Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

Earth Day and Arbor Day have come and gone. Not being either (1) a treehugger or (2) exactly like all the rest of blogland, I declined to write an earth-friendly post for those days. (I forgot too...lol)

Still, the topic is rather top-of-mind. I live in Oregon, probably the "greenest" state I've ever been to. (All the pot and hippie attire helps I think) Here, recycling is a given, farms and farmer's markets are everywhere...and they reserve the death penalty for littering. (Ok, perhaps I've stretched the truth a shade)

So, in the spirit of saving the earth for my children's children (and my opportunity for payback), here's my own family's list of ways we're being "green" - and ways we know we should improve but can't quite make work. Feel free to add you own thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Being Green:
  • Recycling - Glass, most plastics, paper...all go out to the curb in our fancy recycling buckets. Aluminum cans get returned for 1/2-cent credit. Unless we get lazy and just chuck something in the trash.
  • Plastic bags - We reuse our plastic grocery bags often (those that didn't hold meats anyway). I bring lunch to work in one - and bring it home again. Cat litter is scooped into them. Extras are returned to the grocery store for recycling.
  • Gas - With our family of 6, we kinda have to own a gas guzzler. However, we recently purchased a small sedan for my commute to work - saving us 10mpg.
  • Energy - Despite complaints, our heat is set to 67 in the winter, and 72 in the summer. Our newish dishwasher rated well on energy efficiency, and our new washing machine is a front loader that's great on both energy and water.
  • Consumerism - We don't buy a whole lot, mainly because we're cheap. DVDs and books are primarily rented or borrowed from the library. Thrift store finds populate closets and rooms around the house - and outgrown/unloved items are donated to Goodwill on a monthly basis.
  • Food - We hit farmer's markets about once a week in the summer, and u-pick farms a few times each year.

Ways We're Dooming The Earth:

  • Recycling - Sorry, no compost for this household. (Eww) And as mentioned before, we miss some stuff.
  • Plastic Bags - We should probably use canvas totes or some such, I know. Still...have you ever bought groceries for 6 people? It would require 20 totes. Uh-huh, not doing that. I attempted to keep ONE in my car for small shopping trips - it was only used for garbage collection, and eventually disappeared.
  • Gas - We own an SUV. I don't carpool (work schedule too wiggly). No train to our little suburb.
  • Energy - Wow, this is a biggie. We have kids, and they leave LOTS of lights on. All the time. We also own a 10-yr-old dryer that probably needs to be replaced. Plus a ton of electronic equipment that is slowly trickling energy away. Our heat is gas-powered, we have A/C, and there are no solar panels on our roof.
  • Consumerism - We do buy SOME stuff. New sneakers, jeans without ripped knees. Wii games. Random toys, books we love.
  • Food - Most of our food is from the grocery store - we've flirted with the idea of a CSA for veggies and fruits, but can never remember in time to actually join. We buy McDonald's on occasion, eat pizza and ice cream and out-of-season strawberries.

So there it is...my 'confession'. Am I normal? Better or worse than average? I'd love to hear feedback on all of this!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wii Would Like to Play...

...Fetch Mommy the Advil.

Yep, hubby and I broke down and bought a Wii last weekend. The kids' Playstation II died for good, so it was time to just pony up the dough. I'm glad I didn't get it at Christmas...we were able to pick one up for just $340 total, system, Wii sports, 2 other games, and 2nd set of controller & nunchuck. (Just strolled into our local Fred Meyer - no 5am queues for us!)

When the cranky kids were up taking naps yesterday, hubby and I decided to give a few games a twirl...see if we couldn't figure them out and help the youngest. We raced M&M karts (dude...don't buy that game, it's hard). We played tennis, opposing and same teams. We golfed. We bowled. We even played a little baseball.

Without realizing it, we'd spent almost 2 hours playing Wii! (And since we weren't interrupted with "mom, watcha doing?" questions, clearly the kids needed those naps)

Know what happens when you take two 30-something people, make them shovel mulch for 2 hours...then stick them in front of a Wii for 2 hours the next day?

Advil please!

Better late than never...

Congratulations to my latest giveaway winner... Bonghi Natura!

Giveaway's are so much fun - I'm lining up the next one now!

If YOU would like to be featured on this blog - with or without a giveaway - please feel free to drop me a line. See my profile page for email link.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Day to Enter

Be sure to visit JLC Studio's Etsy shop, and leave a comment HERE about your favorite item. Drawing will be held after midnight PST today!

