Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All you need is love, love, love

OK, this is a totally cheater blog post, but since my 1000 Markets blog doesn't have an RSS feed yet, I'm posting here to let you know I have a new post there.

I've been trying to keep my posts there somewhat relevant to my craftiness; otherwise, what would be the point of blogging here and there? So "lookit what I made" posts will mostly be over there now. "Here's some cute stuff my dog/husband/favorite band did" will remain here.

I made a new charm bracelet for a college classmate's mother, and also a cheery pair of earrings for my shop today. And with that, I am actually all caught up on my Etsy/1000Markets/miscellaneous orders!

Go read about it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Someone like you loved me

This blog is not about deep philosophical topics or insightful social or political commentary. I am enthusiastic about the things I love. And I like to tell people about them, in case you haven't figured that out already :). I blogged about my visit to the recording studio where Star Anna is recording their newest album here, and in my 1000Markets blog.

So one would think that was enough excitement for a week, or even a month. I certainly felt like I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience there.

Except, as it turns out, it was a twice-in-a-lifetime experience. My friend Dave let me know yesterday that I could come back to the studio if I wanted. Woo hoo!

But I had to convince TJ to drive, because my car is completely useless in the snow. Because he is so nice (yay TJ! props to TJ!) he agreed and we spent our Friday night back in North Seattle at the cozy warm studio, listing to the band record the last couple of songs and bits of songs.

So instead of yammering about it (ok, in addition to the yammering), I'll share a couple of short videos that are quick peeks into the studio. Here's Justin Davis, the fabulous guitar player (his making fun of my Queensryche shirt notwithstanding). If you look closely, you can see TJ at the very end of the video.

This one sort of captures the essence of the experience in the studio - the attention to detail and careful listening to the tracks, the collaboration with Brad Zeffren, the kickass recording engineer, and of course, the mountains of take-out food fueling a week of hard work:

It was another really fun, mellow evening filled with *great* music.

The last song blew us all away. It was just Star and her acoustic guitar, on a song called "Tripping Wires" (I think). I don't write well enough to adequately describe the way this song made me feel, or the atmosphere it created. It makes me a little weepy just to think about it. (And like I said, I'm not *that* girl.)

There was pin-drop silence in the studio, both while she recorded it and when they played it back to listen to it. It was so freakin' amazing, I was rooted in my spot on the couch, almost afraid to breathe. And there was *lots* of snuffling all around.

It was a privilege and an honor to be there. To be in the presence of talent of that magnitude just rocked my world. That moment reminded me of being college, and meeting people who were on an intellectual plane so far above me, it was awe-inspiring. And then a few minutes later, those same people would go with me on a donut run, like they hadn't just solved a problem that no one else in our entire class could even begin to tackle. And it always left me thinking "Where the heck did that come from? How can one person *do* that?"

Yowza. And with that, I leave you with a video of my favorite song, "Wait" from Star Anna's Crooked Path album. I wonder if they'll take requests when they come to play here at the house? ;)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You know goddamn well that you don't

Well, it's exciting times at the House of Peanut lately! Today we are snowed in, with actually a significant amount of snow. My geeky husband reports it at 8 inches on our deck. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), I can't get to my work email because of the other 30,000 people trying to work from home.

But yesterday? Yesterday was a really fun day. It started out very average. I got up, went to work, did some work things, then went out for a fun lunch with the women on my team.

After lunch, I headed over to a small recording studio in North Seattle, to peek in on Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs record their new album. Typical day, right? Hehe, maybe if I had some glamorous rock'n'roll job, but this geek doesn't usually get to do stuff like that.

I got the invite from Dave, my coworker, who knows them, and introduced me to their music in the first place. As you remember, they came to play at Microsoft and I won the raffle item to have them play at a house party - yippeee! (More on that in the future.) He's been hanging out all week while they record.

So for a few hours yesterday I got to be an observer. Not only did I get to hear awesome music and new songs, but I got to learn about the recording process firsthand. I'm really curious about how other people work, especially in careers they love. So I chatted with the band a bit about how they write their songs, and with the recording engineer about his career path. Fascinating. That'll be a post for my Microsoft blog.

It was unlike anything I've ever seen before. Obviously I've been to tons of live shows, with metal bands and non-metal bands so I've seen live music, up close.

But the whole process, with different musicians in different rooms, all the careful tweaking of settings, mics, and amplifiers, was totally fascinating. I knew, but didn't really understand, all of the work that goes into recording a single song.

I know, I'm bordering on gushing fangirl, and I'll try to hold back. But it was so weird (and cool!) to just sit there with musicians who I've heard a hundred times on my iPod. And be able to ask the occasional question. They were all very nice, and patient with my dumb questions, and fun, and personable, and clearly love what they're doing.

And the talent! Damn. I'm not usually a weepy girl when it comes to songs, but there was one yesterday that just got me. (I'm happy to say I wasn't the only one in the room snuffling.)

Here's a little taste of what I got to see in the studio:

I can't wait to hear the whole album when it's done. Lucky for me, Star Anna is playing live at the High Dive in Fremont this Saturday. If we can dig out of the snow, I'll be there. You can come too! Woot!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Till I'm satisfied

Yes, I know. I've been ignoring this blog mercilessly, for its shiny new counterpart over at 1000 Markets. I'm featured on their Community page so I feel like I should make the most of it, and write new blog postings frequently so people don't have to stare at the same old posts all the time.

I have a bit of a new project. I just got the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook and I am *so* excited about it. I think it might be exactly what I need to get me out of my food rut, and actually make yummy food at home. I look forward to fewer nights eating cereal for dinner because nothing sounded good. It has snooty food recipes with minimal ingredients which works perfectly with my crazy schedule.

So after planning what I was going to make, I ordered groceries from Amazon Fresh. I had to supplement it with a trip to Trader Joe's because the meat-buying experience at Amazon Fresh is not so good - the product descriptions are somewhat lacking, *and* meat seems to be nearly twice the price per pound there.

So this morning, I woke up and made the recipe on p.510:

Smoked salmon and leek scramble with Meyer lemon creme fraiche

Yes, I know that sounds totally random, but I chose it because I had leeks in the fridge from a recipe I didn't make last week, and my parents brought me back smoked salmon from their trip to Alaska this summer. Also, any scrambled egg recipe that uses whipping cream in place of milk is A-OK in my book.

And seriously, I've never had such lovely, fluffy scrambled eggs. Next time I'm switching to half and half, though - I don't think I can indulge like that very often.

They came out great. I used Tillamook light sour cream instead of creme fraiche because it was less expensive *and* better for me. That's the best light sour cream I've ever had. I also halved the recipe because Lord knows TJ isn't going to eat scrambled eggs with leeks and smoked salmon and I don't cook that fancy for the puppies.

So now I have leftovers for the week ahead, or maybe just lunch today. But so far I'm very impressed with this cookbook. It has a great index by ingredient and the recipes are all pretty simple. I wouldn't say they can be done in 30 minutes or less, but they definitely don't require a lot of crazy, hard to find ingredients or techniques that involve steps that need to be done days in advance.

(Subtle product placement here. But no, they're not paying me to fake-review their book.)

Oh, and yesterday we tried the Amazon Fresh "attended" delivery, which is the one where you need to be home. That worked really well - they don't leave the big plastic totes so we're not tripping over them in our entryway now. I still like the convenience of the doorstep delivery, esp when I need something before I wake up the next day, but if I know I'm going to be home, I'll do it the other way.

And in exciting crafty news, I have reached 200 sales online, between Etsy and 1000Markets! I'm very surprised, and also very busy. So life is good :)

I also got my first sale on Dawanda, which is a European handmade site (a girl's gotta expand her audience, right?). That was a bit surprising because I had listed a few items there months ago but hadn't seen much action there.

In the New Year, I'll probably list a few more of my "made to order" items to keep up a presence there. And if I'm feeling really brave, I may try my hand at listing in French or German, if I can remember anything I learned. That's apparently how to get more people viewing my products since it's a German site.

