Monday, November 28, 2011

F- the malls...

...and shop some Indie! Falalalalalalala.

I think that's the right number of "lalala"s after the "Fa" there.

And I'll bet you think you know what the "F" is for up there in the title, right? Well, if you think it means "forget," you're right!

Seriously folks, shop indie and local this holiday season. You'll be able to choose unique, handmade, well made gifts that help support small businesses everywhere. Sure, it may not be a cheap waffle iron, but you won't need to pepper spray anybody to get that fabulous gift, either.

Shop indie, shop local, and *ahem* "f"(orget) the malls this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Soda! Part 2

As promised, here is my review of Holika Holika's Soda Light Cleansing Oil, for oily skin. I bought my bottle from bello-girl on ebay.

Soda Light Cleaning Oil contains argan oil, grapeseed oil, Harrogate spring water, lemon extracts and "alpine herb" extracts (I'm not sure which herb) to help cleanse your skin of makeup. My impression is that it's oil cleansing for people who want the benefits of OCM, with the ease of a cleanser. I've been using it daily for the past week.

So how well does it live up to my impression? Very well indeed, actually. The first time I used the Soda cleansing oil, I was wearing Benefit's They're Real mascara, which you may recall I said was hell to take off. The Soda cleanser was able to take it off in far less time than my grapeseed/sunflower/castor oil OCM blend, and the Soda cleanser also removed my eye makeup and face makeup (including BB cream) with lightning speed and no irritation.

 It's also quite easy to remove once it's done its job of breaking loose all your dirt and makeup. A warm, damp washcloth will remove the oil easily from your face, and in my case, it left my face feeling clean, but not overly stripped or dry.

Then there's the smell of Soda Light Cleansing Oil. If you like lemon, herbal smells, then you'll love using this product. It smells fresh, clean, and slightly sweet, like an herbal lemonade. It certainly makes using Soda Light Cleansing Oil a pleasure every evening.

Which leads us to the downsides of Soda Light Cleansing Oil. The first one is cost. At $19.99, it's not anywhere near as budget friendly as making your own OCM blends, nor will it last as long. I expect my bottle of Soda Light Cleaning Oil to last me about a month, and that's using two pumps from the dispenser every day. What you get in convenience (pre-mixed, fast removal, ease of use), you lose in cost per use.

The second downside is if you really love Soda Light Cleansing Oil (and I really do), you'll need to purchase it from an overseas seller. Those packages tend to take two or more weeks to get to the US and they come registered mail, so you have to either pick them up at the post office, or be home when they arrive to sign for them.

All in all, the benefits of the product outweigh the downsides. I highly recommend Soda Light Cleansing Oil and enjoy using it, so I will be repurchasing when the time comes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Lady Must Have Her Gloves

For some time now, I'd been on the hunt for a pair of warm, functional yet pretty fingerless gloves. Well now, I hear you say, that shouldn't be too hard, should it? Etsy is swimming in them.

That's true, but I'm allergic to wool. I can't even handle alpaca for very long without breaking out. And cheap acrylic yarn? Allergic to that too. It's been hell on my knitting life, I don't mind telling you.

So what do you do when you want a pair of toasty fingerless gloves to keep your typing hands warm in a cold office, which at work can sometimes mean quite cold indeed, but the bulk of the items on offer would leave you with hands that were not only still cold, but irritated, itchy and sore? As (my favorite) Ninth Doctor once said, you narrow it down a bit. I found one seller offering fingerless gloves of fleece, and began hunting in earnest.

I wanted something pretty this time. Something feminine. A little ruffle, a little delicacy, to contrast against my military styled winter jacket. That's when I found these beauties by rumstadt on Etsy. Acrylic polar fleece, in the most somber of charcoal grey, with a single ruffle running down the length of the glove. I bought them without a second thought.

