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Archive for January, 2014

Wake Up and Go To Sleep ; or using things not as they are intended

January 22nd, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Such a relief that things are going more positive with my family life. I noticed a couple times the oldest has been a tad more interactive with me lately. For example, when I just happened to step in his room last evening (to say 'hi how's it going') he showed me a few emails he got from colleges showing interest. Nice, he's proud and it was a good thing to talk about. (He's a sophomore and took a practice ACT and scored high. The schools let the results go to colleges thus he got contacted. Even so, high scores are just part of the process to get a great scholarship.)

Anyway, then my daughter was pretty open and didn't become defensive immediately when we were home together after school. The first thing she was doing was getting back to a relative on email regarding girl scout cookies. But truthfully was taking way too much time on it. Figuring out which website would show the cookie to this relative, looking up google images of these types, making an attachment of the pictures, OY! It was early (5pm or so) and I didn't hassle her except to say ONCE that this was taking more time than it should.

The next hurdle was dinner, and I knew she wouldn't want the soup and salad I was making (cream of broccoli). The typical situation in the past is she goes and makes something herself. Hard to fault that: she makes it her business to fix good meals and generally clean up after herself, but sinks time into it that she doesn't really have.

So I offered to make her something. Gave her a couple 10 minute deadlines before the offer expired. Had to give a couple ideas, and she ended up accepting the offer. Whew.

And the last positive development of the night? The 9:30 bedtime has been a knock down drag out fight far too many times. If she doesn't make it, my DD doesn't get her iPod the next day. It's been a very unhappy procedure.

She makes it go to the last second almost every time, or doesn't make it and has incredibly crafted excuses. Sometimes I hand this duty off to my husband, and guess what: he doesn't make the rule important and doesn't care very much about the results. No consistency and it hurts the principle (of managing time better and a teen getting enough sleep).

I realize the behavior is basically a struggle for independence and saved just for me Frown and I've tried incentives such as 'you get a great backrub every minute you are in bed early!'

So another idea came to me a couple days ago: She got a new alarm clock at Christmas (the old was on it's last legs and this one has nifty temperature readings she likes and a better radio). It has 2 alarm settings, AHA! I secretly set the 2nd alarm for 9:30pm. So when it beeped WE ALL KNOW it is that time.

It worked last night. The beep was the call to bed, lights out. Very little hassle.

So the wake up alarm is now a go to bed alarm. At least for a while until I have to think up something new.

Trying to stay positive

January 21st, 2014 at 11:26 pm

ah, my family life is at a low point. Break down of communication. Between me and each of the others. For different reasons, none entirely unexpected. I have started a journal (last week) and writing it down does help relieve the stress and distill the issues for me. Want to commiserate, see below. Or just pass and come back in a few days when I hope things are better.

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Parenting, me vs my husband. It's been several years that I struggle with my oldest on balancing the video games with outdoor activity and household participation. I have stressed these subjects to my son hundreds of times over the years in a hundred different ways. My husband is far to easy on my son, gives in to my son's ways and lets it go. Sometimes that method works, but I want that to be the exception, not the rule. Examples? I made a rule there would be no video gaming on school nights (and I took away the controllers to work during the week to remove the temptation on occasion). My husband said there would be a max hours of video gaming on the weekends: 6 hours a day. SIX HOURS. Oh for heaven sake. Might as well be all day.

Generally, my son makes fairly good choices. I want him to take more charge of his future. He will be 16 in a few weeks. Time to get more serious about a part time job in the summer, to finance a car if he plans to get one, and to look at what college choices (including scholarships) that are in his future. My son is not inclined to put himself out for any of these. I know it is partly from fear of becoming independent, it's scary and he might not succeed. And in the meantime his dad provides very good home, food, and easy extra money.

So I am fairly miffed at my husband for being soft on the parenting.

Teen Mother-Daughter Psychosis. At this point my teen daughter assumes without question anything and everything I say or do interacting with her is going to be critical and unapproving. I am very sad and this is tearing me up. It brings up alot of bad psychology in my own teenage years. So it is full on confrontation no matter if I: try to get her to commit to a figure skate practice time, want her to go to bed on time, pick up her floor, make her own lunch! You name it, every little thing.

I had a lot of tears this weekend. It is not just hormone crap. These are issues that have been on the burner for years.