Later today, I'll be making "Indian" curried shrimp from the Bon Appetit cookbook. YUM. I'll report back on how it goes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I got the goldmine

So you know when you're in a relationship with someone and it's all new and shiny and you get kind of obsessed and forget about all the other stuff you're supposed to be doing?

That's kind of how it is with me and 1000Markets. I'm featured on the Community page there, so I've been blogging there, nearly daily. You can catch up on the last five or six blog posts here.

I also set up a Market there for Seattle artisans, called 'Handcrafted in Seattle'. Check it out. I think over time, it'll grow, which will be neat. It's got a bunch of my EtsyRAIN buddies in it already, which is cool.

So that, and getting ready for the REI Holiday Bazaar on Tuesday is what's been keeping me busy. I still have about 5 pairs of earrings and a few bracelets I need to make - yikes!

But I wanted to post here to assure you all that I haven't forgotten about you. I'm just infatuated with my new love :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your cheatin' heart will tell on you

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a cheater. Etsy has been good to me for about a year now, and actually pretty awesome for the past couple of months in terms of traffic and my sales, but I have strayed. I saw a mention of a new handcrafted market site called 1000Markets, so I went to check it out earlier this month.

OMG, it is a *gorgeous* site. And I am a sucker for great web design. It also has a more "grownup" vibe than Etsy. Based on the items Etsy chooses for the front page and articles, I think Etsy's target market (or maybe the folks who run the site) is the 20something hipster crowd. And there's nothing wrong with that.

But when I saw 1000Markets, I fell in love. It's just so *pretty*. It reminds me of going to Pike Place Market on a Saturday and seeing the different arts, crafts and food vendors. Browsing around the site, it just felt right to me.

So I applied for a shop there. Yes, you read that correctly. They have to *approve* your request to open shop, and everything must be handcrafted. I got approved in about a day, and that same day was featured on their Community page as having a cool shop. Yippee! That was a nice surprise. I even sold a pet tag to a fellow merchant on the site.

Anandi at 1000 Markets

It's a startup, in what they're calling "Sneak Preview" mode. But it's open for business. One of the best parts about it, besides the stunning design, is that the staff is very hands on and willing to answer questions. They're very encouraging to the new merchants, and I feel like our suggestions are welcomed.

They have a philosophy, which one of the founders outlines on his blog. It's really well written and inspires a great deal of confidence.

One of the neat things about it is that the payment system is through Amazon. Tons of people have an Amazon account, so that makes it easier, and I have knowledge about Amazon and third party merchants from my previous job, so that's kind of neat too. Plus you all know how I love Amazon Fresh.

The other thing I like is the community/social networking aspect. There's a blog built into the site, each shop has a "Wall" to leave comments like on Facebook or MySpace, and the whole concept is about smaller Markets within the site, where likeminded merchants get together to sell their gorgeous handmade work. It just gets me all warm and fuzzy inside.

OK, I could go on and on about the things I like, but one of the things that's truly amazing (ok, two), are that the site doesn't charge any listing fees, only a fee when an item is sold. And as one of the staff put it, that makes their goals align with ours, and they are motivated to help find ways to help their merchants make sales. What a novel concept!!

And the other freakin' awesome thing is that on the home pages, and Market pages, the listings and shops displayed are randomized, so everytime you go there, you see something different. And you and I could both navigate to the site and see completely different items. So I've been surprised and startled to navigate to the site and see my face on the front page as a 'Featured Shop'. Crazy, but awesome.

So I'm giving it a try. I'm not abandoning my Etsy shop, just branching out. It's wise to have eggs in many baskets, right?

So if you get a chance, and want to find some unique gifts for the holidays, check it out - the picture above links to my shop, and you can browse the site from there as well. Enjoy, and do tell me what you think of it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

It all boils down to the parts that we play

Yikes, I haven't blogged in ages! But that was intentional, because I got cleared by the Project Management Institute to sit for their certification exam, and since I had taken a prep course for it a few weeks ago, I wanted to take the test as soon as possible. I ended up scheduling it the day I wrote my last blog post, so most of what I've been doing between then and now was either filling Etsy orders or studying for that exam. My brain is a little fried right now.

But the good news is, I PASSED. I'm a certified PMP (no, it's not pronounced like 'pimp'). Yay!

So now I can de-stress, and go back to making stuff. And maybe attempt to get our house back in decent shape. It looks a bit like a tornado hit it, since neither TJ nor I are good at putting things back when we're done using them.

And Spike rolled around in something mighty stinky on his last trip to the park, so he needs a bath, STAT. Maybe that'll be my fun activity for tonight - wrestle unruly beagle into the tub and keep him there while he's wet and squirmy. It's quite a workout.

Projects up ahead:
1. Make 6 dog tags plus 1 periodic table copper keychain
2. Package up and send out a magnet order
3. Finish personalized charm bracelet for a coworker
4. 4 pairs of earrings for the winner of my donated item at the company charity raffle.
5. Necklace and bracelet, plus barrette on request from my parents.
6. Figure out exactly how much money I've spent on supplies since 2007. (yikes.)

And that doesn't count any of the things I need to make for the upcoming Holiday Bazaar at REI. Yikes! But I am really looking forward to it, now that I don't have that PMP exam looming over me like a little black rain cloud.

So, what are y'all up to??

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The places we exist

We've had an eventful past couple of days here at the House of Peanut. Unfortunately not all of it good, or of our choosing. But we're getting back on track now :)

Sunday I finished and mailed the necklace and earrings set for Katie, the winner of my custom jewelry set in my high school's charity auction last spring.

custom beaded lariat necklace in vintage black czech glass

Monday night, Dave and I went to see DragonForce, a power metal band. I wasn't a HUGE fan of them, but liked a few of their songs, and it was an inexpensive show and you all know how I love metal. So I was only marginally excited pre-show. And then we got there, and it ROCKED. The two opening bands, Powerglove and Turisas, were INCREDIBLE. Powerglove plays metal renditions of old video game music.

Turisas dresses up like Vikings and has an electric violin and an accordion as part of their band. Oh, and they're from Finland (of course!) Here's an awesome cover of a disco song by Turisas:

It was the total rock spectacle and so much fun! Totally worth the $25 and I found 2 new bands I like. Not a bad way to spend an evening!

Tuesday was Election Day! And my guy won! I voted in the morning, didn't have to wait in line, and got my sticker.

Unfortunately, yesterday was also the day that TJ's appendix decided to call it quits. Our doctor sent us to the ER instead of having us come in, and we sat around and waited, got some tests, and then TJ had to get the stupid thing removed. He also got to spend the night at the oh-so-luxurious Chez Overlake in Bellevue, and got to come home this afternoon.

I do have to give props to Overlake Hospital for their free wireless Internet so I could keep up on some personal and work email while I was waiting and also obsess a bit over the election results.

Sadly, I had to miss the Matt Nathanson concert tonight (what is it with concerts and illness??) and the next time he returns to Seattle he'll probably be playing at Key Arena given the number of times I've heard "CMon Get Higher" on the radio. Oh well, such is life. The Microsoft dude I gave my tickets to (for free!) better be having a good time, dammit!

Oh, and Trista received her birthday gift from Paul that he designed and I made for her. So I could finally post this custom personalized bracelet in my Etsy shop, in time for potential holiday shopping. This is what I wanted to blog about earlier but couldn't.

custom personalized handmade mommy mother bracelet

I am really pleased with the way it turned out. I was so nervous to work with the more expensive sterling silver sheet after spending all my time on copper and nickel silver, but I guess the practice paid off. And I cannot thank TJ enough for introducing me to my Dremel for all the polishing/finishing steps. Rumor has it that Trista likes it, so that makes me happy.

I'm working on another one for a friend's wife, but since it's a Christmas gift, I can't post that here until next year. But it'll be fun.

In other exciting Etsy news, I doubled my first year sales already in the past 6 weeks! (Actually, it happened before that because I got orders for 10 stamped ID tags and for 5 tags and lumped them into the same order, so Etsy only counts those as 2 sales even though they were 15 items total.) If it continues, I'll hit this year's goal of 104 sales in a couple of months. Woot!

