Friday, November 20, 2009

Pretty Little Gift Set

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I'd like to mention that I've got these cute little matching pendant & earring sets in many different stones. Because they're handcrafted and unique, they make a thoughtful gift, and they're inexpensive enough to outfit practically every lady on your list! You can see a nice selection of colors, ready-to-purchase in the Pendants section of my Etsy shop! Fast shipping, too--I promise!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Statement Pieces

Because I spend most of my "creating" time making what I call regular inventory (the same style of earrings in 10 different colors, or the same ring in mulitple sizes), I don't often have the time to create special one-of-a-kind "statement" pieces. I have lots of little pieces of paper with designs scrawled on them that I've come up with over the years, but I have to carve out special time to work on them. Usually a statement piece will take quite a bit more time to make than regular inventory does, so I can't help thinking about how many rings I could be making in the same amount of time!

But recently I just had to let the true creative beast come out and make something special and spectacular. This is it. A sterling silver neckwire with an asymmetrical curve and two very large white marquis cubic zirconias dropping from each end. Can you imagine the comments and looks of admiration you would get wearing this to a holiday party? One-of-a-kind. Spectacular. Truly a statement! (It's available for sale in my Ruby Lane shop.)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

So, today I'm officially eligible for AARP and the Red Hat Society! (Uh...yippee?)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I saw a pink Volkswagen Beetle on my way home last night. I can't begin to imagine driving a pink Volkswagen Beetle!


Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Productivity

I'm happy that I finally got inspired enough to make some pendants last week. Sea glass! I've got tons of it, the finished pendants are quite affordable (average about $20), and it's always a great seller because each one is a unique work of art.

The good news is that it only took one afternoon to make all 10 of these pendants. The bad news is that it's taken me 4 days to shoot and edit the photos for them, so they're not all posted yet. My goal is to have them all up in my Etsy shop and/or my Artfire studio by the end of the day. (Feel free to click over and check on my progress!)


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hooray For The Good Guy!

It's pretty cool when you get to witness a random act of kindness firsthand. This morning as I was driving to work, I saw an oncoming car in the distance pull over off the road. As I got closer I could see a small dark lump in the middle of the road. Turns out it was a gopher tortoise--a threatened species in Florida. It was trying to cross four lanes of a moderately well traveled road. The guy who pulled his car over got out and picked the tortoise up just before two cars would have come up on it in that lane and as I was passing by in the opposite lane. In my rearview mirror I saw the guy carrying the tortoise safely to the grass and woods on the other side.

An interesting side note about the "threatened" status of gopher tortoises: When we bought our current house three years ago, the sellers were required by law to disclose that there are two gopher tortoises living on the property! We still catch glimpses of them once in awhile--usually one or the other, but not both at once--wandering around the yard in the middle of the day, eating grass. They'll probably be around long after we're gone--gopher tortoises live upwards of 100 years!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Still Nothing

I've waited a few days to post again. I've had this page up on my computer all afternoon, hoping some kind of inspiration would hit. Nothing. I've had a grand total of 5 people walk into my store today. I just can't get motivated with that kind of inaction surrounding me! I've spent an hour or so poking around on other people's blogs. Maybe someone said something where I could take an idea and run with it. Nope. But I just couldn't bring myself to close the page without writing something.

Happy Thursday, anyone...?


Monday, October 5, 2009

On The Upswing

September is traditionally the slowest month of the year for me. So you'd think I would get a lot of extra work done, right? Like making more inventory, taking pictures, writing blog posts, updating my Etsy shop and my Artfire studio...

Well, not really. The slower my business is, the slower I seem to move. It's so hard to get motivated. I've spent far too much time the last couple of weeks "playing" rather than getting any productive work done. Oh, I have made some inventory (check out the fire agate pendant picture!) But I've been playing computer games and revising my MP3 playlists, too. Fun, yes, but not particularly helpful for making money!

So I'm glad September is over. It's not that business jumps up by a large amount on the first of October, but the anticipation is there. I'm looking forward to more business, and to being busy. Somehow the more I have to squeeze into my day, the more I do squeeze into my day.

And the cooler weather doesn't hurt, either!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My 4th Grade Boy

Since I had forgotten about my blog for awhile, I neglected to post "first day of school" pictures. My son is in 4th grade this year, and doing very well academically so far--all A's. (Behaviorally, he's a nine-year-old boy. 'Nuff said!) Isn't he a cutie?


Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm Back!

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. I got busy with other stuff over the last couple of months, and I kind of forgot I had a blog! How embarrassing! Maybe I'll stick a Post-It note to my computer to remind me to update more often.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

When I get home from work today, there will be 150 people in my back yard, eating mountains of food and waiting for the big fireworks display. My husband loves the 4th of July and has a party every year. He has spent the last 3 days cooking and setting up. There is 50 pounds of barbequed pulled pork, 30 pounds of smoked chicken quarters, 20 slabs of beef ribs, 500 boiled shrimp, and about 10 pounds of fresh-made coleslaw. Then there's the huge fireworks display that he's spent weeks putting together "just so". He's a crazy man, I tell you.

It is SO not "my thing". All those people, most of whom I don't even know. They're friends of his from high school, customers of his lawn service, hunting buddies, fellow airboaters, pool league husband is a very social animal. (I do get to catch up with relatives that we don't see other than at this party, and I really look forward to Aunt Peggy's orzo pasta salad!) Rick knows it's not "my thing", and provides special accommodations to ease my discomfort. No one is allowed to park in my spot in the driveway. He puts a "Reserved for Wife" sign on the table and chairs with the best view. And best of all, he rents a Port-O-Let. You might think "eww", but seriously, do the math: 150 people, with an average bathroom requirement of maybe 3 or 4 times each in the 6 or 7 hours they're there (depending on how much they're drinking), that's roughly 500 times people would be traipsing through my house, flushing the toilet and (theoretically) washing their hands. And maybe rummaging through the medicine cabinets and critiquing the way I make my bed! No, thank you!

