Home > Archive: December, 2012

Archive for December, 2012

Strange? Our choices of last minute gifts

December 19th, 2012 at 06:01 pm

All the mainstream store shopping was done a month ago. Much patronizing of art and craft shows and boutiques is complete (the pottery guild is the absolute perfect 'go to' place for gifts, many practical beautiful and inexpensive pieces!! Not to mention one-of-a-kind, inventive, and incredibly supportive of an artist).

Charitable contributions have been gathered and delivered. The bus driver, the teacher, the ice skate coach and the paperman are tipped. My list was long, but an early start and a fixation to detail helped keep costs under control.

And now? Turning my attention to what my husband might enjoy! OY! Always so hard. A typical, itty bitty electronics person. Or new gadget / tool / thingy. He likes audio books, but has no time to read print stuff. He eschews movies because 'it's all going to be available digitally anyway'. I cannot afford to give him a big WOW electric car!!

But I listen and secretly take notes during the year. I've taken a clue from him and use my iPhone for smart little uses and soon after I hear him say 'I wish I had a ...' I sneak over and add it to a list in my iPhone!

On the list:

-- plastic shoe horn. Collectible mall type find, but most of the oldies are metal. He tried a metal one but didn't like it (for reason I can't remember).

-- driveway reflector for our country property (no plastic he said!!) Just those tall skinny sticks with a round red reflector on the end. The cheap one broke in the harsh climate, and it is helpful in the dark to see the driveway entrance.

-- Five Guys Hamburger gift certificate. This is a kind of new copycat of In N Out burger (a west coast phenom). He is careful of diet, but can't give up this type of bufger. He even orders with a lettuce leaf wrap.

So where will I be going in the next couple days? Not the mall, UGH! the hardware store, the shoe repairman, and the fast food spot.

Have a good and safe holiday ~

Making my own snowflakes -and- how did I not try Pandora before?

December 17th, 2012 at 09:24 pm

If 'snowflakes' refer to just saving little amounts of money, whether they are coins found or small rebates claimed or recycle bottle / can redemption, then I am certainly happy to report my own kind of snowflake:

Do It Yourself Jewelry Lessons

There is a website where you can get how-to-make instructions for lots of different kinds of jewelry. Some easy, some advanced. Lots of fun just to browse.

It's called

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JewelryLessons and I click around periodically. I had so many comments about guitar pick earrings from friends and colleagues some time ago, that I took photos of the basic steps and decided others could copy. Thus I became a 'teacher'.

Now when I make something which is not particularly unusual, or I don't mind giving away the basic idea, I put on the site as a lesson. When someone buys the lesson, I get 1/2 the price.

My romantic heart necklace is the one that seems to be picked up every couple months. That's $1.50 into my paypal every time without further effort on my end! SWEET!

Basic Dotted Wire Shape
The lesson shows how to make the curly wire necklace, but has alternative ideas also shown in the steps.

This DIY lesson has been bought 10 times for a total income to me of $15.00. Nice!

Here is the lesson page
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Romantic Heart Necklace Tutorial


So Pandora! I just tried it for the first time and will use it plenty. It is great for working at my cubicle computer instead of connecting my phone to the USB port and using 'Tune In Radio'. I used to be such a audiophile but have so lost track of the large genres of music nowadays. So far I put in 'Trans-Siberian Orchestra' cause I like high energy instrumental christmas music! And have discovered all these new YOUNG modern classical bands, ie Bond and girl quartets etc. Anyone else?

Now if I can only get those stoopid earbuds to stay in.


Love this New Way to Fundraise from Old ' Stuff '

December 14th, 2012 at 04:50 pm

Match made in heaven! Recycling reusing and reducing consumption of STUFF while earning cash. It's a new company called

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Angel Bins. Our high school has decided to give it a try this January and I am going to spread the word.

It just involves collecting used things such as shoes, clothes, books (see the list below). This little company pays you for the stuff and turns around and "exports clothes and shoes that are wearable to third world countries as a low cost alternative to new clothing. Angel Bins also converts damaged clothing like sweaters and overcoats into yarn eventually made back into new clothing. Lastly, Angel Bins takes stained clothing and resells them as cleaning rags to companies like Home Depot."

They note that a one-time fundraiser averages a couple thousand dollars.

I love that it has 75 employees and is an independent small business too.

Here's the list of desired things:

Wearable clothing
Wearable Shoes (pairs)
bed sheets
CDs or DVDs

Instead of adding to your own yard sale, instead of donating to the local thrift, try this with your school, animal shelter or other group.


Science is Elite -no- and within Every Kid's Reach

December 13th, 2012 at 09:49 pm

Exciting reading and I'm only 1/2 way through my issue of the 2012 Year in Science by

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Discover magazine.

"Our #1 story, the discovery of the Higgs boson, is the result of one of the largest and most complex collaborations in history. The two teams that did the research include more than 5,000 physicists. Collectively the 100 stories in this issue represent tens of thousands of people-years of work-a monumental, global effort to expand the reach of the human mind." - Editor in Chief

So true and overlooked constantly. The summation is uplifting and give me a positive outlook for the future. How can we force our US Congress to take notes!

Anyway, some of the work is inspiring!! My personal preference is for space and technical sort of science (less medical and life sciences). For example, I am so IMPRESSED by the folks like this:

John Donoghue: bridging computer science robotics and medical by making artificial arms that work from brain commands!! YES, you are going to see a person without an arm have a prosthetic that just moves by mind control. HELLO 2001 Space Odyssey!

Y'know what really strikes me is that this guy is not a super geek. He is just making such a great use of his life and he's now 63 (young). He just does what he loves and figures stuff out as he goes.

