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Archive for March, 2012

How to change exasperation into satisfaction

March 27th, 2012 at 02:29 pm

What would you say to someone with a 10 year old desktop computer ; who tuned the system about 8 months ago and added memory but which is already 95% maxed out on disk space. The equipment runs fine, but slow. It serves at least 2 people in the household and a small biz.

"Get rid of it at the next electronic recycle roundup, it's worthless and impossibly outdated."

How many of you would say that? raise your hand, be honest.

No. I resist that very typical response. I am so exasperated with the digital culture of 'upgrade/out with the old/in with the new' every few years. Not just being a frugal person, this cycle is SO BLEEPING environmentally destructive.

Shouldn't computer equipment be treated like a car? I don't replace my cars every few years ; I drive my autos their FULL life. Until the repair is more costly than the replacement (with special consideration for fuel costs). We picked very economical vehicles way back when to serve our daily needs for many years to come.

I am mad the same philosophy seems to be irrelevant for computers. Bah.

The computer is a Dell ca. 2000 which was passed down to me free. I put about $180 into the tune and memory card last summer. All's fine, but there is no avoiding either adding memory once again or getting a new faster beefier computer (probably laptop). An egregious crash shall be avoided.

I am relieved the cost of a good laptop is so reasonable. And am encouraged by finding LOTS of information on where/how to refurbish and GIVE your old computer to a worthy cause. More details on that next posts.

For now, let me leave with a little upbeat offer:
Receive any silk mini bag at Pretty Cheap Jewelry free with purchase of this hand knotted pearl bracelet. Just ask for the mini bag at checkout (no need to add it to your cart).


Fancy freshwater pearls make this bracelet highly affordable. Pink sparkling crystals are just what a girl loves. Are you listening Easter Bunny?

More photos and details here

Thanks for reading!

Took my own Advice; and Who's Hair is that?

March 26th, 2012 at 02:03 pm

Last holiday season I blogged a few times of ways to save money on gifts. One of the techniques I emphasized was taking advantage of craig's list for almost new electronics. To be found are cameras, game systems, all manner of digital gadgets. Therein lies the perfect answer to your needs so long as you research online before buying (such as on cnet.org), ask the right questions (what does it not include) and exercise good judgement with respect to the seller (judge for honesty).

In fact, I've bought and sold on craig's myself: airsoft rifle, digital cameras, basketball hoop, and more.

At that time I sought to satisfy the male types in my life. But it turns out the digital phase is entering the female types around here.

The item wished for happened to be an iPod Touch. Now these are nifty little things, somewhere above a handheld game console, but a notch down from a tablet. A bit indulgent, for sure, but not without educational advantages (internet access in any free WiFi zone). The new ones (now on its 4th version) are about $200. WHOA. No way jose, that's half the cost of a complete laptop.

The wishful young person in this story was saving aggressively toward that goal. And doing a commendable job. But I did not approve. So I explored what was available un-new but that completely fulfilled the need.

Not easy, it seems the iPod Touch's are very hot. In search of a good buy, we had to visit ebay. WHOA again. Intense bidding. But lots of choices, such as: some damaged items, some sold refurbished with warranties, some sold by first owner no returns, etc. We zeroed in on a version 3, with a 30 day return allowed from a computer biz. And let the bidding begin!

Anyone else bid on ebay before? If it is a highly desired item, the bidding will be fast and furious the last 1 MINUTE. Yes, I pounced on the keyboard at the last 30 seconds and won. Our final price was about 1/2 the cost of a new one.

Now awaiting delivery. Return here to find out if the purchase was a smart move!

In the meantime, check out the paper, glue and scissors creations from my work bench.

Not Your Usual Collage
Funny, clever, sassy, but never rude. Cards with a big idea, at a small price. Two new ones (special order only).

You're AMAZING


You Are Perfect


FUN TRIVIA Q: Who's hair do you think that is at the bottom of the 2nd card?

