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!
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).
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:
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.
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.
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?
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!!
Is wire the new black? A colleague in the art associaton remarked to me she first noticed wire jewelry designs about 5 years ago. That's when I did as well, and fell in love with the beauty and fine detail. I made myself a little promise to learn and give it a try at some future time. I knew it would take a concentrated number of hours free time. So I left it on the back burner until this past summer.
Going away for vacation was the key. No housework distraction, no gardening and yard work. Not as much daily computer nor cell phone time sink. I packed my jewelry supplies, they didn't take more space than a make up bag! Wire, beads, tools and a few basic instructions. I crossed my fingers that the airport security wouldn't take away my wire cutters....
(they didn't and on the return flight I learned to even just put any sharp tools directly in the check in bin)
And so I blocked out a couple hours to learn. That was the start 3 months ago.
Fast forward 12 weeks, and here is the latest, seems like I've come along way already.
Copper Christmas Colors
I didn't start out to make red and green, but realized at the finish that holiday colors happened. Sparkling cut red crystal is worked into a 3 strand weave; a glossy unfaceted green serpentine stone drop is the perfect foil. Matching earrings not shown.
My wire work has been quicker to sell at the shops I'm in than past styles. Is it going to be a trend? So far it's been about two a month in the several shops, I don't have a lot of inventory yet so it's hard to stock up anywhere.
Twice when I have been volunteer cashier in the galleries and doing a design on the spot, I've made a sale.
Maybe it's my prices? The simpler necklaces are $25. The more complex are $45. I plan to hold this price point through the end of the year.
Hard to know if wire weave is getting hot. I want to stick with it just for the sheer satisfaction of the design process. And sales are definitely a good feeling.
You are busy right? But you are smart and make a grocery list to keep you from impulse shopping at the store, right? You just get in the store, pick out the listed things and get out as efficiently as possible, right? Well don’t fill that whole list, ok? That seems counter intuitive but it will save money.
Here’s why: How many times have you come out of the drug store or grocery store with receipt coupons for something you just bought? These coupons are usually a pretty high savings (higher than the mass printed coupons in the newspaper for example) because they are targeted just to you. The store systems know what you buy and want you to repeat those purchases. Therefore you get a big incentive coupon to do so!
Yesterday I went to CVS for dental supplies and had mascara on the list in hopes of a good store sale. Alas, there was no BOGO and I just didn’t want to pay full price. I even scan my CVS card at the store coupon center and did not get a make up coupon. So the mascara didn’t get in the basket. And SURPRISE! I got a very good coupon on my cash register receipt ($5 off a $15 purchase). This will cover the price of nearly one whole mascara and I will get two.
So leave something off the list that can wait a couple days. See what coupon you get and use it to buy the item the next trip.
Here's a way to say Happy Birthday with a (wacky) smile ~
One of a Kind Collage Cards
Give a card like no other! My original cards are full of personality, appeal to the odd humor in your friends and family, and are guaranteed to make them smile.
Hot Dog Face Birthday
Great for kids or a guy, do you spy the egg?
In case you missed the important day, this card will surely elicit forgiveness.
Red Heel Head Chick
Cute? Weird? Different that's sure. I love it!
Thanks for all those FB likes (I notice).
I have such difficulty planning ahead until the new month is turned over on the calendar! (Why is that?!) Now that September is here, I can see clearly now what to do this month and in fact, what to do the rest of the year. (September is special like that in rushing us to the end of the year: only 112 days until Christmas!) On my calendar?
o Girl Scout Nut Sales Chair. My turn!
o Fall Gardening. Plant basil and garlic. Nurture small pumpkins already sprouted on the patio (experimenting with this location, never tried them there).
o Shift from outdoor to indoor fitness. Happy to realize I am able to be active most days a week at least a little, e.g. Mon/Tue/Thur/Fri = lunchtime or after work dog walking, Wed - zumba class, Sat/Sun major bike riding for running errands. The after work exercise will drop off after the clock changes, must compensate with at home Wii zumba for example.
Also on my calendar? This is the most important time of year for small businesses. Let me ask you to remember each time you are about to spend for a gift or to entertain guests from now to December 31: Who are you patronizing? What effects do your spending dollars have?
