Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just a quickie ...

... because I haven't updated in, like, forever!

My page rank rose back to a 3! Woo hoo!

Been super busy, which is why I haven't updated. Jewelry business is not paying the bills so I got a part-time, flexible "day" job to help make the ends meet. So I'm back to dabbling in bookkeeping which has always been my forte. I like working with numbers. Clear, concise, honest ... well, in the hands of an honest person, that is.

I'll still be working the jewelry business, but now I can relax a bit. Not getting enough to make the ends meet was making me a tad uptight. Uptightness stifles creativity. Juices are flowing better now.

My next post will be about using Twitterfeed. And I'll give some much deserved link luv to all my commentators from the prior post.

Everyone be safe!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not bad for an amateur

Running an on-line jewelry shop on a shoe-string budget forces a person to stretch their limits in many avenues. The starving artists that we are, we cannot afford professional photography, and yet quality photos that are inviting, compelling and functional are essential. So we read and apply, read more and try, and practice and read even more. There is so much that goes into the making of a good photo. I've worked with enough professional photographers in my many decades to know that they discard 90% of their photos because they don't measure up to the photographers standards of "good."

Unfortunately for jewelry artists, we don't have the time to shoot and re-shoot a piece 100 times to get those 5 "good" shots. But with enough trial and error we find a method that works for us so we can get our decent entries to use in our shops somewhat expediently.

Every once in a while though, it's fun to push the boundaries. I'm a wee bit proud of this photo ... the focus on the lovely bead and all the wonderful "bokeh" in the background to take the mundane out of the photo of a simple necklace.

You'll find this listed in my Etsy shop here.

PhotobucketOn another front ... I got my Etsy shop's RSS feed linked to my Twitter! So now when I list something, it'll get tweeted with a link. Happy dance!

I'd like to thank a couple of recent folks who left comments, UniqueNurseGranny and Kim, with some link luv!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Sunday ...

... and time to feature a good buddy from Skwiggazine! This week's featured artist is Corinne Sullivan of Daydream Art Studios! Corrine also has the sweetest blog. While you're checking out her Etsy shop, be sure to visit mine, too.

I'll be providing FREE SHIPPING for all Cyber Monday sales! I'll be furiously stocking overnight. Here's a sample of available prettiness:

Oh, and some linky luv for my recent commenters!
Storybeader Take a stroll through her lovely blog.
Beadsme aka Mandy Harvery, a very talented jewelry artist.
Savey Spender ... you'll save a buck or two!
Leslie of Unique Charm and another fellow Estian!
Always Amy ... always da bomb! (BTW, I signed up for ArtFire and mentioned you as the referral, but I signed up with the wtong e-mail so I have to get my registration straightened out! Here's to our mutual success!)
Anna of A Rose By Name and one of the phenomenal beadweavers. I so admire your skill, patience and talent.
Viv of Creative Minds is another fellow talented Estian. Etsy is stuffed full of talented people!
Kala Pohi Studio ... another talented Estian ... I'm feeling extraordinarily humbled.
And last, but never least, my two partners in the Skwiggazine madness, Michelle of Michabella Creations and Annette of Under the Loupe.

May all your page ranks rise!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh boy ...

Two back to back shows.
One major computer crash.
One nasty cold virus.

The last thing I've felt like doing is blogging.

I had an on-line show scheduled for today, my first ever, but the thing got canceled by the organizer because of lack of support by other vendors. We are trying again this Wednesday evening. But I got lots of new items posted to my Etsy shop and more to come in the next couple of days. I figured a way to more efficiently take photos, prep them and list.

Here's some of the latest entries:

These are listed here.

These are listed here.

This is listed here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Good Morning, Autumn!

It's about time! Crisp and cool weather that is hopefully saying bye bye to the buggies that bug our poor pooch.

As I am welcoming Fall, my friend from down under is welcoming Spring! Annette Piper, who I have featured before, is enjoying her spring although she is quite busy down there!

Annette's blog, Under the Loupe, is back in rotation for our Skwiggazine Blog-Ring. I always enjoy featuring Annette, her work is stunning! Her craftsmanship is exceptional and because of her knowledge of minerals, I always learn something from her.

Speaking of the need to wear earrings, check out Annette's latest earring entry:

Copyright Annette Piper.

She featured them here. Aren't they gorgeous? Did you know amethyst comes in green? I didn't! These lovelies would work in any setting.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Business Women Should Wear Earrings

The following is a true story. It happened to me. It came back to the forefront of my memory because of my recent networking experience. When networking, one has anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds to give a "commercial" about their business. It's also known as the "elevator speech" in some networking circles.

