Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping some sunshine on your face

The late, great philospher Mudbone used to say "Always keep some sunshine on your face." I'm certainly trying, though it hasn't been easy. This has been a week of great ups and downs for me. On the upside, Joey and I went to the wonderful, fantabulous, and completely awesome Decemberists show on Tuesday night. If I hadn't already loved Colin Meloy and his amazing bandmates, I love them now. Even Mother Nature couldn't argue with my dear Colin, holding off her wrath until the show was over. We drove home in the storm, tired but happy.

On the downside, things have been stressful, at least, more stressful than usual because Joey's surgery is tomorrow. I know it's a routine procedure and he's expected to come through just fine, but still I worry.

It's also been a week for some very crappy weather. It's rained most every day, and we've had a small taste of what my friends in Alabama have been going through with tornado warnings most every night. My loved ones in Alabama are thankfully okay, though the state has been very hard hit.

But tonight when I left work, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and I just had to stop for a second and be thankful, and scoop up a little sunshine, to keep some sunshine on my face.

It's words to live by.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Got my hair did!

I was trying to grow out my hair, but with thick, heavy hair, that's not easy during Spring and Summer in the South.

So, I opted for a short bob that would be easy to grow out.

This is the style I picked:

I have a really good relationship with my stylist, and we've known one another for years. She knows that I'll generally choose a style that works with my hair's weight and texture and that I don't expect to look exactly like the picture I bring in. Still, we got pretty damned close:

I love how the new cut really puts emphasis on my pink highlights. They looked washed out in the picture, but they're nice and bright. I'll try to get a better picture later on.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick

Yesterday Walgreen's had Cover Girl Lip Perfection lipstick on sale Buy One, Get One 50% off. I picked up two shades, in Heavenly and Tempt.

According to the Cover Girl website, Lip Perfection claims , gorgeous color that can transform your day and your lips. Enriched with Silk Therapy Complex, our formula helps sustain moisture levels and helps create soft, smooth, beautiful lips in just 7 days. Here's my experience with it:


* Smooth texture
* Even, rich color
* Flattering colors


* Greasy feel
* AWFUL smell and taste. I'm serious. It smelled/tasted like a melted Crayola crayon mixed with Vaseline.

Bottom line? I don't know if the lipstick could improve my lips in seven days. I didn't make it seven minutes from the horrible smell/taste. I'll stick to Benefit and Morgana's fabulous lipsticks from here on out.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why I Didn't Sell To You

This is one of those "serious business" posts, where I'm going to talk about how I do business and why I sometimes do things that don't seem to make sense to customers.

Sometimes, I will refuse to sell you what you've asked me to make. It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? I'm in the business of selling you pretty sparkly things you can wear, and you've just asked me to make you that. So why won't I sell it to you?

There's a few reasons:

1. You've asked for something I can't do well.

I'm not going to sell something unless I'm happy with the work. I won't be happy with the work until it's as perfect as I can make it. So if you've asked me to make you something that requires a skill I haven't developed, or a technique I haven't learned, then I'm going to tell you so and offer you alternate options. If the alternate options don't work for you, I'd rather send you to someone who does have the skills to make what you'd need than to sell you something that won't be its very best. Supporting handmade is not just about supporting me, I love sending people to other awesome handcrafters who make fabulous things.

2. You've asked me for something I know won't work well.

There are some beads that look pretty, but they just don't work for jewelry making. They bleed color, they're too fragile, they tend to cut beading thread no matter what you use. As an example, for a long time I made bracelets using bugle beads. They looked amazing, but after too many instances of threads being cut by the beads, I made the hard decision to stop offering these items for sale. I have had people since then ask me to make them items using bugle beads, and I explain to them why I have decided to no longer offer beadweaving items with bugle beads, and offer alternatives that have a better track record for wear. It may mean that I lose that person's business if they really had their hearts set on bugle beads, but I just don't think it's right to make something that I'm pretty sure will break.

3. You've asked for something that violates CPSIA.

If I know you're asking for an item made with Swarovski crystals for someone under the age of 13, I will refuse to sell it to you. Swarovski crystal is lead crystal (hence the brilliant, diamondlike shine), and it is not suitable for use in jewelry for children. By that same token, the items I make aren't suitable for children due to their nature. Beadweaving is strong and suitable for everyday wear, but there's very little that can stand up to a typical boisterous toddler.

4. Sometimes, you have to fire a customer.

This is something that NO seller of anything likes to talk about. And let me state that 99.9% of customers are truly great folks. But just as not every person you meet is going to like you and get along with you, so it is with sellers and customers. Sometimes, there just isn't a good fit, and sometimes, the fit is so bad that it's better if you just walk away than continue to try to make something work out. I pride myself on giving good customer service and treating my customers the way I want to be treated, but if a customer tries to cheat me, or makes it clear that they don't value my work or my time, then I think it's better for both of us to walk away.

