Friday, January 28, 2011

If I Were King Of The Forest

Things are starting to look up in Craftland.  As exciting as it is for me to get my work space tidy and functional again, I can't help but wonder if this project was a means for procrastination from what I really have to do ~ jumpstart my business.

I'll admit the new and improved Craftland is necessary to a productive work area which will, in turn, allow me to create better products and more of them.  But the closer I get to the completion of the Craftland project, the more I dread what comes next ~ the work.  I'm not talking about the work involved in making my little crafties, I'm talking about the work it takes to get out and sell this stuff.  The goal is to be able to retire on schedule (much sooner than the average retiree) and to have a booming business to supplement my pension.  While I love to make the things I do, getting out there to sell it in spades is another thing.

One of my favorite blogs had a post not too long ago to which I could really relate.  It's all about the hang-ups of entrepreneurs.  Actually, there is only one hang-up, and that is fear.  Oh sure, you've heard it all before, and so have I.  We make excuses about why we can't get our businesses off the ground (too busy working on Craftland, can't take perfect photos, have to spend forty hours a week at the day job, etc.), but the bottom line is we're afraid.

There is fear of failure and fear of success.  There is fear of looking foolish, fear of what others might think of your entrepreneurial lifestyle, fear of being left behind.  Lots and lots of fears.  The article on this blog addressed the fear we've been hearing about for years, but the author took a whole new angle on it.  He spoke in terms of The Wizard of Oz

Now that's a theory I can get behind!  I totally get it, and will print off the blog post and pin it up on my new Craftland bulletin board for easy reference.  The fear we as entrepreneurs have is exactly the same fear experienced by The Cowardly Lion in the 1939 classic film.

Jonathan Morrow walks you though what your fears may be to recognizing those fears as being unrealistic to forging ahead courageously despite the fear.  Not only does it all make sense, it's written in a way that is thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining.

So please, if you're having trouble becoming the entrepreneur you've always dreamed of being, or if you're looking for a way to unstick yourself from any undesired situation check out this post  on my new favorite and often times inspiring website Copyblogger.

There's nothing like a great motivational article to push me into a fabulous weekend.  I hope yours is fab too!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Many Years Ago

A slightly premature birthday greeting to my dad, whose official age is "damn near eighty."

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year's Resolution #2 ~ Organize

I know it's a little late to be making announcing New Year's Eve resolutions.  Lots of people don't even believe in them as most resolutions are forgotten once January is past.  I figured stating resolutions on a blog will be stating something to a power mightier than myself (the blogosphere) and therefore I must be held accountable.  When one is accountable, one is more likely to succeed at a task. 

So Resolution #1 is still underway and in most ways can be completed only when I accomplish Resolution #2.  Afterall, how can I work in Craftland if I'm not organized?  I have supplies galore and need lots of room to spin around when things go awry.

Bright and early Saturday morning Husby went down to Menards to pick up a couple of shelving units.  Nothing fancy.  You know the kind.

Very plain, but very versatile.  He put the first shelf together just like the picture.  Then he took a second shelving unit that was a little bigger, and made two short shelves rather than a big tall one.  This resulted in the creation of my new candle pouring station.  Not only did he put all of the shelves together, he even adhered ceramic tiles to the top of the candle pouring station to make it heat resistent.  What a hero!

But this isn't about Husby and his astonishing ability to assemble shelves.  It's about the fact that I can finally put all of my necessities neatly on shelves.  It's about the fact that all of my wax, all of my pouring pots, all of my additives, dyes, scents, molds and wicks are in the wax pouring station instead of scattered about the room.  It's also about the fact that I can now put all of my items for sale on shelves separate from the things used to make the items for sale.  Shelving is great, and much needed in the attempts to organize a Craftland.

Also contributing to my resolution to organize was spending a day cleaning out two computers.  I had to copy files, delete files, compare and contrast files and update files.  I was sort of forced to do this as tax season is coming up and I want to be sure I'm all organized for the tax man, aka Husby.  So basically I was pretty tired of looking at a computer screen by the end of the day.

The organization resolution will not end  with the computer and Craftland, but dang those short twenty-four-hour days, I couldn't get to any other rooms of the house during the weekend.  I shutter to think of that closet... 

