Thursday, December 27, 2007

Keepin the clouds away

So Spike is much better today, and PooWatch 2007 is finally over. For those of you who have dogs, you will understand. For those who don't, just pretend you didn't read that.

He's got to eat special canned food, something called Intestinal HE (good thing dogs can't read!), in 1/4c increments. He needs to be walked a couple times a day, and has to have lots of water, plus take an antibiotic twice a day.

Today he's back to his usual whiny self so I am happy. Tonight we're dropping him off at Aunt Susie's (thanks Aunt Susie!) so we can leave early tomorrow for a weekend in San Diego with TJ's family.

And the Intestinal HE is a big hit, with both dogs. I need to stand guard over Spike while he's eating it because Peanut keeps eyeing it longingly. I let Peanut lick the spoon I was using to get the food out of the can today so maybe that made it worse.

In an hour or so we'll take Peanut to Dog Camp. I hate having to do it the night before because it makes the house seem so empty. But our flight is *really* early tomorrow and Dog Camp doesn't open till 9 or so.

And here's a plug for our vet (Dr. Miller at Redwood Animal Hospital in Redmond). Seriously, if you're looking for a great vet on the Eastside, these folks are the best. They're not cheap, but they are thorough and caring. Not only did Dr. Miller spend a ton of time examining Spike, he also spent a while talking to me about what might be wrong and explaining the diagnostic options. A few hours later he called and gave me a detailed report on Spike's tests. And this morning, since he was out of the office, another one of the vets called to find out how Spike was doing. That's pretty awesome.

So hopefully Spikeman will be ok this weekend - I'm glad he'll be at Aunt Susie's because I think he'll get better observation there than the kennel. He sends out a big beagle howl (AROOOOOO) to all of you who asked about him or sent your good wishes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I would give everything

I'm sitting here kind of unsettled because I had to leave Spike at the vet's office today for additional testing.

A few days ago, we were on our usual morning outing to Marymoor and Spike was rummaging around in the bushes. He decided to hop the fence and take off, so TJ had to wander through the trees looking for him. After about 10 min, he came back to TJ.

Later that day, he didn't start whining for his food that afternoon. But he ate. Since my parents were here and they were getting lots of extra treats we thought it wasn't a big deal. But then the next day he sort of kept to himself, stayed on the couch and slept most of the day, away from where the rest of us were. He also refused to eat in the evening, which for our always-hungry beagle is *very* unusual.

Yesterday, he didn't eat all day though we were happy to see him drinking water and accepting treats and some lunchmeat. (Apparently even sick dogs like meat!) But he was still kind of lethargic and stayed mostly on the couch or in his box.

So this morning I got him an appointment at the vet. We had a different doctor today, a nice guy, who did a thorough exam of Spike, much to Spike's displeasure. He said Spike's got some inflammation in his digestive system and said we could be conservative and just keep an eye on him, or run a blood test and some XRays to see if there's something going on in there.

And just to digress for a minute - I think it's interesting that for animal health care, the cost is always part of the discussion, right up front. The vet mentioned a couple of times how expensive the Xrays and blood tests were, and gave me an estimate and had me sign it. You never hear people doctors saying "let's just wait and see how it goes, you might not want to spend the money on these tests" or even giving you any indication of the cost.

It bothers me a little that cost comes into the treatment decision for animals. Especially given that animals can't actually *tell* you how they're feeling so it seems especially prudent to use whatever diagnostics are available to find out what the problem is.

I know there are a lot of people who wouldn't easily be able to afford the $500 I will spend today on Spike's care. But it seems to me that maybe folks who don't have the means should think twice about having a pet. Or look into purchasing pet insurance for such things. I just don't think it's reasonable to delay treatment or put a pet more at risk because you don't have the cash to pay for it.

And I guess that means I am one of those bleeding heart, animal rights people. Our guys are full members of our family, and that means I'd eat a lot of ramen noodles in order to make sure we can get them the care they need. I would never give up a pet because I didn't have time for him anymore, or choose a place to live that doesn't allow pets, or whatever other inane reasons people come up with for abdicating responsibility.

Ok, rant over, back to Spikeman. So of course, I chose the option to do the tests, and he's at the vet now, getting poked, prodded and Xrayed. (And getting his nails clipped while they're at it, because what's another $20 at this point?) Poor little guy. He already hates the vet and today isn't going to make that any better. The other interesting thing is that he only weighs 23.3 pounds, which is the least he's ever weighed. Too bad the rest of us don't have that problem.

I hope we figure out what's going on. As far as I know he didn't eat anything unusual, though he did get a lot of treats this week. But who knows what he got himself into on his little adventure on Sunday. Anyway, think happy thoughts for our little Spikeman!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Next year I could be just as good

Merry Christmas everyone!!

It's very quiet here - my parents left this morning (screamin deal on airfare on Southwest), and TJ is at the grocery store. Spike is not feeling well, so he's sleeping by himself on the living room couch and Peanut is as usual, holding down the rug in the upstairs living room.

I'm listening to a Christmas CD sent to us by a friend, and in the background the dishwasher is doing its thing with the first full load of Christmas Eve dinner dishes.

I'm actually really happy with how our dinner turned out last night - it was very simple - we grilled the Omaha steaks my parents bought us, and had them with mushrooms sauteed in butter and red wine. We had a simple salad (thank you Trader Joe's!) and I made some rosemary roasted potatoes. It was super-easy and really satisfying. Oh and we opened three bottles of wine: a Red Truck wine we've been meaning to drink for a while (thanks Doug!) and two bottles of Peller Estates dessert wine, a Cabernet Franc icewine and an oak-aged white ice wine. YUM.

We used our nice china for the second time (thank you Grandma Creath), so piles of dishes are waiting for me on the kitchen counter, but I thought I'd enlist TJ's help in tackling those once the first round of pots and glasses is put away.

I think the gift exchange went well - people seemed happy with their gifts. I got a ton of really nice semi-precious and glass beads from my mom so I can't wait to get back to my craft table and make some new stuff for the shop.

TJ said he liked the wool overcoat I bought him. More so, because now he doesn't have to actually shop for one. :) He'll probably only wear it a few times, but it should last him a long time. And yay for me for guessing the right size on the first try! He plans to wear it when we go to Canlis for New Year's Eve.

The whole family seemed entertained by The Dangerous Book for Boys, which I also bought for TJ. It's got all these things boys "should" know, like the rules of rugby, important battles, and 5 important knots. It was written by a Brit (though this is the American edition) and is quite funny. TJ pointed out there was only a page and a half on Girls, but 5 pages on how to build a go-cart. Awesome!

But the most technologically advanced gift went to my mom. We got her a lifetime subscription to LibraryThing, so she can catalog all the books she reads. She seemed pretty excited about it.

My Christmas gift to myself is an upgrade to Mac OS X Leopard. It's installing right now. I can't wait to put in some quality time learning how to use it, finally. Woo hoo!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A girl's best friend

We need a new car. And by need, I mean, I'd like a new car that I can use to chauffeur the puppies to their daily dog park trip. Right now, if I take Peanut, I've got to fold the backseat down in the Audi, and now there are dirty dog footprints on the back of the seat, the top of the seat, and on the plastic parts in the hatchback. There are also dog nose prints on the window.

Not exactly elegant for a luxury car. Also, Peanut can't sit or stand up in it comfortably, and squeezing both him and Spike in there is a little tight.

My fabulous, economical-minded (read: thrifty, doesn't like to spend money on what he thinks is unnecessary) husband has written his point of view here. However, this same husband also doesn't believe in buying used cars as daily transportation so we will get something new and shiny.

We are following his process for buying a car: research online to get a long list of vehicles that will work, go see them in person and narrow it down to a short list, and then test drive the short list before making a decision. Very methodical. Which I guess is good because the car I wanted the most going into The Process was the Saturn Vue which we eliminated as soon as we saw it. It doesn't have nearly enough room for The Peanut.

So here are our criteria:
  • Big enough for The Peanut (you'd be surprised how many cars we've eliminated based on this!)
  • Tows at least 3000 pounds of motorcycle/trailer goodness
  • Gets decent gas mileage
  • Isn't butt-ugly (goodbye Ford Edge!)
  • 6 disc CD changer (that's mine)
  • No cheap cloth interior, and generally not cheapy looking inside (that's mine too)
We've got our short list now: Toyota Highlander, Toyota Rav4, Dodge Nitro. I think we're going to end up with the Rav4 - that's my prediction. It's the smallest of the three, and meets our needs. But we haven't driven any of them yet.

I hate car shopping - more precisely, I hate interacting with car salesmen. I realize they are doing their job, but it's really hard to be nice when I want to tell them to BACK OFF. Ick.

And of course the price negotiation part is sucky. We're in a good position since we don't *need* a car, so it's not like we're willing to pay whatever they ask, which should make the negotiations somewhat less unpleasant. So sometime in the next few weeks we should be able to get through the rest of The Process and buy a new car. Woo hoo!

Oh and Merry Christmas to everyone out there! TJ gave me my present early because I am short on patience. They are nice and shiny, like the ones in the picture:

These are my very first diamond stud earrings and they match my engagement ring perfectly. So I'd say that my fabulous husband has done well! I'm not sure my presents will be nearly as exciting to him, sadly. But we're opening the presents tonight since my parents are here and leaving tomorrow morning. So we shall see.

