Losing. But have not given up the game! Am struggling every few days with family and work and daily things. Some times are better, some are not.
On the losing side: my arts and crafts business has had a few bright spots lately. 9 pairs of beaded gloves were sold in March at the ice rink pro shop, a framed photo of mine was sold at in the art gallery show, one of the shops I'm in expanded their inventory of my things, another is moving to a larger space and I hope they will do the same.
How many good things is that so far?
Add to that a point for continued involvement with Sierra Club. Somewhat low profile. I've been getting up to speed on fracked wells in my city (yes, wells are fracked not terribly far away, I was unpleasantly surprised to map them myself). Am putting on a River Clean Up for Earth Day in my neighborhood. Made a cool flyer for our chapter annual party. And choosing what other issues and events to get active with/
On the 'winning' side: in a nutshell - what should be a happy and supportive phase helping my high school son sort through and visit colleges, apply for scholarships, and all that goes along with that has morphed into a sad and frustrating experience. I AM GLAD to be able to be present for this, he doesn't want to put much into any of it. I am sure some of this is fear, some of it immaturity. He thinks he will breeze into college based on his grades. Unfortunately he is weak in life outside of school. This has been very difficult for me, and I'm trying not to get anxious. So my take away? DON'T CARE so much about what happens to him. NOT particularly a happy ending.
Ditto on him getting a summer job. Am trying to help, he isn't exactly motivated. We don't give him bucks. If he needs tennis shoes or shirts, yes, we buy that. The video game console is being turned off by summer vacation, as is the dish TV. Will he get out there and take charge of his life a little? I am trying not to get bent out of shape on this one too.
How many bad things is that so far?
Let me add: the big struggle with my daughter over high school gym choice, the little struggle with my daughter over repeatedly poor laundry/tidiness/chore duties, her continued choice of doing things at the last hour instead of smarter time management. Aggravation is me. Huge.
So lucky for you I have run out of time to elaborate!!
Except if we visit Portland, what do you suggest to see/do? We already plan to ride bikes around most every day that it is not raining.
Losing. But have not given up the game! Am struggling every few days with family and work and daily things. Some times are better, some are not.
It was Dear Abby some years ago where I saw a letter asking how to make a change in daily life to achieve a dream (I think the writer wanted to get a college degree if I recall). The advice lady answered something to the effect...
"You can wake up on your 65th birthday and either be in the same situation you are now, or wake up that day and have the degree on the way (or maybe even it be done)."
I've remembered that advice for years and have now taken it to heart myself. For me, the most important thing to make a mark on this world, to leave a legacy if possible, is to help the environment. Sure having kids and little everyday things are important, but the time has come to think bigger. To put my money where my mouth is so to speak.
So I've put aside the jewelry making largely (but not completely quit yet) and am letting my local art association membership expire in June. And rechannelling all that volunteer time and festival vending, and business administration into volunteering for the Sierra Club. Of course, there are loads of environmental groups in the world, but the Sierra Club is the one I pick. It is the grandaddy, the original model. I am proud is started in in the USA because of the natural wonders in California. WHERE I LIVE!
I was an active member more than 20 years ago (BC before children) but had to divert my time and attention to family and that almighty day job. I was always mildly involved but not much more than a membership and ocassional outdoor trip for the last 10 years.
The soul searching hit me and about 2 months ago I took the steps to get back on track with what I love and think is the most important way to spend my time. I got up and went to meetings, volunteered to be an outdoor leader (got training), and help with local and national issues. Ah yes, special interests!
I'll still be here to write, but it will be much more about the environment and ways to get involved if you want.
So when I wake up next week on my 55th birthday, I will have already gotten well on the way to reaching my dream.
Such a relief that things are going more positive with my family life. I noticed a couple times the oldest has been a tad more interactive with me lately. For example, when I just happened to step in his room last evening (to say 'hi how's it going') he showed me a few emails he got from colleges showing interest. Nice, he's proud and it was a good thing to talk about. (He's a sophomore and took a practice ACT and scored high. The schools let the results go to colleges thus he got contacted. Even so, high scores are just part of the process to get a great scholarship.)
Anyway, then my daughter was pretty open and didn't become defensive immediately when we were home together after school. The first thing she was doing was getting back to a relative on email regarding girl scout cookies. But truthfully was taking way too much time on it. Figuring out which website would show the cookie to this relative, looking up google images of these types, making an attachment of the pictures, OY! It was early (5pm or so) and I didn't hassle her except to say ONCE that this was taking more time than it should.
The next hurdle was dinner, and I knew she wouldn't want the soup and salad I was making (cream of broccoli). The typical situation in the past is she goes and makes something herself. Hard to fault that: she makes it her business to fix good meals and generally clean up after herself, but sinks time into it that she doesn't really have.
So I offered to make her something. Gave her a couple 10 minute deadlines before the offer expired. Had to give a couple ideas, and she ended up accepting the offer. Whew.
And the last positive development of the night? The 9:30 bedtime has been a knock down drag out fight far too many times. If she doesn't make it, my DD doesn't get her iPod the next day. It's been a very unhappy procedure.
She makes it go to the last second almost every time, or doesn't make it and has incredibly crafted excuses. Sometimes I hand this duty off to my husband, and guess what: he doesn't make the rule important and doesn't care very much about the results. No consistency and it hurts the principle (of managing time better and a teen getting enough sleep).
I realize the behavior is basically a struggle for independence and saved just for me and I've tried incentives such as 'you get a great backrub every minute you are in bed early!'
So another idea came to me a couple days ago: She got a new alarm clock at Christmas (the old was on it's last legs and this one has nifty temperature readings she likes and a better radio). It has 2 alarm settings, AHA! I secretly set the 2nd alarm for 9:30pm. So when it beeped WE ALL KNOW it is that time.
It worked last night. The beep was the call to bed, lights out. Very little hassle.
So the wake up alarm is now a go to bed alarm. At least for a while until I have to think up something new.
ah, my family life is at a low point. Break down of communication. Between me and each of the others. For different reasons, none entirely unexpected. I have started a journal (last week) and writing it down does help relieve the stress and distill the issues for me. Want to commiserate, see below. Or just pass and come back in a few days when I hope things are better.