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Year's Resolution #1 ~ Create And Maintain A Beautiful Craftland

Today is the day I announce my finally getting antsy about recharging Auntie B's Wax.  The business, that is.  After taking the month of December off (and most of January), I'm ready to jump into it again, to find new venues, to improve my Etsy shop, to be more organized with my consignment shops.  Enough of this lollygagging around.  I'm ready to get back into the studio and start pouring molten wax.  I'm ready to make ideas into actual things I can touch.

Did I say I'm ready to get back into the studio?  Ah, there's the rub.  You see, Craftland is in the midst of being rehabed and looks like it blew up.

That picture you just looked at?  Those are all candles that need to be remelted and made into new candles.  And then there are the supplies to deal with...

...and more supplies on the same shelving unit as candles to be sold.  Oh wait, there are some candles needing remelting on this shelving too.  See how disorganized?

The place is so disorganized I've taken to storing ready-to-sell candles on my desk table.  That's never good, because when things are on the desk table, that means I have absolutely no room to work. 

These pictures were taken after a productive year of being artsy and craftsy and before I started the project of creating a new space for myself.  I'm still in the midst of it, but progress is being made.  I'm excited about what this space will become, but I'm getting tired of the work I need to put into it to get there.  Delayed gratification has never been something I've embraced.  I want my dream space now.

Why am I showing you all of this?  Maybe so you don't have to feel like you're the only one who has let things get out of hand in your studio or home.  Maybe so you can feel really good about how you keep up your studio or home.  Maybe because if I show people my project it'll light a fire under my behind to get the dang project done already.

This weekend I plan to make some serious headway.  Yep, I'm ready.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


You know how sometimes you hear a word and an image comes into your head?  I've been hearing the word "canal" lately.  Hearing that word instantly takes me to the canals of Venice.  Even though I've never been to Italy I've seen enough pictures and heard many stories of those little waterways winding throughout Venice that I can almost hear the gondola oars dipping in and out of the water. 

Unfortunately, when I've heard the word canal lately it's been paired with the word root.  As in root canal.  That certainly brings to mind a much different mental image.  Disgusting, actually.

So while I was in the dentist chair undergoing a root canal on my very sad, dead tooth I tried to visualize the canals of Venice rather than focusing on what was actually going on inside my mouth.  I decided at that time fantasy was much better than reality. 

In the days to come think of me, pity me, pray for me, for I will be enduring a bit of swollenness and some nasty pain.  Luckily I have some leftover Vicodin from a previous procedure.  Perhaps that little pill will again take me to my fantasy of floating through the canals of Venice.

Photos compliments of Mogio Close Up, James L Menius, DDS and Chiaroscuro.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Controversial

No matter what time of day I peruse Etsy I find all sorts of wonderful things from fun vintage shoes to hairdo do-dads.  There are things for babies, things for teens, and things for adults.  There is artwork with rainbows and unicorns and creations from the dark side.  There is stunning jewelry that'll knock your hand-knit socks off.  While I may occasionally see something a little embarrassing, I have never seen anything offensive.

Apparently I'm not looking hard enough.  Seems there have been some items that "sparked intense debate" about what items should be allowed on Etsy.

Seems Etsy's policies have "prohibited disparaging or promoting hate against people based on race or religion for quite a long time. But they never covered gender, people with disabilities, or sexual orientation."

The new policy states, in a nutshell:  "We no longer allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; including items or content that promote organizations with such views... The revised policy now prohibits items or listings that promote or support illegal activity or instruct others to engage in illegal activity and items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others."

I agree with Etsy's policy, but there's something to be said about those who have taken offense in what they've seen on Etsy.  The above images are Pulp Fiction magnets I've sold on Etsy.  Some may see them as demeaning to women, as disparaging the gay community, and/or as glorifying illegal activity.  I see them as smutty paperback novel artwork.  Who's right?  I don't know how my buyers viewed them, but obviously they weren't "offended" or they wouldn't have given up their hard-earned cash to buy them.  And the question is, will I be allowed to continue putting these items up for sale with the new Etsy policy?

Etsy welcomes inquiries from sellers as to their items' compliance with the new policy.  I hesitate to put them up for sale, but I'm also a business person who needs to earn a little jing.  I'm also not inclined to run my dozens of magnets by Etsy for approval.  So I'm kind of in a pickle.

