Friday, February 29, 2008

Birthday Fun

Perhaps I'm insane, but I kind-of like planning kid's birthday parties.

My youngest is having her birthday party tomorrow, and we are (gasp) pretty much ready. Her initial request for a party was "Enchanted Princess" (she saw the recent movie, and loves all things princess). However, with extra family coming in and a preschool full of new friends, we decided to forego the usual at-home party this time. Instead, we're having a "Little Mermaid" (still a princess!) Pool Party. Cake, presents, and splashing kids - should be great.

One of the best parts of my kids' parties is the planning. With my husband a stay-at-home dad for now, we live on a tight budget. Most parties are at home, with a theme, games, friends - but not a lot of fancy or store-bought items. Oh, we do get the fancy napkins and plates, maybe a tablecloth or banner - but beyond that, it's usually handmade by me. And that's a lot of fun.

Admittedly, a lot of work too - not nearly as much as the post-party clean up though!

Still, I'm rather proud of my creations for previous parties. I've hand-drawn The Mystery Machine (Scooby-Doo) and Darth Vadar - both on posterboard, both later hung in the birthday-kid's room. When our youngest son turned 6, we did Jedi Training School...and I created capes for everyone out of some thrift-store salvaged sheets. Those silly things are still wandering around our house!

I've baked and decorated more cakes than I can count - but some stand out, like the Spiderman (with great webs) and the Batman car cake. Do you know how hard it is to get icing to turn dark gray? Somehow, I managed to turn a cake into a road, with grass on the sides, and plant a LARGE BatMobile on it for the birthday boy. Still patting myself on the back for that one.

This party is different...our entertainment and 'decorating' is pretty much already done - we're in a big pool after all. So what's a crafty mom to do, creative skills thwarted for once. Ahhh...the glimmering of an idea...

A Princess Theme Songs CD! iTunes, here I come - at least the computer-geek side of me is happy now.

Leap Year Day - SALE!

It's the extra day of the year - time for something special! How about...20% off everything in my etsy store?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Bit of Politics

"We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog nonsense for this minimally important political message"

I realize that talking politics on a blog is a GREAT way to get flamed - and maybe lose readers - but I just have to cover this topic. I'm a businessperson after all, and this is important.
Today, President Bush said in a speech that "I don't think we're headed to recession. But no question, we're in a slowdown."

Quite frankly, this makes me angry. I've had my small business for over a year now, worked with other online sellers for another 2 years before that - and been in the workforce in general since 2000. The economy is in rough shape. People are decreasing their spending habits - browsing plenty still, but that looking is not converting to buying at the same rate. My costs for everything are going up - not just jewelry supplies, but food, gas, electric. Inflation is definitely rearing its ugly head, and frankly it's having an impact on my bank account.

To have our President say that this is a mere "slowdown" is insulting. Try buying your own groceries, sir. Or running a small business, where every dollar more you spend on gas, every extra $0.02 postage you are charged, all of it eats into your profits, and makes you wonder at what point you just need to stop doing business.

Does President Bush think he's doing anyone a favor by soft-pedalling the problem? Seriously?

Ok, message over. Go ahead and flame me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jackalope Nostalgia

On my desk, I have a Jackalope.

It's not a real one (ha!), not even a stuffed rabbit. It's a cute little 2" figure with ratty faux fur and purple antlers.

Today I'm feeling nostalgic about Ms. Jack. Enough to write this post, which has nothing to do with jewelry, etsy, ebay, or any of my usual topics.

In 1999, my brother graduated from college at Arizona State. The family made the trek from various locales to watch him walk, and spend a few days together relaxing. One day we drove out to Tortilla Flat, a small wide-spot on the frighteningly narrow Apache Trail road. We had a large minivan, which made the drive even more interesting - something about 7 people reminding the driver just how FAR down it was to the river.

Tortilla Flat is mainly a restaurant, with a few gift shops and such to browse before you go back to Phoenix. My family was browsing the gift shop while waiting for a table when my grandmother found her first Jackalope. I'll hand it to the shop owner - quite an impressive display of taxidermy, and the faux history with it was very interesting and somewhat believable. Grandma certainly believed it, and nothing anyone else said could convince her otherwise. She also kept asking me to look "on the internets" to prove her right, so I finally agreed to have some peace.

After the trip, life returned to somewhat normal. Grandma didn't bring up the Jackalope again, which was perfect since I had no intention of 'researching' it. Then, in one night of grand inspiration, my ex-husband and I - with my brother's help - created our own National Geographic-style information sheet on the Jackalope. It was greatness - history, latin name, pictures, even the yellow box and logo. We printed it and quietly circulated it among the family that attended the Tortilla Flats trip...and it's now family legend.