Parenting, me vs my husband. It's been several years that I struggle with my oldest on balancing the video games with outdoor activity and household participation. I have stressed these subjects to my son hundreds of times over the years in a hundred different ways. My husband is far to easy on my son, gives in to my son's ways and lets it go. Sometimes that method works, but I want that to be the exception, not the rule. Examples? I made a rule there would be no video gaming on school nights (and I took away the controllers to work during the week to remove the temptation on occasion). My husband said there would be a max hours of video gaming on the weekends: 6 hours a day. SIX HOURS. Oh for heaven sake. Might as well be all day.
Generally, my son makes fairly good choices. I want him to take more charge of his future. He will be 16 in a few weeks. Time to get more serious about a part time job in the summer, to finance a car if he plans to get one, and to look at what college choices (including scholarships) that are in his future. My son is not inclined to put himself out for any of these. I know it is partly from fear of becoming independent, it's scary and he might not succeed. And in the meantime his dad provides very good home, food, and easy extra money.
So I am fairly miffed at my husband for being soft on the parenting.
Teen Mother-Daughter Psychosis. At this point my teen daughter assumes without question anything and everything I say or do interacting with her is going to be critical and unapproving. I am very sad and this is tearing me up. It brings up alot of bad psychology in my own teenage years. So it is full on confrontation no matter if I: try to get her to commit to a figure skate practice time, want her to go to bed on time, pick up her floor, make her own lunch! You name it, every little thing.
I had a lot of tears this weekend. It is not just hormone crap. These are issues that have been on the burner for years.
One tiny good thing, I have not given up in making things better. I can go to my daughter and say 'You worked really hard in skate practice today' or 'Please let me say good things about you!' or something. My son went on a hike with my husband all day yesterday (only after I made it clear to my husband that he needed to be strict and STAND UP for the right thing as a parent). This momentum needs to continue from both the boys and neither will be particularly gung ho about it.
That's all for now.
Did you do what I did? Find great deals on special chocolates at the grocer after Christmas? The last week of the year is the best. Even though supply and selection is limited, I don't mind taking the chance waiting till the end. Truthfully, if there isn't anything I like at that point, then I don't buy it at all. Really don't need it!
But if there is, I use it for Valentines Day. The kids are teens, they can afford the calories. Personally I don't want to feel obligated giving Valentines; I know my daughter would feel slighted as would my husband if I didn't. They are both more sentimental than me. *sigh*
So capturing the 75~90% off good stuff makes it a little more attractive for me. Here's what is on the schedule for 2/14:
$1.30 big bag of pnut M&M (my husband doesn't care that they are green and red) and a historic limited edition book about the Gold Rush (from the $2 library sale shelf)
$3 big box of white chocolate peppermint bark in a pretty package (one of my daughter's favorite)
$2 giant hershey kiss (the bigger the better - plain chocolate for my son)
Several $1.30 big bags of hershey kisses for the pantry cooking - mint dark chocolate and regular milk chocolate. Wrapped in green and red who cares!!
TIP: If you didn't get to these sales, check the dollar store. The one near me has some great gourmet chocolate. I was surprised! Here's what I found (and I got for myself!!):
Lindt 85% cocoa extra dark - I tried it and it is good. Made in USA based on original Swiss recipe
French 74% dark chocolate - maybe it is cheap french chocolate, but I think even CHEAP french food is probably a cut above American decent food!!
Milestones passed? 3 years ago was the last elementary school valentine party for me as a mom. Yes, we all remember our own elementary school parties fondly, but truly I did not love racking my brain making things that were inexpensive and had any shred of health for the classmates. Nevermind all the candy coming home. (I think we gave sugarless gum several years...?)
2 years ago: I became the mother of 2 teens. Am surviving, some days better than others...
For my next trick: I will have a 16 year old in a few weeks. It's a boy! Not as dramatic as a girl perhaps. There isn't a plan for a psychological minefield sleep over party or a group warplay game date. He hasn't wanted to do anything different for the last few years even though I want him to!
He is not terribly conservative. Likes shiny new video games and electronics as much as any guy. Is the typical young adult, expecting to breeze through college right into a job earning 6 figures. Hmph.
Well it would make me happy to have a happy 16th birthday. What to do. Take a spin at the indoor (electric) go cart track? We never went to one of those paint ball places. Disneyland? (he would probably rather go with a girl). Heck, even the movies? He just says 'no'. Mostly I think because when he was a kid and the parties were big, I always was a bit overwhelmed and he was worried!
So what to do to mark this reasonably important, at least in American culture, milestone?
I had a funny idea for a gift: fill a laptop case with cash. Well at least with $1's. And if that wasn't 'full' enough maybe add some toy dollars. He has a good laptop and needs a carrying case.
But I checked ebay and there really isn't a big load of toy dollars for sale for just a few bucks anywhere. I don't want to print it on a computer or even use a copy machine. So I think that idea is not going to happen.
He has said he would like money - checks specifically - because these would be better for depositing and less likely to be spent.
I had one of these (below) and was thinking of giving as a special gift (doesn't happen very often!). But I deposited it all so I can write him a check instead. To put in the laptop case. With something. Not sure what.
Boring, but better?
When one of the shops that carried my personality collage cards closed at the beginning of this year, I took those cards and put them in another location that was low on my stock.
Then last week, I got an invite to request rejoining the store (under a new owner). That's happy news! And I also had approached another store last week to see if they wanted to give my cards a try. (I am a loyal patron already, and they are interested in local goods).
But I didn't have any spare funny cards in case either said yes, so I spent the weekend making new ones.
Here's a couple (lousy photos) of the first batch:
Lemon Lime Heads
Girlfriend! This one is supposed to pick up someone's spirit if they have a big birthday, or are getting over a serious illness.
Admittedly, you've probably never seen a dog walk like this. Got a valentine? Personally, I like the construction chick.
Hope I got you laughing a little!
How do I justify the rush to get my teens driving with my environmental conscience! The good news: yesterday was my oldest first day behind the wheel. It went well. But mostly not with the official driving teacher.
He is in a AAA driving class: 8 lectures, and 6 one hour car sessions. The lectures are looooong and truthfully a little overboard with the details. But all the driving schools are $300+ and this one results in a reduction of insuring him in the amount of about $180. That sold me right there.
