Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
This is Spring Break week for our kids (like so many). It's not the best weather in Oregon...and with our bank accounts rather low (stupid new car) a trip to "warm and sunny" wasn't in the cards. So...I've been working like normal. Pffft.
I did decided to spend at least 1 day with my spawn - so I'm off tomorrow. We decided to drive to the Oregon coast tonight (hopefully I can slip out of work a little early...). It will be chilly (48F is we're lucky), quite possibly raining, likely foggy. Not anybody's idea of Spring Break - but at least it will be NOT HOME and NOT WORK.
On the plus side, our large hotel room has a fireplace, and looks out on the ocean. We can sip hot cocoa and listen to the waves....maybe jump in the indoor pool. Hmmm...this could be relaxing and fun...wish me luck!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I have a newish car…it’s a 2004 model, but I just bought it less than three weeks ago, so it feels NEW to me. And this makes me SO mad.
We’ve all done it – you get out of your car, perhaps in a hurry, and realize you’ve just whacked the car next to you with your door. You surreptitiously check out the spot while pretending to look in your purse/check pockets for mystery item/fix offspring’s ratty hair. Most times, you sigh with relief when you see no damage…then hustle your family through whatever your errand was so you can, please g-d, leave before the other person gets back.
But what do you do when you see a big dent?
Me, I’ve been lucky enough to never dent a car. So I’ve got to guess that the answer is…NOTHING. Because somebody, most likely here AT MY WORK, whacked my new car hard enough to dent it and chip the paint down to the primer.
Man, am I pissed.
Gardasil for boys too
Our eldest daughter got her first shot of Gardasil this week…the HPV vaccine that is supposed to protect against cervical cancer. I’m all for this vaccine, even though it really does hurt more than other shots. (It’s not just whiney teenagers being dramatic)
I couldn’t help but wonder, however…as I gazed at the blond heads of my boys eating dinner last night…why aren’t boys getting the shot too? Ok, yes, the obvious reason of not having a cervix. Still, since HPV is an STD – that means men are carriers of the disease, and passing it around! Would it not stand to reason that we should immunize men too, so they can’t be carriers…and can’t pass HPV along to unprotected women?
Perhaps there’s something to either HPV or the transfer mechanism that prevents this – but I haven’t seen anything about that. If it’s just “men don’t get cervical cancer” as the reason…then that’s incredibly sexist!
Don’tcha hate spam? The nasty canned meat, AND the email kind?
We have three little guinea pigs – the kids love them, but they are just too much to deal with. Plus, the eldest son and possibly eldest daughter seem to be allergic to them (or maybe it’s the bedding)…and hubby definitely is. So…we’re looking for new homes for Ashley, Spiky, and Squeaker. (Anyone interested?!?)
I’ve posted an ad on Craigslist, as well as one on PetFinder.com – and have been absolutely deluged with spam from PetFinder. Creepy ones, sent to 20 or 30 email addresses, saying, “I am interest in you Pet. I live in US, have good home” etc. I can’t decide if these are email-phishing attempts, scary people who want my name/address, or what. I’m just very, very sure that I’m unhappy with PetFinder!
Stupid Oregon drivers
There’s so much that can be said here – see “Door Dings” above. However, specifically I’m thinking of the idiot in the white Jetta this morning, who made a left turn across a busy road – against the red light – without even flashing his/her brake lights. If you drive a white Jetta, and made such a left across Brookwood in Hillsboro around 8am this morning – YOU ARE A F*#@ING IDIOT. I don’t think you heard me this morning, so just wanted to repeat.
Etsy Alchemy…it’s addicting. Yep.
Monday, March 24, 2008
First is Two Bees in A Pod, a mother-daughter cardmaking team who have been on Etsy just two months. Their work is eye-catching and fun – and selling well already. Even more amazing, they’ve been making their products for just 4 months!
Two Bees finds inspiration from lots of places, pulling ideas for color, pattern, and ‘feel’ together in their creations. As the daughter told me about the work, “My cards are from the heart, the effort I put into them and the time I take to think of the perfect design takes a lot. I make affordable cards, I don’t know how many times I find cards online that are overpriced that anyone could make in less than 5 minutes.”
