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Archive for May, 2013

So this is why the blue jays have taken up residence in our yard!

May 30th, 2013 at 11:40 am

On the way to a lot of fruits and veges in my diet! A few photos I took this morning in the back yard...

Early Summer Apples

Our apple trees are full of smallish fruit that will be ready in June. WAAAAAY too many to eat, so I am going to be making applesauce. Must pick before the birds sit and peck away.

Table Grapes!

I just love the beauty of grapes, nevermind eating them! The vines grow while you watch, the little curly fingers grab onto anything nearby. I press the leaves for crafts, and have even made stuffed grape leaves once (not bad turn out but alot of work). Not loads growing, but I am charmed that it worked in our little yard! But watch out for mice, yes in our area, that eat these if we don't get to it before they do.

Zukes

Pretty flowers and gigantic zukes to come I am sure. Kids will not notice in zucchini bread, especially if I add plenty of chocolate chips. My husband and I will go for it plain steamed. No butter needed.

Nothing to photo on the nectarine tree (yet), bell peppers, or tomatoes. Onions still coming out of our ears.

Wild and Native type Flowers to photo next!

Building a Better Bargain Bouquet

May 29th, 2013 at 12:06 pm

When I was asked last summer to have a table at the ice rink figure skate competition, I jumped at the chance. To be the exclusive gift seller!! A rare occasion for a jewelry crafter!! Though there would be a photographer, a bake sale, and a florist also at the event, these were not really direct competitors for my wares.

What I learned that year was that proud parents (and grandparents, relatives and friends) really wanted something to give the skater as a 'congrat' gift right when they came off the ice. Y'know like the audience throws to the figure skate champions on TV. A little bouquet, a cute stuffed animal, etc.

However, I am not a cute teddy bear maker. I want very much to offer my own original work. So, I started scheming..... What could I make that would be:

1. Attractive to give as a little reward on the spot
2. Inexpensive to make
3. Priced to move

I decided to do something like a bouquet, but NOT fresh flowers because that was already going to be sold by another vendor.

FIRST I Looked around at the supplies I had on hand. Using things in stock is obviously the first way to save money on producing new merchandise.

I zeroed in on a stash of big feathers that I've picked up on the ground over the years. These were naturally shed, and obtained simply from collecting where I found them. There were 4 hawk/raptor types and a few peacock feathers.

What to add to the feathers? A feather bouquet would be great, but I did NOT want to spend and buy more. So I racked my brain....artificial flowers? too much like the real flowers that would already be there. dried plants and grasses? if they were durable and I could collect from the roadside.

Then I remembered a felt bird my duaghter had made for a school puppet show. I had saved it and took it out. It was about the right size and style so I decided to reuse it and make more. Felt was not expensive. I happened upon some very delightful textured felt for 10 cents a sheet and snatched up 8 sheets.

A few bargain additions later and here is what is going to become a bird themed bouquet:



Bouquet makings (l to r): ostrich feather (50 cents), grey felt bird (10 cents), hawk feather (free), red felt bird (10 cents), red paper mache egg

Still to add, perhaps some dried grasses or tree branches (free). Combine at the handle with florist tape (I already have) and cover the handle with fancy ribbon with long streamers (I already have also).

I only have enough to make 8 bouquets, they will be priced for ??

what do you recommend?

Ostrich Dove Hawk Mash Up

May 28th, 2013 at 02:16 pm

Not something for dinner, it's about what to make for a gift booth I am holding at a figure skate show this summer. Something that is attractive to all ages, pretty, affordably priced and perfect for giving to a skater coming off the ice as a congratulatory gift.

And here's what I have to start with:

-Feathers, Hawk and Peacock. I have 4 very large (6-8") hawk feathers I picked up over the years in the country. Buff color, some stripes. Also a few peacock feathers, small 'eye's, some just spears.

