Friday, July 29, 2011

Facing Your Fears

So far this has been the year of taking chances for me, especially with my little business.  I've undertaken brave new changes and stepped boldly out of my comfort zone.  Despite possible bad, embarrassing, or financially-troublesome outcomes, taking chances also opens up outcomes that could bring on a world of new adventures.  So far I've done pretty well in that none of my outcomes have been terrifically horrendous and some have been extremely productive.

Facing your fears is the only way a person can possibly achieve different results.  After all, our biggest obstacle to success and progress is usually fear. 

Take Pinky.  He and Charlotte were tormented in their sleep by a rogue bat that had inadvertantly found its way into the cottage last weekend.  While I don't know many people who like bats, I know Pinky really does not like bats.  To make a long story short, Pinky took it upon himself to hunt down that bat.  And when I say hunt, I mean hunt...with a gun.  Once he finally found the hairy little rodent he took careful aim with his Red Rider and shot the little bugger down with one pull of the trigger.

Don't you just love Pinky's professional stance? I sort of made fun of him, but I couldn't deny his aim was impeccable.

The point is, Pinky also faced his fears, shot the creepy intruder, and slept better the next night knowing if he has to get close enough to a bat to shoot it with a BB gun he can.  He faced his fear of bats with triumphant results.  Yay Pinky!

What fears are holding you back?  Are you ready to face and conquer them with the awesomeness that is you?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Stonecutter's Shop

When the stonecutter sells all of his wares and decides to pack away his tools I should like to move into his shop.  Such a cozy little cottage; the perfect house for my beeswax candles.  The weathered wood and toppling brick chimney are welcoming to those who care to visit. 

I would spend my days chatting with shoppers.  They're all in a good mood because most likely they're on vacation.  They're all in a good mood because they think the little shop is charming.

Fragrant melting wax would be in the back room, enticing the passers by.  I could tend to my candlemaking while Husby tends the till. 

Yes, I think I should like to move into The Stonecutter's shop when he packs away his tools. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You Know How It Is When You Want To Start All Over Again Or Else Skip Ahead Five Days?

You know how it is when you come home from work with a thousand things to do but can only do one of those things because you have a headache that makes you feel like you're going to hurl? And then you have a serious discussion with someone that really needs to be discussed but you can't bear to go on anymore because your brains are going to pop out of your right eye socket? And you know how it is when you finally decide to take some drugs for your headache and lay down for a little bit just until the drugs kick in and you can begin that list of a thousand things you can do? And then fall asleep on the couch? And you know how it is when you wake up on the couch and you totally can't even tell how long you've been sleeping or what day it is? And then you realize it's nighttime, and for a split second you think you've made it through the hellish week but then realize tomorrow is only Tuesday?

Man, I hate when that happens.

Monday, July 25, 2011


When the clouds are low, that's when it's the best. I cruise the open road alone. Then my mind wanders as far as it dares.

Dreams of what could be, of what is impossible, of reality. Tossing out reality I reach farther. What if? Why not?

Chained to the baggage I've accumulated for half a century I ache with the load, but slowly break free with every mile I cross. The visions in my head span the distance of all I can see and beyond.

To dream feels like flying.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


In honor of one of the hottest weeks in Minnesota history ~ an act by one of the hottest stars in Hollywood history. Burn 'em up, Marilyn!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wake Up!

Here we are, bright and early on another lovely Monday morning.  If I didn't have an image to uphold I'd be hurling expletives like shellfire.  Because I don't want to be thrown off the interlinks due to my creative profanity I'll just say this...alarm clocks should be banished from the face of the earth.

Most of us work day jobs, and for some strange reason our employers expect us to be on the job at a very specific time.  You might get to choose your start time, but it's their expectation that you're there at that specific time that makes things uncomfortable.  I don't mind working eight hours a day, but let me start my eight hours when I arrive at work, whether that's 6:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m, whenever I'm ready to start the day.

This past weekend I had an entirely free weekend to do exactly as I chose.  I had no committments, and it was the last whole weekend free of committments I'll have until September.  Friday night I was dead tired and fell asleep in my chair at 7:10 p.m.  Husby left me alone because he knew if he woke me there might be consequences.  So there I slept until 1:00 a.m.  Then, in the dead of night, I was wide awake after six hours of sleep.  I knew if I went to bed I'd just lie awake, so I commenced to start my "day."

I went about my business quietly so as not to wake Husby.  I got a ton of things done.  By the time Husby got up it was 6:00 a.m.  I already had five hours of work under my belt.