How to Un Squeak Your Sneakers Cheap Cheep

March 23rd, 2012 at 09:29 am

So those outlet mall, discount rack, sale tennis shoes fit me and my spending pattern perfectly! I don't need anything more than an everyday walking / once a week aerobic shoe. No fancy weird soles, no basketball jumping, fashion be gone. But do you suppose those seconds, on sale, leftover pairs are that way because of undiscovered squeaks?

My recent pair got so noisy the husband started calling me ducky. But I found out how to solve it and be quack free! Cheap ... I mean CHEEP!

Here's the secret:
Remove the insert and pour in some baby powder. It worked for me! After about a day squeaks were gone. Though I detect an attempt of tiny returning squeaks, I will simply re - powder!

Anyone else knew about this?

Here's another inexpensive idea ~ put a little chocolate egg, or a small bag of jelly bellies in this spring colored pouch for your Easter gifting.

Pure Silk Mini Bag
Fits a cell phone, gift card, or just the bare essentials perfectly. And better yet, it's light on the environment! Made from a fine retired men's necktie, comes with a shoulder length satin cord strap. A great value for delighting a young fashionable girl. Only $6.50. More details here and more silk mini-bag choices at Pretty Cheap Jewelry.



Hanging in there with the artists

March 21st, 2012 at 10:12 am

The good news: another pair of earrings sold in the main art gallery recently! The bad news: the association is struggling financially (due to a year of poor management of a no-longer employed staff director plus lower than normal sales and other significant issues).

Double Pearl Curling Earrings - SOLD


I'm fighting feelings of bad morale after attending the association board meeting. They are reasonably smart (a great treasurer and great president for example) and not downbeat. But it's hard to solve the problems at hand and GET BACK ON TRACK! I have good income through them, and promise myself to hang in there another year (july 2012-july 2013).

So am counting my recent successes:

Finished: 2 pair white on white gloves, 1 pair white on black gloves, 1 pair white on red gloves, a pair of red on black gloves, and 4 pair scrunchy mid arm gloves. Getting stocked for Aug and fall ice events.

Finished: 3 sets of 4 strand necklace / earrings sets
One set is going to a gallery show in April and will be promoted for Mother's Day gifts. They decided to allow items such as jewelry that could be hung-



Idea: I have a new original earring style to produce (no pictures yet, come back soon!). And since good original ideas are one of the hardest things to get, I'm HAPPY!!

keep reminding me, ok?

Free Lunch!

March 19th, 2012 at 01:44 pm

When did that phrase 'There's no such thing as a free lunch' emerge? I vaguely remember first encountering it in the 80s? in some sort of college class? And the speaker or context it was used did NOT make it clear to me its intent.

The response at the time, and many times in later years, was OF COURSE there is a free lunch! I am getting one tomorrow (my co-workers WILL take me out for my birthday a week late). Right?

The intent of the phrase is that everything in the environment is connected to everything else. If you change one thing, there will be an effect on other things. Take the small change of starting to feed birds in your backyard...the effects are probably a tiny increase of those species in your local area and maybe other indirect effects such as those species displacing others in the area or an increase in the area of predators to those species.

Likewise, an obvious big change might be the warming of average temperature globally. We are seeing how widespread and inter-related the environment is with this change.

As promised, here's a picture of the small 6" cake I splurged on last week for my low key bday.



Other news from Pretty Cheap Jewelry are new hand beaded glove designs! Now making ... Red Hearts on Black ... White Bows ... and mid forearm lengths (not shown). Ask me for a picture!

White on white. For picture perfect flower girls and easter bunnies.


Red Black & White. Dramatic girls only!

Little Birthday Gifts to Myself

March 13th, 2012 at 10:10 am

Just realized my birthday is the day before Pi day! Love it! I am such a geek and 3.14 is funny and clever to me. Don't laugh at me, laugh with me! OK?!

