Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Yes, it is. But not too cold to hoop!  I took a clue from the weather when deciding on music to hoop to for Hoopcity's Flow Challenge December 2011. I'd begun the challenge hooping to Enigma's "Sadeness," which I absolutely love, but somehow I wasn't feelin' it, so I called on Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and they didn't disappoint.

The challenge was sustained spinning, meaning your body spins the whole time. It's harder than it looks.. the body tends to react in a very dizzy way! So I'm a bit stumbly, but I swear I haven't been hitting the eggnog early!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Budget Bytes: (not) refried beans $2.75 recipe / $0.31 serving

Budget Bytes: (not) refried beans $2.75 recipe / $0.31 serving: Have you ever had refried beans that were so good that you wanted to just eat them plain out of a bowl? If you've been getting them out of ...

I made these Not Refried Beans today. I am so pleased with the results that I wanted to share with you here!

I followed the directions exactly, using the full amount of jalapeno and chili powder, and it wasn't at all too spicy. I was way too impatient to smoosh the beans by hand-- and holy cow, a two-pound bag of dried beans makes a LOT of beans-- so I used a food processor to make them all nice and creamy.

We put them on flour tortillas to make burritos. I added cheese and hot sauce to the burritos. They were absolutely delish, and the kids loved them too. Afterwards, my daughter had another bowl of just the beans with shredded cheese sprinkled on!

I mentioned that this recipe makes a ginormous amount of beans.. I have some in the fridge for the next day or two, and more in the freezer. I'm told that you can freeze them in burrito form for convenient microwavable burritos. Like the ones at the store, except yummy and unprocessed.

The whole Budget Bytes blog is amazing.. I have also made pumpkin smoothies and hummus from recipes on that blog. I love how they cost everything out, and the step by step pictures are really nice too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Google Voice

I've just started using Google Voice, and so far I am really liking it. Here is my quick 'n dirty overview:
  • You get to pick from a list of phone numbers
  • You can use your existing cell phone number
  • Very easy to set everything up from the Google Voice website
  • Your one number can be used with multiple phones-- so theoretically this could be your phone number forever and ever regardless of how many times you get a new phone or new carrier
  • You can call and text from the site or from your phone
  • You can set up groups that get unique greetings
  • Excellent call screening that can be turned off or on, or can be customized depending on what "group" the person calling is in
  • You can add a call widget to your website, so that when people click it, google voice will call you and then call the person. They never see your number. 
I am one of the last people in the world without a cell phone (well, in a first world country, anyway), so the most awesome thing for me is that I can text from the website. People are always saying, "text me" and I have to go into the whole "I don't have a cell phone" thing. Now I can send and receive texts. Yay! Also, if I ever do get a cell phone, I can continue to use google voice, simply adding the new phone, and my phone number will not change. Win!

Good reading about Google Voice:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weddings Should Be HAPPY

I really hate the trend lately where women think it's okay to act like a total butthole about their wedding. It doesn't  make you look cool or chic-- but rather shows bad character. Nobody is amused.

To ensure that I would not be a stressed-out, miserable, angry mess of a bride, I came up with a very simple plan. What I wanted to accomplish (WHY I wanted a wedding), things I needed, and things I'd like to have. 

 Here is why I wanted a wedding:
  • To celebrate the decision to spend my whole life with the one I love
  • To share this celebration with those closest to us
These are the things I needed:
  •  A venue
  • A preacher
  • A wedding dress that looked great on me
  • A suit for hubby
These are the things that I wanted:
  • A sit-down meal as a reception
  • A cake
  • Small gifts for each guest
  • Photographer
  • A bouquet
  • Pretty decor
I found a package at a wonderful bed and breakfast just outside of Helen, GA that offered a preacher, cake, flowers, sit-down lunch, and gorgeous scenery, well within my budget. (Plus an extra night's stay for honeymooning in Alpine Helen!) All we had to do was show up.  Photographer was out of my budget, but there were 3 digital cameras among our guests, so we did get some very nice pictures.

I made lovely gifts for the guests (our immediate family). I put caladium bulbs and sparkly white confetti in wine glasses, covered in tulle, and tied with curled ribbon.

