Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I am amazed at how easy this change has been. I have not been hungry at all and I have had absolutely, no cravings. I do not even miss the chocolate.
When you hear that eating healthy can cure you, it is true. I have not had to take a single aspirin in 2 weeks. My blood pressure has dropped 10 points, my moods have changed (for the better) and I just “feel good”. It has been so long since I really felt good that I forgot how nice it can be.
I am exercising with my Wii Fitness program and having a blast. I am now a hula hoop champion.
I met my goal of drinking 100 oz of water per day. My next goal is new jeans, one size smaller, by next month. I don’t think I am going to have any problems doing that and will update you when I make it.
Anyone considering a healthy life style change, I highly recommend this program, it’s easy and very satisfying. The hardest part of the whole thing has been planning my meals. I was not use to planning ahead. Now, I have to wonder why I never did it before.
Healthy living everyone!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I had finished painting this pot and just picked it up from my ceramic supplies dealer. My kiln was not big enough to fire it so I had to let Ann do it for me. The pot is huge!
I set it down by the desk, planning on potting one of my ferns in it. When I came back in, arms loaded down with a gigantic fern, this is what I found.
Needless to say, the fern is still not repotted and the pot is sitting under the glass shelf. All of my furry babies love it. So of course, Mamma has to spoil them and let them have their toy. I guess I will just have to make another one. Good thing I hadn’t sold this one. And then again, maybe that would be a good selling point for my pots :-)
Friday, August 28, 2009
I set mine up, super easy to do. Now I just need to get my stuff listed on ArtFire so it will come through on my Facebook page. Too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.
Here is the link to get started:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As of today, I am starting a whole new life style change. I guess when you hit a certain age you look at yourself and say “I have got to change”. For me, it is a health change. I have wanted to do this for some time but I finally looked in the mirror and said “enough is enough”.
I lost a long time friend last week and it really made me take a hard look at myself. He was only a couple of years older than me, way too young to pass on. I have to believe, if he had made some changes and took care of his health like his doctor wanted he would still be here today. It was sad to see the sick shell of the man I used to know. While I had already taken the first step to change by making my doctors appointment, his death made me even more determined to change my life style.
So, today I am starting the FirstLine Therapy Program.
First of all, I have a few things I want to fix like lowering my blood pressure, helping my arthritis and getting my body in better shape. I take way too many meds and if I can get rid of just one of those I will be one happy camper. To do this, I need to lose a “lot” of weight. The FirstLine Therapy will hopefully help me accomplish this. It is not a diet, per se, but a complete life style change. Something you have to be committed to do or it will never work. Well, I am finally to the commitment part. It is not going to be easy, but I am determined to make it work.
I have been very interested in natural medicine for the past few years so the FirstLine Therapy Program fits in nicely to that interest. I make my own soap and harvest wild plants for medicinal purposes and salve making. So as you can see, I am some what of a “Hedge Witch”, and moving towards more of a natural way of living.
The FirstLine Therapy Program is based on a Mediterranean eating plan that is built around the Glycemic Index. I have heard of this type of diet plan before but it always seemed very complicated so I never pursued it. The FirstLine Therapy plan my doctor has me on makes it easy to understand and follow. It will be difficult at first but once I get past the first week, it will start becoming second nature.
We discussed supplements to help me and light exercise that I can do without strain to my back (another reason I need to lose weight). I came home with 3 new supplements that are meant to enhance the body’s cellular function.
My doctor loved the idea that I purchased a Wii System. I have to tell you, if you don’t have one, you should get one. It is a video game but so much more. I am addicted to tennis and bowling. It really does give you a work out. I also have Yoga and a fitness program. I am going to start one of those as I start my lifestyle change. I have to be so careful since my back surgery and the doctor thinks this would be a good place to start an exercise program.
I am going to the grocery store Friday to start my shopping but today, I start with drinking lots of water, very important whether you diet or not. My goal is to work up to over 100 oz of water per day. I know that sounds like a lot but water is one of the best things you can give your body. And then, I think I will play a little Wii tennis tonight when I get home and explore the fitness game.