Unfortunately, the original file is gone, and the printouts have been safely 'stashed' beyond reach. Grandma has also left us, but telling the story (and recalling the details of the sheet) still gives us a wonderful giggle and glow. I can't remember everything, but here's a few snippets of the funniest thing I ever did.

North American Jackalope
Jackalopus Reallyfakus
also known as the Morman Chihuahua and Dollie's Folly

Believed to have crossed the land-bridge of creative taxidermy sometime before the ice age, the Jackalope now resides entirely in the United States. Primary habitat is Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and rural gift shops everywhere.

Diet consists of berries and foliage. Has been reported to spear fish from rivers, data is unconfirmed

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nah nah...this one's all mine!

I've yielded to the temptation (see my previous post) and am keeping this creation! The colors are just so wonderful together! Plus...when the ultra-supportive hubby says "I think that's your best piece yet" without prompting, it needs to go in MY jewelry box!

The good news for Etsy shoppers (and all other jewelry fans) - I have just enough of that lovely deep blue chrysocholla left to make another pair! YES! I can have my cake AND eat it too! It will take me another day or so to make the "sell" in the meantime, enjoy my latest listing - "Celtic Dream" bracelet.

The Artisan's Dilemma

"Should I keep it?"

Those of us who handcrafted items know this question well. The creation of something new, special, and meaningful is not taken lightly, and part of the artist goes into each piece.

For those who sell their work, each creation is a fraught with questions. Ideally it is listed for SALE, to generate enough income to keep making more. And really, one can only keep so many of an item. Painters have only so much wall space to display their work. Jewelry-makers cannot cover their body in new pieces.

Still, there are times when an item speaks so clearly - keep me! Then the agony and rationalization begin. Perhaps wearing those earrings can be a form of advertising! That lovely tote bag should be displayed on my arm for best advantage. If it doesn't sell in 2 weeks I'll keep it.

Am I facing this decision currently? Of course! How will I decided? No idea....

Monday, February 25, 2008

Featured Seller - TrishLewis

This month, I will be featuring charitable buyers and sellers - that is, people either offering listing profits to charity, or buyers who purchased an item from my PURPLE collection.

Today's featured buyer/seller is TrishLewis. Trish purchased these lovely amethyst earrings from me - and donated the shipping cost as well - for a total donation of $4 to American Cancer Society. Thanks Trish!

Trish is a new Etsy seller - she joined in January 2008, and started listing in February. For all that she's from New York (ha ha - sorry Trish, former Jersey-girl speaking), she's a very sweet and friendly person - and a great addition to the Etsy family! You can see examples of her lovely work here, and of course more in her Etsy Store. Here's a description of her skills and inspiration in her own words:

"I specialize in unique Art Glass and gemstone pendant necklaces, and I also create other jewelry with gemstone beads and sterling. After a lifetime of creativity (including beading, acting, and singin' the Blues), I started playing with Art Glass in 2002. All the colors and finishes made me happy just looking at them! Over the years, I've refined my styles and techniques."

"I'm inspired by the Impressionists - especially their use of color. What am I dying to make someday? I'd love to be in Monet's Garden at Giverny, using the colors of his Waterlilies to create my masterpiece...maybe an Art Glass necklace with much finer gemstones than I can afford to use now"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shop for a Good Cause!

Based on events in my personal life (see this previous post), I have decided to use my Etsy profits to make a donation to the American Cancer Society. My goal is to raise $100 or more by the end of March. See my shop announcements and Etsy profile for more detail!

Right now, I'm donating all profits - up to $50 per item - on everything with PURPLE in my store. These beautiful new "Flowers of Hope" amethyst earrings, for example, would generate $10 towards the donation!

I started this Donation Drive on Thursday night, 2/21...and already have a purchase! My buyer is a sweet new Etsian who also makes wonderful jewelry - TrishLewis. TrishLewis was even wonderful enough to donate her shipping costs as well! Thank you very much Trish, and welcome to Etsy!

I will be posting on this subject every Friday, and will feature ALL my buyers for the week on the following Monday - so not only are you helping a good cause, you will also get FREE advertising. Please shop with me!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Did you watch the eclipse last night?

By some miracle, the clouds actually left our Oregon sky last night! We were able to take the kids out and watch the eclipse. Our eldest - 10 - was very impressed, and stay with me talking about what was happening and why. (Got to encourage science whenever I can!) The other three thought it was neat, but got rather cold quickly and lost interest in spurts. Then again - can you blame them? It's a rather slow process after all.