Photo credit: rumstadt on Etsy

When they arrived, I tried them on nervously. I am, as I have previously stated, a plus-size girl. An extended size girl, as a matter of fact. Finding clothing and accessories to fit me is not as easy as you might think. These gloves fit like a dream on the first go. They were so comfy and warm, I wore them all that work day, and all the way home. I plan on picking up at least one more pair for myself and a pair as a gift this holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"That" Seller

In my journey through the world of handcrafting, one of my biggest dreads is becoming "that" seller. You know the one. You've met him or her at just about every flea market, craft show, yard sale, or church bazaar.

That seller sits in their booth, scowling at you as you walk past. When you walk up to their table because something catches your eye, their animosity for you rolls off them in waves. They hate you, and apparently, they hate your money, your relatives, your children (if you have them), and your little dog too. Polite questions on their products get you a terse, grunted answer, a sarcastic comment, or sometimes, just a forbidding look. If you *do* buy something from this seller, chances are good that their payment terms will be very restrictive. They'll have a minimum credit card limit that requires you to buy $15 when you only wanted something costing $5. They'll have a hand written sign in ALL CAPS with black marker so thick you can still smell the fumes if you get close enough. That sign will tell you in no uncertain terms that if you buy something from this seller, you're fortunate that they've decided to allow you to give them your money in exchange for goods. Sometimes, you feel like if they thought they could charge you just for breathing the air in their booth space, they'd do that too. Even if the thing you're buying is something you really, really want, and you can't get it easily anywhere else, you'd rather tear out your own fingernails than to deal with that seller again, because at the end of the transaction, even when you've gotten what you wanted, their attitude and hostility make you feel like crap. Who needs that, especially nowadays, when so many people are selling a little something on the side to make ends meet, and you can get almost anything your heart desires on the internet? Why would that seller continue to do something they clearly hate to do for people they hate to see?

There are a lot of answers to that question. Let's deal with two of the most common ones. One, it's probably that the seller has been doing this so long that they've lost their passion for what they're doing, but are too financially sunk into supplies, products and equipment to stop doing it. Two, and this one will probably upset some of you - that while you on your own as a person are lovely and lovable, "the public" all gathered under the roof of that show are flaming bunghole jerks. Some shoppers have no respect for the seller, and they make it obvious. Rude comments abound. Even the most forgiving, sweetest tempered seller wants to stick a knitting needle into the eye of the fifteenth person who complains that her 100% wool, hand knit and hand felted hat is too expensive compared to something from Wal-Mart, or the twentieth person who asks "Can't you go lower on the price?" or the first person who tries to cheat her. (Seriously, trying to cheat a seller is definitely needle-in-the-eye for the first offence.)

Okay, you say, those are both bad. But it's not that hard to do a show, right? You just get a table, put your stuff on it and sell, don't you? Not quite.

Attending a show as a vendor takes a strain on you, both physically and mentally. You're up WAY early before the show starts and either driving there to set up, or you've paid for a hotel for the night before so you can set up. Then there's finding the vendor parking, finding your assigned booth space, unloading, setting up the tent (for an outdoor show), the table, the chairs, the displays, the cabinets, the decorations, the cash register, securing your cash change box, making sure your credit card reader works, your phone is charged, and trying to find a willing neighbor to watch your booth on the rare cases you might want to eat or go to the rest room, if you're on your own.

Then, once you've done all that and you finally sit down, you must be pleasant, cheerful and a not too pushy but involved and engaging salesperson, sometimes to people who assume a "Good morning" is a hard sales pitch, sometimes to people who won't even acknowledge that you've just wished them a good morning or look at you. And you must do it over and over again all day, while listening to nasty comments about your pricing, your workmanship, your materials, your skill level, or the shopper's opinion of what you do compared to their grandmother, cousin, best friend's brother's sister's hairdresser. And when you're all done, you get to take everything back down again, pack it up and start over tomorrow, if it's a two or three day show. Oh, and for the ability to do all this, you've probably paid out anywhere from $50 to upwards of $600, depending on the show venue, not counting the additional jury fees, filing fees, mailing fees, licensing, gas to get to the show, hotel cost, food and incidentals.