Put a sticky on your wallet near the dollars so you see it every time you shop ‘Is this money supporting a local or independent business?’
Here’s a peek at what Pretty Cheap Jewelry is planning for end of year business…
It was a Labor (of love) Day at Pretty Cheap Jewelry where a collection of distinct new jewelry designs were produced. I set a goal of crafting at least 6 wire weave necklaces and was successful. Some were made using a simpler weave that I knew would be faster and trouble-free to accomplish, but I wanted also to try some new weave ideas which would take longer and need reiterations. A few of the results?
Silver colored wire formed into graceful curve holds a brilliant red crystal briolette. Matching earrings. This is a more difficult 3 strand weave.
A central square shaped lapis stone is framed in a silver 2-strand wire weave. Sky blue crystal accent. On leather.
Rythmic Rose Pearl
Like the rythmic gymnastic event, two strands of silver colored wire flutter around a large rose glass pearl. Clear glass accents add sparkle.
Next time: get a laugh at the latest wacky collage cards also from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
Pretend you have a new small business downtown in a middle class town. It fills a niche, carrying only goods made locally. It's a tiny shop, tucked in a side street location. So far word of mouth is getting you decent foot traffic.
But you want to raise the store's profile and let the residents know about you. What can you think of to make a splash?
The answer must:
1. Be low cost
2. Tie into the local goods branding
3. Be DIFFERENT to set you apart from the usual retailer.
Any marketing wanna bes out there? I realize this is what advertising firms are paid to do, but I think the SA'ers have the low cost point of view that is important here.
Things that are too *been there, done that*
1. Give aways. Customers are soooooo used to getting something for free. Gettng as much as they can for free. Ugh. There is no way this small business is going to make an impression giving away stuff they have that represents them.
2. Food or Wine tasting. Not as common as #1 but still too typical. And a bit expensive to stage anyway.
3. Demos. Book signings. Boring. Unless you are demonstrating magic tricks or have the world's biggest dog or something.
4. Print Ads. Yes, this has been a necessary part of a traditional marketing plan, but truthfully the world is turning digital and you want to go where the people are (on their phones for example).
Something completely different
A couple ideas I had, how would you improve? How would you react, or what would you do different?
1. Hold a photo worthy event. I heard a news report recently that people have their cell phone near them 95% of the day now (and use them in EVERY situation like in the bedroom and the bathroom). What they are doing ALOT is taking pictures and putting on social media. I suggest having a local icon - celebrity? giant avocado? something catchy that represents their local theme - come to the shop and let people take a picture with it. This location has no celebrity readily available, hmph. What to do?
2. Give some sort of reward for FB likes or social media check in. The owner can easily track if the person has 'liked' the shop page or checked in on Twitter or Instagram or similar. What to give as a reward?
In fact, this is not a fictional situation! I am thrilled that my goods are sold through a small wonderful new shop Very-Ventura.
I would love to help them succeed and ask for your ideas!
My favorite reply whenever I heard other mothers sigh and say 'they grow up so fast' was: "You don't remember!! The constant interruption? Not being able to finish a complete thought for years? Your memory is so selective!"
Having gas in the car, milk and water in the house some weeks when my kids were grade school age was a minor miracle!
Getting them to eat healthy, sleep enough, stay off the TV, and read books was a full time job.
Yada yada yada...whatever.
Today my two go back to school. My oldest is a sophomore at a magnet school which means there is no bus in our neighborhood for it. Last year I drove him, being a freshman it just helped in the transition. The last couple months last year he rode his bike back and forth (about 5 mi one way). A couple of his friends in our neighborhood were doing the same and he joined up with them.
This year, then, my oldest decided to ride his bike to school every day. It is a step toward independence. No longer does he wait on someone else to do what he needs to do.
My pain? Y'know how sometimes important moments happen in those unplanned times? Such as in the car driving to school. Especially with a rather clammed up teen boy. That opportunity is no longer a daily occurrence.
Maybe I would see what girls say 'hi' to him when I dropped him at school (you better believe he wouldn't tell me on his own!). Maybe I would just ask in the car, 'Are you ready for this or that exam?' and some other thing in his life would surface.
yah whatever. Life goes on!!