Once we were all warm, and the kids were tucked into bed, I settled into my latest project. Yesterday I made a "flower" - 7mm pearl with amethyst chips in a circle around it. My original idea was a pendant, but the result seemed a bit small for that. So last night I hung it on an earhook, and decided it would be a great earring - which meant I needed to make a second one!

This might sound like no big deal...but amethyst chips are difficult to get in uniform sizes, and can have some color variation too! I had to sort through 40 or so, to get 8 that were close enough to the original. Still, I think the result is worth it. The earrings are now done, and ready for pictures and listing.

I still want to do a pendant with this style, but I'm thinking I might need 2 rows of amethyst 'petals' to get it to the right size. Could be a challenge!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How could I miss this?

I'm offering FREE SHIPPING!!! Any item from my etsy store, now until the end of February.

AND - mention my blog and get FREE GIFT WRAP/BOX to go with that FREE SHIPPING!
How about this lovely necklace - wouldn't it make a great gift?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I don't normally do this - but prayers/thoughts would be welcome

My cousin Donna, a mom in her mid-40s, was diagnosed with liver cancer this summer. She's been agressively pursuing chemo (surgery was not an option), although the prognosis was not good. Donna has a son who just started college.

Yesterday, we learned from my Aunt that Donna has been hospitalized. Her tumors have spread, and she is disoriented and unable to eat. She doesn't have much time left.

I watched my grandmother succumb to cancer when I was in high school. It is a painful, frightening experience. If you believe in prayer, *please* say a prayer for Donna...not for a miracle, but for smaller blessings: relief from pain, a chance to be herself long enough to say her goodbyes, and a merciful ending.

Busy Weekend - 2 items from it

Ok, so the busy part was more at home. Three day weekend with gorgeous weather - so yeah, definitely busy! I did have a chance to make 2 bracelets...all the new green around us really inspired me, and when I found some extra pearls from a custom order last month, I knew exactly what to do with it!

Seeds of Spring I - Pearl, amethyst, and peridot. A pretty bouquet of early crocuses, for your wrist.

Seeds of Spring II - Delicate peridot and pearl. Like green stems poking up through soft snow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My entry for Kieutiepie's contest!

This was sure fun to make...but now I don't know what to do with it!

Do I mount it on cardstock and sell it? Embellish it with gears and other 'robot' items? I've never done this kind of thing before.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I feel old today

My "baby girl" is about to turn 5, and today I'm filling out Kindergarten registration forms for 2008-2009 school year. Just doesn't seem possible. At all.

As I meet more and more people on Etsy, I feel older and older too. So many of them are young - some even still in high school! I was a pretty with-it kid in high school, active and smart and all...but no way would I have the patience and commitment to have an Etsy shop back then! Or the college kids - they amaze me too. I know what college is like, "busy" doesn't cover the half of it.

And while I'm being amazed by these young people, I'm wondering...when did I leave that category? I'm in my early 30s, for pete's sake - not my 60s! And yet, undeniabley, THEY are young, and I am not.

I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready to be old, or even "middle aged"!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


My hubby is so sweet...and so poetic. He sent me tulips at work today - pretty pink and white ones. And the card was so nice!

"This is our marriage

A strong base: clear, open, without secrets.

The Green leaves for our growing family.

The soft pink bloom, for the wonderful woman I treasure above all else.

The white for the pure, true love of hearts and minds."

On to my next creation...but details are fuzzy!

I have some creamy pearls, peridot pieces, and really nice amethyst chips remaining...I have a few vague thoughts about what to make, but can't really decide!

One idea is a pearl bracelet, but put amethyst chips between the pearls. Maybe even amethyst AND peridot alternating. That would keep it very modern and unstuffy...yet classic too. Finish it with sterling silver findings.

Or, to get more funky, a 2 or 3 strand necklace with randomly spaced pearls, peridot, and amethyst - maybe even a few dangles? A very nebulous idea...I'm wondering if the gray pearls in my collection would work better, since I'd be using sterling chain for the necklace. Hmm....

Either way, both will be a bit higher priced ($50 to $90) - and since I've not sold on etsy yet, I'm just a wee bit nervous about adding higher priced items!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Coming soon - KieutiePie's contest!

I'm helping get her February contest up and moving...she's picked a Robot theme (if you've seen her blog, you'll understand) and is offering GREAT prizes. Ad space on her blog, a custom banner, and a very cute Robox.

Details are here:

What a fun little contest! Start thinking of YOUR Robot item now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Here it Red Aventurine necklace!

Finally got pictures taken and the listing up...

Now I'm nervous that no one will like it. Ugh. Listing is like sending your children out into the love them, you feel they are special, but will everyone else feel that way too?