If you're a handmade seller, let's also add in the insult to injury of getting to a craft show or art show to find out that the show organizers were more interested in booth fees than in promoting crafts or art, so you're competing with home party sellers and sellers one step up from the ones who approach you in a dark alley with a coat full of watches sure to turn your arm green as soon as you buy it.

It all takes a toll on your average seller. We feel it each time you walk by our table and won't look us in the eye, or when you ignore our greeting of "Good morning" because you think it's a sales pitch. Chances are, we're just wishing you a good morning because we'd like you to have a good morning. If you want to buy something from us eventually, that's great, but it's not required to return a courtesy. We hear every comment you make while standing at our table, even if we pretend we didn't and keep smiling. We try to not let you get to us when you've made a particularly nasty comment about our items on sale. But it does get to us, and slowly but surely, we become "that" seller if we're not careful about it.

It doesn't help either one of us. You don't want to buy something from someone who clearly has no liking or caring about you. I don't want to sell something feeling animosity toward you, or wishing you'd never walked up to my table or come to my Etsy shop.

I fully believe that it is not the customer's responsibility to ensure my success as a business. It is mine. I can do that by giving the best product I can at a price that is both market competitive and self sustaining, by providing courteous customer service, and by living up to the promises I make to my customers. But still, it's not your fault if you decide to spend your money elsewhere. It's your money, and it's your decision, and since I make that same decision as a customer of other businesses every day, I must respect it. I may be disappointed that you didn't buy from me, but it's my job to make my products so good, and so well made and so irresistible that you will WANT to buy from me first. If I didn't do that this time, well then, I want to leave you with the clear impression that you are always welcome to come back again and will receive pleasant, courteous treatment whether you buy something from me or not.

The fear of becoming "that" seller is the reason that Joey and I decided we would not attend more than two handmade shows this year, and as it turned out, we were only able to attend one, due to an unavoidable circumstance. I knew that if I continued the grueling show schedule we had last year, my transformation into "that" seller would be more likely than ever, and I do not want that. I freely and fully admit that I am snarky, often sarcastic, and tempermental, but I never want a customer to feel unwelcome. I haven't always succeeded in that, but I will always do my best.

It's a two-way street when it comes to buying and selling, especially in the handmade world.

As a customer, respect the seller's pricing. They're trying to stay in business. If you love their product, you'll WANT them to stay in business. Don't try to get something for nothing, if you want the business to survive. Be courteous, be polite, and be understanding if they say no, they really can't go any lower, or they can't stack coupons, or whathaveyou. Realize that you're maybe the twentieth person to ask that today, and it can be taken as an insult to the seller sometimes. We don't mean to be insulted, but it happens.

As a seller, realize that your customers are your biggest asset. They don't owe you their money just because you've set up a table/a website/an Etsy shop. They don't owe you anything. If they love your product and tell their friends about it, and you find out about it, be thankful. Tell them you're thankful. Be gracious. Be willing to go the extra mile, and do it with charm, humor and pleasant conversation. And most of all, don't be "that" seller.

Winter Hair - Blue Black and Pillarbox Red

My base hair color needed touching up, and I decided to go ahead and switch over to a more wintery look for my highlights. So, on Saturday, Joey colored my hair with Feria Starry Night, a blue black shade. I used to love it over every other blue black, but I'm starting to change my mind. Feria's formula tends to leave my hair feeling dry, (thank goodness for Silk Naturals Coconut Argan cleansing conditioner!)  and the color this time out turned out as a flat "bottle black" than the shiny blue black I'd been used to.

Still, I would only have just black hair for one day, so I lived with it.

I knew what color I wanted for my highlights - Punky Colours Pillarbox Red. Because my love for black and red is at least as strong as my love for black and pink, if not slightly stronger. So it was on with the highlight cap, and time for bleaching. It usually takes an hour and half for my hair to bleach using 40 volume developer without applying heat. I have a bonnet hair dryer, but wanted to be able to work on beading projects while I was waiting. Joey wasn't impressed with the color of Pillarbox Red in the jar, but I promised him it would look great once he was done. He'd done thicker sections of hair toward the front, and thinner highlights all throughout the back of my hair, almost to my neckline, so there are little threads of color everywhere. I am a very lucky girl to have a husband who will not only color my hair, but do such a fantastic job of it. (I am very lucky to have Joey in any case, but the hair color service is a very nice bonus!)