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm very, very glad today is Friday. It's been a long week. Unfortunately, it's been a BAD Friday - not terrible, just not pleasant.
1. Almost ran out of gas, and I was of course already late to work
2. Came within inches of being sideswipped by a large truck, who suddenly pulled out of the break-down lane (no signal). The jacka$$ then TAILGATED me to his exit. Talk about being a bundle of nerves by the time I got to work.
3. Work...ugh. Let's just say nothing is working right, for no apparent reason.
4. I'm giving blood today. It's a great thing to do - but I HATE it. Stomach is knotted up.
5. Got an email from a customer. Some lovely earrings didn't survive shipping - and I tested that cement strength twice before shipping. So...not only will I have to rework, and figure out how to keep this customer happy (small gift?), but I need to investigate WHY. Did my cement go bad? Are any other creations at risk?!?

And it's only 10am...boy, I'm tempted to just not open email, and go hide in the ladies room until 5pm. But hey, I have these adorable pictures from Wednesday to look at...so I can force a smile.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Free Stuff!

Don't you LOVE freebies? Me too - that's why I'm having my giveaway below! I've also found several great contests on other blogs - here's a few links, since I'm such a nice sharer. :-)

Bonghi Natura - $10 towards her shop, or free soap
Kate E Austin - cool "mix tape" bangle

Life Adorned - 2-strand memory wire bracelet
ThisOldHenHouse - choice of rings from AlluRing

Back to Reality...

(I'm humming that awful early-90s song now..."back to life, back to reality")

I had a GREAT Wednesday, even with nasty Oregon weather. It was probably 45F and drizzly all day. Yuck. Still, it was a delight to walk through the zoo with my daughter and her class. They have been working on animal classification, and it was such fun to listen to them "that's a mammal" and "mommy, does that have a backbone?" as we roamed the exhibits. We ate brown-bagged lunches, fed Lorikeets, took pictures, marveled at tigers and bears and giraffes just inches from us (gotta love plexiglass), and spent so much of the day just walking hand in hand. I wish she could stay 5 forever.

I'll be sure to upload some pics soon, especially of Rachel with a rainbow-hued lorikeet on her arm.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Short Post today - I'm outta here!

My daughter's preschool class is headed to the zoo...and I was able to take off the day and go with her. What a treat for us both!

So this is it for a Wednesday post - don't forget the giveaway!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Featured Store: JLC Studio

This week’s feature is our giveaway store – JLC Studio! Read the feature, visit her store – then leave me a comment here about your favorite item at JLC Studio to win the gorgeous earrings in my banner (and other great prizes!).

1. How long have you been selling on Etsy? I joined Etsy in December of 2007. I hadn't really heard of it before then but I did quite a bit of googling when I first decided to try selling on-line and I kept finding a lot of artists (of all kinds) who were selling there. I signed up right away! I didn't sell anything for the first three months...once my first item was sold though, I've kept a steady pace (selling at least one item a month).

2. How long have you been making your items? I actually just got into jewelry making last fall. We have a family get-together in October/November every year and my mom brought along all of her extra beads and jewelry findings (she likes to do beadwork in both needlepoint and crochet). All the girls had fun making bracelets and earrings and it just kind of started from there. Once I got the basic techniques down, I kept going with it and found that I really loved it. It's very relaxing to me and something I find I can do while watching T.V. or chatting on the phone. I think it's kind of a natural progression for me, being an interior designer, to be able to create something artistic and designed, yet structured (kind of like I do in my day job).

3. What inspires you in your creations? I've always loved wearing jewelry, especially earrings, and am constantly seeing pieces that I love. I tend to get inspiration from magazines or the internet or items I see others wearing and that is a jumping off point for my designs. I start with the basic idea but then make it my own with the elements I use. I like long, dangly earrings and sparkly stones and gems so I tend to gravitate toward them. I've also had a long love affair with precious and semi-precious stones so I like to incorporate stone as pendants or accents in most of my pieces. I try to make things that I would like to wear, some are fun and funky and some are more reserved...but I like to think that all my pieces have a certain refined and elegant look about them.

4. What is your favorite piece so far? My favorite piece is a necklace that I made for my sister for Christmas. It's a long necklace (it falls to about her midsection) and it's a combination of silver chain and pink rhodolite as well as sparkly pink glass beads that are strung on wire and joined together with the chain. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it but it's similar to this item that I sold in my shop. I haven't been able to find that particular chain again so I can’t recreate it exactly...although I think I may have just found something that will work and am planning on making more of this type of necklace for a street/craft fair I'm doing at the end of May.

5. What are you dying to make someday? I hope to start doing some metalsmithing in the near future, which involves a small butane torch and solder. I haven't taken the plunge as of yet but this would allow me to set stones in rings and pendants. I have been itching to make rings! I'd also like to make small stud earrings rather than the long, dangly kind as some people (i.e. my mother) don't like to wear them long. Hopefully, I will be able to purchase the tools necessary to do this soon and will be offering my creations in my shop!

Visit Jen from JLC Studio at her blog too!