When one does a lot of networking, one recognizes the need to change things up in order to sound interesting. I attended a meeting a couple of months ago where Jeff Klein, a local network marketing guru, gave us a presentation on making our elevator speeches more memorable. Most people give their name, company name, what it does, what they do, and ask for your business. After a few of these, the yawn factor sets in. The collective mind of the room begins to wander. Hence the need of giving an effective elevator speech and that often begins with a story.

Here's my story that I used the other day (although 30 seconds is simply NOT long enough to use this story effectively ... I needed 60!):

Once upon a time in a land far away, I was the manager of information systems at a Beverly Hills CPA firm. It was April, a busy time for CPAs, a very, very busy time. Not only are the 1040 tax returns due on the 15th, the first quarter payroll tax returns are due by the end of the month. Needless to say, workers in CPA firms put in a lot of long hours during the month of April. And because of the long hours, workers at CPA firms dress for comfort during that time.

We're talking jeans and t-shirt comfortable. There are some periods of time when even appropriate business casual has to fly away in the face for the need of comfort. Comfort = productivity, productivity is the single most important goal for CPA firms in April. But I digress (which I did NOT do in my elevator speech).

A guy comes in to sell us a computer thingmabob. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was something in which the firm was interested enough that I took the time to talk to the guy. Unfortunately, he spent his entire elevator speech time, which was much longer than 60 seconds, talking to my boobs.

He did not make the sale.

There are two lessons to learn from this real-life story:

#1. Gentlemen, if you want to sell to a lady, look her in the face! Don't talk to her boobs. And trust me, guys, I was NOT provocatively dressed.

#2. Ladies, no matter what the setting, no matter what is going on in the office, dress in a way to focus attention to your FACE. And of course, the single best tool you have is a pair of noticeable earrings. Noticeable, not extravagant. But even with jeans and t-shirt, there are earrings that are appropriate that will keep the focus where it belongs.

These particular earrings sold a long time ago, but they are a good example of what you can wear with business casual. They are understated but pretty. And they will do the job of keeping the focus on your beautiful, intelligent face.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Proud, Indulgent Moment

I have a very beautiful woman for a daughter-in-law ... she truly is, both inside and out. And what's really amazing is that with her gorgeous looks and personality, she's extremely smart AND creatively talented. She has launched her own photography business, Sprinkles Photography, and I am beyond myself with excitement and pride!

Visit her blog and see that two most beautiful grandchildren in the world. Not that I'm biased or anything. Visit the website to see more.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Art as Legacy

Every once in a while, I'll see something that makes me stop and look. Michelle Ruschman's work is one of the once in a whiles. She makes jewelry, very simple jewelry, but it packs a punch when it comes to meaning and purpose. Her jewelry transcends the mundane and even art because it has a deeper purpose ... preservation of a culture.

I "met" Michelle on the Ning social network Sta.rtUp.Biz when taking some time to meet and greet new members. She's a Filipina living here in the United States. I suppose it was on a journey of self-discovery that she stumbled upon the ancient Philippine script called baybayin. It developed into a full-scale passion and a legacy she is handing down to her daughter. Her work touched something deep inside of me and I felt compelled to share her art with my readers.

You can read her story on her profile page ... doesn't she have a beautiful face?!? She has one of the $1 million dollar smiles that lights the place up. Her website is here.

I wish you much success in all you set out to achieve, Michelle!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What on Earth??

Or should I say: "What in Earth?"

Image is from the US Geological Survey agency.

Earthquakes in the Dallas area. Eight of them! The biggest was a puny 3.0 so on the scale, it's barely a blip ... although a lot of folks in the areas around the airport felt them and were talking about them. I live in Plano, too far away, so my world didn't seem to move at all. Unlike the years I lived in southern California. During those years, my world moved a lot. In fact, it was two back-to-back earthquakes in 1992 ... Landers and Big Bear ... that made us decide to pack up and get out of there. (To be honest, the earthquakes wouldn't have been nearly enough to cause us to make a huge changed in the lives of our boys, but these earthquakes followed on the heels of the Rodney King verdict riots.)

There's not a whole lot of information regarding intercontinental earthquakes, except for those occurring in the large river valleys ... Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash, etc ... so I can't find any answers as to what, exactly, caused the rumbling in our Mid-Cities area. But it is certainly weird. And eight of them ... not aftershocks, 8 individual quakes. So I'm really, really curious to know what is going on under our feet!