Hope Santa is good to everyone out there!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The clanging chimes of doom

Wow, so I thought the version of "Do They Know It's Christmastime" on the Barenaked Ladies' holiday album was a parody of the original because the lyrics mention in multiple verses how Africa is a horrible place to live. I thought it was making fun of the song and pointing out how people just trying to get through life probably don't give a rat's ass about whether it's Christmas or not, especially our horrible Western commercialized idea of what Christmas means.

But I think the lyrics are not a parody, and the original is actually just that stupid. Wow. I realize the song is over 20 years old, but seriously? That was the best they could come up with to get people to realize the plight of drought and starvation in Africa? Whoever wrote that song has "privileged white person" stamped all over him/her/it.

So that's my daily, not very holiday spirit-y, rant. I'll try to pick a more cheery topic next time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Think I'll buy me a football team

Long time no post, because I was running around like a crazed woman trying to finish custom jewelry orders for Christmas, and also get ready for the craft show I did at REI headquarters yesterday. Super-busy week!

We also got some sad news from TJ's family last week, so it didn't seem right to post a light-hearted post right at that time. Please send happy thoughts their way.

Anyway, back to less weighty topics. (Pretty much everything here is a less weighty topic, isn't it?) I got 5 of my 6 custom orders done last week, and have 3 currently on my plate, though one of those isn't for Christmas and I still need to order supplies for it.

On deck today is just 2 pairs of earrings. One is a custom order from a friend, as a Christmas present for someone else, and the other is from a woman at yesterday's craft show. The awesome part is that she already paid for them!

I made a pair of earrings and a matching bracelet on Thursday to beef up my inventory for the show and they are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, I was so rushed I didn't take a picture, so I'll just have to recreate them sometime from my imagination. They had bright orange carnelian, tiny brown freshwater pearls, and just some sparkly silver accents - very small and delicate.

The earrings got snapped up pretty early in the craft fair, and the lady who bought the bracelet also wanted the earrings, so I told her I'd make her another pair. Hope I remember what they looked like!

Anyway, the show was pretty good for me. I sold many of my magnets, though not the water molecule GeekMagnets. I was smart to bring BeagleMagnets and NatureMagnets, both of which were a big hit with the employees. It also helped that I offered them individually at $2 so I had a few people buy just one magnet. I also sold 2 bracelets and 2 or 3 pairs of earrings so it was a pretty successful day for me. A nice way to end the season. I'd do this one again if Wendi asks me (you have to be sponsored by an employee).

But in general, I'm down on craft shows. It's a lot of sitting around, hoping someone will buy stuff. There's always a ton of jewelry vendors. And it usually eats up a whole weekend day, not to mention all the prep time beforehand. So I might stick to the Internet and custom orders for friends. Or be more choosy about the shows I do participate in. This year, as a learning experience, I did anything that was less than $20 for the booth. Two shows were pretty good and two were *really* bad. You never can tell up front, but I did learn that I don't really like sitting around all day and it just imposes way too much deadline stress on me. So maybe one or two a year will be enough.

After the show yesterday, Wendi and I went to Nordstrom Rack. I love the Rack, and Wendi is a marathon shopper like me. I can tell we're going to be good friends :) If only she didn't live so far away! I bought three black dresses. Really, they are all different!

Actually, I will probably return one of them today. I bought it to wear for our New Year's Eve dinner at Canlis, but it needed some slight alterations and my usual seamstress is out of town until then. I also didn't *love* it. I could wear it as-is, though it's a little big. So I'm going to see if there are other options for me today, at Macy's and the Factoria Nordstrom Rack. If I don't find something else, I'll wear the one I bought. It's black, and sparkly, and nice, but just not *the* dress.

Though currently I'm pretty unhappy with how clothes are fitting these days :( I need a good kick in the (extra large) pants to start eating right again. And make sure I'm getting my 10000 steps in each day (at the very least). Shopping with Wendi, who's a size 6 and several inches taller than me, underscored this fact. She's that person who can wear the cute little Audrey Hepburn straight-cut black dresses. I remember the (brief) time when most things I tried on would fit, and I'd just have to decide which ones I liked best. Instead of now, where if it fits at all, it automatically gets tossed in the "maybe" pile, just for that reason. Sad.

And quite honestly, what it comes down to is how bad I really want to lose weight because it ain't gonna come easy this time. I'm still kidding myself that walking more and just eating less crap is really going to effect a drastic change. But I'm also not mentally ready to make a wholesale change. I love going out to eat in Belltown at lunch. I'm still in a very anti-green-leafy-vegetable phase. I hate salad. But I'm not getting any younger. Yuck.

Grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And find me there

More GeekMagnets posted today. The new square ones, which are a little harder to do because they need to be very, very, neat under the clear acrylic square. But I love these guys, especially because they're biochemically geeky.

And I shouldn't have had that diet Coke with dinner. Now it's 11:30pm and I'm wide awake. You'd think I would learn. But today was especially stressful at work, and I got a haircut and had to ride the bus home at 7:30pm. None of which made me especially happy, really.

My haircut is fine. I love my salon, which is across the street from where I work and sufficiently hip for my taste. But I've gone to the same stylist twice now and haven't been thrilled with the results, so I think I'll switch next time.

Don't get me wrong, she does a fine job with the cutting, but when she blowdries it straight, it doesn't look much better than when I do it. It's got that fuzzy, dry look, which I hate. I think it's because she doesn't totally *get* the texture of my hair, which is kind of coarse and wavy and needs some extra round-brushing to lay perfectly flat. But I got it trimmed and didn't lose much length, so really, that's all I needed. A utilitarian haircut experience, rather than a "hey, don't you love my hair", basking-in-new-haircut-glory experience.

We watched Project Runway tonight. They're obviously keeping some of the annoying people around for television value. It was ok, nothing stunning. I've got to catch up on last week's episode, which I missed, probably because I was doing something crafty.

So the list of custom orders grows. I just got another one, so I've got 4 to finish relatively soon, given it's already Dec 5. Plus I have to really beef up my inventory for the REI headquarters company craft fair next Friday. Since I'm not sharing a table with anyone, I've got a whole 6 foot table I need to fill. I'm *really* hoping to have around 50 items to sell, but that's going to be a long shot. I currently only have about 30.

And work is kicking my butt so there's no sneaking out early to come home and make stuff. Wish me luck, peeps and don't feel bad if I don't call you or send you a Christmas card for a few weeks!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Be careful what you wish for

Wow, so I am totally thrilled! My new set of GeekMagnets sold this morning, to a customer in the UK. At least my little creations will get out and see places I'd like to visit! I've just finished packing them up to be mailed. My random guess at postage costs was a little less than the actual cost, so now I know better to increase it for next time. That's why these are an experiment, right?

Well, off to make more magnets! Each set takes a few days, by the time the glue dries on the different components and I can actually clean them up and photograph them. I'm honestly surprised at their popularity. Of course, *I* love them, but that doesn't mean other people will.

And the jewelry custom orders keep coming in - yay! I've got 3 to work on now. Woot!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm sleeping my day away

As usual, my afternoon nap has made me completely not ready to go to bed early.

Shipwreck Beads was amazing. I can't even describe effectively how huge it is. It's like a whole Target store, but full of beads. Crazy. It's even marked as a tourist attraction on the freeway, and I understand why. Of course, I couldn't resist and spent way too much on more beads than I'll ever need, but I rationalized it by saying I'd probably only make the trip down there once a year at most. Here's a picture:

Wendi and I had a good time, and we went to dinner at a lovely sushi place in Bonney Lake, Sushi Town, which coincidentally is right next to a store called Smoke Town. I find that really funny. Then again, I'm a dork.

The drive home was not so much fun. The weird thing is that at Wendi's house, there was some rain, then as I drove north, more rain, and when I hit King County, a LOT of rain, then as I got close to Bellevue, freezing rain, snow flurries, and when I got to Redmond, actual snow on the ground. Crazy. I actually was more worried about the last mile home than the other 43 miles to get there. I ended up having to leave Otto at the bottom of our hill, because, as I expected, he was completely useless in the snow. This morning we retrieved him and put him back in the warm garage.

Today was a Productive Day, with a capital P. I finished the laundry, finished the second of my four Christmas custom jewelry orders, made another pair of earrings for my etsy shop, posted my new meterology GeekMagnets to my shop, went to the grocery store and made some yummy corn-potato chowder that I found on this blog. Like most soup recipes, it makes way more than you'd expect, so measure carefully if you decide to try it.

I took the day off from the morning walk due to the bad weather, but Allison and I will resume tomorrow at 7:15am. We've been doing great with it, and it's been awesome for the dogs. They seem to have more energy and Peanut especially seems in better shape than he was.

Well, time to get ready for tomorrow and try to get some sleep. Happy December everyone!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Here to stay is a new bird

Why is there snow on the ground?? I appreciate that it waited until December to snow here but seriously? I have things to do today, places to go. And you know that Otto hates snow. Just a refresher - Otto is my car, the Audi A3 that becomes useless in the snow due to its "performance" tires. Part of the appeal of living in Seattle is that it doesn't get too cold during the winter.