Their most popular (and favorite) items are the small “thank you cards” – perfect for Etsy sellers. Two Bees offers a great selection of all-handmade thank you cards…which reminds me, I need to order some too! The “Your Pick” listing of 5 options relisted 7 times in a month – clearly I’m not the only one who likes them.
Two Bees offers other paper goods, such as small tags – with ambitions to move into altered notebooks, paper pads, and other office supplies. I’m sure they will all be great!
You can also visit Two Bees at their blog - http://www.twobeesinapod.blogspot.com/
My second featured seller is another mother-daughter team! HoldTheFlour is new to Etsy, but Mari and Carolyn have been making their special “diaper cakes” for two years. For those who’ve never heard of a diaper cake (like me at first)…rolled diapers (or new towels) are used to make the shape of a tiered cake…then decorated with various goodies.
HoldTheFlour has many options of diaper/towel cakes. Adorable Layettes with stuffed animals and pacifiers. Bridal bath cakes with organic bath products and soy candles. Beach cakes with sunglasses, sunscreen, and a Frisbee. Even Spa cakes – perfect for Mother’s Day gifts! All are visually appealing and lots of fun. Mari tells me they pride themselves on simple, earth-friendly cakes – they specially select the bath products, and choose baby items that are really useful.
Mari and Carolyn aren’t stopping there, however. They have a “Twin” cake planned for the baby section, and are working on a golf-themed cake for Father’s Day. And they have ambitions of someday being able to add organic linens – maybe even their own!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Etsy is a great place to meet new people, and find new blogs - but I've also stumbled across a few through BlogCatalog and comment pages too.
So...I've added about 6 new blogs that I think are fun. They are mixed in with all my other blog roll favorites. Are you on the list? (If not...be sure to leave me a comment about why you should be!)
It's Friday, late afternoon. Time to go home, get some dinner, and relax from a LONG week at work. I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and be sure to come by on Monday for my DOUBLE FEATURE of great Etsy sellers!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Apparently, the mom filed for a restraining order against her soon-to-be-ex husband. In that request, she stated that she feared for her life, and her son’s. This was the second time she filed for a restraining order against this man. Other women have also filed RO’s – so clearly this man is a problem.
Some idiot of a judge decided to modify the restraining order, and give the husband visitation rights. UNSUPERVISED visitation rights.
Can you guess where this is leading?
So this weekend, the guy picks up his son, and off they go camping. When they don’t return on Sunday, the woman calls the police.
They issue an arrest warrant on Monday.
On Tuesday both man and son are found dead, pretty classic murder-suicide.
The judicial system failed this poor woman. Completely failed her. Instead of protecting her, they have allowed that man to hurt her in the worst way possible.
I’m shocked, and angry, and incredibly sorry for her.
Ok, I admit – lame title. Coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, I guess. (Probably because it’s instant stuff, instead of the real, brewed, yumminess found at my local coffee places)
I’m in a link-hopping kind of mood today. It started on Flickr last night, and I still can’t get enough. I opened a picture from one of my friends, and a commenter’s avatar caught my eye…so off I wandered to their pictures….and someone else’s…
I probably visited 10 total stranger’s photos last night, leaving comments in my wake. Woke up to new friends, and a new addiction! Can’t wait for my next break to go looking at Flickr again this way – great way to discover random and fun pictures.
It got me thinking, what kind of BLOGS might I find this way? If I read someone’s blog, then follow either a blogroll link, or the link for a comment. This could be rather enlightening – and possibly more rewarding than random searches through BlogCatalog.
Want me to wander your way? Be sure to leave a comment – I’ll start with all my recent comments! And why not wander with me, either through blogs or flickr…bet you’ll like it too!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Me with my youngest 2 kids
1. In high school, I was a coloratura soprano (I could sing really, really high notes). Then in my senior year I did a concert with bronchitis, lost my voice for 2 weeks, scarred my vocal cords…and I’m lucky to get to high A now. I still enjoy singing, but it’s just not the same.
