is going to be a winner. So what? Pick yourself up, learn from it, and move on."

Opening a retail location at this time wasn't the right move, but it's a move I learned from, so it was important. In the end, closing the store wasn't even a hard decision to make, because it is so clearly the right decision. I just need to take smaller bites, so I can really enjoy everything life has to offer and focus on what's important - so I can do a great job instead of an ok job. I hope you understand and I hope that you'll continue with me and Hey Lola as we continue this journey. You are all appreciated so very much!

Why Shop Local?

The big cry right now for lots of people is "shop local!" ...but why? If Big Business donates thousands of dollars to a local charity and a small business barely squeaks by but does nothing to contribute to their community, why shop with them over big business? Shopping local is great but it's better when it means something.  I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you the story of my business and the businesses around me and what it means for us when you shop local.

This is The Gaslight, a tavern my husband and I bought 4 years ago. 

It used to be run by drug dealers and murderers until the FBI and the DEA came in and threw everyone in prison. 

It was closed for 8 years after that, until new people came in and tried to start over. It didn't work. The bad element never went away. Drug dealers still wanted to hang out and after a year, it closed. Then somebody else came in and tried it. It didn't work. They kicked out the bad element and there was no one left to buy anything. They closed after 3 months.

My husband and I are apparently crazy, so we thought we'd give it a try.

We decided if it had even a chance of success, we had to change everything and we had to do it with almost no money. Because we're crazy.

We used a lot of blue we called our bar "Blue."

This is Blue.

Blue has been here for 4 years. My husband and I work almost every night and we don't let drug dealers hang out. Not even in the parking lot.

These are a couple of our customers.  They work for the local public television station.  The guys behind them are from a local church. They just finished a community clean-up because...

If you're going to locate your business in a struggling neighborhood, you should sponsor clean-ups. So we do. Every month, April through October.

We were incredibly excited when the guys from Excel and Urban Artifacts decided to take an old boarded up building down the street...

And convert it into retail shops, artist studios and two art galleries...

I liked this idea so much, that later on I decided to locate my own store right here!

My husband liked it so much that he decided to locate James McGhee Photography here:

Urban Artifacts and Excel decided to give us money to help with the neighborhood clean-ups. With more neighbors and more financial support we decided to take an empty lot...

And start a community garden.

When a business that had been here forever decided to close, we were disheartened.  Until somebody came in and opened the amazing Broken Tree Coffee in it's place! 

This is a mural in progress on Broken Tree's outside wall...The owner works on this in between running his shop, being a father and husband and helping out with the community garden and neighborhood clean-ups.

Meanwhile, across the street, we were looking at this...

Which was pretty depressing...


The Main Statement opened! Owned by a young couple with a brand new baby, they carry work from a large variety of local artists and help out with neighborhood clean-ups and the community garden.

Do you know what would be really great next to The Main Statement? An artist studio and Russ Joseph opened one...

He keeps late hours and is helping us form a neighborhood watch program. His gallery compliments the already existing Backspace Collective, a "space for contemporary art and ideas."

In the meantime, the local karaoke bar shut down, leaving an empty storefront in the middle of all of our hard work....


Pitch Karaoke opened! The guys from Pitch not only help out with the clean-ups and the garden, but they also raise money for cystic fibrosis and the local humane society!

With more and more businesses coming into the area, we took on a couple more projects...

 This corner needed some work...

So we're working on it...a little bit at a time...

These planters always end up neglected...

So we clean them up...

The more we all do, the more people seem to want to be a part of it...

Like Jessica Ball, from The Art Garage!
(photo via Peoria Life)

Jessica Ball and her family help with the clean-ups, the garden, the landscaping and recently adopted a dog  through Foster Pet Outreach.

With all of this activity, we decided to start The Renaissance Park Community Association - a group of all of the volunteers, neighbors and businesses that are working so hard not only to build their own projects but to build this neighborhood into a community we can all be proud of. Other businesses in the area that have contributed to all of this hard work include the amazing neighborhood staple, The Costume Trunk and Mr.G's (now owned by the same people who brought you One World Cafe!).  We've even attracted help from businesses outside of the neighborhood, like Heading Om Yoga and Top Hat Productions!