Gotta leave you with a smile ok? Etsy pays for google product ads, they pick privately out of the million things on the Etsy site. My things seem to get regularly picked, just for a day here and there. This one has a google product ad today, must be under 'funny get well cards'.
Funny Get Well Cowboy Baby Card
Hope all you moms with school kids out there keep the chin up!
A few nights ago there was a rich man in my dreams! Sit back and have a laugh at the story...
I was at a conference for small business owners. It was a typical fancy hotel banquet room. Only about 100 people were there, we were all invited because we were supposed to be bright entrepreneurial stars.
Each person was allowed to ask one question. My turn and I was asking some dumb boring question like: What are the best ways to increase your market. And he was starting to answer the same boring principles we already knew.
When I interrupted and said, "What I REALLY want to do is give my potential customers some incentive like... WIN A LUNCH DATE WITH WARREN BUFFET! Would you be willing to do that?"
Whereupon he brightened up and answered, "EXACTLY! See this person has used this opportunity of being at this conference to get the next opportunity. This is the essence of entrepreneurialship!"
I think he said yes, but next in my dream I was with him one-on-one and asking him to sign a paper (for doing the lunch I think), but he was OLD and was kind of falling asleep with the pen in his hand. I felt sorry for him! And walked down the hall toward his hotel room with him for a minute.
Then I woke up!
HA! LOVE IT!
So now you know the secret to a successful small business
Say goodbye to summer vacation, school starts tomorrow.
The good: I ride the bus to work, and save gobs of money on gas.
The bad: Less free time to take care of my jewelry business, housework, and exercise.
Here's where we went the last weekend of summer vacation 2013:
Morning Light at Trail Pass - Eastern Sierras
Backpacked in about 1.5 miles, much shorter than the planned 5 miles because I was so out of shape! I also felt altitude sickness at about 10,000 feet. Still the trip was salvaged by camping at this pass, and it was my 13 yo daughters first back pack anyway which she enjoyed.
Fall means...back to school, cool temperatures, dry leaves, and FUNDRAISERS. I hoped to have extra cash on hand to meet some of those needs, but haven't saved yet. Here's to hoping for some small income from sales of Pretty Cheap Jewelry!
- Middle school magazine sales
- Girl Scout nut sales
- High school track team coupon book
To receive? July earnings to deposit, (Aug earnings not tallied):
- $10 check from the art gallery shops
- $15 check from one museum shop
- $5.50 paypal from online jewelry lesson sales
All the income goes to my small business checking account which can be used for these small fundraiser expenses.
Pretty Cheap Jewelry to be carried by a new shop!
Local goods only at Very-Ventura, now in downtown Ventura. The owners have my funny collage cards and have asked for jewelry. Yay! Grand opening this Saturday 8/17/2013.
Very Ventura to carry a selection of sea glass and wire wrap jewelry handmade by Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
Crystal Trimmed Drop Hoop Earrings - Lilac
Perfectly classic, pear shaped drops on posts. Hand wired swarovski crystals (lilac). Price $24
Thanks for reading!
Last week I promised to do a Random Act of Kindness; a concept I like for making a small positive contribution in the world. So on Saturday I had to go to an ice skate shop far from my home to get my daughter's blades permanently mounted (the shop does a temporary mount which you use for a couple weeks to check the alignment. If all is good, they then add screws for the permanent mount). While I waited, I walked to a donut shop on the corner for a cup of coffee. It was busy! A couple minutes after me in line was a grouchy dad and two daughters (about ages 12 and 8). The dad was scolding his older one about being on the phone too long for some reason or another. I did not like the tone of his voice, and her face was very solemn. It was sad to see negative parenting.
I wanted to tell the dad to cherish these kids, to make him at least give instruction in a more positive way. Obviously I could not butt in verbally, so I decided to just pay for a donut secretly in advance for each of them.
I paid and left. A few storefronts down was a laundromat and I slipped inside waiting a couple minutes to see if the dad and girls came out. But I did not wait long and didn't see them.
I wasn't crazy about feeding these folks donuts (they were not exactly fitness types to start with), but the time and place was right for me doing something positive.
I just hope that my act at least jogged his direction for the day and made him think, 'If something bright happened to me by surprise, maybe I will do something bright myself'.