What's your opinon on the situation?  While Etsy certainly has the right to allow or disallow anything they want on their website, do you think it's up to the members of Etsy (the buyers and sellers) to flag items as being offensive?  This isn't necessarily a matter of censorship because no one is telling the artisans they can't create, but who decides what is "offensive?"  And how many offended people does it take for Etsy to pull the item?

To see the policy announcement and hundreds of comments made on the subject click here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Keeping Up With The 21st Century (sort of)

I'm getting to the age where I can't keep up with technological advances. My brain is slowing down and technology is advancing exponentially, just like my 10th grade math teacher Mr. Henningsgard told us it would.  I've been thinking about buying a smart phone and I get sweaty palms just by doing some comparison shopping.  I don't even know what's smart about these phones.  And I'll tell you the most embarrassing thing of all...I don't even get what "aps" do. 

And what about music?  I'm not a relic or anything but I actually remember the days of vinyl.  I have a nice little collection of albums stored upright in a cool place so they don't warp.  Oh sure, I went the way of 8-tracks, cassettes, and have even been getting duplicates of my favorite albums on CD because we don't have a turntable hooked up to our stereo system.  But iTunes?  What is that?  And these flippin' iPods?  I admit it's amazing those little, tiny, size-of-a-credit-card music player thingys can store so many songs but I can't get those little buds to stay in my ears. 

Time keeps moving forward and I seem to be lagging further and further behind.  But get this ~ Auntie B (aka Santa) gave a Christmas present to the entire family this year with some of the profits of her business.  It's an amazing piece of technology.  That's right, I took my sweaty little hands and marched into a store and asked, "do you have one of those machines that will magically turn my record albums into CDs?"  The guys said, "why yes, step right this way."  And so I did.

Installing, connecting, and getting my head around the whole thing took a while, but guess what?  I figured it out!  And now the magic begins. 

The '70s and '80s live again!

But this magical music machine isn't just for me.  One person who's really excited about this is my mom.  I've already begun transferring her old 45s to digital.  (If you're too young to know what a 45 is, well this entire post probably doesn't interest or excite you in the least.  A 45 is a little record that has one song on each side of it and is played at 45 revolutions a minute on a record player.) 

She's got quite a variety and she's indicated which ones she really wants like To Each His Own, Moonlight In Vermont and Unforgettable ~ she was such a romantic!  Even though she's flagged her absolute favorites, I think I'll transfer them all just for fun and because, as amazing and shocking as it seems, I can.  I feel like such a Techno Queen!

So today I'm recommending, if you love your old record albums, that you get one of these contraptions.  It will pay for itself with the transfer of about eleven albums, and the nostalgia it stirs up is priceless.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yin And Yang or Half Empty/Half Full

*Icky Things I Have To Do This Week

1.  Finish putting away all of the Christmas decorations. 

2.  Makes sure all business paperwork is in order in preparation for submitting sales tax to two different states.

3.  Go to the day job as a person completely different from who I really am.

*Great Things I Get To Do This Week

1.  Create an environment that is tidy and organized!

2.  Start a fresh new year of business prosperity!

3.  Come home from the day job and be cozy in a dwelling where I am completely me!

How do you choose to approach your life?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Twelfth Day Of Christmas

I know, I know, the twelve days of Christmas have passed.  I need to regress, not to relieve that most terrible day, but to get all caught up with myself ~ I've been decompressing since.

The twelfth day of Christmas was January 6th and it so happens it was one of the worst days I've had in the thirty-plus years of my day job working career.  Career?  Did I say that?  I meant job.  It's just a job, a job I want to do well for forty hours a week.  The end.  I don't want to advance my status.  I don't want to climb the government ladder.  I just want to do my job with no obstacles for the next five years or so in order to retire early and finally live life with abandon.

Unfortunately some of my coworkers didn't understand the 6th was still part of the Christmas season and decided to put aside their holiday cheer.  One created an obstacle to my doing my job, another backed her up.  Did I say I just want to do my job without obstacles?  I meant it.  Don't get in my way or there's going to be trouble.  And there was.