One tiny good thing, I have not given up in making things better. I can go to my daughter and say 'You worked really hard in skate practice today' or 'Please let me say good things about you!' or something. My son went on a hike with my husband all day yesterday (only after I made it clear to my husband that he needed to be strict and STAND UP for the right thing as a parent). This momentum needs to continue from both the boys and neither will be particularly gung ho about it.

That's all for now.

Dollar Store Gourmet Chocolate

January 15th, 2014 at 06:07 pm

Did you do what I did? Find great deals on special chocolates at the grocer after Christmas? The last week of the year is the best. Even though supply and selection is limited, I don't mind taking the chance waiting till the end. Truthfully, if there isn't anything I like at that point, then I don't buy it at all. Really don't need it!

But if there is, I use it for Valentines Day. The kids are teens, they can afford the calories. Personally I don't want to feel obligated giving Valentines; I know my daughter would feel slighted as would my husband if I didn't. They are both more sentimental than me. *sigh*

So capturing the 75~90% off good stuff makes it a little more attractive for me. Here's what is on the schedule for 2/14:

$1.30 big bag of pnut M&M (my husband doesn't care that they are green and red) and a historic limited edition book about the Gold Rush (from the $2 library sale shelf)

$3 big box of white chocolate peppermint bark in a pretty package (one of my daughter's favorite)

$2 giant hershey kiss (the bigger the better - plain chocolate for my son)

Several $1.30 big bags of hershey kisses for the pantry cooking - mint dark chocolate and regular milk chocolate. Wrapped in green and red who cares!!

TIP: If you didn't get to these sales, check the dollar store. The one near me has some great gourmet chocolate. I was surprised! Here's what I found (and I got for myself!!):



Lindt 85% cocoa extra dark - I tried it and it is good. Made in USA based on original Swiss recipe

French 74% dark chocolate - maybe it is cheap french chocolate, but I think even CHEAP french food is probably a cut above American decent food!!



What to do for a boy's 16th birthday?

January 14th, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Milestones passed? 3 years ago was the last elementary school valentine party for me as a mom. Yes, we all remember our own elementary school parties fondly, but truly I did not love racking my brain making things that were inexpensive and had any shred of health for the classmates. Nevermind all the candy coming home. (I think we gave sugarless gum several years...?)

2 years ago: I became the mother of 2 teens. Am surviving, some days better than others...

For my next trick: I will have a 16 year old in a few weeks. It's a boy! Not as dramatic as a girl perhaps. There isn't a plan for a psychological minefield sleep over party or a group warplay game date. He hasn't wanted to do anything different for the last few years even though I want him to!

He is not terribly conservative. Likes shiny new video games and electronics as much as any guy. Is the typical young adult, expecting to breeze through college right into a job earning 6 figures. Hmph.

Well it would make me happy to have a happy 16th birthday. What to do. Take a spin at the indoor (electric) go cart track? We never went to one of those paint ball places. Disneyland? (he would probably rather go with a girl). Heck, even the movies? He just says 'no'. Mostly I think because when he was a kid and the parties were big, I always was a bit overwhelmed and he was worried!

So what to do to mark this reasonably important, at least in American culture, milestone?

I had a funny idea for a gift: fill a laptop case with cash. Well at least with $1's. And if that wasn't 'full' enough maybe add some toy dollars. He has a good laptop and needs a carrying case.

But I checked ebay and there really isn't a big load of toy dollars for sale for just a few bucks anywhere. I don't want to print it on a computer or even use a copy machine. So I think that idea is not going to happen.

He has said he would like money - checks specifically - because these would be better for depositing and less likely to be spent.

I had one of these (below) and was thinking of giving as a special gift (doesn't happen very often!). But I deposited it all so I can write him a check instead. To put in the laptop case. With something. Not sure what.

Boring, but better?

Happy Monday (not always mutually exclusive)

January 13th, 2014 at 06:14 pm

When one of the shops that carried my personality collage cards closed at the beginning of this year, I took those cards and put them in another location that was low on my stock.

Then last week, I got an invite to request rejoining the store (under a new owner). That's happy news! And I also had approached another store last week to see if they wanted to give my cards a try. (I am a loyal patron already, and they are interested in local goods).


But I didn't have any spare funny cards in case either said yes, so I spent the weekend making new ones.

Here's a couple (lousy photos) of the first batch:

Lemon Lime Heads



Girlfriend! This one is supposed to pick up someone's spirit if they have a big birthday, or are getting over a serious illness.

Dog Walk



Admittedly, you've probably never seen a dog walk like this. Got a valentine? Personally, I like the construction chick.

Hope I got you laughing a little!