I know at the moment, my "Four Darlings" pendant is beat this in views...and while I like that pendant, it wasn't nearly the same labor of love! Oh well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Coming soon - red aventurine necklace!

Or at least, it's called red - it's really a warm orangy color, with subtle sparkles (from mica inclusions). It's very pretty, and fun to work with! I have several different shapes, so will be able to use this pretty stone in several pieces.

I've started with a 16" necklace, using the aventurine mixed with mother of pearl rounds - which have a both a lovely champagne and a creamy white color mixed. It's also embellished with cream pearls. I have just a few finishing touches to add, and it will be ready to list!

I'm also thinking of creating some earrings - not matching the necklace, but certainly coordinating - and perhaps an embellished pendant from the remaining donut shape. I've seen some pictures with turquiose mixed with this same red aventurine, and I'm eager to experiment with that color combination.

Monday again

Always seems to arrive too quickly!

Didn't get nearly as much done this weekend as I'd hoped. I have some lovely red aventurine pieces from nearly a month ago, just sitting in my collection. Finally started a necklace with them, my first embellished piece...but couldn't get too far, since it still hurts to sit still too long! Oh well, guess I'll do what I can, when I can...

On a funnier note, we created a video "card" for my brother's birthday - a joyful madness with all the kids. My brother is in Sri Lanka, and doesn't get to see the kids often, so I'm hoping he likes it. We had each kid with an 'instrument' - our oldest, Bailey, actually plays trumpet but is a beginner. The others had guitar, recorder, and a music with Dad singing and 'conducting', and me playing piano, we kinda sang Happy Birthday. It's a wonderful and funny mess!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Oh, my aching...

Rear end! We took the children to SkateWorld today, as a reward for doing extra chores all week. It was lots of fun, but at one point my youngest knocked me down...and I feel right on my tailbone. OWW

It's been 6 hours since that fall, and I'm still hurting...and the worst part is, it hurts to sit for too long! I'd planned on spending some time this weekend doing taxes and making jewelry - now I'm not sure I can sit still long enough.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Excel Inventory Example

By request from the forums's an example of using Excel formulas to make your inventory calculations easier! I hope this helps - but feel free to CONVO me or email me ( for more help. (Sorry, it's just a pic - couldn't upload a file very easily)

I'd even be willing to help create an new inventory sheet for somebody...for a small consultation fee. :-)

Yikes - put my foot in it yesteryday....

Wrote a post asking about "altered art" - meant to just be "what is it", but guess I was a bit mean in how I said it. (Tough day at work, but that shouldn't be an excuse...)

Had several very nice comments, and some good responses that showed really nice examples of the work - which really helped me understand AND appreciate it.

However, overnight (this a.m.?) some people posted who were obviously PO'd at the way I asked. Wow...yet, when I reread my original posts, it WAS NOT a very nice way to ask the question. Yikes. I hope I've not made enemies....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Well, it's up - why am I not happy?

I finished the creation of my butterfly charm bracelet - really like how it turned out. (Nice when the mental picture matches reality) Started listing, and as I wrote out a description...I almost got teary-eyed! I can't keep every item of my daughter's...I really can't. This is sweet, and pretty - and will make someone happy. I'm a bit sad. It's here:

Look out for refugees from ebay

I still have my ebay business - women't clothing mostly - and the blogs there are just burning up with anger over the changes. It's kind of immature, really, lots of talk about how the feedback change "isn't fair". Ha - life isn't fair. This is a business, ebay needs to make money just like you do...and they've been losing buyers with the retailatory feedback issues lately.

What I find interesting is that the people most angry are the ones defending a seller's right to hold feedback over a buyer's head! I've been on both sides - and darn it, if I pay on time and give you a correct address, I deserve a positive. Period. Me not being happy with YOUR service (slow shipping, no response to emails, item disappointing)...that's not MY fault.

Let's think about it this way. Say you go to Macy's to buy a shirt. You pay for it, and walk out - but when you get it home, you realize that it's not 100% silk like advertised. So you want to take it back - but they tell you they'll have to penalize you, perhaps with a ding on your credit report. Does that make sense? Of course not - the seller needs to take responsibility here.

Anyway, that topic has been done to death on ebay, so enough from me....but the overall impression is that plenty of people are threatening to leave. Some will (some will probably return in a few months) - no doubt all the auction/ecommerce sites will see an upsurge.

And before anybody points out that *I* am new...I opened my etsy store in December, well before ebay's announcement!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Darn it, I want my first etsy sale!

And I want it so bad....I'm offering FREE SHIPPING to my first buyer!

Come on...I know there's plenty of interest in my stuff. Somebody HAS to be tempted by this!