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your entry into our giveaway contest! One entry per day, per person.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blog Giveaway! April 21st to April 25th

That’s right, more free stuff this week!

JLC Studio is sponsoring this week’s giveaway, and I’m sure you’ll love the prizes!

Enter on this blog (see end of post) every day between April 21st and April 25th. (One entry per person, per day) Drawing will be held on Saturday the 26th, and results will be posted Monday the 28th.

One lucky winner will receive these Giallo Sun Earrings:

These warm and modern drop earrings are made from amber-colored sea-glass beads with iridescent faceted glass rondelle beads. The beads are suspended from gunmetal ear wires and findings, which complement the color of the glass beautifully. Overall drop of 1 ½”. Includes free US shipping (small fee for international shipping)

ALL of my readers qualify for a 20% discount at JLC Studio’s Etsy store – be sure to mention “TexasTesla blog giveaway” in the notes to seller to get your discount! (Discount good until April 30th)

To enter, check out JLC Studio – then leave a comment here about your favorite item in her shop. PLEASE be sure to leave either an email or website URL where I can reach you when you win!


Two bits of news this Monday morning...

First, since Vickie, the winner of last week's giveaway, did not contact me for her prize...we have NEW winners!
First prize - choice of earrings or art - Bunny B!
Consolation prize - $5 or 10% off my store - Dolls123!
(Both provided their email/blog address, so I'm able to contact them)

Second - starting this afternoon, we have ANOTHER great giveaway! This time sponsored by JLC Studio. You can start to enter NOW - post a comment about your favorite item from JLCStudio's Etsy shop, along with either an email address or blog/etsy shop URL so I can find you! Giveaway ends Friday - enter once each day!

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Chicken Enchilada recipe

Since it's been requested...I figured I'd share with the world. It's based off a Betty Crocker cookbook (that I no longer have), but with some tweaks and side dishes of my own. Enjoy it!

8-12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
chili powder to taste
pepper to taste
cooking spray (or butter)
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream (light is OK)
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
(optional) 4oz can diced green chilis, drained - add slowly for heat/taste
1 cup of shredded monterey jack cheese (will be divided)
1 lb chicken breast, cut into small cubes
sliced olives, green onion, and diced tomato for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F.

Chicken: Spray pan with cooking spray. Cook pre-cut chicken until done inside and lightly browned. Make sure all pieces are bit sized. Sprinkle with chili powder and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Sauce: In same pan, respray with cooking spray (or melt 2 tablespoons butter). Cook onion, garlic, and coriander until onion is translucent. While cooking, slowly stir flour into sour cream. Add mixture to cooked onion/garlic. Slowly stir in chicken broth with whisk. Add green chilis to taste (start with just a bit) if desired. Cook on medium heat, stiring with whisk, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the moneterey cheese.

Tortillas: Either wrap tortillas in foil and heat in oven 10 minutes, or wrap in moist paper towels and microwave 1 minute to soften.

Creating the filling: Add 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce to the cooked chicken. Mix well. Lightly grease a 9"x13" baking dish. Place 1/8 to 1/4 cup of filling and a sprinkle of monterey jack cheese down the center of each tortilla and roll tightly. Put each tortilla seam side down in baking sauce. When out of filling, cover all tortillas with remaining cheese sauce - be sure to saturate all tortillas well (prevents burning).

Cover dish with foil. Bake covered for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Remove foil, sprinkle remaining monterey jack cheese on top, and return to oven until melted. Remove, sprinkle with olives, tomatoes, and scallions, and let stand 10 minutes.

Sides: Serve with "cheater" mexican rice and beans

Rice: use a white and long-grain mix, add a can of rotelle, a small amount of butter, and a dash of chili powder

Beans: Use canned dark kidney beans. Drain, and cook in a saucepan. Remove 1/2 and smash with a fork. Return to saucepan and mix well. Add 1/4 cup salsa, dash of cumin, and a sprinkle of blue cheese (really, it's the secret ingrediant). Cook until cheese is melted.

Man do I miss this dish...mmmmm...

This is NOT fair!

Welcome to Friday’s TMI post.

I’ll admit, I’ve got a pretty good life. Great job, healthy kids, nice house. So perhaps I shouldn’t complain…but I’m gonna.

See, since I turned the big 3-0 (2 years ago), I’ve learned the hard way that I’m lactose intolerant. Milk and other dairy products are no longer my friends. This is So. Not. Fair.

When I was a kid, I loved having a big glass of milk with dinner. Ice cream was my buddy. As I grew older, and learned to cook, I delighted in baked macaroni and cheese. I found a delicious recipe for Chicken Enchiladas, covered in sour cream sauce, that I made my special signature dish. (Mmmm...don't they look good?)

Are you seeing where I’m going with this?

