Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm home all alone with my three sleeping doggies. Hubby wouldn't let me ride along. He seems to get more protective as the years go by. So I am praying he will be safe tonight while all the drunks party and rabble rouse.

I'll stay home, eat chocolate, watch TV, and make new jewelry. I have several new designs that I'm super excited about. A couple are one of a kinds. A few are limited editions. And some are just neat. :)

So have a Happy, Safe, and Healthy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's Your Color?

I'm still technically on vacation...which means fun time wasters like this are perfect. :) And surprisingly accurate.

you are yellow

Your dominant hues are red and green, so you're definately not afraid to get in and stir things up. You have no time for most people's concerns, you'd rather analyze with your head than be held back by some random "gut feeling".

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the html color quiz

It's funny because I took one of those personality tests when I first started at my "real" job seven years ago and got the exact same color. And that test costs $250 per person! Ha!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh Sweet Bliss!

Today is it. I'm off duty. I work from home until 2:30 and then I can breath - well, sort of. I have a dentist appointment so breathing may have to wait until I'm done there.

I had a final flurry of packages sent off at the post office this morning - including an overnight package! I've never done an overnight package before.

My little cousin is coming over tomorrow and we are going to CLEAN! The house is a mess. I need to do laundry. I need to get my shipping area organized and ready for the new year. Jo Jo is going to dust, vacuum, and organize/clean the spare bedroom.

Tonight will be spent wrapping gifts, watching TV, and relaxing (or recovering depending on what happens at the dentist!).

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year!

I'll try to take lots of pictures to share of our celebrations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

When I Grow Up

A post written by Luann Udell (I just adore her writings and wisdom) has got me thinking. What DID I want to be when I was growing up?

When people are really stuck about what they want to do with their lives, there’s a simple little question that helps unlock the log jam of “shoulda/woulda/coulda”.

“When you were in first grade,” I ask them, “what did you want to be when you grew up?” first I couldn't really remember. I know my friends and I would talk about being teachers. I can't even imagine being a teacher now. We ALL wanted to be wives and mothers. I'm one out of two so far in that score.

But thinking more specifically about what I DID as a child makes me think a little deeper into what I do now.

I loved to color - and even at 29 I must have a large pack of Crayola crayons in the closet just in case the mood strikes me. I used to dump out the entire box of 96 and reorganize them by shade. All the blues in one section, all the reds in another, and so on. Does that say that I like color or like to organize and be in control? HA!

As long as I can remember I've been creating jewelry. My friends and I made embroidery floss "friendship" bracelets on the bus to and from school. I spent a lot of my allowances at the fabric store on all the colors of embroidery floss that I had to have. And of course I organized them by shade.

Oh and my Light Bright! Did you have one of those?!? I used to absolutely adore punching the black paper with the little plastic thingies to make fabulous patterns and colorful displays.

Now I spend most of my money on beads and jewelry making supplies. They aren't 'that' organized but for the most part all my beads are organized by type and color.

I'm sensing a theme here. I'm not a super organized person - my desk at work looks like a tornado hit it and is often joked about by my coworkers. But I know where everything is and it is 'organized' in my own way. So maybe the theme is color. I love color. All shades and hews. Whenever someone asks my favorite color I can't really answer. I love blue but I also love red. And green. And orange. And yellow. And all shades in between.

I'm looking forward to practicing my enameling skills because then I'll be able to combine my love for playing with metal with my love of color.

It's an interesting exercise to go through...I want to be a ____________ when I grow up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why Buy Handmade?

What a great writeup found on Cozy Cat's blog.

8 Reasons You Should Buy Handmade Products over Commercial Products
1. Handmade products are unique. Do you really want the same scarf, mug, earrings, necklace or other item that 20,000 other people have? Of course not! Handmade items are always unique, even if they are the same type of product because they are not made by machines they are crafted by human beings so each piece will have its’ own unique characteristics.
SO true! I may make this necklace over and over again but each and every one is completely unique and hand crafted by my own two hands!
2. Handmade items have personality. Life is not about being blah. Life is about expressing yourself and to do that your things need to have as much personality as you do. If you are happy with buying mass produced items that have no personality off a shelf at Wal Mart think about what that says about you. Don’t you want to express some personality?