So, wish me luck on my lifestyle change. I will probably post my feelings on my progress occasionally. I invite anyone that is trying to make a lifestyle change as well, to contact me for moral support. I wouldn’t mind having a diet buddy to help me along.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” A very good philosophy don’t you think?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Many hand crafters work out of their homes, providing quality products to the public. A large percentage of these people are employed full time outside the home so this is done in their spare time. Because of this, many are not what most would term as a “legitimate” business; they don’t have a brick and mortar store and they are not fortunate enough to have the business permits and licenses their state may offer. This in no way means they are not a legitimate business, it just means they do not have access to the advantages these permits would give them.
One of the biggest advantages of having such permits is the wholesale buying power it gives the home based crafter. Most wholesale suppliers require two things, a business license or a tax permit and a large minimum order. So, not only do most home crafters not have the necessary permits to get the best deals they don’t have the need for the huge amount of product they must buy to get that terrific, wholesale discount. Even if they do have the permits needed, they just don’t need or have the resources necessary to make large wholesale purchases.
This is where the bulk buying groups come in.
First, let’s get the definition of a bulk buying group. Simply put, this is a group of people that pull their resources to buy in bulk which guarantees all participating members the huge discounts earned by purchasing wholesale. If you were purchasing food or agricultural items, it would probably be called a co-op. No matter which term you use both can be defined as a group of people working together for the benefit of the entire group.
There are numerous bulk buying groups out there and you can find them for just about any type of craft you may do; everything from jewelry, to soap and toiletries, to fabric. And while they may operate differently, they all have one goal in common; saving money. The best place to find bulk buying groups is on the internet and my preference for these groups is Yahoo Groups.
I personally operate a large bulk buying group that boasts over 1,600 members. Nancy’s Bulk Buys caters to the jewelry maker. But there are other bulk buy groups for soap, gemstones and other things on Yahoo Groups.
The bulk buy is really a simple process. There is a dedicated buy hostess for various product buys. Each hostess has a proven track record for successful buys and all bulk buy groups usually have a set of dedicated hostesses that have been doing buys for a long time. I have now been conducting bulk buys for over 5 years. We will never get rich doing this since hostesses only make enough money to cover their expenses. However, they are able to purchase their supplies at wholesale which makes all the hard work worth it.
The group owner has all the personal contact information for the hostess, so that she/he can remain in contact with hostess at all times during the buy. All orders and monies are collected by the buy hostess. She then tallies the orders and places one large order with the vendor. A buy hostess must be registered with their state as a business so that they are able to qualify for wholesale pricing. Finally the order is shipped to the hostess where she sorts and mails the product to each individual buyer.
Most bulk buy rules and procedures are usually the same for each buy held, but there could be some variation depending on the product and the vendor they are using. These rules are always posted in the group’s files section along with updates for the orders. This procedure keeps the buy participants informed of how close the group is to making the minimum purchase for the maximum discount. They are also able to verify that their order is logged and it is correct.
When participating in a bulk buy, it does take considerably longer to receive the goods due to the time allowance given for placing an order, which is usually 1-2 weeks. Then another week for the hostess to compile the orders and verify all money has been paid. It takes approximately a week for shipping from the company to the buy hostess then another week for the packages to be processed and shipped to the individual buyers. In most cases a buy will take at least a month for you to receive the product unless it is a very quick 2-3 day buy.
I strongly urge you to research a buying group and the hostess before purchasing through a bulk buy. As with anything else, there can be issues with a buy being run correctly. Usually that does not happen, but there is always the possibility. And lets face it, life does happen so things could always get a little crazy.
A good bulk buying group should follow most, if not all of the above procedures.
Some suggestions for joining the right bulk buy group:
• Research the buy groups. Look for length of time the group has been around, number of members, and activity level.
• Join the group then sit back and watch for a while before you participate. It will not take long to get a feel for the group and the hostess.
• If you know people in the group, by all means, get recommendations on the best hostesses.
• Look through the group’s message archives. This is a great way to find past problems that may have occurred as well as giving you a general feel for the tone of the group; are they always fighting or is there a lot of useful information coming from the group?
• Always familiarize yourself with the rules of the group as well as the rules for each individual buy. There are necessary steps you must take as a buy participant and if they are not followed correctly, it could cause you to lose out on a great deal.
I think if you follow these suggestions you will find a bulk buying group that works for you. You will have fun and save money in the process.