But just last weekend, TJ and I had to order multiple pairs of woolies from REI. Which, incidentally, are available for store pickup today. And now I digress to discuss how much I *LOVE* the store pickup option. I don't have to pay for shipping, and I just drive over to the local store and my package is waiting. Totally awesome.

And speaking of shipping, my beads showed up in the mail. I have a whole box of semi-precious beads that are just waiting to be made into something awesome. Citrine, garnet, aventurine, onyx, yum!

I finished the custom order for Trista and got it mailed to her. I also sold my very first set of GeekMagnets on etsy. Yay! This series was "Molecules and Cells". The person who bought them is planning to give them as a gift to a friend studying chemistry. Awesome! I will make more this weekend.

So, just a little recap on "the business". I have sold 13 things in my etsy shop so far, which is great. I've sold about the same number just to friends and family in that time as well, so I'm way ahead of my "1 sale per week through the end of the year" goal I set back in September!

Today, if the weather permits (melt, snow!!) I am driving down South to an unknown part of Washington called Bonney Lake to pick up my friend Wendi and we're going to what is apparently the biggest bead store in the WORLD, Shipwreck Beads. Someone recently called it the "Costco of Beads". Should be awesome, even just to see it. They're so huge they even have billboards on the freeway. I can't wait!

And speaking of my friend Wendi, I've only actually met her in person once! No, this isn't some weird Internet situation where I'm making friends with strangers. I actually work with Wendi at my (sort of new) job. She's my contact at one of our major clients, and we talk several times a week about her project, and then got to talking about other stuff, like her pet ducks and why guys don't usually include a salutation or any pleasantries in their email. So it should be fun to actually hang out with her.

Projects on deck for this weekend: custom necklace which is a Christmas present for a friend, custom order for necklace and bracelet for a little girl, re-do a bracelet I don't love into a necklace I like much better, and make some magnets! Sounds busy for 2 days, huh?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'd buy you a K-car

So we got a brand new Kohl's store in Redmond. I think there might have been one farther away, but since I never really lived near one, I didn't feel the need to drive far away to visit one. TJ and I went to Kohl's in Pittsburgh, in Oct 2006, when we were in town for Kristine's wedding. To me it seems like a slightly more upscale version of JCPenney.

However, I am a fashion magazine addict and I started to notice ads for Vera Wang's a low-priced line at Kohl's. And since I got a $10 coupon in the mail for the Grand Opening of the Redmond store, I thought I'd head over there this morning after my walk with Allison and Hank. Speaking of which, we've walked at Marymoor 6 mornings in a row! Yay for us!

Anyway, back to Vera Wang. I loooove her fairytale wedding dresses and her jewelry line is beautiful as well. So that definitely hooked me into visiting the new Redmond Kohl's. I also needed some pajama pants and another pair of decent sweats since the paint-spattered ones shouldn't actually leave the house, at least not with me wearing them. Maybe in a bag for Goodwill.

Kohl's did not disappoint for inexpensive simple clothes like sweats and PJs; however time will tell whether they hold up through multiple washings. I had a very disappointing pair of pajamas from Sears that lasted literally 2 washings before they started to get holes in them. Stupid. I understand the need for cheap, but 2 weeks is not an acceptable time period for even a $20 set of pajamas.

The Vera Wang line at Kohl's isn't bad. I'm too much of a department store snob to be really thrilled about it, but there were definitely some very cute pieces. This camisole would be really cute with jeans and sparkly heels. There was a gorgeous version of it in mustard, with a bold print, that I might go back for tomorrow, with the $10 coupon they gave me. Some of the beaded/jeweled tops and dresses looked very cheapy, but then again, that sort of stuff is hard to pull off.

And at this point, I should take the time to note that I am very grateful to be able to shop wherever I want to, and I realize not everyone is able to have that luxury.

Now back to my regularly scheduled post. I bought some very cute fleecy pajama pants in lime green with a nice snowflake pattern. Neither the picture on the Kohl's site nor the one I took with my own camera does it justice. They're very bright and cheerful so you'll just have to imagine them and feel their fuzzy softness.

I also bought a cream-colored hoodie with an awesome pattern that looks like some kind of woodblock-printed fabric. Of course it's not, it's just mass-printed in China, but for $16 I couldn't pass it up. Here's a picture of the cool print:

Neat, huh? I also managed to find some black velour sweats and a pair of grey pajama pants from Vera Wang and called it a day. So my $10 coupon turned into $80 of shopping. I guess that was a pretty good return for the store!

TJ and I are also anxiously awaiting our long underwear woolies to arrive from the REI outlet. It's already freezing here - has been consistently around freezing in the mornings. If I'm going to walk at Marymoor every morning, I need more than one set of woolies. Brrr!

Yesterday was a good day - I am halfway done with the custom order for Trista. Got a lot of work still to go, and earrings to make, but just getting the skeleton of the bracelet together and half of the embellishments was a big accomplishment for me. I'm really happy with the way it's turning out, and I'll post pictures after Christmas.

I've also managed to post a few more items to my Etsy shop. Since all the search results are sorted by date posted, I've been trying to post one or two items per day in order to stay somewhere near the top.

There's so much jewelry there that I can't really expect strangers to find me, so most of my sales have been to folks I know. Which is fine with me - that way I know my pieces are going to good homes :D

Now I'm really going to take that nap I never got around to yesterday. Waking up at 7am on a Saturday is HARD!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fly me away

OK, I'm procrastinating. I have to make a ton of jump rings for a new project, and my little craft room is cold, and really, I'm just being whiny.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Aunt Susie's was nice. She has the most gorgeous nice china I've seen - a bold black and white pattern with a silver band around it. Since there seems to be no good way to look up china patterns online, I can't show you a picture of it.

Spike thoroughly enjoyed dinner last night, too, since he got to spend 20 minutes licking the bowl that held the green bean casserole after it was empty. He did a very good job getting the crunchy, stuck-on, crusty bits out of the bowl. I'm sure it taxed his little beagle brain, in addition to nourishing his little beagle belly.

I made these little GeekMagnets(tm) as a hostess gift for Aunt Susie. I had a lot of fun making them, and they're really pretty easy and a fun project. I do have to work on the pictures, though. Since they're shiny, that makes it hard to get good pictures.

I've got some ideas for selling them in my etsy shop but I've got some jewelry projects I need to make first. But now, I'm going to take a nap.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank you thank you silence

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In the grand tradition started by my parents several years ago, we used to go around the table and name the things we were thankful for each year before the big (Indian) Thanksgiving dinner.

Since I'll be eating with TJ's family this year, I'll give my thanks here. I am thankful for:

  • My great and supportive husband and our sweet puppies, Best Dogs Ever.
  • Our loving and supportive families - I am lucky to have my own, plus TJ's now.
  • That I found a hobby/passion/timewaster/money pit that I truly LOVE. I can't believe it took so long. (This is the jewelry-making, by the way.)
  • My new job. It truly is that magical combination of fascinating work, great co-workers, and a great manager. How lucky am I to have found that in one place??

OK, your turn. What are you thankful for? If you have a blog, post it there and leave the link in your comments. Or just put it in the comments.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My tale is the most bitter truth

My boss gave us the afternoon off. Yippeee! Four and a half days where I can make stuff, sleep in and play with the puppies. Yay!

I have bought a bunch of supplies lately for a little side-project I'm trying out. More trips to the craft store, yay! I'll keep you posted on how it goes. If it goes well, some people may get some handcrafted spunky little Christmas gifts from me.

So Allison and I did great so far this week - 3 days in a row of walking at Marymoor at 7:15am. I am impressed. Neither of us has flaked out yet, which is fantastic. I think it's important and sets a good precedent for later. And I did notice this morning that it's becoming just a tiny bit easier to get up in the morning. I've been able to do it without the alarm so far, which is awesome. I hate the alarm - it's so jarring and makes me feel tired all day. Though without it, I inevitably wake up once in the middle of the night in panic, hoping I didn't oversleep, and then another time about an hour before the right time for me to wake up. Maybe my brain is still on daylight savings time or something.

Obviously the dogs are thrilled about a dog park trip in the morning. It was freeeeeezing this morning - around 35 degrees F. Sad. But today was a gorgeous (freezing) bright sunny day. I think it didn't even get up to 50 degrees. I fear that we will get some snow this year if it continues to stay cold like this. We'll just have to hope for no more dramatic power outages or else talks of moving to Arizona will surface again.

The ad experiment continues. So far I have earned $0 from Google. I'll have to figure out ways to increase my blog traffic, I guess.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Like a barren winter's day

So Sitemeter again yields something interesting. I was reviewing my hit counts to apply to put some ads up, and found an interesting link.

My concert post apparently made it to some kind of music blog and has been held up for ridicule - awesome. Nothing better than a bunch of hardcore crappy music fans to denigrate the House of Peanut. Love it. As if I'm even *trying* to write a serious concert review. Apparently the dudes on their site (and we know it's all dudes), have criticised literally every line of my post. Nice.