3. Handmade items are special. When you get a gift don’t you feel a little bit more loved when someone gives you a handmade gift? Everyone loves getting handmade gifts or wearing something that was made just for them.
I LOVE to give handmade gifts and 75% of the gifts I'm giving this Christmas are handmade.
4. Handmade items last longer. Because they are made from high quality materials and handcrafted by trained artists items that are handmade last longer than low quality imported mass produced items.
I don't find this is *always* the case but an experienced hand crafter is going to use the best quality and have skills that ensure excellent quality.
5. Handmade goods are high quality. If you are a person who values the quality of an item more than the price then you already know that handmade items are far superior to mass produced items. While a mass produced item may be cheaper initially is it really cheaper when the item needs to be replaced a month later? When quality matters, go handmade!
How many times have I bought a cheap shirt at Costco and had to throw it away (or make a rag out of it) less than a year later because it gets holes or starts to wear through?!?! So frustrating.
6. Handmade items are not made by children in sweatshops in Third World countries making 10 cents a day. Experienced and trained craftspeople make each handmade item. So while you might pay a few dollars more for a handmade item it’s because you are paying for quality materials, years of experience, artistic talent, and well-honed craftsmanship. Isn’t that worth paying for?
I will say that the kids in Third World countries are going to work no matter what because 10 cents a day is more than nothing. Their families need to eat too. I'm not sure that buying the products marked up 1,000 times really helps them though. I think it's more important to change the climate in their country so they can go to school instead of working 12 hour days.
7. When you buy handmade you are supporting traditional arts and crafts techniques that have passed down through generations. In today’s high tech world the old arts and crafts traditions are being replaced by mass production but when you buy handmade you are saying that you prefer your items to be high quality pieces of art instead of mass produced trinkets.
I admit...I love trinkets. I have to control myself and luckily my husband isn't that interested in these things. I've gotten much better at avoiding the "stuff" on the shelves at Walmart.
8. When you buy handmade you are supporting local and small businesses. By paying artists and craftspeople for their goods you are supporting them and all the businesses that they do business with. If you are a person who believes in supporting your community economically then buying from local artists is a great way to support your community and make sure that your money goes to support local businesses.
Again, when I shop at Walmart I'm still supporting a local business with local employees. People work there who live in my community. One of the Walmarts near my grandparent's house is the main source of employment and shopping for people in the area. HOWEVER, I only buy things that I can't get from artisans like Tylenol and Toilet Paper. =)
Keep these things in mind the next time you see a scarf, a bracelet, some great handmade soap or other item and think,” I could get that for half price at Wal Mart.”!
So the next time you need a gift for someone - buy handmade. Jewelry, scarves, bath and body. It's all available out there - handmade by someone with love and care.

Christmas Cookies!

I love Christmas Cookies. I am not much of a cook or baker but every year I do at least try to make frosted sugar cookies. This year was cutting it close but I finally got to bake this last weekend and I went nuts.

Normally I use a prepared recipe for sugar cookies (the kind you can get in a box at Costco) but when I went shopping at Fred Meyer they didn't have any. The nerve!!! So I ended up looking up a recipe online at the Food Network. It was a LOT more complicated than I am used to and I didn't exactly follow it to a T. =) But I did cook from scratch. That counts for something right?

I didn't have unsalted butter so I didn't use the salt called for in the recipe and figured the salted butter would work just fine. I also didn't use my big ol' Kitchenaid mixer - the one my mother gave us for our wedding and that I have never once used. Why start now?

So I used the really old hand mixer that she gave me ages ago (it's so old that she used it when daddy was still alive ... we're talking more than 20 years!) and it works just fine. Although it didn't really do what the recipe called for - which was to beat until the dough pulled away from the side. Um...yeah the "dough" was all over the bowl! And it just wasn't working.

