Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I made a sale!

I just made another sale on Monday, so now I'm at 12 sales! Woo-hoo! I sold my "Margarita" necklace to a lovely woman in Austin for her wedding - and she had me make a pair of matching earrings too. If only everyone was so willing to splurge! :)

Here's what I sold, in case you don't remember (I've got a lot of positive comments about it from friends as well as Etsians):

So, time for some new stock in the shop then! I have 3 items ready to list, I just keep getting distracted. I was taking pictures of my items when I decided the light was good enough to re-take pictures for some earrings that were about to expire and needed better images.

Imagine my non-surprise when those pictures didn't turn out well. *sigh* No need to discuss my failure at a photographer once again. Nope, let's take about photo manipulation software malfunctions and crappy screens, shall we?

I have a beautiful iMac upstairs with a 21" screen - running Gimp photo manipulation software. That kind of broke my computer every time I tried to start it. So now I use my laptop for almost everything, and it has Photoshop on it. Sweet! Yesterday I decided to check out my shop on the big screen upstairs, and it was a huge slap in the face - this laptop is about 50% darker than my iMac's screen. So all the photos I've thought are too dark or washed out, I've been making better to work on my screen. But for the rest of the world, the colors are contorted into something garish. OK, only the earrings that I worked so hard on yesterday looked really bad. But it was truly startling how different everything looked on the better screen.

So it's time to break down and buy Photoshop for my iMac. I am trying to download a trial version of Photoshop Elements 6.0 to see if it meets my needs. It's 1.3GB!! I was expecting it to take awhile, but this morning when I started, it was quoting between 13-17 hours to finish downloading! I checked on it tonight and despite changing my settings so the computer wouldn't go to sleep mid-download, the connection was interrupted and the whole thing had to start over from the beginning. I am currently not a fan of this house's wireless network. One positive: now that it's downloading again, it's quoting just over 2 hours. Woo-hoo!

Anyway, wish me luck!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog Carnival 09.25.09 - Show Yourself

Oh the horror! To decide whether to show my face or show my crafting space. Yikes! As I don't want to go around the house taking pix of the various piles of crafting junk currently occupying all my spaces, I'm going with option #1. Thanks to Memories For Life for the example!

I am...
a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a niece, a wife
mommy to some very spoiled cats
married to my high-school sweetheart, Eric
a self-employed jewelry designer and Etsian
a writer
addicted to the internet, television, food, and beads
a homebody who longs to wander
creative yet lead a boring life
shy and quiet but very opinionated
depressed but happy
a pessimist with hope
strong on the outside but weak on the inside
Obsessive/Compulsive except when it comes to cleaning
trying to become a better photographer
crazy-in-love with film

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

EtsyBloggers Street Team: Featured Shop for September 2009

This month's Featured EtsyBlogger is DesignsByVanessa, a sweet little shop with simple but elegant items.

I think what I like best about this shop is the cohesive theme of minimalist designs featuring birds. Currently on sale are jewelry and paper products that, combined with a range of prices, anyone should be able to fit anyone's taste and budget. Congratulations for being our Featured EtsyBlogger this month Vanessa, your shop has earned it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reviews: California Bead Stores, Part 1

Last week my husband and I drove the Coast of California from San Francisco to Anaheim. For us, that's a lot of driving, so we made a lot of stops to stretch it out for a full week. I was hoping to hit quite a few bead shops along the way, if only to see something different. Unfortunately, the list of shops I had made (which I had meticulously compiled from the internet and bead magazines) was left behind on the living room coffee table. So things were a little more hit-and-miss than I would have liked, but oh well. Anyway, I thought you guys might like to hear about some of the shops I visited, in case you're planning your own Central California trip!

Day 1: San Francisco
We arrived to our hotel quite late in the afternoon, so we only had time for one destination, and we chose Chinatown. It was beautiful, colorful, smelled amazing, and was busting to the seams with tiny shops selling all sorts of items. Half of which seemed to be jewelry shops selling strands of pearls, turquoise, coral, and occasionally other gemstones right in their doorways. I resisted the temptation to bore my husband to tears, knowing that with the emphasis on pearls I probably wouldn't find anything I liked anyway. But boy was it difficult to stay out of those shops!

Day 2: Monterey
Monterey is a sweet little coastal town with so much to see and do. Cannery Row, a shopping district next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, was a bit of a tourist trap but still lots of fun to explore!

Let It Bead at 700 Cannery Row, 2nd Floor, Monterey CA
This is a very pretty shop, with faeries, tiny lights, and all sorts of fun and shiny items decorating the entrance area. Unfortunately for me, this shop is meant to cater to tourists who want to make their own jewelry on the spot: lots of glass and plastic beads to choose from, with help behind-the-counter to finish it up for you or just answer questions. While this may be a good business model for a shop in a touristy destination, it is not at all what a beader with any sort of experience is looking for. They had a few interesting pendants behind the counter, pinned to a wall, but in the end it wasn't worth it to interrupt the conversation between the salesperson and the customer she was helping make a bracelet for. As the only bead shop in town (that I could find anyway), it was quite disappointing.