I wanted to use these feathers because:

1. There is no cost to use them!
2. They are universally appealing if I could only figure out how to make them into something nice/pretty.
3. They need to get used so I can reclaim the storage space in my house!

My first idea was to make some sort of feather bouquet. But what to mix in?

I strongly wanted the supplies to be free so I racked my brain!! I looked around country areas near town for dried grasses, cattails, and such. Not that much available but I got a little.

Then I remembered my daughter had made a felt dove for a puppet show class assignment. I had kept it and pulled it out of my sewing bag. It was about the right size and was graceful and charming. I loved the prospect of reusing!

At Joann's for another project, I happened to see very nice textured felt in the clearance section for 10 cents a sheet. OK! The grey and red colors would be great for making more felt birds. I was happy to take 8 sheets for a mere 80 cents!!

There was also a pack of 6 paper mache eggs for $1.25 in the clearance section. Hmmm, I took it. At home it hit me!! OF COURSE, I would paint the eggs in fancy patterns and add into the bouquet.

Finally, at our weekend property I made a trip to an ostrich farm, hoping to find some stray, FREE, feathers. They give visitors tours and have a nice little shop. There were no free feathers, but I picked out 6 poufy big ones for 50 cent ea.

OK, so far the cost:

3.00 ostrich feathers
0.80 felt
1.25 paper eggs

Add: time to sew doves, collect dry plants, ribbon to tie up the bouquets (already have)

There are enough supplies for 8 bouquets. Come back tomorrow to see the example!

Meatless Memorial Day - Where's the Beef?

May 23rd, 2013 at 10:23 am

Three weeks and a few days, and I've tripped once in a beefless May. It was a bowl of leftover shredded beef and baby hot dogs in BBQ sauce from an art gallery reception. I happened to be in the gallery the day after and was offered to take home a nice bag of leftovers (the meat, a box of cookies, 2 opened bottles of wine, a loaf of hors d'ourve size sourdough, etc.)

The leftovers came in very handy! Made at least 4 dinners and I took my (friend the) hairstylist a surprise lunch. Especially so since I was the only parent home that weekend and had not sunk time or effort into cooking for the kids.

But I tried the beef, and fell off the wagon for a day.

My goal is to be
*** vegenearlian (no beef or pork, non-industrial eggs and poultry only) ***

--------------------------
Are you a SURVEYMONKEY'er ?
--------------------------
I just signed up, anyone else here do this? The reward for completing a survey is a 50c donation to a charity you pick (among their list) and a chance at $100 amazon gift cert.

Funny background questions, e.g.

political tendency ie strongly liberal to strongly conservative (and they did NOT give 'independent' as a choice!)

Do you think Barack Obama is doing a good job

How many hours do you listen to radio (internet, car, etc.)

How many movies did you see in the theater the past month

Nothing about books, hmmmm

My question is: what companies do research using SurveyMonkey? I suppose there are car ; movie studio ; home goods ; electronics manufacturers. But am wary of ANY political action committees using the data and misrepresenting it!!

--------------------------------
Can you pick out my jewelry item in this Etsy treasury? (clue: sea glass)

Put together by a treasury expert who's been doing this for years.



Makes the stuff look good!

See you next time!

Funny Little Frugal Farmers Group

May 20th, 2013 at 01:33 pm

I went to a produce exchange over the weekend. It is a small city-wide group, completely volunteer organized by a backyard gardening enthusiast. About once a month, somewhat more frequent in the summer, an exchange is scheduled at someone's house. The leader sends out an email, an event is posted in the FB group.

The premise is simple: bring some take some. A wide variety of backyard fruits and veges are suggested, and also including flowers - small plants - bulbs - seeds - dried herbs.

This is only about the 3rd one I attended, and am getting a feel for the group.

I was hoping that it would be more of a drop in atmosphere, more freedom for my weekend schedule. The exchanges have a starting time at noon on Sat or Sun. But I find out that things are gone in 15 minutes, the whole thing is over in 1/2 hour!