Oh no - I've been Tagged!

Chocolate Canary - thanks a bunch! Although, this is my first time being tagged, so I guess I'm actually flattered in a way...

Now to find some bloggers to tag!

Here's the Rules as I understand them:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post be leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

My 7 random facts:
1. I'm a physicist. You know, the science types who created nuclear bombs.
2. I'm a very good cook when I bother to do it.
3. I'm named for a stripper. Yep, the girls on poles. LONG story.
4. I have my grandfather's first name as my middle name (I'm a GIRL!) - another LONG story
5. I named my daughter after a character in a SciFi novel
6. My work and weekend personas are totally different - it creeps my hubby out
7. I'm an arachnaphobe. Big time.

Now, on to my next set of bloggers!
MLou Is Pink
Dancing Mooney
Handmade by Coonies
Random Notions
Dharma Designs

Check out these bloggers - so much interesting variety!

Check out my first creations!

I put together 2 new "Kids Jewelry Kits" with input from my daughter. Still need to tweak the listing titles and such, but....what do you think?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hmmm....a quandry

My eldest daughter (10) is really wanting to 'be like mom'. She signed up for a beading 'class' at school - a little something done during recess once a week - and she wants to watch and help every time I pull out my supplies.

My husband, of course, thinks I should encourage this....and while I agree with him, it DOES increase the amount of work *I* have to do. Plus - do we try to sell her items? He thinks we can "market" them to her friends for cheap ($3-5 each) with the intent of getting business cards into their parents hands. Not a bad thought. Me, I was thinking of starting a little smaller...let her help me assemble some of the "kid kits", see how she does coordinating colors and such, maybe even have her make some examples.

And of course the REAL problem - once I let ONE kid be involved, they will ALL want to be! I'll have to have "Rachel's Princess kit" and "Carson's Superhero kit" get the idea! Although perhaps that's not a bad way to market it either....FOR kids, BY kids. Hmmm....

Anybody got any thoughts on this one?

Kids jewelry kits - giving it a try

Everybody I talk to seems to think it's a good idea....kits of beads (and stretchy string) that let them create their own bracelets yet still be creative.

Hit the store and picked up some unique beads in kid-friendly material and colors. Also some blank beads and paint so I can add a few handmade touches. Keep an eye on my etsy store ( for my first few kits to arrive!

Started my "Upcycle" bracelet last night

It's about half done - have the links, the butterfly charm, and the blue crystal cubes on. I've scrounged up some odds and ends of pearls (3 shades), and will add them on.

Me, I'm a minimalist when it comes to most jewelry....but I think this bracelet will need lots of dangling pearls to help balance the larger charm. Can't wait to finish it tonight and get pictures done! (Amazing how excited you get when a project is half done - ha ha)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Is there such a thing?

As "Found Art jewelry"? A question I'm pondering today....and if I have time, will post to the Etsy forums.

I ask, because I'm contemplating a bracelet, and thought it would be a good descriptor. See, I've had these very nice cobalt-blue Swarovski cubes, but no idea what to do with them. Then, yesterday I found this little crystal butterfly pendant. Used to be attached to a dress of my 'baby' girl...the dress is gone, but this pretty pendant is left. And the 2 shades of blue reminded me of those cubes...

Suddenly, I have the thought of a bracelet...sterling links, the cubes, maybe some small pearls or something - and that butterfly as the center piece. I think it will be adorable.

Can I - should I - label it as "Found Art" or something similar?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And creation number two today

Real freshwater pearl dangle, with Czech pressed-glass flowers. Lovely shades of peach, rose, and mauve. So delicate and pretty!

Announcing my latest creations

I was busy today! Made 2 pairs of earrings and a necklace. First up...

Vintage Flowers, Modern Twist

Vintage pressed glass flowers, with Swarovski crystal pearls. I love this petite little necklace. Earrings to match of course - and available from my etsy store.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What to make tonight?

I have a large supply of material now - some gold, lots of silver. Amethyst stones, peridot, white pearls...lots of swarovski. Just trying to come up with a few ideas. It's been a while since I simply made something out of the blue - I've done enough custom work lately that entails at least SOME direction from the customer.

Oh, the choices!

First blog here!

Welcome to my first blog as TexasTesla! I've been blogging on my personal website, mostly griping about how hard it is to lose weight...but I've learned that having a business blog can also be good!

So, I've created this blog to support my business - TexasTesla's Custom Jewelry Design. I have a webpage with my many creations...

I also sell on etsy directly

Hopefully I can use this blog to talk about the fun and challenges of creating artisanal, one of a kind, handcrafted jewelry - and maybe make a few blog friends along the way.