My digestive tract is now rebelling against all of this…to the point that a single stupid slice of processed cheese food makes me nauseous. Really!

Me, the lover of all things dairy – now confined to the wilderness of soy-based products. Forced to read EVERY STINKING LABEL because so many items contain dairy. Like bread. And about 20% of all medications – adding insult to injury, most of the anti-nausea medicines included! In fact, I’m writing this angry post today because I’m currently sitting at my desk, miserable, since once again some dairy has slipped in unseen. Ugh.

Rant over. Go enjoy your weekend, and have some ice cream for me. Heaven knows I can’t!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creating Custom Jewelry – a step-by-step mini guide

If you’ve ever wondered how custom jewelry is created, here’s all the answers you’ll ever need. Enjoy!

Step One: Get a commission. This is actually the hardest part – finding someone who wants custom jewelry, and wants it from you. Etsy’s Alchemy has been good to me, so have family and friends – but I’ve also picked up random orders through my website, my LinkedIn profile, and other places. (Friends and family are great for getting your feet wet, but they can only buy so much stuff. Branch out before you have no friends left!)

Step Two: Design brainstorming. Every customer has some idea of what they want – it’s your job to help them decide exactly what their piece should look like! My example for this post is a recent Etsy alchemy request. Initially the customer wanted a duplicate of a necklace: white ceramic beads with painted roses, brass pieces, and black silk cord. In the process of hunting for just the right beads, he ran across a different style – acrylic, and much more golden. This changed the design of his necklace entirely – these beads, while pretty, were too small to stand on their own. I grabbed screen shots of his focal beads, as well as some coordinating colors in other beads, and created 4 different versions of a necklace. The customer picked his favorite, a necklace with lots of brass and gold, and a little pink. (Give the customer options, but not too many. If you ask lots of questions up front - gold? silver? real pearls or glass? - you can narrow down the design choices to just a few. And that's much easier on you!)

Step Three: Shopping. My favorite part, both online and in-store. When you have an idea of the “look” you want, you have to find the right pieces for it. This means both the obvious focal components, but also the supporting structure – will you use sterling silver or gold-fill clasps? Covered wire or silk? What size and color coordinating beads? Shopping is divided into two aspects: first, an initial (online) browse to get pricing, and second the actual purchasing. My online browsing is critical – it’s what allows me to set a price, and meet all the customer’s needs. (Setting a price is a whole other post!) Fire Mountain Gems is usually my first stop for browsing (and some purchasing), just because they have a huge variety of items and a good search feature. Actual buying, of course, comes after you and the customer agree on materials, and the customer pays the deposit. (Did I mention deposit yet? Always, always have a deposit...at least 50%. This keeps you from getting screwed!)

Step Four: Design Layout. Once you’ve picked up all the materials, it’s time to create the final design. I rely on my beading board – with channels and inch markers – to create necklaces and earrings of the exact length my customer wants (and keep the mess to a minimum). This is where the artist really comes out – tweaking bead layouts, trying different shades of color, etc. Once I’m happy with the design, I take a picture for the customer (still in the bead board) for final approval. (Don't actually put the piece together yet. Some customers change their mind, and want different length/color/arrangement. You'll be really angry if you have to restring something 3 times)

Step Five: Completion. Once the customer gives the final thumbs-up, it’s time to string those beads. Depending on the type of request, this can be quick and easy….or slow and painstaking. My golden-floral necklace and bracelet request was fairly quick; however I’ve also hand knotted pearls and created custom wire-wrapped designs that took hours. Still, the beauty of your finished work is always worth it. I take a few flattering pictures, box the item nicely, and away it ships. (Taking pictures after is important - you want to remember what you did, but you'll also want them for a portfolio of your work, to solicit new customers. Trust me.)

Step Six: Waiting…. When you put hours and hours of labor into a piece, it starts to feel like your child. You do your very best, and you know that the customer has been happy with each picture sent. Still, until you hear from them, you just don’t know for sure if they’ll really like it. Nerve-wracking! And I will admit, I’ve shipped jewelry Priority Mail just so I wouldn't have to wait the 4-5 days for First Class arrival. (I don't really recommend this, it's an extra $2-5 out of your already slim profit margin.)

To view more of my previous custom work, please visit my website: TexasTesla's Custom Jewelry Designs.

We Have Our Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered my contest! We had 58 entries, for 43 unique people. With that many entries, a paper drawing was out…so I entered every entry on a line in Excel, then used this Random Number generator to pick the 2 winning rows.

