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Archive for March, 2013

Longer the Wait, the Higher the Discount but the Riskier of Missing Out

March 25th, 2013 at 04:38 pm

Alert! A good jewelry supply store a few blocks from work is closing. I noticed a 'For Lease' sign in the bead store window a couple weeks ago and asked why. The shop clerk told me the building owner has family issues and may not renew with the current renters. Drat.

This place has been a great resource, easy for me to stop in once a week or so for many small things for my jewelry business. Good selection, luxury of time to find just the right thing, far superior than Michaels. I could get gold filled wire, special color crystals, many sizes of inexpensive pearls, etc. All of these things are at the trade shows, but it was so nice to walk there any day of the week instead of waiting for the twice/three time a year wholesale show. (And those wholesale shows are so much more a time crunch needing faster, less objective cash spending decisions.)

Of course this is a big opportunity for me to stock up on more expensive things at a big discount. So I am happy but a little worried! I will take about $50 of earnings and resist temptation to buy more (I hope!!)

But, just like garage sales, don't you think the treasure hunters are going to swoop in take the best things early in the game?

The close date is April 20. That's 4 weeks. I will stop in today to see what the starting point is for things that I'd like -

14 gold filled wire or chain
swarovski crystals, specialty color and shape
gemstone beads, especially pear and briolette or other high end shapes
16, 18 and 20 gauge jewelry making wire (heavier than usual types)
specialty earring hooks, such as leverbacks
extra large pearls
jewelry tools, such as a reamer

Those first 3 are going to go fastest. It's a gamble how long to wait!

I am torn between getting what I want most at the least discount early, or letting days and weeks go by and getting what's left at the most discount.

WISH ME LUCK!!!

True to the Motto, both (all) of them!

March 22nd, 2013 at 04:01 pm

Motto (def.): 1. a maxim adopted as an expression of the guiding principle of a person, organization, city, etc.

2. a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit or purpose of a person, organization, city, etc., and often inscribed on a badge, banner, etc.

My business has a motto, I mean motto's!



"The Frugal Artisan"

"designing and producing fine crafts at inexpensive prices"

"Quality Originals at Inexpensive Prices"

and last but not least:
"making things of great value from inexpensive materials"

Even the one on this blog is slightly different (see upper left sidebar). OK, time to update.

How to tie together these motto variations? I need to update my business cards and online graphics to have a consistent 'brand'. But should I do it myself? or spend $$ for a professional designer.

I have no difficulty staying true to all the mottos! Here's the latest proof:

Stamped Ceramic Pendant Necklaces

Three large ceramics were given to me as a birthday present. I decided to incorporate into artisan jewelry with handmade chains.


The above is a 3 strand necklace studded with stone in green and pink shades.


The above features a handmade turquoise nugget chain in gold color with handmade clasp.


This necklace has a handmade daisy and pearl chain featuring a handmade clasp and fringe of stone and crystal.

Almost the materials were already in my supplies, $7 was spent to make the 3 necklaces.

I love the results and have stayed true to (all) the mottos!

Back to the Future!

March 21st, 2013 at 07:56 pm

Many of the vintage books, or at least the general contents of, my neighbor decided to finally let go were familiar to me. These were cookbooklets and appliance booklets from the 1950s - 1970s. Kitchenaid mixer? check. Crafting sheets from Moskatels? check.

Here's one I put on my etsy site neverbefore heard of:

Nalleys Country CupBoard

and lo and behold!! Look what I saw right next to the whole grain Chef Boyardee Spaghettio's at the major supermarket today:



I am sure they have been there all along, just never noticed this before!

Nothing like a little reality check!

Filling Up the Comfort Food Craving

March 20th, 2013 at 04:41 pm

Remember those vintage cook and craft books I wrote about yesterday? They have been a fun diversion to sell in my Etsy shop (see sampler left side bar).

No sooner than I posted about comparing my prices to same items on Ebay, than someone swooped in and bought 5 of my books.

I thought maybe she would be making a better kind of Easter basket, say with a vintage craft or cookbook and some retro supplies or kitchen tools.

{ HEY ** that's a good idea! Thrift and antique mall supplies** }

In fact, she remarks "I love that all your vintage books were so affordable. No, they're not for Easter baskets. I'm excited to work on vintage stuff. It seems it's in style again, not that I care really about what's in style, I just think it will be fun to work on some new projects. "

Happy to reel in about $10 on the deal!