Like with many of the bulk buy groups, on Nancy’s Bulk Buys we discuss a lot of things other than buying products. We get into the fundamentals of jewelry making as well as the ups and downs that go with our chosen craft.
I not only own a bulk buy group, I also own a large, wire wrapping group that has 4 sister groups and a silver smith group. All of these groups have wonderful members and archives full of wonderful information. If you are just starting in the craft of jewelry, any of my groups would be a great place for you to learn and grow. If you are an experienced jewelry crafter, then these groups will further expand your knowledge as well as being a place to discuss the problems that face jewelry artists.
If you would like to learn more about my groups, just follow any of the links below:
Monday, June 1, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The picture below is the King and Queen together. These two actors are the actual owners of the Castle in Muskogee, where the annual Ren Fair takes place. Approximately 15 years ago, they started out by holding a yearly SCA outing on their property. Since that time, it has grown to one of the biggest and best Renaissance Fairs in the country.
The picture on the left is one of the falcons they were showing while we were waiting on the fair to open and allowed to enter the keep. This beautiful bird is ten years old and the star of the falcon show. The one on the right is one of the people that works in the falcon show.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Spring is finally here...yea!!! Wow, after 6 inches of snow the first week of April, we are "finally" keeping our warm weather now, not that bouncing ball syndrome of 80 one day, 30 the next. My flowers look great and we even had to mow the lawn yesterday. It was only ankle deep.
Last Saturday, we went to the Herb Festival in Sand Springs. Honestly, if you love plants and you have never been to an herb festival, you must go. They block off the center part of downtown and the streets are filled with every type of plant you could imagine. There are garden plants, house plants, vegetable plants and my favorite…..herbs. Some plants are exotic and some not so exotic. Then if that isn't enough, they have several craft booths and lots of fair style food booths. More than enough to keep you busy for 3 or 4 hours.
We pulled our garden wagon along, which is a Red Flyer type wagon with wooden sideboards and huge cart tires (not those noisy metal tires, actual rubber tires). Believe me, when we caught the shuttle back to the van, our wagon was full of plants.
We bought all different kinds of organic Heirloom tomato plants, cucumber plants, and pepper plants. Then I found some Lemon Balm that has the most wonderful smell and some beautiful ferns to plant outside. What a fun day. The weather even cooperated and it didn't rain until after we left.
This weekend, we are off to another herb festival in Jenks. Not quite as big as Sand Springs but still a fantastic place to buy stuff for your garden. Plus, as an added bonus, it is suppose to be 80 degrees Saturday and no rain, just lots of sun and for a sun goddess like me that is good news. Of course, this is Oklahoma and it could drastically change between now and then.
But, the best is yet to come. Next month is the Renaissance Fair. Actually, every weekend in May is the Renaissance Fair. Another thing I am squeezing in for the month of May.
This is a family outing for us every year and we all look forward to it. Hubby and Son even dress the part. As for me, I haven’t been brave enough to go in costume yet but, I did take a step in that direction. I bought a couple of patterns to make an outfit; next step, buying the material and then actually putting it together. Who knows, next year I just “may” go in costume.
It really is a lot of fun watching everyone walking around in period clothing and talking in their Shakespearian dialect. Then there is the jousting, the May Pole, the Scottish music, and I could go on and on but you get the idea.
May is going to be a very busy month for me but filled with lots of fun.
Monday, March 23, 2009
This piece I call Geometrics because of the square crystal beads. It is done with sterling silver in the Byzantine weave and looks great on.
I have done earrings to match which are currently on display at my local bead store since I will be teaching how to make them at my next class.
Friday, March 20, 2009
This necklace is called Waterfall. It is made with sterling silver and done in the Fox Tail or Full Persian weave. Pictures just don't do sterling silver justice. It is a beautiful, high shine piece with blue crystal beads. the focal pendant was also made by me and has subtle, purple streaks running through it. No two pendants are the same due to the variations in glass so this is considered one of a kind. Did I mention, glass fusing is another past time for my husband and I?
This necklace is made from the same design as Waterfall and is the first one I did using the full Persian weave. I found this necklace in an instructional book and thought it was gorgeous and had to try it. I varied it slightly from what was shown in the book.