Drum roll please…

Our WINNER was Vickie (who didn’t leave me a way to contact her!) - choice of earrings or art

Our consolation prize winner was Bunny B - $5 or 10% discount in my Etsy shop

Vickie – please contact me through Etsy convo or leave a comment with your blog/etsy/email address. Otherwise, I will have to REDRAW on Monday to give away the main prize. For everyone else – Monday is another great giveaway, featuring earrings from JLC Studio – plus special discounts for ALL my blog readers. Come back Monday for your next chance to win!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Must Apologize

Really, this blog isn't all about my giveaway. Heck, that's supposed to just be a tool to drive in readers! However, I've been so abso-freakin-busy this week, I haven't time to do more than quickie entries. Ugh.

I have a post on creating a custom necklace about half done. I really, REALLY want to finish it. I just don't know when I'll get the chance. Perhaps I can squeeze in 20 minutes while the kids are taking baths tonight...

In the meantime, rest assured that I'll tabulate comments and do the drawing tomorrow - during my lunch break if need be!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BLOG GIVEAWAY - Just 2 days left to enter!

Win your choice of:
1. Stud Pink Flower earrings
2. Dangle amethyst earrings
3. Original "Cubical Art" piece (take your pick - will be matted and ready to hang on the fabric wall of your choice. More drawings coming today and tomorrow - lots of conference calls in my future!)

Good news - we've reached 30 unique entries, so we now have a consolation prize!
2nd name drawn gets $5 or 10% (whichever is better) off any item in my Etsy store!!!

Enter today (the 15th) AND tomorrow (the 16th) - just leave a comment here. Let me know which piece you like best from my Etsy store, and that's all you need to enter. One entry per day, per person...unless you link to this giveaway, then you get an extra!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh My, What a Weekend

Before I forget...be sure to leave a comment for your entry in my Blog Giveaway! (You can leave the comment on this post, so I'm sure to see it) One entry per person, per day - and you can earn extra entries by posting about this contest and providing me the link!

On to the rest of my post...

The weather here in Oregon was gorgeous this weekend - 75 degrees, sunny, light breeze. We spent much of the weekend outdoors, of course. Saturday was so much fun. First we drove to a local tulip farm, picked up some blooms and took a few pictures. After the tulip farm, we drove east of Portland, to the Columbia River Gorge area. Had a few misadventures trying to find a state park, with waterfalls, that we could actually locate a parking spot for. Apparently ALL of Oregon was outside on Saturday! We eventually pulled into a small turnout, where a very helpful Scottish gentleman (from the accent) guided us up a hill, behind a waterfall, and into some neat caves. He was meeting friends to rock climb in the area, and delighted our kids with his knowledge of the "Rat Caves" as well as demos of his climbing gear. What a treat!

After carefully climbing/sliding down the hill again, we drove back to Rooster Rock state park, where we enjoyed some time on the river, and played in the playground. We finished our day with dinner at Tad's Chicken 'n' Dumplings.

Sunday wasn't nearly as fun, at least for me and the hubby. We mowed, edged, pulled weeds, and cleaned the garage...while the children had watergun battles, bounced in their bouncy castle, ate lunch in the sunshine, and just generally did kid stuff. (Days like that make me want to be a kid again) The house looks better, but it's frustrating knowing we'll need to do all that work again in 2 weeks. Maybe less if it rains a lot. UGH.

When the rain moved in Sunday afternoon, I was finally able to relax, shower (!), and get a little jewelry making done. I finished a cute little bracelet, as well as some earrings for the "So You Think You're Unique" beading challenge. (Those will get posted on Monday on Etsy) So now we're back to Monday, and work, and 'normal' life.

Just a quick note about Feature Monday - it's not happening this week. Too much else going on! Instead, I'll be writing a post (probably for tomorrow) about step-by-step creation of a custom jewelry request. Hope you all enjoy it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Blog Contest! Enter now!

Just an update for everyone...

We have 19 entries so far - just 11 more to get a consolation prize added!

After much though, I've decided to offer the winner his/her choice of earrings as well as the option of original artwork. Your prize options are:

3. Choice of Cubical Art, matted and ready to hang on the fabric-covered wall of your office! (See one offering at the bottom of this post)

Don't forget - mention this giveaway on your blog, and get an EXTRA entry!

"This Talent Show Brought to You by Billy Ray Cyrus Productions"

Last night, our eldest daughter participated in a school talent show. By eldest, I mean 10 years old - so it was your standard elementary school talent show. Bailey was act 25 of 30, so we sat through 90 minutes of other kids before she was on. (They were supposed to limit the kids to 2 minutes each - we know because we had to edit her song - but when we were 5 acts in and 30 minutes had past...the writing was on the wall. Somebody didn't want to be the "evil PTO person" who cut kids' fun short)

Have you enjoyed a school talent show before? If not, let me fill you in on the fun!

  • It's 90% girls.

  • You will always have someone doing her ballet routine, with varying degrees of success.