Well, it's that time, and I should get some sleep. Tomorrow is a loooong work day ahead of me to catch up on the past two days, plus making sure TJ is supplied with pills, English muffins, and hot chocolate.

Hopefully your past couple of days have been good ones!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I hope the Devil don't remember my name

I started making jewelry because I *LOVE* jewelry. I have a lot of it, and most of it is fairly inexpensive. Except for my Fabulous Wedding Jewelry which lives in a secret lockbox and comes out only once a year or so.

Well today, I walked from work to a nearby shopping center to get some exercise and stumbled upon a craft fair at a church. In addition to the crafts, there was a bit of a rummage sale going on too, and they had some amazing vintage jewelry, and some more contemporary pieces, for REALLY cheap. Apparently they were 50% off because they didn't sell last year. I had $8 in cash, and got all these items, plus a few more - talk about a screamin' deal.

I had first intended to look for pieces to disassemble to make new jewelry but some were just so darn cool that I had to keep them for myself, intact :)

horseshoe necklace

I know, it's probably a cheap knockoff of some Tiffany & Co. piece, but I love its simplicity and sparkle. So I'm keepin' it to wear.

Thai chandelier umbrella earrings

These earrings made me wince at first because they're so huge and elaborate, and I'm not a giant-chandelier-umbrella-earring kind of girl. But they're clip-ons, and the flower attached to the clip is *fantastic* so I thought they'd be great for disassembly.

When I got home and looked at these a bit closer, I nearly fell over when I saw this:

Siam chandelier earrings sterling silver

They're sterling silver!! And I paid $1.75 for them. Not only that, but the stamp says "Made in Siam" which makes them officially vintage, since it seems that Thailand hasn't been called Siam since 1949. How awesome is that? I'm still debating whether to keep them as-is or take apart and make something smaller that I'll wear myself.

The next few items have a theme, so my guess is that they came from the same owner:

train engine necklace

old airplane pendant

gold and silver train necklace

While the silver train engine and plane are adorable, I'll probably recycle those into something for my shop. But I am *totally* keeping the whole-train gold and silver necklace. I typically hate mixed metals, but this is absolutely DARLING.

I also am not a huge fan of gold, but loved these tiny delicate earrings with a pressed flower captured inside resin (and only $0.50!):

And remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned helping a fellow local Etsy seller set up her shop? Well, she came through on her promise to make me something fabulous. I am *in love* with this necklace she made for me. It's long, so I couldn't get a good picture of the whole thing, but it's made from a recycled rosary, and has all sorts of bits and bobs on it. It's truly a sight to behold:

So I probably need to step up my game a bit to do this fantastic jewelry some justice. I've been wearing my blah jeans and sweats to work, and Tim Gunn would be appalled. So here's to next week being a little more fashion forward. :)

And do let me know what you think about these pieces. Am I crazy, or are they really as cool as I think they are?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It takes a long long time

So anyone who knows me, or who has been reading this blog, knows that I LOVE music. I must have inherited this from my parents, who also love music, albeit totally different stuff.

It started when I was around 7 or 8 and got MTV and started listening to the radio, and that love affair hasn't ended, though my tastes have changed (improved?) along the way.

It's actually pretty hard for me to find new bands that I like because I'm picky, and I have such a wide variety of stuff I like already, that I'm not terribly motivated to seek out new music. It's a bit like shopping at Marshalls. Somewhere in there is that fabulous, high quality cashmere sweater for a steal, but you've got to dig through a whole lot of crap to find it. And most days, I'm just not in the mood to do that.

During a Happy Hour at work, a coworker played this song with this awesome female voice, and it was sort of twangy but rockin' at the same time and kind of sad. The closest comparison I could make was Brandi Carlile, but with a clearer, stronger voice.

And it was *awesome*. It's a (sort of) local band called Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, and they're from Ellensburg. Check them out:

Turns out this co-worker knows them, so he invited them to come and play at Microsoft for a charity event we were holding. He didn't announce it until a couple of days ago, since they were waiting to see if the weather would be ok. But I was totally excited about this - a company event to actually look forward to! None of the usual Go-Karting/WhirlyBall/BBQ with screaming children.

So I grabbed my laptop and hung out and did a little work while they played today, for a couple of hours. And they are one of those bands who sounds AMAZING live. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, huh?

But wait, there's more. The charity event had a raffle, and one of the items being raffled off was to have Star Anna play at the location of your choice (like a party at your house, etc.).

And guess who won that?? That's right, ME!! I am such a lucky girl today, it's unreal. Free concert by awesome band *and* awesome band coming to play at my house sometime? That is too freakin' cool. I am already trying to figure out what kind of blowout party I could have.

But wait, there's still more! One of the other raffle items was a cooking demo/dinner party with Chef Jason Wilson of Crush, a swanky restaurant in Seattle. And guess who won that one? That's right, ME AGAIN! I nearly fell over when they called my number that second time.

So I am all done with gambling/lottery/anything else that involves luck, because I think I've used it all up now. I'm so excited, about both of these events, I can hardly stand it.

So what good things have happened to you lately?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm going to the moon

Ahhh, it's finally the weekend. I get to finally catch up on Etsy and jewelry orders. Which is an awesome place to be, business wise, but since I'm the kind of person who doesn't like "action items" hanging over me, I am kinda anxious to get them done.

The maddening thing about working on jewelry during the pre-holidays is that it's almost always a gift for someone, so my big blabbery self can't talk about it or show you pictures. I'm really thrilled about some of the pieces I have on deck, so maybe in the New Year, I'll post some pics and you can really understand what I've been so busy doing! Or maybe I'll actually dust off my Flickr account and really start using it.

The Seattle Times Pet Dish article definitely got me some additional doggie tag orders (at least 6 that I know for sure), and that was boosted by the fact that the article was actually linked from the *front page* of the Seattle Times website for about a day. The CityDog editor sent me an email letting me know, which was really nice of her.

In other news, I kinda sorta realized that I have a very limited time left to take my Project Management Professional (PiMP) certification exam. Like, only a couple of months. And given my Etsy business picking up, plus the fact that I signed up to sell my warez at the REI Holiday Bazaar (which went swimmingly last year!), it's just another thing to add to the schedule. But it has to be done or else I would need to go through their uber-painful web application process again.

So lucky me, Microsoft is paying for me to take an exam prep course next week. But when I tried to register for the test, I found out I am one of the lucky few PMI chose to audit. Grrrrr. So I need to track down some previous managers, and then submit a bunch of paperwork and hope that the PMI folks approve my application quickly so I can take the exam before all the cramming falls out of my head. ARGHHHHHH!

On the bright side, the 4 day intense prep will likely cut my studying time WAY down. Also it'll get me back into the test taking, studying frame of mind so that when I'm finally cleared to take the exam, and schedule it, I'll be ready. Then I'll be BIG PiMP'n.

But right now, all I want to do is cuddle up with my big down comforter and maybe a dog. So I'm off. G'nite everyone!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Here Comes the Flood

Title courtesy of Peter Gabriel and last week's Grey's Anatomy episode. I totally love the fact they name their episodes after song lyrics too. I think it means we're meant to be together :)

And speaking of meant to be together, my fabulous husband finally convinced me to learn how to use a Dremel (excuse me, I mean a rotary tool) for the finishing steps on my dog tags. He couldn't find his, so we took a late night trip to Sears yesterday and bought their last one. OH MY GOD this thing is amazing. What used to take me 15 min or so *per tag*, for filing and polishing, now takes just a few minutes!

I made about 6 tags yesterday and didn't cut myself once. When I was filing by hand, I cut myself nearly once per tag-making sessions. I'm all for suffering for your art (sort of) but actual injury seems a bit excessive, right?

Summary: I LOVE my new Craftsman rotary tool.

Tool excitement aside, something REALLY BIG AND EXCITING happened to me yesterday. I was minding my own business at work, trying to actually get some work done, when I noticed the email notification that I had a new Etsy 'conversation', which is the internal messaging system on Etsy.

So I clicked over to see what it was - I've gotten a couple of interesting potential customer requests lately about custom made orders, and the Etsy system does not think highly of spam, so the signal to noise ratio is pretty high.