I asked Rick last night if he knew what my favorite part about the 4th of July was. He said, "The 5th of July?" Made me laugh. I said, "No, although that's probably a close second." My favorite thing about the 4th of July is how much HE enjoys it. He loves to cook for a lot of people. He loves to socialize. He loves to blow things up. So he loves the 4th of July. And I love him. So there.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Event

I am done with all my special orders. I can't believe it! I've been making this handcrafted jewelry for 25 years now, and I can't remember EVER having all my special orders done! Somebody always wants something in a different size or a different color. Or they've got a stone that's been laying in a drawer for years and they want me to set it. Or they have a necklace to be restrung (not my favorite thing to do, but it always makes the customer happy!) or a vintage piece they want remade into something new. (The earrings pictured are a pair I made for a customer to match a tanzanite necklace and ring she had.)
I do have a couple of "orders" on my To Do clipboard. One is a "if you find a turquoise stone in the same color as the bracelet you made me, I want a pendant". Easier said than done with turquoise--there are so many shades and tones and hues that it's hard to match. And I have 3 cameos to set for another customer, but she wants them for Christmas, so I'm not counting them. Should I do the work 5 months before I know I'm going to get paid? Maybe, but I've decided it's cooler to be able to say I've got all my special orders done!

I don't really know what to do with myself...

Okay, THAT was a joke! Those of you who might have read some of the posts in my series about all the online venues I try to keep up with will know that I've got PLENTY on my plate to keep me busy.
But still...I am done with all my special orders!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Artfire Sale

I've been paying more attention to my Artfire shop lately. Adding more items. And I got another sale yesterday! Yay! I get the biggest kick out of finding a "you sold..." email in my inbox. Not just the money part, I really like the thrill of being discovered. How about if YOU pop on over and discover me...!

Artfire appears to be growing and becoming more well-known. I think it will continue to flourish. Not only have I made another sale, I also made a purchase the other day, a treat for me! There are some artisans who make handmade incense, and I love "smelly" stuff. My latest acquisition is a Cantaloupe/Cucumber scent--can't wait till it gets here!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." --Jim Rohn

I happened to run across this quote this morning and it kind of made me think of my post here yesterday. I like to think I already have some measure of discipline when it comes to my business--I have, after all, been doing this for 25 years. But this idea really struck me. Something to strive for!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Routine

The summertime really messes with my routine. During the school year, I take my son to school and come directly to work, where I have two hours to concentrate on computer and paperwork before I actually open my doors. It's still not enough time, but it sure helps get (almost!) everything done.

But in the summer, I sleep an extra hour. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE sleeping an extra hour. I have a really comfy bed! But now I take my son to his Day Camp at his karate school and come straight to work, but I get here an hour later. One less hour to shoot new photography and upload pictures. One less hour to work on my online promoting. One less hour to drop Entrecards or interact on the artisan websites to which I belong. One less hour to get a blog post written, as you can see from the large gap between my last post and this one.

I have to admit that I have fewer customers actually walk in my store this time of year, so you'd think I could make up some of the time that way. But it seems that the less "invigorating" my day, the less motivated I am to do the things that need doing. I actually found myself playing an online game the other day, even though I have pictures to take and an email newsletter to write. Naughty me!

I've been meaning to post on here for weeks, so actually getting to it today makes me feel a little better. Maybe by the time summer is over, I'll have figured out a new routine where I can get all my work done. Then when I have that additional hour first thing in the morning after taking my son to school, I can squeeze in something else productive! (Like a nap, maybe? I know I'll be missing that extra hour in bed!)


Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Gift

Isn't this gorgeous? This is what my mother is getting for Mother's Day. It's a 12mm trillion-cut mystic fire topaz pendant with matching 6mm post earrings. I finished it yesterday and just had to post it for all to see! Am I worried about Mom finding out before Sunday? Nope. My mother is 77 years old, but unlike some of her peers, she has steadfastly refused to jump on the computer bandwagon. Doesn't own one, isn't interested. Practically runs screaming in the opposite direction when I even mention the possibility!

Like I said, this particular pendant is for Mom, but if you love it/gotta have it, just let me know! I've got one more stone just like this and I'd be happy to set it for you!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where Did The Time Go?

Wow. Two weeks since my last post? I could have sworn it was only a week or so, and I was feeling guilty about that! But I'm looking at a calendar and there it is in black and white. Two weeks. Where did it go?

It's not like I've been sitting around doing nothing. And I haven't even been sitting around playing games on the computer (although sometimes I envy those who have the time to do that!) or web surfing, or even researching. I've been creating. The Muse is still with me, and I've got to go with it while it lasts! Not that I've ever had long stretches without it--I've been lucky because I love making my jewelry so much that it's hardly ever an effort. And even if a few days go by where I'm not in the mood to make something, I've always got plenty of other work to get done, so I'm never bored.

This past week I've made 14 wire bracelets (one is pictured above, and is available in my Etsy shop!), 16 strung bead bracelets, and 17 pairs of earrings. Plus two special orders. And I've got some gorgeous faceted stones sitting on my desk to make into pendants. That's next!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My First Artfire Sale

I set up a Studio on Artfire about 5 months ago. I have to admit that I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to it, only adding new items once or twice a month. I have many online venues to pay attention to, and Artfire is just another "basket" in which to put more of my "eggs". But I was delighted to see an email this morning announcing my first sale from my Artfire Studio! A little 5-Bead Ring like this one, in sterling silver. Size 3-1/2...can you believe it? Who has fingers that small?! Hey, if it's you, drop by and check out my stuff. I make almost all my rings in sizes 3 through 15!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On A Roll

I know it's been quite awhile since I posted, but I've got a good reason this time! I've been making stuff like crazy! And when The Muse strikes, I've learned to go with it.