I did not even ASK what the color scheme was, what the flowers looked like, or what the cake looked like. Had never seen that stuff until I arrived an hour before the ceremony-- and it was all beautiful. The cake was small, fitting for our party of 10, and elegant, with real flowers picked from the venue's property on it. This was also where my bouquet came from, and it was gorgeous.

I could go on and on... But mostly I will say that we had a fantastic time. Probably my favorite day EVER. The ceremony was brief, but meaningful-- we weren't worried about anything, just focused on one another. The casual lunch afterwards with my family and his was so special and so fun. There was so much love and happiness.It was a day I will remember forever with a big smile and a warm heart.

What a shame it would have been if I had pitched a fit because the flowers were dark purple instead of light purple, or not had my precious little nephews there because they might make a noise-- and hurt my sister in law in the process. If I had spent that day being stressed out because some tiny thing wasn't exactly as I planned it, or being angry because of something utterly unimportant.

Television is glorifying really ugly behavior from brides. So impress upon your daughters, your grandchildren, your nieces the importance of good character. Teach them to be beautiful, happy, compassionate, graceful, and grateful brides.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheap summer fun with the kids: Coffee shop patio

This one's not completely free, but it doesn't break the bank, and it's one of my absolute favorite family activities. 

Jaaxx and I gather up the two kids and head to the bookstore or library, pick out something brand-new to read (or sometimes we're already reading on something) and hit the local coffee shop. We choose a nice spot on the patio, and the kids and I settle in with our reading materials while Jaaxx orders coffee for the grownups and hot chocolate for the kiddos.

Going to the coffee shop may not sound thrilling, but we always have such a good time. There's the change of scenery, people watching, and warm sunshine. There is the little rush that we all get from just having picked out a brand new book or magazine to dig into. There's the sharing and conversation between the whole family that always ends up happening. One of us will read something interesting and share, or one of the kids will have a question about something they read, or something interesting will happen around us.

A free variation on this would be to take a big thermos of beverage, some cups, and reading materials from the library to a public space like a park or court yard. In fact, our library itself has benches outside that would do the trick.

For more cheap summer fun, see my earlier post: Mom, I'm Bored: Free Summer Entertainment

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pinterest: I can't get enough!

I'd been hearing rumors for a while in the crafting community about a site called Pinterest where you have your own virtual "cork board" on which to "pin" up pictures of things you like or found interesting. I think I attempted to check it out once before, but was turned off by the fact that you have to request an invite and be put on a waiting list.

Last night, I bit the bullet and signed up for an invite. I immediately received an email informing me that I was on a waiting list, and BTW, you might want to explore a few "pinboards." Ho-o-leeee cow. I clicked on the link to pinboards, and it was all over for me for hours! And I'm not even a member yet!

DIY has it's own category. The place is a mecca of how-to's and tutorials. I was 100% mesmerized. At 2am, I made my own pore strips. I bookmarked pages to show me how to make cute Halloween costumes for the kids, how to make all-natural pesticides for the garden, how to make scratch-off tickets, how to make a skirt from a men's button-down shirt. My mind was racing with all the awesome things that I want to do, and OMG, as soon as possible!

Bottom line: Check out Pinterest. Just do it. It makes you manic.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mom, I'm BORED: Free summer entertainment!

The kids are on summer break, and if I hear "I'm bored" one more time I might hang them by their toes. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of the fun activities that we've enjoyed on the cheap.

Seriously, though, I do want them to have a fun summer. Of course, they want to go to Six Flags and Disney World, and though I am grateful for what we have, we do not have the disposable income for a Disney trip for four!

Fortunately, fun can be found close to home, at no cost to me!

Today's outing was to the Silver Comet Trail. It's a paved trail that goes from Georgia all the way to Alabama, used for walking, biking, roller blading, dog walking.. pretty much any non-motorized stuff. There is a parking lot and trail entrance just a few minutes from my house. It has one of those fun fountains for kids to play in, the kind where the water shoots up from brick pavement, and a small park area with benches and shade from a big oak tree.