And ZOMG, the message I got was from CityDog magazine, asking if I could send them some sample tags for a photo shoot they're doing for their holiday gift issue. Holy zoiks!

Now even if it had been "Granny's Cross Stitch Quarterly Newsletter" with a circulation of 3, I would have been stoked for the free promotional opportunity. But this is a magazine I've actually paid money for. More than once! It's available in most swanky pet stores in the area.

So of course, I fired off an email saying I'd be happy to make them some sample tags with fake info on them. And that's what I was doing until 1am to make sure they'd get into today's mail. Behold the sample tags for Peanut, Spike, Ginger, and Frank.

Frank is the longhaired mini dachschund I don't have yet. Right now he lives with a family in a Belltown condo, but once they have a baby and decide to get rid of him, he'll be all mine. (Note: Frank is purely fictional, but someday I will have a dachschund. And he will be named Frank. I just thought I should have a good story to go along with the tag I made for him.)

So I guess before I start counting unhatched chickens, I should temper that with the fact that they probably requested products from lots of different people, and I might not make it into the issue. So I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic here.

But I am still secretly very excited. And of course, will post here if I do make it!

And even better, for the instant gratification, the editor of CityDog also writes an online column for the Seattle Times called Pet Dish (cute, I know!). So yesterday she also told me she was going to feature me there too. Yippee!

Check out the article and leave a comment there so I'm not the only one, please :)

Thanks everyone for your support and reading my blathering about crafty subjects.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

And we all shine on

Wow, I guess a woman's got time for crafts, keeping the house in decent shape, or a blog, but not all three :)

These past several days have had the theme of "Crafty Good Karma". I got an Etsy 'Conversation', which is like an email, from a local seller who needed help setting up her shop. Since I was all relaxed from my vacation, I said "sure, why not" and set up a time to meet her at a local restaurant with free wireless Internet access. She gets help on the technical side of posting items on Etsy and I get to eat a fabulous quesadilla, so everyone wins.

I met her at the restaurant and walked her through the process of listing a new item, how to resize pictures, save them in a folder to organize them, and then upload them to Etsy. All in all a couple of hours, not too bad. She offered to pay me in cash, but seriously, I didn't need to be paid for that. But when I saw her gorgeous jewelry, I asked her if she would make me something cool. I am so excited to receive the necklace she's making me. You'll see why when you check out her Etsy shop.

She makes the cutest necklaces out of old rosaries and prayer medals and all sorts of vintage, upcycled components. Very awesome.

The next event in my theme of "Etsy Good Karma" was that the winner of a charity auction for my high school finally contacted me. I had donated a custom-made necklace and earring set back in the spring, and had exchanged a few emails with the winner, but she went on vacation, and I went on vacation, and no progress was made on this project. But finally she told me what she wants, so I'll get started on her project this weekend. Yippee!

And then it hit me. I love making jewelry, but it's not the majority of what I sell on Etsy. My magnets and stamped dog tags sell *much* better than my jewelry. And yeah, I could make lots of jewelry for myself (I'm working on it!). But I realized I could satisfy my jewelry making fever by making gifts for people, and *also for donations to charity auctions and raffles*.

So I can actually *do good* with my jewelry. How cool is that? So far I've committed to another custom necklace and earring set for my company's Annual Giving Campaign raffle, and also for a final fundraising auction for Barack Obama's campaign.

I'm not really down with giving money to political campaigns, but Obama has a way of making people want to give him money :) Maybe that makes him a really good (salesman) politician, but whatever he's selling, I'm totally buying into it. Smart and articulate? Sign me up, dude.

I suppose that's an indication of how low our standards have gotten for politicians. Speaks in perfect sentences, check. Coherent and makes sense, check. Top notch college and graduate degrees, check. Bingo, you are now the best candidate for President of the United States. Seriously, anyone can win, even raging idiots who drive drunk, can't speak, and are on vacation all the time, so if you meet the criteria above, you must be preordained.

So anyway, I can assuage my conscience by not actually giving him money, but donating a custom jewelry design option for an auction event to raise money. You can see my donation as well the details and signup link for the Halloween Bash here.

Pretty cool, huh? And now I'm off to make more jewelry. Because I'm pretty close to getting *behind* in my orders now. Yikes.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Back home again

Yay! We're back home, safe and sound, with one day left before I have to go back to work. It's really nice to have this extra day of "vacation buffer". In my case, I'm working on 13 stamped tag orders, so I'm a very busy girl today. I found that filing all those tags is easiest while watching TV, and I caught up on a couple of episodes of Law and Order and last week's Project Runway.

Why, oh why, can't they get rid of Kenley on PR? Oh right, because annoying == good TV. Sigh.

This morning, TJ, puppies, and I went for a brisk walk at Marymoor in an effort to become less flabby. Though Peanut managed to lose some weight on our trip by following the Peanut Diet, which amounted to skipping breakfast and then eating only 3/4 of his total day's food (if we were lucky) at dinnertime. Now we can see his waist, which is cool, but a little sad for him and his disrupted eating schedule.

Funny though, the minute we got home and fed him in his own big ceramic bowl, he ate every last bit. I guess he really is sensitive about his routine, huh? I think he had a good time, but is REALLY happy to be home, with his own food bowl, bed, and lazy habits :)

Now I'm off to take a bit of a nap. ZZZZZ.

Monday, September 29, 2008

You know it ain't easy runnin' out of thrills

Hmm, so I had intended to put in a nice travelog of our trip, but I found it much more relaxing just to ignore the Internet completely. Except for once-a-day email checking to see if I got any sales on Etsy (just 1, thanks for asking.)

We're spending the night in a somewhat sketchy motel in Barriere, British Columbia, which is about 5-6 hours from home. We made some amazing progress today - left my friend Alice's house in Bonnyville, Alberta this morning around 6:45 our time, and TJ drove 12 hours straight, with minimal stops for gas and food and puppy-walking.

We did have a lovely stop in Mt. Robson, at a rest area. It was about 70 degrees out, gorgeous and sunny, and an amazing view of the mountains. The Canadian Rockies, and really, most of BC, are *so* pretty. We'll definitely be back.

The pups have been really great travelers, Spike especially. We set up his dog bed in the back seat, and he just curls up there and sleeps nearly the whole time. He hasn't once tried to come up to the front seats while we're moving, though he does get up there if we leave the dogs in the car to get some food. I guess he wants to watch us through the window to make sure we haven't abandoned him.

Neither dog has fussed about needing to get out of the car, though around the 11th hour today, Peanut got up and paced around the back of the Nitro, alternately staring at us and barking at the giant tractor-trailer truck behind us. I think he was just done with the car today, and so were we, so here we are, in bed at the motel, in a huge dogpile.

Oh! And today we saw wildebeests. Ok, not really, but we did see wild mountain goats - a whole flock (herd? gaggle?) of them crossing the highway in Jasper Natl Park. I got some pictures before I had to shut the window to prevent Spike from jumping out to get them. Peanut DID NOT like them and told them in no uncertain terms, to stay the heck away from him. Very loud. Fortunately the wildebeests didn't notice the Peanut at all.

We had a lovely time with Alice and Randy, eating, playing with dogs (they have 2 awesome pups), and crafting. I think TJ snuck in some football and napping while Alice and I went to some garage sales and did our crafty stuff. I made some good progress on my cross-stitch kit that I bought several weeks ago. I also figured out that cross-stitching in the car *is* possible, but a bit unwieldy and also has the danger of someone getting their eye poked out with the needle in case of an accident.

This past week has been a lot of fun, but I'm looking forward to getting home too. Wish us luck that the border crossing line is short!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I was made for chasin' dreams

Helloooo from Lillooet, British Columbia. Don't know where that is? Don't worry, neither did I until this evening when we decided we were done driving after 150+ km of winding, bumpy mountain roads.

Our intended stop for the night was Kamloops, which we didn't quite make. But that's ok, because we are SPONTANEOUS travelers. Flying by the seat of our pants with no plan except to get to Edmonton by Thursday night.