That's what hands are for right? I dove in and mixed the dough until it was the proper consistency. Phew! I hate getting my hands icky.

The recipe called for two hours in the fridge so I finished up some jewelry and wrapped some presents while watching Monster in Law. Very funny movie by the way.

Another thing that made this process a *little* more difficult - I don't actually own a rolling pin. *blush* Never have. I normally make due with a round glass of some sort. heh Well, the dough coming out of the fridge was REALLY hard so I knew if I tried the glass trick the glass would break with all the pressure I had to enforce. So I used my hands again and beat the dough into submission. That worked quite well and made it soft enough so I could use my poor glass 'rolling' pin.

I got these fabulous cookie cutters from my work Secret Santa - they are Gingerbread men with "bites" already taken out. ROFL One without a head. One with a missing arm and the other missing a leg. I think they're hilarious. And they make really great cookie cutouts. Between those and the neat tiny Pampered Chef cutters I had some really neat shapes.

The frosting event occurred the next day. Some of the cookies "accidentally" broke so of course I *had* to eat them. Needless to say I was on quite a sugar high all day. But all in all I think my work turned out quite well...

Trooper thought so and ate most of this entire plate! He would have continued if I hadn't heard his collar hitting the plate.

Luckily I had taken photos before he could destroy all the evidence of my homemaking abilities. See the gingerbread men? They rock!

And the surviving cookies made it to work where they were promptly devoured by coworkers feeding their sugar addictions. Thankfully I won't do this again for another year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Hills Are Alive...

With the Sound of Music! I took my four little cousins to see this play on Friday at the Lakewood Playhouse. It was GREAT! It was long, but it was fabulous. I highly recommend going to see it - it plays through January 13.

My friend Marie played the Baroness and was so good. She's got a great voice (yes, in this play the Baroness sings).

Marie actually sounded like Julie Andrews. It was freaky. But she did a fabulous job. The Captain was great but he looked so much older than the woman playing Marie that it was kind of odd.

As we drove away, we were chatting about the show, and the two older girls and I all noted one thing that shocked us. I know that the movie and play involves Nazis. I've seen it on TV. It never caused me to blink.

But seeing Nazi flags live and in person punched me in the gut. All three of us "big girls" (the other two are 12 and 9 and had no idea what we were talking about) had the same reaction. I felt a little ill seeing the flags. It's that scene where the family is performing right before they escape. And the Nazis are there to take the Captain away immediately after the performance. So of course there will be Nazi flags. I never thought it would hit me so hard to see these in person. I was actually physically uncomfortable and sick to my stomach.

I suppose that means I'm not totally numb to history - even as much as I've seen and studied about the Holocaust and WWII. Good to know.

Anyway, it WAS an excellent play and I really enjoyed myself. Plus I got to hang out with my girls. LOVE my girls! =D

Friday, December 14, 2007


This week has been absolutely crazy. Almost as crazy as last week! Work is nuts - everyone needs something yesterday. Aren't people supposed to be on vacation???

I took Trooper to daycare today! The poor little boy was terrified. :( Since I dropped him off before business hours he will be in his own individual kennel for a couple of hours until the staff arrives. As I was leaving I could see his head pushing up against the kennel ceiling (it's a short kennel) looking at me like "why are you leaving me???" *SOB*

I KNOW he will have a blast or I would never leave him. I had to fight with hubby to take him by himself. Quinn is too old and would hate it. Kodiak is still healing from his surgery. And Trooper NEEDS to play with dogs so badly. He has so much energy and just can't get it all out with us working and walking him sporadically.

I am going to call as soon as they open and check on him though. I feel like a mama...I want updates people! I almost want to go back home and get him but I'll let daddy do that.

