Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nook -- It's like a Book!

Last weekend my husband and I went and purchased a couple of Nooks from Barnes & Noble Bookstore. We were so excited as the demo guy was doing his thing and fast-as-lightening showing us how everything worked and what we could do with our new Nook! You'll never have to visit the library again because you can even download a book from the library right into your NOOK. Fantastic?? Amazing?? Incredible?? Yes....but not quite as fast and effortless as he explained.

However, after we spent a few hours fighting with the darn thing, going to the library with the Nooks and finding the sweetest-in-the-world reference librarian to help us, we were on our way. What we thought was so funny is that if you want to purchase a book or magazine from Barnes & Noble to your Nook, it literally takes the push of one button. B&N gets money!!! Aha, it's a profit deal!! But try to download a book from the library and you almost need an Act of Congress to get it done. Luckily, however, after the help from the librarian and help from B&N's troubleshooting crew, we are off and running and enjoying them very much.

Here is the major problem I believe caused the problems in the first place....WE'RE OLD!!! We are not 16 years old! I watch the TV commercials for all the new I-Pads, I-Phones, heck -- I'm not sure what all that stuff is -- but the teens, boy do they know their stuff and they are leaving us in the dust. Was I ever that 'with it'?? Did I ever know everything? I thought I did but today is so different. So many electronic gadgets, thing-a-ma-jigs. And they are all so extreme, so expensive and so mesmerizing. I think it's much worse than the Chatty Cathy days. OMG, did I just date myself or what??? I guess it would be nice if we could slow things down just a tad. Let children be children -- girls making mud pies in the back yard and boys being boys (hmmm.....that is scary!)

I wish all the high-tech stuff wasn't being plastered over every inch of life. For goodness sake, pick up a book.....or should I say Nook? and read a good story! (I know. I fell into the pit with the vipers, didn't I?) Well, heck -- I'm over a certain age now and I've earrrrrrrrned it!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

I Just Don't Get It

Over the weekend I was doing my regular life stuff: cleaning, shopping, cooking, trying to do a little reading, you know -- that sort of stuff.

I was looking through one of my jewelry magazines and was really struck with the pricing of merchandise (charms, chain, findings, gems and alike) and started doing some comparison shopping again. So, here's the part I do not understand. Why does a customer see an item (let's say a angel charm). The charm retails at one shop for $2.00, another shop for $2.25, and my shop -- The Brass Bouquet -- for $1.10. It's the same brass, the same manufacturer who cast the brass. Our finishes are similar (actually my finish is better..it's not muddy or so dull that you are unable to see the design in the charm.

Why do buyers gravitate towards an item which is the same but the price sometimes is up to 82% cheaper at my shop? My husband and I got into quite a theoretical discussion about it. We must have crunched numbers and talked about it and screened other websites for three hours. We could not come up with a logical answer.

Being a frugal little shopper that I am, I am always trying to find a good deal be it clothing, food, toiletries, tickets to a theater, motel rooms -- I go the distance. So I do get confused and befuddled when I see this counter action going on. Is there something I'm missing that everybody else is seeing that I don't????

Well, that's it for now. I hope everybody is enjoying their summer days and the weather is groovy where you are. It's been raining here for a week!! -- Tata, Jill

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Turn Around and Run for Your Life!!

Do you have a room in your home that gives you the feeling of flight or fight?? It is such a mess you don't know where to begin? It's been the dumping grounds for a good few years and you aren't sure what's in there anymore?

I have a room like that. Actually, it rotates from being clean, neat, tidy and everything-has-its-place to "OMG!! Get in there and clean it up!" Now my sister says it's not that bad. I think she's being nice or she's afraid I'm going to ask her to help me clean it up.