I've received some tags and awards so I'd like to extend my gratitude to my blogging friends. The award was the one bestowed on me earlier, but I want to thank the two lovely ladies who though enough of me to nominate me again:

Leet: She's a wonderful artist. Really! To prove it, check out her gallery. This is one of my favorite blogs, I make sure to check in every time I sit to blog surf.

Cheryl: I love her blog ... it's all about card making and scrapbooking utilizing Stampin' Up, The Angel Company and Studio G products. Card making is one of my hobbies, and in fact, I use some of the items in my business such as packaging and thank you cards. I enjoy seeing the work of others, and Cheryl's work is beautiful. This is another favorite blog of mine I check on every time I surf.

I've been tagged twice:
Glitzy Gallery Gals and Silver Canyons... both fellow Etsians who make lovely handcrafted jewelry. I always feel honored to promote other jewelry artists. While it may seem to the rest of the world that we are competitors, and I suppose we really are when you look at it from a purely business standpoint, the fact is that we are first and foremost artists. Our styles are unique and there's a huge world out there with billions of differences in regards to taste and preference. It's a big enough world for all of us!

The tag is to list 7 little known facts about myself ... but that would kill off 7 future blog posts! But the first fact can be discerned from the beginning of this post. I am an armchair scientist (and I believe there is a Creator). And geology is one of my favorite subjects which explains my love affair with rocks. Being fascinated by earthquakes and volcanoes is just an extension on the scale of macro.

Skwiggazine Featured Artist
It's Sunday! My time for participation in this wonderful blog love exchange. This week we're focusing on Michelle Harvey of Michabella Creations. Be sure to check out her "Shop for a Cure" post. While October is over, cancer of all sorts is something which we should all be consistently aware.

I hope every single one of my readers has a fabulous time this upcoming week!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dressing for Success

I attended a networking event last Friday late afternoon. I was one of 15 vendors to have a show and tell table and it went very well. Over 100 business people attended the event.

I came home rather puzzled, though. I was somewhat surprised at the way some people dressed, especially those representing their businesses at the show and tell tables. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I did not understand why someone would come to a late afternoon event representing their businesses wearing the clothing one would wear to a picnic or to watch their kiddo play soccer on a Saturday morning.

What really made this strange was that last Friday was the day after the news broke about Sarah Palin's $150k image makeover price tag. Whether one agrees campaign funds should have been spent or not, or whether that much should have been spent or not, whatever ... the bottom line was that there was a perceived need to have Ms. Palin look more vice-presidential. Unique thought? I don't think so.

Personally, when I heard the news, I secretly was clicking my heels with excitement. It was bringing to national focus the concept that image dressing does matter and for someone like myself, who designs accessories for the businesswoman, that is a good thing.

I know business attire has changed over the decades, "business casual" dominates the scene in a lot of arenas, but business casual does not equal jeans + t-shirt + sneakers.

There seems to be three basic categories of business attire: casual, conservative or formal, and cocktail. In my line, I have different pieces for the different settings. And there are pieces that could fit in any of the settings, like the necklace above. Because it is made of fire-polished Czech glass faceted roundel beads, there is enough bling it could stand up to any cocktail setting. But when worn under a tailored blouse that has a collar with the three strands peeking out from the v-line of the blouse opening, it would look fabulous with a jacketed suit that is the conservative assemble, or the blouse that is worn with casual slacks in the casual setting.

Any way you slice it, what we wear to any situation says a lot about how we feel about that situation. Being well-dressed and groomed for business says "I am confident" and gives the impression of authority and validity, which are critical for success. When someone comes to me in a business setting well-dressed and groomed, not only are they making that statement about themselves, they are also telling ME that I am worthy of their respect. That's a good feeling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Featured Artist

Artist and Blogger of the Week for Skwiggazine is Lily Wray of Tulip's Treasure Box. Click the link and check her out.

I've been laying low this weekend ... I had a networking event Friday afternoon to early evening and it sorta wipe me out! I made some nice sales, though, and treated the hubby to dinner at the restaurant where the event was held. The earrings below went to someone who won my gift certificate. Another pair is still available so I didn't take the Etsy listing down.

Now I gotta go and do the Entrecard surf thing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pearly Crystal Earrings

Just listed in my Etsy shop.

As I state in the description, Swarovski pearls are the best "fake" pearls in the world! Their luster is second to none, except for the real deal. And even then, it takes an exceptional real pearl to out-luster these.

I love to make these sort of earrings. They are simple and elegant, quick and easy to make, and they can be customized to the color preference of the buyer.

One of my blog-buddies from Entrecard (visit her blog ... she's a very talented artist!) asked me in a comment left on the preceding post about where I get my design inspiration. Most of the time, I get it from the components themselves. Whether crystals, pearls, stones or metal findings ... the shape, texture, color, size "speaks" to me. Sometimes a particular object remains mute until another time, but all the things I gather eventually tell me what to do.

