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Archive for October, 2010

Asked to Explain Sustainability

October 22nd, 2010 at 09:35 am

I call myself The Frugal Artisan, determined to provide good quality original design at inexpensive prices. But my frugal ethic is more than just about quality and price. It's a personality trait in my everyday life.

* What's for dinner?
Easy on the meat which uses multiple times the environmental resources (such as land space, water, and feed) to produce than grain diets. And heavy on the local fruits and vegetables which are not transported with fuels or grown with chemicals and are hopefully not even in a package! Perhaps better, I reach for a healthy serving of my own backyard farm foods.

* Time for a new sweater?
The thrift store offers hardly worn choices already on the market in more colors, shapes, and sizes than any place else. Support to the non-profits is a nice secondary benefit, as is the affordable cost.

* Cradle-to-Grave
Before I pick up that plastic sandwich bag, I think of where it will end up. Trash? Better to pack lunch in reusable containers, which can be recycled when they wear out in a few years. (I also think of where it came from, um, can you say fossil fuels?)

* Getting there to here
I'm fortunate to live near a grocery, or perhaps it was a semi-conscious decision in choosing a home location. I don't even think about driving to the nearby store! Bike riding and walking are ingrained for anything within a mile. Once a bus rider, always a bus rider. When gas went up to $4.50 a gallon I took the bus to work. I'll never go back to driving (except this year ARGH). Next year it is back to the bus to get to work.

* Just one more
Recently I discovered an online book trading group, requesting used books from others and sending those I am finished with. Some of you already belong to Paper Back Swap. Smart!

And so it goes with nearly everything I touch and do in everyday life.

Were not it better that humans were more like plants! The life cycle of a plant in the presence of water/sun/soil is truly the definition of sustainable. Plants ingeniously make oxygen (we still do not know exactly how). But, sorry, but by virtue of our physical arrangement, humans use stuff and make waste. All of us can however, make choices big and small leaving only a tiny footprint of consumption and waste. Our grandparents never heard the word recycle, and now our kids do it without a second thought. Next step? Set a living example, and advocate that all, poor and wealthy, think ahead to the Seventh Generation.

My work includes all these elements; reuse of materials already produced, reduced impact on natural resources, and a long life which does not end in the round file! The good quality original design at inexpensive prices is just the beginning.



Non Money Related Stress

October 20th, 2010 at 09:17 am

Would lack of money make my many other (small) daily stresses seem insignificant? Maybe it is like taking good health for granted. Suddenly losing it changes a person's perspective in a big way. Until, of course, (if) the good health returns and complacency again sets in for a long run.

I am fortunate by design not to have major money issues. It has been through a combination of very hard work (obtaining a college degree, specialized training and such), foresight (saving and spending appropriately) to enjoy the situation.

But I am still stressed plenty. Is it just a personality trait? Or is this common?

Time Undisciplined Kid #1
I agree that a kid should largely be allowed to be themself. The parent cannot impose their own hopes and dreams on a kid. And our ultimate job is to see an independent, happy adult sometime very soon after high school graduation.

One of mine is a more creative thinker. Translation: live for the moment, do assignments somewhat late in the game, 'forget' to put away things. How to infuse a sense of work discipline in a kid who has a different way of organizing their world. Frown

Example: After a fiasco last week in completing an assignment at the last minute, this kid has been better at tackling another large assignment in steps (the teacher gave them a fairly clear schedule of what big steps to do and when). But already there have been excuses and delays in finishing the second step.

Just getting that kid to do the school work, have a healthy dinner, and take a shower was a major struggle last night. In fact, we delayed the shower until morning. But that was another problem, as this kid is so NOT a morning person.

So unfortunately, a little morning scene resulted in taking away the after school dance class. Frown

Another example: This kid has an obligation to save about $100 for a spring trip. The parents will pay another $100 and the sponsoring organization will pay the last $100. So it is a very equitable arrangement, and the kids are wholly on board. The program started a couple months ago.

Mine can earn a $5 allowance weekly for doing a list of 5 chores. It would take about 20 weeks - about 5 months - to earn the $100. Here comes November and the trip is around May. Do the math. Or maybe I should point this out to the kid.

But remember the paragraph above about it being nearly all it takes just to get the homework, dinner, and shower done? Well never mind the chores. They fall by the wayside. No, there is NOT too much homework. No there are NOT too much chores. This kid has an undeveloped sense of budgeting time.