  • You will see 12 year old white girls girating their hips like Pussycat Dolls. You will be mildly horrified, and try to distract your 5-yr-old daughter from the sight. "Hey Rachel, wanna put lipstick on mommy right now? Please?"

  • Some Second-grade boy will get up and tell terrible jokes. All the kids will laugh, all the adults will make terrible pretend chuckles. Most parents in the room have probably told their children they will be grounded for telling that joke just one more time.

  • The other boy, usually around age 11, will demonstrate his Karate/Tai-Kwan-Do moves. One of your sons will punch his friend trying to copy it. They will both find this funny.

  • One kid will sing a song really well. The others will mumble into the microphones, or just stand still for 3 minutes because they've forgotten the words. As your own kid's act approaches, you pray she manages to remember the words, or at least pretend well.

  • Finally, the worst of all...some single artist will be very popular, and you will hear this person's music often. Two years ago it was Avril Lavigne - we had, I kid you not, FOUR versions of Skater Boy performed. I now hate the song. This year it was Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. We lost track after FIFTEEN songs - thank goodness she has a lot of music out, only 2 repetitions that I recall. (And yes, my daughter also sang Hannah Montana. Better than her first choice, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy")

For those of you visiting for my blog contest....yes, you can post a comment here and be counted! I'll be posting again this afternoon, and finally revealing the earrings you can win. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Life in the Cube
Originally uploaded by texastesla

Starting today - enter to win your choice of earrings from my store (which one...come back tomorrow to find out!) or one of my "Cubical Art" original drawings - like this one!

Visit my Etsy store, and leave a comment on this blog about your favorite item. Make sure to leave a webpage or email address too, so I can contact my winner. You can enter ONCE per DAY.

See the post below for more details and ways to earn extra entries! Drawing will be held Thursday 4/17.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Giveaway - Woo Hoo!

Ladies and Gentlemen...are you ready?

Starting TOMORROW - Thursday, April 10th...

My FIRST blog giveaway!!!

I will be offering the winner a choice of earrings (one of the lovely selection in my Etsy store...but I'm not telling which just yet), OR an item from my "cubical art" series. (Pictures posted tomorrow as well)

To enter - please browse my Etsy Store, and leave a comment about which item you like best. No more than one entry per person, per day. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you if you win!

And a few incentives for YOUR help in cross-promoting this:
Mention my blog/store/contest on your site, and get 2 entries (must provide link)
When the number of people entered reaches 30, I will offer 1 consolation prize
when it reaches 60, I will offer 2 consolation prizes

Contest ends Wednesday April 16th, drawing to be held Thursday April 17th.

Ready? Go!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Masses Have Spoken!

And the answer to my blog poll on giveaways is....

Kinda unclear.

I'm going to leave it up through tonight, just to give everyone a chance to vote.

My thought at the moment is to offer a choice - either a set of earrings OR "cubical art", winner's pick. I'm also going to offer some %-off consolation prizes, # of which depends on the number of participants. I'll be posting my cubical art soon, so you can see what the choice really is!

Perhaps my next will be a semi-custom bracelet, since that seems popular.

And if you are one of the people who checked "I'd like to donate an item" - PLEASE, please, please convo me with details of what you'd like to offer!

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7th Double Feature!

Since my Double Features seem to be so popular, I’m doing it again – but this time, with a twist!

Today’s first featured seller is in the UK! Calexandra is a fun collection of handmade goodies ideal for gift giving. Purses, brooches, toys, greeting cards…all made with love and fun.

Calexandra is run by 30-something mum Charlotte. Charlotte has been on Etsy since October of 2007 – she stumbled across Etsy looking for something similar in the UK, and is very glad she did! (With 52 sales so far, I’m sure her happy customers are glad she did too)

Charlotte has been making her goods for about 3 years now. She originally trained in photography, so naturally started with making greeting cards. Her business has just grown from there, with each new specialty being self-taught. Charlotte confided to me that her work just “comes naturally”, although she claims it’s not really inspiration. Instead, she looks at the materials she has, thinks of nice ways to combine them…then gets to work.

A working mom to 20-month-old daughter Molly, Charlotte stays up late in the evenings to create her lovely items – but as she says, “I love working whilst the world sleeps.” Molly has no doubt played a role in the creation of Calexandra’s toy and baby sections – including the cute felted Whale – but she sneaks in other places too…like the adorable New Baby greeting cards. (Guess whose feet those are!)

And all my crafty friends, be sure to check out Charlotte’s other Etsy store, The Supply Shop!


My second featured seller is actually on *gasp* eBay! She’s a dear friend of mine, and her store is absolutely wonderful…so I decided to feature her!

Piwykit’s Designer Closet is a store run by my friend Emily, a newlywed living in Dallas. Piwykit specializes in designer clothes – both new and gently used – for absolutely stunning prices. If you love Coach, Chanel, St John, Gaultier…then visit Piwykit’s store frequently!