This morning I slept in because my sweet husband got up early and fed the pups and took them to the small dog park near our hotel. Peanut met an Akita puppy named Andy and apparently took quite a liking to him. They spent a long time chasing each other and wrestling while I slept blissfully in our hotel room.

Breakfast today was another crepe. Yes, I'm obsessed. There was a tiny crepe cafe across from our hotel which had been closed since we arrived but reopened this morning, finally. and OMG it was AMAZING. The most perfect, slightly sweet, paper-thin crepe surrounding fresh sliced banana and strawberries. It was HEAVEN. I would have eaten every meal there if we had stayed any longer.

We took the pups to Granville Island and wandered around for a bit. It's a great place for artsy-crafty things, so I had a good time. I actually *didn't* buy anything, believe it or not!

Then we drove to Whistler, and saw the ski jump and biathlon stadium they are building for the 2010 Olympics. Very cool, except for the TONS of road construction along the way.

After a nice dinner at a brewpub in Whistler Village, with the pups begging pointedly at our feet, we got back on the road, and after what seemed like an interminable sequence of twists and turns and potholes and bumps, ended up here in Lillooet. I have never been so happy to see a town I hadn't heard of before, especially when we saw there were places to stay :) And now it is time to sleep. We hope to make it somewhere in the area of Banff Natl Park tomorrow, but that's a long way from here, so we'll see. Yay Canada!

Monday, September 22, 2008

If it was a box or a bag

When I go on a trip, I like to buy a souvenir to commemorate it. But not a tacky shot glass or collection of postcards that I'll lose in some drawer. I like to buy a piece of jewelry, clothing, Christmas ornament or something I'll actually use in my day-to-day life.

So when I walked into the giant Roots store in downtown Vancouver this morning, and saw their handmade in Canada purple leather handbags, I fell in love. And decided the "Village" flat handbag would be my trip souvenir.

In fact, the bag I bought was the only one in its shade of purple - it's more of a magenta, reddish-purple. The others in the shop were more of an eggplant shade. The style I bought is actually hiding in the pic above, it's in the middle on the left, right behind the small two-zipper pouch.

But not only is the color totally fantastic and the hardware bright shiny silver instead of the usual hideous brass, it's the softest nicest leather *ever*. Or should I say "leathah evah" in honor of Project Runway contestant Stella, who got booted a couple of weeks ago.

Yay. I love my new bag. It's so pretty.

We also took the pups to Ambleside Park, which is *amazing*. It's a big off leash park with a paved walking trail, access to the bay, lots of cool driftwood to run on and around (which also means nice big sticks to throw for Peanut), and big grassy fields for running and ball-chasing. Until you lose your ball, that is.

Don't worry, I got lots of good pictures of the pups having fun. They're still getting used to traveling, though of course Spike travels like a pro, my little roadtrip buddy. More later. I gotta go get us some crepes now for dinner. YUM.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And I just can't hide it!

We're leaving for our Great Canadian Road Trip in a few hours. I started packing last weekend, which was good because it gave me a chance to think about what I might forget.

Traveling with the pups adds a whole new dimension to this - we've packed a bag just for their stuff, and it also means they are going to take up the space where we would usually put our bags.

Last night, I got some girls together for a "beauty exchange", which basically meant that I asked them to bring all the old hair products, unopened cosmetics, and jewelry that they no longer wear/use and we could swap. One woman's "too greasy" is another woman's "amazing find", right?

We did surprisingly well, with only 4 gals - yeah, people ended up taking some of their own stuff home with them, but for the most part we did some good swapping. And managed to drink 2 bottles of yummy red wine, from Argentina and Spain. (Thanks Lisa and Adrianne for giving me those!)

I got some nice travel-sized color safe shampoo and conditioner for our trip, and some of the John Frieda "brilliant brunette" styling products that I've always wanted to try.

But the real awesome find for me - tons of beaded jewelry to disassemble and remake. I can't wait to get started on that. It's really too bad jewelry making isn't exactly a portable craft, or easy to do in the car.

Well, off to do the last few bits of packing!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What about today?

So yesterday I left work early to go get my hair cut and colored. I was planning to get the red highlights I liked so much before, but my hairstylist actually talked me *out* of it. That's how I know she's good, because she passed up the opportunity to charge me multiple $100s of dollars for the much cheaper one-color treatment.

So yeah. I'm at the point now where I need to color my hair at least every 6 months or the miscellaneous grey hairs start popping up all over the place. And with black hair, I can't exactly hide them. That's pretty suck-tastic but since it's only twice a year, I can deal.

I got a shorter haircut than I was expecting, which was sort of my own fault since I gave her carte blanche to cut some of the old, badly-colored parts. Apparently the previous salon I went to used a "1" and they should have used a "3", whatever that means. To me it all looks black.

But anyway, after I got home, I needed to do a bit of work before shutting down for our vacation. And I realized when I got on the computer that the Etsy Treasury West was just getting ready to have an opening.

For those not familiar with Etsy Treasuries, there are a limited number that can be created, and you get 2 days before they expire. So all through the day, treasuries are expiring. Once they get below a certain magic number, it opens up for new ones to be created. All very mysterious.

But I had the amazing luck to be there exactly AT Magic Number + 1 and had to wait only 15 min for that last one to expire. So I snagged a spot, and came up with the theme of Pumpkin Pi:

Yes, it's because I'm a dork. But since all those nice folks in my EtsyRain group included me in their 4 (maybe 5?) treasuries last week, I thought I'd repay the favor and try to use all local Etsy shops in my list. Which wasn't too hard, until I got to the "Pi" item. Apparently no one in Seattle does anything with Pi. Sad.

So I was pretty proud of myself, and thought the list looked good and was sort of dorky and clever at the same time.

And then I woke up this morning to find out it actually made the FRONT PAGE of Holy crap! It's only the 4th list I've put together. I've always tried to make a list that was so fabulous it would get picked for the front page, but it takes a special "look" and the whim of one of the Etsy employees to pick it.

I'm still surprised they picked mine. Of course, it was before I woke up, but the happy Etsy community managed to get a screen shot and post it to Flickr.

So, again, because I'm a good Etsy sheep, I used this to promote other Etsy shops besides my own (plus I've gotten a ton of exposure and consequently, I think, a lot of sales over the past couple of weeks), so I didn't really directly benefit from this treasury. But you know, that's ok. I had fun picking the items, and it was the first time for some of the EtsyRain folks to have their items on the Front Page.

Since I'm not totally heartless, that was enough to make me happy about that :) You know, good will, good karma, and all that.

So I guess at some point my goal is to have one of *my* items make the front page. A girl can dream, right?

And speaking of dreaming, remember that I mentioned Oprah last time? So it's not going to make me as rich as Oprah, but the day after posting that blog post, I got an inquiry from a woman about my nickel tags.

She wanted me to create 10 tags with her band's name on them, as keychains for their upcoming record release party. How freakin' cool is that?? And if that wasn't cool enough, I went to check out their page and they are an all-female METAL band, from Seattle. Wow.

Now, they're a bit too growly death metal for my liking, but the music part of it is pretty rockin'. I'm stoked to work on this project, which I'll tackle when I'm back from vacation. If you want to check out the band, go to, and rock on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How did you know?

So my 1 year Etsy-versary was on Saturday, and I actually *blew away* my goal and came in at 56 sales for the year. Holy smokes!

So I am thrilled, and of course, because I am an overachiever, my new goal is 100 sales total for my second year. Kind of reminds me of how Oprah's goal salary when she first started working was to make her age * $1000 per year. I guess she took care of that pretty handily, huh??

Well, here's to hoping I'm as successful as Oprah. Ok, maybe not, because that would mean I would need to open a jewelry and magnet sweatshop in my house, but here's to general success, then. And continuing to use Etsy for my work-stress relief.

And in other news, I am so freakin' old and rickety. I went to the gym two whole days in a row last weekend - a veritable streak for me lately- and then spent the next week so sore I could barely walk. Doing yardwork for the United Way Day of Caring with my team last Friday didn't help much with that either.

