Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Buy Handmade

This last Christmas, there was a movement to shop local and/or on a specific Saturday.  Why does it have to be just Christmas?  Can’t we support our local business’s and artisans/craftsman every day of the year?  It is said you have to be the change you want to become.  I want to help heal our economy.  I want to make the situation better for my neighbors.  I want to help craftsman and artisans like myself.  In that vein, I have been buying more items that are handmade, not from Wal-Mart.

How does a small business, craftsman, and artisan get the word out about their product?  Word of mouth…or in this case word of blog.  I am going to list some people I buy from.  In return, I ask that you check them out and add to the list in the comment section.  Let’s help our fellow American’s to grow their businesses.

Lampwork Beads:
Maybeads: Whimsical Animal Beads
Bastille Blue:  Beautiful Beads including Angry Birds
Denise Annette:  Great Animal Beads.  Check out her Owls!
Chrysalis Jewelry: Of course I have to list myself
Runes of Ragnarok: For your inner Viking
Danielle Jewelry:  Classy Wedding rings
SM Studio: Steampunk Jewelry
Madcap Heiress:  High fashion jewelry
Sun Basil Garden Soap:  Unique Soap
Cute Assesories:
The Joyful Princess:  Great kids accessories
Allie Cat Designs: Infinity Scarfs and accessories
Forgotten Cotton: Infinity Scarfs and headware
Miss Ivy Originals: Great Crochet itmes
Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Come Fly The Friendly Skys….

A number of years ago, United Airlines had the slogan “Come Fly The Friendly Skies”.  There uses to be a time when flying was friendly, civilized will you.  Not so much anymore.  I recently left my beautiful Texas for Upstate NY…in January (I will have a blog later on the Warning Signs You May be Mentally Ill…).   I do believe this may be the last time I EVER fly.

It all started with the normal hassle, going thru the security check point.  I tried to be cheap this time and fly with only a carry-on (mistake number one).  Anyone who knows me (or has read my blog on shoes ) can foresee what a challenge this was for me.  At home I crammed everything I could into every nook and cranie into my carry on and personal item (a giant purse – haha United!).  It was the engineering feat of the century.  Then I get to security.  They want your laptop out and in its own tray, liquids out in their own quart size zip lock bag, take off all metal and jewelry, no coats, no sweater.  50 trays later, I’m ready to get my x-ray.

I hope the TSA agents found my scan entertaining (side note – if you found something in your scan that could help me diagnose my autoimmune disorder, please feel free to share).  I’m surprised you only have to raise your hands over your head.  Next time, lets change it up and pat our heads and rub our bellies.  So after I get my scan it’s time to collect all your trays and items and be sure to get out of the way as quickly as possible so you don’t hack off the passenger behind you.

Okay, whew, all items collect and repacked and you have fully dressed again.  We are on our way now.  Oh wait – the plane from Denver is delayed.  Just when you thought you could leave.  It finally is so late I start to wonder if I will make connection at Washington-Dulles.  I ask the gate agent.  Yep, I definitely will miss my connection (which happens to last flight to the middle of nowhere NY).  OK….um….why don’t we try this tomorrow instead of sending me part way?  Arg.  As luck would have it, I have family near Washington-Dulles (A big shout out to cousin Jeff for coming to get me – you still rock).

The next day I went back to the airport.  If I thought security was a hassle at DFW I was gravely mistaken.  If you want to see security theater done right, you must go see the play at Washington-Dulles.  The barking, the shouting, the treating us like cattle.  I was not amused.  I would like to take a moment to point two things out to the TSA at Washington-Dulles.  One – after sending me thu the X-ray machine again, patting down my arms because they are poofy isn’t cool.  I’m clearly a big girl.  No hiding that.  I’m also an artisan jeweler, which means I use my arms a lot, they’re big.  Get over it.  Secondly, what I was wearing on my wrist is called a watch.  I know the technology is slightly dated, but it’s not unheard of.  Grabbing it, twisting and acting all puzzled only shows how ignorant you are.

If I thought my trials and tribulations were over, I was sorely mistaken.  After I walked to Maryland (I think that is how far I went from security to A4), I finally got to the regional gates.  Whoever did the gate agent hiring needs to be fired.  People who make the boarding announcements need to be understood.  Hiring someone who cannot accurately pronounce English words is not a good choice.  Hiring one for gate A3 and one for gate A4 was a REALY bad decision.   It was like an announcing throw down or something, only in gibberish.  I politely asked a flight attendant standing nearby if the gate agent had called Binghamton.  The flight attendant shrugged her shoulders and replied “I can’t understand her either”.

I eventually got to Binghamton.  Thank goodness!  I’m not looking forward to my return trip in a week.  I do believe, if I ever visit my parents again, I will be driving.  It’s much more civilized.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stitches in Time

In one of my very first blogs, I talked about how I try to learn a new skill every year (  In that blog, I briefly touched on learning how to crochet from my Grandma Creamer.  Today I would like to tell you more about that experience and the wonderful lady she is.

I believe I have been very blessed in my life.  I have had the fortune to have not one but two great ladies for my grandmothers.  Ruth (Winters) Mizell was my maternal grandmother and Ruth (Summers) Creamer is my paternal grandmother.  I always found it humorous that my Grandma “Ruths” had opposite season maiden names.

Grandma Creamer is your typical grandmother.  She is the poster child of what a grandmother is.  She is a caretaker and a great cook.  Her chicken and noodles are legendary.  If you left Grandma Creamer’s house hungry, it was your own fault.  When I think back on my childhood I can see Grandma Creamer in her kitchen cooking, at the dining room table reading a magazine, or possibly in the living room crocheting.