Beating the Ebay Prices -or- selling Americana to Madrid

March 19th, 2013 at 05:12 pm

Some of you are ebay sellers, and rather than learn that venue, I have put a number of vintage craft and cookbooks on my etsy site since they allow supplies and vintage.

The books are from my neighbor's storage. At the end of a yard sale late last year, she was packing things up to donate to thrifts. I saw the box of booklets, all softcover midcentury (1940s through 1970s) types. Some were in fact, her own mother's and saved in her garage. Very good condition, none were damaged much at all.

I did a quick search on etsy for a couple titles and saw only a few listings. Perhaps books appeal specially to me (I love to hand bind journals!), but I hated to see them likely end up in the recycle bin. So I told her I would give it a try selling the best on line.

Yes, a time commitment, but not terribly alot. The hardest thing was taking and editing photos which I made a low priority to do after other commitments.

The pros and cons?
~ Cost $0 up front

~ Cost 20 cents every 3 or 4 months for the Etsy listing (another reason to forgo ebay!)

~ Earn $2 a sale (she didn't have expectations about what I gave her per sale and would take $1 ea)

~ and the most subtle but important? I KNEW these items would bring a whole new group of people into my etsy website that would not otherwise see me.

I planned to sell at a fire sale rate, instead of tinkering with price to find the optimum supply/demand spot. But just to be sure, I checked what the going rate for some of these books were on ebay. Interesting comparisons:

1950s Gold Medal Jubilee
Ebay = $16.50
Mine = $2.95 (sold)

1953 Meat for Thrifty Meals
Ebay = $7.99
Mine = $2.95 (sold)

Cock a Doodle Chicken Cookbook
Ebay = $0.99
Mine = $2.95 (sold)

Some appear to be more valuable, but I don't feel bad about selling too low. I do not have appraisal tools, and my objective was to sell quickly and make a little profit. And to *attract new visitors to Pretty Cheap Jewelry* !!

The vintage books have been selling and getting views steadily! The most amazing so far?

This one sent to Madrid, Spain last week! Not only amazing that someone there wants it, but they paid international shipping of about $24 for a little three dollar book. OK!!!????

1942 Betty Crocker All Purpose Baking
Ebay $range = 4.99 to $19.77
Sold by me = $2.95

This one went to Canada. Again they paid a significant $16+ for a measly three dollar book. Since this booklet was about a specific localized program, I have to presume the buyer knew about it personally.

Radio 9 CJVI Joe's Notebook
Ebay = $35.00
Mine = $2.95 (sold)

The pictures are charming, if this doesn't remind you of women's lib, nothing will. Still available:

1966 Pillsbury Bake Off Busy Lady Recipes
Ebay $ range = $0.99 to $17.50
Mine = $2.95




The results have been satisfactory!!

Birthday Wish Outcomes and Unexpected Surprise!

March 18th, 2013 at 05:59 pm

Last week I posted birthday wishes, want to see the outcomes?

Wish 1. Neatly made beds, neatly folded put away clean clothes.

Outcome 1. I didn't think this would happen and I was right! The objective was to give my teen kids an opportunity to do something for me that cost $0!!

Wish 2. Cozy sweatshirt.

Outcome 2. Nope. Oh well, my son gave me one he grew out of about a week early (at my request) already.

Wish 3. Wii Zumba 2 (used).

Outcome 3. DANG! I was sure this is why Dad and son went to the video game store a couple days before! But alas, nope! Anyway, I am still pretty happy with my Wii Zumba 1 and have a good few months of workouts to do with it.

Wish 4. Trip to downtown LA wholesale fabric area.

Outcome 4. We had to postpone because my daughter, who wanted to come along, has a major school assignment and could not afford to take a whole Sunday off from that. I have told her we will do the trip when the project is finished in hopes she will work faster/smarter on that project. (The subject of a whole different blog post!). So no birthday trip, but I will do this for my small biz later.

Wish 5. Good long bike or hike day trip.

Outcome 5. Yes, this was accomplished as wanted! It took the place of #4 above, and a good time was had by my wonderful husband and myself.

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But the surprise?!

BAD NEWS! A bladder infection, UGH!!!