I was blog-hopping last week and stumbled across a blog by another jewelry artist who wrote about a book he appreciates and refers to quite a bit. I do not remember his name, the name of the book or the author but he mentioned 6 principles of jewelry design which I copied into a Word document. I found them compelling and a good metaphor for life in general, not just for design. I'll be discussing each point in the future, as soon as I find that blog again so I can give proper credit to all involved.

I was pleased to see that I instinctually follow all 6 principles!

My target market is the business woman so all of my designs are geared towards her whether "formal" or "casual" or "cocktail." So design inspiration is never lacking.

I do see things in my wanderings that inspire. I saw a painting of Queen Elizabeth I once in a book that inspired a gorgeous necklace, the prototype which I kept for myself and often wear to my networking events.

I am always looking at fashion magazines and internet sites/blogs for inspiration. I avoid looking at jewelry specifically, but look to the clothing to see if I could make something that would harmonize and complete the look.

I realize I need to count myself fortunate in that the medium I chose to express my art is never lacking for inspiration! However, it is a struggle to avoid the mundane and the mediocre.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Holie Molie

So just what, exactly, does $700 billion dollars look like? Better yet, what does it feel like?

Think on this, dear Reader:

If you were to sit in the most comfortable chair you can find, you get hooked up to a feeding tube, catheter and colon bag to take care of bodily necessities and you were endowed with endless life, and proceeded to count out each and every dollar in $1 increments per 1 second non-stop, it will take 22,197 years for you to complete the task.

Have some fun doing more of the math. Wrap your mind around this and wonder about the future our grandchildren will enjoy.

Good thing money is easily printed on paper. Hope there are enough trees in the world. If our monetary system isn't based on cash, hope there is enough ... what? Confidence? Good feelings? Smiles? Pixels? Widgets? Spa treatments?

How about beads?!!? ;-)

I'll donate 111 beads to the effort. While I seriously doubt the history I was fed as a child, they did tell us New York was purchased from the natives for beads. This necklace should be able to secure me a parking spot on Manhatten, adjusted for inflation.

BTW --- I've been tagged. Actually, twice this month, but I haven't had the opportunity to do my duty. I will work on that this week!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Some more cubic zirconia

Lovely handcrafted earrings with a lot of bling. Swarovski calls the color of this ctystal "Silk" and the rectangle cubic zirconia bead hanging in the middle of the 14k gold-filled hammered ring is almost identical. These are gorgeous and pictures truly do little justice to the sparkle these beauty reflect.

They are listed in my Etsy shop here.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. We're attending a wedding this afternoon so I'm off to handcraft both the card and the gift card holder.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Can't I Be a Joe ...

... and got into plumbing? I have a feeling every entrepreneur in America woke up this morning wishing he or she was Joe the Plumber. Not for the sake of politics, but exposure is everything and this fortunate guy got more than his share of exposure! Talk about free advertising. Sheesh!

Oh well. Such is life. I'll have to settle for making these things. I may not make the money Joe makes ... and I'm sure he'll be getting a LOT more business with his global exposure ... at least my choice of career isn't as stinky and slimy and sludgy.

I really like bling. And cubic zirconia provides a lot of bling for the buck. Isn't the color luscious? Combined with the gleam of the hammered gold rings and ovals, dangling at 2.5 inches, this pair of earrings is perfect when glam is needed.

These will be listed on my Etsy shop later today. I'll be back to update with the link.

ETA: Almost forgot the link!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy dance!

I've never, ever done two posts in one day, but I just couldn't wait!

I got my Page Rank back!

Well, now it's only a "2" and I was "3" before the slap, but hey, tomorrow is another day. In the meantime, thank you to whoever from Google reconsidered my blog. You may be nameless and faceless, but you got a wee spot of my heart.

Playing Catch-Up


My Handcrafted Jewelry Open House all done and it went great! I don't have pictures of the rest that sold. Taking pictures of everything is something I need to work on, even if I have no plans to list or post them anywhere.

Now I get to play catch up on everything else that fell by the wayside. One of which is very important to me ... my Skiwggazine Network Featured Blog Group!

I missed posting about Debi and her family blog: Who Says 8 Is Enough? Eleven. Children. Amazing! Check it out! I feel so "not worthy"!

Last week was Karen from Cherished Dreams. She makes beautiful quilts! Really, really beautiful quilts. It's been quite a while since I've done any quilting. Must not let the quilt bug bite ... not enough time! I'm running away now ...