With a high temperature of 96, it wasn't a good day for walking the trail. The fountain, on the other hand... how refreshing and cool! I sliced up a watermelon, put it in a big bowl, and took that, two hula hoops, Eli's contact juggling ball, and off we went.

After devouring the watermelon, we cooled off in the fountain.

The plan after that was for Sid and I to hula hoop, while Eli practiced his contact juggling, with all of us periodically running through the fountain to stay cool. As kids will do, they deviated from the plan, which was perfectly okay.
Sid had no interest in hula hooping, choosing instead to keep running through the fountain. E juggled for only a short time before he discovered the climbability of the big oak tree. I hula hooped, while E watched Sid and I from a bird's eye view.

Exercise, fresh air, and mom & kids time. I am pleased.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My 4th of July isn't so stellar/ Now updated with HAPPY!

Please excuse me while I make a brief but whiny blog entry. It is July 4th. This is what our weather is doing:

 The darkness is not my poor photography. It is storming. It has two hours to stop so that I can go enjoy some fireworks. Or else!

We went to see some fireworks last night, but left when it started storming. Evidently, it stopped storming 5 minutes later and the show went on-- without us. I've got 2 kids who want fireworks, and here it is storming again. We're going, come hell or high water, and we're staying until either A) we see fireworks, or B) There is zero chance of any fireworks happening under any circumstances.

If that weren't enough, my back went out. It rarely happens to me, but today it has been so bad that it has been almost impossible to think of anything else. The entire day has been spent attempting to alleviate the pain. I am now ignoring it, denying it, and willing it to go away. 

My heart goes out to people who have chronic back pain and have to live with this crap every day.

I'm going to feel like a giant sissy Mary when I read this next week and see how I'm whining like a child because I might not get to see fireworks. 

Several hours later:

 We saw fireworks! There was a light rain, and for a minute we watched from the car. I didn't like it. Felt like watching on TV. 

So we got out. And it was amazing. The boom, the smell of sulfur, the eerie surreal scene, and of course the sparkling puffs of light, the stars of the show. At one point there was a giant firework with a big bolt of lightning through it! The air was heavy and dark, the festivities soaked and dripping. It was really cool.
No pictures, because of the whole rain thing. Pictures don't do fireworks justice anyway. 

I haz a happy now!

Friday, July 1, 2011

With summertime comes... toe rings!

After almost a month of not creating any new designs, I decided that it was high time to come up with something to excite me-- and hopefully my potential customers as well. I sat down with my tools and my wire and proceeded to have that certain look that always makes my husband say, "What on earth are you doing? Often, a new idea just comes to me, and I eagerly get to work, twisting, cutting, and bending, until the idea is a reality. Other times, like the one I am speaking of currently, I sit down and tell myself I am going to come up with an idea, right now.That is when the desperate, concerned, somewhat psycho "look" can be seen.

This time, while racking my brain to come up with what people might want, I looked down at my sandal-clad feet, and I realized what I want. A light, feminine, shiny toe ring! I'm in sandals nearly every day in the summer, and I know that I'm not the only one. (Though I may be the only one who adds socks when it gets chilly, rather than giving up the comfort of sandals for something more weather-appropriate!)

So that is just what I did. Now, toe rings are a bit limited due to the nature of the toe.

Don't get me wrong, there are many possibilities, and I intend to explore the heck out of them, but you can't just take any round ring and put it on the toe. It needs to be a style that is slightly adjustable to allow for the area where the ring sits to be thinner than the end of the toe that the ring must first pass over. Yet it cannot be the type of adjustable ring that has two bands right up against each other, or you risk being pinched when weight is put on the toe.

Given the elements that are absolutely necessary in a toe ring, I went with a style that I have seen many times, and concentrated on how I could make mine better. I blunted the ends of the wires to avoid poking of the skin. I curled the wire slowly and carefully so that it the curves are smooth and flowing, rather than rough and primitive, all the while being careful not to leave any unsightly marks on the silver with my metal tools. Ever mindful of functionality, I made the design so that the curl in the wire that is nearest to the end of the toe curls downward, toward the foot, to avoid snagging. Finally, I tumbled it for a few hours to harden the silver a bit, helping the ring to hold its shape while still retaining some flexibility so that it can mold properly to the wearer's toe.