Start your engine, slooooooowly

January 9th, 2014 at 11:22 pm

How do I justify the rush to get my teens driving with my environmental conscience! The good news: yesterday was my oldest first day behind the wheel. It went well. But mostly not with the official driving teacher.

He is in a AAA driving class: 8 lectures, and 6 one hour car sessions. The lectures are looooong and truthfully a little overboard with the details. But all the driving schools are $300+ and this one results in a reduction of insuring him in the amount of about $180. That sold me right there.

So yesterday was the first time the teacher gets him in the car. Well really SHE sat in the driver seat and talked for at least 12 minutes. (Oh the torture for the teen!) Then (I was sneaking peeks from a hidden spot) he finally gets to sit in the driver seat and I see him start the car. And they don't move for at least another 10 minutes!!

Sheeeeesh. I left after that.

Turns out they went around the parking lot. A little. That's it!! He said he never even touched the accelerator. Oh good grief.

On the way home I took him to the BIG BIG BIIIIG empty fairgrounds parking lot. It was dusk but we spend at least 15 minutes going here and there. Parking and restarting. Left and rights. Driving out the fairgrounds area and back in (a teeny tiny bit of street traffic).

Then after home and a little dinner, I took him out again around the neighborhood. He wasn't crazy to rush into it because it was dark out. But there was very light traffic.

So we drove past two of his friend's house, to the grocery store about a mile away, etc. Did his first traffic light. He did fine.

Do you remember your first day behind the wheel? Was it with a parent?

Truthfully, I am very happy inside. After all the teen drama and stress in my last months, this will be a good memory for hopefully most of his life.

SWEET! Now how to convince myself pushing another gasoline car on the road is ok....

BTW, my brother ordered this 3-strand silver weave necklace for his wife's birthday the first hours I showed it on facebook:


Graceful silver loops with a lemon-lime cubic zirconium round charm.

Taking the Time to do Tailoring

January 8th, 2014 at 07:44 pm

Aha! The minute after I wondered 'Where did all the free time go?!' during holiday break, it occured to me! One of the time sinks was: alterations.

Up until about my mid 20s I was continually altering clothes for myself. Work slacks were always too long (I am a towering 5'1") for example. Back then there were fewer petite departments. After age 30 or so I decided enough. It was nice to save some money buying sales clothes but was tired of using my time to take up the hems. Though it was more expensive, I either shopped the petite sections (which became more prevalent) or did without. The alteration chores died.

Well, three gifts to my daughter this year were clothes that I ended up sewing. She is a slim petite. Not perfectly in children's size 14 nor junior or women's extra small size either.

Ack. No problem. That's where (some of) the time went.

PJ bottoms. Cozy flannel and fleece shortened 3 to 4 inches (2 pair).

Winter Vest. She asked for vest to be used for figure skating. I checked 3 good sports stores, and either the women's extra small were sold out or they were too loose for her (the torso needs to be form fitting for figure skating). We went to the sales after Christmas and found one with knit side panels (quilted front/back). This would be a snap to alter, so I simply took a big tuck on each side panel.

Padded Shorts. Another project wzs making padded shorts for figure skating. These are for hips and tailbone. The pads are incredibly overpriced ($35 ~ $40 ea and you need 3) and the commercial shorts were hopelessly too big for her. So I designed a pair over a year ago and sewed it myself.

The original pair were just beat up like crazy, not to mention 4 sizes too small by now!

I made a repeat pair, it took some brain work and time again. (If you want to know, it involved cutting a $4 pair of leggings below the thigh and reusing that material to make pad pockets on the inside of the shorts.)

So do you do alterations routinely?

Physical Therapy vs Grandma Advice

January 7th, 2014 at 05:37 pm

After nearly a year of mostly moderate, but sometimes sharp neck pain that limited normal movement, my husband convinced me to go to the doctor to at least check it out. Perhaps it was a pinched nerve? I usually can figure out what is the reason for my own health problems, and only go to the doc if I am really sick! I ran through the probabilities in my mind on this one: (a) build up from psychological stress held in my shoulders over years and years and years; (b) plain ol' old age; (c) combination of the two. There was no trauma that started this, it was worse some days without reason, etc.

The pinched nerve idea was a good point so I finally gave in.

I like my doc, she didn't suspect pinched nerve and sent me to a physical therapist. I trust her.

Anyone have PT? It was my first time. The woman was smart, figured out exactly which muscle was the source of the pain in a couple minutes. She said the shoulder blade on that side is 'slightly misaligned'.