So thank goodness it is Friday (and payday!). I'm taking my girls (4 cousins ages 9, 12, 20, and 21) to see the Sound of Music at a local theater. One of my good friends is the Barrenness. I don't really have time to do this but I took the two little girls last year to see the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (My friend was the White Witch!) and we had such a good time. And I know it will be fun. I'll just have to catch up on orders tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Monday

Apparently today and next Monday are the biggest shipping days for the United States Postal Service. And I will be heading there with my own stack of boxes to ship. Not for family but for customers.

It was a crazy weekend - I had a jewelry party at Trooper's breeder's house. Lots of fun and food and puppies!!! Forget jewelry - I just wanted to play with the dogs. The puppies are 5 weeks old and beyond adorable. It was hard to keep myself from sneaking one out.

Orders have not stopped just because it's December, although I'm thinking that they will slow down a lot now that my guaranteed shipping deadline is here. I thought about extending it but the reality of my life makes me leave it as is. Most of my work is made to order so it takes a couple of days just to prepare pieces to ship - I think I'd be cutting it a little close.

So it's off to the post office I go...hauling two bags full of Priority shipping boxes. Phew! I was up late finishing up - and I hope that everyone loves everything. That is always the most anxious part - wondering what they think when they open their packages.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

God Bless our Veterans of WWII (and every other veteran out there). Today is the 66th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing. I wasn't taught a lot about this day throughout school. I learned more on my own through books and the history channel. It's a shame that kids aren't taught more about this important turning point in the United State's history.

Did you know we only had the 18th largest military at that point? (According to the radio this morning - where they were reading from the LA Times.) We sure aren't 18th now.

This photo was taken by a Navy photography as the USS Shaw was exploding. Dec. 7, 1941.

The surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first at 7:55 AM, the second at 8:55. Along with the ships in Pearl Harbor, the air stations at Hickam, Wheeler, Ford Island, Kaneohe and Ewa Field were attacked. For two hours and twenty minutes, Japanese aircraft bombed and strafed these military targets. By 9:55 it was all over. By 1:00 PM the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.

Behind them they left chaos: 2,335 dead servicemen, 1,178 wounded, 640 unaccounted for, 48 civilians killed. 188 planes had been destroyed and 18 ships of different sizes had been sunk or damaged, including 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. Only 29 Japanese aircraft were shot down by American return fire, most during the attack of the second wave. In one stroke the Japanese action silenced the debate that had divided Americans ever since the German defeat of France left England alone in the fight against the Nazi terror.

My mind reels at the horror of what the Japanese accomplished that day. I

I thank God for all those who died, who fought, who lived, and who served. Then and now.

Great quotes compiled at Remembering Pearl Harbor site, which should be remembered today!

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.
Thomas Jefferson

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
George Washington

Neutrality, as a lasting principle, is an evidence of weakness.

A Few of My Favorite Things

I love the Sound of Music. I'm taking my little cousins to the musical play next Friday. My friend Marie (she is so talented) plays the Baroness. She said it's okay if we sing along, which is good because I don't know if I could stop myself!

So, after our trip to Maui this year I am so in love with turtles. And how cute is this little girl? Her name is "Lola the Turtle Snuggle Buddy" and she is handmade in Colorado Springs by Bean Pickle Sprout (How funny cool is that name?). No lead in this little girl. She's ready to be adopted.

Sometimes we all need to be reminded of this. We are all God's children and with this customized embroidered tote you, or your loved one, will never forget. Created just for you by Adrienne of Personality Plus Boutique, you can customize the colors and everything!

I am in love with all things Japanese. I've been to the beautiful country twice and even have my own wedding kimono (not that Hubby would let me wear it at our wedding...he's no fun!). I discovered this incredibly talented artist on Etsty and have been drooling over her incredible work. I can't pronounce any of it but it's gorgeous. :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Dog

That is my goal - to make sure my dogs are happy and healthy. Trooper is not happy. He's antsy. Fidgety. Bored. It rained so much the past few weeks. Hubby has been working a lot of overtime. I've had orders and shipping.