So yesterday was the first time the teacher gets him in the car. Well really SHE sat in the driver seat and talked for at least 12 minutes. (Oh the torture for the teen!) Then (I was sneaking peeks from a hidden spot) he finally gets to sit in the driver seat and I see him start the car. And they don't move for at least another 10 minutes!!
Sheeeeesh. I left after that.
Turns out they went around the parking lot. A little. That's it!! He said he never even touched the accelerator. Oh good grief.
On the way home I took him to the BIG BIG BIIIIG empty fairgrounds parking lot. It was dusk but we spend at least 15 minutes going here and there. Parking and restarting. Left and rights. Driving out the fairgrounds area and back in (a teeny tiny bit of street traffic).
Then after home and a little dinner, I took him out again around the neighborhood. He wasn't crazy to rush into it because it was dark out. But there was very light traffic.
So we drove past two of his friend's house, to the grocery store about a mile away, etc. Did his first traffic light. He did fine.
Do you remember your first day behind the wheel? Was it with a parent?
Truthfully, I am very happy inside. After all the teen drama and stress in my last months, this will be a good memory for hopefully most of his life.
SWEET! Now how to convince myself pushing another gasoline car on the road is ok....
BTW, my brother ordered this 3-strand silver weave necklace for his wife's birthday the first hours I showed it on facebook:
Graceful silver loops with a lemon-lime cubic zirconium round charm.
Aha! The minute after I wondered 'Where did all the free time go?!' during holiday break, it occured to me! One of the time sinks was: alterations.
Up until about my mid 20s I was continually altering clothes for myself. Work slacks were always too long (I am a towering 5'1") for example. Back then there were fewer petite departments. After age 30 or so I decided enough. It was nice to save some money buying sales clothes but was tired of using my time to take up the hems. Though it was more expensive, I either shopped the petite sections (which became more prevalent) or did without. The alteration chores died.
Well, three gifts to my daughter this year were clothes that I ended up sewing. She is a slim petite. Not perfectly in children's size 14 nor junior or women's extra small size either.
Ack. No problem. That's where (some of) the time went.
PJ bottoms. Cozy flannel and fleece shortened 3 to 4 inches (2 pair).
Winter Vest. She asked for vest to be used for figure skating. I checked 3 good sports stores, and either the women's extra small were sold out or they were too loose for her (the torso needs to be form fitting for figure skating). We went to the sales after Christmas and found one with knit side panels (quilted front/back). This would be a snap to alter, so I simply took a big tuck on each side panel.
Padded Shorts. Another project wzs making padded shorts for figure skating. These are for hips and tailbone. The pads are incredibly overpriced ($35 ~ $40 ea and you need 3) and the commercial shorts were hopelessly too big for her. So I designed a pair over a year ago and sewed it myself.
The original pair were just beat up like crazy, not to mention 4 sizes too small by now!
I made a repeat pair, it took some brain work and time again. (If you want to know, it involved cutting a $4 pair of leggings below the thigh and reusing that material to make pad pockets on the inside of the shorts.)
So do you do alterations routinely?
After nearly a year of mostly moderate, but sometimes sharp neck pain that limited normal movement, my husband convinced me to go to the doctor to at least check it out. Perhaps it was a pinched nerve? I usually can figure out what is the reason for my own health problems, and only go to the doc if I am really sick! I ran through the probabilities in my mind on this one: (a) build up from psychological stress held in my shoulders over years and years and years; (b) plain ol' old age; (c) combination of the two. There was no trauma that started this, it was worse some days without reason, etc.
The pinched nerve idea was a good point so I finally gave in.
I like my doc, she didn't suspect pinched nerve and sent me to a physical therapist. I trust her.
Anyone have PT? It was my first time. The woman was smart, figured out exactly which muscle was the source of the pain in a couple minutes. She said the shoulder blade on that side is 'slightly misaligned'.
Folks, if each and everyone of us went to a doctor, there is no doubt SOMETHING would be found abnormal. And the doc would want to correct it.
OK, after 2 appts, I've gotten a picture on correct computer work posture; an exercise for the weak/strong muscle on that shoulder; and the advice to put a pillow under my elbow on that side when I make jewelry. And to pay attention to what strains that muscle and adjust my life accordingly.
Pfffft. I am not going back. It's not that she wasn't good, it's that this falls into the 'what grandma would say' category and I don't need to spend big bucks for it.
Off I go to do the exercise, just after I finish my 'mood lift' herbal tea (another expensive faux pas to be discussed in a later post!!)
You can blame CCF and a couple others for the price going up on these!! They advised me to do it after my post yesterday
10 Percent Price Increased
The columns are filled in for 2013, the bottom lines have been totalled. I do not practice 'creative accounting', work in absolutely no spin, am perfectly honest, and completely transparent. And am happy and satisfied with the report!
Pretty Cheap Jewelry 2013 Year End Report:
Expenses (materials, fees, ads, postage) ~ $1,925
Income (sales, and only actual sales) ~ $2,000
WHEE - that is a $75 profit.
In coming weeks I will compute an acceptable measurement of overhead (sales tax, state tax, mileage for work travel, home workshop), and that will be a very good deduction on my total income tax.
Perhaps I err on the simple side of bookkeeping. I do not do year end inventory, do not claim questionable expenses, do not even obtain loans for expanding the business. I prefer to spend only what I make. AFTER I make it.
If anything, I underprice and don't include enough for my own labor or design skill to make more profit.
Well I sleep soundly. And that is good enough for me.
Can you campaign committee members who are reading, say the same thing?
++++ January Special ++++
Eternity Circle Necklace with Garnet (January Birthstone)
Simple and timeless, a garnet charm hangs inside an endless circle. This is a 2 strand weave. A flourish at the bail adds just the right amount of style. See more here
Priced to fit the frugal budget. A handmade original.
How on Earth do my days off get so busy?! It's a full one today so this post is going to be brief! My favorite moment of the past couple weeks...
3rd Runner Up = Family Jeopardy Game (Wii) on New Year Eve
2nd Runner Up = Skyping visit with my sister and her family on New Year Day (my first skype, call me late to the party but better late than never!)
1st Runner Up = My husband making apple chips with his new toy, aka home dehydrator. And dried mango and pineapple and papaya strips. My teen son ate a whole bottle full in a few days, faster than we are going to make them!!!