I've been wearing it for 4 days now, and I am pleased with it. I even had to paint my toenails. They looked so plain next to my lovely ring. I've always admired toe rings on others, but never had one that was comfortable enough to wear on a regular basis. This one is going to be a permanent fixture for me this summer!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 3

Your Favorite Show

This was a little bit tough because there are a few shows that I really like for various reasons, but the one show I make sure not to miss is House. I love the humor in it, especially the exchanges between the main character, Dr. House, and his best friend, Wilson. The witty humor, as well as the drama, keeps me coming back for more every week and waiting impatiently in-between seasons.

Painting by Ben Meiri from Ben's Craft. Click the picture to see this painting in Ben's shop on Etsy!

If you would like to participate in the 31 day Photo & Prompt Challenge, go here for the scoop!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Slip of the Tongue

I made a collection on Artfire that I think is a lot of fun, enough so that I would like to share it with my blog friends!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aluminum Jewelry

I've discovered a new medium, and I'm in love! Aluminum. It's bright, it's shiny, it's  inexpensive, and best of all, I love the feel of it in my hands. Seriously, I'm one who has quite the thing for touching things, and working with aluminum wire is absolutely blissful.

My first creation in aluminum is a bracelet and ring set. Because I haven't had experience with how aluminum behaves as jewelry, I've been wearing the set-- and getting lots of compliments.
The bracelet is wonderful. I made each link individually, with a feminine spiral on each end, linking them together with jump rings. The great thing about this bracelet is that it is almost weightless. It is so light that I forget I'm wearing it. This is ideal for me, as watches and heavier bracelets never fail to have me tugging and adjusting them all day.

The ring, while beautiful, and a perfect compliment to the bracelet, does have a drawback. It is soft. Aluminum is a soft, soft, metal, and it doesn't take much of a snag to bend the ring out of shape. I have been wearing it for 2 days so far, removing it at night, and it still looks great. However, there have been several times already when I've had to gently put it back into shape. One such time was when I was filing paperwork, reaching my hand between tightly shelved manilla file folders. With a different style of ring, a bit more substantial and compact, this would be a non-issue, but this particular one can lose its shape pretty easily. I'm okay with it, but would certainly need to make that drawback very clear when offering this style of ring to anyone else.

Lastly, I made a butterfly pendant from aluminum. Again, this material just feels like butter in my fingers. I adore working with it. I haven't taken the pendant on a test run, but the only drawback I foresee is that it will not stand up to abuse, such as Baby tugging on it, as babies will do if they get the opportunity. The light weight will be a nice perk.

I look forward to working more with aluminum. At the moment, I can't seem to put it down!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Poke Salad, Yummy, Yummy

With springtime, all kinds of plants are coming up! Some that were planted deliberately, and of course, those weeds that spring up all on their own. One of the weeds indigenous to my area is poke salad. (Sometimes known as polk salad or poke salit)
A larger plant. Much smaller ones are used for eating.

I've always heard that it was edible, but dangerous if not cooked correctly. I've also always wanted to try it myself, but been a bit nervous about the whole poison thing. My grandparents thought nothing of it-- and their parents, with 13 kids, very little food, and eating whatever they could grow or kill, were no doubt thrilled to have it!  Today, I researched on the internet, became brave, went out and harvested poke weed, and cooked it up!
After the first boil. I boiled them twice.
Butter, salt, pepper, garlic, onions, jalapeno peppers

Topped with cheese & ready to eat!

It turned out yummy! Tasted very much like asparagus casserole. Even the kids loved it! I bet it would be good with rice in it as well.

If you should choose to try this, research first because doing it wrong can be toxic. You should only use new plants that snap easily when you bend the stem, no red stems or older mature leaves. I only used very young plants.

I'm so glad I finally did this. Not only was it tasty, it felt good to pick something right from the yard and eat it. And it was free!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Photo & Prompt Challenge: Day 2

            The person (or people) that make your world go around

These are the ones that make my world go around. Hubby and the kids. I would go crazy without them, I'm sure of it. 