I guess I am now of "that age" where I need to maintain a consistent workout schedule or pay the horrible price of sore achy back muscles for days on end. Sad.

And in other fun hammering on metal news, my experiment of making dog tags out of nickel silver, which is a copper/nickel/zinc alloy which doesn't tarnish, worked out pretty well.

I am still experimenting with the best way to apply the oxidation solution to make the letters darker - it's made of hydrochoric acid (yay HCl!) and potentially something else yicky. Fortunately it's pretty dilute so it's not really dangerous, just something I need to be careful with.

The next few I make will have darker lettering - I just need to get a little less skittish about the chemicals. It's been a long time (10 years!) since I handled any chemicals in a lab so I've lost my touch.

And bear with me for one more picture - my parents adopted a new puppy last week. Meet Maya, an adorable chocolate lab/something else mix. I can't wait to meet her!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With a little help from my friends

I am truly a lucky girl.

Last night I got to see Nightwish *and* Sonata Arctica last night, and the sound was actually great even though it was at the ConcreteBox SoDo. Sonata Arctica was awesome live, and of course Nightwish did not disappoint. Yay for Finnish metal!

Dave and I grabbed dinner at the very awesome Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market, which features all local ingredients configured into yuppie versions of standard comfort foods. Plus they have poutine, one of the few places in Seattle (heck, probably the US!) that does.

And today I exceeded my numeric goal for 1 year on Etsy, with even a few days to spare, thanks to Leslie, who rocks. I am lucky to have such sweet friends who think of me even when they are super-busy and sleep-deprived. :) And she didn't even have to do it, because right after she bought her GeekMagnets, I sold another custom pet tag. So yay and thanks again to everyone who has put up with my Etsy Obsession over the past year. (Because really, a geek has to have some project to obsess over, right?)

So all of that is totally wonderful, right? But wait, there's more! It also grates and slices!

I was wandering through the Etsy Treasury today, and found *4* treasuries with my items in them. Holy cannoli!

For months I don't think I've been featured in anyone's list, but now I'm in four? And with four different items from my shop, no less. Since I haven't posted any pictures in a while, I'll leave you with some pretty treasury pics:

Gardening, Anyone?


Bite of Seattle

I Saw Red

I'll just hang out here, floating on my little happy cloud for a while :) Hope your week is going as well as mine seems to be! Cheerio.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I will buy you a new life

Quick post before I fall into bed. Apparently all that working out has made me very tired. But on the happy front, my pedometer recorded over 9000 steps today. With not a whole lot of effort. YAY.

And you know how I know that? Because Amazon Fresh brought me a new pedometer battery before 6am today. I love this. Not to mention the DVD copy of Juno they also brought with our week's groceries. I can tell this is going to be dangerous.

But I can't wait to watch Juno again. I only saw it once and totally and completely fell in love with it.

*and* I sold another custom copper hand stamped pet tag today. Woot!

Sadly, I had to cancel one of my previous sales because the buyer never paid me. Etsy has this weird checkout system where you check out on Etsy but then need to complete a second step on Paypal to actually PAY. So there are some small % of buyers who don't make it all the way through and thus don't actually pay for the item they "bought". Which is disappointing :( I tried to contact this person several times without any luck. Hopefully she's on vacation or something and will come back and try again later. I was looking forward to making a doggie tag for her.

But now it's off to bed to get some beauty sleep. Cheerio!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Two days in a row

I'm still here. At about the same weight I was back in May. Which is not surprising since I've been totally slacking off on the exercise, and only marginally paying attention to food.

But this weekend was a bit of a turning point. Not a fireworks and marching bands kind of a turning point, or a rock-bottom, I need to change something, turning point. Just a small nudge toward being just a little bit healthier.

I went to the gym both days this weekend and did 30 minutes of cardio. Sweaty, 150+ HR cardio. And it felt really good.

I can count on my fingers the number of times I've been to the Pro Club since I went back to Microsoft. That sucks. It's such an awesome gym, and it's FREE.

Yesterday and today, I saw a TV special on Discovery Health based on 'You on a Diet' which is a very reasonable book about getting healthier. No boot camp, no elimination diets. Just some good advice, mostly stuff I already knew. So it inspired me just a tiny bit, to get a little healthier.

Baby steps. 20 minutes of working out each day this week. That's it.

My mind is racing

I am paralyzed with indecision right now. I want to be crafty but cannot settle down enough to pick one thing to work on. My mind is full of ideas of things I want to make, and some of these ideas are ones I've had for months.

Arghhh. I know I just need to pick one and get started but I have all these lovely new and old supplies in my craft room and they're all calling to me. And it doesn't help that Kristine sent me a surprise package yesterday, which contained some gorgeous beads, and also a bunch of her old bracelets that she's giving me to recycle into new things.

Kristine is awesome. Yay Kristine.

I also need to make some more GeekMagnets, in case I get another rush of orders like I did last week. Of course, that frenzy seems to have slowed down, so maybe I need not worry too much.

And to fuel my creative fire even further, I saw Vienna Teng (yes, again) at The Triple Door on Thursday.

Favorite singer + favorite venue + friends = Triple YAY.

As always, her performance was flawless, though I definitely wish she had played different songs. I don't actively dislike *any* of her songs, but there are definitely ones I would have preferred to hear, given the short setlist.

But she closed with "Harbor" and totally made my day. Yay Vienna Teng.

And work is calming down just a little bit. So I hope to have more crafty time, and less stress. Yay for that.

And my one year Etsy-Versary is next weekend. Think I'll sell 2 more things to hit "my number"? I'm not sure, but I'll definitely try :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Safety of shoreline fading away

Wow, I sure have been a busy girl recently. There was a sudden explosion of sales in my Etsy shop last weekend - I was getting at least one sale per day of both GeekMagnets and copper pet ID tags. And then it trickled to nothing again, boo hoo.

But I really can't complain, because I'm now at 50 sales and I have just a week left before my Etsy-versary. So maybe I won't quite make "my number" but I'm *really* close, not to mention the tons of jewelry I've sold offline.

Thanks to my mom, I sold another 5 pieces to her when she was here this week. At some point her friends are going to get tired of gifts from Anandi's Laboratory. Good thing she has a lot of friends :)

TJ is off zooming around the local racetrack today on his Ducati, so the pups and I are enjoying a quiet weekend at home. I think there will be some craftiness in the plan - I got a shipment of metal pieces to try out, in different gauges, so I'll probably make some test pendants to see how that works out. I got some aluminum, so I want to see how that works out for stamping ID tags and keychains, since it's doesn't tarnish.

I also have a cute cross-stitch design to work on - it was the only kit at Joann Fabrics (yay 40% off coupon!) that didn't have Jesus, precious little country scenes, annoying florals, or romanticized images of Asians or Native Americans on it. It's a cute picture of a cartoon doggy with bones and balls, and because I'm crafty like that, I'm changing some of the colors in the pattern so it should be colorful and fun when it's done.

Three people this week have made fun of me for doing cross stitch. Dude, it's so much fun. It's mathematical and soothing. It doesn't require a lot of practice to get decent at it. What's not to like?

(Besides the usual hideous country samplers, Jesus, Precious Moments, and offensive ethnic designs, that is.) I suspect the same people who design jigsaw puzzles also design cross stitch patterns and kits. BORING, BORING, BORING, or just plain fugly.

Subversive Cross Stitch offers some cute patterns, but they're not exactly things I'm comfortable hanging in my home or office. But I definitely love the sentiment.

So as soon as I get back into it, I'm going to start designing my own patterns for me to stitch. Apparently it just requires some graph paper and patience. I've got the graph paper, anyway. Cheers!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are you lost or incomplete?

So my Etsy shop has been in existence for nearly a year. When I started, I wasn't sure if anyone would actually want to buy anything I made. I was lucky to be rewarded with a couple of sales right away, which in Etsyland is pretty rare - some people wait months for that exciting first sale.

Depending on how active I've been each month - making new jewelry and magnets, renewing items so they pop up higher in search results, re-taking photos until I'm happy with them, I've had varying levels of success. There are a few months where I sold nothing at all, and a few months where I've had 2-3 sales. Given that this is a serious hobby, and not my actual source of income, I've been fine with that. My goal is to consistently get one sale per week.