I am the type not to go to the doctor unless I REALLY have to. This was obvious, it came on suddenly and unmistakeably starting at about 3:30. Wahhhh!

GOOD NEWS! My HMO insurance has an evening urgent care practice in the same office as my regular doctor. Whew! I was much happier to go there than some out-of-plan or emergency (more expensive) place.

The whole thing was textbook, the doctor came right to the point and fixed me up! Just the way I like it!!!

And OMGosh, the whole thing - doctor and medicine - cost a big $32.18. YES you read that right THIRTY TWO DOLLARS and EIGHTEEN CENTS. Whee!!

Happy Monday!

What do I want for my Birthday?

March 12th, 2013 at 09:13 pm

Not one to let others waste money, I put a list up many days or weeks ahead of my birthday for gift requests. Ditto for other holidays. Nevermind if I am not surprised, smart spending is one of my pleasures. When my kids were little, I was sure to put on the list things they could buy with their teeny little savings that would make for happy giving.

Tomorrow is my birthday and what's on the list?

1. Neatly made beds. I don't really think this is going to happen.

2. Neatly folded clean clothes in drawers. Ditto.

3. Cozy hooded sweatshirt. I have stocked my son with half dozen or more of these over the past few years (must be a preteen fashion thing). Happily he gave me one that was too small for him last weekend when I made a passionate appeal.

4. Wii Zumba 2 (used). Aha! I think the teen boy actually went and obtained this for me!! Yippeee!

5. Trip to wholesale fabric district in LA. We were not able to make it though last weekend, just not enough free time. It won't happen for the birthday ocassion. Maybe in April just for regular small business needs (my teen daughter will accompany me).

6. Good Long Hike or Bike. Granted by my husband! The two of us went on a long bike day trip (instead of #5 above) last Sunday. A great way for fitness, a stop at a thrift store (for the exact display hook I needed for my jeweled eggs), and a Buy One Get One lunch sunday only restaurant.

My family is still very thoughtful and gives in other little ways.

A. My husband 'bought' a Target gift card from my son (who had gotten it for his bday and didn't really find anything there) and gave it to me! Sweet!

B. My daughter is going to be Cake Boss and do some elaborate cupcake decorating tonight (fondant ready!)

C. Maybe my folks will send me $$ ??

See you tomorrow with the report!

Birthday Freebies Rolling In

March 11th, 2013 at 04:52 pm

So does the little chinese food restaurant in your town give you a free dinner on your birthday? One here does, but it is an all you can eat style buffet that's a little pricey. We tried the birthday freebie once many years ago, but really couldn't make the total cost for the family worthwhile (even with 1 free person). I just don't overeat now anyway!!

It's funny how the birthday hook is used to get sales! This year's tally so far (birthday is Wed):

Use or not to Use?

1. Lunch from co-workers. Yay! This is one of a couple years I finally get reciprocated. After taking out others for (seems like lots and lots of) years, the boss already said they will do it for me on Wed.

Use? YES

2. $10 off JCPenney. But only when using their credit card. I love the other 'no strings attached' $10 coupons from them during the year (Mother's Day, Christmas), but not this one.

Use? NO

3. $10 off dinner at Spaghetti Restaurant. This came via a discount card I subscribe to for the year (lots of BOGO dinner, 10% and 15% off at stores around town, etc). The good thing? the spaghetti coupon can be redeemed anytime during the month! I took my kids there once on a BOGO because they would be fine with the menu! The bad thing? This is a kind of run down place, food ok, atmosphere horrible.

Use? NO

Other freebies I think are coming:

Starbuck free coffee on your birthday...Use? YES

What has come your way from birthday advertisers?

How to get from [ Habitually Last Minute ] to -> Ready on Time

March 6th, 2013 at 06:33 pm

How many of you have raced through the streets to make it to a doctor appointment? school class? work? It's not good for your blood pressure, not to mention the risk of getting a ticket.

Running late isn't my style, which makes it all the harder to live with my maturing daughter. Unfortunately at a pretty young age, around 8 or 9 years old, I saw her developing the tendency to squeeze too much into the last minutes of a schedule. For example, trying to have breakfast in only the last 2 or 3 minutes before leaving for school (where at least 5 or 10 minutes was much more appropriate). Moms, you remember how stressful this could be?