Next Open House date: November 15. Plenty of time to create and make and get all the details taken care of on schedule. It's not fun running around in the last minutes. I hope to be taking lots of new pictures this week!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wandering Minds Wonder ...

A lot of my activity directly related to my business is both creative and repetitious. And even though the brain is involved, quite a bit involved, in the creative process, for a designer of handcrafted jewelry it's the repetitious that dominates. Yet, creative brains are active brains, so while performing the repetitions, our brains keep churning and whirling and grinding.

Personally, when my brain is churning and whirling and grinding I try NOT to think about the design of the next piece. Otherwise, I would stop what I was working on and perhaps never complete it. For hobbyists and crafters, having a whole bunch of UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) lying around may not present much of a problem, other than storage, but for some one trying to pay some bills with her craft, UFO's are waste of precious things like time and materials.

So while performing my repetitious tasks, like the actual making of a piece of handcrafted jewelry, I block the creative thoughts and let my mind wander. I have a very well-traveled mind!

Today my mind was fixated on the economic mess, as it's becoming a huge, HUGE, global problem. I heard on NPR this morning Britain is considering a lawsuit against Iceland? I didn't get a chance to hear and comprehend exactly why, but I found that rather odd, and perhaps a bit scary. Since I don't have any details, I won't express an opinion other than I find it odd. Perhaps my wandering mind will stumble across the details.

So now my wandering mind is wondering, did the American mortgage crises cause all this mess that's going on all over the world? No, can't be ... the rest of the world has its issues that it gets to own and accept responsibility. But it got me thinking that there was an earlier problem, a HUGE problem, that led to sub-prime credit and the whole mess that Americans, at least, are facing.


Perhaps if American employers kept the jobs here in the states, the whole need for sub-prime credit wouldn't have come about. Outsourcing started a long time ago, back in the early 80's if not before. Before my adult children were born. I'm beginning to feel really sorry for my adult children. I'm even more sorry for what my teen-aged daughter may be facing.

Can it all be so simple? That greed for huge bonuses on behalf of the privileged few at the top, and huge dividends and return on investments for the few who had more than ten nickels to rub together to invest was more important than our collective offspring's future quality of life? Well, thank you very much all you greedy people. But I realize you don't care one hair of your chinny-chin-chin about my childrens' future.

I'd tell y'all to bite me, but you already have.

My wandering mind is also wondering why and when the production that drives economy got away from actual things ... things you can eat, wear, hold in your hand and enjoy ... and became ethereal and pixelated. But I haven't got a firm grasp on those thoughts, so I'm off to my work bench.

Before I go, update on the Open House ... I got a free trial subscription to iContact to send out e-mail invitations to a bunch of people I've met networking over the last 5 months. iContact is a nice, easy-to-use program and very reasonably priced. I'll be converting my free trial as it's only $9.95 a month and I plan to use it monthly. But when stopping to think, isn't that ethereal and pixelated? I guess I have my own part in the larger problems facing our world.

Bless our collective hearts ...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Busy in Preparations

Hostessing my first Open House this Saturday, the 11th, and I've been swamped with all the collateral issues. I'm feeling very, very nervous. My home is clean and decent, but humble in comparison with many of the households here. I happen to live in what is considered to be in the top ten most affluent suburbs in America.

We live in the older part, much more middle-low of the middle class.

The house needs updating. It needs a fresh coat of paint. It needs a lot of things, but then, all these things cost money. Hopefully I'll make some pocket change to help along those lines, but the public is being welcomed into my humble home as it is.

I hope they'll see comfort and contentment. After all, when it came to our decision of what and where to buy, we stayed in our budget. We bought no more of a house than what we could afford in a place where the public schools are excellent.

I hope what they see and appreciate is a family who is not burdening them by being part of a $7 billion dollar "rescue" plan. So no, it ain't fancy, but it ain't costing any American taxpayer a single penny, either.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prototype of New Product Packaging

I'm still not over Google's spanking, but one can only take one's licks and move on. I have followed their instructions by submitting a sitemap, which was very confusing for a non-geek person like myself. But I muddled through the lack of clear, concise documentation and figured out how to use my RSS feed as the sitemap. Blogger doesn't allow for a user-generated XML ... or whatever ... sitemap to be plunked somewhere in the template. I've submitted my blog for reconsideration so now it's a exercise in patience. I've also asked them about the "duplicate title tags" since I don't have a clue how to fix that. Blogger is THEIR product so it should be usable without creating havoc with another of THEIR products.

I did say something about moving on, didn't I? No more mention of PageRank unless or until I've been bailed out of search engine jail.