2. I’m a would-be fashion snob…if only I had the budget and body to actually buy designer clothes. I make do with accessories, mostly bought from Nordstrom’s Rack and eBay. (Kate Spade purses are my favorite)
3. I’m trying to get a designer body! I’ve been on WeightWatchers for 10 months now, and have lost 21 pounds. I’ve struggled a bit the past few months, but have recommitted and look forward to more loss.
4. My friend Emily and I went through painful divorces at about the same time. We both decided to do something a little wild, and that our ex’s would have hated. I’m not sure if she regrets hers, but I don’t regret mine! And that’s all I’m saying…my mom occasionally reads my blog. :-)
5. I miss my brother terribly. He’s currently in Sri Lanka (at the Consulate), and that’s really, really far away. We don’t even get to talk on the phone much. Sometimes I envy him too…he travels so much, and sees incredible parts of the world…but mostly I wish he was closer, so we could meet for lunch and talk politics now and then. That's him with his fiance Anne, somewhere cool. And his neat travels are partially documented here.
6. I think I’m addicted to books. I can sit and read and completely ignore the world around me for hours…and sometimes I long to get back into a book, despite what’s going on around me. Sometimes I wonder if that’s really a bad thing.
7. When I was little (3 or 4) I smashed my thumb in a car door. It was literally squished flat, and to this day the bone is malformed and larger on my right thumb – visibly so, if you look carefully.
I’m going to be coy about whom I’m tagging…will go check blogs to make sure they haven’t been tagged yet, for one. So any readers who are curious – you’ll have to look on my blogroll to find out for sure!
Monday, March 17, 2008
1. How long have you been selling on Etsy? If you include my other shop (tackybackintime – sells primarily vintage pieces), since summer of 2007...but this is my first handmade shop and we've just announced our grand opening!!
But...here's my new business cards, professional printed and everything! (Bit washed out by the flash....and that's my 5 year old holding it)
I sell gently used women's clothes from the higher-end stores. I carry many labels, one of which is Chico's - a label aimed at middle-aged women, usually priced in the $70-$150 range per piece. (I usually charge $18-$30 per item) Chico's has a very popular line called Travelers - it's a knit blend that resists wrinkles and drapes rather well on the body.
Unfortunately, Travelers knit tends to look "thin" compared to standard knit items. If you bought it in the Chico's Store, the saleslady would tell you all the great reasons for it. When you buy it off ebay (and don't know Travelers very well)...to many people, it looks WORN.
So today, I'm issuing my second refund for "worn" Travelers. I have a return policy for just this reason...but it's only been used for these items.
Considering the demand for Chico's pieces in general has been declining...paired with THIS problem...I'm seriously considering NOT offering it anymore.
BTW - I personally won't wear Chico's. Too school-teacher looking to me!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
PDX Etsy's Buy One, Get One Sale!
Many shops with a variety of items - and lots of great deals!
Look here for the FREE stud earrings I'm offering as well.
Or check out the Treasury of BOGO at this link.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Gold prices: If you’ve tried to buy gold or silver (sterling) components this month, you already know what I’m talking about. In the past SEVEN MONTHS, the price of gold has risen from about $650 per oz to today’s high of $1000 per oz. That’s a 54% increase. FIFTY FOUR PERCENT…that staggers the mind. Just for some perspective, it took about 30 months for gold to rise from $420 to $650 (again, 54%). If you aren’t shocked, go read that again.
Silver prices: Ok, so gold is obscene, which is partly why sterling silver is very popular in jewelry right now. Silver is currently trading at just under $21 per oz…which seems cheap compared to gold, certainly. Still, when we look at historical data, silver has risen from $13 per oz a year ago, to the current $21 per oz – again, a 54% increase! And considering the price actually dropped in the summer, if we compare the August 2007 price of $11.80 per oz to today’s value, that increase jumps to over 75%. Again, over the course of just SEVEN months.
Other metals are having the same increases in price - including aluminum and steel, which are the components of most "base metal" findings. And don't even ask about copper - the recycle market is high enough that thieves will risk their lives to get some!