Emily started her Piwykit eBay store in August of 2000, listing whatever steals she could find in the upscale thrifts of Dallas. Fortunately, there’s a lot of charitable Fashionistas in Dallas…and eventually she needed to take on an assistant…me!

I’ve known Emily since 2001; we are both engineers and worked at the same company until 2006. When she approached me in early 2005 about working as her eBay assistant, I was thrilled. She taught me the ropes of designer clothes (improving my tastes at the same time) – and eventually I was able to launch out on my own.

Emily’s eBay statistics are stunning – she’s a PowerSeller with a rating of 1839, 99.6% positive. Someday, maybe, I’ll be as good as she is. In the meantime…if you’d like an authentic Chanel dress, a fun Coach purse, or affordable cashmere top – visit Emily at Piwykit!

Shameless Bragging

I'm putting the finishing touches on my Feature Monday post, but in the meantime...

I just have to brag a little! My eldest son Carson (age 8) and I ran a 5k yesterday in Portland. (Oregon) Carson was interviewed by a local station - KATU channel 2. I got about 2 seconds of video time myself (frazzled hair and arms full of stuff). Look about 3/4 of the way into the clip, for a kid in a white shirt. :-)

Video is here

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I love Spring

It's very nice today...mostly sunny, reasonably warm. So out to the park we went, with camera in hand. Took some fun shots, then once it started to drizzle, we came inside to warm up - and I played with photo edit a bit! :-)

Here's a few fun examples based on today's excursion. Enjoy!

This picture has been edited...can you tell how?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Other great blog giveaways!

While I'm deciding what to do for my own giveaway...here's a few great ones I've run across!

Persimmons Gal - $40 of merchandise, including jewelry and handmade cards

Woolies is offering a pretty pendant on this site.

On JLC Studio is a cute pair of dangly earrings from Pretty Sweet Designs.

For art photography fans, suburose is holding a "green door" giveaway of a great print from Wanderlust Designs.

Or how about some great new soap from Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen?

Finally, pick your own prize from Etsy Artists of Color, $25 value. Wow!

Your Ad Here?

In my poll above (please vote if you haven't already!)...I included a bit about "I'd like to donate..." just for kicks and giggles. Still, 3 people checked it!

Are people interested in donating a small item for a giveaway on this blog, in exchange for essentially free advertising? If you ARE - please leave a comment (with a link or email address) or email me at texastesla (at) gmail (dot) com with what you'd like to 'donate'!

Here's what I'm thinking:

You provide an item of at least $10 value for the giveaway. (You can send to me or promise to mail yourself)

You get:

Top of blog mention for length of giveaway (1 week)

Feature of your store in this blog

Free ad in this blog for length of giveaway

As much promotion as I (and you) are able to drum up in Etsy forums, flickr, myspace, etc

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Did You Know I Can Draw Too?

Yep, I can. This fact amazes even my hubby, who’s seen my Darth Vader and Mystery Machine free-hand drawings at previous kid birthday parties. (So he should know better!)

Yesterday, in the middle of a completely boring teleconference, I started drawing. Not mere doodles…not for this conference. I had a solid 15 minutes of nothing worth my time, so I decided to actually DRAW. I took pen to paper, and created the mini scene in front of me…annoying phone, stack of notes, and cup of Pepsi. For a 2” x 2” drawing, it’s actually quite good – I even mockingly named it “Tele-Blather” and affixed it to a large yellow Post It. It’s now decorating my cubical wall.

Which got me to thinking…about a little mini series of drawings, all work-related. I wonder if anyone would be interested in it. I could even mat and self-frame them, attach them to cubical “tape” so they’d stick to those annoying fabric walls. Hmmm…

Along those lines, I’m also thinking of doing my first blog giveaway. Unless someone wants to volunteer an item (and I’d promote your store/blog like crazy for it – even create free ad space)…I’ll have to generate the item. Would people prefer a small jewelry item, or perhaps one or two of the mini-scenes I’m thinking of? Perhaps I should run this as a poll.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

MySpace….must I?

In the course of joining Etsy, I’ve learned so much about online presence and online sales. It’s why I started this blog (my personal blog is just TOO personal…and no, I won’t link to it here). It’s also why I joined Flickr – which I will admit I’m now addicted to, although originally it was supposed to help drive sales.
It's called a "bunny suit"...that cracks me up!

I’ve recently joined IndiePublic and BlogCatalog (see those icons on the left??), and while I’ve found more fun blogs to read – and have slogged my way through many more mediocre ones in the hopes of fun – again, the ultimate goal is to spread the link love, and perhaps drive some people here (and ultimately to my etsy or ebay sites).

