Monday, August 31, 2015

The Missing Post and Hooray for September

I had a post, but I guess I'm still not used to Windows 10 and it didn't save and it disappeared.  (Having a similar problem with WORD, but *may* have worked that out... won't know for a week or two.)

So that's today's story.  My apologies.

No end of the month wisdom other than... doesn't it always feel like a fresh start when a new month is around the corner?  It's like you can do New Year's resolutions all over again.

What exciting plans do you have for September?

I want to finish the organizing that I started in August (it's going well).  I want to play with more gold-fill (that's going well as well).  I want to (well, I don't WANT to, but I want to get it done) paint the outside staircase and side of the house.

And instead of the original missing post today, we'll just have some cuteness... cats and boxes...




And planters...

 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Best Underwear and The Best Tupperware (or plastic food containers)

Okay, I know calling it Tupperware is like saying hand me a Kleenex.

What shall I call it?  The best plastic kitchen storage.

And it totally is.  Here's the product.  Little Big Box by Popit!

Not really sure about the logic of 1 set costing $24.99 and 2 sets coasting $99.99...


But that weirdness aside, this is hands-down the best food container system ever.  I originally bought them because my mom seemed to be having trouble closing (or opening?) other food containers we had and I can't abide things not being closed (don't get me started on how many meals spilled on me, in the fridge, on the floor... ugh!).  These lids have super easy snapping closure.

And as I found out afterwards they are extremely air-tight.  I put oil and vinegar in one, close it up, and shake it like mad (to get salad dressing to mix properly).  Not a single drop spills or leaks.

My friend uses them when she goes on river scrambles (hiking and floating in rivers).  They are in her backpack which is dunked in the water and completely water-logged for hours at a time.  Potato chips, completely dry at journey's end.

And they stack into two piles in the cupboard.

My second recommendation is this underwear.  DKNY Seamless Bikinis.

previously, thongs were the only kind of underwear that didn't ride up my butt cheeks, but that's sort of like cheating.

Then one day at Costco I bought these and they frikkin' stay where they're supposed to stay.  No weird seams either (just a bonus).

Of course, when I went back to Costco to stock up, they no longer carried them.  But I did find them on Amazon.

If you are annoyed by undies that creep up your butt cheek, try this and let me know what you think.


Love you guys!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Change Your Mind About Stress

Just checking in today.  Probably won't be another big blog post until Monday or Tuesday.

Learned something interesting about stress today.

You know how we've all heard THIS before...

Stress Kills -- Don't Take It Lightly


Well, that makes those of us who stress have more to stress about... the fact that our stress is killing us.  Oh yay! 

But not necessarily.  Oh my gosh I'm so glad I read this article (How to Be Good at Stress) and watched this Ted Talk (How to Make Stress Your Friend).

Turns out you can (and SHOULD) look at stress differently.  How you look at it can have a profound effect your life.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Writing Kindle Instructions

So I've been spending a lot of time recently creating a tutorial for basic actions on a Kindle Fire HD7.

There are a few people in my life who recently acquired Kindles and I'm trying to help them learn how to use their new contraptions.

Do you think anyone else would be interested in checking out the tutorial?  It's stuff like basic on/off, sleep mode, alarm clock, email, Pandora, Pinterest, camera, photos, internet, etc.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weather Report and Other Blatherings

Had the third of my three classes today. 

This will take up a lot of my time, but so far all three classes are very interesting.  Two of them are very participatory... like working with other students and what not.  But it's good to be pushed out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Teaching tomorrow then getting back to "farm chores" on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Temps are supposed to drop from triple digits down to 88 for the weekend.  Yay!  (It's WAY easier to mow when it's not 100 degrees.)

I've been doing a lot of metalsmithing lately (which I adore), but I think I  may break out the metal clay tomorrow.  I've got the start of an idea I'd like ot try.

Since I missed my August "new additions" this month due to getting and setting up a new computer, I'll try to make sure that doesn't happen again. So keep an eye out for Sept 1st (first weekday of the month) for all the new goodies.