And he can't play as rough as he wants to with Kodiak and Quinn. Long walks around the neighborhood do not tire him out.

So tonight, hubby and I are going to go tour a local kennel for Puppy Daycare. If we like it, he'll be going next week at least one day if not two. It will be SO good for him to play with other doggies and run run run. I can't wait to have a tired dog!

And as soon as we think Kodiak is fully healed he can go too. I'm not so sure about Quinn. She's getting fairly old but they may be able to take care of her there too. She may enjoy it.

Just from the photos it looks like a fabulous and very professional place. Each dog gets their own little kennel that they go in when they first get there. I love this because my dogs used to go absolutely nutso when we'd go to the other daycare (that's another story). This will give them a chance to calm down.

Things look so clean and well kept from the photos too. And they have a pool for doggies!!! I love that. Not just a pool, they also have kid toys for the dogs. It is so funny to watch dogs play on those!

I'll report back ... the biggest hurdle is convincing hubby that Trooper will be safe and cared for by someone else. :) He's so protective!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

So Much Cuteness! So Little Time!

I really wish I had kids...or at least relatives of kid age. Because there are so many flippin' cute items on Etsy that I am itchin' to buy.

Am I too old for a cape? If there were any kids young enough in my family I would totally buy one of these by Panjo!

Sometimes I am really messy when I eat...but I don't think my neck would fit in this adorable bib by Hoobaleedoos.

Although my mom didn't really cook...I'm sure if my dad had lived I would have wanted to help out in the kitchen and would have needed one of these precious little girl aprons by Mommy and Me Boutique.

I wonder if the cookie comes with it???

Oh so many more goodies are coming...I can't stop myself!!!

There's Still Time

I still need to buy a few gifts and I feel like time is running out! But there's still time to shop and get things shipped in time for Christmas. Need some ideas?

If I had some extra cash I would totally buy this!

Isn't that beautiful!?!

And I wish I had a little girl in the family to buy for who could wear this adorable little dress!

And don't forget the doggies! I SO wish I had a small dog so I could buy them this. ROFL

I have never seen Monty Python movies but I still know the lines!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm Published - Again

How exciting...twice in one year. =D I submitted one of my pieces to Holly Gage for the 2008 "The Art and Design of Metal Clay" calendar and was accepted!!!

My Aquamarine and Fine Silver "Bullseye" pendant is featured in November. Woohoo!

State of Emergency in Western Washington

I have lived on the west side of Washington state for my entire life. Born and raised. I've seen a lot of weather my in almost 30 years. From 100+ days in the summer to flooding in the winter. We have some great photos of grandpa's river (that's what we call it - it's officially the Nisqually river) flooding up over its banks.

In 1996 I remember the freeway being closed due to flooding and 11 short years later it's happened again. Hubby had to go in at 5 a.m. today and is being assigned down to help with traffic control.

The weather has calmed down a bit but I still had my wipers on all the way to work this morning. It was coming down pretty good.

My grandfather - the ultimate cowboy - decided that he didn't want his outhouse to float away yesterday. So the stinker wades into the overflowing river up to his thighs (he is 80 freaking years old!), straps a rope/chain around the stupid thing, gets on the tractor and pulls it to dry land. Oy! I swear that man is going to give us a heartattack long before he leaves this earth.

A great photo from West Olympia - I was JUST there on Sunday!

I've seen it flood in that intersection before but never ever that badly. That is just frightening!

I hope grandpa's house is okay...he's fairly far away from the river but I know one of his neighbors lost several outbuildings and had to be rescued from their home! Although neighbor in his neck of the woods could be several miles away. I'm sure one of the main roads into town will wash out - it has before.

God bless mother nature and do not piss her off!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Beep Beep - Lots of Traffic in November

Traffic on my website was the best even in November. I remember when I first launched my website (officially last year) and was so excited to see 10-15 hits a day. Now I get bummed if I don't see more than 150 a day.

That may sound like a lot but it takes hundreds of unique hits to generate one sale.