In July, that didn't quite happen. I sold one pair of earrings the entire month. Kind of disappointing, but my crazy work schedule prevented me from dwelling on it too much.

In the meantime, because we ditched our home phone and I got a new cell phone (yay iPhone!), I realized both Spike and Peanut needed new ID tags for their collars. So armed with my metal stamping skillz, I made a couple of tags for the pups.

I was quite pleased with how they turned out, so I posted a new listing in my shop for a custom pet ID tag last weekend:

Of course, I'm always excited when I add new stuff to my shop, but the reality is that the world doesn't flock there to buy tons of them right away.

The Etsy message boards are filled with people lamenting about their lack of sales, and there are tons of posts about being very slow. So I wasn't expecting much for August.

And then suddenly my shop exploded in a flurry of activity. I've sold several magnet sets and I've sold three of those pet tags in the past week. For me, that's total craziness. And to top it all off, my friend Alice bought four pieces of jewelry from me today (yay Alice!).

I am thrilled! It means I have even more reason to make new items! It also brings me precariously close to averaging 1 sale per week for the past year. Way, way closer than I thought I'd be. Woot!

So a big THANK YOU to all of my lovely customers, whether you're a stranger, friend or family. Thanks for all of your encouragement and validation (you like me! you really like me!) because I really *love* this low-tech, making stuff with my own two hands, kinda thing. It keeps me sane and gets me to do something else besides work all the time. Yay for all of you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can you see them out on the porch?

Extra points for you if you can tell me where that lyric comes from. I was actually going to use a different one from the same song until I found out that what I thought he was saying (hint!) was actually something completely different.

So I am *totally* in love with Amazon Fresh, the grocery delivery service from It's been running for a while, but they only recently expanded to Redmond. The catch is that I had to sign up for Amazon Prime membership, which gets me free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases. That's why I didn't sign up immediately, because the $79 annual fee annoyed me, and we don't really buy *that* much stuff on Amazon.

But then I thought about it. For <$7 per month, I can order groceries as many times as I want (as long as the order is at least $25) and get free delivery *the next day* and I don't even have to be home. Not to mention on the rare times I do order other stuff from Amazon, I get superfast shipping. I'm definitely an instant gratification kind of girl, so that works for me.

So I signed up for the trial membership of Amazon Prime and started my shopping at Amazon Fresh last night. And it was so quick and easy. No recopying my shopping list from whiteboard to paper, no driving, no wandering through the aisles picking up random stuff I'll never eat, and not having to deal with screaming children running through the store.

I just placed the order for the 14 items I needed, and selected a delivery window of 7-10am. (Since it was after midnight, I missed the cutoff for pre-dawn delivery, but on a Sunday, it's not like I'm going to be up before 7 anyway.)

And like magic, the pretty red and green truck showed up at 9am today, and the driver unloaded 5 plastic totes on our porch. I didn't need to answer the door - I just hauled the totes inside after he left and put the stuff away. Total process, about 25 minutes, rather than the hour+ to go to the store and back.

So you'd think this service would come at a premium. Yeah, there's the forced Prime Membership, but the prices of the items themselves are totally reasonable. The canned sardines and salmon I buy for the pups' weekly treat are actually cheaper at Amazon than Trader Joe's. Everything else seemed about on par with any grocery store.

Oh, and customer service? Unbelievable. My bread and rolls got squished because they were packed under the heavy cans of salmon for Peanut (kind of disappointing). But Amazon has an easy email contact form for issues with your order, so I emailed them this morning at 9:30. By 9:45, I had a refund issued, and they offered to redeliver two new items! You just don't see that anymore. So double-extra-super thumbs up from me.

Because the totes are packed with styrofoam coolers, ice packs, and dry ice, you can get refrigerated and frozen items, which makes this exactly identical to going to the store in person. Except without the screaming children and the hassle of finding parking.

So if you come to visit us, you might get to behold the sheer amazingness that is Amazon Fresh. Want bacon and OJ for breakfast? Ordered at night, shows up at the door in the morning. You can't beat that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Things work out just like you want them to

I'm blogging because I'm avoiding work. Ick, it's a Saturday night and yet I'm thinking about work. I'm even logged into my work account. I did manage to clear my email box from 140 down to 75-ish. Sadly, those 75-ish emails require me to *do* something with them. So much for Inbox Zero.

So on Aug 15, I had a huge deadline at work. Which meant this week was supposed to be easy. But silly overachieving me offered to take on another project that was in trouble. Good for the team, but a whole heck of a lot of work for me. I think I'm going to commit 4 hours of solid time to it tomorrow, but no more than that. At least my email is in good shape for it. Or at least as good as it's gonna get for now.

I've been an interviewing fool at work - we have several open positions on our team. So I finally got together a blog post about some of the horrifying things I've seen while conducting job interviews. I've revived my long-dormant work blog, so check back there for (roughly) weekly posts.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

We are all made of stars

So it's been a while since I blogged, because work was kicking my butt last week. I had a huge deadline on Friday, which as a project manager, is always fun, because I'm not the one doing the work, but I need to make sure everyone else gets their work done on time. That's the stressful part.

But we mostly hit our deadline, except for a few stragglers so I'm pretty happy. And I have a minute to breathe.

In celebration, I had a very lazy day yesterday. But I did finally make some progress on the necklace I am making for Dawn, and she liked the early pics I sent, so that's cool. Today I just need to put the second one into the liver of sulfur oxidation solution to get the silver chain a little less shiny, and polish it up a bit, and then I can pack them up and send them to her. I've been so busy that I'm about 3 weeks late on this project (!). Fortunately she is very understanding.

In exciting Etsy news this week, I had two sales! (I almost never have two sales in one week!) One for GeekMagnets, and another for the lanyard I made a couple of months ago. So yay! I'm up to 33 total sales now. It's a little short of the one sale per week goal I had for the first year, but I'm actually very happy with it, since I haven't done a whole lot of advertising for my little shop.

And of course, we've been watching the Olympics, both on our Media Center, and on NBC. Fun. I love watching the track and field. The womens' marathon was pretty impressive, with the gold medalist from Romania who aggressively got out in front of the pack about halfway through the race, and then held on to her minute lead the whole time. Craziness.

Friday, August 08, 2008

All I'm ready to do is have some fun

OK, so I'm a total Olympics junkie. I'm watching the opening ceremony, but quite honestly, it's so continuously big and amazing that the effect gets lost. It's serious sensory overload, like in movies where there are so many special effects, you just stop noticing how awesome they are anymore.

But now the Parade of Nations (March of the Penguins?) is on, and that's my very favorite part. It must be my geek nature, and my love of collections of things. I love seeing each country, their attire and flags, and of course the miscellaneous facts the commentators throw in. Like the fact that the order of countries is determined by the number of strokes in the Chinese characters used to write the name of the country. How freakin' amazingly awesome is that?

I *so* love the fact that Lopez Lomong is carrying the U.S. flag, as one of only three naturalized U.S. citizens on our Olympic team, and a former refugee of Sudan. I do not love the outfits Ralph Lauren has designed for our team, with the giant tacky-ass Polo logo on the blazer.

I might be a bit biased, though, since I just finished watching this week's Project Runway (hooray TiVo!) where the challenge was to design the womens' outfits for the U.S. Olympic team for a fictional Summer Games. Some of the top designs were very cool.

Ooh, I am so digging Greece's outfits. Very crisp and white. The sort of thing you are afraid to sit down in, move, or otherwise be touched. They look like they are fresh from the box, just unwrapped. Yay Greece!

We got an email at work this week, encouraging us to use the built-in service on our Vista Home Premium Media Center to record and watch Olympic events. The really awesome thing about this is that we just need an Internet connection and no TV Tuner in our PC. So we finally got that set up (it was a little challenging because we hadn't used our Media Center in months and consequently had a bunch of antivirus updates and Windows Updates to download). It looks totally awesome.

We selected Archery, Basketball, Swimming, Gymnastics, Track and Field and Trampoline to record. Mostly because I'm curious about trampoline. I had no idea it was an Olympic sport, did you??