I promise my next post will be on more lighthearted topics, such as the idea I've got for those great chili pepper beads we got at our last bead show.

Whimsy Beading - Facebook coupon code contest!

I've got two contests for reaching 500 fabulous Facebook page fans, each for a coupon for 50% off whatever the winner desires in the Whimsy Beading Etsy Shop

The first contest closes at 5 pm today, so there's still time for you to head over and enter!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pantry Suppers

Growing up, dinner was a "meat and three" affair, but after I moved out of my parent's house, I developed a taste vegetarian/low meat dining, especially when I'm cooking dinner just for myself. Over the years, I've developed a list of pantry/freezer friendly items that I try to keep on hand at all times, so on the nights when I don't feel like going into the kitchen, much less cooking, I have something I can pull together quickly with minimal dishes involved.

Here's my list:

Black beans
Chick peas
Great Northern beans
Cannellini beans
Basmati rice (LOVE my rice cooker)
Minced garlic in olive oil
Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
Olive Oil
Soy Sauce
Balsamic Vinegar
Penne Pasta
Sour cream
Cream Cheese
Squeezey Lemon
Squeezey Lime
Parmesan Cheese
Feta Cheese
English Baked Beans
Cheese Ravioli or Tortellini
Diced tomatoes
Individual servings of table white and table red wine
Chicken stock
Vegetable stock

With these items on hand, I can almost always whip up something easy for dinner. Tonight's dinner is mixed tortellini with toasted garlic brown butter sauce and sundried tomatoes, with Tinto de Verano to drink.

Today's Dilbert

I think George, my house ghost, would appreciate today's Dilbert.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Silver prices just crossed the $40 threshold. Ow, my aching checkbook.

Joey's surgery - Update

Joey will be having gallbladder removal surgery at 11 am on Friday, April 29th. My mother asked me yesterday if I would like her to come with me on that day, and to be honest, I hadn't really thought that far ahead. Everything has been a bit of a blur with everything else I've got going on right now. This is an odd numbered year, so I've got things going on at work that I only do every two years, and on top of that, there's planning for my upcoming furlough day (yay for day off, not so yay for no pay) prep for a craft show we're attending in May, Etsy team stuff (go TeamBluegrass!), Wear the Lilac charity work, filing state income and reseller certificate taxes and just the normal day-to-day stuff like cat feeding, cat slavery, cat petting, cat worshiping, and doggie love.

So, long story short, I gave my mother a blank look yesterday at lunch, then told her it would be fine if she wanted to come up for the surgery. Joey's mother will be there too, and whoever else shows up, shows up. As long as Joey comes out in one piece, less the bit giving him pain, I'll be happy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe Time - White Bean "Cassoulet"

This is a great pantry friendly recipe for wintertime, and fabulous when the tomatoes are ripe in the summer time. It's both hearty and refreshing and you can make it in one pot. It's not a real cassoulet because the beans aren't cooked slowly with fat, but added at the end. I usually double the recipe to use up a pound of sausage since we don't eat sausage that often, and because it tastes even better the next day.

White Bean "Cassoulet"

½ pound bulk sausage, Italian sausage links, chicken sausage, ground pork, ground turkey or tofu crumbles (if you are using a ground meat/tofu, season it with a bit of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and/or sage or 3/4 teaspoon mixed dried herbs, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (wash and dry before chopping)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-sodium added diced tomatoes including juice
2 (19-ounce) cans white beans such as cannellini, navy, or Great Northern, drained and rinsed. (or about four cups of homemade cooked white beans)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a medium skillet brown meat in oil over moderate heat, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In fat remaining in skillet cook onions and garlic over medium low heat, covering and stirring every few minutes until golden. Stir in herbs (including bay leaf), scallions or parsley, tomatoes with juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover mixture, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. At this point, you're going to look in the pan and say to yourself "Wow, that's a lot of tomato sauce. I thought this was a bean dish?" Just wait.

Slice sausages into ¼" pieces if using link sausage. Add meat and beans to tomato mixture and cook, stirring, until heated through, marveling at how the tomato sauce you thought you had disappeared and turned into a lovely bean dish, accented with tomatoes. Discard bay leaf and keep "cassoulet" warm, covered. Add balsamic vinegar just before serving and stir through. (Don't skip the balsamic vinegar! Seriously, if you don't have any in your kitchen, go get some. You will never want to be without it. It's like Italian soy sauce.)

Serve with rolls or a loaf of crusty bread.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Charming Miss Phyrra

I was very fortunate to make the acquaintance of Phyrra last year when I was researching indie mineral companies. On top of being completely gorgeous and incredibly talented with makeup looks, Phyrra is a lovely lady to know and a kind, considerate friend. And now, we're teaming up to give you fine folks a chance to get some free Whimsy Beading goodness!

Head on over to Phyrra's blog and check out the lovely goodies that she helped me create and you could win!
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