It's the same stuff everybody has in these dark and seedy rooms: Empty boxes that are perfect for shipping gifts out next holiday season, the rolls of wrapping paper propped up in the corner for the next time you need to wrap a gift. There are little bits of paper with notes on them that for some reason you decided you needed to keep. Old magazines dating back to the last time you cleaned out the room. What was it about these magazines I felt compelled to keep?? Was there an article in there about saving the Earth or a photograph of a bracelet I just HAD to make. Oh and then there's that small pile of mending. I do get to it a piece at a time. A shirt here, pants there -- but I am diligent with my mending. Heck, if I didn't, I'd be running around half-dressed because everything I own eventually ends up in the mending pile in "that room."

Oh, I think I forgot to mention.....this is also the same room that I have a table set up for me on which I make my jewelry! Aaaackkkkk!!!!! (that's a blood-curdling scream) Hey, I didn't say this was going to be a pretty story!

The table is a really good size (like a church banquet table.) I have a high density/magnifying light which is wonderful for these poor little, aging eyes of mine. And I have all my bins stacked up with findings, gems, jump rings, brass charms and filigree, pearls -- everything I need...except for a sense of Zen.

I figured the best way to tackle this room was to hit the area I use most -- my jewelry making corner. Oh that work table!! I couldn't see the top due to the little piles of stuff on it: beads here, pearls there, charms strewn about. But I sat there with my little bins and bottles and separated everything out and got it all put away. Wow! What a difference. I actually have a work table now. I almost feel like....no, dare I say it? I am an artist!!! What a sense of pride and accomplishment that I have a space which is all mine. Sure it's a table in the corner of this messed up room but in MY corner, things are hunky dory.

The next thing I did was recycle all the magazines I had been keeping. Why did I keep them? If I couldn't remember - they were not worth hanging on to. So I pitched them. Then came those crazy little notes. Most of them were website addresses scratched out on bits of paper. I looked at my "favorites" file on my computer. Sure enough, most of these website addresses were in my computer already, so out went the scraps of paper.

This was feeling good -- I had some power!! Next came the boxes for future shipping. I did keep those. I made them flat and crammed them between my table's leg and the wall. It worked quite well. So I still have those valuable boxes come December. The remainder of the day I just pulled up a chair in certain areas of the room and put it in order, threw stuff away, the recycling pile still growing. Lots of items got put into the closet for another day. I suddenly realized I had been in there for four hours! I walked out and then came back in and was I impressed! It was a real room again. Four walls, a floor, tables in order....I could even get to the window and open it up. I am not a hoarder -- just a person who holds on to stuff for a tad too long. The rest of my home is neat and tidy (that's because the Nightmare from Elm Street is the second door on the right.)

I got the vacuum out and hummed along with its sound as I swept back and forth. I could hear all the little tiny seed beads being sucked up as I moved the vacuum...I drop stuff -- it happens!

So..finally I was done. The room looks so nice now. It is an absolute pleasure to walk into. Sitting down to work on my jewelry is heaven. What can I say? I am a happy camper. All it took was looking at something in a different light. Maybe in was a matter of just opening up my eyes and mind to something I'd been hiding from. Whatever it is, it is never as bad as one thinks it will be.

What sort of challenge will you take on today??

Later, Jill

Monday, July 11, 2011

Julia and Jill

In one of my more recent blog entries (which ended up on the cutting room floor when I moved my blog) was about the love I have for the movie "Julie and Julia." Oh how I love that movie! I have watched it about four times and continue to love it and learn from it. Patience -- big lesson! Going for what you want in life -- big lesson! LOVE LIFE -- huge lesson!! It's a good thing to keep these pursuits always in sight. It makes life more challenging and fun.

Anyway, back to Julie and Julia. My husband pulled out our own copy of the "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and decided to make something interesting and delicious and a challenge for him -- he doesn't cook a lot. He decided on Coq au Vin. Which basically is chicken simmered in red wine with a bunch of other stuff thrown in for more flavor and to make your day in the kitchen long and stressful if you are an inexperienced chef.

After spending hours cutting, snipping, weighing, pouring and simmering, we sat down to this absolutely beautiful meal. It was such a proud time for him, knowing he had accomplished such a big deal. The meal was delicious -- chicken tender and moist, the sauce was so good you almost wished you had a "to go" bottle so you could sip on it all night long!! :-) But the absolute best part was the accomplishment! He set his sights on a goal and he followed through, even when dark clouds rolled overhead.