The fall of the US Dollar: If you live somewhere other than the US, ignore this part – it’s actually helping you a little. For all my American readers, however…in case you haven’t heard, the value of the Dollar has been plummeting. At the moment, 1 USD is worth just 0.64 Eurocents. 64 cents! Ouch. And the fall in value is not just with Euros – it’s close to across the board with other currencies. So those made-in-China items that you can get so cheap are going to be less cheap. Hey, it’s a good reason to buy American again! (Shop Etsy for supplies – great deals)
Rising Oil prices: Welcome back international readers – this one affects YOU too. As the price of crude oil rises, we see the prices at our local gas stations rise too. Guess what – all your suppliers (big and small) get hit with the same increase. It costs more to transport your goods, whether done by car, boat, or plane. And that pain will be transferred to you, in higher prices for goods or increased shipping costs.
So how can you deal with this? Shop local, whenever possible – this reduces the transportation (oil/gas) costs of your material. Buy in bulk for discounts. See if you can join other local artists to get even larger wholesale discounts. Beyond that…unfortunately, there’s not much a small buyer or seller can do.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I love my kids – all of them, unreservedly. Three of them may not be mine biologically, but they are still “mine”, and I do my best to make them feel that way. I know I’m not the perfect mom, and I’ll confess…I sometimes feel overwhelmed when dealing with the oldest kid. I mean, when you are used to a 3 year old, and suddenly add an 8 year old to your family, it can be a shock to the system.
As a child of divorce myself, I’m very aware of the emotions involved in divorce and remarriage. It’s tough on children, especially since they have issues sharing a parent with their own siblings – let alone some stranger they have to call “stepmom”. Add in the emotional conflict when you grow to like that stepmom, and wonder if you are a traitor to “real mom” for feeling that way…oh yes, that’s hard enough for adults to deal with!
So, I’ve always expected some rough patches. My husband and I didn’t insist that anybody say “mom” or “dad” if they weren’t comfortable with it. The transition from “Amber” to “Mom” was gradual, and the occasional “Amber” still pops up…and I’m OK with it. (Heck, sometimes I don’t want to be Mom, I just want to be myself) Still, things have been going fairly smoothly. A few verbal head-butts over discipline and such, but no terrible “You aren’t my mom, and I hate you!” moments.
At least, not until this week.
In my eldest daughter’s defense…she’s had a rough week. Sprained her ankle, which hurt a lot, scared her some, and interfered with her sleep. Plus, reports come out Friday, and I know she’s stressed about her math grade.
Other family dynamics play in here too…I won’t go into gory personal details, but her “real mom” is not as present in her life as she could and should be. In fact, “real mom” hasn’t seen the kids since last August, and won’t see them again until this summer’s visitation starts in June. That’s a long time to go, even with the occasional phone call. (Which, at one to two every few weeks, is pretty “occasional”)
Last night, the eldest and the youngest boy both had problems listening. Repeatedly. Hubby and I had already decided a slightly early bedtime would benefit everyone (I hate daylight savings). So I sent those two upstairs to read a book together, and had the other two read a book downstairs – where they each got a cookie for dessert. Everyone went to bed at the same time. That was my “horrible” punishment for them – the loss of ONE cookie.
About 45 minutes after bedtime, the eldest appeared at the door to my office. Hubby was away at an HOA meeting, so it was just me. She was sniffly, like she’d been crying a little, but not blotchy and not actively crying. She asked to call her mom. I told her no, it was bedtime – and rather late for her mom too. We could try tomorrow. She went back upstairs to bed, and no further issues. (Understand, about once a week, the eldest has some reason why she needs attention – so we try to make sure all is well, but not encourage this behavior).
This morning, however, was a different story. Hubby went in to wake her up, and found a very angry “Dear Diary” letter where he couldn’t help but see it. (Since she doesn’t keep a diary, and this was written on a single sheet torn from a notebook…we’re guessing he was supposed to find it) There was a lot of unhappiness there, or to use Hubby’s new term – a “tantrum on paper”. The one thing that bothers me, however, is her accusation that I was keeping her from her mom.