Silver, Sand, and Stone at 700 Cannery Row, 2nd Floor, Monterey CA
Their windows filled with turquoise and coral looked promising, so I stepped inside. What I had thought were strands of turquoise turned out to be necklaces. This is a little shop with a gorgeous selection of handmade Native American jewelry. No real beads on sale, but quite easy to spend too much time and money there anyway!

Rock Your World at 685 Cannery Row, Suite 109, Monterey CA
This is such a cute rock shop! Occasionally while perusing a rock shop, you may make an interesting find between the shelves of crystals, fossils, and jaspers. This was not my lucky day for such a find, but there was plenty to look at, and I had a nice chat with the woman behind the counter about the mysterious Monterey Bay fog.

Day 3: Drive to San Simeon via Carmel
We actually spent much of the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so with so much driving in front of us, we only had time to visit one bead shop in Carmel-by-the-Bay. Unfortunately, A Bead Above was no more - we confirmed with another shop in the building that we did have the right address, but that the shop had closed down. There is a possibility that this is actually Let It Bead's original location, since the only website address I can find re-directs to that shop's "in-progress" website.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quick Vacation Update

So tonight we are in the little Danish town of Solvang, CA. It's been quite an experience! I had really wanted to hit as many bead stores as possible during the trip, but having a daily schedule for a road trip seems to be asking for trouble. Not much about the trip has gone quite as expected!

I will say that the bead stores I found in Monterey were... amazingly disappointing. There was a lovely little bead shop in Cambria, and another in Morro Bay that I only got to see through the windows because they were closed. Apparently Paula Radke has her own shop not a block away on Main Street! I sooo wish those two shops had been open! The place in Cambria was very small, but had a nice selection, including some interesting Czech glass beads that were quite tempting because they weren't the standard-issue pressed glass, but they didn't have any Picasso style so I passed. Picked up a nice half strand of beautiful aquamarine though! :)

OK, time for some internet searching for more bead shops to try to hit tomorrow!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's on my mind this morning...

Over the years I have forgotten how fun and rewarding cooking can be. It's been tough to keep cooking in my life when my husband refuses to eat 90% of anything I'm interested in making. I've recently decided to start trying again - just because he doesn't like the recipes for chili and spaghetti that my mom passed down to me, doesn't mean we can't find other favorites to eat together! On Thursday I did some "zen" cooking with pork chops - I used a very basic recipe and improvised from there. I made a simpler version for Eric, and then went very fruity with my share. We swapped bites and he said he liked mine better - there's hope for him yet! :)

Yesterday I made some amazing Cherry Garcia Mini-Muffins from HealthyTastyChow. They are so moist and flavorful, not really like a muffin at all. Eric doesn't like cherries very much, so of course he didn't like them, but I didn't make them for him! :)

While I was out and about searching for cherries now that they're out of season (had to settle for dried cherries), I came across a dog left in a car. It was in the upper 80s at that point in the day, so the owner had left 2 windows cracked by maybe an inch, and the "moon roof" was propped open leaving a crack of 2-3 inches. I come across dogs left in hot cars about three times a year, and I'm always torn. Do I call the emergency hotline now, or wait until I'm done shopping? If the owner comes back before I'm done shopping, the dog will probably be ok. But if I come out and the owner still isn't back, that's a lot of time to have wasted on waiting before doing anything. The dog looked fine - it wasn't even panting - so I did my shopping. I was sooo relieved to come back out and the car was gone! Still, in situations like these, a little schooling may be in order.

I searched online and found these fliers, which I intend to print and keep handy in my car for future interventions. It is so frightening to find dogs like this knowing that, even with the windows cracked, it only takes 10 minutes for a car to go from 85 to 102 degrees. Within a half hour, the car is 120 degrees. We get a lot of mixed-weather days in Seattle, so I think a lot of people here don't think about it much. But lower temperatures can still be just as dangerous - it just adds a few more minutes before your dog has heat stroke. If you Google the topic, you'll find lots of information about how deadly hot cars can be to dogs. - where I found the fliers - has information on studies done to show how fast a car heats up in different situations.

Now it's time to wrap things up and start packing for my trip on Monday. California here I come! :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Picasso" Czech Glass

Let me introduce you to "Picasso" Czech Glass:

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of glass beads. I prefer the more natural, "earthy" appearance and textures of gemstones. This may have something to do with local limited availability however - all my favorite bead shops have plenty of "fire-polished" and/or "pressed" Czech glass, then a smaller selection of other types of glass beads. A few years ago I was at a bead show and stumbled upon a booth that only sold Czech glass - and most of it was unlike anything I had ever seen before: the glass appeared to be one color, with one or two other "washes" of color that didn't quite mix together, like different weights of oil. It would be my luck that I would fall in love with this stuff, with all my budget for the day blown, and only five minutes to decide what would be worth going over my budget for.