So here's the scenario:

-Everything goes on a table in middle.

-Folks sit or stand off to the sides eyeing the stuff!

-When the leader/host decides the time is up for latecomers, they say OK to start.

-Watch out, coming through! People kind of go at it! The good stuff goes fast first.

This time there was a beautiful basket of big avocadoes, some very nice started heirloom tomato plants, lots of lavendar stalks, potatoes, oranges, loquats, sunflower seeds, etc.

My other observations?

* Our garden seems to be one of the higher producers compared to what others are bringing. I brought almost a dozen BIG long onions (bulbs and big green leaves). Our garden also has (but I didn't bring) celery, chard, avocado, potato, oranges, marigold seed, pumpkin seed, wildflower seed.

* the attendence varies, usually a dozen come though sometimes less and sometimes more

* seems to be less of a social group, more of a frugal group but maybe I just don't know people well enough to chat for while.

Well, I still plan to go to as many as possible because we have WAY too much food in our garden!!

So it will be salads, and fruits and veges to go with the ----- 35 lb of halibut ----- my husband is bringing home on the plane from Alaska tomorrow!

Yes, he went up there fishing with a colleague. Well deserved vacation for him. His friend has an oil well (in Texas? not sure) that is raking in $10,000 a month recently. And therefore paid for most of the eating out, extras for my husband! (not the hotel or air or charter). Anyway, yes, there's moose out the back door, and the whole nine yards.

Here's the first day's catch...



Clearing out the freezer (some more) today!!

Adding a Life Event Today

May 17th, 2013 at 11:56 am

Adding a life event to add to my FB page; taking a selection of jewelry and cards to the small local museum store today. The museum director asked to sell my rings, sea glass jewelry, and collage cards. So of course I accepted!

This puts Pretty Cheap Jewelry in 5 shops! Wow, now that adds up!

Each store has its own specialization, different customer type, and style. I am looking forward to tracking and comparing the sales between each over the next 12 months.

This location is pretty exciting because:

1. There is good opportunity in the future for selling other styles of rings I make. Rings stood out to the director because she presently has none in the shop. This means I can play around with making different types of rings and have an avenue to sell them.

2. The sea glass jewelry is sought after. The director also wants sea glass jewelry but at prices like I offer. She had a previous sea glass artisan, but the prices were exorbitant so she no longer carries it. This means I can continue to design and have fun with my stash and have a willing sales outlet. Here's a style I'm working on which fits the bill (sea glass jewelry at an inexpensive price)...


Cobalt Blue on Metal Leaf

Small pieces of natural sea glass are sewn on sheet metal leaf shapes. An interesting combination of man and nature. See more photos and price here

I should feel very satisfied, but still am frustrated!! Why? Attention to Pretty Cheap Jewelry on line has been slow. Ah well, patience patience patience.

Thx for the reads.

Sifting through Home Rentals for vacation

May 15th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I love travelling, but with 2 teens it is no longer easy or cheap. We don't fit well into one smallish hotel room anymore. But I have some tricks to keep our costs down!

We are very loyal to Holiday Inn because...

1. The free breakfast is a major cost savings for a family of 4

2. We are rewarded nicely through their point program. Often we are able to upgrade from a single room to a larger room or even a suite at no extra cost.

I look forward to travelling just the 2 of us (!!) but for now I do still want to take our teen son along for the last couple year's he's around.

So we are planning a family summer trip to Hawaii (woo hoo!). We waited 2 years for the air fares to come down. We'll go to (the inexpensive) Waikiki area for the first week and then Maui the second week.

On Maui I wanted to look into a house/condo/apt rental so we can slow down, cook for ourselves, hang around the base area more, spend less. I took alot of time researching tripadvisor but didn't see what I really wanted at under $200/night.

