Friday, February 26, 2010

We Interrupt This Broadcast

I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment. I tend to do a bit more than I should and I think adding the studying for a new job has thrown me for a loop.

So I'm taking a few days off from my current job to study and get it out of the way so that I can at least have my normal level of insanity instead of this even more hyped up version of my life.

I have several new things to write about here on this blog but I'm going to hold off for at least a week. One includes an AWESOME review that I am SO excited about. :)

And clearly I'm not making new jewelry right now so any new additions to my Etsy shop will be relistings of previous jewelry.

If you have something that you'd like me to address (I know I've gotten a couple of requests from people on Facebook) feel free to leave a comment. I'm looking forward to doing some more quality (I hope) writing in the next few weeks.

Wish me luck on my test!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Help Haiti and Your Child's Future

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Cryo-Cell International. All opinions are 100% mine.

I know...two sponsored posts in as many days. Crazy right? But I had to write about this one because it actually hits very close to home for me.

Hubby and I talked and prayed about whether or not to have Marshal's cord blood stored. It's very expensive and the science is far from settled.

However, we did decide to have his cord blood taken right after birth and sent off to a company (not the sponsor company) to store in case (God forbid!) he ever needed it someday. Why? Because my father died from cancer at the age of 36. And hubby's mom is dying from Leukemia right now. We also have a variety of diseases in our family like hypertension and diabetes. But it was the cancer issues (since it's on both sides of our family) that made us decide to do it.

While the science might not be settled, I have faith that science continues to make huge strides in the area of stem cells. The cells inside the cord blood are extremely special - they are a perfect match for Marshal. Stem cells can (potentially) benefit him in the event that he has to be treated for a disease like cancer. There is even talk of stem cells helping with Type 1 Diabetes and to regenerate heart cells:

"Stem cells from umbilical cord blood may provide the raw material to repair the hearts of thousands of babies born each year with defective heart valves, according to data presented at last week's American Heart Association annual meeting."
Obviously these things are not settled science, but with our history it just made sense to save Marshal's cord blood. You only have one chance to save this precious substance and it's something you need to plan ahead. If you are having a baby soon, or plan on having one someday, I recommend discussing this option with your partner (and  your doctor) and doing research on the best option for you.

Cryo-Cell International is working with Save the Children...for every person who enrolls with them, Cryo-Cell Int'l will donate $25 to Save the Children and the relief efforts ongoing in Haiti. This is only through the end of February, but even if you don't enroll this month it's something to be considered and researched.

Visit my sponsor: Hope for Haiti - Save the Children

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not Your Grandmother's Skin Cream

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Dermajuv Skin Care Products. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do you use skin care products? I am horrible when it comes to taking care of my skin. Maybe it's because I had to do SO much with my skin as a teenager (I had TERRIBLE acne) and so I just got sick of it. I've tried all sorts of creams and lotions though.

For me, it's a matter of convenience and I think that the trend has been to provide this for consumers. I hate even having to wash my face, but if I don't my skin breaks out like I'm 16 years old again. And since I do have to wash my face, it dries out regularly and I *should* use some sort of cream or lotion. What I'd love to see is a combined face wash / lotion. =) That's the trend I want to see in the future.

My mom didn't really use a lot of facial products that I can remember, but my grandmother always had a drug store worth of products in her cabinets. I LOVED going through all the bottles and potions when I was young.

Have products changed a lot since my mom or grandma's time? Advertisers want you to think they have but I'm not a scientist and I don't know. I do know that there are a LOT more options now (and there seemed to be quite a few options back "then"). Do they really work? No idea. They sure do have pretty packaging though.


You can purchase from big manufacturers like Avon, Dermajuv, or Clinique...or from small independent shops who make their products in their homes (like those folks on Etsy). I like that in the last few years we've seen more and more independent shops selling all natural products, which I see as a major trend going forward.

It seems like there are an overwhelming number of skin care options out there. So how do you determine what to use?

For me, I think looking at ingredients is important - but it's definitely hard to sort through all the claims. I admit that I'm tempted by Dermajuv's Acne skin treatment cream. I like the idea of avoiding the side effects of Benzoyl Peroxide, which makes my face turn bright red and itchy. If their "Resveratrol" ingredient does work better than benzoyl peroxide then it might be worth the $70 price tag. (Ouch!)

Do you think that creams can reduce wrinkles? I think it's probably a temporary effect, but if you use it every day it will give you some sort of benefit. "Matrixyl" is the ingredient that is supposed to help in Dermajuv's anti-wrinkle cream, but for $70 they need to show me a lot more evidence.

For now I'll stick with my oncoming wrinkles. :)

What is your skin care routine?

Visit my sponsor: Skin Care Products

What's So Funny?