I usually downplay my bday. Who wants to shout out middle age (ahem, or more). My wishes typically involve:

1. Outdoor physical fun. It's been taking a hike (free) in the local mountains the past couple years. I try to get the whole family on some trail. This year went by myself because one kid sleeps in late, and the other had other commitments plus homework. So dad stayed home and I went here:


In the rural area not far from home, nice cloud day.


Nice Views!!

2. Special help at home. A day or two in advance, I ask the kids to think of doing extra things around the house as a nice surprise. Maybe they will sweep the stairs? Dry and put away dishes? It may not happen but at least I ask!

My birthday wishes do NOT usually involve:

A. Going out to eat. This just does not seem very special to me. I like to cook and don't go out much anyway! However, every so often (once a month?) it is fun to get something I don't normally make, such as good Chinese food, or Greek. NEVER italian, ugh, that's all my husband makes! and we cook mexican alot, but I adore those HOLE IN THE WALL (cheap) authentic mexican restaurants.

B. Large or even Medium Gifts. No clothes, no electronics, no accessories (DUH I make jewelry!) But my husband loves to give, so I post a list a month ahead of time with wishes. This year it was for a used Zumba Wii game!! He gave it to me early. Or something from Michaels (beads, specialty papers). The kids are happy to oblige.

But this year the spouse is not around (he is staying with his mom who is getting out of a short hospital stay today from a minor car accident) so I will celebrate in small ways myself.

...Coffeehouse Beverage...
small treat so far, cafe au lait (am not a regular customer)

...Small Cake...
Normally I'd make my own, but time does not permit this year. And I really don't need one, but my tween girl, who lives in a perfect world, would be SO DISAPPOINTED if there were no birthday cake!!!

Since I am brown bagging my own lunch and making my own birthday dinner, I'll splurge on a storebought cake! There are these really BEAUTIFUL little 8" cakes at the supermarket bakery and I will probably make it small treat #2.

Come back for a picture tomorrow!

Went a little Crazy

March 12th, 2012 at 10:05 am

Not with money or spending or anything bad! I have a craft show in April, and get a 10' x 10' space. That's alot! Enough to fit 3 tables. I haven't done a booth that size for a few years. In fact, I have reduced my inventory of handmade jewelry and accessories due to a conscious decision to upscale my work. [And increase my prices and NOT do so many shows.]

I did this show last year and they didn't give us as much space. It is very affordable, low table fee and not too high commission on sales. So I signed up and in preparation I decided to crunch out some fun collage cards.

Here's just 5 of what happened, which do you like best?

Dream
Get ready for graduation (it's not that far off).


Friends: Ahhhh
Have a good one? Make sure they know.


Love You Mom
Perfect for her birthday or that day in May.


You're Married Sweet
Super original way to say congrats.


You Look Great
Guys, if this doesn't score you some points with mom or wife, you're doomed.


Hope this has you laughing, and if you can stand it, ask me to see a few more!

A funny thing happened on the way to the rink ...

March 9th, 2012 at 10:03 am

You found out a couple days ago how I added 3+ fitness sessions to what I thought was an impossibly full weekly schedule. Simply taking advantage of the fact that a zumba class was held next door to a place I already had to be (every Wed evening) started the ball rolling. It was good fortune that the zumba class was a great deal with respect to cost and schedule. But I take FULL credit for using that one class as a jumping off point and doing at least 2 more sessions at home.

The second phase of unexpected success in health and fitness this year also happened at the ice rink. When kids are in a group lesson most of the parents hang out in the locker area/snack bar. I've used the time myself to make simple jewelry, or bead gloves, like these... (In fact, the work attracts attention and brings future customers!)

Blue Knit Glamorous Gloves


Sky blue lightweight knit gloves are trimmed with thick dreamy black feather fluff at the wrist. Added detail of steel blue glass beads on the back. A little price for alot of glamour. Click HERE for more info.

One mom, whose kids are now really advanced and need to practice at least 3 days a week, spends more time at the rink than average. So after working on her computer while waiting for a couple years, she did it. Slapped on some skates and got in the adult group lesson. Many of the other parents admired this!