The Winner = Seems we are making a tradition of playing family games and charades and a simplified version of Pictogram on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night. Christmas Eve was Monopoly and Scrabble. My son is the monopolist of the family. We humor him !! Truthfully it's wonderful to see the dealmaking between the various combination of parents/siblings - such relationshipping doesn't happen the entire rest of the year!!
Scrabble is slower paced, and it's a great pleasure to see my children's growing intellect in vocabulary.
On Christmas Day, my husband, Mr. Tool, loves his iPhone apps and installed a free Pictogram game version about a year or two ago. There are word categories, such as EMOTION, PLACE, or THING. Try acting out 'escaped inmate'; or 'creepy guy'! Or drawing 'phone service center'; or 'ferris wheel car'! YOU TRY IT !!
We laughed and had a great couple hours. I hope we do this many many more years.
And now onto the small biz work...One of my retail venues is closing tomorrow. I have taken some of the handmade jewelry out and put it on my Etsy site. And reduced the price (because there is no BIG commission anymore). Here's a couple examples:
Ring in the New Year Ring
This sweet little ring has a line of pearls and crystals on 14K gold filled wire. Adjustable and will fit most sizes. Perfect for saying 'I love you' at a birthday or let the easter bunny bring it to your mom, daughter, sister, friend or wife.
See all the details here
Classic Oval Drop Earrings
Sparkling oval drops never go out of style. Favored by royalty, movie stars, the wealthy. This is the last pair in my inventory, and priced half off.
Perfect for special occasion or a very thoughtful gift for a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend or wife.
Peach, tangerine, apricot is the theme; the post features a large crystal and the drop is wired continuously with a pattern of identical crystals and gold glass seed beads.
See all the details here
Follow your heart or follow a more proven formula? This question is present in many many forms. What to advise my soon-to-be college bound teens in what to study? How to decide on which charity to donate my time and money? What to produce in my small business?
That last question is easier (a little). Though it is important to make income from the jewelry crafting, I don't live off the sales. I have the luxury of using the money for non-necessities. Certainly any hobbyist seller should prioritize their goals. Mine seem to be: (1) creative or artistic fulfillment; (2) income; (3) tax deduction; etc.
So I concentrate on making what I want, sometimes the results are popular, sometimes not.
The holiday events are (nearly) over for Pretty Cheap Jewelry and the bottom line is solidly black. Here's the summary-
Wire weave jewelry +++++
Beaded glove sales +++
Vintage glove sales -
Handbound Booklet +
Collage Card +
Jeweled egg +
Guess what 2014 will bring? Luckily the wire design is what I want to do.
All hope is not lost on showing off the vintage gloves and the jeweled eggs, there are spring holiday events. But there will be a big GIVE AWAY if many of these things are still around in mid 2014 (I do NOT like clutter!).
The first week of the year brings new items to my Etsy site, in fact a few have already arrived...
Pink Ribbon Pearl Necklace
An update to a traditional look, a large pink glass pearl is set in a 3-strand wire weave. Hung on 18" black leather. See more here. Perfect for Valentine's Day, priced to fit small budgets.
Sail Boat Silver and Blue
Nice contrast of circles and lines around a sky blue cut crystal. Modern yet feminine design has enough detail to impress, never too much to be gaudy. More pictures and info here
Thanks for the reading, see you in 2014!
Ticking off the events ... my son had a secret santa exchange in journalism class and needed to come up with something for a 15 y.o. boy by Friday. The clues? The recipient liked 'tech, food, quirky' things. The spending limit was $10 but the essence of the gift was to be HANDMADE. So my son came up with the idea of a brownie or cookie or fudge in the shape of an iPhone (he would use frosting to put the logo and buttons on). Okaaaaaay.
Guess who would make the basic shape? Me. And the frosting. Me. How was I going to fit this in the schedule? When was he going to have time to draw the logo? It turned out he requested fudge; that was a happy choice. There was ONE can of sweetened condensed milk left in the pantry! And a bag of house brand (low cost) chocolate chips. WHEW! I made that super easy type of fudge in the hour between coming home from work and going to exercise class.
Later that evening I made the frosting more quickly than I thought it would take (must be all that practice doing gingerbread houses for the last 2 weeks), and he got to work on the logo. Here's the results:
The best part is he is pleased, not an easy thing to accomplish with a teen boy (who like most teen boys are in the thickest anti-mother phase of their lives). We had a very happy no stress time working together.
Please I'm hoping!! If that only will happen with the next thing on the TO DO: my daughter giving a gift to her figure skate coach and her friend next door.
I texted two days ago to my daughter to 'think of what she wants to give her coach and schedule a time to shop that we can both do'. Why did I TEXT? She has been really reactive lately, being defensive and very hard to work with. Texting is a more calm way of getting her thinking. OY
We will be with her coach in one day, and her friend two days later. There is very little time free before these get togethers.
And she hasn't made a reply. No surprise there. Wish me the patience of a saint
The busiest week of the year is over (for me), YAY! Ice skate Christmas show as always: guaranteed to get the spirit going. From dress rehearsal to bake sale cake pop to gift table selling to ...
Toy Soldiers Spindle
The wire wrap jewelry is the hot sell. I think it will be the future of Pretty Cheap Jewelry. Total income from this last event of the year (after fees and taxes) is about $200.
Things fall into place on the calendar now. Today? A work potluck and gift exchange. I participated in the potluck but PASSED on the gift exchange. One of those 'steal the present' games. Not everyone plays. I wish folks would focus more on charitable giving instead of being a 'have'.
And I didn't overeat at the potluck!
My daughter would like an insulated vest (for skating) and after striking out in her size at 2 good sports stores I went to Old Navy. There I found the right thing, and yes, there are some significant discounts now. All long sleeve shirts are priced to move at $5, fleece jackets $8 and lots of other deals. I partook, and got a $10 coupon for January.
It's here ~ the busiest week of the year for me. Working backwards...
(a) Four shows at the ice rink (Fri night, Sat afternoon, Sat night, Sun afternoon)
(b) Dress rehearsal Thur night
(c) Set up my gift table Fri afternoon
(d) Add in donations to the organization dinner (big green salad for Sat night) and the show bake sale (cake pops, lots and lots to bring Fri)
(e) Extra dance rehearsal and regular skate lesson on Wed night
Um, two driving school lessons for my OTHER kid on Tues and Thurs
Also, one group homework project to be done on Tues after school
Perhaps but not definite: Girl Scout meeting on Mon after school
and oh: my MIL is staying with us Sat night
OOPS yeah, I work during the day, RIGHT?!