In the past week, I've made 3 bracelets, 7 pendants, 31 pairs of earrings, and 9 anklets. Way too much to put all in one picture, so I just photographed the anklets. I have 13 different anklet styles available on the Chains page of my website. (The designs are also available in wrist and necklace sizes, too, but I sell more anklets than bracelets or full chains.)

So it's almost summer. Your shorts and sundresses are just begging for a little "ankle bling"! And you want something unique and different. You don't want to wear the same anklet styles as on every leg in town. Custom-fit to YOUR ankle size! Your choice of silver or gold, or both! Your choice of bead color--more than 30 colors to choose from! An affordable treat. Check them out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Extra Two Hours

My son goes to a Christian school about 12 miles from our house, so I drive him there every morning. I would be driving past my store to go back home again, so even though I drop Ricky off at 8:15 and I don't open my doors until about 10:30, I go in to work right after I leave him off. This is my "extra two hours", and it's usually pretty productive. I always try to get the majority of my computer work done before I open the doors to customers. Then I can be working at making jewelry after the doors are open. It's usually easier to put down my pliers when a customer comes in than it is to stop typing--or worse yet, uploading or downloading something. And with the state of the economy and the paltry number of bodies I have walking in my door, I want to be able to devote my full attention to any possible sale!

Local schools were on Spring Break last week, and I have to admit that it sure was nice to have that extra hour to sleep in, and the other extra hour to get ready for work at a leisurely pace. But I don't feel like I was as productive as usual. Because I didn't get here until 10:00 or 10:15, I didn't have my normal amount of uninterrupted computer time. And because I tried to squeeze computer time in between customers, I didn't get very much jewelry made last week. So although I hated rolling out of bed at the sound of the alarm at 6:15, I have to admit that I'm happy to be here at work early enough to get my whole "to do" list done today!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

My son is 9, and doesn't actually believe in the Easter bunny any more (don't you hate it when they get to the point that they're not babies any more?), but he does still like hunting for eggs. So last night I stayed up hiding 85 plastic eggs all over the house. First thing this morning, he jumped up, grabbed his Easter basket, and started in. He found 84. I have no idea where the last one is. Maybe I should make a map next year? Ah well, I'm sure we'll find it...eventually!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Mini Pendant & Earring Sets

I have always offered a variety of earrings in the same beads and/or stones as my pendants. But I haven't really put them together as a specific set. Often I would get requests for matching earrings for certain pendants I had listed on eBay or Etsy, and I would always refer the customer to my regular website to view the Earrings page and pick something they liked. Sometimes they would, but more often they would possibly be overwhelmed by the choices and just not get earrings at all. Or worse, not buy the earrings OR the pendant!

So recently I've started making specific small post earrings to go with my mini-sculpted pendants, and I'm listing them together as a set in my Etsy shop and in my Ruby Lane shop. I've got half a dozen or so made and photographed already, and I plan to keep going until I have all my available stones made into sets in both gold and silver. That should satisfy everyone, right?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April in Florida

April in Florida. Warm and balmy and not yet too humid. Last week and the week before that were just perfect. I'm not kidding--literally perfect! In fact, the last couple of days were starting to feel more like summertime, with the temperatures in the high 80's and the humidity starting to climb.

I don't know what happened last night, but I woke up this morning to 50-degree temperatures and winds kicking up to 25 miles per hour. What the...? I had already put away all the jeans and sweaters. It's April in Florida!!!

Now the weatherman is saying tomorrow is going to be even colder. Record low temperatures overnight. Warnings that we should plan on waking up to temperatures in the 40's! What on earth happened to April in Florida?!


Friday, April 3, 2009

My March Top Droppers

Although I've been meaning to do it for a long time, this is the first time I've posted my top Entrecard droppers. Some just "drop" on by, some stop to comment, all are appreciated! Check them out:

Ruth's Creations
Gems By Jerri
SpicyBugz World
Three Fates Design
Las Vegas Baby
My Ark Full Of Worry-Free Thoughts 3.0
Between the Sand and Stone
Brick For Jade


Thursday, April 2, 2009

What I Made Yesterday -- 4/2/09

I was going through my box of scrap wire and ran across a 6" piece of rope-design pattern wire. Cool! Let's add a few strands of heavy sterling square wire and make a terrific two-tone bracelet! It's for sale in my Etsy shop.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Eleven years. To an amazing man that I continue to adore more and more every day. He's responsible and generous, hardworking and loving, and he makes me laugh. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Let me just tell you one quick story about Rick. There was one time, back when we were first dating, that I happened to mention that one of my pet peeves is having to turn socks right-side out before putting them into the washing machine. I don't even remember how the subject came up, and it was a totally off-the-cuff remark, but to this day I have only had to turn his socks right-side out MAYBE half a dozen times. In more than 11 years. It's paying attention to those "little things" that keep a relationship healthy, don't you think? Oh, and he doesn't leave the toilet seat up, either!

We're going out to dinner at a local steakhouse tonight. Leaving the kid with Grandma and spending a couple of hours alone together. I'm going to be sure to tell him how much I appreciate not having to wrestle with nasty, dirty, inside-out socks!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Orange Blossoms

I love the smell of orange blossoms. Preferably the real thing. Yes, there are some nice essential oils that capture the fragrance pretty well, but there's nothing quite like sticking your face into a blossom-covered citrus tree and inhaling the "natural" perfume! (It IS the state flower of Florida, after all!) We have three citrus trees in our yard. One tangerine, one grapefruit, and one orange. All produce really nice, tasty fruit in the late fall/early winter. So for a few weeks in the spring, like now, they are covered in the little white blossoms and that fantastic smell wafts around the yard on every puff of breeze. Heavenly!