The weirdest thing about that day was the fact that I wasn't tired at all until around 8:00 p.m.  By 8:30 I got my second wind and kept doing my thing until 11:00 p.m.  I was pretty much full throttle for twenty-two hours straight.  I went to bed and woke up on Sunday nine and a half hours later at 8:30.

I can't help but wonder what my days will be like when no one expects me to be to work at the day job.  Will I sleep bizarre hours?  Will that be healthy?  Sleep is quite important if one wants to function at full capacity, but when you're loaded with hormones and have insomnia what are you supposed to do?  Lay there and fake it?  I have a hard time laying in bed pretending to sleep when I have so much to do outside of the bed.

So hello, and Happy Monday.  My internal clock is all hosed up and my employer doesn't really care.  I'm expected to show up, on time no less, and get the work done no matter what.  I think that's a pretty heavy load to put on the likes of me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dive Night ~ Little Venetian

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. 

Once a fairly popular dining destination is now a little joint in a strip mall.  The Venetian Inn may have downsized to Little Venetian, but the food is still to die for.

This establishment has been serving the Twin Cities since the 1920s by a single family, the Vitales.  Family pictures are proudly displayed in the restaurant.

The restaurant looks like a fast food place when you walk up to the counter to place your order. 

Yes, you place an order with the cashier and the food is delivered to your table when it is ready.  Why bother with menus when you can just post the menu on the wall like McDonald's does?

They have a small salad bar which is kind of cramped and hard to wrangle, but the salad was good, and I was especially impressed with the homemade french dressing.  It was chunky!  And delicious, I might add.

A bad photo, but you get the idea of the chunky french dressing

There is little better than authentic Italian food.  Mama Vitale was also famous for her frozen entrees back in the day.  Do you remember the jingle?  "Let Mama Vitale come into your kitchen, she does the cooking, you get the praise..."  Mama isn't doing the cooking at the restaurant anymore, but her kids have kept the tradition of mouth-watering cuisine in the downsized version of their parents' restaurant, no doubt using the same recipes as Mama did.

Our little group had lasagna, ravioli with red sauce and a giant side of sausage, chicken parmesan, and mushroom-stuffed ravioli.  All were tremendously scrumptious.

Personally I favor Italian food with a white sauce, which usually contains wine and garlic and butter.  Everyone had a marvelous time eating.  Conversation was kept to a minimum so we could savor it all.

I'm going to remember Little Venetian for catering and take-out too.  Everything on their menu is available for take-out and the entire time we were there people were lining up, ordering delicious food to go.

I think I speak for the entire group when I say Little Venetian is big on authentic Italian food.  So very, very good.  They also serve beer and wine.

As a little treat we went to another local dive for dessert ~ White Bear Lake's Cup And Cone.  It's been around forever and it's simply the place to see and be seen.  Okay, it's not really as uppity as all that, but truthfully, everyone in the area of White Bear Lake goes to Cup And Cone at least once during the summer. 

One word of advice: when they say large, they mean large and don't predict the size of an ice cream cone on the size of the cone itself.  See for yourself.  Ruthie and Ray got a small- and medium-sized cones.  They're gargantuan!  (The cones, not Ruthie and Ray.)

I, unfortunately, got a large cone and felt downright piggish walking around with this mountain of ice cream in my hand.  It was a pretty warm day too, so I had to eat it really fast.  Delicious as it was, my eyes were much bigger than my stomach, especially after just having a rich Italian meal.  The large size is for fanatics, that's for sure!

It was a really nice evening filled with delicious food; Little Venetian and Cup And Cone are a perfect pair.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some Things I've Learned

I'm compelled to write about the nature of "business."  In the big scheme of things I haven't been in business for very long.  I still have a day job, but have been working to grow my little crafty business, strongly so in the last couple of years.  Diving head first into the venture (as opposed to toe dipping as I'd previously done) I've learned a thing or two.

The hardest lesson to swallow is that not everyone will think your work rocks this world.  However, you have your own style.  Your life story will be behind everything you make, which makes it unique in a very special way.  Because not everyone "gets" you, your work will not appeal to each person who looks at it.  Finding the people who get you, more commonly known in the business world as your market, is sometimes a very tough quest.