My iPhone calendar has lots and lots and lots of dots.
This past weekend we managed to hold a nice gingerbread house decorating party. My daughter started this tradition a few years ago with a few of her friends, and I invite a couple adults now too.
We use the store kits and I add extra home made cookies. I make a crock pot of chili, a big salad, and spaghetti for a buffet dinner.
One more mini silk tie purse of mine sold at our art assoc pop up store this weekend. Wish it was more, but happy for the small steady sales!
Saw two recent reports in the papers that due to excess inventory (lower than expected sales so far), that clothes discounts are expected in the next couple weeks.
The tip? Wait if you are in the market for clothes. "[one expert] predicted that clothing, especially childrenâ€™s clothing, will be discounted up to 60 percent and small home appliances could be marked down by up to 55 percent before the season is over."
These articles were in Wall Street Journal (but I only saw the first paragraph since I don't subscribe) and NBC News here which are both trustworthy sources.
Myself? I have two vouchers to redeem:
-a $10 Kohl's card
-a $6.50 Sport store card
I'll ride my bike over this weekend and see if they have underwear on sale!!
Remember the Chore Genie? It lives at the Pretty Cheap Jewelry house to increase teen participation in mundane tasks. The chore genie charts rewards of $1 or 50c for duties like: unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, dog poo duty, cutting the grass. These rewards add up and can reach $20 or more at the end of each month.
There is no Allowance Fairy anymore who hands out $xx before tasks are done. The Chore Genie doesn't rely on pestering teens to follow through, and pays only after the work is done.
It's going fine! All of us are on the chart, and I LOVE getting a little extra 'allowance'. Yes, I made the most $$ last month, but it was nice to see proof that I do more than anyone else around the house. I am still under a some stress to (work a day job!), make wholesome dinners, run a small business, and manage my children's schedules, the Chore Genie is still being useful.
NEW this week: My son starts AAA driving lessons. Hoo boy! Yahoo! It is a 4 week course with 10 hrs behind-the-wheel. After a total of 50 hr behind-the-wheel he can take his test and get the license. Using this AAA class gives us a significantly reduced rate for him on the insurance for 1.5 years.
NEW today: It's Giving Tuesday, please do something to help another in need. I have two wishes from shelter kids that I am filling.
Two inexpensive ideas:
- put a book in Toys for Tots
- put change in a Salvation Army red bucket
- take worn rugs/towels to the animal shelter
- donate canned foods to the food bank
- give a teacher or school supplies (ask for their wish list)
Thank you and good karma!
I did most of my shopping already (it's not a ton). Gotta do it early to be sneaky and hide the gifts for mostly my kids and husband. All that's left are a few out-of-town family members, a few in-laws, and small things for guests at our annual gingerbread house decorating party.
So what's the downside? Simply that it's hard to STOP shopping and get the extra things that are wished for by the kids. And resist taking advantage of good deals for the next couple weeks.
OK, I have a lock on the wallet! and I threw away the key!
You saw the post about checking your American Express deals? I checked and used only one for a $10 credit on any Small Business purchase on Nov. 30. None of the other offers work for me.
But here an example I'm debating:
Spend $50 and get $20 off at Old Navy (with my VISA). I got this in the mail about a week ago. Today that place has 30% off everything also. Hmmmm. Certainly the 'sweatshop' aspect doesn't thrill me. But I will go and check it out because I really would like a few Tshirts for me and pajamas for the kids.
So do I want to spend another $30.....
In other news, our artist pop up shop is humming along. Nothing earth shattering, but several things are sold every day. FINALLY a jeweled egg ornament was sold yesterday ($25). Also another wire weave necklace was sold that day ($35).
So far I have netted $100 (post fees and commissions). There's 4 more weeks, HOORAY
My daughter started a new tradition a few years ago that I like! We have a few of her friends (and I now invite a couple adults) to decorate gingerbread houses. It's fun, and inexpensive!
Gingerbread House Decorating Party
(1) Buy a couple gingerbread house kits (using a coupon from Michaels or BBB). These are about $8 ea.
(2) Use sprinkles in the pantry, I also pick up sale ones through the year. It is also very easy to think of unusual inexpensive candy decorations, e.g. gum (cut into squares), crushed peppermint canes, slivered almonds. Or you could ask the guests to bring an item to use.
(3) Put up the walls ahead of time so they dry and are hard.
(4) Make a buffet meal: crock pot of chili, boil a pot of spaghetti, and a nice green salad.
VOILA, it is a great way to let out the artist in your guests. They can take home the house, or I donate it to a bake sale/shelter/boys & girls club.
I had time this past Sunday to make some gingerbread cookies for guests who don't have time to do a whole house. My daughter and I did some for practice! She is very creative, these are in today's lunchbox, and my teen son will undoubtedly eat them fast.
Will I see a difference? Next week my oldest starts drive lessons, it is a multi-week class from AAA. He can practice on our family car starting next Thurs (after Tgiving). I hope he will be excited! For the first 6 mo / 50 hrs he has to have a licensed driver with him (me or my husband). But I am hoping he will be excited and it will get him out to:
-take himself christmas shopping for his dad & sis
-take himself to community service at the ReStore
Wondering if it will it make him get out more out and about.
Question: If you wanted really good shave cream, where would you go? I'd like to give this as a gift. Need it to be (1) NOT overpriced (2) natural chemical-free (3) available in my area
Our art association boutique is buzzing along, we have been open 9 days. Not busting out in sales lately during the weekdays, and this past weekend was fairly quiet. But the foot traffic is GOOD and visitors are impressed with the upscale offerings. Keep fingers crossed!
Did a good bit of my own shopping this past weekend, starting with 5 locally owned businesses.
Spice Topia=exotic salts and sugars for my parents
Wild Bath=handmade soap bars for my MIL
Pottery Guild=Goblets for my BIL
and so forth
Have a good day Thursday, please say you're not shopping!!!!
Just 9 days ago my art association got a green light to use a vacant storefront in the Ventura Harbor for a seasonal shop. Thence ensued a feverish somewhat less-than-perfectly co-ordinated volunteer effort to get the place cleaned, divided into equal spaces, filled with artists work, and otherwise administratively set up with cashiers, background decor, merchandise supplies, etc.