Coming soon: Pretty Cheap Jewelry Personality Cards and Sea Glass jewelry will be in a brand new store!
Natural White Sea Glass Earrings
Simple and modern. Two nice sized sea glass pieces are securely bound with silver wire. Free form and hand made. A great value for original design. See them
Thanks for reading!
A step along the way working toward getting it just right. The objectives: easy to make two that match, have appeal to a wide market, not too time consuming (eg can be done in one or two sittings), raw materials not expensive. These fit the objectives, except for a bit off on the first goal (I see the imperfections probably more than you do).
Lots of detail in the wire weave make these earrings small beauties. Made with silver colored copper core wire with an added drop of serpentine and crystal. Ball posts.
I didn't intend to make an ampersand shape, that is just what they looked like when finished.
Lousy exposure, this is from my phone camera with a little adjusting on the PC.
Price range ~ $30 - $40
First of all it's still a treat for me to go to Starbucks. During the regular school year I start work at 9am except for 2 Fridays a month. All the regular days it's too late to have a coffee for me, but those 2 days I'm the first one in at 7am I treat myself to a little walk break around 9 or 10 for a starbucks coffee. Also in the summer my work schedule is erratic and I'm at work at 7am several days a week; thus practically a weekly trip to the coffeehouse!
I used to order a plain drip brew and add half & half. It's probably the cheapest thing on the menu. Just last year one of the baristas gave me a very good tip (but this is still not my best tip):
1. Order a short size. It's not even on the menu, but there is a short size for most every drink. I personally can't drink a big cup especially since this usually is my 2nd (and final) of the day. Getting a short knocks off at least 25 cents from the price (tall 12 oz ~ $1.50 short 8 oz ~ $1.25)
Whittle down the price a little more:
2. Bring your own mug. Keep one in your car, on your desk, or maybe in your purse. Automatically gives you 10 cents off. Just wash it daily.
What do you like about their drinks? The roast flavor? The whip cream concoctions? My draw is the steamed milk, and once I tried a latte many years ago I was sold. But at $3.50 or more I hardly ever indulged.
Enter a different occasion at an independent coffeehouse (yes, I support them too!), where I've been known to get a 'cafe au lait': 1/2 coffee + 1/2 steamed milk. Helps increase my calcium intake and satisfies my love of coffee and steamed milk.
When I went to order this at Starbucks, again it wasn't even on the menu. So I asked for one and here is where the barista tipped me off:
3. Order a 'Misto'. This is the Starbucks name for a cafe au lait. It is inexpensive, nice and frothy and plenty of coffee inside. A short (see Tip No. 1 above) with my own mug runs me a mere $1.75
Here is the official Starbucks description of their Misto.
Bonus Tips: I ask for non-fat milk in a short Misto and that makes the calorie count super LOW, the nutrition isn't too bad for a coffee drink!
calories = 35
fat = 0
protein = 4 g
calcium = 15%
So go out and save! Use your registered Starbucks card to get stars and free coffee in the future.
I'll leave you with a smiling cat
You are the Best
Funny smart and the only one like it; a card to give to your spouse, coach or friend. Did a neighbor help watch your house, babysit your pet or water your plants when you were away this summer? Say 'Thanks' with this smiling cat.
Available HERE from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
Thanks for checking in!
School lunch box time is coming in only 2 weeks and I am starting to plan what to stock in the pantry. I need to be able to make lunches fast with an emphasis on healthy, whole grain, and protein. Fun and what the kids want are important too.
One thing that fits the criteria is trail mix. I make it from scratch using:
-walnuts, whole organic bags from our local Humane Society (donation for $3 a bag and I crack them open)
-dried fruit from the farmer market
-chocolate chips* (this ensures the trail mix is gobbled up)
-other things that are low cost, healthy and add variety such as mini-shredded wheat cereal or small pretzels
*This past week on the clearance rack at the big supermarket I found bags of Hershey Butterscotch chips for $1.29 ea. I took 3!
The first bag of butterscotch chips was reserved for a batch of oatmeal cookies. I have a good chocolate chip oatmeal cookie recipe and just substituted the butterscotch chips.
The second bag is reserved for trail mix. The third bag is just a luxury!!