I finally decided on a few different shapes with similar colors of seagreen, robin's egg blue, and hints of amber. When I paired them with a handblown pendant I'd picked up from an artist in Portland, I was blown away with the results:

When I was headed out to this year's bead show, I was excited to look for more of these beads, since I hadn't seen their like anywhere since. I was so overwhelmed at the show, it wasn't until weeks later that I realized I never ran across any. I've spent the past few days trying to find an online source. Just imagine how fun typing in "czech glass" to Google's image finder and paging through all the hits before you find anything promising! Finally, I stumbled across a good image with an interesting label: "picasso". And I was off!

Apparently this kind of "wash" has it's own label, which made things so much easier! Once I used the label to confirm none of my regular sources had any available, I poked around some other online shops with mixed results. So I crossed my fingers and did an Etsy search: BINGO! Another amazing reason to love Etsy! Now I just have to decide which ones to buy first!

So are you in love yet? If not, head over to these amazing shops to get a better look!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blog Carnival 09.11.09 - I am the Cool Aunt

Bragging about myself is something that just does not come naturally to me. But I think I found a sneaky way around this - I'll talk about being an Aunt to the two cutest kids ever.

I am the Cool Aunt. Growing up, my mom was the Cool Mom, so I guess it comes naturally to me? It also helps that my neice is on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and in many ways I still feel like one myself. Sharing similar bad-childhood experiences is, oddly, helpful as well (not to disparage her current parents, who are awesome!!).

So how does one become a Cool Aunt? Well, it takes time. And patience. And a lot of trust between the two of you. Getting to know a child that you haven't known from birth isn't something you can rush. Once you do start getting along, it's important to listen, to comiserate, to be helpful with support and advice without making decisions for her or telling her what to do. There are always long pauses during our serious conversations, because I have to consider very carefully what I say. Choosing my words carefully is not easy for me - I'm currently trying to re-learn how not to swear in public. But when my neice and I sit down one-on-one, it gets easier.

Being a Cool Aunt also means fun excursions! Two summers ago I spent a few months "babysitting" her, and we did some fun artsy things together. Last year I helped chaperone her birthday party and the girls all made bracelets with my beads. Last week I took her to see the play "Wicked", and then the next day I was the chaperone for her bowling alley birthday party. Fate was fickle that day - only three other girls showed up, which upset her but made my job easier. We all had a great time though.

After the party, we went back to her house to hang with her new baby brother. He was born about a week ago, and he's pretty darn cute. There was some worrying in the beginning because he was born early (but fully matured), then a few days later he was in the hospital for a little jaundice, and he was just back home when we returned from the party. So how do you be a Cool Aunt to a baby boy?

A. throw an awesome baby shower for his mommy
B. get the baby lots of adorable onesies, bibs, and blankies from Etsy
C. don't freak out when they let you hold him and then sneak up with a bottle for you to feed him too
D. plan in advance your purchases of parent-annoying toys for future birthdays

And there you have it - an easy guide to becoming any child's Cool Aunt!! And because I have to brag:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's on my mind

What's on my mind today...

I woke up this morning at the usual 6 a.m. to take my temperature and, sadly, after yesterday's spike it plummeted again. My temperature fluctuates so much, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm even ovulating at all.

Spiders invaded the house overnight - the only thing I don't love about Fall.

Spent all yesterday designing something a little more intricate than usual, for a friend. I hope she likes it!

I now have 4 finished designs sitting around waiting to be strung and completed. They're doing nobody any good sitting in their bead trays!

Last night Eric and I watched Tony Bourdain's "No Reservations from Beirut". This coming on the heels of watching "A Mighty Heart" about the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Normally I do not watch "war movies", but I told myself as I started watching "A Mighty Heart" that if it got too graphic, I would just turn it off. It never became too graphic, despite the subject. It was actually quite engaging, a bit of on-the-edge-of-your-seat, even when the action turned over to a scene back at the Pearl household where everyone was bored while waiting for news. Thank god they didn't re-enact the scene of his beheading. When they watched the video, I turned off the sound just in case, but all you saw was the glow of the TV reflected on the faces of all these people who had been so desperate to get him back. Angelina Jolie was incredible. If you think you know what the term "gut-wrenching" means, you haven't seen anything until you've seen her as Mariane finally breaking down at the news of Daniel's death.

The "No Reservations" episode from Beirut had a completely different feel to it, but it was still depressing and surreal. Tony and crew had the (un)luck to be taping a how about Lebanese cuisine in Beirut during July 2006 - they started filming the day before Hezbollah kidnapped some Israeli soldiers. That night there were Israeli fly-overs, and they woke up the next morning to learn the airport had been bombed. They spend the remainder of the episode living and filming from hotels, with nothing to do other than congregate by the pool with other stranded tourists and locals: there they catch what gossip they can about the situation, watch the bombing only a few kilometers away, and stare hopelessly at the helicopters air-lifting people out of the city as they wonder when it will be their turn to escape.

I've never been able to wrap my mind around what it must be like to live in the Middle East, where war and bombings are often a daily occurrence. Watching it through the eyes of culture-shocked Tony Bourdain and crew only left me more dumbfounded.

And on that note, it's time to get up off the sofa and check on the spider incursion.