It all fell into place nicely (with a lot of hard work), especially for us being a bunch of non-retail professionals.
We opened two days ago on Saturday.
And the customers bought. And BOUGHT. At least my things were popular. What fun!
The first day I made enough sales to repay the participation fee. WHEW a relief and now I can enjoy the next 6 weeks. Everything after this is income (though the association does a 60/40 split).
The wire weave jewelry is being sold nearly as fast as I can make. How exciting! Also a few handbound notebooks and notepads that I have had at other venues (and which were not noticed) were sold. THey are really cute, priced low $5 ~ $7.50, and were a pleasure to make because it was perfect way to use very nice trim scraps I had.
Other purchases? 4 handpainted silk scarves, 2 art photos, 1 very smart cat themed tree skirt ($100!), and some little things.
Maybe it's the higher pedestrian traffic at this location, maybe it was a blip on the statistics for the weekend.
Don't know, but it is a happy way to start!!
Where are you going to shop for gifts? Please remember to think before you go: is it a small business? an idependent owner? a local business? It's an important time of year for retailers, and especially small businesses. Take a minute now, what are you planning to buy and where are you getting these things. Thanks.
One, Two, Three, Go!
Up first this weekend Pretty Cheap Jewelry was in an independent gift boutique which targeted the arts community. The location is very hidden, mostly only invitees come visit. Each of us sellers had to volunteer to work, so that was half of one day this weekend. The boutique had a very gorgeous variety of artful things, it is stiff competition!! A few of my things sold, including the wire jewelry set below. I think my check will be $60
Next activity? The local gallery I am in at the harbor was offered a vacancy for a temporary holiday shop. It is waterfront, a big advantage!!
A volunteer-intensive proposition though! I spent another half day cleaning, organizing and getting some things put in (along with others). LOTS TO DO! mark out spaces, get an accounting system going, training all sellers how to open/close.
And making it all look cohesive, how to do that? Oh- at zero budget?!
In three places there is a deep shelf under a wrap around corner window. The corners are way too deep to reach merchandise. But those corners are VERY visible to the outside. What to put in the corner window spots?
Someone said GIANT TEDDY BEARS, and that got us started. Old BIG toys? We didn't want to be thought of as a toy store though, so we came up with some great ideas: boxes wrapped like GIANT presents, small tabletop trees we already had, GIANT pinecones bunched with green tinsel.
It will tie it all together and cost very little.
We are opening this weekend, watch for pictures here and HAPPY LOCAL SHOPPING
This roller coaster life is exhausting, stressful and I don't like it. Trying hard to even the keel, am not terribly successful lately. Perhaps writing this here will help get it all out of my system.
Sunday I had a table of artful jewelry outside my art association gallery for the a wine/jazz day (event throughout the harbor). I expected smallish crowds, usually cool months is a low period for the harbor. But it was great weather, perhaps a few more people came out because of that. I made more sales than I hoped, gross about $100 (the association keeps 40%).
A highpoint of the day: a tall outdoorsy looking lady came past and was reasonably interested in my things. I noticed right away --> She was wearing a pair of hammered starfish earrings I made about 2 years ago! So I said something and she happily explained that she just tried on one of my rings inside the gallery. She really liked it. I went back inside with her to see, and perhaps chat about the ring (how I made it, what it was made out of). There were 4 others of mine we looked at, but she just decided YES to take it. I don't want to push someone to spend their money, but seems the personal contact with the designer makes a difference.
Her beau was with her, both tall great outdoorsy types. He secretly showed me some earrings he just bought in the gallery for her as a gift, "were they also made by me?" So I looked, nope. I mentioned to him there was a hammered starfish bracelet in the gallery matching her earrings. Just for info. He ran back in, decided it was a must! Especially because it was inexpensive ($24) and that I wasn't going to do that design anymore.
Other folks noticed the wire weaves alot (one sold) and silk tie mini bags. We also made good sales in the gallery and had many visitors doing wine tastings.
Monday My daughter came down late to leave for school. Not a particularly bad thing at the time because I was not anxious nor yelling at her to get going (and I confess this was the case repeatedly a couple years ago and I have since stopped getting stressed on this point so much). She came down, had no breakfast, got her things and went out the door. We were getting a late start, I didn't want to miss my bus, I didn't want to end up driving (35 mi one way) to work.
The bad thing happened when we were a block out of the driveway. She realized she forgot an important assignment. She would get a zero. I said I would stop at the corner, she could walk back and then take the regular school bus that comes in about 25 minutes (plenty of time). She wailed and cried and said 'no'. She takes the bus home, but not in the morning and is not familiar with the routine. But I once again said I would stop at the next corner and she could do the walk/bus thing. She of course made all kinds of 'why can't you just take me back, it will only take a minute, etc etc' with lots of crying.
I really stayed calm, but not exactly warm and fuzzy. I said 'NO'. That she would live with the consequences of forgetting it. That yes it was a mistake, an accident, but perhaps she would learn not to come down at the last minute to leave. (I didn't get on her case for getting up at the last minute AND going to bed at the last minute).
This has been her style for several years. It was a train wreck in slow motion. Fortunately this is just a little fender bender in not turning in an important assignment.
But will she reflect back on this later today or tomorrow and learn to -- get things in order earlier. I don't know. That is the big hope, but I don't really think it will happen (based on the years past of her last minute behaviour). Maybe it will take many more mistakes. Maybe she will be better with planning her time after she grows up and leaves.
So I'm sad, this was a bad start to the day.
Nice ending this month with a sunny outlook for gift sales! Many good reports to give! Just the past week or so: (1) several pair of my handbeaded gloves sold in the pro shop at the ice rink; (2) fancy pair earrings sold in the local museum shop; (3) special order for a pair of wire weave earrings from a blog reader here.
Add that to other good news this month: (a) fancy wire weave necklace sold quickly on my website; (b) moderate sales at my first seasonal booth earlier this month.
I haven't totalled the income, it's less important than the feeling of customer and retail business support. (And truthfully, the money will be used toward my daughter's fairly expensive figure skate christmas show costume fees).
This weekend the ventura harbor is hosting wine/jazz on Sunday. Looks impressive on paper. Lots of wine tastings, specials and live music. At just our location will be:
Usually the number of visitors to our spot is not terribly high, nor are there a ton of sales. I signed on because it looks like a kind of fun, enjoyable few hours.