The necklace is done with 14kt gold filled rings, half of them smooth rings and the other half twisted. The pendant is an actual Aspen leaf dipped in 24kt gold. I love this for fall as it goes nicely with fall colors; browns, oranges, etc. I wear it a lot and I am trying to figure out if I have something I can wear it with during the summer as well.
Both necklaces were fun to do and I am currently working on some pieces that vary greatly from the original design, still using the Fox Tail weave.
I am re-working the design and will be carrying that in my line up this year for the shows.
Until next time, happy creating!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
It is also a proven fact that more businesses were started during or immediately after the Great Depression and, a large percentage of those businesses are still in operation today. Those businesses were the vision of people that had the courage to take a very bad situation and turn it into something good.
Many years ago, during the oil crisis of the seventies, my family owned their own architectural design business. I remember my father telling me, “People buy when things are good and, they buy when things are not so good.” At the time, my young mind couldn’t grasp that idea then, as I grew older, I began to understand what he was telling me. It was his philosophy and how he operated his business. Now, it is how I operate my business.
When business is good, I always make sure I have plenty of stock on hand, replenishing as needed. If things are slow, then I change my mind set and purchase stock that I know people will buy. People will be more reluctant to buy so I need to trim costs as much as possible by offering them what they want at a good value. This may mean making items that are set at a lower price point, but still made with the same high standards that my regular customers have come to expect from my jewelry. This could be something as simple as offering more sterling silver items and less gold items. Or, how about offering copper? That is a relatively inexpensive metal and makes a really warm and rich looking piece of jewelry. If you follow the fashion trends, you will see that copper is gaining in popularity. These small changes give customers the chance to still have a quality, hand made jewelry piece but made with a more, cost efficient metal.
In my experience, I have found that both the lower and higher priced items are going to sell a lot better than if most of my items are priced in the mid range. This is due mainly to the fact that a majority of the people will be looking for a lower cost item. As for the higher end items, a large portion of customers are more selective on where they invest their money. Jewelry is an investment for these people. They are making an investment in precious metals and gemstones.
A hand crafter must always explore various and new avenues, they should never slow their pace. In my case, my new avenue this year is teaching jewelry classes. This has worked out rather well for me. It has given me the opportunity to get to know the people at my local bead store plus, I found that I really enjoy it.
I make sure my name and product is out there more. I give out business cards at every opportunity, in the grocery store, restaurants, etc. and I wear my jewelry items almost always. Believe it or not, wearing your jewelry is a great way to sell items and I have literally sold pieces right off my body. For the most part, people are impulse buyers and if they see something they like, they want it right then. If they wait, chances are they will change their mind.
I also give loyal customers great deals. I not only give my regular customers discounts, I also offer a buying club for all customers. For each piece they buy, depending on the amount of that piece, they get so many “jewelry bucks”. Once they reach a level of purchase, say $50.00, $100.00 or $200.00, they get a free item valued at X number of dollars or that value towards an item of their choice. This seems to work really well for young girls. They love buying earrings and when they reach $50.00, they get a free pair. You just have to do your homework and make sure the value of your regular sales cover what you give away. This is just one of many ways to affectively market.
Another thing I will be doing at the shows and craft fairs this year, I will be combining all my items; my jewelry, soap, and hand painted ceramics and pottery. I believe the jewelry will work very well with my ceramics as many have a fantasy theme and a lot of my jewelry has that whimsical feel. I will be using many of my ceramic and pottery pieces as jewelry displays. It will enhance the appearance of my jewelry and if a customer likes the display as well as the jewelry item, they can buy both. I will also give them a discount if they buy both at the same time. I am not sure how I will work my soap and toiletries in with the other items, but come time for the shows, you can bet I will have a plan.
A hand crafter should never back off during the slow times because when they do, they open up room for others who are willing to work hard with lots of flexibility and creativity. This is going to move these people to the forefront of the hand crafted business while those choosing to wait for the economy to improve will lose out on some great opportunities.
While the economy may be struggling, there are still many ways to move ahead in the hand crafted industry. You must always know what your customers want. By keeping that in mind, you are sure to have items that sell.
These are my ideas and I hope they help get you motivated to find those new and creative avenues for your own hand crafted items. Remember, this doesn’t just apply to jewelry but to any hand crafted item you may sell.