I don't often check my blog or website stats. I know I should and I know I should care more and try harder, but I just don't. Thems the facts.

But I was taking a look recently, just to see what is coming up.

I do not know how people find me other than Entrecard or my website (or maybe Facebook) so looking at some of the search terms that bring people here as stumped me.

"Funny Pictures", "Funny Pics", and "Funny Photos" are the top three search terms that land people here.


What's so funny about any of the photos I've posted? I may need to go back through my blog and see what I'm missing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gorgeous Jewelry Giveaway

My friend Dana is giving away some of her beautiful copper jewelry. Head on over to her blog to find out how to earn entries. She's so talented, and she's even written a book! Not only that, but she makes her own jewelry bags now! Good grief. She puts me to shame.

We need to get together for lunch. :) I'm always staring at all her jewelry...she's really good about wearing her products. I need to do better!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nature Is Amazing

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who is awed by the nature that surrounds me. Sometimes I wish I could pull over on the side of the freeway as I drive to work and just take photos. I drive past/through a wetland, wildlife reserve, stunning mountain that stays with me most of my drive, and all sorts of different natural beauties.

The way that nature gives us beautiful gifts astounds me. The variety is endless and when making jewelry I'm constantly reminded of how complex the world is.

A month or so ago I ordered some Saturn Jasper and when it arrived I was just blown away by the intricacy and variance of the patterns on each and every stone. No two stones were alike. I felt the same sort of awe looking at these stones as I do when staring at a stunning sunrise.

There are so many types of Jasper out there and each on is beautiful and unique. I made some earrings and necklaces using a Brecciated Jasper ... how can nature create such an amazing design???

I realize there are scientific explanations for the incredible patterns and variance that nature provides in these stones, but I prefer to enjoy them for their beauty without over analyzing the reasons. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Will You Vote?

I finally found a contest to enter Marshal's cute little face in. Will you go vote for him??? I entered six different photos but I think the cutest are these.

Dressed up in his Penn State Nittany Lions outfit, given to him by his auntie Jennifer.

Modeling his adorable little Sheriff's outfit, given to him by some great coworkers of mine.

I think his little face would be perfect on the cover of Parents magazine, don't you??? :)

Cross Posting at Amid Clutter.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Great Idea!

So, I shared my secret shame horribly messy and disorganized work space. *hangs head in shame*

One of my very smart commenters suggested I do a 'use what you have' challenge. So I think I might try it (like how committed I sound? hahaha).

The only caveat is that if I get orders for certain items I may need to order supplies - for example, PMC if I run out or if I need some specific cabs for the Birthstone pendant necklace.

But I most certainly do NOT need any more pearls. Sheesh. It's ridiculous but I love them! :)

So, I will do my very best to use only what I have (not including basic findings, PMC, and wire if I run out and need it to complete an order) for any jewelry I create in the next few months.

Just the idea of not buying more makes me want to go shopping!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How Long Could It Take?

If I cleaned my jewelry work space every day for five minutes, I wonder how long it would take me to finish.

I'm very rarely embarrassed, and to be honest I'm not entirely embarrassed even now. But I'm definitely not thrilled with how trashed my work space (really, it's spaces...I'm spread out all over the place) for my jewelry has gotten. Hubby keeps getting on my case because as soon as the little man starts to crawl he'll be getting into everything...including my beads and supplies!

Yes, this is where I "work"...*hangs head in shame*... I like chaos but even this is a bit much for me. You can see the partially completed necklace, which is now finished, as I worked on it.

The last thing I want is my pumpkin head to choke on a bead that has fallen on the floor. I'd love a new system that allows me to stay organized and creates a work environment conducive to creativity.

Hubby wants to move me into the garage. I say that's not exactly conducive to creating. Especially since the garage is pretty much as trashed as my current space.

Above is my secondary space where all my shipping supplies and other beading / supply things are stored. I have a LOT of stuff. *sigh*
Right now I have these tool organizers with little drawers that I bought at Home Depot ages and ages ago. It works okay but I have three of them and I'm still overflowing with supplies!

And yes, those are dog leashes/collars hanging there. We have four dogs, and more leashes, harnesses, and collars than we need. And yes, the garbage can is sitting up high because one of those dogs (actually I suspect more than one, but I've only ever caught one) likes to get into it and eat things. Not okay with jewelry making supplies being discarded.
Maybe for Christmas I should ask for something like this...

If anyone has any recommendations I'd love to hear them! =) And if you can spare some time ... I'd love to take it off your hands!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finally Some New Work

I had this design in my head for weeks and could not for the life of me find time to sit down and actually make it. My original idea was to use this gorgeous huge green pearl that I have, but of course I couldn't find it. So I went with the pearls I could find.

Cranberry colored freshwater pearl with two garnets,
14k gold filled chain and vermeil clasp.