Another interesting fact - 87 of the 204 nations in the Olympics have never had a medal winner at all, in any Olympics. Crazy!

Dude, Turkmenistan is wearing these awesome pea green suits. Rock on.

The world champion in Tae Kwon Do is from Mali. Did you know that? Woot.

I could do this all night, so I won't bore you. I'm going back to watching the march of the Penguins. Um, I mean Parade of Nations...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

If I had a hammer

Woot! Another fantabulous jewelry making class with my favorite instructor, Irene Huberman! Today it was "Stamped Message Charms" at BCC.

I've always been fascinated by jewelry with words and letters on it. For one thing, I love the idea that I could get something personalized. As I kid, I was resigned to never being able to buy anything with my name on it from the random gift shops in museums and Disney World.

Also, I love books, and reading, and just words in general. One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a hand-stamped set of sterling rings with the words to a French poem on it. I got it at a boutique in San Jose a few years ago. Unfortunately, I lost one of the seven rings, so the poem is incomplete. Sad.

But today in class, I made a super-personalized bracelet. All metalworking classes start with copper since it's cheaper and a better practice material, but I love the look of it because it's warm and different.

I had so much fun with the stamping, and I'm definitely going to do more of it. I ordered some new small letter stamps today, along with some cute design stamps, so I'll have some new pieces in my shop soon.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Skin on skin

The new iPhone is, as I suspected, fabulous. It has fairly good reception, though AT&T is no match for Verizon's network. Damn you, Verizon CEO, for turning down the iPhone deal. (He's probably kicking himself now, so no use in making him feel worse, I guess.)

Problem is, the device is so shiny and pretty because it's delicate. I don't dare just throw this thing into my purse along with all the scary sharp pointy pens, gum wrappers, dust, coins and miscellaneous crap. It needs protection, poor little thing.

So I thought I'd go the cheaper route first. I did some online research and found, which makes these cool removable vinyl "skins" for all sorts of devices, including my brand spankin' new iPhone 3G. My "Rockstar Pinky" design skin showed up yesterday, and it looks really cool. It definitely personalizes my phone so it doesn't look like the millions of other iPhones out there.

Unfortunately, this little vinyl decal, while protective of the back and some of the front, doesn't really protect the touchscreen at all. So I gave in today and bought the Speck PixelSkin in Spearmint Green at the Apple store.

It's cute, sturdy and thick, so the lip recesses the screen while it's in my purse. I'll still be careful with it, but I can put it in my purse without worrying too much about it.

I also bought some anti-glare film made by PowerSupport to put over the screen, so that might solve my problem entirely. It took several tries to get the film on the screen, without any dog hair or microscopic specks of dust that cause bubbles. No wonder they give you 2 pieces of the film. One is totally unusable now because it's got all these little dust bits trapped on it. And yes, I did follow directions and cleaned my phone with a bit of window cleaner and a lint-free cloth.

That's the biggest scam ever - $15 for a tiny bit of plastic. But I finally got it on, and it doesn't make the screen look bad, and the "feel" of it is kind of nice too, a little less slippery than the naked screen.

So that was my iPhone adventure for today. I secretly think it's to avoid going into the craft room, which looks like a tornado hit it. I never cleaned up from the last frenzy of getting ready for the Gracewinds street fair, and I'm behind on custom projects, and it's so messy I don't even want to go in there.

Time to be a grownup and tackle the mess. If you don't hear from me, please send in the Mounties to unearth me from boxes of beads and magnet making supplies.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Call me anytime

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our gadget family. I waited in line for about 40 minutes at Bellevue Square on Friday at 7:30am to get me a new 16G white iPhone 3G. I'm such a sheep.

I was supposed to wait until my Verizon contract is up at the end of August, but I just couldn't. The iPhone called to me. Once I got my hot little hands on it, it did not disappoint. It is so shiny and pretty.

I've spent the past couple of days playing with it, adding new applications from the App Store, and learning how to use the virtual keyboard and touch screen. The battery life is not great, and this was mentioned in lots of reviews, so I bought a car charger right away.

I need to find an unobtrusive case for it - for now I've just ordered some vinyl protective (and pretty!) decals from We'll see how that goes. I love my new iPhone.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Your lies, they drop like acid rain

Today I am imagining all sorts of cartoon character injuries to the bastards who stole my debit card number. Maybe I need a voodoo doll or something.

TJ got a call at home today from the Visa fraud protection people who noticed "unusual activity" on my debit card. To the fraud protection people, I send love and virtual warm chocolate cupcakes. I called my bank, and lo and behold, someone decided to go on a grocery shopping spree in Bellevue with my debit card today. They bought $300 worth of food at Whole Foods and Cash and Carry.

Suspiciously, both of these fraudulent transactions, plus a $1 charge at FedEx Kinkos, were made just minutes after I dined at another Bellevue restaurant for lunch with my friend Jenn. Strangely one of the grocery stores is in that same shopping center. Very sketchy.

So I had to drop everything and hustle in my car over to Seattle to get to my bank and fill out fraud paperwork. And of course there was crappy traffic both ways. Boo! Hiss!

The good news is that they didn't completely clean out my account. And after just those three charges, I canceled my card. I am super-grateful for the Visa fraud protection automated system. And the bank people were nice too. Hopefully they process my claim soon so I can get my money back.

I did call Whole Foods and they're looking into it. Lovely people there too.

Sigh. I really didn't need another stupid errand/personal action item. I hope these people fall off a sharp cliff. Or get hit on the head with an anvil. Thunk!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When you don't see me

Ooh, I've been so busy and didn't have time or the inclination to blog. I got this meme from Kristine via email and thought it would make a good blog post. It's one of those usual "random things about me" items, but it looks like fun. And at the end of the post, I'm gonna tag some of my blog buddies to do this.

1. What is your occupation right now?
Project Manager at Microsoft

2. What color are your socks right now?

3. What are you listening to right now?
So You Think You Can Dance on TV

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
French Toast bagel from Blazing Bagels in Redmond

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
No, sadly, despite a few lessons in TJ's old crappy Saturn

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone?

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Of course!!

8. How old are you today?

9. What is your favorite sport to watch?
um, none? Love the Olympics, though. Any event.

10. What is your favorite drink?
Lemon Drop martini or diet Coke during the day

12. Favourite food?
Macaroni and cheese

13. What is the last movie you watched?
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Poo

14. Favourite day of the year?
My birthday! I don't usually go to work. And TJ is nice to me.

15. How do you vent anger?
Whine a lot. If I'm being productive, I go to the gym and run on the treadmill.

16. What was your favourite toy as a child?
Commodore 64 computer

17. What is your favourite season?
Summer in Seattle

18. Cherries or Blueberries?
Rainier cherries, all the way

19. Do you want your friends to add this meme to their blogs?
Yes! Jenn, Katy, TJ

20. Who is the most likely to respond?

21. Who is least likely to respond?

22. Living arrangements?
A very cozy house in Redmond with my husband and two puppydogs

23. When was the last time you cried?
I can't actually remember

24. What is on the floor of your closet?
Donations for Goodwill, boxes of winter clothes, stray hangers

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest relationship with that you are sending this to?

26. What did you do last night?
Did some laundry and some work. Nothing exciting.

27. What inspires you?
Seeing people who are really passionate about their work

28. What are you most afraid of?
Not being able to take care of myself due to age or illness

29. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?
Cheese, all the way baby. From Wibbley's in Redmond or In-n-Out Burger.

30. Favourite dog breed?
Beagle! And Peanut, of course.

31. Favourite day of the week?
Saturday. Because I get to sleep in, and I have the whole weekend ahead of me.

32. How many states have you lived in?
Five - (WA, AZ, PA, CA, MT)

33. Biggest Life lesson?
Listen to my intuition. Going against my gut feeling has always led to the wrong decisions for me.

And I'm passing on the dubious honor of completing this to Jenn, Katy, and TJ!
Link your entries in the comments section of this one so we can all read it, and pass it on to three more bloggity friends!

sharing is nice

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