For now, keeping it short.  Will be back tomorrow with more helpful news and less weather report.  :-)

Whoooo!  How's this for Throwback Thursday?  Ha ha ha!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trying to Adjust to Night Classes

Note to self: do as much of the "evening routine" as possible before going to class.

Class ends at 9:35pm and I'm not as motivated to do things like thorough flossing or watering the plants or putting the dishes away when I'm totally ready to fall asleep.

Taking three classes this semester.  Fingers crossed I can handle it.  So far, the first two classes are interesting.

They are "Stress and Wellness" and "Ethics".

Time management always reminds me of this.... this is kind of my version of "going to bed" too.


Thank you Becky Mansfield!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Did My Annual Craft Show

Apparently, after doing about one show per year for ten years, I'm still on the fence on whether or not to do shows.  Ha ha ha!  There is some financial and time commitment involved.  But I gotta tell ya, I did have fun yesterday.

Neither one of us got more than three hours of sleep the night before, me with last minute preparations and my friend with an unexpected incident on her hike earlier in the day.

We still managed to leave at 4:30 am, though.

That gave us a good long time to set-up, which was good because I suddenly couldn't remember how the tent went up.  Ha ha ha!  Oh, I guess it's not really a tent.  It's a Coleman dealie, not an Easy-Up like most other vendors have.


And this brings me to the first thing on my list of things I learned by doing this show.  Do not have a colored roof for you tent.  Everything in my booth had a yellow cast to it.

A couple of things I did this time for the first time that actually DID work out well were:
  1. I took my mom's hand weights with us and used them to tied down the corners of the canopy.  There was a good breeze every once in awhile.
  2. In the week before the show, I set up my displays inside the living room.  This gave me a good idea of all the tweaks I wanted to make so that I wouldn't be futzing around with things during the real set-up.
 Oh, also, the angled legs of my canopy make for a smaller space than the tents with vertical legs.

Here's something else I learned.  Not everyone's going to agree with me on this, so just accept we all have personal opinions (and who knows, I could change my mind somewhere down the road).

I don't like to make the customer ask the price on everything they're interested in.  I think it makes a lot of them lose interest and makes some of them not even bother to look.  So I went into this wanting to have my pricing visible.  And although it was accessible, I guess it wasn't really VISIBLE... or at least it wasn't obvious.

The prices on the earrings was in pencil on the back of each card, in a lower corner.  Some people didn't bother to look there... others had their finger right on top of the price and said, "There's no price on this one."


The necklaces all had hang tags with the prices, but the tags are draped in the back where the clasp is.  Never dawned on me people would think there are no prices.  D'oh!  I can be a real ditz some times.

And something else you can see from this photo... a tent with walls would have been good.  I adored our neighbors, but it just makes for a more visually appealing booth if there's separation.

And may I mention again how much I adored our neighbors?  Boy, did we get lucky.  They were awesome.

So were the event staff.  My only complaint about the whole show would have been that it didn't seem to be advertised as much as I thought it might be... not online anyway.  But based on the turn-out, maybe they didn't need it.  There was a steady stream of people all day long.

I really enjoyed talking with everyone.  Met some super cool individuals and got to say hi to so many  friends that stopped by (thank you all!).

I'm still singing the praised of my Square swiper.  I did pre-order the chip reader, but I guess we don't get them for another month or so.

Editing this post to add one more photo.  Someone commented on the stand I had in my booth.  Here's a better shot of it.  It completely comes apart and folds up so transport isn't a problem.  I totally, totally love this thing.  There are seven shelves total but here I'm only using four due to my displays being tall.  I used a cloth over the lattice so it wouldn't be see-thru and I used the two shelves beneath the drape (at the bottom) to store my receipt book, etc.



Anyway, super big thank you to Dawn for helping me out with the show and super big thank you to the promoters who let me in at the last minute and super big thank you to everyone who stopped by and said hi.

Also, every single person who came into my booth was awesome.  Everyone was so nice.  I have yet to hear a snarky comment.  Of course, that's probably easy when you only do one show a year.  ha ha ha!