While I was making the cookies I saw in my cookie book
once again in there some very useful zucchini recipies! I must remember to try zucchini cookies in the next 10 days.
There are lots of Zucchini and backyard produce recipes on the Martha Stewart site here:
Summer Vege and Fruit Recipes from Martha Stewart
including an oatmeal zucchini cookie here (good for the lunchbox)
Oatmeal Zucchini Cookie
Let me leave you with some more funny faces (not available online)...
Pick Your Personality Card
What says it better than smiling blueberries? 'Celebrate' a birthday, anniversary, or winning the championship. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
Get Well Dog
If laughter is the best medicine, this card should make a difference. A funny dog, a chick with a cowboy hat and other silly stuff says it all. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
Another fun face to say Happy Birthday ~ great smile on a rose with a starfish 'hair barrette' and other sparkly pretties to send. An original card from Pretty Cheap Jewelry.
It's been a looooong month July 4 to Aug 4! Yesterday was the return date for one of my foster kittens. She was quickly outgrowing the room I kept her; a master bed/bath/patio. She climbed every screen and gate I rigged over the patio door opening. I had been sleeping downstairs on the futon for the month, and rearranging everything from the area rugs to the toilet paper locations to keep them safe. At 12 weeks old she was strong as a horse, soft as a cloud, smart as a cougar. So inside I knew that getting her a permanent family was important. The county shelter staff had told me at the outset that kittens got adopted fast, and I brought up the subject again for reassurance at the regular check ups by their vet.
But still I had sadness and worried she would be scared, and have a bad experience.
Guess what? The day I brought her back she was adopted within 6 hours!!! by a mom and grown daughter who wanted to love a baby (cause the daughter had a boyfriend break up recently). YAY!!
THe shelter told me when I went back to pick up my 2nd kitten who had been neutered. I am keeping him one more week because my neighbor is adopting him.
It occurs to me that now I have helped 5 cats over the years: 2 when I was single (a coworker had a rescue mother cat that had babies and I took two), a stray that I adopted a few years later, and now these two kittens I've fostered.
Earlier this summer when it was stressful getting these kits settled down I thought 'JEEZ I can hardly handle 2 kittens, is it really worth doing??'
But seems that helping 5 is at least a teeny tiny deposit in the good deed bank. Whew.
Here's some funny faces to leave you with...
Collage Cards - Pick Your Personality
Laughter is the best medicine, so this one should make for great health!
Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry
Say 'Thanks' like never before, great for coach or friend.
Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry
Put this in your kid's lunch box, or surprise your spouse just for fun!
Original and only at Pretty Cheap Jewelry
One time an art friend of mine remarked, "Every artist looks at their work from 3 months ago and says - that is crap!". Ha! that feeling has happened to me too often in the years I have been making jewelry. Then it seems about once a year or so I reach a peak in workmanship and/or design and it occurs to me that I must be at the BEST I'll ever get. How could it get any better?
Well, I have to say it again. I think I've hit the high point in what I can make!! This summer I taught myself a technique I've adored and admired. I'm not expert yet but there just isn't anything beyond this, short of full blown metalsmithing and I don't plan to go that route.
Fancy Wire Weave
The first step is doing the weave itself. Wire weave can be any of many patterns; it can be with 2 or 3 (or more) base wires and it can be done with a different number of wraps on each base wire. It is fairly easy to try different ideas with weaves.
Bending the weaves into amazing shapes is the second step of the process. Again, the ideas are limitless.
Here is a 2 wire fancy earring I designed this week.
Gold Wire Weave Earrings
(top to bottom: front, reverse)
The above are not going to be duplicated because it is too hard to make an exact match in earrings. However, I have plans for a small design change that will allow for making easier matches and therefore additional pairs.
Here are some other wire weave designs just to give you an idea of the wide variety out there:
Lapis Pendant in Sterling and Copper
Hematite and Quartz Spiral Weave
This designer has some other mesmerizing spiral weaves at very affordable prices and can be found at XntricCreations
Come back soon for more pretty things!
Be a vegetarian for one day in October and enter to win $250. Or one week and enter to win $500. Or if you're feeling REALLY ambitious, do it for the whole month and try for $1000. Just give up meat, fish and fowl. It's OK on the milk, cheese and eggs (this is for vegetarian, not vegan).