It’s not real, it’s said out of unhappiness that she doesn’t see her mom very often…plus some unhappiness over the loss of the cookie. Still, it hurts. Hurts more than I thought it would, even understanding it. Worst is, I don’t know how to make it better for her! I can’t force “real mom” to call, to spend more time with them. I’m almost afraid now to reach out more, but afraid if I don’t, she won’t have enough mommy-love.
Good gosh, raising kids is hard.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Erin’s shop was chosen for her commitment to charitable causes. She is the leader of the Etsy for Charity Street team – a group that picks a charity each month, and members donate a portion of profits to. March's charity is Sightsavers International, a wonderful group that strives to save the eyesight of children and adults across the world. The Team has almost 70 listings for sale, all donated from members. How wonderful!
Erin also started her own community charity, KnitForNeighbors. This charity sends scarves to homeless shelters and needy people in Denver (where CagedBirdSings is located). What a generous heart!
Asked about her favorite piece, Erin shared this pretty piece titled Memoir (right). With its vivid blues, greens, and yellows, this is a piece sure to brighten anyone’s day. And in case you’re wondering about the sound of these chimes (as any buyer would)…Erin even has links to short videos. She may be young, but she’s marketing savvy!
Please visit Erin’s Etsy shop and help her raise money for some wonderful causes!
A BANNER on this silly blog. Duh Amber. Guess I should spend some time and put together a nice one. Not to dark, to coordinate with the color template I have now. Hmm...what should I do for a theme?
Something with a nice script, and pictures of my more sophisticated items?
Fun and a little funky, with my more unique creations?
Silly with cats, Texas, and other name-related images?
Perhaps I'll make a poll out of this. *Update - I did! Please vote and help me decide!*
Friday, March 7, 2008
I mean, here I sit, at my exciting desk job, doing engineer-y things. Specifically, copying lots of measurement data into an Excel spreadsheet. Yee-haw, right?
And I'm bobbing my head along to my iPod while I do it; something, ANYTHING, to help relieve the tedium of 3 hours of data crunching.
While it plays a rather raunchy song by Nine Inch Nails. ('Animal' in case you must know)
Come on, laugh with me. Can you see some eyeglass-wearing, pocket-protector'ed geek from the 60's NASA glory days rocking out to "I want to f*** you like an animal..."? (YES, I do have headphones on!)
Got to go...just switched to Beyonce, and this geek can't type very well when Crazy In Love is playing...plus that data won't move itself!
Unfortunately, it has to be done. We are a two car family - no way to get around it - but the current arrangement isn't working. Since we have 4 kids in our blended family, we kinda have to own a gas-guzzler to get us around. It's big, it's blue, it gets 18 mpg when conditions are right...and right now, it's my 'commuter' car.
Switch cars with hubby you say? Great idea - except his car, while a sedan with better gas mileage, is on its last leg. Plus, it's a manual transmission, and I never learned to drive a stick shift. Ever. I should learn, I know that, but it's beside the point. This car needs replaced, like a year ago.
So off we'll go this weekend, making the rounds of the used car dealerships. Right now, hubby is still a SAHD, so we don't have the money to buy the car I want - new, from a dealership that brings you coffee and offers dinner at a steak place while they finish detailing your car. :'(
Instead, we'll be at the smaller places, with THIS GUY circling us like a shark. If we're lucky, we'll find a babysitter so we don't have 4 kids chirping helpful tidbits to the salesguy, like "mom hates negotiating" and "dad's just pretending, he really wants the car". On the other hand, if we're lucky, we'll have 4 tired and cranky kids with us for an excuse to leave - "sorry about that tantrum in your showroom, can we just roll the repair costs into the car?"
Can I interest anyone in a temp job paying minimum wage? Just for Saturday, I promise!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Today was supposed to be just another Thursday. Get up, dressed, feed kids, off to work. Was planning to hit the gym at lunch, and maybe do some jewelry making tonight before bed. Nothing terribly exciting.
Well, yesterday at school my eldest fell on the stairs. Hurt her ankle, but she was able to limp to the office so my husband could pick her up. It was painful and swollen, but as a veteran of more than a few ankle sprains myself, I figured it wasn't serious. She made it through her band concert last night ok, managing the transition up and down the stage ok.