I know how to skate but finally admitted my 25-y.o. skates were just not adequate anymore. Those skates got me through teaching the kids how to do it when they were 5 or so, but thrifty as I am, the leather boots were completely broken down and offered no ankle support anymore. Anyone want a pair of vintage Oberhauer (sp.?) boots with excellent Sheffield stainless steel blades for posterity?

But I still sort of liked the idea of skating as well. It was this mom who had a pair of GOOD used boots from her expert kids that needed a new home. OK, I tried them on and made a deal!! YIPPEE! These skates would easily last me the next 25 years.

So on Saturdays, when my own child was in a cross training dance class at the rink for 2 hours, and then on the ice for another 2 hours, I lace up and get out there for a little movement myself!

Watch out Peggy Fleming Big Grin

Three Time Repeat Customer

March 8th, 2012 at 11:49 am

She loves them! Last December I gained a new fan of the original hand beaded appliqued knit gloves I design and sew for Pretty Cheap Jewelry. At that time, she bought a feminine pair of dove grey with antique flowers on the wrist. Shortly thereafter she came back for a sporty black with sequin hearts. Then last weekend she asked in passing if I had any in brown.

I had a good stock of plain gloves from end of the year sales and had been taking a break in sewing on the appliques, buttons, beads.

But whew! There was ONE pair in fawn tan. And a copper leaf sequin applique that I had not tried yet. So I made it up (no picture sorry!) and showed her 2 days later. YES! She loved them. Am I crazy? I lowered the price because the gloves were such a good deal and in appreciation for the repeat business.

It was just enough to get me back into making the gloves. In fact, I have just put on my schedule a 2-day sales event at the ice rink in August so I need to have a dozen or more pair ready. How about these pastel pink hearts?

Playful Pink and Blue Gloves


Sweetheart sequins trim the wrist, little blue beads on the back of these lightweight cheerful gloves. Size: young adult
Special request only

On the craft table? Dramatic red hearts on black knit gloves. Pictures coming soon.

Unexpected Successes! Zumba and Fancy Links

March 6th, 2012 at 10:35 am

From a somewhat casual start, I somehow have fit in 4+ days of fitness in to my weekly schedule! What's up with that? How was it that last year every minute was spoken for and walking the dog a couple times a week was a luxury? Back then I felt sluggish often, impatient with being stuck with family obligations, etc.

Firstly, the barebones gym next to the ice rink where I spend every Wed eve at my child's skate lesson boomed in membership. Another mom went to their Zumba class while her kid skated and made a casual comment that I should try. The idea just got planted in my head, that's all it took. The gym made it easy: free trial class and thence 10 classes for $60 (punch card so no monthly fee). YAY!! SO GREAT to see this business grow because it is in a run down strip type shopping center (very dated) that desperately needed tenants. I now have to RESIST going to more than one class a week!!

So that's one day a week. Now let me reveal I had a secret plan!! When my daughter got a Wii last December, (thank you grandma/grandpa!) trying some fitness games was a factor in my approval of the whole system. Enter Valentine Day, whereupon my sentimental husband loves to shop and give gifts. I AM SO GLAD I ask for practical things! Of course, I wanted a -used- Wii Zumba disc. Nothing expensive cause I didn't know if I'd like it.

Am on the 2nd week of trying it and I LOVE IT! There are at least 25 routines and it teaches you the steps (VERY HANDY). I am still figuring out what all it does, such as pre-setting a workout schedule for you, etc. I have wanted to dance at least 2 times a week and expect this will keep up at least through the fall. ANYONE WANT TO JOIN ME?

So that's working out now 3 days a week so far.

I'll make the 2nd kind of fitness another blog post, but next let me explain I am AMAZED at the other major success recently ~ sale of my most expensive handmade original jewelry to date.