It is all part of World Vegetarian Awareness Month in October. The North American Vegetarian Society puts it on - the information is at http://worldvegetarianday.org and the contest info is here (click the 'WVD Contest' at the top of their home page).
I'm in!! are you?
There was an important day last week in our summer vacation. It was the day my daughter would compete in the ISI (international skate institute) world figure skate competition. ISI is like the minor league to USFS (the olympic qualifying group). It is where younger and older skaters join to compete but at a somewhat lower level of pressure.
But it is still reasonably serious! The competition was held in Anaheim, close enough for us to drive. It was open to ALL skaters though the majority entered from the US.
My daughter entered at the Freestyle 4 level, and they separate by age. There were 8 others in the event for age 13. The skills for this level include moderate spins (sit spin but not a layback for example) and intermediate jumps (anything below an axel) and required footwork. Her proficiency at this level is solid but she has only been in 2 small competitions before.
To prepare psychologically, we took a trip down to the rink the week before and skated in a public session to get a feel for the place. We went the night before and stayed at my MIL house who lives about 20 minutes. That night we went to see other events to see how things were set up (judges, etc).
She was scheduled FIRST of the group at 8:15 am. The time was hard to work with, she is not a morning person! You are required to check in 1 hour ahead so it was a 5:00 am wake up to get dressed, do hair and a bit of makeup and be there by 7:15 am.
Being first has advantages. I've seen girls get increasingly nervous if the other skaters fall before them. On the other hand, it is hard to know how good you HAVE to be if you are the first to go.
Well, she went and did well. Not her absolute best ever, but very good. Then there were 2 very good skaters after; one was a Korean girl who was very very polished but FATE she fell on her footwork (of all things!). The other was a fun polished spanish dancer number.
I am not an expert but the judges are, right? MY DAUGHTER TOOK FIRST !! This was really unexpected !!
Here are a couple on-ice candids from the professional photographer...(the lady in pink is her coach)
Remember those 423 crystals I glued on that dress? It was worth it
By the way, I am pleased the photographer was so reasonably priced at the event. They took 50+ on-ice candids and you were able to pick any for $10/ea. And that included a podium portrait at the same price if you medal (we did and got a podium shot of her on 1st place).
It's all a downhill skate from here now! At least for the summer.
What's next? Her coach has it figured out correctly: she now goes up to the next level (freestyle 5) and adds the hard jumps to her program!
Thanks for reading!
It was all work for one of us and no work for the other. My husband was off from Fri through Mon - his first furlough weekend. For me? Work on Fri AND Mon, a departure from my usual part time status.
Many good results!
1. My additional work hours are approximately making up for his pay loss. Of course we still have an overall decrease in income, but my pay was used more for extra improvements in our lives over the years such as: bathroom remodel (we did the installation ourselves), solar panels on the house, lots of figure skate costs (equipment, coach expenses, entry fees), even buying land and a rental house.
2. My husband took advantage of the long extra days off and went backpacking. And fell back in love with the trail!! I couldn't go (working!) and my teen son passed but my husband didn't give up and found a way to make it happen. He went with Sierra Club on a not-to-far-away trip that was still challenging. HE LOVED IT. The leader was fabulous and supremely interesting. The location was a major treat, and the whole experience was a dream come true. Now he wants me to go next chance I have (HA, WHEN?!)
And other fun results? I went to a produce exchange on Sunday. It was small, about 10 people, and I brought some of the more interesting things: green beans, sunflower seeds, nectarines. But we also reaped some fun. My daughter brought a friend who picked out a tomato seedling for her house.
It was also a big art fest in my city last weekend and I invited my boss to meet me at one of the galleries on Sat night. She showed up with a friend who in fact by chance saw an old dear friend at the gallery. It was wonderful to see the reacquaintance of these folks.
Tomorrow is a big big day - my daughter skates in the ISI International Figure Skate Competition in Anaheim - wish us luck!
Opening Move Practice
It's been 2 weeks and one day but feels like months! The changes are numerous: moved one laundry basket to block a doorway (but leave the fresh air flowing), using up paper bags to scoop litter, buying $1 cans of tuna, babysit instead of dusting, babysit instead of gardening, babysit instead of vacuuming. I'm talking about you know who, Big Annie (now 8 weeks) and George (6 weeks), foster kittens I am helping to raise until they are adoptable.
