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Archive for October, 2013

Black October (not just the bats and witch's hat)

October 31st, 2013 at 04:42 pm

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!

Family Genie meets iPhone

October 24th, 2013 at 04:14 pm

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!

Giants and Vikings Back Drop

October 22nd, 2013 at 06:25 pm

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!!

Mangled but the Highlight of the Weekend

October 21st, 2013 at 02:58 pm

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

Love Hate Appliance Relationships

October 18th, 2013 at 04:22 pm

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?

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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.

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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.

Calling all App writers! my idea, your code: Family Chore Genie

October 16th, 2013 at 06:41 pm

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?

Not.

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 Frown

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.

Acorns and Limes

October 14th, 2013 at 08:35 pm

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!

Thinking of shopping for a ...

October 10th, 2013 at 10:14 pm

dehydrator. It would be the main gift to my husband for Christmas. Anyone have one? I think we would make good use of it and am comparing performance and price of basic ones vs. high output ones. Here's a brief summary:

Basic (new)
Cost ~ $50 plus minus $20
Capacity about 5 trays
Time operation from 6 - 12 hours
Some needs attention during drying (turn over food)
Less strongly built, life estimated 5 years

High Output (new)
Cost ~ $200 to $300
Capacity 10 or 12 trays
Time operation 4 hours
More durable, last 10 or more years

The variety of uses in our house are many. I am sure we would make dried backyard produce, eg tomatoes, apples, nectarines, onion, herbs, peppers and more. My husband would make backpack meals but only for a couple years (after which he will probably move on to some other recreation for awhile). And I make trail mix now using separate purchases of raisins, dry fruits and nut which my kids eat ALOT instead of junk food. It would be less expensive to dry my own fruits for the trail mix.

But I certainly balk at laying out $200 plus. Look at ebay, even used dehydrators are barely reduced in price. They are in demand?

Going to research some more.

Architectural Digest got nothing over me!

October 7th, 2013 at 08:15 pm

Some things are just too ... interesting to toss. At least for a limited time. We don't have a lot of storage space and I am a fanatically neat person, but I am betting on making an eyecatching display that won't cost me anything.

Last year our backyard grape vines finally seemed to thrive. The stalks were long, 6' and more. They were strong and flexible, nicely curved and had neat little curly feelers here and there.

When time came to prune the plant, I decided to keep some of the long vines. The 5 and 6 foot length was not easy to get from mother nature, and certainly not free in the craft stores for any sort of pole.

What I pictured was using them in a big floor vase and hanging a certain item I make - glass ornament bulbs that I suspend a pair of earrings (or bracelet) inside. Kind of like a ship in a bottle.

There they stayed, in the garage for a year. In a corner. Not forgotten! And now ready for the test. Instead of the big floor vase, I decided to go with one of the heavy table vases I already have. Here's the set up so far (yes that is my dog behind):



In the bottom of the vase will go some florist foam or perhaps something with less eco-impact.

Watch in coming weeks while I hang the ornaments.

Escape from the Treadmill

October 3rd, 2013 at 09:55 pm

On Furlough Day No. 1 I saw this as an opportunity to encourage my husband to 'take it a notch or two down', get off the treadmill (at least take a break), and otherwise stop chasing the dollar so hard.

He wasn't exactly in favor. He reminded me we have one in braces (paid in cash), one to get braces in a year or so, an upcoming college education in 2 years, and the second to follow two years after that. Nevermind auto issues, an old dog, and hope none of us gets sick in a big way.

Oh yea. Getting off the treadmill is a fantasy for now. But we had a short, honest talk about where we spend, where we should reduce.

Hm. Most of our expense comparison showed:
Utilities - no change, phone/internet/TV bundled
Computer - some past expenses, future projection low
Groceries - somewhat high
Clothing - quite low
Entertainment - zilch
Eating Out - moderate
Home Projects - past high, future zilch
Grown Up Toys - bike parts, camp gear, etc.

The idea? concentrate on reducing the grocery expenses. How? We already coupon (ALOT), shop the sale rack (ALOT) and cook from scratch (ALOT). I rarely throw out food, we grow much of our own as well. But I can make less expensive things. HELLO JELLO! Pass on the designer produce, specialty cheese, rely on our garden.

DH is the eater outer. It isn't a big enough percent of expenses to nag him about, but I'll try to think up someway to get a couple meals a week off the charge card. (CANDLELIGHT at home? with smooching?)

I still wholeheartedly look forward to simplifying after the kids fly the coop. LESS groceries, LESS cleaning supplies, LESS of everything - furniture, towels, computer necessities. Travel with a small carry on to HOSTELS. By TRAIN. (or bike).

Does this happen to everyone getting near retirement?

Furlough No. 2 Meets 'Going for the most unusual holiday gift'

October 2nd, 2013 at 04:24 pm

So we are a furlough family. The effect to us basically will be the delay of paying our home loan off early. In a nutshell: we have been paying our loan off aggressively and have estimated it to be gone in about 3 years. This is designed to coincide with the start of the first child starting college. At that time we would be able to help pay for college with the money previously used for the house loan.

With the unknown of where he might go to college and the cost, we feel confident to be able to still manage. I presume he will have to go to a school that he/we are able to pay for depending on how much we have available.

Two years later the second child goes to school and we will be spreading out the available money.

The good news is I am increasing my work hours to make up a small percent of the immediate income loss.

And we have diversified our income nicely, DH teaches community college at night, we have a rental house, and I have my small (but every little bit helps) jewelry biz.

So furlough meet unusual holiday gift; unusual holiday gift meet furlough.

What you may ask is this?



Answer: a hygrograph
A vintage instrument that measures humidity.

Why would I know?
Last week when on a frugal bday date with my husband (beautiful dinner at home and then $15 improv comedy show), we walked past the thrift store whereupon he pointed to this THING in the corner of the window. "I'm watching that," he said, "it's marked down from $50 to $30, and when it hits $25 I'm buying it."

It was a nameless faceless metal box as far as I could see. WHA?

"It's a weather instrument," he said. How in the world he EVEN NOTICED is amazing to me. Ugh?!

So I made a mental note to secretly investigate. A mere $5 would not break me and giving him Christmas gifts is VERY difficult.

I found out it is a Hygrograph, Weather Measure Corporation Model H-324. Nothing NOTHING pops up like it on google. or Ebay. Leave it to my husband to stump even google.

I don't know if it works, I don't know the real value. It looks vintage, not antique. Anyway, I took it and am in the running for 'most unusual gift of 2013'.

Try to beat that!!