He says, "[since] today's wheelchairs are pretty good, so our focus is the arms. If you can't move your arms, it is extraordiarily debilitating. We want to give paralyzed people back something that is extremely liberating."

Another story is about the privatization of space travel. Our renter works for SpaceX (near Mohave). Again, not a tremendously geeky person, just living what he likes to do. The company president is a woman (not surprised necessarily) and is great in the short magazine interview:

"[SpaceX is coming out ahead of the competition because] we have the freedom and the flexibility ... on design choices far more than our competitors. We build the majority of our electronics. We build all our own structures. We build our engines. We work together as a team every minute of every day, so when we need to have a change on an engine or a minor modification to an avionics box, it's not a big deal. For other companies, the ability to change as you learn is almost zero, because that requires going back to individual contractors."

And one other really good article is about a guy doing computer anti-attack work. Absolutely intriguing, and you probably don't want to know the details. I hope my video-game obsessed son goes this route (sort of).

So it's not that these folks are super brains, they are regular people doing what they love in a smart way. Both my kids are excelling in school, and there's many similar examples that I see around them. The truth is - Any and every kid in school can end up as one of the achievers profiled.

YAY! Gives me a new little inspiration to keep doing what I love. Sales are nice, but slow sales happen.

Modern Science Necklace

Abstract and interesting. I've made a pure copper wire into delicious curves. Decorated with tiny red cut glass dots and added a swinging link at the bottom.

Available only from Pretty Cheap Jewelry
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Bah Remind me to Follow my Own Advice!

December 10th, 2012 at 09:56 pm

Three down, one to go. That would be shows and special events for Pretty Cheap Jewelry for the end of the year. This past weekend was what I expected to be the biggest for sales - my table at the Christmas Figure Skate Show. Sales were a modest 15% higher than last year and what got the most attention was...

Sea Glass Jewelry

People seem to know what it is and are interested perhaps due to the unique wire design of my pieces.

Big big 2 piece pendant on 18" copper chain, unisex.
See more

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Nifty caramel colored glass in copper, leverback earrings. See more
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What was missing? RINGS! I did not have any rings this year. Argh. And that has been a sure way to attract visitors which result in increased purchases.


My assignment is to work on some great new ring designs after the new year. Easier said than done but I intend to follow through.

My Dollars doing Double Duty

December 6th, 2012 at 09:51 pm

Wait a minute before you buy that **dog toy** **movie ticket** **toothpaste** **__fill in__**

It's easy to make little charitable contributions this time of year. Change for the bellringers? check. Holiday card to the soldiers? check. As I go through my list of gifts to buy, though, I can EXPLODE my charitable giving without spending a penny more.

Here's how:

1. School Gift Card Fundraiser. Both our middle and high schools sell gift cards that they receive a percent of the cost. Some of the percents are pretty high (pushing 10%). I was going to give at least a couple as gifts, and obviously it would be an easy matter to get the cards from the school.

OK, that's one contribution. But hike it a step. Are you going to donate to a toy drive? or a food collection? Buy the gift card and use it yourself to buy the toy or canned food, along with your regular purchases.

BAM. You just contributed to your school AND to a needy person.

Look over the list of gift cards the school sells, what might you use to buy things for an animal shelter? library? a relative or family in need???

Big 5 Sport
Home Depot
Old Navy
Office Depot
Whole Foods
Payless Shoes
Sams Club
Pier 1
Sports Authority
Major Grocery Chains

2. Turn-key to Charity. Turn-key means designing and building by the same party. Using this concept, how about buying from charity and donating the item to another? Example: how many toy drives are out there? Gazillion, right? One of my kid's school is giving a phys ed class 'pass' if they bring in a toy donation. So I purchased a new toy from a church-collective shop and am giving it for her to donate.

BAM. I did it again. 2 organizations benefit from that fairly small purchase of mine.

I know you are counting your dollars (I definitely am!) so make them do overtime. Everytime you decide what to buy as a gift, think of ways to buy it that do TONS of good.

Back again later with tales of my local purchases, hand made independent purchases and more.

Cocoa Shell Earrings

Warm coins of abalone have a pretty gold wave and a plump pearl drop. Just another great choice in my

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$5 and under section

Thanks from The Frugal Artisan!

WHO more than WHAT

December 4th, 2012 at 08:59 pm

Habits are hard to break! The many early years of Christmas in-law family gatherings were easy. There were lots of kids, young families, and dozens of gifts to buy! Fast forward 15 years and the kids are grown. Some married, some not. Some moved away. Even the party sputtered out once or twice.

The party is on for this year, and I face the now recurring dilemma:

"Who is going to be there that I should bring a gift for?"

Which raises the corollary questions:

"Who has new partners coming along? Who has kids attached to those partners?"

What would you do?!

And throw in that the players change each year!! At least the family has decided to give gifts to kids (under 18 or so). And of course my husband's parents.

The habits of the past of knowing who was going to be there and buying all those presents just doesn't apply now!

I don't want to spend a bunch and the expected family doesn't visit (it is not super formal as to attending). Nor do I want some kind of little kids (10 years old or less) to be there and not have some happy presents.

BLEH. Oh well, I am kind of getting more of the frame of mind that it is ALL ABOUT BEING TOGETHER and less about the gifting. Comes with age, right? HA!

So I'll put together some baskets for families that might be there with kids I've never met. And bring a few extra somewhat all purpose gifts for a teen or tween that might be there.

Here's a good example of something that would fit the females:

Classic Pearl Bracelet

Hand knotted pearls with pink swarovski sparkle, a universal gift.

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