To read for yourself, check it out:

I also love how a Google search, and writing up a quote counts as a blog post on a music blog. Um, can we say LAZY??

Oh well, that explains the trolls around here lately.

I depend on me if I want it

You may have noticed the Google ads in a prominent place on my blog. I've been getting a lot of hits lately, so I figured I'd try out the ads and see how it goes.

I held out for a long time, but I'm curious to see how it works.

Let's just say a wise friend suggested I try it :)

And I guess it struck a nerve

So apparently my assessment of Bleeding Through as crap incited some Internet anger as two random strangers commented to chastise me. One with some not so nice things to say about HIM, which is fine with me, since I can take criticism of bands *I* like, but I deleted the comment because the language was homophobic and unnecessary.

Whatever, dude. I'm not losing any sleep about it, that's for sure.

Craft show on Saturday was pretty much a waste of time, though it was fun chatting with Dawn again, and two friends came by during the day: Rob, with his very nice orange Corvette Z06 (drool) and Traca, who I work with. I sold one bracelet all day, so it wasn't exactly an awesome sales day for me. However, a lot of people came by and commented on the 'uniqueness' of my jewelry, and I don't know if that means "wow, your stuff is crazy and ugly and *I* would never wear it" or if it was a genuine compliment. But at least they were nice about it.

There were several jewelry vendors at this small show, two of which had much nicer displays than me. I still haven't fully committed to this craft show thing as a regular activity so I don't want to spend a lot of money on nice displays. And after two craft shows in a row where I sold hardly anything, I think I'm ready to go back to the Internet as my main selling venue. My weekends are much too short to burn a whole day sitting in some dank auditorium waiting for someone to like my stuff. At least online, I can do other things while I wait :)

Word of mouth is traveling fast among my friends, thanks to some intentional marketing I've been doing (promotional postcard mailed out, info on my Facebook profile, and a very nice email Nathalie sent out to *her* friends letting them know about my shop.) In the past 2 weeks I've sold 5 items from my etsy shop, and have a custom order pending for another friend. So it's been nice and busy. In fact, just yesterday, to make me feel better about my lack of sales at the show, I had an etsy order (from a stranger!!) waiting for me. So nice.

I skipped out on the Gem/Jewelry show today, though I've heard those are a great place to buy beads. I have a *lot* of beads right now, and just received a huge order of silver wire and sheet and some beads for my new jewelry line that I've been planning, plus the fairly complex custom order for Paul and Trista. So I don't really *need* to spend any more money on beads right now. Plus, Amma is going to India in March, and she can find some fabulous semi-precious beads there, so I plan to send a lot of money with her then.

My friend Allison and I are going to start walking at Marymoor in the mornings (7:15am, shudder), which is good for us and good for the dogs. She has an adorable Lab puppy named Hank who needs daily exercise, and lord knows our guys could use the exercise too. We're meeting tomorrow morning.

She recommended "You on a Diet" to me - it was a heavily Oprah-pimped book and I avoided it for a long time, not wanting to get suckered into *yet* another diet book. I picked up a copy today, with a 30% off coupon from Borders, because I realized I really do *need* to do something about this weight before it becomes a real problem. I have more clothes in my closet that don't fit than ones that fit me currently. Which is *BAD* *BAD* *BAD*. Past failed attempts to lose weight loom behind me like mocking ghosts out of Harry Potter. (Hello Nearly Headless Nick! Hello Peeves!)

But YOaD seems a lot less 'diety' which is what I'm looking for. Lifestyle change, and all that. I'm doing a *lot* of walking during my daily commute, and that's definitely helping my energy level - I rarely nap anymore. If I combine that with eating less crap, I probably could be dangerous. Unfortunately working in Belltown = a lot of fabulous bad for me food options. On the bright side, TJ and I are eating out a lot less, since it takes me so long to get home in the evenings.

So I've got a long way to go, but I can start small. At some point, I'll actually *want* to join a gym. Right now I'm feeling very anti-gym. Anyway, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, right? And that step will be to go to Marymoor with Spike, Allison and Hank tomorrow. Woot.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

These boots are gonna walk all over you

Today was a day of waiting for the bus. A lot. In the morning it was 20 minutes, because there was some traffic light problem in Redmond. In the evening it took me over an hour to get home. Not sure why. Bad bus juju today, I guess.

So I had a lot of time to think about my blog post for the evening. I was just thrilled with my new boots (Sofft Modena III in black leather), which finally arrived from yesterday. I actually first saw them when I was shopping with Kristin a few weekends ago but none of the stores at Bellevue Square (and we checked 3!) had my size. I *love* these boots.

The lacing up the back is fantabulous, but the best part about these: I can walk the 2+ miles to/from the bus comfortably in them. And they have enough of a heel to make me look cute and not seem like "comfort shoes" in the true Seattle sense of the word. Loooooove them. Got lots of compliments today too. Woot.

So that was going to be the end of my post, just some boot drool. But then Grey's Anatomy happened.

Honestly, I've been less than thrilled with it this season so far. Some of my favorite characters are gone: Addison, to her new crappy show, and Burke, because he's intolerant and doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. And now they seem to be booting Callie as well - such a disappointment. So I was ho-hum about the new season - it's definitely on my priority list to watch, but I haven't really been enraptured yet like I was when we had the DVD marathon weekend for Seasons 1 and 2, or even last season.

Until tonight. The medical emergency was a school bus accident, which caused the hospital to be overrun with teenagers and there were lots of high school culture-related storylines. Which of course I can relate to, having been fairly traumatized by my high school experience. It was cute and funny, and sort of ok through the first 45 min or so. Better than usual, but still nothing superb.

And then Bailey (who always has these great grand speeches!) had her turn, venting her spleen at McDreamy about how "girls like her" never got noticed in high school. And I was just sitting there in shock. Because she was talking about me. (granted, it was relevant to every other geek girl in the history of time). But the emotion, and accuracy of that scene was just un-freakin'-believable. I still get chills thinking about it. I could have written that scene. Heck, I could have performed that scene. The fact that I was watching someone else do it on TV, who doesn't know me, a scene that was written by Hollywood TV script writers? Holy crap, it was amazing.

I know most of you out there don't watch the show, or had different high school experiences, or whatever. But I just had to share. It was like watching myself on TV. I am definitely buying this season on DVD regardless of what else happens, just for that 5 minute scene. Dang.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What a wicked thing to do

Wow, I sure have a lot of catching up to do here. The highlight of last week was the HIM concert on Saturday at the Showbox SODO, so I guess I'll finally write up my mini-review.

I went with our friend Dave (no blog) since TJ was still out of town, and he really isn't a concert kind of guy anyway. The ticket said 7pm so we got there around 6:45. Of course, once we got there I realized it meant 'Doors open at 7pm' so we were stuck standing outside for 15 min or so. And because I didn't want a heavy jacket inside, I left it in the car and then proceeded to freeze while we waiting in line.

Waiting in line gave us the opportunity to people watch. Lots of teenage goth girls. And goth boys. And ambiguous gender people. Pretty much everyone was wearing black. Fortunately I was smart enough to comply so I didn't stick out too much as one of the old uncool kids. (At least not at that point.)

So they finally let us in. The venue wasn't bad, at least layout-wise. There's a bar area/beer garden in the back of the hall, and a nice one on one side, and enough bathrooms, which were even clean. Dave and I hung out in the beer garden because it was mostly empty, given all the underage folks at the show. We leaned on the railing and even had a table to put our drinks on.

The opening band, Bleeding Through, SUCKED. Crappy speed metal. But they get props for having a female keyboard player. And when the lead singer actually sang, instead of yelled or growled, he actually didn't sound half bad. And the drummer was actually quite good. 45 minutes was too long to sit through that garbage, but I was pacified by the nice lemon drop martini made by the fabulous hip bartender.

And then HIM came on, finally, around 9:30pm. A long time to wait, but well worth it. It was an awesome show. Too bad the acoustics in the Showbox completely suck. And I'm no audiophile, but even I could tell. The band sounded just loud and sort of jumbled/muffled. The show would have been truly AMAZING in any other location, but the lack of good sound really took a lot away from it.

They played a ton of songs from the "And Love Said No" Greatest Hits album I have (and love). They played a few from their newest album, of course. No "The Sacrament", though, which made me a little sad. The other odd thing was that Ville did almost no talking between songs, and when he did it was unintelligible. Not just because he has an accent, but literally he was mumbling. Or maybe it was the bad acoustics again. And they did no encore. Just quit abruptly at 11pm. Very odd.

Unfortunately I had one too many drinks (which for me was 3) and got very chatty with the folks nearby, much to Dave's chagrin. Not to mention the killer hangover I had the next day. Next time, only 2 drinks for me. Sometime in that chatty evening, I gave my email address to some dude, promising that TJ and I would come and see his band. At least I had the presence of mind to give him my spam address. I hope he doesn't email me.

I would love to see HIM again, in a better theater. (The Triple Door, or the Paramount - swoon!) I also found out that Nightwish is coming back in May 2008 to tour Canada and some other US cities, so I'm definitely going to see them, either in Vancouver or Las Vegas.