I also decided to try a new background for my photos. What do you think? It's a really old (pretty sure it's antique) Spanish grammar book that belonged to my great grandma. It's got the coolest texture for a cover.

Looking at other jeweler's photos, I decided that mine were kind of boring. So I started digging through our stuff and am going to start experimenting. I like that, even though the book is a reddish brown, it doesn't seem to clash with the different colors of jewelry. Even the blue pearl looks good (IMHO).

Taking photos is not my favorite part of making and selling jewelry. Hopefully with this different background it'll make it slightly easier. If I can avoid using the mirror as often photos will require fewer touch ups. It is amazing how much dust and particles show up on a mirror in a photo. Insane!

I welcome any and all constructive feedback. =)

Now if I could find some more time in my day I have some more design ideas floating around my noggin. Anyone have a spare hour or three they could let me have???

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Do NOT Want to Be Paid in Gum!

This is my first 'official' review, for fun, unpaid and un-reimbursed in any way. Please let me know what you think and if you think I should do more of these types of posts.

Have you seen that commercial for Trident Layers gum on TV? A guy comes home and wants to pay his kids' babysitter with gum instead of money. Oh but it's not just ANY's Trident Layers gum and so wonderfully amazing that the kids (and the gardener, and the phone guy) are happy to receive gum instead of cash.

They're clearly insane (not to mention horrible actors).

I was really looking forward to trying this new gum because I enjoy chewing gum on a daily basis. The gum looks great and there are several different flavors to pick from. It's also sugar free (a big pre-requisite for my gum choices).

I rarely buy candy or gum without a coupon (I'm something of a coupon lady) so when I saw it was on sale at Fred Meyer for $1, and I had coupons for $0.75/1 and $1.00/2 I decided to buy five packs. I bought three packs of the Wild Strawberry + Tangy Citrus and two packs of the Green Apple + Golden Pineapple for a total investment of $2.25. The regular price I've seen this gum sold at seems to vary from $1.49 to $1.74. When did gum get so expensive?

The packaging for this gum is great. It's the new style that many gum packs seem to be going with these days - the 'box' flips up to reveal two rows of gum in neat little lines. It reminds me of an old fashion cigarette case...only healthier. The paper of the box is thicker than other brands of gum that I've seen (i.e. Extra).

Each piece is individually wrapped in heavy silver foil and the size of each piece is substantial at 1 1/2 inches long, almost 1/2 an inch wide, and 6 mm high. Getting the first piece out is a little challenging as they are all packed in there rather tightly and after a tug I managed to get a piece out with the wrapping a little rumpled.

I started with the Green Apple + Golden Pineapple. The initial flavor is very pleasant and sweet. I don't detect any sort of 'sour' notes that I'd expect with Green Apple. After a few minutes (less than 5), however, the pleasant taste turns into a sickly sweet. I've never experienced gum that makes my mouth feel like I've just taken medicine, but Trident Layers managers this feat swiftly. The Tangy Strawberry flavored one is the same - pleasant for the first minute and then it starts tasting like medicine.

After chewing the gum for less than 15 minutes I am ready to spit it out and move on. The texture has gotten to the point that it feels like I'm chewing on a rubber band, although it does seem to work when I try to blow small bubbles. It certainly isn't Bubbalicious bubble blowing gum though.

Ingredient Notes - This gum contains Soy and Phenylalanine. Say that three times fast.

What will I do with the extra packs I bought? The joy of couponing is being able to share with others. I knew that if I didn't like it I could just share it with my coworkers. There are enough people in the office that someone will like it. And I'm only out a couple of dollars total.


If you liked this review I'd really appreciate your feedback (well, I guess I'd appreciate your feedback if you didn't like the review too!). I haven't decided if I'll make these sort of posts a regular part of my blog or not. I do enjoy it so we'll see what the response is like. :)

Paid Reviews?

* UPDATE: I think I've decided to do a couple of reviews on my own just for fun...I'm more than willing to take feedback and suggestions as well. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. *

I have a lot of opinions on a lot of things and I think I would make a good reviewer of "stuff". Anyone have any recommendations for a site that actually pays you to write??? I used to be part of 451 Press but they went under last year. :(

I'm not looking to make a fortune...just a few extra dollars doing something I enjoy (writing...and sharing my opinion whether people want it or not Hahahah!).

I've actually already written two lengthy reviews of two different products. If I do say so myself, they aren't too shabby.

So ... anyone have any suggestions???

If not, that's okay. I may just start doing reviews on this website for the heck of it. Would anybody mind? Or, probably more accurately, would anyone care and read?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Friday!

Not much to report today. I have three international orders to get out (YAY!) but that also means actually hauling my butt to the post office. Boo! I wish they would just let me do international orders (first class) from home. All they will let you do is priority which starts at some ridiculous cost like $20 or something. It's nuts.