But for all the vendors who have had someone say one of THOSE statements... you know the ones...



Monday, August 24, 2015

Prelude to a Show Post

Survived the show, thanks to my good friend who went with me and helped set-up, tear-down, and generally keep me company and provide a few necessary breaks.

So many of my friends came out, it was such a treat!  I loved seeing everyone.

The day was warm and the turn-out was really good.

Lots of interesting people to talk with.

Got three hours of sleep last night so going to bed early now (even though this won't post until tomorrow morning)... but I'll come back tomorrow and see if I got any photos and tell you what I learned by doing the show and things I'll try to do differently next time.



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Placerville Craft Fair

Sorry, no words of wisdom today as I'm at the Placerville Craft Fair.

If you're around, please stop by and say hi!

My spot is S-13 which is apparently somewhere near Bricks Restaurant... near Bedford and Main (482 Main... ish).

My first time doing an outdoor fair.  I'm assuming there will be no electricity for the vendors.  Oh man, what if there is?  Maybe I should pack some lights just in case.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

People Are Our Real Customers

Following up on my wildly popular post the other day about the inability to "do" all the social media marketing I'd like... I've got to say that while I'm totally a numbers person, in regards to social media I'd rather have people than numbers.

And what do I mean by that?

I mean it doesn't mean anything to me if 5000 people view my post if they're not even remotely close to buying (we're talking social media marketing here, so yeah... "buying" is the goal... it's marketing, just another form of advertising).

Anyway, yeah it's GREAT to have huge numbers of views, but what's more important than numbers is getting in front of the viewers that are your target audience.

I can hear you (and me) in the back of my head saying, "But hey, you never know where a sale is going to come from so don't be so closed-minded!"

That's not what it's about.  It's like this...

If you sell $2000 engagement rings, would you rather have 500 teenagers walk past your booth at a show or 100 disposable income 30-somethings?

That's just an example, but I hope my point is getting across.

Spend your energies where they will do the most good.
  1. Figure out your target market
  2. Figure out where to market to your target market
  3. Spend you valuable time and resources marketing THERE rather than willy-nilly all over the places that are trending at the moment
 Now, back to the "people" comment.

Yes, I'd rather have people than numbers.  People are entities I can talk with, inform, and interact with.  People are entities I get to know and learn from.  People are the entities who will remember me and whom I will remember.

So while higher numbers are better than lower numbers, people are better than any numbers.

Get to know your target market... seek them out... interact with them.  Do what sets you apart from the mass-produced high-end jewelry stores... give them personal service... emphasis on the "person".

If I were buying a piece of art (and that's what our jewelry is, right?) directly from the artist, I'd be thrilled if he spent a little time with me talking about the techniques he used to create the piece, sharing the inspiration for the piece, telling me where he sourced the materials, etc.

Our work has stories... let's use that to our advantage.  Now go out there and meet some PEOPLE!




Friday, August 21, 2015

I'll Take a Pass

Got caught up in getting all the earrings carded for the show so no blog post today.

I will, however, at least share with you SOMETHING...

Here's a website that may have some tips for you in regards to photographing your jewelry.

Click here

Oh and Harbor Freight is having a 3-day parking lot sale.  Click here for that.

And that's it for today... crunch time!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Balance... it's worth fighting for

I went to LinkdIn, started to read messages I'd received... then freaked out in an attack of overwhelmedness.  I can't handle another... thing.  I adore Facebook and tolerate Twitter.  I suck at Instagram... but I can't take on one more thing.

Kind of reminds me of the mythical all-curing vitamin/mineral/supplement.  You know the one.  There's an article or tv blurb or a new book about how this ONE supplement is all you need... it does everything...and if you don't take it you'll be tired, fat, and prone to disease.

"All you need is ______ (fill in the blank), every day; stop everything else you're doing and just take this product because it is the magical cure-all to everything that ails you."

The problem is, if 8000 different products are the only one you need... well, you see the problem right?

Same thing for exercise... "Just do this one thing and you can stop going to the gym."  But those same words are found in articles about yoga, meditation, push-ups, sit-ups, walking, running, jumping on a trampoline, etc.