This picture was taken at the very end of our incredible camping trip to Cumberland Island. It was a magical place to be, and we all enjoyed the time we spent together there talking and laughing and playing together.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

31 Day Photo & Prompt Challenge-- Day 1

A photo of yourself with 10 facts

1. I want to spend more time with my children, just playing and having fun.

2. When I am out in public meeting hubby somewhere, and I am there first, I still feel giddy when he walks into the room.

3. I kept my head shaved for a couple of years-- on purpose.

4. I like to touch things. In the store I touch anything that looks soft or like it may have an interesting feel, and I notice that Sid (my daughter) does this as well.

5. When I was a teenager, I had a whole room full of reptiles.. several snakes, lizards, iguanas, and a tarantula.

6. I have a forearm fetish, and coincidentally my man has the most incredible forearms ever.

7. I have never flown in a plane, just haven't had the opportunity.

8. When I hear a newborn baby cry, my breasts hurt and throb.

9. I know all the words to the entire “Sound of Music” soundtrack because my cousins and I used to dance and sing to the 8-track.

10. I love to go camping.

If you would like to participate in the 31 day Photo & Prompt Challenge, go here for the scoop!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Twitter: Are you doing it wrong?

Twitter. We've all heard of it. Many of us have tried it. Many of us are doing it wrong.

Eager to promote my new shop, I set up a Twitter account. I'd read that I should tweet my listings on a regular basis, so I started tweeting like a madman. I looked at forum posts in crafting communities, and happily followed every Twitter account listed. (Oooh, more people to see my listings!) At first, I was excited because I appeared to be getting views. Until I

realized that the 15 views in 10 seconds were indeed bots.

It did not take long before I became very discouraged with Twitter. Everyone I was following was doing the same obnoxious thing that I was doing! It was like deliberately logging on to a spam-a-thon! My news feed filled up rapidly with everybody's new listings, everybody's friends' new listings, website after website trying to sell me things. Like a crowded room with everyone in it shouting "Buy my carp!" This was not a place I wanted to be. In fact, I wanted to
run from it, screaming.

Then, of all things, I read an Etsy newsletter. There was a link to a really wonderful forum post by Chrisof Copper Leaf Studios. I read the post and it was as if I'd seen the light.

She suggested that we use Twitter in a social way, to make friends and have conversations. No spamming. Nobody likes spam. So I re-visited my Twitter account and removed all of the well-meaning but spammy accounts that I was following. Then I set to making my own tweets right. I posted about my cat, I posted interesting articles. I posted funny things. I added people that were not crafters, as well as some crafters who kept link-posting to a minimum and also posted interesting things from their own lives. I added other moms. I replied to posts about cool recipes.. Occasionally I do post about my work, but not repeatedly all day and not in a spammy way. Anybody who gets to know me can easily check out my website, and they probably will, if they think I am interesting. They will want to know "What is HonkusGrogana?" I'm meeting new and interesting people and sometimes, checking out their websites. And best of all, I am enjoying my Twitter account.

Check out Chris' post about Tweeting HERE.
You'll be glad that you did. I've just barely touched on what she says, and she says it much better than I. I hope you will be inspired by her post, as I was.

And if you want to give her method a try, I'd sure love to have a new Twitter friend. ME

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New (to me) Nightie, Thrift Store Style

Since my post a few weeks ago where I vowed to shake off the frumpies and glam it up a bit in my every day life, I've had my eye out for a decent nightie.

For many years, my typical sleepwear has been a big, old, faded, raggedy, and sometimes even holey tee-shirt. (sexy, huh?) It is the polar opposite of what Movie Star Me would wear.

I've got a few super-slinky things that I might wear to bed now and again, when the children are not home. Those are fun, and hubby enjoys them, but they aren't so conducive to an evening at home with the family, or running around making breakfast and getting kids ready for school.

I was looking for something comfortable, cute, and fun. Maybe a cute cut, long enough and thick enough to cover myself should I choose to run to the mailbox, and short enough that I'm not drowning in it at night. I didn't want a cutesy cartoon character on it, and no loud, bright prints.