Here are a couple of great articles on marketing during a recession. You can also do a search on marketing and the recession and you will find lots of articles about this topic, basically telling you the same thing, now is the time to get your product out there.
The recession is not good for any of us but it just may be a time that will put you ahead of the game when the economy does turn around.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
There’s not a lot of new things to report however, I would like to resend part of my previous blog where I mentioned the Twilight Series. You know everyone changes their mind about things, well I did about this.
When I wrote the blog, I was less than half way through the first book but I loved the whole idea behind Twilight. Not too long after I wrote the blog, I discovered that the book was becoming quite annoying. The writing was never great to begin with but, I could overlook it in the beginning as I liked the story idea. As I continued, not only did the bad writing become more apparent but the characters were actually terrible and I grew to dislike them quite a bit.
First there was Bella, our heroine; very whiny, self centered, woe is me type of character. She was literally wimpy. By the time I was halfway through the first book, I was so sick of Bella because of her lack of back bone and dimension. She was so poorly written that I was ready to scream.
Then there's Edward. Wow, talk about an abusive boyfriend. Any boyfriend that controls his girlfriend to the extent of kidnapping her so she will be where he wants her to be is an A-1 abuser.
Finally, we come to Jacob. Jacob is nothing but a bully that has real anger management issues.
I suffered through all 4 books for two reasons a) I really did want to see how the story ended, and b) I bought all 4 books so I would have the entire series (which I will never do that again) and I did not want to waste all that money.
To make a long story short, because this blog is not a book review, I would not even recommend this for teens or anyone. A very poorly written series, especially the last book. There were so many things about these books that were so far fetched it was laughable. Granted, this is a fantasy series but, even a fantasy series must be in the realm of belief and possibility. The books twisted the myths so much that it honestly was nothing but a fan fiction piece.
Of the 4 books, the first was the best, but that really is not saying much. It is my belief that the only reason this book is such a hit with the teens is the angst and the all consuming love story. Even for an older reader, like myself, it really takes you back to being 17 when love was such an all consuming feeling. That, is the only good thing about these books.
Now, on to my passion...jewelry.
I have been making numerous pieces which I hope to photograph this weekend. Two necklaces were made with the fox tail weave or full Persian, one in sterling silver, one in gold filled. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but they turned out spectacular.
There is something about the satisfaction you get when you see what you had envisioned come together. It really does give you a huge rush, at least it does me. I am so proud of these pieces.
The gold necklace, was done by looking at the pictures in an instructional book. I never could understand the written instructions but I was able to look at the pictures and make the piece.
The sterling silver necklace was my variation on that piece and I must say, it is fantastic. I really have to post some pictures.
Well, that is it for today. I think my next blog will discuss some of the virtues of hand crafted over mass produced, both from the buyer's and the artist's perspective. Or something along those lines.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I suppose I should start out by telling you a little about myself. I work full time as an office manager. In my spare time (and there seems very little of that anymore), I run a very small soap and toiletries business as well as trying to launch my fledgling jewelry line. Which, by the way, I will be posting pictures of some of my pieces as soon as I learn to use the new camera.
I just recently agreed to teach chainmaille jewelry classes at the local bead shop. I held my first, beginners class last Saturday and found that I really do like doing this. I will be holding another class in February for a chandelier type earring. Everyone seemed to enjoy my class and I actually believe they learned something. Apparently enough to buy the additional kits for a more advanced project that I had for sale at the end of class.
In future posts, I will not only add pictures of my finished pieces but also provide some chainmaille history.
I am an "avid" cat lover. I have several of the furry little critters that share our home. Each and everyone, spoiled rotten. We consider them our second round of children. If I had my way, I would probably have a house full of them and then some.
I also like to read, sew, and I have recently been playing around with photography. I just recently discovered the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. A teen novel but I love it. Great fantasy escape.
Both my husband and I are rock hounds, he more so than I am. He has a rock saw set up and makes some gorgeous cabs. We are planning on making a trip to Nevada in the near future to dig at the opal mines. See what I mean about very little spare time? But, I am taking a break next weekend so we can go to Walking with Dinosaurs. I can't wait for that (another byproduct of being a rock hound).