Or diets... all you have to do is count calories... don't count calories, just eat meat, just eat vegetables.

I guess it works (the selling part, not the fixing our bodies part) because people are buying into it.  I think the marketing is much healthier than the population.

I'm guessing the marketing is playing on that fact that we all feel overwhelmed with no time, no money, and no patience... and we need a quick fix... NOW!

Oops, I think I got side-tracked.  Ha ha ha!  My point is that I read an article about how fabulous it is for your business to do Google+, and I read an article about how fabulous it is for your business to do Instagram... and then Facebook... and then Twitter... and then Blogger... and see... That's my point.

I can't do it all!!!  Every one of them is supposed to be THE ONE thing that's most helpful to my business but no one has time for all of it.

I know there are some services (like hootsuite) that will post something you write to several different social media outlets at various scheduled times.  Since I don't really want to say the same thing in 10 different places, I'm not sure that's for me... yet.  I haven't give it the "x" yet.

When I'm productive in the workshop, every statistic online goes down.  When I'm on the computer making sure my voice is heard, I get no jewelry made.

And so today's word is balance... which is kind of funny because there's a ring in the pickle pot as we speak whose secret message (stamped on the interior of the ring) is BALANCE.

Wonder if I can find a reason to keep it for myself.  :-)



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I'm a Morning Person

For me, making jewelry in the late afternoon or evening sucks.  I'm tired.  I'm totally a morning person.  In the evening I just want to veg (and by veg I mean sit in front of the tv and do wire-wrapping or hand polishing or something).

I have a show coming up Sunday.  I don't really do shows so I have no "set-up".  By "don't do shows", I mean, I'll do like one a year.  Which was never enough to invest in any kind of set up and yet leaves me looking pretty shabby and really REALLY do-it-yourself when it comes to presentation.

Add to that the fact that I have ADD of jewelry-making and there isn't a cohesive theme to be found anywhere.

You getting the picture yet?  Think Picasso's Guernica, but not in a good way.



I'm still DIY, but I think this may be the first time I won't embarrass myself.  Unless a big wind comes along... then you will see me cry.

I've got these tall, skinny lightweight necklace busts. I like them because they're neutral color, don't take up a lot of space, and were really inexpensive.  But they don't stand up even WITHOUT a breeze coming along.

I've glued them to a piece of poster board... the foam kind.  If they go, they all go together.  Weeha!

I found the most fabulous fabric (cheap, neutral color, doesn't seem to wrinkle easily) to cover my tables and shelf thingie.  I wanted 15 yards but they only had 11 so I took it and ran.

I have my old (very old) list of things to take to a craft show.  I need to update it after the show.  Right now I'm making a list of what I have to DO before the show.  It'll be tight.  I spent one entire day putting jewelry onto earring cards this week.  Don't laugh... I kid you not.

That entailed designing and printing the cards, making holes, attaching the items to the card (the rings are the hardest because I tie them on with fishing line), then adding the adhesive strip so I can hang them up.


I'm undecided if I want to have a clearance section   I do have older designs I want to get rid of.  Well, maybe a small corner of my booth.

I'm just about done (mentally, mostly) with the jewelry.  60% of what I have will probably stay home.  I would overwhelm the booth if I took everything I have.  I'll try out some of the new stuff... test market, so to speak.

The remaining days (other than when I'm teaching) will be finishing touches... and making rings.  I'm overdue on making rings.

And I want to make some rings for me to wear too.  My nails are to the point where they're driving me crazy.  I want to cut them.  But I'm thinking... I've got a show in 5 days... what if I just left them long and painted them, just for the show.  Then I could cut them as soon as I get home . I do want to look nice, after all.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Possible PayPal Glitch

I'm going to call it a glitch because the people who've contacted PayPal about the message are not being told anything concrete as far as I can tell.

I've paid many a PayPal invoice over the years, but suddenly this year I've gotten three that all had this at the top: "Transaction cannot be processed because the invoice has been updated, canceled, paid, or closed; contact the merchant for more information."