And me? I volunteer for the local humane society, Foster Pet Outreach, Crittenton Centers and am one of the founders of The Renaissance Park Community Association. Don't be surprised to find me picking up trash and pulling weeds at midnight around here - surprisingly, it relaxes me.

So this year, when you think about shopping local, think about why...and hopefully you'll think about us!



Super simple pretty packaging

We like pretty packaging at Hey Lola, but we also like to keep our packaging pretty simple. Here's our simple solution to making a gift box just a bit prettier...a bit "giftier." 

Items needed:
Silk (or fabric) Hydrangeas
Satin Ribbon
Needle Nosed Pliers or Tweezers
Gift Boxes or Pillow Boxes

Pull your hydrangeas off of the plastic stem, leaving just the flower petals with the hole in the middle

Cut a length of ribbon long enough to wrap around your gift or pillow box and tie in a bow

Use your pliers or tweezers to push both ends of the ribbon through the center of the flower

You should have a large loop, with the ends of the ribbon coming through the front of the flower.

Pull your loop over your gift box...

Tie it in a bow and place a pretty gift card under the ribbon...

This makes great packaging for wedding favors, too!



The Grinch of Halloween

Tonight, one of the bloggers I follow posted something about how her son was traumatized when he went up on someone's porch to ask for candy and the woman's dog rushed at him.  She was obviously upset, said that her son was so scared that he just wanted to go home and that the "stupid lady ruined trick or treating for him!" Apparently the lady apologized and said that she was expecting her husband instead of a child dressed as a hot dog. The blogger thought it should have been obvious that it was a small child rather than her husband, because it's Halloween.

My first thought was..."But you came to her house...uninvited..."

I don't have any candy and I don't need a vacuum.
(Image via The Grindstone)

And then I realized that that line of thinking doesn't work when it comes to Halloween.  Halloween is all about strangers coming to your house uninvited, and it's supposed to be perfectly ok. 

Except for some of us, it's just not.

Before I go into why some people...and by some people, I mean me...don't like Halloween, let me say that I don't think it's ok to open your front door and let your dog go rushing at whoever happens to be standing there. It's not safe for the guy on your porch, it's not safe for your dog, and it's bad manners. 

Polite dog = better than rude dog.

My husband and I have 5 dogs and we don't have kids. Between us, we own three businesses and we work at each one.  One of those businesses is a bar, which means being social is part of our job description. We love it and we love our customers. But, because we have a job where we're extremely social all of the time, our home life is sacred. It's not for being social. It's for our family to be alone and spend time with each other, without the outside world. We very rarely have people into our home, and we prefer it that way.

And along comes Halloween...

We don't celebrate Halloween because it's truly just not something that appeals to us. We like bike riding and bird watching and scuba diving and scary movies and Thanksgiving and birthdays and I actually LOVE dressing people up in costumes for special events...but personally celebrating Halloween...not so much. We also don't encourage trick or treaters because it gets our dogs worked up.

"I think there might be small children dressed as Minions on our porch. Please hold me."
(Image via Imgur)

 Every year we turn off our porch lights and hope that kids won't come up to our house. Because we don't celebrate Halloween, we're usually caught off guard by how early it starts, don't have our light off on time (which we prefer to keep on for safety reasons) and we end up with kids on our porch, knocking on our door, while the dogs freak out because someone is on our porch (we have not trained them out of this behavior, because we like to be warned when anyone is on our property and the dogs are a deterrent to crime). 

You guys. I am totally freaking out. You don't understand. This is not ok. 
(Original source unavailable, image traced via TinEye)

When we turn the light off, we still end up with kids (and quite a few uncostumed adults with pillow cases, but that's another story...) on our porch, knocking on our door. 

So we turn off all of the downstairs lights in the house...and we still have kids on our porch. 

 Tonight, I spent Halloween with our porch barricaded, sitting in the dark, counting down the minutes until all of the kids had to go to bed.

 My dogs are traumatized by both Halloween and the 4th of July - every single year. They're my very least favorite holidays. 

