Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I will never understand Black Friday. It's the most insane day of the year. But that's just my opinion. I do everything I can to avoid going out on Black Friday, even to go to the grocery store. I guess I am in a period of my life where "stuff" just isn't that important to me. The sales are ok but the "stuff" would have to be practically free to get me in those crowds. Here in my house, I am collecting a lot of our "stuff" to give away. We are going back to bare necessities because in my house it leads to happier children and happier parents especially me who loves to declutter.

So when I read this I get equally frustrated with days like this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Decluttering Fool

It's that time of year again where I do my pre-New Year cleaning. You see, most people do "Spring Cleaning" but I don't because if I wait for Spring to come it is already too hot to be crawling around in my attic and garage. So I do mine during the cooler South Florida months and the best time is usually around Christmas. I figure I am crawling around in the attic anyway bringing down my Christmas decorations so I kill two birds with one stone.

But the decluttering that usually occurs in every room in my house is going to be spilling over to my home computer. It is in desperate need of decluttering. I am going to tackle a variety of categories on the computer.

First mission is email. While I keep a pretty clean inbox (no larger than a half page is my motto) I tend to build notes up in folders. So the folders are going through a massive cleanout.

Second mission is the favorites. I have accumulated a lot of favorites that are no longer valid bookmarks so out they all go. After they are all gone I will then organize them into folders, nice and neat.

Third mission is photos. I have a ton of photos on my hard drive. I have two systems for this. First, I upload all of my photos to I love that server because if I need to order a picture it couldn't be easier and affordable too. Because I don't like to put all of my photos in only one spot, I am also going to utilize a flash drive and use that to backup my photos. A flashdrive case holds the drive and it gets put into my safe. The photos then get deleted off my hard drive. It frees up quite a bit of disk space.

Fourth mission is other files. Again, I utilize two flash drives for this so that one can backup the other and they get put away for safe keeping. This year I am toying with online servers such as gmail where you can upload documents but I am still concerned about hacking and safety so there will be more research into this. Once everything is uploaded and backed up, it all gets deleted off my hard drive.

Fifth mission is the desktop. My desktop tends to get cluttered because when I am actively working on a file, I tend to save it to my desktop so I can get right back to it easily. Sometimes I forget to take it off the desktop so this is what I have to clean up.

Once I am finished with decluttering my PC I go through a disk cleanup which cleans out all the old programs that I never or rarely use and then go through defragmenting.

When I am finished my computer feels like it just went through a spa treatment and is happy and working efficiently once again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Make A Rue With Me

Last year I posted this and it has to do with making a rue. I think at the time I was doing some cooking posts and thought that learning how to make a rue was one of the better pieces of knowledge I had as a cook.

What I didn't know at the time was that this post would be BY FAR my most googled and hit on post. When I look at my page summaries this one comes up over any of the others combined. And all week I have been looking at my stats and it is off the charts this week. Of course, it is Thanksgiving week and probably a lot of people are looking for gravy recipes.

So I do a little experiment and I go to google and I type in "how to make a rue" and lo and behold, my post is the first hit to come up! No wonder so many people are hitting my blog.

Now if I could only figure out a way to get my jewelry blog to come up as much. Still figuring that one out.

In the meantime if you want to know how to make a rue, just come here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where Did My Boy Go?

I remember the day that I gave birth to my first child as if it was yesterday...every little detail and memory of that day. At the time I swore it was the happiest day of my life and it was. I have had 3 more happiest days since then and each one not happier than the other. I knew that time would fly the minute he was born because everyone told me it would. And it has. He has gone from being the quietest baby to the noisiest teenager. As a child he was never big on demands but as a teenager that's a whole different story. Way back then he was a real guy's guy. Now he is showing an interest in girls. When he was little he would go on the computer to learn how to read. Now he goes on the computer to send off emails or research a school project. I remember how cute he was in that car seat and now I am teaching him how to drive. He used to call me "mommy" and lately he has cut that short to just "mom".

It's such a shock. Each passing day is one day closer to him turning 18 and another day closer to college and I am about 99% certain that college will be a pretty long distance from home. There are days when I wonder if I am doing the best job I can do. I am sure I fail at times but then there are times when he does or says something and I know I am doing something good and right. A big part of me wants him to be independent and able to cope in life and another part of me wants to just hug him closer and stop time. I knew this would happen and I knew I would always feel this way wanting to make time stop and keep him small and young and always looking for more kisses from me.

I got a newsletter from his high school regarding graduation photos for the seniors. He is not there yet...just a sophomore. But when I saw the letter I fast-forwarded to 2 years from now where it will be ME who will be doing the graduation photos. It will be ME who will buy graduation announcements. It will be ME to help mail off those college applications. It will be ME who will have to figure out how I am going to get through his 18th birthday.

I am not sure how I will prepare for this but there is one thing I have learned and that is that no matter how hard I pray, time just isn't going to stop for me.

Jewelry Update

I ran across a snag in my latest necklace creation but I should have it fixed and into my etsy store by end of weekend. Check here to view the story.

Also, I will be doing all of my jewelry blogging here from now on so please please add me to your reader and join the fun. I could use the support and feedback. There will be lots of information there on new items in the store, craft fairs, and other fun and games.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Etsy Store - so exciting

So excited about my new etsy store. I just started uploading items to the store and it does take a bit of work to get it all there and accurate. Right now I have 4 bracelets uploaded with many more to come tonight. Check back for more news.

The Disney necklaces are coming very very the next 24 hours! So excited. All the girls at my daughter's school are fighting over them!

Oh So Cute Jewelry

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reason For H.O.P.E.