And's me, with my winter hair:

I will end with my new daily affirmation. Feel free to use it too, if you wanna: "I'm here, I'm fat and I'm gorgeous. If you don't think so? You're wrong. Sucks to be you."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Your Favorite Colors Blog Challenge: And the Winner Is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Your Favorite Colors Blog Challenge!

3rd Place: $15 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop - Colorway Sari

2nd Place: $25 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop - Colorway Space

1st Place: 1 Whimsy Beading sterling silver crystal spiral necklace in the winning colorway - Winner Colorway Winter's Gold.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated and voted!

Winners, please be sure to email me so I can send your gift certificates to the right email or your winning necklace to the right address.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Satanic Mechanic

Long have I lusted for Sugarpill's Asylum loose eyeshadow. Last weekend, I finally picked it up, and yesterday, it arrived at my house.

Wasting no time, here is a rare FOTD picture of me, wearing Asylum. Bear in mind that this picture was taken with my cell phone, after more than 8 hours of work, so even with Oil Control Serum to aid me, I'm still shiny.

I call this look Satanic Mechanic. One, because I love The Rocky Horror Picture Show and have since I was 14 (when I dressed as Columbia and was sold in the "Virgin Auction" to an otaku, which is another story for another day), and two, because I wanted to wear my new Xelement Inferno Boots today. Which I did.

See? Boots:

And here's me:

I swear I'm not drunk or anything. I'm just closing my eyes a tad so you can see how awesomely red and metallic Asylum really is, at least as far as the picture quality of my cell phone will allow. It really is a shiny, sexy red. People who don't even LIKE to wear makeup were drooling over it today. As well they should!

Here's the goods:

UD Original Primer
Benefit RSVP Cream Shadow
Estee Lauder Double Wear Color Cream Antique Lace (to highlight)
Pixie Epoxy (lid only)
Sugarpill Asylum (lid only)
Silk Naturals Clutch (blended into crease)
Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion in Blackest Black

Holika Holika Peach Girl 02
Tarte Amazon Clay Blush in Blushing Bride, applied VERY lightly
Laura Geller Glow Box Highlighter (the smaller, champagne colored dome)

Silk Naturals Reddy Kisser Slicker

Three Custom Color Specialists - A review in brief

I took advantage of the Three Custom Color Specialists sale on Hautelook a few weeks ago. I puchased "Mom on the Go" lip and cheek stain in Cool and their "Greige" eyeshadow single.

Mom on the Go, Cool
After bad experiences years ago with cream blushes, I'm just now starting to try them again. This was touted as a sheer wash of rosy color, and I figured that if it didn't work on my cheeks, it would still work on my lips. The texture is more like a lip balm than a cream blush, and it is very sheer, so it takes more than you might expect to get a wash of color. Still, for someone like me with a fair complexion and rosacea, this is actually a feature, not a bug. It's pretty hard to screw up the color coverage using this product, and it blends well with just your fingers. It lasts all day, too. My verdict on Mom on the Go, Cool is that it lives up to its promises, and would be a great carry along product for anyone on the go.

Greige Eyeshadow
I'll admit, this isn't the first color I would have chosen, even with my love of all shades neutral. Again, bad experiences with poorly formulated makeup has left me leery of certain darker greys and blacks, and I'm just now, at the age of 36 (soon to be 37!), re-learning how to appreciate these colors again. I bought this as an attempt to find a passable dupe for MAC's discontinued "Copperplate" shade that everyone loves so much. I missed out on that particular bandwagon, and apparently I missed out on all the dupes, for there were none to be found using Google-fu.