I guess my point is - not everyone thinks about kids coming around asking for candy. If you're not a parent and not into Halloween, you don't prepare for it and you don't expect it. The only reason we prepare for it is because it's a bad day at our house. I can see how someone might have opened her door expecting her husband instead of a young kid. I agree that dogs should be trained not to come anywhere near the door when it's opened, for both their safety and the safety of others, but I don't think it's fair to call the woman stupid. 

She just might not have been thinking , "oh yeah, Halloween!" 

We like to leave our porch light on for safety and it's irritating to me that we have to turn it off for a holiday that we don't celebrate. I'm sure other people feel the same way. I hope other people feel the same way.

If no one else on the planet feels this way...
...that's so messed up, man.
Seriously. *

 I don't think kids are stupid for dressing up and wanting to go trick or treating. I don't think they're stupid when they come up to my darkened house. Kids in halloween costumes are adorable and I love that they love it as much as they do. Halloween is awesome for kids and parents should encourage things that are awesome for kids.

Look at this little peanut...HE'S A PEANUT!!!! So cute I want to die. He deserves all of the candy you will allow him to have. From someone else's house. Not mine. Your peanut is adorable but I don't have any candy and I really need you to get off my porch.
(Image via Halloween Express)

It's just weird to feel like a bad guy because you don't celebrate a holiday and you don't want people coming up on your porch for 2-3 hours straight.

I know. I'm the Grinch of Halloween.
(image via Christmas TV History)

So for next year, I will barricade myself in a little earlier so there's no confusion, and hopefully you guys will head to my neighbors house instead and I can admire all of your little peanuts via your facebook posts.

Except for the un-costumed grown up with the pillow case. You are NOT a little peanut and I hope someone gives you a caramel onion.

Eat it. Seriously. It's probably delicious.
It's definitely not an onion. Unless it is.
(image via Del's Popcorn Shop)

* Turns out that this guy hates Halloween more than anybody. Awesome.

Make Your Own Great Gatsby Costume

I've had a lot of people coming into the shop lately looking for 1920's dresses. The latest version of "The Great Gatsby" has lots of people throwing prohibition era parties, and everybody wants to look the part. Authentic 1920's era clothing is nearly 100 years old and as such, is ridiculously hard to find and if you can find it, it's either going to be in bad condition or more than likely more than you'd want to pay for a costume. You could buy a flapper girl Halloween costume and look like everyone else that had to resort to a flapper girl Halloween costume...OR...

You can make your own with a simple tank dress and a few embellishments (and PS - sewing machines explode when I come near them. This was all done by hand):

Materials Used:

Decorative Buttons
Black elastic
Black Furniture Trim
Plain tank dress (From Plato's Closet - just $5.00!)
Hot glue
Needle and thread

You can find rhinestone buttons like this online or at your local craft store for less than $5.00 a pair.

I used sheer ribbon for this project - approximately 1 1/2 rolls, at $1.99 a roll.

I used feathers from previous wedding centerpieces that I had made, but you can find a variety of feathers at your local craft store. I also find feathers at our local thrift stores quite often.

For the shoulder pieces, I folded six 6"-8" pieces of ribbon in half and sewed a button on to the pieces. I dabbed the feathers with some hot glue and wrapped them in ribbon and glued them between two pieces of felt to hold them together. I sewed the button and ribbon piece onto the top layer of felt on the feathers, and sewed the entire piece on to each shoulder.

I cut 6" to 8" pieces of ribbon and sewed them individually around the bottom of the tank dress. Fringe was an option, but I was trying to use what I already had on hand, and I liked the way the ribbons curled around the bottom.

I used 15" of black furniture trim and attached 5" of black elastic to make a headband. I sewed the elastic to the trim and then secured it with hot glue and leaf shaped pieces of black felt. The feathers were secured between two pieces of black felt with hot glue and another rhinestone button was sewn through the felt and feathers and on to the headband.


A close-up of the shoulder

I made the necklace as well, but that's another blog post. Any long, matching necklace will work for this costume.  I already had all of the materials needed to put this together but if you were going to do this from scratch and you already had a glue gun and needle and thread, I would estimate the cost on this to be approximately $20- $30, with anywhere from 2 - 3 hours of work.