Should I mention the constant little things left not put away? Especially hair barrettes on the floor (I threw away two this morning, goodbye money), pencils, markers, papers. I am starting just to throw them away and usually have to get stern, ie not a happy voice, to get her to move on this issue many days of the week.

It is rather complicating that I am such a neatnik and perhaps overly disciplined person. Yet I put that aside a little more as time goes on.

Am I expecting too much from a 10 y.o.? It is taking a toll on me.

Moody Kid #2
Let this be written up later. I am tired enough!

Lousy Craft Show Weekend
Another post to make later. So trying to learn from the experience and move up and on. But I need a bit more time to shake off the blues.

Let me leave with at least a good and inexpensive thought --



"Embossed" needlework bringing the future back to the present. Order here.

Writing an Ad (Your Opinion Please)

October 11th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

On (very) rare occasion, I pay for advertising for Pretty Cheap Jewelry. My frugal artisan tendencies include frugal small business practices which point toward using no-cost promotions to the fullest extent.

This coming December I will be a seller at a popular local event. The community ice rink holds a Fri/Sat/Sun figure skate show to kick off holiday and seasonal festivities. It is a real treat, a well kept secret. Those who have attended are floored by the fantastic costumes, lights, decorations and all around production. The young kids do skate numbers, but it's the skate school instructors who steal the spotlight.

Most of these instructors are US Figure Skating competitors, on regional and national levels. As you know, it's a competitive world we spectators can only imagine. Therefore, just qualifying for USFS events is huge. These adults though are medalists.

Their performances at our Winter Ice Show is like going to the Olympic figure skate competition. Maybe not the finalists, but certainly like seeing the bronze and nearby runners up.

You can hear them breathe hard as they WHOOSH past the glass 3 feet from your grandstand seat. I love it.

OK, so these shows sell out. The rink is smart and holds a little marketplace in the area near the entrance, inside near the snack bar, etc. The sellers pay a fee to participate plus gives a small percent of sales to their fundraising. I will have a booth for the 2nd year in the rink area near the snack bar.

As you can tell I am already a supporter of the event. Well, there is an opportunity to place a little 'ad' in the program. The cost is $30 for a biz card size.

I want to take advantage of this low cost, and likely highly effective opportunity. We have a VERY captive audience of several hundred over the 4 show weekend.

A colleague who participates at this event next to me (we set up together to double the size of our booth) will go in half on the ad.

SO - Here is my ad copy. Will you give comments?

*** What are the weak points?
*** What are the strong points?
*** The key offer is to get the $5 off by making a purchase of $25 total from just one of us. Is that clear? How can it be made more clear (without muddling up the copy more)?]



*sigh* if the picture is not visible above, click here

Taking Candy from a baby (almost)

October 5th, 2010 at 01:08 pm

I love Halloween, and get creative with outdoor decorations on a budget.

One of the first years we owned our home I sewed a big (3 or 4 feet across) black spider and tacked it up on the fence. Ms. Spider had eight legs with clothes hanger inserts to bend into arches and stuffing in her head to add height. She was re-used 5 or 6 years until her legs just rusted and her face faded.

Y'know those yard torches (they keep away mosquitoes?). I use two to light the front lawn entrance. Instead of trying to keep buying wicks and torch oil which kept spilling in the garage, I just stick a couple taper candles in for the trick or treat night.

A stuffed person sometimes sits on our front door chair (newspaper inside of an old pair of jeans, flannel shirt, garden gloves, old shoes and even a plastic pumpkin head).

I love big scary yard things, but nooooo storage in the house the rest of the year. Little rubber bats and spiders get stuck on the door knobs and gates (and are easy to keep in a bag). And a flat but 5 foot long skeleton gets pinned to the fence as you come in.

But last year we had a lightbulb moment! The dog crate! YES! we put it together on the front lawn and put Mr. Skeleton inside sitting up! HA HA! Oh yes, my kids added a couple big rubber spiders hanging around him. Perfect! The whole thing is weather proof and is big enough to give a good show to passers by.

Here's another tip about how to take away the candy from the kids without anyone feeling bad!

There is a candy fairy that comes out in the night after you trick or treat. If you leave out a big plate of 'leftovers' she likely will leave you a few dollars or some little prize (like the tooth fairy).

Swoosh - it disappears

Please take a look at this offer for my readers before they disappear!

Dried floral arrangement notecards will soon be taken offline (gone by about 10/12/10). Get any for 1/2 price - must ask me for refund via paypal at checkout.

Order any here Pressed Flower Card