Greige is exactly what it says - a soft neutral grey/beige shade, softer than the color in the pan would have you believe at first. The eyeshadow is very finely milled, and somewhat creamy in texture. It took very little effort for me to pick up plenty of shadow from the pan, even using a light hand and the softest, smallest eyeshadow brush I own. It went on smoothly and evenly, with great coverage, and it blended well. I wore it on my lid with MUFE's Pink Beige cream shadow above it. The result was a riff on the "pink and grey satin" look that I often use for work day looks. All in all, I'm very pleased with my purchases from Three Custom Color Specialists, and I will probably look into getting another of their lip/cheek stains in the future.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Your Favorite Colors - Time to Vote!

We had to change the rules just a little bit on our contest. There were so many great colorways, we couldn't pick just five. We were able to narrow it down to six colorways for the voting.

Without further ado, here they are, along with a handy poll for you to vote for your favorite. Voting is open from now until midnight on Saturday, November 19. As a reminder, the prizes are as follows:

3rd Place: $15 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop

2nd Place: $25 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop

1st Place: 1 Whimsy Beading sterling silver crystal spiral necklace in the winning colorway.

Good luck, and thank you to everyone who participated in the colorway challenge!

Vote for your favorite colorway!
Coral Garden
Winter's Gold
Wildwood free polls 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Benefit's "They're Real!" Mascara vs. Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion (now with 50% more rambling)

I have been trying to get my hands on a tube of Benefit's "They're Real!" Mascara for about two months now. Every time I go into my local Sephora or Ulta, it's sold out. Finally, last weekend at the very busy Kenwood Towne Center in Cincinnati, OH, I got the last tube their Sephora had on the shelf.

The Kenwood Towne Center is kind of a strange place to me. It's right across the street from the shopping center with Ulta, and not far from the Trader Joe's. It is a very swanky looking place, with all the middle American luxury brands you might expect  - including a Swarovski store that I didn't go into, having had bad experiences with the one close to me in Louisville, KY, where they treat jewelry makers who use Swarovski products with all the hospitality you might give your drunk, meth-head second cousin showing up to your gala wedding in a tube top, cut off sweatpants hoochie shorts and dirty flip-flops. And now that I've put that image in your heads (and mine), I'll just say that while the Kenwood Towne Center takes great pride on being swanky, the area surrounding it is definitely not, so the whole setup seems a bit incongruous to me. People in Lexus SUVs with bags full of Restoration Hardware and Nordstrom purchases are cutting you off in mall traffic to get in line for valet parking at the Cheesecake Factory while less than a city block away, there's the down-at-heel gas station and decaying strip mall with all the evidence of a part of town that's glory days of prosperity are never coming back.

Of course, none of this stopped me from snatching up my purchases and heading to the Sephora "Gauntlet of Impulse Buys" checkout and out the door, to take the two hour-ish drive home. Joey, sweet man that he is, drove the whole way up there and back home, allowing me to sleep, while trying to convince him that I wasn't napping out of guilt because he was so tired too. I don't think he bought it.

Once I got home, I was too tired to put on makeup, so my research would have to wait until Monday morning, when I got ready for work. After applying my standard combination of primer, cream shadow for all over the eye and brow highlight, and loose shadow on the lid, I applied "They're Real!" to see if the reality lived up to the hype.

I should state for the record, that according to everyone I've ever met, my lashes are declared to be quite long. I've never thought they were all THAT long, but I have been using Silk Naturals Eyelash Conditioning Gel this past month, and I do think it's doing what it says it will, so my lashes feel a bit longer and more lush than they did before. I should also mention my undying love for Silk Naturals products in general. I am going to need a whole new shelf in my bathroom for their products alone, and I use their products every day now. The Argan Oil moisturizer is my new best friend, as is the Awesome Sauce serum that I use nightly.

Okay, back to the mascara talk.