I realize they have to examine the customs form and all that, but really what's the difference if I filled out the customs details for a label that prints on my printer and put the package in my mailbox, compared to having a Postal worker look at it and mail it? My content descriptions won't change. I weigh things for US shipments so that's also not an issue.

So I have to go stand in line at my local USPS, which sucks because they're always swamped (apparently they're trying to close the branch ... they've done everything but dig up the floors...even pulled out the clock from the wall!) and only usually have two workers.

Aside from that, I am beyond blessed to get any orders at all. I appreciate them more than anyone can ever realize. Especially after figuring out our future budget for when I'm no longer working at my current job (April 23 is my official last day!)..*gulp*...we're going to be in the red for awhile. So every sale of my jewelry will now start to help us pay bills...for pretty much the first time ever since I started selling my work. It's scary and the pressure kind of sucks.

But I'm doing it for a good cause. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Amazing Customer Service

Today's post is part of the "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" Blog Hop! Please click the blog link at the bottom of this post to Hop along and check out the other participants. =) Thank you The Frugal Housewife for letting me join.

I know that I've touted Mail Chimp in the past, but I must do so again. I started following their Facebook page and I'm so glad I did ... this morning I noticed a post about Mail Chimp 5.0 and decided to check it out.

My word! Talk about delivering a worthwhile product to the customers. These folks are constantly making improvements to their service and the latest ones are outstanding.

"Time Warp" - Pick the time of day you want to send out your newsletter and Mail Chimp will make sure that it arrives at that time of day no matter what the time zone. Previously, if I wanted the newsletters to arrive on the West Coast at 10 a.m. then I had to choose 7 a.m. East Coast time. No longer. Mail Chimp makes sure it will arrive at 10 a.m. everywhere.

"Geo Targeting" - The one thing I never loved about the way Mail Chimp collects data is that you can't always tell where some one is from location wise if they don't enter their address. Sometimes I want to send out e-mails to only local folks but it was a pain to keep a separate list for those folks. Now there's no need! You enter the location you want to target and the mileage radius to target and bang...Mail Chimp sends it to those people who fall in that area! Genius!!! No need for segmented or separated lists by location.

"Auto Translator" - This one might not be something I utilize...I worry that the translation won't pick up the nuances from the way I "speak" in writing. But it is a cool feature.

"Flickr Integration" - Being able to utilize Flickr with my campaigns will be super cool...I haven't looked into how it works but the idea is intriguing.

There are other new features but these four are the ones that caught my eye right off the bat. This company is such a great example of a company that continues to improve their product and service without gouging their clients with fees. Not only that, anytime I've had any issues (it's been awhile and they were minor issues) they were supremely responsive and helpful.

Now, if I could get up the energy to actually write a new newsletter, and fix my current list of recipients...*sigh*

* No, I am not paid to promote Mail Chimp. A couple of the links to their site are "affiliate" links and if you sign up through me I'll get bonus credits...and so will you! I just really love their services, or I wouldn't write about their awesomeness. *

Next stop on the Hop: Kat's Daily Inspiration Please swing by and say hi. :)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When I Grow Up

I want to be these jewelers! Holy talented batman!

Check out their rings!!!

I bow before their superiority.

Someday I want one of those "Melted Emerald" Rings with sapphires and diamonds (for my little boy's birthstone and my hubby & my birthstones). You know, when I win the lotto!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cute Fruit

Okay...I don't always understand why people create the things they do, but when I saw this artisan (who I found through my Entrecard hopping...say what you will about this service but I have discovered more awesome blogs and even more awesome people than I ever would have without it), Nico Designs, I fell in love with this pear.

It's a PEAR for goodness sake. And I love it. :) What in the world would I do with it? [Not that I can afford to buy it...I just did our budget for when we're on one salary...ouch!]

I want to make a recommendation that she change her first picture to this one instead of the one she draws the eye better I think. Head over to the listing in her Etsy shop and tell me whether you agree.

Or at the very least crop the photo with the 'white'-ish background so that the pear takes up the whole square. Do you think she'd be offended with my recommendation???

Catching the eye is by far the single most important thing for capturing sales on Etsy. Not that I'm so brilliant with's a constant battle.

Monday, February 1, 2010

How Many Times?

How many times do I have to say it? NO SPAM!

I do read my comments and will delete anything that is just a link to your website, even if you make your comment sound all friendly like. I can still tell that it's spam. Jeesh.

It's just rude. Like coming over to my house on the premise of bringing me something nice or just to say hi, and then trying to sell me something. Not cool.

I've started getting more and more spam...which I suppose can be considered a compliment right? I mean, my blog must be attracting some sort of attention. But clearly not the right kind.

Okay...that is all. /rant