Looks like this...


It shows up after I try to hit PAY INVOICE at the bottom of the invoice (not shown in this photo).

I try multiple times and it just doesn't work.

On a lark, I clicked on PAY INVOICE at the top, just under the error message.  And my payment went through.  Weird, huh?

So if you get that message, you might try doing the same thing.  Maybe something in the programming of their other button is funky.


Monday, August 17, 2015

More Earrings As Seen on TV and My Awesome Son's Math Presentation

My second pair of earrings was on Cedar Cove yesterday.  Grace Sherman (played by the awesomely beautiful Teryl Rothery) wore them when Cliff proposed to her (near the end of the "Civil War" episode that aired on August 15, 2015). 

Cedar Cove is a tv show on the Hallmark Channel, adapted from a series of Debbie Macomber novels.

Here are the earrings.  I no longer list these in my shop, but if someone REALLY wanted a pair, just contact me via my shop.

http://brackendesigns.com/product/bohemian-style-earrings-seen-cedar-cove





 
Teryl Rothery's hair was longer in season 3 so the earrings are not as easy to spot as my previous ones.

Okay, now I was going to tell you about my last trip to the Bay Area.  Some of you know my son, Gabe, is attending UCLA (studying math).  Anyway, this summer he was doing an internship at Berkeley's MSRI program (Mathematical Sciences Research Institute).  The overall 2015 summer program I *think* was called: "Geometric Combinatorics Motivated by the Social Sciences".

I had the great privilege of watching Gabe present his project: "Committee Selection with Approval Voting and Hypercubes".



If anyone would like to check out the video of the presentation, it's on the MSRI website, here.  I was super impressed with all the young ladies and gentlemen.  The presentations were awesome.  Usually over my head, technically, but these people did great jobs of presenting.

Before the presentation, Sereen (Gabe's girlfriend) and I walked up from the parking lot to the MSRI building.  It's in the Berkeley hills, btw, not at the UC Berkeley campus (where the kids stayed when not at the institute).  Here's the view.  You might be able to see all three bridges from there.


That's it for my photos.  Sereen takes MUCH better photos, so all the rest are hers.  Thanks for letting me post them on my blog, Sereen!

Here's Gabe presenting...


A wider view of the presentation...


Here's Gabe and Caleb (they worked on and presented the info together) after the event...


Afterward, Gabe showed us his and Caleb's office...


With the insane chalkboard showing some of their work...


While I have always enjoyed math, the stuff they do is so far over my head it's not even funny.  Gabe does do a good job of trying to help the layman understand, though, I'll give him that.

We ended the evening with a great dinner and wonderful dinner company.

It was great seeing Sereen and Gabe and being a part of this special day.  A real treat and I'm so glad I was able to go.

And here's my usual ending silliness... serious math people forgive me.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Non-Existent Post

Sorry... flaking today.

Will leave you with this, but will be back Monday with... let's see... Oh, I didn't give you the story of my last trip to Berkeley yet.  Yes, we'll do that.

Okay, bye for now and see you soon!

P.S.  Thanks everyone for the comments on my blog posts... here and on facebook.  I so appreciate knowing people are reading my posts and gaining little bits of info here and there... or maybe just being entertained once in a while.  You guys rock!


Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Trouble with Rings

The trouble with rings is, there's such a small margin for error in sizing. For a long time (as in 95% of my jewelry making career), I could count on one finger the number of rings I ever made and listed.

Then a couple years ago, I made a few rings as part of a workshop at Hadar's.

I eventually pulled most of those off the market when I realized my methods of sizing were inconsistent.

So here's what I've discovered so far...

I took two rings that should be about as perfect in specific sizes as can be. Both are ring blanks from Rio. A size nine and a size seven.




The size nine happened to fit my thumb perfectly.


So I took my ring sizer...


... and found that the size nine on there also fit my thumb perfectly.



Off to a good start.

But things went south quickly. I took my ring sizer and put size nine on my steel ring mandrel and it showed up as a smidge over 8½.




Then I put my ring sizer and put size nine on my plastic ring mandrel and it showed up as a wee bit past size 9.
 