I was in church this morning and usually right before the holiday season kicks off we have a guest speaker who comes in to talk about an outreach center called H.O.P.E. that was first started by the pastor of our church that helps needy people in our community. The church collects food for the food bank regularly and I give regularly to the bank.

But today I felt the need to do more. So the guest speaker came up and talked about the Adopt-A-Family program that was kicking off just in time for the holidays. If you adopt a H.O.P.E. family you will do whatever you can to help make the holiday nice for that family. I decided that we were going to sign up. You do not know the family that you are choosing. All you know is how many children and adults are in that family. We got a family with one child and two adults.

When you open the envelope there is a piece of paper in there that describes the ages of the children, sex, and first name(s) along with anything that the family might be requesting. It turns out that the child in the family that we adopted is 2 months old and is a boy. The family says that it needs "anything."

When I saw that I was deeply touched in many ways. It touched me because I have 4 children of my own and I realize how blessed they are to have the comforts of life that they do have. Secondly it touched me because the parents didn't seem too demanding of any one thing in particular. Perhaps because they are so needy that they asked for anything that we could give. And last, it touched me because I never imagined that the luck of the draw would give me an infant that we could help. There is something really powerful about that thought given we are approaching the Christmas season.

My mind went into high gear as our family talked about what to do for this family. First thing is that we should get some baby essentials like basic clothing. We will also buy a few cases of diapers and wipes. For the family we are going to give them a Publix gift certificate for food. After we do all that we will start thinking about toys and books. I am looking forward to this week to start shopping and planning for this family. If all goes well and we have some money left over we may go back and adopt another family. After all, it's the season of giving thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Jewelry Sample Designs

I was toying today with some new jewelry designs. A good friend of mine gave me some really good business advice. I have been really struggling with developing a target jewelry market. But as I was telling him how my idea of a jewelry making business came about he saw how enthused I was in describing all of the jewelry I was making for my young daughter. I also told him I was inspired after last Christmas when I was shopping for my young nieces and could find nothing in the jewelry section that was age appropriate that didn't look cheap and didn't look hoochie-mama. Enter my young daughter. She is also coming to an age where she loves little girl jewelry and I cannot find anything that is unique enough to her personality. So I set my sights on learning how to make it my own and it has kind of taken on a life of its own.

So I told my friend how much I love to make jewelry for myself. He then noticed I was not sticking to a target audience...young girls....go further though and say young girls age 4-9. Make a line. Get a website. Give the jewelry away. Do shows. Create a buzz. So I am excited. Before anything I need to work on that line and I spent much of last week shopping for beads, supplies and things I think would be unique to my business.

I created some jewelry samples this weekend much to the liking of my daughter because she gets all the leftovers. That's double good for me because she will wear the stuff to school and one day I hope to keep creating a buzz. For now I am going to share a few of the samples with you. But remember that I am playing with beads and stringing materials. These are not finished products and things I will be selling because there is a bit more fine tuning I want to do to the product to make it look more finished. But you get a peek at my progress. Also I am posting this same post at my jewelry blog. I would sure love it if you would bookmark me and check my progress there too.

Here I am tinkering with memory wire. This stuff is great for kids for many reasons. First, you are not bothered by a clasp so the child can take it on or off at will. It doesn't fall off either because the memory wire conforms to the area and overlaps around the back. There is no sizing involved because, again, the wire conforms to the neck area. It cannot choke because it is open at the back. The only drawback to the memory wire is that you can only make short choker style necklaces with them so I will have to create other alternatives to this style.

Here I am playing with my multi-colored Hello Kitty beads. This is a stretchy cord bracelet for a little girl. I love all of the colors. Who knew that Hello Kitty can be found in all different colors.

More pink Hello Kitty beads on a memory wire choker. This is also so cute. Too bad the photo isn't so great because I was running out of natural sunlight. Will try again tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Volunteer Hours

A few weeks ago when my teenager came home from his first night of CCD to kick off his last year he gave me a bunch of papers that describe what he is going to learn that will help him prepare for his upcoming Confirmation in March. I have been through this before with my oldest one. Part of the preparation is the requirement to do some volunteering at home, school and church. We talked about what he could do for the hours and some of his teachers recommendations. He tell me "my teacher says that every 5 hours of helping around the house gets 1 hour of volunteer time." I think that's all well and good and will get him to his requirement but is that REALLY volunteering? Is it really helping someone else out (other than me who gets the added benefit of extra help around the house)? While I could really use the help, I am not in desperate need of it and will he really learn something from that to prepare him for adulthood?

I ponder this thought and then listen to this where he speaks of something greater.."It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."

Surely we can find more meaningful work for a 14 year old to do within the community. So I start digging on the computer and find a volunteer organization within the county that we live. They organize all sorts of smaller groups and volunteers and match people up with their skills and the communities needs. Perfect. I join and next week myself along with my two boys are going to an orientation class where we will be able to pick from all kinds of organizations to help our community.

We are going to start off at my older one's Catholic school where volunteer students gather once a month in the cafeteria to feed the homeless and then take ourselves to other shelters where they will need us to help. We will sign ourselves up for Special Olympics duties. My boys are so fortunate to be able to play any sport they want without having to suffer a handicap. Wouldn't it be so wonderful for them to be able to give of themselves in this capacity to someone who does suffer? We have already started to make rosaries for troops and pitching in every week for our church's food bank. But it's all new to us and I suspect that for every thing that we do together we not only get to that service hour requirement but hopefully touch lives and enrich our own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To All People

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

It's not the speech but the way the words inspire that makes it great.
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