One event for Pretty Cheap Jewelry in Nov, two in Dec and that's the end!
It's working! The family genie has had a magical effect in the first week. What a change: About 2 weeks ago the daughter argued hotly (not for the first time by a long shot), 'my job is NOT to vacuum the steps!!!' and yesterday I got a BEFORE:AFTER photo text while I was at work. Of the newly vacuumed steps!! The best part? I wasn't even home! SWEET!
Other amazing fun moments: My son making a dinner salad for me (and my husband). Standing there chopping the veges, getting a little creative adding cut apples, putting in the fridge to keep cold until we were ready. A couple days later he was heard REQUESTING to cook dinner for the family! Wowza.
How did this happen? We changed the program from starting with a monthly allowance (and making deductions for failures) to starting with zero and each person earning $1 or 50c for household chores.
The chart is on the pantry, the jobs and value are shown. The only one allowed to fill in the person's earnings is Dad. But here's how we solve the issue of proof who did what since he is always not present when things get done:
'Take a picture of yourself/the job when in progress to show Dad'
aka -- Family Genie meet iPhone iPod
It's gotten a little competitive, we are trying to get jobs done before the another gets to it and grabs the cash! There is an element of potentially high earnings (more than $20 a month) which adds to the motivation.
I am smiling, a minor miracle with 2 teens.
Another thing to smile about, I am getting rave reviews on the Gold Drop earrings. Remember the lousy phone pic I put on a previous post? Here is what they REALLY look like.
Tulip Swan Harp Earrings
These are going to a shop tomorrow, I hope they get snapped up at $35.
(no I will NOT put the lousy picture again for comparison, it was so terrible)
Am thinking to make a pair for a gift this Christmas to a person I usually give something but who is hard to shop for.
Thx for reading! And long live the family genie!
Not often do I watch TV for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Nice that my kids and husband don't have much of a TV habit purely by absorption (by my example I suppose over the many years). If anything, my funny husband is stuck in the past, he records and watches vintage shows: Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, Columbo, Adam12. Or in times of elections, it's the crazy politi-tainment stuff. "Analysis," he says, "and saves time". My daughter used to love America's Funniest Video but lately watches Gilligans Island. Oh every so often they all will latch onto some new show. Dinner: Impossible or that hotel renovation guy.
So if it weren't for me, there would never have been Monday Night Football in the living room. Really it's only me and my son with an occasional appearance by my daughter. My husband doesn't know the rules, and would watch the weather channel instead of football.
What's an alumni Buckeye to do?
I still use the time productively, here's what I did during MNF yesterday.
Gold Drops Silver Wire Weave Earrings
A not very good photo of finely detailed earrings featuring a graceful curve of wire weave with a golden cut crystal briolette charm.
Not for sale until I take better pictures!!
Call me crazy, or maybe just an eco warrior, but the best moment of my weekend was taking the mangled metal frame of our former pop up tent to the recycler. It happened at an outdoor show; the 5+ year pop up popped that is, a couple of the metal arms snapped. Impossible to rehabilitate, a goner.
I squished it into the back seat of the car and carried on with the show under the open sky. S'ok. I got the necessary use out of it, a return on the original investment. I had bought an inexpensive one (not EZ Up brand) knowing something like this was going to happen.
My tidy self had planned to take it directly to the trash company, they would likely charge me $20 for 'hard to manage' items.
My husband advised me to take it to the recycler as scrap metal. OK, worth a shot. He had, but I hadn't been to the location, in a kind of industrial area but not too far from us.
I was pleasantly surprised at the welcoming atmosphere. Everyday people were bringing stuff (cans and bottles of course), but the place was organized well, the workers were efficient.
On the scale it went, and I got $2.36 cash!
The canopy fabric was perfect and it's already gone to a Freecycler.
From chaos to classic ~ the latest in wire weave work this weekend is a 3 strand fancy necklace featuring a large glass pearl and tiny violet crystals. See it online at Pink Romance
Remember when all the rage was a wok? I got one those many years ago because I thought it was a standard kitchen tool. NOT! It's mildly useful, but thankfully fits in the back of the pots and pans cabinet.
Smart happy (frugal) homes have mostly clear kitchen counters. You know the rule: keep it simple. One good set of knives is incredibly more useful and versatile than any chopping/slicing gadget. Or: don't clutter up your life with, and sink money into, things that become dinosaurs.
Easier said than done. It's hard to resist little electric 'helpers', right? In the early days of homeownership, and early days of marriage (with little kids) I made conscious effort NOT to buy most appliances. Some of the things I passed on or that have passed through my home?
Passed On: food processors. Ugh, too many little parts, not at all practical anyway. Never went there.
Passed Through: electric knife. Way back then, a grandma gave me an electric knife, but we only used it once a year and my husband laughed at how ridiculous such a item was (he preferred a basic DO IT YOURSELF knife).
Passed Through: Yogurt maker. Instead of buying all those little $$ containers, I went the homemade route for awhile with one of those little incubator things. The catch? Buying 'yogurt starter' or at least some yogurt from a serious health food store with live culture. Folks, there weren't those kind of health food stores 20 years ago closer than 200 miles apart. Saving starter for the next batch (like sourdough) wasn't always successful and you'd have to buy some more again.
As the family grew, so did the appliance count. Hmph!
Not Active: ice cream maker. That stuff is a staple in my husbands life (not mine!). And you know how good (and simple and sort of less expensive) homemade ice cream is compared to store bought. A few years ago I got him an ice cream maker to encourage going the pure route. It was second hand from Craigs List, an electric wood tub one. He was happy, the kids were happy, but it makes SO MUCH we don't use it often. (It's in the garage).
Not Active: bread machine. Ohhhh, this one I was dedicated to for 5+ years. I was kind of mad when a good loaf of bread (not white bread) went way over $1 a loaf. So I made bread often and wore out my first machine in a couple years. We used it weekly to make pizza dough (with our 'Pampered Chef' pizza stones, of course!!) Anyway, we finally seem to have tired of this phase and the bread machine is not being used much this past year (it is in the pantry).
Do you suppose this is why counters are getting bigger in kitchens? My counters are small, 4 separate small areas of white tile. Thereupon lay the following...