Today I took the mess you see on my dining room table in the opening photo and turned it into this:

I didn't use the boxed flower components in the first picture because after I opened it up, I realized there wasn't enough for duplication (there's that baaaad word again!). I need to make oodles of these packages so I opted to use cardstock, a couple of punches, and brads of which I have plenty. Not bad, don't you think?

I learned this technique last week when I attended a local stamp club that is run by a talented and creative Stampin' Up demonstrator here in the Plano area. If you'd like her contact information, contact me. She'll humbly tell you that she's just following the directions of other talented and creative people, but she has a gift for teaching.

In her class, we used double-sided paper so that the inside looks as good as the outside, but in the interest of not driving the prices of my handcrafted jewelry too far to the roof, I've opted for one-sided. I couldn't find any that matched my branding image, but I think this is close enough to work for now.

I'm having an open house in my house starting October 11th and continuing until further notice on the second Saturday of every month. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and are interested in coming, drop me a line with your e-mail address and I'll add you to the e-vite list. Just about everyone who I have met personally through the various network events I attend will be getting an invite. I'll be using my new product packaging at the open house ... or I HOPE to that is!

Trying to get people to commit to a home show has been virtually impossible, even with a generous hostess package in the offering. I've asked those I know very well, and those who are in the Mastermind group with me "Why?" and the answer is what I expected. Hostessing is a LOT of work. I know that because I've played hostess myself plenty of times.

So for now, I'll play hostess and invite the fashion jewelry loving women in my circles to come over to my house and play. And the entrepreneurial women are more than welcome to bring their business cards for networking.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I should have listened ...

Google slapped me silly.

I've read some great geek blogs I've found since joining Entrecard. And I've even attended a MeetUp meeting of a group of geeks. I learned Google penalized duplicate content (but I OWN the content). When I found out duplicating items from a blog was a huge no-no, I stopped doing what I was doing. But I guess I should have done more.

I belong to various social networks using the Ning platform. These networks are nice because they are topically focused, which helps in marketing because one knows they are reaching a targeted audience. All these networks give members their own profile page which also includes a blog. So I thought "Cool!" and I could duplicate blog posts among my Ning networks and reach a wider audience.

Live and learn. My rank went from a sweet little 3 to a basement bottom N/A. With great sadness I removed my PR rank button from my "Techies" sidebar section.

I contacted Google for advice and surprisingly, they responded within one hour! The responder gave me the suggestion to use the Google Webmaster tools, particularly the "sitemap" and wait. I had already deleted all duplicate content before contacting them.

The sitemap tool is giving me a report of "duplicate title tags" for 20 of my posts. I wonder how penalizing that could be? There is truly nothing new under the sun and with however many million of blogs out there, duplicate titles are going to happen. What does one do when a particular title is already used, but it's perfect for the post?

What a bummer. And to top it off, my nearby Starbucks was out of Kenya coffee so I had to settle for Ethiopia Sidamo. There's nothing better than a nice, hot cup of Kenya java first thing in the morning.

Stumble It!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm so confused!

"A person who is acting out self destructively has no reason to change if they do not ever suffer major consequences for their behavior. If they are rescued from consequences, they are enabled to continue practicing their addiction."

The government needs to spend 6 months in a Tough Love group.

So, if I understand it, all those folks in those white buildings in DC are planning to write a 700 billion dollar check to bail out banks/businesses that made really bad decisions/choices about extending credit causing them to be on the verge of collapse so that they will extend more credit to consumers and businesses. Do I have that right?

If so ... I am so sorry. I'm still confused. Wouldn't it make more sense for the government to directly loan responsible consumers and businesses the money to keep the economy afloat, earn revenue on the interest and let the shipwrecks sink?

Needless to say, I'm no economist and it's been more than enough decades since I sat in a lecture hall for economics and finance that were core requirements for the degree I was working on. But something tells me the same can be said for all those folks in those white buildings in DC.

Well, so I've a feeling I'll be confused for a long, long time.

At least I have my craft. It doesn't confuse me. I love working with rings, weaving them into patterns and links. One of my favorite is this "mobius" weave, based on the never-ending circle.

And no, this is not an attempt at heavy-handed metaphor.

I just love that line the Wilberforce character says to the Pitt the Younger character in Amazing Grace.

Fall is here and it's time to put this handcrafted necklace of blue and brass out for the world to see.

It has earrings too. The stone is a blue onyx. I'd love to know how they dye rock, since it didn't come out of the ground this color. It's an amazing color and I think it's perfect with brassy metals.