I have no regrets about my accusations.  I have no regrets about expressing my frustration with the human-unfriendly human service agency for which I work.  After all, what is life if we live it with regrets?  Without getting into too much detail I'll once again just say it was about the worst day I could have imagined having in what should be a mundane day at the job.

It didn't end there.  After I composed myself and stopped trembling out of anger I was afforded a trip to the dentist for a cleaning.  Except I got more than a cleaning.  I got news of all sorts of major work that needs to be done.  I'm not talking fillings.  I'm talking multiple crowns and a nice little root canal.  I suppose it's my payback for losing my verbal composure at the day job. 

Well I just had the worst day ever, and on the Twelfth Day of Christmas.  I got home, on the verge of tears, and Husby came to my rescue as he usually does.  He said to me, "you really need a cup of cocoa.  It will make you feel much better." 

It did.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pinocchio Doesn't Live Here

You know how it is when you've been on holiday and you spend lots of time with people you like, doing things you like, eating food you like, and drinking drinks you like?  And plus get presents?  And then you have to go back to the day job only to find one of your coworkers thinks everything would be better if you just didn't exist and a boss who is ineffective and provides no leadership?  And you have to stare at ugly beige walls all day long instead a bright and colorful Christmas tree?  It's a downer, man.

Some of you are tired of hearing how much I loathe spending time at the day job, but I know you feel that way from time to time too.  These are the times, when the human race disappoints us, when our talents are squandered and unnoticed, when the world in general is pretty much letting us down that we have to turn to a creative escape.

If you can create things yourself, yay!  On a day when you feel put upon, engrossing yourself in a project that is completely not on your list of things to do just might be the ticket.  You don't have to paint the Mona Lisa, for crying out loud.  It could be baking a batch of cookies or sewing some jammies out of an old set of sheets.

If you have no faith in your own ability to create (Work on that, won't you?  Everyone has the ability to create!), use others' creations to escape the meanness, frustration, or plain hum-drumedness of the everyday things that bring you down. 

Find a piece of art you can stare into and just dream...

...or one that simply makes you smile.

Read a book filled with whimsey, adventure, and imagination...

Or listen to some music that takes you away...

Chronologie by Jean Michel Jarre

The arts are a wonderful way to chase away the ickiness of an icky day and turn you back into the real live person you are, rather than the puppet they want you to be.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Dive Night ~ Ruthie & Ray's

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar. Casual atmosphere and good food. We're out to find the best food in the Minneapolis/St Paul area without having to pay a fortune or dress up. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either.  See a list and links to the previous dive night posts here.

It has become a tradition with the Dive Night crew to spend December at the home of me and Husby or Ruthie and Ray.  This is done on a rotating basis.  The 2010 Dive Night year wound up at Ruthie and Ray's house.  I can assure you it was hardly a dive.

We have an hors d'oerve evening which was supposed to be pot luck.  I'm sorry to say I provided much less than half of the good food offered.  Ruthie put on a spread that could have stood alone and filled us all without my meager offerings.  My feelings of guilt were overridden only by my feelings of gratitude and satiation.

You can't have hors d'oerves without starting with a good assortment of crackers and cocktail bread.

There were olives and pickles, Ruthie's famous Bacon Bites, a really good herb dip/spread, herring, and M&Ms.

There was an assortment of meats and cheeses, a wine jelly, smoked salmon, smoked oysters, brie cheese, sardines, chicken wings, and bacon dip.

 There were pretzels, deep fried butterflied shrimp with cocktail sauce, and barbequed meatballs.

Ruthie also put out some delicious chocolate chip cookies for a sweet finish to a massive meal of appetizers.

Husby and I are so happy to be able to share the tradition of Dive Night with our friend's Ruthie and Ray, and look forward to the event every month.  Not only are we able to delight in the culinary adventures we embark upon, we also are able to share our journeys through life over a good meal with good friends.  And speaking of good friends, I can't forget to mention Husby's favorite friend at Ruthie and Ray's house...Hoover.

Yeah, Hoover, I see you there, wallowing in Husby's attention.  I have to admit I like snuggling with Hoover too, when he'll let me. 

As we say so long to the Dives of 2010 the four of us are looking forward to another year of gallivanting around the Twin Cities to indulge in and review the dives about town.  I hope you'll continue to join us in our adventures.  Cheers!

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