Not really, all the instead of stuff. I am squeezing in the household chores, but certainly not as much as usual. And forget about cooking for my family! Thank goodness my husband is happily home early and off some whole days on furlough cooking away!! We've had specially coated fresh cod from his last fishing trip. And seared green beans from the yard, orange and nectarine smoothies from the yard. And way too many onions which are going to become french onion soup soon.
But the kits have claimed the bedroom. The first to go was my husband, he was smarter than me and just gave up trying to sleep in the same room as they are (separated from the dog). For a couple days, I was sleeping on the floor until they settled down in the closet whereupon I would sneak into my bed. Only to be awakened usually around 1am for some kitty tag. And then get up 5:30am to get ready for work.
It didn't occur to me to give up and go downstairs on the guest bed until DH invited me. Of course! Much better and not too tired anymore.
When I took them in for the 2 week check up it was so encouraging to watch 3 different citizens walk in while I waited and get volunteer paperwork for the county shelter.
AND...a middle age guy was there to take a very sick schnauzer which was going to be euthanized (I didn't see the pup). He was with a schnauzer rescue and was going straight to the vet and help get the dog better so he could also be adopted.
I have admired wire work in jewelry for a couple years. It looks so detailed and fancy, I loved that it was made from simple wire and beads. No power tools, no torch or chemicals. Just a big dose of patience and imagination.
Here's some examples:
Google Images for WIre Wrapped Pendants
Usually I can figure out how to make things, but this type of work looks perfect without a start and end. Never fear! When an master wire worker gave some free written downloadable lessons on line, I jumped on them!
Determined to carve out some time between the day job, the kids, the husband, the dog and yadda yadda yadda. I made myself LEARN!! The first attempt came out beautiful.
In fact, that one went right into a shop. Ditto a second. Now I am working on a series for fall and winter shows and online sales.
Oval and Teal
Mine are made with non precious metal wire and glass/freshwater pearls/crystals. My prices online will be starting at $25. The experts work with sterling silver wire and their prices are double and triple of course due to material.
Having a great summer!
How can 2 kittens impact my life so much? Well, I am definitely outside my comfort zone these past 4 to 5 days. Lots of problems! Lots of brain work figuring out solutions!! How to get the little ones to sleep at night and not waking my (normally very patient) husband? Litter training one of them! How to keep them separate from my unfriendly dog? And more and more.
Here's the story:
I want very much to help the less fortunate, be it at Christmas with donating to kids' shelters or volunteering at the humane society. So when the county animal shelter asked the community for kitten/puppy fostering this summer (so they can transition to no-kill) I signed up. It was something I wanted my children to experience since they never have had a baby pet, but something I knew about from my own childhood.
The shelter called on July 3 with 2 kittens that needed a home for one month only. They were already on hard food, no bottle feeding. It looked great, the schedule fit perfectly with ours.
I picked them up on July 4 (that shelter staff works all the time, extremely dedicated!). We planned to go to our weekend house for the next few days, so I just took a separate car. The ride up was hard! One kitten slept the whole time, and one cried the whole time and threw up a little and had a wet poo on a towel. Wah! My 13 y.o. daughter did everything she could to make it comfortable.
Things went better after we arrived. I got them settled into the master bedroom/office/bathroom. That night was a trial though. Here's a look back:
9pm. Sleep with #1 in my bed a couple hours to start.
11pm. Put #1 on a blanket in the corner (with the other), praying it didn't want to come back with me in bed. It didn't.
1am. Both wake up for a little play time, drink. I stayed up with them especially to make sure the litter box got used.
1:30am. Both go back into the blanket in the corner without my help to sleep WHEW
5:30am. Everyone awake, kittens and humans.
All day long I watched #1 for purposes of litter training. The poor baby had worms which meant it didn't like going potty anyway (the shelter had started deworm medicine before I got them). I took a well needed nap later that day, and kept fingers crossed that kitten #1 didn't need to sleep in my bed anymore. In fact, it went smooth night two. WHEW WHEW.