Isn't this what life is like? This is what owning your own business is like. Heck, this is what it is like when you are setting out to make an extravagant piece of jewelry. Keeping your eye on the prize. Not forgetting why you are where you are: It's because of where you've been that's giving you the strength and knowledge to keep going forward. If you are fortunate to own a small business, you realize the huge responsibility it takes to keep it moving along. Keeping your head when things get crazy. If you are trying to make a difficult necklace and all the small beads fall off the table onto the floor and you have to pick them up.....acckk!! Been there too many times! But the bottom line is, you have to get down on your hands and knees and pick up those beads. Life is always a set of self-imposed and "nature made" challenges. How you will handle these challenges is the big question.

Answer??? YOU CAN DO IT!

You can pick up the beads (by the way -- here's a tip. Take the hose end of your vacuum, slide a knee-high sock on the end. Turn on the vacuum and the small beads should suck up and "stick" to the knee high. Then start scooping them off the end of the vacuum.") You can balance your business books. We know you can find new and exciting designs to make. Make something. Sell something -- tada!! Income!!!! You are now officially a business person.

And like my husband found out, he now makes coq au vin. And he did it all by himself. Yes it was stressful. Yes, it felt like the beads fell all over the floor. But at the end of the day, we sat down to a beautiful and delicious dinner. Sort of like tying off that last strand of thread and beholding the fantastic piece of jewelry you just created.

Bon Appetite

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Coffee

My husband and I have this ritual. Each Sunday we will sit at the dining room table and drink coffee and just talk and talk. About anything, really. Business, friends, stuff we'd like to put into our Bucket List (and find a way to accomplish them).

This morning most of our conversation was about TV....TV!!! Not so much about shows we watch but the time we waste sitting in front of that glowing black box. Watching chefs "Chop" and cake artists make cakes, the daily news (close my eyes tight and get just the essential stuff and then turn the channel.) Oh and movies...lots of movies. Now, I enjoy TV and movies as much as anyone but.....I'm wasting my life sitting there. I have journal entries to do, I have soap to make, I have bread to bake. I have lots and lots of jewelry to make. And, I have a lifetime of reading to do. Where do I begin. First step...UNPLUG that animal!!!

As we sat there discussing all of these things we should be doing instead of not doing them, we decided a daily calendar might be worth a shot. So I got some paper and drew some crude "days" on it. Then we started talking about how to use all this new precious and freeing time. Of course, you have to add your work time to this scenario.

We normally get up at about 5:00 am -- I know, insane, huh? Getting up this early does give you a running start on the day. We get our coffee in, a little bit of visiting and then it's breakfast and getting ready for work. No....I do not sit around in my jammies all day working in the office. I actually do my hair, make-up and put on acceptable casual clothing. The people who tell you they sit around in pajamas and spend an entire day getting their mail ready for the post office should probably look for a more regimented job especially if they want to make a living at their "craft." You must have discipline if you work from your home. You'll never get anything done.

By 7:00 am, we are well within our work schedule. We get orders pulled from the computer and get them bagged and ready to ship. We do processing of raw brass which might have come in, we answer correspondence -- your normal work day. By 4:00 pm, we usually call it a day unless we are swamped.

I know I got a bit off track with the calendar/doing more with leisure time. The reason I am telling you this is not to try to impress you with how I run my business but rather to tell you how well someone can and should run their business if they really want to break the chains of the 9-5 business world. It can be done. It takes time, discipline and commitment. It took me a good number of years to get here. And I am still learning, learning, learning. I gobble up any article I see about self-employment and try to get anything out of the article I can use.

Have a dream of being a famous??? "fill in the blank." Get a piece of paper out and start looking at time you actually own but are not using wisely. You might find out you can do it!!

Until next time,
Jill (www.brassbouquet.com)