Yay for concerts! Now if I could only find someone to go with me to see M.I.A. or Tori Amos, I'd be all set for the rest of this year...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One thousand one nights unseen

Quick post. I finally had some time to work on my fabulously free website, provided by Microsoft Office Live. It's a pretty cool service - they give you just enough functionality to get a rudimentary website, that makes you want to pay for the upgrade to get more features. I guess it must be working for them, given how great the stock has been doing lately!!

Anyway, check it out. It's a very simple site and only meant to drive traffic to my Etsy shop so far. I may add more content to it in the future but for now I just wanted a placeholder for the domain name without too much to think about in terms of administration.

Check it out:

I chose '' because it's short, and kind of reminded me of 'fermilab'. Funny, right? Or maybe only to my geeky mind.

Not bad, if I do say so myself, for a quick attempt with limited tools. Any ideas on what other sorts of stuff to put on the site?

Oh, and I have *finally* kicked that horrendous cough. Thanks to everyone who asked about it. Kristin and I had a good time this past weekend - pretty mellow, just shopping, eating, and playing with the pups, but a good time was had by all.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I can't sleep


After 5 days of my cough getting worse and not better, I went back to the doctor today. She pulled out the big guns and gave me prednisone and codeine, basically ensuring I won't be coherent for the next few days. Well, I guess the codeine is only for nighttime, so it might be ok.

The pharmacist mentioned in passing that I might want to take the prednisone early in the day because it makes some people a little 'jittery'. Ok, that was the understatement of the century. I took it at 4pm, and here I am, 13 freakin' hours later, WIDE AWAKE. I have not slept in 20 hours. And I feel perfectly fine. In fact, my cough and sore throat are way better.

Unfortunately I promised my boss a full day of work tomorrow (today?) since my doctor suggested I stay home tomorrow with the new drugs. Grrr. I guess tomorrow will be the day of many small naps, interspersed by meetings. Oh, and more prednisone, so maybe that means I just don't get to sleep anymore.

I am not a happy camper now. Though on the bright side, I am feeling much healthier!

Since I am awake and industrious, I am getting the house pseudo-ready for Kristin's visit this weekend. You know, cleaning up so it doesn't look like two lazy sick people have been lolling around here for the last 2 weeks.

One of the things I did was unpack my fabulous package from Harbor Freight Tools. Thanks to a tip from some fellow Etsyers, I found out you could get some cheap metalworking tools there, to try them out before buying the really good ones. So now I am the proud owner of a doming block and punch set, two different sets of letter and number stamps and a few round metal punches.

I need to put in a fairly large order for some silver sheet and wire, to work on a new jewelry collection I came up with in that cool space between awake and asleep. (Obviously on a night other than tonight!) I've got a steep learning curve to ascend to make what I envision in my head, but I think my intermediate steps will look pretty neat as well. This is where the metalsmithing class will come in handy. Unfortunately I think the last class is this weekend.

In more exciting news, though my poor etsy shop is languishing with no sales since last month, a friend asked me to make a custom bracelet and earrings for a friend of hers. I am *really* excited about this project and we're in that early phase of 'hey what do you think she'll like'. I'll post some pics as soon as it's done. But before that I get to go shopping! For more beads! and silver! Yay.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sick of myself when I look at you

I think I've used that title before. Oh well. I'm sick. Knock-down, drag-out, drugged up and sickly. So is my poor husband. We're a couple of sad sacks, and our dogs are debating leaving us for a more interesting family.

Since I only have a few minutes before the recent dose of Tylenol Sinus kicks in, let me get to the point. I don't have anything interesting to say, but hope you will do this very quick personality assessment for me.

Basically, when you click the link below, you'll be taken to a page where you pick 5 or 6 attributes that you think best describe me. (Don't worry, these are all positive attributes, so I'd love your honest feedback.) How often in life do we get to find out how others see us?

Evaluate Anandi Now!

The "technical" term for this is a 'Johari Window', a tool used on project teams. Project Managers love to come up with these pseudo-scientific assessments to ostensibly help teams work better together.
Ask me about the Color Assessment someday. I think PMs do this because it's fun, and satisfies their burning desire to know what others think of them.

Thanks to Jenn for the idea and thanks to you all for playing :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Send it in a letter

I'm exploring various marketing angles for Anandi's Laboratory. Please sign up for my brand-spankin, shiny new, mailing list so you can receive my newsletters.

I promise I won't spam you. I'll be lucky if I can put together even one newsletter each month. But this way I won't have to email my entire address book. Sign up y'alls!

You can also find the signup form on the right side of the page at the top.

For those of you reading this from an RSS feed reader thingy, you'll just need to drop on by the House of Peanut in person. You know who you are :) And have you seen the new fall color scheme here yet?

If that's too hard, send me an email or an etsy "conversation" and I'll add you to the list.

Did you ever read what I wrote you?

Current obsession: Finnish heavy metal music.

In less than 2 weeks, I'm going to see Nightwish. One of the cool things about this band is that they have a female lead singer. I've been listening to their newest album "Dark Passion Play" nonstop for about a week and it's incredible.

It's familiar like 80s heavy metal, but also incorporates some elements of nu-metal (I hate that term) and the newer goth metal-pop stuff. Kinda sounds like there's some Evanescence in there, and Lacuna Coil-ish sounds. Oh, and for whatever reason both HIM and Nightwish seem to be obsessed with late 80s/early 90s Metallica. You know, before they got all soft and started to suck.

So back to Nightwish. Their current singer, Anette Olson, is actually new (and Swedish, unlike the rest of the band, who are Finnish). Her voice is totally different from the previous singer Tarja, who was classically trained and sang in a very "operatic" sounding voice. She was amazing, but I could only take so much of that type of singing, even if it did have awesome angry metal backing it up. Anette has more of a typical badass girl rock voice. And I can't think of anyone to compare her to now, unfortunately, except Pat Benatar.

Anyway, the thing that totally cracks me up is that Nightwish fired Tarja, their previous singer, via an open letter which is still posted on their website. Talk about airing your dirty laundry in public. I guess that's the difference between a corporate environment and a band, huh? This letter is so personal that it's almost painful to read - like it's something you found accidentally left on a train and weren't supposed to see. I guess no one told these boys to keep their private business, well, private.

So first there's the open letter. But that wasn't enough. There are at least two songs on their current album purported to be about Tarja's firing. One of them, "Master Passion Greed" (nice title, huh?) is about her husband, who is apparently the root of all evil. It's also one of my least favorite songs on the CD - it's too angry for me and if I wanted to listen to speed metal, I would. Rumor has it that Nightwish won't play this one live because they no longer feel that anger. I'll report back if they do. Because that's the point in the show I will go get a drink.

The other song is one of my absolute favorites - "Bye Bye Beautiful" is so catchy and so transparently angry with her. Take a look.

So what is it about Scandinavia (and specifically Finland) and awesome metal music? Is it the cold and darkness? Does the culture somehow encourage angry music vs the random emo crap that's all over the radio these days? Whatever it is, I love it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sea winds brought her to me

Woo hoo! I've got my first craft show under my belt. This past week has been a frenzy of preparing for it; hence no blog posts. I had to figure out display, pricing, packaging purchases and keeping track of my inventory. Oh and fretting about whether I had enough to sell. I did.

So yesterday at 6:30am, I woke up, got dressed, ate a hearty breakfast and dragged myself over to the Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association Community Center. This trip to Seattle proper made me remember why I love this city so much. The old neighborhoods are so interesting and quirky. And have giant old converted schoolhouses as community centers that people can rent for various events - very cool!

It was freezing outside as we waited for the custodian to show up and unlock the door, but warm and toasty inside the auditorium. The organizers patiently pointed us to our spots and thus began the slow process of carting everything from the car and setting up. (I was smart and had packed everything into the car the night before - lord knows I would have forgotten something if I had waited until morning to do that.)

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this event - what if I don't like selling at craft fairs, and plus, I don't want this to take over my life. Oh wait, I think it might be too late for that.

So I used tablecloths and a beaded table runner I already had, which worked great. For display I used a few of the little props I bought at Goodwill for my photography, plus the trays we got from Jasmine and Chris as a wedding present, and the corkboard I use to hold my own personal jewelry at home. I got a couple of compliments on the corkboard idea, but I can't take credit for that one - I saw it in a book. Oh, and the 1995 Big T Caltech yearbook was another display platform because it's just a smooth solid black.

It took the better part of an hour to set all my stuff up, and in the meantime, my table sharing partner Kirstin showed up and set up all of her fabulous recycled cashmere scarves and pillows. You *must* check them out - they're gorgeous, soft, and eco-friendly. These would make great Christmas gifts. No one could walk by our booth without touching her scarves, and I think I benefitted from that attention, too.

So then it was 9am, and the official start of the show. We waited patiently. It was a pretty slow start, but Kirstin and I chatted since we had never met before and that kept me entertained for much of the day. I guess it could have turned out very differently - as most people know, I'm easily annoyed - but she was a *great* person to share a table with for 7 hours.

I was a little peeved because there was another jewelry seller right next to me - I knew there would be several, but I was hoping they'd try to space them out a bit. This woman had the craft show thing down - credit card machine, tons of inventory, quick setup. But my work was pretty different from hers so it worked out ok in the end.