Litter training was accomplished after a couple mistakes within another day and the trip back went better.
But other big issues confronted me!
Keep the kittens separate from my dog. The shelter advised separating fosters from family pets and I planned to use the master bedroom/bath. This room has an outdoor patio that was perfect for fresh air, but the door needed to be blocked so kittens did not go out and run away.
I didn't want to spend alot (or hardly any) money either. So for the patio door? We had a big spare window screen that fit the doorway. I clamped one side to the door jamb and made a makeshift latch/hinge and nailed to the other side. Never again will I complain about my husband storing old stuff around the yard (like old window screens!!!)
For the bedroom door inside the house I bought a portable metal exercise pen. Though it was $60, it would be useful for other critters. It encircled the doorway so the dog couldn't get through but humans could walk over.
Night Schedule. Now only the problem of how to make the kittens sleep at night!! My husband would not tolerate middle of the night shenanigans. I wasn't looking forward to exhaustion either. We both needed to go to work!! (The teen daughter was to babysit during the day).
The first night the kits were running everywhere. Nothing worked. They would not settle into a corner blanket.
I hadn't planned letting them in the big sliding closet, but I gave it a try the next day (my laundry baskets were in there and I didn't want to relocate them along with all the other stuff that has changed!) It seemed the kits were not doing any damage so I let them explore.
And guess what?! They found a very enticing sleeping spot within an hour!! No more worries about night. The closet saved us!
So all is working out, except my brain hurts! Want a peek at the two little 'angels'?
We had a couple weeks island vacation without spending a fortune. Everyday we made cost saving choices; some of which are typical frugal living habits, some of which you would never think of!!
The Tried and True Tips
1. Free hotel nights or room upgrades. Our family of 4 needs a little more room than the standard hotel digs. Fortunately we squeeze every drop of upgrades out of my husband's Holiday Inn Priority Club status. He racks up points throughout the year (via business travel and regular purchases on a Priority Club credit card) and uses the points for free nights and bigger rooms on family trips. This time we got one free night out of 6 and an extra large room on the 18th floor with a HUGE view of Waikiki and Diamond Head ($$$) AT NO EXTRA CHARGE to the standard rate. The view? see here...
2. Eat in. Almost every trip we use Holiday Inn express which has a very very nice free breakfast. On the rare occasion that we don't, we try very hard to get free room upgrade with mini kitchen (microwave and refridge). That's what happened this trip. The typical day's meals? Dad wakes early and walks for fitness to a non-tourist grocery (sometimes this is 2 miles one way which is good!). There he picks up breakfast and lunch supplies such as: milk, dry cereal, breads, peanut butter, sliced cheese and fruits. Upon return, the teens might be awake and have breakfast. We pack lunch and go off for the day's travels.
3. Use Local Transportation. We resist car rentals especially in areas with major bus/train choices. This trip we did not have a car on Oahu for the first 4 days but still saw parades, went snorkeling and had plenty of beach going. The bus stop was right at our hotel doorstep (admittedly a lucky choice!) and we used it to go to Hanauma State Park where the snorkeling was highly recommended. The cost? about $2.50 ea.
The Unusual, Unheard of and Weird Tips
A. Ask the Beach Bums. Sometimes simply buying inexpensive beach equipment at the destination is the way to go instead of renting beach equipment, (e.g. boogie boards and umbrellas). We were about to buy a couple boogie boards but a local overheard our discussion and said, "Why don't you ask the homeless group over there to buy their stuff?" Hmmmm. We had seen several groups of folks who didn't look mentally unstable but more like they camped out at the area for awhile. We kind of liked the idea! Less STUFF in the world and perhaps help these folks out a little. My husband gave it a shot and guess what? They said, "Sure, no charge, just bring it back when you're done." WOW! We used a couple boogie boards for 2 days and brought them a couple pineapples as thanks.
B. Scavenge fruits and nuts. Well, certainly you've done this on the mainland. Backyard orange trees? Wild berries? The fruits in Hawaii are just more exotic and tropical. We found mangoes and macadamia, coconut and more off the main tourist areas.
Stay tuned for 'No Cost Hawaiian Activities Tips'
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.
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.
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!
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?
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
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!
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!
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!!
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