Last weekend I noticed that the tangerine tree was white. I'm talking white, like it had been sprinkled with snow. The orange and grapefruit trees are pretty "puffed up", too, but that tangerine tree has simply gone crazy this year! (That's a good thing--out of all the fruits we have, I like our tangerines the best!) Yesterday afternoon I went over and looked at it closer. Many of the blossoms' petals have already fallen off, and in their place are tiny little green dots--those are the baby tangerines, and there are a LOT of them!

I stroked a couple of the tiny tangerines, stuck my face into a cluster of the remaining flowers and inhaled a few times, and just smiled. Tangerine party at my house in November! Everyone's invited--we're going to have plenty!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Snowbirds and Cruisers

There are many things I like about this time of year. Spring in Florida can be a glorious thing. For a week or two, at least! (Then it starts getting so hot and humid that I stay indoors as much as possible.) One of the things I like about this time of year is that we are visited by our annual influx of "snowbirds". Snowbirds are those folks who live most of the year in more northern climates, who come to Florida for a few weeks or a few months, until the weather gets a little nicer "back home". Snowbirds are just as important to Florida's economy as tourists, and they tend to take a little more vested interest in what goes on down here because this is their home away from home.

I've been in my current retail location for more than 16 years. So I can boast quite a following of snowbirds! These are lovely people who have discovered me at some point over the years, and for whom my shop has become a "must go there" stop on their visit. I've got to say, it's very flattering! They come to see what's new, they ask about my family. Particularly my son. When Ricky was an infant, I brought him to work with me every day. He stayed most of the time in a portable bassinet/playpen behind my counter. I still have people come in this time of year, peer over the counter and ask, "How's that baby?" They're shocked when I point to the picture on the wall of my third-grader and say, "He's great--thanks!" Then we all giggle about it. (I don't know about you, but I measure the passage of time by other people's kids. You don't see them that often, then when you do, they've grown a foot! And you feel...really old!) My snowbirds inevitably leave with a new piece of jewelry, and leave me with a really good feeling!

Then there are the cruisers. Twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, one of the cruise ships docked at Port Canaveral offers their passengers a "day trip" to Cocoa Village. I can't speak for other merchants here in the Village, but these cruisers do absolutely nothing for me except waste my time. They come in the door, refuse to make eye contact, take one "lap" around my store, and leave. Of course, I have to get up from my desk, interrupting whatever it is I'm doing (computer work, jewelry-making), to greet them. I smile. They don't look at me. I try to engage them in conversation. They practically run for the door. So it's stand up, watch them walk around the store, sit down. All day. There are usually between 50 and 80 people throughout the day, so that's at least 30 pairs/groups. Thirty times I stand up, watch them walk around the store, and sit down. Now I realize they're overexposed to jewelry on a cruise. It's on the ship, it's in every port. They're also probably exposed to lots of "hard sell" techniques, too, depending on where they've gone. Some of them I've even heard say they just wanted to stretch their legs on dry land. Fine. But come on, can at least acknowledge me! I feel like I get absolutely nothing done on Mondays and Thursdays. Except maybe a little "stand up/sit down" exercise...?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Plug For My Website

It's been awhile since I've directed my readers to my website. And I don't really have anything to write about today. (The only thing on my mind this morning is my 9-year-old son's recent penchant for lying, and I'd rather not get into that until I've calmed down a little!)

So if you've got a few minutes, go visit my website! It actually hasn't been updated in awhile, so I'd kind of like to hear what people think about it. My webmaster Eve and I have been working on some improvements, mostly bigger and better pictures. (You can tell which pages have been upgraded and which haven't.) The Stone Samples page is kind of cool if you want to see what a stone looks like or find out its metaphysical properties. The Great Gifts page is crappy--I don't think we've updated that for a couple of years. What kinds of jewelry items do YOU think would make great gifts? I'd really appreciate any input on any aspect of the site.

And if you find something you like, feel free to buy it!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Entrecard Changes

I'm sure most everyone who does any regular dropping on Entrecard has heard of the impending changes. At first, I had seriously mixed feelings. I didn't have a problem with the "above the fold" provision--I've always had my drop box above the fold. And I think I like the idea of being able to convert credits to cash. Not that I have a ton of credits, mind you, but the idea sounds like a good one. My initial problem was with the not being able to reject an ad without having to pay a penalty.

In the months that I've been a part of Entrecard, I've only rejected a small handful of advert requests. Most of the blogs out there are at least moderately interesting and not overly offensive. There have been a few requests from blogs that I didn't really think fit in with my overall "theme", which is mostly geared toward my jewelry customers. I'm not in this to make any money. You'll notice I have NO paid advertising on my blog. I just want to write about my jewelry and my life and try to reach the people who are interested in what I'm doing. I don't want to feel obligated to write anything specific, or to write more often, because I have advertisers to consider.

So when I first read that we'd pretty much be forced to take whatever advertising came along, my first reaction was that I didn't think I was going to be able to continue with Entrecard. Which is a shame, because I've found some really cool blogs with it. I'm pretty happy that there was enough of an outcry to get this particular "improvement" rescinded. I'll be able to keep the quality that I'm comfortable with, and not be penalized by having to "pay out" any of my hard-earned credits. I'm still adopting a "wait and see" attitude, but I think it's going to be fine. For me at least. (Obviously I can't speak for anyone else.)

And maybe some day I'll have amassed enough credits to "cash out" a few!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I Made Yesterday -- 3/11/09

I've been helping my son with a report and half-heartedly working on my taxes, so I haven't had much time to make stuff in the last few days. I did, however, put together a couple new dichroic glass pendants. Here's one. This and the others will be posted later today in my Etsy shop. Need a gift, or maybe a little treat for an Easter basket? You might want to take a look at all my items on Etsy!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

An Hour Behind...