Another thing I've learned is there is a huge difference between doing business online and doing business in person.  If you're in the business of selling art or crafts, consider your venues.  Coming from an era that existed before the internet I naturally started selling my wares in person at craft shows and festivals.  A relatively short while ago I began also selling my wares on the internet.  I'm not here to tell you if live selling is better or worse than online selling; I'm just saying it's different, and each method has pros and cons the other doesn't.  I will say this though ~ there's a lot to be said for seeing a vendors wares in person.  3-D objects have a different appeal than a photograph of a 3-D object.  (This says nothing for those of us who can't take a decent product photograph to save our lives.)  I'll say this too ~ people are very likely to shop from the comfort of their own homes these days.  Obviously I'm not going to suggest one way over the other.  I will suggest you try each way of selling and find out what works best for you.

When it comes to doing wholesale and consignment business with retailers you will be faced with more decisions.  Do you place a big inventory into a shop on consignment and hope for sales for which you pay the shop owner a commission (usually 25%-40%, but sometimes as high as 60%) or do you sell your wares outright to shop owners at a price that is typically 1/2 of the retail price?  Or do you try both?  Also, it took me a while to figure out these business ventures aren't between a buyer and seller, they are between a seller and seller.  A shop owner will only consider items they think their customers will buy with no regard to their own personal opinion of those items.  So when approaching shops with which to consign or wholesale, make sure they cater to your market or else you'll just be faced with a boatload of rejection.

If you're still reading this post you might be asking, "what in the blazes is she telling me?"  The above points are things to think about.  The artsy and crafty business is all the rage these days and it's tough to move ahead if you don't consider all of the avenues.  This post is merely to map out the avenues to consider.  I've found some things that work for my business that might not work for yours.  However, the one thing I can vehamently say to all arts and craft sellers is to forge ahead whole-heartedly.  Give it your best effort.  Find resources to help you along the way, but mostly find your path through trial and error.  Only you know what works best for you and the sale of your work.

And one of the most important things I've learned is that a business based on creating objects of art or gifty ephemera will take more time and effort than you can ever imagine.  I work forty hours a week at my day job and at least that amount at my crafty biz, usually more.  But guess what?  It's really fun, and when you succeed at something you've worked so on, well there's just nothing like it.

Credits to the above artwork:
Child Reading A Story Book Quietly
Riding A Donkey Asleep In The Rain
Midnight, Bonaventure Cemetery, 1993
Little Black Spider Offers Lace

Friday, July 08, 2011

Recurring Themes

Charlotte and I used to laugh at how guys are drawn to photographs and paintings of lonesome, rickety barns.  You know the ones.  They have peeling paint and abandoned, antiquated, rusty machinery nearby.  I think it has something to do with a Jungian archetype ~ an innate sense of working the land or something.

Looking through my pictures recently I noticed that I, too, have an affinity for a particular scene.  My attraction is to the lonely road.  I have tons of pictures of roads.  What does it mean?

This one appeals to my sense of adventure.  The open road filled with so many possibilities of where it might lead.  But more often than not my road pictures are more rustic and woodsy, like these...

Perhaps my road pictures represent unknowns for me, like the path not taken.  Or maybe it's a path I'm taking but have no idea what lies beyond the bend.  The interesting thing is, while a picture of a lonely road does bring on a sense of melancholy I'm not hesitant to want to travel on and see where it takes me. 

What kind of pictures are you drawn to?  Do they make you feel happy?  Adventurous?  Afraid?

More than likely I'll continue to find solitary roads that appeal to me and I'll snap the scene for posterity.  Sometimes I might not even remember where the road is, but they'll all leave me with the same feelings and I'll continue to imagine what lies at the end. 

Where is your road leading you?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

On Top Of The World

A couple of weeks ago I was kind of a mass of nervous energy.  I was spinning around in circles hoping to get everything done.  I was an absolute twit.  Sometimes when this happens another thing happens that just makes the twittiness just go away.

I spotted it.  When it saw me it called, and I had to follow.

It's over one hundred years old and solid as a rock.  It has weathered many storms and has guided others to a path of security.  This is the kind of mentor I need.  Show me the way, oh wise one...

Climbing over ninety steps the ghosts surrounded me, clearing my head more with each step.  Suddenly then they vanished, leaving me to come to my own conclusions.

I was on top of the world. 

Even though I eventually decended those iron steps my spirit remained high.  Priorities were adjusted.  Dreams and aspirations were set in motion. 

And so I forge ahead.

Monday, July 04, 2011

My Home Sweet Home

Some of you may be familiar with my annual presentation for the 4th of July. This year is no different. Cherish your freedom, give thanks to those who preserve it, and relish the beauty that is our country. God Bless America.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...