Or making it to bed on time. If lights out was to be 9pm, getting pj's and brushing teeth would start too late at 8:50 and she wouldn't make it. Not to mention rushing was a great excuse to throw her clothes and stuff on the floor and leave any manner junk out to hurry into bed. This happened 95+% of the the time and has made for a very many unhappy bedtimes.

Oh through the years I've tried a variety of solutions: taking away fun things such as a girlscout event or meeting, $$ 'fines' or reduction of allowance, even the converse and giving a reward for getting it right. I figured those formative years were the time to instill good habits but she amazed me (secretly) and wouldn't be rushed, pushed, cajoled, punished, and even rewarded much. This character trait of doing things according to her own internal clock seems to have endured.

Oh, when it comes to homework, she is never late. It's just the 'little things' that are a problem and we have gone through the same scenario over and over and over again. The stress on me and the family has been pretty extensive.

So here we are at the teen years, and her personality is set. If anything, I give up more and more on the 'little things'. For example, though it is stupid and inconvenient, I just separate our schedules as much as possible.

But today is a test drive of a new program!

The Reality Show: Time is Money
(set up) teen wants to do 'X' event at a cost of '$'
Teen: I'd love to do the jump class before skate lesson on Wednesdays.
Mom: It is a tight schedule, the jump class is soon after you get home from school. Can you be on time?
Teen: Yes, of course!
Mom: Well you've missed some skate lessons by not starting soon enough on homework.
Teen: I'm never late with homework! I get all A's!!!!
Mom: Here's the deal, you pay for the class up front and each night you finish a class I will pay you back. You will earn the whole fee back in short order.
Teen: !! uh, ok

So there you have it. I don't have to pay for a class that is never attended, I don't have to push, nag, stress to get her there on time. And the lesson learned truly will be TIME is MONEY. I hope she will use her time wisely in getting ready for the class.

Now, apply this to any manner of other fee type situation and see how it works for you

Watch me mimic the Harlem shake? more like copycat an extinct bird

March 5th, 2013 at 05:07 pm

oh I am such a dodo!!!! Call in the creative accountants. You know how the corporate big wigs twist things and show a loss for dollars not earned (um, a loss for dollars NEVER actually received)? Y'know, the same kind of logic in Washington lately about 'raising' funds by getting rid of tax breaks on the wealthy?

Well, a few years back I started putting jewelry making lessons on a website that sells the tutorials and keeps half the price. It is a fun niche site, I had found them and used some of the FREE lessons myself with pleasure. So I jumped on board and put up a few lessons of my own back starting in 2010.

About the 3rd lesson I posted was for an adjustable ring. An adjustable ring is a pretty desirable item, because it saves a crafter loads of time and trouble instead of making rings one by one by exact size.

Well, I was happy enough with my experience on the site and made the tutorial free. Fine. Not particularly due to being generous, just a good thing to do. It was great for my exposure and was fun to watch the number of downloads go up:

Oct 2011 - 402
Nov 2011 - 289
Dec 2011 - 223
Jan 2012 - 191
Feb 2012 - 150
Mar 2012 - 136
:
:
:
and you get the picture. There have been 1645 or so takers by now.

On Saturday I was hanging out with my 12 y.o. showing her something about that particular webpage, and she simply says, "Why don't you make it for pay?"

Whereupon I slapped my forehead (and then KICKED MYSELF in the b*tt for the next hour) realizing I should have changed it from free to pay a LONG time ago.

I just had it in my mind that you couldn't change it out of the free category. That once it was there, it was set in stone.

OH WRONG. DUMB. STOOPID.

How many of those 1,645 downloads do you think would have actually been paid? Certainly a lot of folks grabbed the lesson simply because it WAS free. But even it if 1 in 10 were dedicated crafters, that's $165 I'm poorer. Or even 1 in 20!!!! $80 fluuuush

*sigh* I never really had the money to start with, right?

So now the lesson is a measly $2 (of which I get half). I am VERY CURIOUS how many will buy.

Ah well, nevermind the dancing. How about them jeweled eggs?!
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Mention this blog post at check out to receive $5 rebate via paypal on the purchase of either
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Jeweled Easter Eggs


Tuxedo Formal, tufted in red and sparkling swarovskii crystal, with silver scallops. See more here


Violet Star, studded with glass flowers and a crowned tip. See more here