I had absolutely no idea that Daylight Savings Time started today. I really can't say what rock I've been under for the past few days, but I was clueless. Instead of having nearly two hours to take a shower, get dressed, and do a little laundry this morning, I ended up throwing on some clothes and makeup and rushing out the door in less than an hour to get to work. So now I'm all frazzled, and I'll probably feel like I'm "behind" all day!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Online Venue #11 -- This Blog

A couple of months ago I started a little "series" about all the online venues I try to keep up with on a regular basis. This is the last one. This blog. I started it to keep my customers up-to-date on my jewelry and what's going on in my life. I've been in business a long time, and I've come to discover that people who buy handmade items like knowing a little bit about the artisan who creates the items. And creating a blog seemed like a good way to expose my jewelry to a new audience.

The benefit that I didn't anticipate showed itself as I made my way around the blogosphere trying to promote my blog. There are lots of other really cool blogs out there! Some business-related, some personal. Some informative, some thought-provoking. I've got quite a list of Favorites that I try to read at least a few times a week. So in a way, creating (and maintaining) this blog spawned a whole other "online venue" for me to keep up with.

No, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I'd like. As I've written the posts for this series and examined each online activity, I've decided that I like and appreciate each of them in their own way. Each has its own merit, each has its own place in my overall business plan. So for now, I'm going to keep them all. It's not likely that the earth is going to slow its rotation enough to add any extra time to the day, so I'm just going to keep doing the best I can. After all, the way it is now, there's certainly never a dull moment in my life!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I Made Yesterday -- 2/25/09

This is a special order for a customer. The amethyst and citrine part was a section of a broken bracelet and she wanted it made into a pendant. She also likes hearts.

This one took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do. She wanted the "bracelet section" intact, and I needed to encase at least part of it to make a stable base. I actually went to sleep a couple of nights dreaming about how I could set this! I'm happy with the results. The customer hasn't seen it yet, but I'm betting she will be, too!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Made Yesterday -- 2/18/09

Rings. These two dichroic glass rings, plus a few others. Rings sell well for me online, and I'm a little lower on inventory than I'd like.

Today I've got to string some bead necklaces. Those sell well for me in my store, and I'm WAY lower on inventory than I'd like!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Comments Are Good, Yes?

As I was hopping around Entrecard dropping my cards today, I ran across a blog post that I thought was really cute and I wanted to comment on it. First, I had to click on "read more" in order to get to the link for comments. Now, this was a blog with a lot of advertising on it, and it took forever to load in the first place, and a second "forever" to reload that post so I could click "comment." After I wrote my comment, another screen asked me what account I wanted to comment under, with a drop-down menu. I chose Google/Blogger and tried to continue. It then gave me yet another screen where I assume the verification code was going to appear (you know, those weirdly-shaped words and numbers that you have to squint your eyes to understand?). Under the empty box that said "loading...", there was an indicator that there would be yet ANOTHER screen for me to sign in my Google/Blogger username. I actually never got to that FOURTH SCREEN. The "loading..." stayed in the box for more than 6 minutes, never actually providing me with the verification code to enter. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time to spend commenting on a single blog. I've got Entrecards to drop, y'all!

My question is this: why on earth would you make it so hard for people to leave you comments? We WANT comments, don't we?


Monday, February 16, 2009

What I Made Yesterday -- 2/15/09

I got some gorgeous labradorite cabochons off eBay recently. This was the first one I set. Glowing blue, green, and gold in a unique freeform shape, this is just a spectacular pendant! The "flash" in this stone will remind you of its metaphysical purpose. Like a "flash of light in the darkness", labradorite will help you find the path of your spiritual destiny. I've carried labradorite jewelry for years, but it seems to be growing in popularity recently. I've got a few more lovely cabs to set. This pendant is available for sale in my Etsy shop!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Online Venue #10 -- Facebook

A few months ago I had three different friends send me invitations to Facebook. I knew what Facebook was, but it seemed like it was primarily for a younger crowd, with lots of games and applications that I wasn't sure I could get into. Personal computers came along after I was already out of school, so I've always felt like I was "behind the curve" when it came to learning and using all the stuff they can do.

Sure, I can run my business, send and receive emails, even do some pretty cool desktop publishing. But the "fun" stuff? Can I figure it out? Do I even have time to take advantage of it?

After some more nagging and encouraging by my friends, I did set up a Facebook account. I've even explored some of the features and taken a quiz or two. But I really DON'T have the time to delve into it very deeply. I will say that in addition to the friends who invited me, I've rediscovered a few old friends from high school that I can now touch base with from time to time, and that's kind of cool!

Right now, Facebook is strictly a social site for me. I haven't even posted any pictures of my jewelry, let alone tried to "market" it in any way. For one thing, Facebook frowns on using its site for strictly business promotions, plus I'm pretty sure all my Facebook Friends know what I do and could contact me directly if they needed anything. I've only managed to find time to get on Facebook once or twice a week, and at one point I didn't log on for over a month!