Eventually people started coming by. I am so lucky to have such good friends in Seattle. I sent out an email inviting everyone I knew to attend the craft show, not to buy stuff from me, but just to come and see all the fabulous handmade stuff there.

I was *so* pleased to see Chris, Catie, Mrs. Bryant and Jenny - and pretty surprised since Jasmine and Chris's new baby Charlie was just born earlier this week. Understandably, Jasmine and Charlie were at home sleeping :) Mrs. Bryant bought one of my favorite pieces as a gift for someone - very cool.

Then Lisa came, and it turned out she works with the crafters sitting at the table directly behind me! Small world, I guess.

I had a steady trickle of both known visitors and new ones all day. Hans and Doyle showed up to chat for a little while (and buy something - woo hoo!), and so did Carey and her cutie pie son Greyson, who I haven't seen since he was a baby. Carey and I worked at Deloitte together, and then eventually she ended up at Microsoft so we got together for lunch several times (yay Mexican food) when I was still at Microsoft.

In the end, I sold 10 items, which was 9 more than I was hoping for! Of course, there's this little nagging doubt in my mind about whether my friends were just being nice. I hope not.

One of my sales *was* actually to someone I didn't know beforehand, so that made me feel better. She bought a bracelet that I wasn't sure anyone would like (except me, of course). TJ certainly didn't like it, because it was had bright orange flower beads on it.

The day passed rather quickly. I still have to work on my sales persona. When someone stopped to look, I definitely said hello and smiled, but didn't want to seem pushy so I let them ask questions before I said anything more. One lady tried on one of my necklaces, but I didn't say anything to sell her on it - maybe I should have pointed out its features while she had it on. She didn't end up buying it.

A couple of people took my business card so hopefully they'll be online shoppers later.

Thanks to the wonders of my Motorola Q cell phone and its Internet access, I could delete items from my etsy shop as they sold, so I didn't have to take even the slight chance that someone would try to buy something that's unavailable.

Next Saturday I've got another craft show in Redmond, at the Redmond Senior Center from 10am - 3pm. I think the crowd will be very different but I'm looking forward to it since it's close to home and pretty short. The organizers claim that they've advertised in several places, and I've put it up on several websites as well. As Leslie told me, it's an inexpensive way to do market research so even if I don't sell anything, I'll probably learn something.

Oh - and one of my custom orders reached its recipient on Friday - it was a set of mother-daughter necklaces. Apparently they *love* them. Too cool. That was a fun project, for which I have my dad to thank for the referral. Thanks Appa.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My church is not of silver and gold

My new favorite song. It's rapidly becoming my new "Another Rainy Night", or "Hotel California". Kristin can appreciate that (or not). I've listened to it about 5 times in the last couple of days.

I *love* this band, HIM. They're like the evil devil child conceived when Morissey and Metallica got together. Their Greatest Hits has two awesome covers - "Solitary Man" originally by Johnny Cash and "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. I'm in love. I told TJ that Ville Valo, the lead singer is my new boyfriend. But only for singing. Because he's pasty, skinny and comes across as a total dork in the interviews I've read.

Oh, and they're *huge* in Finland. What could be better?

The best part? I have tickets to see them in November. YAY!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

If you love me then thank you

I'm not exactly on the cutting edge of what's hip and new, but I rediscovered Lady Sovereign on my iPod today on the bus. I had downloaded a couple of her songs a few months ago. Here's the video for my current favorite song, "Love Me or Hate Me":

I like that everything sounds better with her cute non-posh British accent, that she has a kickass attitude, and that she has a bit that sounds like Phil Collins in the end. Hilarious. Oh and that she's a British white female rapper. Such an odd combination, but it works.

Warning: this video has swear words in it, so don't watch if you don't like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wrapped in metal, wrapped in ivy

OK, I know my male readers (or should I say, readeR) are probably sick of all the jewelry talk and pictures. Sorry guys.

But I wanted to post what I made in my Metalsmithing class this weekend since I'm quite proud of it. This week we learned about sawing and drilling (YEAH!). We got to use the Flexshaft which is kind of a like a Dremel tool with a footpedal. It takes all sorts of attachments so you can use it for drilling and a bunch of other stuff as well. I expect to learn about that other stuff in the coming weeks.

Anyway, here are the earrings I made from a 3x3 square of flat copper sheet metal:

First I drew the shape on paper, photocopied it and pasted them onto the metal. Then I used a punch to "start" the holes, and then drilled them out with various sized drill bits. Finally, I used the saw to saw out the square shapes, then used a needle file to file all the uneven bits.

Class was awesome. I did learn that big drill bits don't work well with the Flexshaft. I also learned that it's going to take a lot of practice for me to properly load the teeny tiny blades into the saw frame, so that I don't snap them every 2 seconds. I went through about 6 blades because they snap if you don't load them with enough tension. I mean, you are sawing through metal with a tiny flexible blade that's only a few mm thick.

I'm now starting to consider buying some of the equipment to start a small home studio. The acetylene torch might be out (since my studio space is actually one of our guest rooms) but I could definitely saw, hammer and drill in there. And solder too. We'll see how it goes.

I've ordered my copy of Tim McCreight's book called "The Complete Metalsmith" which is supposedly the bible. I can't wait for it to show up.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Takin care of business and working overtime

Woo hoo - I finally got my business cards in the mail today. I ordered them 2 weeks ago from ooprint, which is an online company (of course) and they're based in Belgium. Which is kind of annoying, mail-wise. But they look so cool - exactly what I expected, and so cute in person. I picked these specifically for their unusual size. biz card

Thanks again to Leslie for her fabulous graphic design assistance.

It's good that I have them because I've got 2 Craft Fairs coming up:

Sat Oct 20, 9am-4pm at the Phinney Ridge Community Center in Seattle
Sat Oct 27, 10am-3pm at the Redmond Senior Center

We'll see how it goes. Other experienced folks have warned me to: have enough pieces to sell, watch out for theft of small items, and have an attractive display.

Hopefully it'll be a good chance to make connections with potential online buyers, if they don't buy something in person. Woot!

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's better to burn out than fade away

Warning: Extreme 80s flashback ahead.

So a few months ago, my mom decided she was done storing the boxes of my stuff in their house. So she sent them all to me. I wrote about that here.

One thing I found in there was my Def Leppard concert T-shirt from the 1989 Hysteria tour. It's actually in great shape, considering its age, because I had to wear a uniform in high school (which didn't allow for concert T-shirts, though I did sneak it in a few times under a sweater) and I didn't take it to college.

It got me thinking about music and how in those days, I wouldn't miss a concert of a band I loved. I have seen a *lot* of live music since then. But lately, I've probably only been to a few shows a year. Which is crazy since I actually have a REAL JOB now and can afford to go to all the rock shows I could possibly want.

That old T-shirt, and one radio commercial for the Def Leppard/Styx/Foreigner concert later, I was sold. I called up my friend Dave, who is up for pretty much any 80s metal concert, and convinced him it would be a good time. (I wasn't very good at convincing TJ, sadly.) So I went to TicketMaster (*spits on ground*) and tried to buy some tickets. Not surprisingly, there were plenty to choose from.

The tickets were a little steep at $62 each, but hey, it's 20 years later, and I have a job. Fine. When I tried to check out and pay for my tickets, TicketMaster (*spits on ground again*) tried to charge me $41 in fees for those two measly tickets. I kid you not - there was a service fee, a venue fee, a print your tickets out fee, and a too bad for you fee.

I just couldn't do it. Could not pay them a fee that was more expensive than two whole tickets for the first concert I ever went to (Poison & David Lee Roth - good times!). So I went to craigslist, and found someone who was trying to get rid of her tickets at the very last minute, and got a screamin deal for $50 each and no fees. Woot woot!

Since this is already a long story, I'll make the rest short. The White River Amphitheater is a nice venue - once you finally get there. It's both far away from Seattle, and has the most poorly planned access I have ever seen. A two-lane road leads up to it. Seriously? You're trying to squeeze thousands of people into a venue for a show that starts at a certain time, and they need to get there on a two-lane road?! Stupid.

So we missed all of Styx and half of Foreigner. Which was kind of a bummer, because Foreigner was much better than I expected, and everyone at the show said Styx had been awesome. But I was there to relive being 14 and see Def Leppard, and I was totally excited about it. On a side note, that 1989 Def Leppard concert was the first time I had seen Queensryche, who I have now seen 7 times.

So it turns out some rock stars should just retire gracefully. Sadly, Joe Elliott, lead singer of Def Leppard, is one of them. I don't care if he's gained weight (I mean, who hasn't?) and lost his mullet. In fact, his hair was gorgeous and he had a haircut *I* want. But I do care that he can't really sing anymore. He hits the lower notes just fine, but when it comes to Def Lep's trademark sound and the higher notes and that typical "sound" of his voice, it's just not there anymore. Too much partying and not enough sleep or vitamins over the years, I guess. You could see him straining on the big screens, and see the rest of the band trying to cover for him with their backing vocals and mad guitar skillz and it was just sad. I was *so* disappointed.