To be honest, They're Real! lived up to its hype up to a point. I certainly had long, more defined lashes that were very black indeed (They're Real only comes in jet black). There wasn't quite the amount of volume as shown on the product packaging, but maybe I just didn't wiggle the brush quite as much as the instructions intended. The brush itself isn't bad, and the varying bristles do seem to pick out every lash and coat them as you sweep it across your lashes. The formula is not terribly wet nor terribly dry, but it does want to clump up easily, so some care has to be taken when you apply the second coat using the little spiky ball end of the brush to give you even more lash length.

The finish after two coats is very dramatic, and it does give you a "You're totally wearing fake lashes" look. If you wanted to make sure your evening makeup had the perfect finishing touch, this would be one mascara you'd definitely want to check out. Since I like the juxtaposition of drama with sedateness, I liked the look of the dramatic lashes with my rather calm (but lovely) pink and grey satin workaday eye makeup.

Of course, there are some drawbacks. I found that the formula could not completely fight against my oily skin, so at the end of the day (12 hours plus), I had a some raccoon eye smudging going on. The mascara dries somewhat stiff, probably for the curling effect, but it might irritate you if you have sensitive eyes. It's also hell to take off. Your average cosmetic wipes aren't going to make a dent in this stuff, and even some of the more gentle eye makeup removers might fail. I was able to get it off using a rather generous amount of my usual cleansing oil mixture, but even that took a while. I didn't lose but a lash or two, but if you're not careful, removing this mascara could remove quite a few of your lashes with it, so be gentle and be patient when taking it off.

Which brings me to the question that I'd set out to answer when first making this blog post - how does They're Real! compare to my every day, go-to mascara, Cover Girl's Lash Blast Fusion in Blackest Black? Well, it's really an apples to oranges comparison to me. They're Real! gives a very dramatic, exaggerated look, while Lash Blast Fusion gives a you a "your lashes, but better" look. Lash Blast Fusion has a very easy to use brush, the formula is not as prone to clumping in my experience, it doesn't smudge under my eyes and it's very easy to remove with a cosmetic wipe or eye makeup remover. The formula is not too stiff, nor flaky, and I think the Lash Blast Fusion gives a more balanced look of extra volume and length, giving your lashes a lush, but more natural look. All in all, I don't see myself giving up my Lash Blast Fusion for every day wear, but when I want that little extra bit of oomph in my look, They're Real! is definitely on my list of products to use to get there. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blog Giveaway Challenge - Your Favorite Colors

It's been a busy week for the Whimsy Beadings. Our 17th wedding anniversary was on Monday (yay, Halloween!), and Joey has been a guest in my hotel room as I attended my annual professional development conference for my day job that started on Wednesday morning and wrapped up this afternoon. We're staying one more night to hit one of our favorite bead shows that just so happens to be in town before we head home to pick up our elderly doggies from the boarding kennel and see what new damage Henry Monster Dammit's done to the house while we've been away.

So, with all that said, what's this post about? Well, with all the professional development...stuff in my head right now, I thought now would be a great time for my readers, Whimsy Beading customers, friends and fans to have a little fun at the design table, even if only by proxy.

Here's the deal. In the comments of this post, submit your favorite colorway. It can be a picture you like, a poem, another website or just a list of colors that you think would look pretty together. At the end of next week on Saturday, November 12 at 1:00 pm EST, Joey and I will choose five colorways we like best, and I will make an electronic mock up of each colorway. I'll then post them to the blog, and you guys will get to vote on your favorite until Saturday, November 19th at 1 pm EST. The top three colorways will win the following prizes from Whimsy Beading:

3rd Place: $15 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop

2nd Place: $25 gift certificate to the Whimsy Beading shop

1st Place: 1 Whimsy Beading sterling silver crystal spiral necklace in the winning colorway.

Everyone who submits an entry also receives a special coupon code for 20% off their next purchase in the Whimsy Beading shop.

Now, here's the catch - you can enter as many times as you like, but you will only receive one coupon code. Only one colorway per person will be selected for the mock-up and voting. Please keep your entries to one colorway per comment, otherwise, it's a bit hard to sort through.

Good luck, and I can't wait to see the beautiful things you guys will create.
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