I haven't come up with a price yet. I'm taking the advice of all those who responded to my earlier post about pricing. The majority said "raise them!" and that is the same advice I received when I posed the problem to my mastermind group I attend here locally. So we shall see.

But for all my readers, any time you purchase from me, whether on Etsy or directly from me, please give me the code DHBlog and you will receive a 15% discount AND free shipping.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


They came from the sky!
Dogs were jumping out of their skins all weekend long!

One even landed in the field outside our backyard!

Then it proceeded to die!

Big dude trying to help the dying creature.

What it takes to land one of these things!

"Smile! You're on Candid Camera."

Awww ... I think this is a mother and son moment!

My neighbor.
He has a bigger camera than me!
I blurred his face.
He works for one of those government contracted companies.
Top secret sort of stuff.
So I blurred him.
Otherwise we'd have to shoot y'all.

It's kinda cool to live a couple of miles away from a balloon festival!

Stumble It!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Need Your Input, Please!

I posted these earrings in an earlier blog post and received some great comments. I always appreciate my commentators!

Interestingly is that a couple comments mentioned that it's a steal. One even suggested the earrings would sell quicker for me if I raised my price from the listed $8.00.

This is where I need input from my readers. How do you feel about prices of items that interest you? Do you avoid prices you may feel are low? Would you be more interested in buying those earrings if they were priced at $10? $15?? $20???

Because I'm able to buy wholesale, the materials used to make this pair of earrings cost me $1.75. It cost me $.20 to list in my Etsy shop. If and when they sell on Etsy, I'll pay a total of 7% in commissions totalling $.56. That brings my cost of goods sold to $2.51. That's a gross profit of $5.49. The overhead that normally comes into the accounting play is extremely negligible because I work from the home. The percentage of overhead "spent" directly on this small pair of earrings is too tiny to account, but for the sake of argument and a nice round number to work with, let's give it a value of $.49 which also includes self-employment taxes. Profit is now $5.00 which pays for my time spent making the earrings. The earrings took 2 minutes to fashion (I've been doing this for years, speed comes with experience). That would give me the equivalent pay of $150/hour!

Not a bad wage, huh? Yet this well-meaning critique that my prices are too low has come to me from more than one place. "Under pricing" is a frequent topic on the Etsy forums. So now I'm asking you, dear reader, should I raise my prices?

Do you personally want to pay $13 for something when the designer is offering it to you for $8 while still making a comfortable profit margin?

When I started making my own line of jewelry, I had it in mind to have a Mission Statement for my business. I've never put it in writing, so I guess I'll do so now.

The Mission of '57 Design Studio is to provide quality handcrafted jewelry made of quality materials direct to the customer at prices that are friendly to the budget.

However, I would really like my business to succeed so I'm beginning to feel the pressure to raise prices, even in an economy that is on a roller-coaster of confidence. To be honest, I've already increased my prices ... two years ago I would have priced those earrings at $5.00.

As for the necklace, that IS a steal. That pea-pickin' thing took me three hours, but I seriously doubt anybody would pay $528 for a piece that is basically costume jewelry (no semi-precious material was used so I can't classify it as "bridge").

I welcome and appreciate any and all input. If someone would kindly Stumble this post, I'd appreciate that, too, since I'd like to get input from a variety of sources. I'm too "shy" to Stumble my own post!

Oh, and has anybody else been glued to a financial news network these past few days? I think I'm happy to hear of the possibility of mutual funds being insured by the government, especially since the major insurer of securities has defaulted and is in the process of being bailed out only to get sliced up into a gazillion pieces.

No short sells for 30 days, that's interesting too. I was wishing I had some spare change yesterday when the market opened with a huge plunge. Not only did it end on an up note, it opened up and is currently soaring. Time to raise 6 flags over Wall Street!

Stumble It!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Proposed House Bill 568 of the 127th General Assembly of the State of Ohio:

Sec. 955.111. (A) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, no person shall own, keep, or harbor a dog that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog.

(B) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, a person who owns, keeps, or harbors a pit bull dog on the effective date of this section shall surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.

(C)(1) Beginning ninety days after the effective date of this section, if an officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog, the officer may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a search warrant. The court shall issue a search warrant for the purposes requested if there is probable cause to believe that a dog is a pit bull dog.

(2) After obtaining a search warrant, an officer shall seize the pit bull dog and surrender the dog to the dog warden. Not later than ten days after receiving the dog, the dog warden shall euthanize the dog.

(D) As used in this section, "officer" has the same meaning as in section 959.132 of the Revised Code.

Please ... no. Even if this doesn't pass, I am thankful I DO NOT live in Ohio, but I fear that Ohio's actions will set a precedent for other states to follow.