Then I came across 2 sites that were good: airbnb and vrbo (vacation rental by owner). The first was on a FB post by my BIL who was asking if it was reliable (answer: yes, and I didn't realize how many of my relatives already knew about it). The latter was recommended here in the SA forums by DisneySteve so I knew it was good!

And the result? A dream come true! Found a rental in Hana, Maui. All the way on the island east tip, a complete throwback in time. Not commercialized area, beach house on black sand, environmental paradise.

Feeling very fortunate!!

One of the hardest jobs on vacation? Lazy sea glass hunting Smile to make things like this:

Sea Glass Necklace


Simply black and white. A big piece of sea glass in a wire setting on black braided cord. Handmade and original design. See it at Pretty Cheap Jewelry

Thanks for tweeting and reading!

I'm so frugal I save ...

May 9th, 2013 at 01:31 pm

the seconds or minutes left on the microwave! Silly, ok. But how about the matzoh from March? it is getting crumbled into soup, such as tomato and squash soup, and is great!!

Some other little saves? and I mean little!

- the paper tea bag wrap goes in recycling

- jazz up the dog food with the end of box cheese it crumbs (he liked it)

- into the compost for fruit and vege scrap

Not sure about you, but I have a habit of thinking about where I will dispose of the things I use.

Recycle? sure

Reuse? definitely

Reduce? Ah! This is the best choice of all. Make less waste to start with.

Check out the comparison pictures of --

What different families around the world eat in a week

A pick me upper a bit to see the smiling central american family.

What's your littlest save lately?

Funny Dream

May 8th, 2013 at 01:40 pm

I've had so many Random Acts of Donation lately it showed up in my dream!

Setting- I was a mom living in a different town (it is a real town that I know of which has a much higher average income.)

Scene 1- I'm walking through a school and overhear the music department teacher saying to a parent, "When you bring in your composed piece..."

In my dream I am awestruck that music student parents have to donate original music they compose!! Knowing that as a typical parent I donate to bakesales, ewaste roundups, carwash events, etc. And I think to myself (still in my dream), 'I can't believe all the donations a parent has to make!'

Haha!

The bad news? This past weekend Pretty Cheap Jewelry was in a gift fair at the local museum for a day. Sales were poor. Too many jewelry vendors, cold weather, and it just didn't click for me.

The good news? The museum store wants me! The director scoped out my things and asked me to bring in a stock of rings, earrings and collage cards.

Hand crafted, good quality rings are a smart product as I've mentioned before. Putting them out front at a boutique helps increase sales for me in general. People love to try them on and then stay to chat and look over the other things I make.

Here's one style of ring I will take in:

Sterling Silver Flourish Ring

Center sparkle of crystal next to hammered flourishes on adjustable sterling silver ring.

Can't wait to report on what develops with the museum!

Dance Costume Fees make me MAD

May 6th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

My daughter had her first figure skate solo. A two minute solo, with mostly older moves she has mastered for months. Except one very important move, the axel, which is the game changer for skaters. It's like going from elementary to junior high. Or picture books to chapter books.

The axel is the stepping stone to those advanced jumps you see by the champions. She started trying about 18 months ago, and got the first landing about 4 weeks ago. (Some take 2 years to get it!). Then it takes more weeks to not trip, fall and land it consistently.

Her coach decided to put an axel in the program she skated for a spring recital show this weekend. So not only was she nervous to be out there and have THE WHOLE ICE TO HERSELF (hardly ever before), she was nervous about landing the axel. She did NOT fall!! I was so happy - this is a very big confidence boost.

Take a quick peek, she's whizzing by! Smiling! I'm up on the top row of the bleachers. The zoom on my phone camera destroys resolution, but I wanted a candid!!



My title refers to a different cost. The skaters have a regular dance class to help develop presentation and the dance class also does a number at the spring show. So we have to buy a costume for for the dance number, mostly brand new and custom sewn for each performer.