The actual size 9 ring from Rio also read as an 8½ on the steel mandrel and just past 9 on the plastic mandrel. At least the errors are consistent.

And then I did something magical. Ha ha ha! I took my digital calipers and measured the inside diameter of the rings.


BTW, if you get digital calipers, look for ones that have this thing on top (that's for measuring interior diameter).  I got these at Harbor Freight for less than $20 (use their coupons!).


When I googled "ring band measurement chart", I found that you can tell a ring's size by the interior diameter (d'oh!).  This looks like a good chart.  Here's another chart by Art Jewelry Magazine. According to this (and similar charts), you can tell a ring's size by the interior diameter.

Low and behold, the size 9 came to 18.8mm and the size 7 came to 17mm (is supposed to be 17.2mm, but this is good enough for me considering the alternatives).

So for now, out go the measuring methods of ring mandrels and I shall begin to make use of my digital calipers.

Tomorrow I get to measure/size the 100 rings I just made for the show I'm doing next week.  At least I feel better about the results now.  Only half the rings in this shot (47 actually).


So that solves one half of the equation, but what about the other half... fingers.  What are people using to measure their fingers?  We'll look at that another day.  Sigh...

Okay, that's it for today.  Back to work (so much to do to prepare for this show!).








Friday, August 14, 2015

Hidden Deer, New Earrings, and a Tumbling Question

Stayed up late (for me) last night.  Not really sure why, but I try not to fight the flow (as in "go with the flow").

So around 11pm I thought, "Oh, I'm up... I may as well check out the Perseid meteors even though they're supposed to be from midnight until dawn."  Cassiopeia is easy to spot so at least I know where to look.

I know I'll only be a second so I don't take a flashlight... bad move.  I was looking up when I hear something a few feet away from me.  I look down and vaguely make out the shape of a small animal.  It's sort of snorting.  I can tell it's not a cat so I figure skunk or raccoon.  No tell-tale odor, so probably raccoon... and they snort, and hiss, and growl.

Then a few feet beyond that I hear large feet stamping.  Cripes, time to go grab a flashlight.

The large feet stamping turned out to be a deer that kept trying to get close to me every time I turned the flashlight off.  The smaller black furry thing never came back so I have no idea what it was.

Maybe tonight I'll go to bed early and try to catch some of these pre-dawn meteors.

Oh, here's a pair of earrings I made from gold-fill and bronze.  I really like how the photo turned out.





My Rio order came yesterday.  Got my burnishing compound and will have to experiment between this and original blue Dawn.  Finally started using two pounds of shot in one tumbler (Lortone 3A).  Per the Lortone instructions for tumbling jewelry, I’ve got one lb of SS shot in the barrel which is like ½ inch (just upped it to two, so it's like an inch). The Sunsheen burnishing compound instructions, however, say to fill the barrel halfway (50%) with ss shot. That would be like 5 more pounds of shot at least! Lortone instructions say barrel should not weigh more than 4 pounds. There’s no way I can turn water, jewelry, the barrel itself, and 6 pounds of shot into less than 4 pounds.

I think I'll stick with two pounds of shot and water level just above shot line.

The rings, btw, are coming along beautifully.  I hope to have photos soon.  Anything I don't sell at the show will go into my shop at the first of the month.


Now, back to the deer for a second... me and Tennie walked down to open the gate this morning and as I'm walking back up the hill, I look over to my right and see this...





... which looks like nothing but dried brush... until you look more closely...


It (or they... I couldn't tell if it was one or two) wasn't moving a muscle, but watched us the whole way.  Ready to make a quick get-away, I suppose.


At the bottom of the orchard, where we've also let things go so the deer have a place to hide, it's a bit more lush.



Last thing is watering the veggies.  Tonight, I watered earlier than usual and had no cat accompaniment.  What, are they on a schedule?!  Anyway, I had a new visitor at the tomato hang-out.  Frikkin' grasshopper was the size of a humming bird.


But I think we should end with something cuter... So that's it for me now... have a nice day!