Folks, if each and everyone of us went to a doctor, there is no doubt SOMETHING would be found abnormal. And the doc would want to correct it.

OK, after 2 appts, I've gotten a picture on correct computer work posture; an exercise for the weak/strong muscle on that shoulder; and the advice to put a pillow under my elbow on that side when I make jewelry. And to pay attention to what strains that muscle and adjust my life accordingly.

For $50.

Pfffft. I am not going back. It's not that she wasn't good, it's that this falls into the 'what grandma would say' category and I don't need to spend big bucks for it.

Off I go to do the exercise, just after I finish my 'mood lift' herbal tea (another expensive faux pas to be discussed in a later post!!)

You can blame CCF and a couple others for the price going up on these!! They advised me to do it after my post yesterday Smile

10 Percent Price Increased

Must Have Flunked Political Campaign Accounting

January 6th, 2014 at 10:21 pm

The columns are filled in for 2013, the bottom lines have been totalled. I do not practice 'creative accounting', work in absolutely no spin, am perfectly honest, and completely transparent. And am happy and satisfied with the report!

Pretty Cheap Jewelry 2013 Year End Report:
Expenses (materials, fees, ads, postage) ~ $1,925
Income (sales, and only actual sales) ~ $2,000

WHEE - that is a $75 profit.

In coming weeks I will compute an acceptable measurement of overhead (sales tax, state tax, mileage for work travel, home workshop), and that will be a very good deduction on my total income tax.

Perhaps I err on the simple side of bookkeeping. I do not do year end inventory, do not claim questionable expenses, do not even obtain loans for expanding the business. I prefer to spend only what I make. AFTER I make it.

If anything, I underprice and don't include enough for my own labor or design skill to make more profit.

Well I sleep soundly. And that is good enough for me.

Can you campaign committee members who are reading, say the same thing?

++++ January Special ++++

Eternity Circle Necklace with Garnet (January Birthstone)

Simple and timeless, a garnet charm hangs inside an endless circle. This is a 2 strand weave. A flourish at the bail adds just the right amount of style. See more here



Priced to fit the frugal budget. A handmade original.

Seems To Be a New Family Tradition?

January 3rd, 2014 at 06:55 pm

How on Earth do my days off get so busy?! It's a full one today so this post is going to be brief! My favorite moment of the past couple weeks...

3rd Runner Up = Family Jeopardy Game (Wii) on New Year Eve

2nd Runner Up = Skyping visit with my sister and her family on New Year Day (my first skype, call me late to the party but better late than never!)

1st Runner Up = My husband making apple chips with his new toy, aka home dehydrator. And dried mango and pineapple and papaya strips. My teen son ate a whole bottle full in a few days, faster than we are going to make them!!!

The Winner = Seems we are making a tradition of playing family games and charades and a simplified version of Pictogram on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night. Christmas Eve was Monopoly and Scrabble. My son is the monopolist of the family. We humor him !! Truthfully it's wonderful to see the dealmaking between the various combination of parents/siblings - such relationshipping doesn't happen the entire rest of the year!!

Scrabble is slower paced, and it's a great pleasure to see my children's growing intellect in vocabulary.

On Christmas Day, my husband, Mr. Tool, loves his iPhone apps and installed a free Pictogram game version about a year or two ago. There are word categories, such as EMOTION, PLACE, or THING. Try acting out 'escaped inmate'; or 'creepy guy'! Or drawing 'phone service center'; or 'ferris wheel car'! YOU TRY IT !!

We laughed and had a great couple hours. I hope we do this many many more years.

And now onto the small biz work...One of my retail venues is closing tomorrow. I have taken some of the handmade jewelry out and put it on my Etsy site. And reduced the price (because there is no BIG commission anymore). Here's a couple examples:

Ring in the New Year Ring
This sweet little ring has a line of pearls and crystals on 14K gold filled wire. Adjustable and will fit most sizes. Perfect for saying 'I love you' at a birthday or let the easter bunny bring it to your mom, daughter, sister, friend or wife.

See all the details here



Classic Oval Drop Earrings
Sparkling oval drops never go out of style. Favored by royalty, movie stars, the wealthy. This is the last pair in my inventory, and priced half off.

Perfect for special occasion or a very thoughtful gift for a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend or wife.

Peach, tangerine, apricot is the theme; the post features a large crystal and the drop is wired continuously with a pattern of identical crystals and gold glass seed beads.

See all the details here