This time it was a pair of sparkly black leggings and a flimsy t-shirt (the kind that is ripped in strips on the back!). That cost was $60. Oh, then a pair of store bought suspenders and a plain black tie was added. For another $10. THEN!!! we had to come up with a pair of hot pink ankle socks at our own cost.

Argh. $70 for that?! I am so mad. It seems to me this teacher does not have ANY sense of money. NONE of that stuff is usable for anything else. This happens EVERY year for shows. She just does not seem to think far enough ahead to plan for reducing costs in costuming.

I am glad she uses garment designers making clothes in LA. But it's very discouraging putting up the money without being able to say anything.

The dance production is usually very good, the results are very impressive. It's so hard to keep an objective perspective of how to give your child this privilege and keep your logic financially as a parent.

Here's a peek at the dance number.



All will be well, I just need to rant.

Where and When the next RAK will take place

May 3rd, 2013 at 11:03 am

Would you consider the donating of refreshments and supplies to an event a Random Act of Kindness? Not really. A RAK should be done person to person or a close fascimile. (Remember that word?!) Anyone want to give a definition of RAK? (comment below)

Today will be a Random Act of Donation kind of day. There is a Mother's Day tea party at our harbor art gallery this Sunday, open to visitors. It's the 3rd year and has been growing in attendence. Last year the visitors sipped drinks, little refreshments, mothers received a rose, and with their kids made a party hat from wrapping paper. And, yes, it boosted sales at our shop!

Naturally, the art gallery membership provides the supplies and volunteer time. Enter the donations!

I will be giving:

3 rolls of wrapping paper - we pick up at the after Christmas sales at a ridiculously low price (sometimes a quarter or two, maybe a dollar). My DH just got a little too much and I am happy to give some away!

2 plates fresh fruit picks - someone at work left a bag of oranges (backyard) and there are too many lingering. OK, I will slice them and fold onto tooth picks with an added farmer market strawberry. Cost of strawberries $5 for three baskets and I am only going to use 1 basket.

Flowers from the yard - last year I had some roses to donate, but this year the roses are not ready. Instead, I will make a few little bouquets with some snapdragon stalks, carnations, sages. Happy to clear out so I can plant summer things anyway!!

I'll be taking these gloves to the shop as part of my payback (hope they get purchased in coming weeks).

Updated Vintage White Gloves



And I will watch for the chance to do a RAK during a lunchtime walk. Stay tuned!

Best Use by May 8 but still good for RAK No. 2

May 2nd, 2013 at 01:17 pm

Besides declaring my 'vegenearlian' diet, the other new step in my life is doing regular random acts of kindness. The first one this month was at the 99 cent store where the (homeless type of) woman in front of me was getting a water, bag of cookies and something else for between $2 and $3. She had a handful of coins but was short. I made up the difference. Not surprised that she didn't really express appreciation, but I know it was probably inside and hard to say. It was good for me to help.

Then several weeks ago I was up in the top shelf of the pantry retrieving a container to be used for donating refreshments to a reception. Ah! I forgot! There was a Gingerbread Train Kit from last December that I stashed because we just had TOO MUCH last Christmas.

It was marked 'best use by May 8' and I figured that was enough time to make it of good use. I made a mental note to give the train kit to the next needy kid I found.

Days went by and I forgot here and there. I saw it a couple more times and decided to take it out last night. There is a very very objective and local charitable group right near work with a store front called the 'Unity Shoppe'. It is a consortium of faiths and I knew they would have a kid who could use the gingerbread fun immediately.

So Random Act of Kindness #2: Walked in and asked them to give it to the best kid they thought of. The two ladies at the checkout looked at each other and kind of winked and made a 'I know just who' nod to me.

Wish me good sales this Sunday at our first Sundays free at the local museum gift plaza! I'm taking some of these...

Hand Made Blank Booklets
20 pages for grabbing grad autographs, keeping Mom Day mementos, or a mini vacation record. A very inexpensive investment at $7.50 ea

Daisy Field


Vintage Moon