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.

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