November 2007

3,922 Unique Visitors
5,766 Total Visits (1.47 visits/person)
187,706 Hits

14 Sales

Think about that. Nearly 4,000 unique visitors and only 14 sales. That's not that great in terms of conversion rates...although I do know certain jewelry friends of mine who up my stats a little bit (*cough* JenC *cough*)...not that I mind! :)

I am thrilled that I had 14 sales in November. I hope I can get that many each month. Working full time makes it more difficult to get many more - because let me tell you I was swamped. Most items are made when ordered, from scratch. No working on the weekend and stocking up - I usually stay up late in order to finish. I can't stand letting orders sit for more than a day or two.

Those sales don't include my sales from my Etsy shop - so add another 15 sales - although I have no idea how many hits I get on my Etsy shop because they don't give us by shop stats.

And why, you may ask, am I sharing this information? Mainly because I want to share with other jewelry is HARD to sell online. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of us out here in the cyberworld, competing for jewelry customers. It is a lot of work and you shouldn't be discouraged or think down on your work just because you haven't gotten a sale in awhile. Trust me, this was my busiest month all year. And I'm thrilled.

Hits and sales have continued to increase since the beginning of the year and I hope that trend continues.

Subtle Rock

I love natural stones and they look so great in rings. Some of my rings are a little...less than subtle. Bold is a good word. Rockin' is also a good word.

But yesterday I was inspired to create some more subtle rings that still used natural stones but didn't look like something that could take an eye out.

Gorgeous Sleeping Beauty Turquoise - completely natural and feminine - found in the Sleeping Beauty mine in Nevada.

Ocean Jasper - I found out that this stone is only found in one mine in the world in Madagascar. It is such a remote area that there are no roads and the stone can only be gathered at low tide along the edge of the ocean and transported by boat.

Malachite - I love the green swirls and patterns found in Malachite. This stone shape is really fun - a square that is drilled from corner to corner.

And if you still want a little bigger bling - this Amazonite is incredible. It almost sparkles. A really great color, this particular stone is actually from Africa (most Amazonite is from Russia and is more green) with stunning pale teal green color.

Rings Rock!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A New Skylight

Yesterday was brutal. On me, the dogs, and our ceiling. I wasn't all that excited about working from home but hubby wanted someone home while they were working on the roof. Good thing he insisted.

Why did we need a new roof? Well, when we moved into this house over five years ago we were told that the tile roof was a superior quality and we wouldn't need a new roof for 20 years. Yeah right. So much for that. A few months ago we discovered a leak ... there was water streaming above the window behind my work station. Hubby could not find the leak. It wasn't the window.

So we called a roofing company and we definitely had a leaky roof. One of the tiles was broken and they don't do tile roofs. Apparently they are supremely expensive. Not only that, our stupid roof had ONLY tiles. Seriously...tiles then nothing but our ceiling. No two by fours. No layer of plastic or whatever. Nothing! SO lame.

So we decided to go through with a new roof...not cheap. Got the home equity loan. Ready to go. Set for yesterday. It was the loudest most annoying experience ever. Even without a flippin' foot coming through the ceiling it would have been horrible.

I'm sitting here working on my laptop trying to get some things done and all of a sudden my ceiling explodes.

The guy slipped (since there was nothing but air and some beams) and thankfully caught himself before his whole body came through!

In reality it isn't that big of a deal. They are going to pay for the repair (the drywall came by last night already) but it completely freaked me out. I started to have a panic attack and had to call hubby home. Poor guy. I was flipped. Shaking. Near tears. Although I'm proud of myself for not actually crying. :)

The dogs were freaking out too of course.

Alls well that ends well. The drywall guy actually found some other parts of the ceiling that need to be repaired from the leak so we'll get everything repaired at once and split the cost with the roofing company.

And Trooper ended the day conked out in the kitchen. :)

He was seriously out cold. Didn't even open his eyes when I took this picture. Normally when I walk up he'd start stretching or something. LOL He was wiped out. =D