Just over a week ago, both my friend Beth and my friend Kay "tagged" me with a little note called "25 Random Things About Me". It sounded like fun to participate (and it was fun), but it took me a week to even think of 25 things! In fact, my first thought when I saw it was "am I even that interesting?" But I managed to finish it, and posted it yesterday. I'll share it with you here:

1. I’m adopted.
2. I hate being cold. And anything below 65 degrees is COLD!
3. This is my 25th year in business. I established Contemporary Concepts on April 14, 1984.
4. I love good landscape photography.
5. I got my first grey hair at 23. My hair color has been out of a bottle ever since!
6. I’ve always had a powerful attraction to the number 8.
7. I’m very right-brained, and I think in three dimensions (hence my innate ability to create beautiful pieces of jewelry…? But don‘t ask me to draw anything more complicated than a stick figure.)
8. It makes me crazy to see advertisements or billboards (or anything else, really) with words misspelled. Get a dictionary, people…and PROOFREAD!
9. My favorite author is Orson Scott Card. He sucks me into a book so deep that I absolutely CANNOT put it down until I’m finished reading it. I’ll also read anything by Roger Zelazny or Michael Crichton.
10. My favorite colors are green, purple, and yellow, in that order. Any combination thereof is also highly appealing.
11. When I was younger, I wished I had been born a brunette with brown eyes. And that I was taller and thinner. In the last several years, though, I have come to terms with all my “imperfections”…yes, ALL of them!
12. Sometimes I wish I had finished my college degree.
13. I’ve never had a broken bone.
14. I really hate being wet. I’m not a big fan of swimming, and when I shower I always dry off immediately.
15. My son Ricky was conceived through in vitro fertilization, and I gave birth at the ripe old age of 40! No morning sickness, I only gained 16 pounds, and my labor was about 5-½ hours from start to finish. An awesome experience!
16. The downside of being pregnant at 40 was that everything that was going to sag, droop, spread, or otherwise go to hell in a hand basket as I got older, did so…quickly and irreversibly! Consequently I now wear bifocal contact lenses and my feet are a full size bigger than they used to be. (I’ll let you take a wild guess at what sagged and drooped!)
17. Ricky was over a year old before I realized that diaper packages come with a perforated side that you can easily rip open. Now there was a “duh!” moment!
18. It blows my mind that I’m going to turn 50 this year! Inside my head I still feel about 28. Only maybe a little wiser!
19. I am mesmerized by moving water: ocean waves, small creeks, even my washing machine and jewelry tumbler. But I especially love waterfalls. (Have you ever seen pictures or video of the Iguazu Falls in South America? Breathtaking!)
20. I love penguins and giraffes.
21. I have a tattoo of a seahorse on my right ankle.
22. My favorite flowers are yellow roses.
23. I love the smell of pine needles (like Christmastime!) and orange blossoms.
24. When I was younger I enjoyed traveling. At one point or another in my life I’ve visited 36 of the 50 United States. Nowadays I’m the consummate homebody--there’s no place I’d rather be than home.
25. My husband is nearly 10 years younger than I am. Grab ‘em young and train ‘em right, I always say!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Not Enough Hours in the Day

Wow. Here it's been a whole week since I last posted. I certainly didn't mean for that to happen. I almost don't understand how it happens, either. Every morning as I'm getting ready for work, my mind is going over things that could very well be turned into blog posts. Something I heard on the news catches my attention. Something my husband or son did was amusing. Old friends and crazy antics of the past cross my mind. And yet, by the time I actually GET to work, all those lovely ideas have flown right out of my head.

I unlock the door, I feed the fish, I turn on the lights and the computer. I sit down, check my bank balance (never enough $$, by the way), log in to my Etsy account and/or my Ruby Lane account and/or my website, fiddle with some uploading and downloading. I make my Entrecard drops and package up any orders that need to be mailed. Then I'm ready to open the doors to customers.

Some days I have lots of customers walk in and I don't have the opportunity to do much else besides wait on them. Some days, not so many customers, and I can make inventory or work on special orders. If the weather cooperates, I can photograph some new jewelry pieces to put up on one or more of my online selling venues. I read some blogs, answer emails, check my social networking sites. Once in awhile I move the inventory around in my store a bit. The same old stuff looks fresh when it's in a new place!

Often, that's it. That's the end of my day. That's all the hours I have to devote to the endless "to-do" list that is the stuff of being self-employed. I didn't get my email newsletter written. I didn't finish all the special orders I wanted to do. I didn't get the supplies ordered that I really meant to do yesterday. And I didn't post in my blog.

Ah, well, there's always tomorrow....


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bungled Birthday

My son's 9th birthday was Sunday. My husband did the grocery shopping that day, and bought an ice-cream birthday cake. Then we FORGOT TO DO THE "BIRTHDAY THING"! We forgot about the cake, we forgot about singing Happy Birthday. We had dinner, we watched a little TV, we went to bed. All three of us. Forgot.

We finally got around to lighting the candles and cutting the cake last night. My husband and I feel like rotten parents. But honestly, I don't think my son cared--he likes it when the "celebration" continues over many days!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Online Venue #8 -- Entrecard

As I look back over my last few posts, I realize I skipped #8 in my list of online-things-that-take-up-my-time. Not that I'm doing them in any particular order, I just skipped using the #8. Things like that make me crazy, so I'm "backtracking".

I've been with Entrecard for a few months now. It's sort of a virtual business card exchange, where people with blogs who belong to Entrecard visit each other and "drop" their avatar/widget on those blogs. It exposes other people to your blog when they reciprocate the "drop", and it exposes you to various blogs as you surf around and visit the other Entrecard members. You earn credits for each "drop" you make on someone else's blog. You also earn credits when people purchase Entrecard advertising on your blog. These credits add up and you can purchase advertising on other people's blogs. Theoretically, people who visit the blogs where you've advertised will then click on your avatar and find YOUR blog. Builds traffic to your blog. A cool idea, but pretty time-consuming.

The most "drops" you can make in one day is 300. I don't know why that particular number was chosen, but for me it hasn't made a difference because I've never been able to drop more than about 150. And that's on a day when I have pretty much nothing else to do! On a typical "dropping" session, I manage to visit between 50 and 100 blogs, and that takes me better than an hour and a half. I see some advertisements for "300 Drops in Less Than 5 Minutes", but I've never explored that option. I can't imagine how fast your internet connection would need to be to "drop" on 300 blogs in 5 minutes. I can only assume it's a "shortcut" of some kind. And I enjoy actually visiting the blogs I "drop" on. I've found some really interesting blogs this way. I invite you to check out some of my favorites:

I have more, but you can see just from this short list that there is a WIDE variety of reading material out there!