Citrine & Garnet Fancy Link Set


About 2 years ago, I was inspired to make something fit for a queen (remember the royal wedding blitz?). There was one final citrine briolette in my box, and a number of wine red garnets. I like to design chain work, so hammered 14K gold filled wire into fancy link shapes which held drops of the sparkling jewels. To keep the necklace cost down, the back strands were composed of white and pale gold freshwater pearl. (The pearls were greatly less costly than using the heavy gold filled wire for more links). I had enough materials to make matching earrings. A great use of the last piece of citrine I thought.

I priced it for the high end crowd, $150 / set. And put it for sale in 2 or 3 places over the next one and half years. No customer interest, but admiration from fellow jewelry designers!

After taking it out of the shops to rest for a month or so, I rotated it back to my local art gallery jewelry case at half the original price. It was sold in a few weeks. WOO HOOOOOOOO!

Come back soon and read about the second fitness phase I've added lately!

Experimenting with Girl Scout Cookies

March 5th, 2012 at 01:30 pm

Selling girl scout cookies is ridiculously easy. If that combination of youth advocacy & nostalgia is ever duplicated in any other business, watch out! It will break records. Instead of going through that box of Thin Mints or Tagalongs in one or two sittings, though, (and of course there aren't very many to start with in those boxes) here is a way to stretch them and enjoy for a number of weeks. And you won't be tempted to buy more boxes!

Invented by my 12 y.o. who is always thinking up stuff you wouldn't dream of! And a healthy afterschool snack to boot.

Thin Mint Smoothie
2 girl scout Thin Mints, frozen
1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
1/3 C milk
2 drops vanilla

Place in blender and run till smooth. Serves 1

And of course, she inspires me to think up one! Try it, you won't be sorry.

Tagalong Smoothie
2 girl scout Tagalongs, frozen
1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
2 TB peanut butter
1/3 C milk
2 drops vanilla

Place in blender and run till smooth. Serves 1

Any more ideas? While you're thinking, here is a bit of sunny color for upcoming spring events.

Diamond Shape Stone Earrings
Cheerful clusters of pale yellow stone (chalcedony) shine on these nicely proportioned earrings. A bit of sparkle is added with glass faceted beads with a pink coating.


Casual enough for work or school, but the monochromatic color is great for a wedding or dressy event. 14K gold filled wires. A fantastic value at $15.00. More details HERE

Thanks for your tweets and feedback!

New Ways to Use a Day Old Bread

March 1st, 2012 at 01:09 pm

Occasionally I see these sourdough rounds on the grocery store day old rack and buy them as a 'treat'. They make great toast and sandwiches, or complement a small piece of meat or fish with a salad for dinner. I don't make sourdough from scratch (though I've tried in the past, it's hard to keep a sour dough starter going). And I don't get to San Francisco often to get some first hand.



So I was hoarding one on my desk the last day or so and out of the blue *it hit me*

We are a soup eating family; I like making it in the crock pot, my teen loves making it himself for dinner when schedules are hectic, it's healthy and warms on a cold winter day, easy and inexpensive to make.

And I adore those soup-in-a-bread-bowl entrees at a restaurant. Don't you?

VOILA - tonight I will make a nice meal for my son! (He is the one who needs it most, my hubby is not home for dinner). After toasting the sourdough round in the oven, I'll scoop out the center (and use for something delicious for my daughter) and fill with some hearty progresso or likeness.

Other creative thinking around here?

New collection of guitar string bracelets in progress!
Here's the latest, see them all at Pretty Cheap Jewelry and watch for more in the next couple weeks.

Guitar String Bracelet - Green Tangerine
Environmental lifestyle can be fashionable ~ I use spent guitar strings and remake them into a smart and beautiful accessory. Then add loads of color, such as pops of orange, mellow moss stone, pale pastel peach, and patterned natural wood.


Always admired by friends. More pictures and details here

Next post...truthisms and hilarious passages from a fabulous book I'm reading on how to live through raising a teen!