I found just what I was looking for at the Last Chance Thrift Store. It's pale blue with blue-gray polka dots. (Polka dots are fun!) It hangs mid-calf, and has a slightly gathered seam at the bust where the long part attaches to the top. The fabric is a light terry cloth. Some of my sewing friends could no doubt describe the cut more clearly and accurately than I just did, but hey, I'm no seamstress. I'm just happy to have found something to wear to bed!

Oh-- Hubby is not impressed. He says it looks like a hospital gown in the picture (which he was kind enough to take for me) and a "granny gown"  in person.  Maybe I will keep looking, but for now, I'm loving this one and it stays. Surely it's an improvement over the holey tee-shirts!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Horsin' Around

Here in Georgia, springtime has arrived in full force! HonkusGrogana and crew decided to spend a beautiful Sunday at the parents' house, outside in the sunny pasture, playing with the horses. I thought I'd share a few pictures with you.

My daddy is giving 5-year old Sarah (a family friend) a few words of instruction.

Sidney is in love with her new horse, Choopachee.

Hubby and I with Becky.

Eli is flying by on Kate

                Mom and the kiddos. We got Eli's hair cut when we left there!

All of this horse time inspired me to make a new piece of jewelry, a horse pendant sculpted from wire. I am going to make one to give to my beautiful model, Sid, below. She obviously has seen it and even tried it on, but she doesn't know that she is going to get one of her very own for her upcoming birthday!
Click to see horse pendant in my shop!

I'm so thrilled with the changing of the season, and looking forward to all of the inspiration that springtime brings. Can't wait to spend many more beautiful weekends enjoying the outdoors with my family and friends!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What would Glamorous-Film-Star-Me look like?

We've all heard it said that we feel better when we *look* our best. I've been trying something new for the last 5 days or so that makes me believe that what they say is true. I was inspired to try on a new attitude by something I read in a blog post, and the results so far are so positive that I wanted to share.

I have been guilty many, many times of sleeping just as late as possible, throwing on some clothes-- whatever is clean and not *too* wrinkly, brushing teeth and hair and running out the door for work, or for whatever I am doing that day. I'm not smelly and dirty, but I'm sure not turning any heads.
I have been experimenting with a whole new way of thinking. Whatever my activity for the day is, be it going to work, going shopping, staying home and cleaning house, going to a function at the kids' school, I ask myself one question. What would Movie Star Me look like when doing this? What would she wear? How would she carry herself? What would her hair and makeup look like? Would Audrey Hepburn run off to work half-asleep with wrinkly slacks, no makeup, no jewelry, and frizzy hair? She wouldn't dream of it. Would Film Star Me be cooking dinner for the family in paint-splattered sweatpants 2 sizes too big and a holey t-shirt? Nope, she's way too classy for that.

Since I have been masquerading as Film Star Me, my mood is better and my confidence is better. And this is the amazing part: Even though I am getting up on time instead of sleeping in until last minute, I have more energy. I am coming home from work and getting things done instead of napping in my chair. I am eating better, more healthy. (Would FSM really gobble up a whole bag of potato chips?!) The whole thing is quite refreshing.

I've been doing the same for my 11 year old daughter, Sid. Instead of doing the minimum to get her off to school, I've been fixing her hair in fun and funky ways, making sure she has fun matching jewelry and hair accessories to wear with her school uniform, helping her to look her best. I really feel that it is affecting her in a positive way, too. How can you feel bad when you look like a million dollars?

Only time will tell if I keep up this new outlook or if I will go back to doing the bare minimum necessary in order to be clothed and presentable. I hope I do keep at it, though.

It's almost my bedtime as I write this. Some new sleepwear is in order... Film Star Me feels a bit grungy in an oversized men's t-shirt.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Honkus Grogana featured in a blog!

Yay! I am excited, humbled, and grateful. Lauren at Orange Raspberry Lemonade featured some of my handmade jewelry in her blog!

I invite you to check it out, and show Orange Raspberry Lemonade some love. Lots of good reading there. I was thrilled to find an article about menstrual cups. I feel that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and can't believe more women don't know about them!

Hairstyles-- a different kind of art

I practiced a different kind of art today! I woke up bright & early, grabbed the brush and the hair do-ees, & informed my daughter, Sid, that she was getting an extra-special hairstyle today. And after that, a special hairdo for myself!