Fortunately, about halfway through the show, it picked up and took off - he seemed to be more warmed up, or something, because the second half of the show was almost as amazing as I remember them from 1989. The guitarists were *un*-freakin-believable. I guess getting older and cleaning up their acts has made them focus on their skills - they were en fuego. And quite honestly, still rock star cute. For that last hour I was that starry-eyed girl having the time of her life at a show. When they ended with "Rock of Ages", it was truly amazing.

And that made me realize that I still love to rock out. So I'm going to try to expand my musical horizons and see more bands live. Maybe even bands that are not 20 years past their prime! To that end, I am going to see two Finnish metal bands in the next couple of months: Nightwish and HIM. Good times.

Monday, September 24, 2007

You know what we mean

As promised, here are some pics of my weekend projects. To prove that I really was busy. Apologies to those whose calls I didn't return :(. You can click on any of the pics to get a closeup look.

Project One: Revamped coral necklace that I got from my mom. The coral part is 37 years old!

Project Two: Antique charm bracelet plus modern charms from etsy. I'm guessing this bracelet's backstory is probably not so happy given that it ended up in a New Hampshire antique shop rather than passed down through the family. But I love it - someone took the time to get their kids' (or grandkids') birthdates engraved on the charms. And the names are so classic 1950s America: Sally, Dick, Susan. I added some cute colorful charms I found on etsy to perk it up.

Project Three: Copper bracelet annealed and hand-forged by Yours Truly. It started out as a 6 inch piece of 6 gauge copper wire, the kind you get at a hardware store. Yes, it looks like a kindergartner's art project. But it's metal. And I used a torch! And got to hammer! On an anvil! Woo hoo!

All these questions

So one of the cool things about having a blog is that you can put on a hit counter to see where and how visitors ended up on your blog. I use Sitemeter, which is free and fabulous.

Many people find their way to my blog via Google searches, and Sitemeter shows you exactly what they searched for. Usually it's song lyrics, so I guess they must be disappointed to get here and realize that I don't tell them who sings the songs I name my posts after.

Occasionally the search terms are hilarious (and random). My favorite for today is "why is my beagle so itchy?". It's almost as if people think Google is The Oracle that will answer any question. I love it.

Why indeed. Poor beagle.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm marking it down to learning

Woot! Just got back from my Jewelry/Metalsmithing I class session at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle.

So cool! We just learned about annealing metal (ie heating it till it glows with an acetylene torch, then dropping it in water to quench it, and putting it in sodium bisulfate to remove the oxides), forging it (hammering!), and filing it.

I made a copper cuff bracelet out of a piece of 6 gauge wire. It's kind of lopsided and imperfect, but I'm pretty darn proud of my first attempt with metal. I'll post a picture sometime this week.

Been a busy but fun weekend. I did a "jewelry extreme makeover" on a coral necklace from my mom, that I plan to keep for myself, made 3 bracelets to sell in my etsy shop, repaired the clasp on another bracelet, and spiffied up a very cool charm bracelet I bought on ebay. Pictures of all projects to follow in a later post - one thing I didn't get to was photography.

I got a request from a family friend for two sets of mother-daughter necklaces. Woo hoo! Now I just need to figure out what to make. Being a techie at heart, it's hard to start a project like this without detailed specs. I guess that's where the arty side of me kicks in, right? I sure hope it does. But I'm just thinking about ideas and have had a few already, so I think it'll be fun.

Everyone, please think happy thoughts for my parents' dog, Mona. She has been diagnosed with lymphoma, poor thing. They've started treatment for it so hopefully she will get better soon. Hugs to her, and to my parents.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

All through the town

Today's post is brought to you by the letter B and the number 545.

Ever since I went to London with my mom in 1996, I've had a fascination with public transportation. I thoroughly enjoyed figuring out how to use the Tube there, and that fascination extended to Seattle when I was in graduate school at UW, where I took the Metro bus every chance I got. When I was working for Deloitte in the Bay Area, I tried to use BART when it made sense, and when I visited Munich, Germany for work at Microsoft, I took the train there as well. (Its hip German name escapes me now - Schnellbahn or something like that.) That worked out fine except the one time when I accidentally boarded the express train to somewhere far away, ie the next city or Switzerland or something. (Which, thankfully, had its last Munich stop at the exact station I needed.) The train ticket-taker was not happy with me that day.

Now that I work in downtown Seattle, I take the bus to work, every day, rain or shine. I've even got once of those fancypants passes that I buy monthly so I'm a real public transit commuter. And I love it. I don't know why. I'm not particularly environmentally conscious, and I do hate getting stuck in traffic, but there's just something about the bus *system* that I like: looking at schedules, figuring out what other options I have, and the occasional time I have to go to a different destination and need to find the bus route for that. Wow, I am such a geek. I like the idea (in theory) that I could get anywhere in Seattle using our bus system.

Mind you, I only love public transportation when it's clean, efficient, and the fellow travelers aren't skeezy or trying to talk to me. Which reminds me of the horrible time that my friend Jennifer and I tried to take the bus in Los Angeles(nobody takes the bus in LA!!) from Pasadena to the shopping mall in Glendale, a mere 15 minute drive, but a bus trip that took 2 hours, I kid you not. That was a bad public transit experience.

Anyway, back to Metro. If you are only an occasional rider, or just unaware of bus-etiquette, here are a couple of tips for you:

1. Do not clip your nails while standing in line waiting to board the bus. That's just disgusting to do that so close to another person. At least stand ATM-distance away while you're conducting personal hygiene tasks.

2. If you see a whole line of people waiting for the bus, and you get to the bus stop after them, get in the back of the line and board the bus when it's your turn. Don't just stand up at the front and take advantage of the nice gentleman who thinks ladies should go first if they're standing there. The rest of the people are waiting in line because we got here before you and the bus is often crowded enough that you're not guaranteed a seat. I understand that you might come from a pushing-shoving kind of culture, but we're not that way here. But as Americans, we're also too non-confrontational to say anything to you. And don't pretend like you didn't notice this happens every day. If you're smart enough to work in the software industry, you're probably smart enough to notice this pattern.

3. If you see the bus at the stop and you're 200 yards away, don't start running and make the bus wait for you. Yes, Metro drivers are really nice and will generally wait, but the other people on the bus don't need to be inconvenienced because you didn't consult the bus schedule. If you're not within 50 feet, just give up and wait for the next one.

3. If the bus is crowded and you have to sit next to someone, try not to be touching them, as much as possible. Most people like their personal space. I don't need your leg touching mine, or your newspaper in my face, unless I ask for it, which leads me to the next point.

4. No, I do not want the other half of the cookie you just ate. No, I don't want to talk about where I work. No, I don't need to hear your loud cell phone conversation in whatever language it is you're speaking. If you must talk on the phone, please, for god's sake, do it quietly. I give you a bit more leeway if you're speaking English because eavesdropping entertains me, and no, I can't believe she wore the blue dress when you said it was your color. The nerve of her!

That's all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This seems like a job for me

Quick post today because I need to get some sleep. Been fighting off the same cold for about 2 weeks now.

So Anandi's Laboratory has another customer, as of this morning. Awesome! I have set a goal of 1 sale per week. So far so good, right?

I spent a big chunk of the weekend making more jewelry (yay) and cleaning up my accounting spreadsheet. Like a good geek, I want to know exactly how much I should charge for my jewelry, and how much it costs me to make and ship it. So I've been tracking those things pretty closely. Of course, what I've made so far doesn't even *begin* to cover all of the money I've spent on beads thus far. Maybe someday... But I am having *so* much fun, and that's what counts.

Just like any online community, etsy has a lot of tips and tricks and unwritten rules. Due to the vast number of virtual shopkeepers on etsy, people are always talking about ways to "promote" their store.

So I've started the marketing push, just a bit. I've added the link to the store on my outgoing personal email, have added small apps to my blog and my Facebook profile to display my pieces and posted a couple of ads on Craigslist and Windows Live Expo classified ads. We'll see how that turns out.

Any other creative marketing ideas from my smart readers out there?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Got a black magic woman

WOO HOO! I sold my first two pieces on etsy today!! That totally made my day. I was worried that maybe folks just thought my stuff was ugly, and none of my friends would admit it. I guess it still might be ugly, but someone out there likes it. YAY!

And if that weren't enough to make me have a good day, I received delivery of the 475 Czech glass faceted sparkly beads I bought on eBay. A bunch of different colors, and all shiny! Oh, the things I'm gonna make.

I also received the beads Asha brought me all the way from Guatemala - lots of interesting stuff there too, in lots of different colors and textures. I'll be busy this weekend, that's for sure.

So you'd think that was a pretty amazing day, all in all. But wait, there's more!

I got my bonus check from Microsoft. Now, I had expected to get about $50 since I had announced I was leaving before the bonus discussions were finished. In truth, I hadn't expected anything at all, but my manager assured me I was entitled to my bonus since I worked at M$ through the end of the fiscal year. So really, anything would have been great.

I almost fell over when I opened that envelope today. It was a *real* bonus. And that was for working part time. Crazy. So things are good here. How are y'all doing??

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Trouble's on its way

People who know me know that I am a sucker for cute things. Especially cute, furry items, such as the two animals we currently have living in our house.