Still Out after all these years: Toaster Oven. So this is a workhorse. Used often for little meals (to bake chix nuggets, taquitos, cheese toast, etc.). The issue? It wears out too fast and needs replacing! Is there a better quality, not necessarily bigger toaster oven out there that will last more than 5 years. Anyone?
Still Out after all these years: Toaster. This little classic will never get stuck in the cabinet. We have a great little one that wasn't more than $20 and it's going strong.
Still Out after all these years: Blender. We don't do cocktails, we do smoothies. With protein powder. Excellent nutrition. And hummus. And occasionally cream soup. An oldie Oster.
Out new this year: Large slow cooker. It bumped the bread machine away. For soups, stews, beans. And lasagna! Since I work a longer day, am giving it a priority place out on the counter this year.
Heaven help me I am considering buying another appliance as a gift to my husband this year!!
To get or not to get: Dehydrator. Better to prepare our backyard produce? We have been canning applesauce and tomato sauce, dry herbs in the oven, and pickle peppers. Maybe we should make our own dried fruits?
Let me leave with a geek joke I saw on FB:
A physicist, a mathematician and an engineer were each asked to establish the volume of a red rubber ball.
The physicist immersed the ball in a beaker full of water and measured the volume of the displaced fluid. The mathematician measured the diameter and calculated a triple integral. The engineer looked it up in his Red Rubber Ball Volume Table.
And lastly a peek at some new jewelry I have been making...
Silver and Blue Lapis Necklace
A classic color combination, and a contrast in shapes and lines. Gentle curves meet stone angles on a modern yet feminine necklace design. Lapis is a semi-precious stone, I obtained a supply at wholesale prices and pass the savings on to you. See it all here Silver Wireweave Lapis Necklace. Comments and questions below welcome.
Red Crystal Briolette Hoop Earrings
Small details make all the difference in a pair of pure copper wire weave earrings. These are intended as part of a set with a fantastic matching necklace but can be purchased separately.
See details here for Earrings
See details here for Matching Necklace
Thank you and comments welcome below.
I've been wrestling with the mid-life hormone beast lately. Lately it had me down, but I'm still in the match! One of the reasons was a universal issue in probably 99.99% of all families with teens ... household chore duties! No surprise there.
Have you, were you consistent with getting your kids to do chores as part of the family? In high school?
Are you, were you able to be cheerful throughout this 'wonderful' phase?
If you are not Florence Henderson, please sit down. If you are, you're not real.
Anyway, I mean not just things only for themselves such as doing their laundry or making their lunch. I mean things that help the family like tidying up after dinner, sweeping the living room rug, or raking the leaves.
So am I completely delusional to think that the kids get on board with being more of a family team? Ok, sort of. I was HORRIBLE at this age, I admit. Worse than my own kids. Which makes me want to get through this in a BETTER way.
Ok, so here's the scene:
We had a monthly job chart. Each kid had several jobs to do (some jobs daily, some weekly, etc.) Their monthly account started at $20 which got deductions of $1 or $2 for jobs not done on time.
It worked for a few months but by the third or fourth repeat, guess what. Things were not getting done, Mom (me) was doing the jobs. The kid was still able to 'earn' some dollars because deductions were not made consistently.
I got discouraged, angry, a bad vibe lived in the house. My hormones wreaked havoc
So I wrote on our job chart 'PROGRAM SUSPENDED - BRING NEW IDEA TO DINNER TUES NIGHT'
Instead of ranting at the dinner about how the program has failed I just brought up a fix:
--- Start the month at zero and earn dollars for each job done ---
OK, we had a little Republican vs Democrat stand off!! (guess who wouldn't negotiate?). We had a laugh with that and moved forward with writing up jobs and their price, how to track jobs honestly, and the cap on earnings for example.
It was a successful meeting (take THAT washington).
Here is a sneak peak at our chart:
I am so relieved to have turned this corner. Will it be a long term success? I don't know, perhaps in 3 to 6 months down the road another idea will have to be developed. But to go another few months in a more positive atmosphere is very important.
So any app writers want to make this into a great product and sell for millions? just make me a deal.
Have you heard of Ojai, California? It's an enclave of fairly well off, ecologically bent art lovers. It supposedly is an escape for hollywood bigwigs, but truthfully the cross section of population has plenty of similarities to the average town (farm workers all the way up to millionaires). Larry Hagman used to marshall the July 4 parade, Beatrice Wood is the most famous past resident (pottery artist).
Anyway, there are several well established art fests in Ojai each year. It is an accomplishment to participate. I participated this past weekend as a guest of a resident artist.
It was an open studio tour; this is where dozens of artists throughout the area invite the public to their work areas. The locations are spread pretty far apart. I was out front of the studio of a very gracious lady with a couple tables in her tranquil yard.
See stop 30 on the map at Ojai Art Detour.
I was under a couple BIG pine trees and a HUGE oak at least 75 feet tall. A nature lovers setting. Wonderful. The trees were full of jays, a woodpecker was next to me most of the days.
We had a small steady stream of visitors, more than I expected being pretty far off the main center of activities. Sales were enough in 2 days to make it worthwhile, but not enough to jump for joy. I'll use the fact I was invited and participated as a qualification for future art endeavors.
I brought mostly sea glass jewelry, jeweled eggs, and wire weave jewelry. The wire weaves attracted a LOT of compliments (wish they sold just a much!). Many people asked for my biz card.
But since I don't have much made, I hadn't put any wire weave work on my website. Folks will probably be checking out the website though, (I noticed a few clicks even before the show), so today marks the first day the wire weaves are for sale on my website. At my fantastic low prices.
Here's the first, inspired by autumn leaves...
Copper Apricot and Emerald Wire Weave Necklace
A flash of orange and green in swirling copper curves are just like outdoor fall leaves and breezes. Intricate detail, described as modern, feminine and mesmerizing. Supremely affordable for original design from The Frugal Artisan. See all the details at
Pretty Cheap Jewelry
And the acorns? There were hundreds and hundreds under that oak so I gathered a large bag for a birder friend who has great knowledge and feeds wild species in her yard.
Also free to me that weekend? Dozens of limes from my host's tree. And before I left, her neighbor brought over a jar full of seaglass for me to use in jewelry. People love to collect it, but without a way to use it have been giving it to me. OK with me!
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