I came upon a really fun blog called Babes in Hairland,  all about cute and different styles for little girls' hair! Here I found the bobby pin secret, as well as inspiration to fix up Sid's hair. Lots of good, quick videos there to show you how to do it.
I ended up with an updo with no back combing, and I have to say it looked fantastic. I got compliments all day. A nice side benefit was that with this classy hairdo, I was compelled to spend some time putting on makeup and accessories. I looked my best, and consequently felt good about life in general.

Sid ended up with THIS look. She was excited to go to school with her new do, and she said she got lots of compliments, too! Two very cool side benefits here: a) It still looked nice when she got home from school, which, if you knew Sid, you'd know is nothing short of a miracle. b) We both really enjoyed the time spent together doing the styling in the morning. It was nice to be close and talk in the morning rather than rushing around to get out the door on time.

I get an F because I didn't take pictures of either one of us. Tomorrow, I will attempt to do it again, or maybe something different, and at least get a picture of Sid, if not me.


 This picture was taken the day after I posted this blog.. not exactly the same style as yesterday. I forgot to "pull through" the little ponytails and I pulled the one in the back through the wrong way. My brain doesn't function so well at 6am. I do still like how it turned out, though.

In case you were wondering: The bobby pin secret, complete with pictures and videos. I can vouch for it's greatness. My updo stayed firmly up all day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes We Need that Push

I was just reminded how wonderful my customers are. They have faith in my talent even when I am unsure myself, and they never fail to push me to do more and more.

I opened my shop with nothing but rings and wire name pendants. Friends would ask, "Do you do necklaces? Bracelets?" And I would say, "Not right now, but maybe in the future I'll branch out into more types of jewelry." The fact is, I am comfortable making rings and wire name pendants. I've done it a bazillion times, and I'm confident that I can design and execute a beautiful ring without any difficulty. Necklace, bracelet, earrings? The same techniques are used for making those, wire wrapping, but because I haven't made many, I am afraid to try! What if it doesn't turn out right? What if people don't buy it? So-and-so makes gorgeous earrings. What if mine aren't as good?

Twice now my customers have given me the push I needed to take a chance and make something I hadn't made before. The first time was just before Valentine's Day. A sweet husband was buying his wife a ring that she had admired when she saw me wearing it. He asked me if I could please make her a set of earrings to match. How am I going to say no to a sweet husband and additional sale? I said yes, I made matching earrings, and they were beautiful. She called to let me know how much she likes the whole set and it just made me warm and fuzzy all over!

The second incident was just a couple of days ago. An artist at Etsy featured my swan ring in her treasury, and another artist saw it and loved the design, but doesn't wear rings. She sent me a message asking if I could make a bracelet in the same design. I was thrilled, and I was terrified! The bracelet would be made in exactly the same way the ring is made, just bigger, which means a lot more sterling silver. This scared me... what if I messed up and trashed more than 2 feet of sterling silver wire?! I swear I must have held my breath as I carefully crafted that bracelet... and it turned out absolutely lovely. A perfect replica of the little ring, but bracelet-sized.

I'm so grateful for these people who make me live up to my full potential. The tendency to limit myself seems to be strong sometimes, and I feel the limits lifted every time I complete a new challenge. I expect that my confidence will continue to grow and my shop will continue to evolve as I sell more and more pieces. And I know that there will always be those wonderful people that will ask me to make something that I had never dreamed of making, and that is what makes jewelry making even more exciting, fun, and challenging.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giving Up the Cell Phone

Everyone has a cell phone, right? If you had asked me a year ago for a list of 3 things I'd never leave the house without, one of those things would have been my cell phone. (Along with keys and lipstick.) In November 2010, my husband and I decided to give up our cell phones. I would love to say we were trying to live a more simplistic lifestyle, cutting out some of the electronic noise that surrounds us all every day, but our reason was a bit less noble. It was one month before Christmas, and we needed to cut the monthly budget. Of course, this was a temporary thing. We'd get them turned back on after Christmas, for sure!