I like being a part of Entrecard, but it sure does contribute to my Spread Too Thin? problem (see post below). Perhaps I should take my laptop home every night and "drop" while I'm sitting around watching TV...?


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New President

Tuesday is my day off, so I was able to be at home yesterday with the TV on so I could watch the Inauguration ceremony (and related commentary). Actually, I had ALL the TVs on (the same channel) so I could go from room to room doing my normal activities and not miss anything.

I have to say, I was quite moved. I'm not so young and/or naive that I believe every word as if it's Gospel, but I really enjoyed President Obama's speech. It suggested to me that he is very aware of all the issues facing him and facing our country, and it seems that he plans to address them as quickly as possible. He put some of the responsibility on us, the people, which I really liked. I'm all for programs to help the truly disadvantaged, but too many people expect government intervention and "handouts" when they could be doing more to help themselves.

I also appreciated his comments addressing the rest of the world, and the reactions from many people in the global community. They appear (at least from the interviews I've seen on TV) to be happy that America has a new Administration, or at least willing to give our new President the benefit of the doubt for the time being. I've been so disgusted at the "bully" tactics of the last 8 years, that one of the main reasons I voted for President Obama is because I believe he has the right attitude and the right temperament to restore the "good name" of the United States. I'm not saying that I'm going to agree with his every little decision, but I'm certainly feeling a sense of optimism and hope!

I've been voting since 1978. And for the last 20 years or so, I haven't missed a vote. I vote in the "off" years, I vote in the primaries...and so does my husband. A 100% voting-attendance record for the Etz household. (And believe me, the local pollsters LOVE that!) I feel that voting is not only my right, it's my responsibility.

One thing that does freak me out a little is that this is the first President in my lifetime that's younger than I am. Hmmm...surely that doesn't mean I'm getting old?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Online Venue #9 -- Artfire

Artfire is a relatively new site for selling handmade stuff. It's still in Beta, in fact. But so far it seems like the people running it really want to make it a success. The listing form is only one page, and your item appears on the front page for a little while as "newly listed", which is pretty cool. I check yesterday, and the ring I added stayed on the front page for just under half an hour before it was pushed off by more recently listed items. Not bad. Of course, I realize that as more artisans discover and join Artfire, the listings will increase in frequency and the time on the front page may fall to mere minutes (or seconds...?).

I've had my shop on Artfire for about 2 months now. Haven't sold anything yet, but I also haven't paid as much attention to it as I could have. There was a period of nearly a month when I didn't list anything new. It's hard to be found if you're not really "there"! I've vowed to myself to try to list at least one new item there every day. And I'd like to purchase an item or two, to start building my "karma" points (feedback). But to be honest, I haven't taken much time to try to figure out how to buy things. Every online selling site has it's own format for searching and purchasing, some easier than others. I'm sure Artfire wants its members and their items to be found! I understand that they plan a marketing push to make the general public aware of their existence, but it's likely that that won't be happening until they do a full launch of the site.

For now, I'm happy to be in on the ground floor of a venue that appears to be willing to give their merchants what they need to sell successfully. The fact that I am in on the ground floor also gives me the benefit of paying only $7 per month for life. Can't beat that price with a stick! This offer is apparently for the first 5000 artisans who sign up, and there are still (as of today) around 3000 spots still available. Artfire will inevitably grow and change, but this is one venue I plan to be with for a long time. I figure the more places people can "discover" my jewelry, the better it is for me!


Friday, January 16, 2009

From Stressed to Drained...What a Day!

I had jury duty today. I've been dreading it all week. I really tried to get them to excuse me--sent an eloquent letter about how I'm a sole proprietor with no employees and it would be a financial hardship if I had to close down my store to appear... Got a form letter back with a checkmark next to the "denied" box. So I had to go.

But that's not all. My husband left this morning for an 8-day hunting trip. Out in the woods with his redneck buddies, riding the river in his airboat, the coldest week of the year here in Florida. More power to him!

Since I had to be at court this morning before my son had to be at school, it fell to DH to get him there. On time. With all necessary accessories: backpack (including completed homework), lunch box, karate bag with sparring gear, jacket, correct shoes, and (because today was Spirit Day) appropriately "spirited" painted face! I can only assume all went well, since neither the school nor the karate dojo called me with any issues.

I didn't sleep well last night. Kept waking up thinking about how to convince the judge to let me be excused. See, not only would I be missing work, but with my husband gone all week, there was no way I could get my son to school and be at court at the same time! So I woke up cranky and stressed this morning. Missed the face-painting, and barely had time to kiss hubby goodbye in any meaningful way since I won't be seeing him for a week. I also won't be seeing much of my son--he has to stay with Nana for the 3-day weekend since I'll be at work.

You have to understand...I'm most comfortable and happy when I'm in my normal daily routine. I like things to be relatively "the same" every day. Keeps me stress-free and humming along nicely. This morning was just about the most disruption to my routine that one could imagine! My stomach was in knots.

And the worst part? Or maybe it's actually the best part. I sat in the jury assembly room for 2-1/2 hours, answered the questions, took the oath...and waited. And waited some more. (I did take a book to read.) Then the clerk announces that the judge has gone through his docket material and it seems he won't be needing any of us. Dismissed the whole room! Yay!

So I made it to work not-too-late, had a couple of good sales, made a ring or two, finished the book I was reading in court, and now I'm just waiting for 6:00 to roll around so I can go home. I feel almost bored, after all that stress this morning! I have the house to myself tonight(if you don't count the dogs), I can stop for fast food on the way home if I want, and I can put my feet up and be in total control of the TV remote. Sounds good!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Online Venue #7 -- Flickr

I joined the photo-sharing site Flickr, maybe 5 or 6 months ago. At first I was very gung-ho, posting new pictures frequently and signing up for lots of photo groups. And therein lies what became the problem. So many photo groups! So many gorgeous photos! It's very easy to lose track of time while clicking around Flickr. (If you want to see some really cool pictures, you have to check out the Infrared Landscapes group!)