I want to introduce you to the newest member of our family. He's traveling to us right now. He doesn't have a name yet, so you'll have to help me come up with a good one:

You can see more pictures of him here, and the "rear view" is especially cute:

I know, I shouldn't have spent the money. But he's handmade, and the darn cutest thing I've seen in a long, long time. Besides Spike, of course. Every time I think about him, or see his cute little pictures, it makes me smile. I think that's well worth it.

Vicky, the talented artist who made him, thinks he's a girl. But I don't know. Doesn't he look like a boy bear?

So what's his name going to be?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You can have anything that you desire

Not much time to post since I really need to get some sleep. But I'm so excited!! I launched my etsy store, Anandi's Laboratory, a few days ago and have been adding a few items to it each day.

Check it out, please and let me know what you think!! Special thanks to Leslie for the awesome banner graphic!

Friday, September 07, 2007

She dashed by me in painted-on jeans

Ooh, after my I Love the Internet post a few weeks ago, I never posted an update on the 'hem jeans by mail' scheme.

OMG. Best. Thing. EVER.

My jeans came back looking *perfect*. I don't know how those folks at JeanSolutions do it, but they did this crazy origami-like folding trick so that the original hem is still attached and you can't even see the fold. It's neat, and perfect. Total cost to me was $20, including shipping. Same price, if not cheaper, than my local alterations person, given that I wanted to keep the original hem. Total time, from when I mailed them in, to when they were returned to me was around 10 days, probably because they are in Philly. Woot!

Try it. You'll love it. (Unless they don't send your jeans back. In which case you will hate them, and maybe me. I will take no responsibility for your jeans being lost or stolen. None, you hear me?)

The best is yet to come

Arghh, so I've been sick the past couple of days - sore throat, runny nose. Ick. So I've had a lot of time to hang around at home. Which is nice, except I don't feel like doing much.

Somehow I got it into my head to start thinking about opening up an etsy shop for my jewelry again. I discarded the idea a few months ago because I thought my work wasn't good enough.

But I've seen a lot of what people sell, both on etsy and custom-designed websites that they pay for, and some of it just really isn't that good. Of course, some of it is true art, and light-years away from what I can do. So that makes me completely average, and I can live with that. If someone wants to pay me, so I can buy more beads, and with it, let off some stress, why shouldn't I try it?

So I asked a good friend with artistic inclinations if she could design me a banner and a small graphic for my soon-to-be-born etsy shop. Today I spent some time making a few pieces for the shop. I'd like to "go live" with about 10 pieces for sale.

This weekend I plan to mess around with lighting and my camera to try to get the best pictures I possibly can, and figure out how to make that consistent. Lisa was right on in telling me to use a piece of white foam core board as a backdrop. Now I just need to get the lighting squared away, as well as my camera settings, to get those nice, detailed up-close-and-personal pictures.

One of the other things I need to do is figure out pricing for my pieces. Honestly what I'd like to do is recoup the money for materials, shipping, etc, and make just a little tiny bit so I can feed my bead addiction. Because I have a Caltech degree I can figure out the math for materials and various fees (etsy and Paypal both take a percentage of the sale), but it's the 'markup' I have trouble with. How much extra should I really charge? I guess I'll start with a percentage and see how it goes.

I am in the middle of bidding on multiple EBay auctions for a huge number of semiprecious gemstone beads. I found a seller with gorgeous pieces, so I couldn't resist. Today *was* payday after all! I also found Monsterslayer, an oddly-named, but excellent site for sterling silver beads, wire and chain. Their prices are pretty incredible compared to some of the other places I've looked.

Perhaps being sick and hanging out in bed is dangerous for my wallet! Any thoughts about selling jewelry online?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

I promised my mom (Amma) a few weeks ago that I'd post more pictures of my jewelry projects. Here are a couple of recent ones. You can click on any of the pictures to see a bigger version, since some of the details are hard to see.

We just finished Book 7 of Harry Potter. I can't believe it's over. J.K. Rowling tied everything up nicely, but now I'm just really sad there's no more.

But a few weeks ago, I made this necklace out of labradorite (a grey, iridescent stone) and Swarovski crystals, and it seems sort of Harry Potter-ish. Maybe something Luna Lovegood would wear:

My cousin Sangi turned 21 in June, so I made her a birthday necklace of green aventurine beads from India, sterling silver "disco ball" beads, and pearls:

Mom's birthday was in August (TJ's mom = Mom, not to be confused with Amma) so I made her this simple necklace out of 8mm sodalite beads, Czech glass and a silver pendant made by a hill tribe from Thailand:

I found some really gorgeous Czech glass beads on sale at the Ben Franklin craft store near my house, so I wanted to make a long necklace that reminded me of the Caribbean sea. Or maybe Hawaii. I also used the first beads I ever bought, from our trip to Ashland, OR where Dave and Lisa got married. The necklace is intended to be long and free-flowing. The clear faceted squares are diamond quartz and were irresistable to me because they're so sparkly:

Yeah, I know I seem to gravitate towards a blue-green color palette. I need to make more with red-orange-yellow tones. I've got some really nice garnet beads I've been saving until I'm truly inspired.

My next class is on Thursday at beadclub, Wirewrapping 102. I love taking classes because they're:
1. Dedicated project time for me to practice
2. A chance to get step by step instruction on complex techniques, which are quite difficult to pick up from books or the Internet.

The class I'm really, truly, jumping up and down excited about starts at the end of this month - Metalsmithing I at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. It's 8 weeks long, every Sunday for 4 hours, and I'll learn how to solder and use sheet metal, power tools and chemicals. Woo hoo! I can't wait!

I look down into a million houses

Time flies when it's summer in Seattle. I can't believe it's September already. I think our weather is just getting to be predictably nice here. Yes, when you live in Seattle, the weather occupies a larger amount of brain space than if you live anywhere else. It's just that the summer is so incredible here, you don't want it to end.

Because when it does, the gray, dreary, dark days of winter are just around the corner. And those of us without the financial means to afford a winter home in Arizona or a warm and sunny island, must grit our teeth and dream of how nice the next summer will be, to get us through those depressing days.

But I digress. Today was a gorgeous sunny day out, and I spent the entire day inside bending silver wire until my fingers went numb. I took a class at beadclub, a small bead store in the thriving metropolis of Woodinville, about 20 minutes from home.

Today's class was called "A Day of Earrings" and was taught by Irene Huberman, who is an incredible instructor. She's patient, funny, and excellent at breaking down complex designs into simple steps for those of us who haven't quite mastered the whole hand-eye coordination thing.

Her written instructions are some of the best I've ever seen - perfect to use as reference later when I'm racking my brain trying to remember what I learned in class 3 months ago. She draws little pictures of the wire and where your tools are supposed to go at each step. For someone analytical like me, this is perfect.

So today I learned how to make those French wire hooks for earrings, which means I'll never have to buy those again, jump rings (so easy!), a very complicated wire wrapped connector bead called a kouchi bead (a technique from Afghanistan), another decorative connector called the Egyptian coil, and some cool spiral shapes. A lot of stuff in 5 hours! I barely noticed the time going by.

Irene had us practice with copper wire before moving on to the more expensive sterling silver. The neat thing about that is that the copper is actually harder to work with, so when you get to the silver it seems much easier.

Here are my "kouchi-bubblegum" earrings (the bead at the end looks like a piece of ABC gum):

It was a small class, with about 7 students, and as usual I was the youngest one. What is it with beading - is it really such a middle-aged lady hobby? Aren't there young and hip beaders out there?

As always, I came away from the class with a list of supplies I'd like to add to my 'workshop'. So I ordered two new nice pairs of German pliers and some more silver wire in different gauges (thicknesses) to make more earrings.

And speaking of my workshop, I went to IKEA last weekend and bought a simple desk and a small set of drawers for my beading projects. I've set up shop in one of our guest bedrooms so I won't accidentally gouge holes in our dining table or be forced to gather everything up every time we want to actually use the table for dining, or poker.

My fabulous husband made a deal with me: if I went to IKEA by myself he would put together the furniture for me. I did understand TJ's pain. IKEA Seattle on a Sunday is a scary place. But it was a no-brainer for me. I love to shop, and hate the IKEA assembly process. I'm thrilled about my new space. Watch this space for more project pictures!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No place to hide

Arghh, the word that best describes me over the last 2 weeks: tired. My first official project at work was close to launch and I had to put in a LOT of hours. The sad thing is, it's still not over. But I think the long hours are behind me, at least for a little while.

I miss working part-time, but I really, really enjoy my new job. It's *exactly* the kind of work I want to be doing, so the long hours aren't as bad as they could be.

Disturbing things I have seen downtown on my commute:
1. Drug deal in broad daylight (not even a little bit subtle)
2. Woman applying deodorant while crossing the street. (Ick.)

I took a nice long nap with Spike today in Dog Bed. I also caught up on a bunch of mail and bills, and did laundry and dishes. So it's been a nice "homely" sort of day.

We had a lovely dinner last week at Jak's Grill in the U-District with John, Jenna, and Tai. Great food, and not overly pricy like you'd expect from a steakhouse. YUM.

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