The actual act of having them disconnected was easy. We had service through Metro PCS, where everything is pre-paid, month-to-month with no contract. If you don't want service, don't pay for the next month.  The mental adjustment, however, took some getting used to. I found myself reaching for my phone constantly. Even when I had a landline phone easily available, the immediate reaction was to reach for the cell. I found myself running late for work, or late coming home from work, and in a panic because I couldn't call to let anyone know. It was second nature to call hubby and say, "Hey, I'm at the store, taking a lot longer than I thought, don't worry about me!"

Click the photo to see this item @ Gifts2Give on Artfire

When I'm at work, I'm within arm's reach of a telephone at all times. At home, we found a wonderful solution that is enormously cheaper than a cell phone or a traditional landline. We use Skype, which works through the internet, and costs us a whopping $20 for an entire year of service, both incoming and outgoing calls, and no charge for long distance. Skype can be used by attaching a headset with a microphone to your computer, but we did splurge and get Skype handsets, since this would be our primary means of communication.  We were fortunate enough, though, to find them on sale at Wal-mart.

The biggest adjustment for me was that I had to plan a little better. If I think I am going to be late for work, I call my co-worker from the home phone and let her know that there is a chance I may be late. If I am not coming directly home from work, I decide ahead of time where I am going and approximately how long I will be there, and call hubby from the phone at work to let him know so that he doesn't worry. If I leave the house when the family isn't home, I leave a note-- yes, a note on paper!-- to let them know where I am and when I expect to be home. It is inconvenient that I can't call hubby at the store when I suddenly realize that we need milk, and it's not so great when I am driving somewhere that I have never been before and I get lost. Other than on those rare occasions, I don't even miss it.

I still keep my cell phone around because it has that nifty phone book full of all my contacts, but it's not in service. It also serves as my daily alarm clock. An important thing to remember is that Skype does not have 911 service, so if you should choose to ditch the cell phone service, do keep a charged cell phone around, just in case. Even with no service, a charged cell phone will be able to complete a call to 911.By using it as an alarm clock, it ensures that I do keep it charged and handy. Safety first, you know.

What started out as a temporary act of frugality has become a normal way of life. We could turn our cell phones back on. As it turns out, we're fine without them! It is fun to see the look of surprise on the faces of our friends when we explain that we will meet them at the restaurant, but that they should come on in and look for us in the dining room, because we won't be calling them when we get there. They cannot fathom how we get through life without cell phones! We just smile. We're doing okay.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Buckling Down

Holy time warp, Batman! It feels like it was just Monday! I had made it a goal to blog 3 times per week; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Turns out I didn't do so well this week with that endeavor. It's funny, I was just about to write here about what I have been doing, when the phone rang and totally reinforced my game plan. It felt a little like a blow to the stomach, but I needed it.

It was a nice gentleman who is a client at the law firm where I work. His wife had come in to drop off some paperwork for him, and she saw the sterling silver green agate ring that I was wearing and really liked it. I told her that I made it, and she asked if I also sold the jewelry that I make. I told her about my Artfire shop, and explained that I could make her a ring very similar to the one I was wearing. (She needed a larger size than that particular one.) So her husband called a few days later and asked me to email him a link to my website. He just called back to ask me to make her a ring and earrings from sterling silver and green agate, but he also said this: " I checked out your shop, and it was really nice. I had expected to see more in there, but the things you have are beautiful." I thanked him and told him that it's a new project for me, and that I am adding new things every day, still a work in progress.

Which brings me to what I have been up to while I have been neglecting my blog: Making new jewelry! That has been my game plan for the week, and I have made quite a few new things. I still need to get more, more, more items in my shop! I need to photograph and list the ones that I have already made. Sometimes I get caught up reading and learning about how to market my stuff, SEO, and what's going on in the Artfire and Etsy communities, and I feel like I am doing something productive. But the truth is, while learning is nice, and while promoting is important, my shop will not be successful until I get a nice respectable amount of items there. No way around it.

This weekend and all of next week, create and list, create and list. I can dig it. But hopefully no neglecting my blog this time. Please feel free to chastise me here if I do not make some sort of interesting contribution here by Tuesday next week!

Honkus G.