I know a few people--sellers on Etsy--who use Flickr successfully as a marketing tool. I guess they post their pictures and make it very clear that the items are for sale, so people contact them to make purchases. I haven't personally looked at their Flickr photostreams, but I do know that technically it's not allowed to put prices or contact information on the Flickr photos themselves. You can put a link in your Profile, which I have done. But so far I haven't had any sales that can be directly attributed to my Flickr pictures. I do think this is a promising tool, though. This is one place I will continue to explore the marketing possibilities. AND enjoy all the beautiful pictures!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to "Normal"

I feel like I was more productive yesterday. I had more time to do stuff. My son started back to school, which means I had to get up early (WAAAAY earlier than I've been getting up for the last couple weeks!) to get him to school. I drop him off at 8:15, and it doesn't make sense for me to bypass my store and go all the way back home for an hour, only to have to turn around and go to work. So I get to my store at 8:30 on school days. I don't officially open until 11:00. That gives me an extra couple of hours to get the majority of my computer work finished before I open the doors to customers. In essence, I "found" two extra hours for my day. A couple more hours wouldn't hurt, but at least I'm on the right track!

Unfortunately, the other side of back-to-normal is that I spent most of the evening yelling at my son to finish his homework. He is SO easily distracted. At one point he was supposed to be reading, and I came in the room and found him staring at his finger. "Look, Mom--it's twitching!" In a way I hate to put a damper on his youthful enthusiasm, but I'd REALLY like for him to figure out 1) that if he gets his homework done in a timely fashion, he can THEN do whatever he wants to before bedtime, and 2) that if he just DOES his homework, then Mom won't spend the entire evening yelling at him to DO his homework!


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Online Venue #6 -- Indiepublic

Another site I joined about 7 months ago is Indiepublic. My impression is that it's more a indie-artist networking site, but I haven't spent a lot of time there.

From their front page: "Indiepublic is an independent art and design community. If you're an artist, designer, retailer, blogger, or just someone who gets giddy when they buy indie, we've saved a seat for you!"

I did set up a profile page, with links to my main selling sites. I loaded some pictures (although I haven't put up anything new in a few months). I joined some chat groups and tried interacting, but I didn't find much actually "chatting" going on. In fact, nearly every "so-and-so started a discussion..." that gets sent to my email inbox is a promo. I don't know how many Indiepublic members aren't simply artisans trying to sell something. My main reason for joining was for the interaction between artisans trying to make a living at their craft, and there appears to be little of that actually going on.

I remain a member because of the "incoming" links to my actual selling venues. Maybe somebody will stumble across me. However, I have devoted a grand total of zero hours to it in months. So I guess I can't really count it as one of the time-consuming things I try to squeeze in to each day. Perhaps just popping in at least once a month with some new pictures and comments would be beneficial, and not be too detrimental to my scheduling issue!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Online Venue #5 --SmashingDarling

About 7 or 8 months ago, I joined SmashingDarling, a site dedicated to indie fashion. (As in "you look smashing, dahling...") As a venue for people searching out new indie designers, this place is really cool. And those of you who appreciate know how ga-ga you can be when you find cool new stuff!

For me, though, I'm still up in the air about whether to remain there. The site is slick and eye-catching, which is good. The premise for the site itself is great--the indie movement is growing by leaps and bounds. And they are dedicated to clothing, accessories, and jewelry only, which makes for a little less "competition" in the handmade arena. For a "Darling" (artisan) the set up and listing process is relatively easy, which is also good. But they have a weird payment system. Smashing Darling itself collects the money from the customer, notifies they artisan where to send the item, then sends the artisan a check once a month. I'm sure that works fine in 99% of the sales, but what about the occasional "oops"? I'm not crazy about the idea of sending out an item before I have the money in hand. So far it hasn't been an issue, because I haven't sold anything there. Of course, it's also the venue to which I pay the least attention--until today I hadn't even checked on my boutique in well over a month. I've only got three items listed there, and one of them I put up today!

So, the question becomes should I try to work it into my schedule on a more regular basis, add more stuff, and see what happens? Or in the spirit of this Online Venues series, beginning with the Spread Too Thin? post, should I drop it and free up a bit of time for something else? I guess I'll have to let you know!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I love New Year's Day. There's something about it that triggers a sense of renewal and excitement about upcoming possibilities that really gets my motor running. I don't make resolutions per se, because those inevitably fall by the wayside and leave me feeling guilty and unproductive. My thoughts, goals and plans are more ethereal on New Year's Day...more like a daydream. But a daydream rooted in actual possibility, so it's a good thing!

I realize that the economy isn't going to turn around overnight, and that gas prices may not remain as affordable as they are today. But those are things I don't have any control over anyway. What I can do is work on my own little life and my own little business, striving to be the best wife I can be, to raise my son to be a good and caring human being, and to provide my customers with the best product and service I possibly can. Noble and achievable goals, yes? My husband is an amazing man, my marriage is solid and loving. My son is bright, energetic, and healthy. My business continues to be a source of inspiration and joy, and although we've had to cut out some of the perks in our lives, the bills get paid.

So I start 2009 with optimism, with renewed intensity, and with eagerness to pursue fresh designs and more productive marketing plans. This is a banner year for my business--2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the birth of Contemporary Concepts. Pretty cool! I am grateful for all the people who have had a hand in the success I've enjoyed all these years--I take none of it for granted.

So let me wish you all a very Happy New Year. 2009 is here--let's tear into it!