So it’s with great trepidation that I read posts on Etsy’s Forums about MySpace. I have enough freakin’ stuff to do already! I mean, yes, for the most part blogging is fun, reading other blogs is fun…but there’s an element of WORK to it as well. If I’m sick, or tired, or swamped at my day job – I still have to find the time to do it! My online presence is just to new and fragile, it needs fed and cared for daily. Where am I supposed to find the time to create and maintain a MySpace page?

And to be honest…I don’t wanna! (Stomping feet like angry toddler) I have a few friends on MySpace (real, offline friends that is)….and their pages are either blank (new mom friend) or filled with silly stuff that reminds me of high school (sorry Daredevil Diva). I’m truly concerned that, even if I spend the time to do it, I won’t see any benefit…or worse, it will be so goofy and unprofessional that it will actually do damage to my business. I mean, heck, I’m a thirty-something scientist…it just doesn’t seem RIGHT to join all those college and high-school kids!

Anybody on MySpace who wants to prove me wrong? All the MySpace people I know seem like cultists to me.

“You gotta join, it’s great” “We have cookies after the leader speaks on YouTube!”

Me, at end of work day

So send me your links, tell me why I’m crazy/silly/stupid. Or maybe, MySpace refugees…tell me why I’m RIGHT to stay away!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Double Feature Mon...I mean TUESDAY!

Sorry loyal readers (and new ones too!)...this has been a crazy week for me. Really, really yucky head cold this weekend kept me in bed,, and when I managed to crawl to my day job yesterday, I was absolutely swamped with work. So I'm running late on my feature – my apologies!

This week I'm again featuring TWO great Etsy sellers – both very friendly people I met in the forums. And because of the time crunch, I've decided to excerpt my questions to them, instead of writing it all from scratch! First up is another jewelry seller, MissTeacher30.

MissTeacher30, or Kim in real life, is a relatively new Etsy seller who specializes in bridal and pearl jewelry. Her designs are very clean and pretty – lovely classic necklaces and earrings. Here's what Kim has to say about her creations:

I have been making jewelry for about 4 years now. It took my mom months to get me to my first jewelry making class. At first, I did a lot of work with stringing beads and making earrings. The second step I have only been doing for about a year and that is bead stitching. I now teach bead stitching classes at a local bead store. And I just recently learned pearl knotting!

Inspiration: A simple bead inspires me. When I walk into a bead store, I do not have an idea in mind and then find the beads to create it. Rather, it is almost as if the beads come to me. I pick out beads that are unique, but it is not until I sit down to bead that the ideas start to flow. What I create comes from somewhere in my head, not from a picture or piece I have already seen.

It's difficult for me to identify a single favorite piece – not because I like to many, but because I am always striving to make it bigger and better. Up until recently, I can honestly say I did not have a favorite piece of jewelry. However, after making this particular necklace for a bridal party, I thought “Hmmm, I did a pretty good job”. (It's the gorgeous 3-strand necklace to the right)

I have been part of Etsy since December 2007. I had never even heard of Etsy until someone mentioned it at an art show. As soon as I logged in...I was hooked. It has given me great opportunities to display my work and to meet a great group of people.

Like many artists dreams, one day I would like to be able to make a living from my jewelry. One day, I would like to be able to walk into a store and say, “I created that piece of jewelry.”

MissTeacher30 sounds so much like myself! I promise, it isn't me though...despite my affinity for pearls!


My second featured seller is totally different...RecycledIdeas has a wonderfully diverse shop with handmade paper, monkey prints, pendants, and decorated boxes. The overarching theme of course is recycling...including her wonderful “green gifts” - plantable cards!

RecycledIdeas has been open on Etsy just 6 months... but with over 120 items sold so far, that's been a successful 6 months! The shop owner has been making paper for more than ten years, and it shows in the quality and variety she offers! She also does pastel drawings and FIMO sculpting – quite a talent.

The inspiration behind RecycledIdeas lies in a love of primates, and a desire to help with conservation of them and their habitat. Not so surprising when you learn the seller has a PhD in psychology and is studying primate behavior! (That's one smart, successful, and creative woman)

RecycledIdeas share her two favorite pieces with me: “My first would have to be the pyramid box I made out of cardboard and handmade paper. It sold, and when it did I was so excited! I have been making them and giving them as gifts to friends and family for a long time so it was really gratifying to find that a complete stranger liked them too. I would have to say that the decorated Oregon Chai Tea box, that I will probably never sell, is my absolute favorite.” You can see pictures of both here, of course!

RecycledIdeas' biggest goal is to complete the primate portrait series she started. However, since she's been doing really well with handmade paper, there's also the possibility of landing a major wedding account. Imagine, seeded paper wedding invitations that could grow in the couple's favorite flowers!

You can visit RecycledIdeas' blog too, Field Notes from an Evolutionary Psychologist.