It was when she woke us up at 3am complaining of pain that my day started changing. At 7am, the ankle was incredibly bruised, and Bailey claimed she couldn't move the foot at all. Clearly, we needed to visit the doctor for this one - still most likely a sprain, but we have to check. Unfortunately, today was a day off school for the other 3 kids...which means someone has to stay home with them!
So off hubby goes with the daughter, headed for 4 hours of doctor office and xray fun. I stayed home with the other 3 kids - feeling, oh, just a wee bit guilty that I was home, yet what else could I do? I played PlayDoh with the youngest, watched a little Guitar Hero performances from the boys, and took a few pictures for Etsy.
Not a bad day, just weird. And so full of activity - especially counting that 3am wakeup - that I'm rather exhausted...and it's only 3pm! *yawn*
I'm running rather short on time to create this post...so if you'd like to see the pictures I took while "playing hooky", you'll have to visit my flickr site. Heck, you didn't have anything better to do anyway, right?
**UPDATE: It is just a sprained ankle, no break. Thank goodness!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Yesterday was one of those days. I'd set aside my lunch hour to make some earrings - needing to replenish my etsy inventory, partly, but also finally ready to make some peridot-sparkly-drops I've been planning for some time. I know exactly what I want to do - two strands of fine-gauge sterling chain, with small rectangles of peridot and a super-sparkly sterling bead. Crimps on the ends and part-way up for stops, but allowing some movement of the beads.
I've worked with this peridot before, and know that I can't enlarge the hole without breaking the beads. Grrr. The chain is cut already, however, so I dig through my supplies for an alternative. Ah, some leftover amethyst beads - great, I need more purple items. Start to thread the chain in...and it sticks not quite halfway through. On all the beads I have.
D@mn it! Again!
Amethyst is soft, prone to chipping...I'm not risking damage by enlarging the hole. Getting mad, I look some more. I come across a few leftover pink pearls, and 2 lonely red hearts. Hmmm. A bit of arranging, and yes, I have the same look as originally intended, just in pink and red. Great! Some easy work of thread and crimping, and voila`!
Then I reach for my earwires to complete the earrings....
@#%&! I'm out!
Monday, March 3, 2008
I love Tiffany - such gorgeous, classic pieces. Their new Legacy collection is full of diamond-encrusted geometric shapes - ovals, diamonds, half-moons - many with dangles. Reminds me of classic 40s rhinestone pieces, with very little color but lots of sparkle. My favorite piece has to be this lovely enamel ring with silver accents - just the right burst of color! (I prefer pink, but the signature blue is also available)
Betsey Johnson creates fun and funky jewelry. Her current line at Nordstrom's has plenty of color, and tons of charm - literally! Charms and dangles adorn bracelets, necklaces, even earrings! In true Betsey fashion, this can be completely over the top...but sometimes that's exactly what you need. These flirty little charm earrings, for instance - tons of fun.
Browsing this stores and websites reminds me, once again, why I love Etsy so. The amazing variety of jewelry, at all price points, just can't be found anywhere else!
Cheri and Tracey are offering two scarflettes for charity right now. First is the American Heart Association scarflette - a beautiful white knit with 3 red heart buttons. With clean lines, ribbed detailing, and a touch of scalloped edges, this pretty accessory would look great with more than just your winter coat! 50% of purchase price - $9 - will go to the American Heart Association!
For all the pink lovers out there, they also offer this fancy and fringed scarflette benefiting the Breast Cancer Foundation. Rosey-pink with white edging, and two cute pink hearts. Unique and pretty! 50% of purchase price - $9 - will go to the Breast Cancer Foundation!
Cheri and Tracey are also working on a second shop, opening in March. CosyUpYourNest promises to be filled with warm and cuddly baby items! You can learn more about both shops by visiting their Cosy Up blog as well.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
I've uploaded some of the photos to flickr to share, but here's a small sample too. I'm not in any of them...between coordinating and taking most of these pictures, it just didn't happen. Oh well. :-)
Rachel loves this hula skirt from her new swimsuit
Cupcake messiness! That blue icing took forever to wash off. Thank goodness we went swimming after!