This is not a vicious dog. He's a much loved family pet. I contend he has a right to life as any living thing.

I know pit bulls have attacked and killed. I know some of the victims have been children. The fault lays in the human animal, not the canine. Any dog, ANY dog of any breed, that turns vicious should be humanely euthanized. Any human owner must accept responsibility for the actions of his/her pet and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If the law of the community and/or state doesn't have sharp enough teeth to punish the human, change it.

But to irrationally mandate the wholesale slaughter of pets because of the chance of their genetics is cruel and inhuman.

I've poked around the worldwide web on this subject. I read a portion of a forum of concerned parents who want to enact all sorts of Breed Specific Legislation against Pit Bulls because they believe they endanger children. But take a look at some real statistics.

What is the leading cause of death of children in America? Car accidents. So if you're advocating the slaughter of family pets, then ban the automobile. It's only logical.

I better stop now before I break my keyboard. I'm POUNDING here.

Stumble It!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to Business

I need to remember why I'm doing this blog!

Handcrafted jewelry! Yeah, that's what this is all about. These earrings are made out of simple cream-colored "river rock" and brass-colored pewter. River Rock is what the supplier called the stone beads and it works for me. The price works for me too. These earrings will be listed on Etsy for $8. The ear wires are 14k gold-filled. I only use gold-filled or sterling for ear wires because, personally, my ears are bothered by plated and base metals. Because gold-fill has an actual layer of gold around the base, my ears have not had an allergic reaction. If anyone is concerned as to whether gold-fill will react in their sensitive ears, I'm always willing to send them an ear wire to test. I can also switch to solid gold ear wires at cost, which last time I checked was around $9 for one pair of 14k gold french wires.

This handcrafted necklace is all done! I wrote about it here a while back. Loading the rings with the cream-colored glass bugle beads and brass-colored daisy spacers was a time-consuming chore, but I like how it turned out. I've already taken this to some of my local networking meetings where it has attracted a LOT of attention. And the listing price is only $28 so that should attract a LOT of attention, too.

While fall and winter is coming upon us, I love offering what I call "the winter whites." Cream-colored stones and beads paired with gold or brassy metals exudes warmth and works with a lot of business attire for women. This necklace would look great with tweed tailored jackets in camel, cream, even some reds and blues. It's long enough to be doubled for a choker, or worn long to lengthen the torso, depending upon what the wearer's body type requires to look its best.

Here's the detail shot of the double beaded rings. Since most of my photos are prepared for listing on Etsy, they are rather large files. Blogger scales them down for posting on the blog page, but the photos are clickable if you'd like to see a nice, large version.

Sometimes I think the photos show too much detail! I often see flaws after taking the digital photos and detailing them in Photoshop ... flaws I don't catch when either working on the piece, or displaying them. I guess the digital camera sees more than our eyes do. One can let anything slip by. I've taken many a piece back to the design table to be reworked. There's another necklace that goes with this part of my line that had a design flaw I didn't catch until the photos were taken. It may not even be a true "flaw" because the necklace looks fine in person. But exposed to digital scrutiny, it doesn't look right and therefore it wouldn't likely sell.

Handcrafted jewelry! Yeah, those are the keywords. Eat 'em up spider 'bots.

Stumble It!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"This Town Needs an Enema!"

[Rant mode on]
After dropping off dear daughter at her middle school this morning, I headed home my usual route which takes me to the street on the backside of the school. This street has a driveway leading to the school, one used by the parents of 6th graders to drop them off at their special entrance.

Smack-dab in the middle of the entry to the driveway was someone's pet kitty cat, dead, run over. Not only run over, but flattened like a pancake. The only way a critter gets that flat upon being struck is if multiple people ran over the poor thing.

What on earth is WRONG with some people! I realize that accidents happen, I've had critter-related accidents myself although fortunately never involving someone's beloved pet. But even if this started as an accident, it appears to have ended in something more intentionally cruel.

Is it some sort of sadistic pleasure that people get from running over creatures? Is it a matter that they're not paying attention to the road?? Do people just not CARE about anything anymore? Imagine how upsetting the view has to be for some of the kids getting dropped off at school. I'm grateful my critter-loving daughter gets dropped off at the front entrance. Her day would have been spoiled by seeing the carnage.

The real scary thought is that those who've chosen to flatten the poor creature have reproduced.
[rant mode off]

Okay, that's off my chest. This morning serves to remind me why I don't let my cats explore the great outdoors.

On a much lighter note, I'll leave y'all with Roady on my neighbor's Jeep getting ready for some suburban surfing:

Stumble It!