Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend fun

We took our last chance at nice weather this weekend.

Hubby was stuck at work, but the kids and I had fun at Ecola state park, on the coast. We hiked the 2-mile Clatsop loop (going up 800 feet for the entire first mile!), had pizza at nearby Cannon Beach, played in the surf, and just enjoyed the heck out a pretty day.

Oh, and I finished some jewelry...but that seems so unimportant right now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This is fun

I'm writing this post from my Crackberry. How fun! Ok, granted it's not the easiest or most efficient way to do it...but it's my new toy, and I had to at least try it once!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm doing my part for the economy

Not really because I want to.

First, the graphics card in my computer died - a slow, lingering death. (Which is why it's been a while since my last post!) Off to Best Buy we went, to spend $100 on a new card - instead of $500 for a new computer. Only 5 year old computer has PCI and AGP slots, but the latest-greatest is PCI-Express. So I had exactly TWO options to chose from. Oh yeah.

Then, today, hubby and I upgraded cellphones and service. I got a BlackBerry Curve - and boy oh boy, do I understand why they call them CrackBerrys. It's fun, and addicting, and...yeah.

But heck, if I can figure out how to post to my blog from my BB...this could be great!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Love/Hate of Fall

What's not to love about Fall? The changing leaves, crisp mornings, crackling fires and apple cider and the prospect of Halloween. Ah, such a wonderful time. And for someone whose birthday is in October, Fall should be extra special.

And it is...but it's also my worst time of year too.

As late September rolls around, my anxiety levels go through the roof. I have so many painful memories of Fall, and they just keep coming back to me - making me dread what else will happen too. Many of my memories are small - hardly worth mentioning - but some are huge, and the combined weight is hard to stomach some days.

Days after my 8th birthday, I made a huge move - from my home in Oklahoma, where my dad and many of my family a new home in New Jersey, with a new stepdad and 3 stepsiblings who resented my existence. I moved to a new house, a new school...and had to start all over again. And for the next 4 years, the cycle kept repeating - I'd visit my dad in the summer, then return to find my mom and stepdad had moved to another new house, in a new city - and my brother and I were once again clueless, friendless, and struggling to adapt to yet another school.

Years later, my first marriage imploded spectacularly the day before my birthday. To hear the most painful news of your life, and then dissolve into a crying, yelling, angry/sad/overwhelmed mess in the middle of JCPenney's handbag section...yeah, that leaves an emotional scar. Just 2 weeks later I was at a divorce lawyer's office...and spent October and November arguing with my soon-to-be ex over the remnants of our marriage.

To cap it off, that same year, my Grandmother passed away Thanksgiving evening. The memory of cuddling my 20-month-old daughter at Grandma Dollie's graveside - protecting her from the cold, drizzly hurts so much still that I can barely write it.

And now, today, I received the news that my cousin Donna has passed away. She was fighting pancreatic cancer...and the last few months she has slowly been slipping away. It's not unexpected news, and in a way it's almost a blessing - this has been very hard on her, of course, but also her husband, her son, her parents.

But the news brings me not just grief at Donna's passing...but all of the emotional baggage that Fall carries. I find myself, sitting in my cubical at lunch, struggling not to just lay my head down and weep at it all.

I will be so grateful for the first snows of December this year....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Busy jewelry design time

I have yet another wedding coming up!

This time, it's my own brother...and it's more like a vow renewal, since he's already gotten married (in Sri Lanka, no less).

So once again I find myself creating wedding-appropriate jewelry. I amazes me how very different the jewelry styles have been. This time, we're going with a semi-traditional look (pearls and silver), but with a twist - smaller, delicate, and a bit funky.

In the process of coming up with pieces that fit, I'm creating several that really can work for more than just weddings...and considering the bracelet I listed on Etsy sold in 3 days...obviously I've struck a good chord!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My eBay shipping experiment

What do people most value in their eBay shopping experience? Actually spending less, or just feeling like they got a good deal?

eBay is really starting to push for sellers to offer "Free Shipping". This is, of course, an obvious ploy for more fees - after all, they earn a fee only on the sale price, not on shipping and handling. (I'm not even going to touch on the problem of fee avoidance)

The question is, does free shipping draw more buyers, and can you still make the same (or more!) profit that way.

So, for the moment, I'm running an experiment. I know my standard profit margin on items where I charge S&H - for 6 weeks or so, I'm going to offer "free shipping" but with a higher minimum bid, and see how it works out. Let's run some numbers so you understand what I'm talking about.

Let's say my standard item is a shirt. I bought it for $3.99, and typically sell it for $19.99, including $5 for S&H (total price to buyer - $24.99).

eBay takes a listing fee of $0.55 and a final value fee of $1.75. (We'll ignore PayPal fees, since they would be the same) If shipping costs $4.75 (normal price), that leaves me with a total "profit" $13.95 to cover my gas, time, bills, etc.

Now, if I move the $5 S&H price into the original listing price here's how my fees work out.

Listing fee = $0.55, Final value fee = $2.19. Profit = $13.51. I've lost $0.44 for the privilege" of offer Free Shipping.

However, if my Free Shipping listings generate more business, and my items sell for more than minimum bid...I will quickly make up that amount. Should be an interesting experiment.

And in case you are wondering - no, I don't plan to run this with Etsy as well. Mostly because Etsy, unlike eBay, does NOT list shipping cost when you search for items - so having free shipping won't catch anybody's eye in a list of products.

What do you think - would Free Shipping draw you in?