A few years back during a visit, I asked her if she could teach me.  She was more than happy to do so.  She set me down at the dining room table and handed me a “K” size hook and some yarn.  She also had a hook and said, “Me do, you do.”  Easy enough, right?  My first square, and I use the term loosely, of single crochet was more trapezoidal than square.  Grandma said I could undo it and start again.  I wanted to keep my first piece intact, as imperfect as it was.  If I didn’t, how would I be able to compare later pieces and known that I’d gotten better?

There are some things you can teach yourself.  There are others that are better when someone shows you.  I am so glad I had Grandma to teach me.  She is a very patient teacher and learning to crochet can be very confusing.  When I messed something up she could look at it and almost instantly know what I did wrong.

With practice, I did get better (squares actually turned out relatively square).  Once you learn to chain and single crochet, you can learn many different stiches.  I bought books, borrowed books from the library, and continued to learn.  I will always treasure those first lessons with Grandma Creamer.  I also treasure that first hook, which she gave me to keep.  Not everyone can say that they know how to crochet.  I can because my Grandma Creamer taught me.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can’t Save Them All

It’s no secret that I love antiques.  Obsessed would be a better word, maybe even addicted.  There are so many different types of antiques that one can get into.  I personally am drawn to furniture, oddities, and books.  I go nuts over antique books.  I can lose all sense of time when I’m looking at antique books.  I am drawn to them when I go antiquing, kind of like a moth to a flame.

I love to read the way old books are written.  The English language continues to evolve (although I’m not sure for the better).  I have an 1856 reading primer.  It is almost too hard to read the forward that is written by the Secretary of Education.  I know I’m reading English as I try to read it, but the words are so formal and grand, it’s hard not to think it’s a foreign language.

I also find the subjects intriguing.  I have one that is titled Women Who Worked and Won.  Women working was such a foreign idea at the time it was worth writing about.  Can you imagine that?  I love that these ideas have been preserved in print.  I am a firm believer in the phrase “Those that do not learn from history are forced to repeat it.”  Just look at our current economic issues.  I think there are many among us that failed to learn from our grandparents’ or great-grandparents’ generation and the lessons they learned during the Great Depression, but I digress.

I have an antiques dealer who I buy most of my antiques from.  She knows about my obsession with books.  She has quite a book collection herself.  She has a book from 1760 that she showed me.  I cannot begin to tell you the honor I felt holding a book that was older than our country!  I wonder how many people have read that book.  Where has it been?  Who has owned it in the past two hundred years?  Someone very wealthy would have had to own it originally.  Books were for the privileged in that day.

My dealer (Karen) has become a friend over time.  She closes her shop during the last two weeks of the year so she can take her annual vacation.  During her break this year, she took me antiquing.  It was so much fun to go with an expert.  Every place we went, if I saw books, I had to take time and dig through them all.  It became a running joke that day.  At the last place we visited, Karen let out a loud groan.  I turned to her to ask if she was okay.  She said, “NO!  Look!” and pointed.  There were shelves and shelves of old books.  I died and went to antique book Heaven. I probably bought 40-50 old books that day.  My husband also groaned when I came home.  His first question was “Where will you put them all?”  No worries, Dear, they all found a home.

Today I went to Half-Price Books with my husband.  I was searching for The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger.   I always check out their “collectible” (antique) section as well.  Sometimes you can find great deals.  I think someone must have passed away recently, as there was a ton of great old books (I assume the heir didn’t care and wanted to “cash” in).  As the pile I intended to buy continued to grow my husband sighed and finally said, “Dear, you can’t save them all.”  No Aaron, I can’t.  But I can sure try.  

Pretty soon I’ll have enough books to start my own library (just kidding).

Until Tomorrow - Melissa
 A few of my books on display in my Empire Cabinet.  This is where I keep my curiosities. 
More books, on another antique cabinet.  My loves of antique furniture and books go well together.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Does Anyone Have a DeLorean For Sale?

I’m not looking to buy a new car, I’m perfectly happy with my Civic SI.  What I do need is a way to get more than 24 hours out of a day, so I was thinking of getting a time machine (since they must be real - I see them on TV all the time!).

I find I am not getting enough done during the day.  My small business is based at home, so it seems I’m constantly distracted.  Walk into the kitchen to get myself a cup of coffee to drink while I blog/Tweet/Facebook, need to stop and load the dishwasher.  As I go about my business, I see little things that need done around the house.  So I stop to fix them.

At the beginning of the day, I will have a long list of tasks I want to get done for my business.  By the end of the day, only a few things are done.  Is this because I’m not working?  No, it’s just hard splitting my time between my house, my pets, and my business.

I’ve also quickly learned that running my business is not just about making pretty jewelry.  I spend a lot of time networking, marketing, reading how-to blogs, blogging myself, etcetera, etcetera.  I yearn for the days where I could go out to the studio, stare at my pretty gemstones, let them speak to me, and create unique jewelry from there.  It’s been weeks since I made something in sterling silver and it’s driving me mad.  I begin each day with the intent of going out there to design and end up doing other things.

I’ve never been big on making to-do lists.  I have never really had to in the past.  I think I may have to get in the habit of starting each day by prioritizing what needs to get done, putting it on a list, and sticking to it.  Otherwise I am going to continue to run around all day like a chicken with my head cut off.  Which does no good, trust me.

On the flip side of all of this is I am going to have to start to make days where I don’t work on my business.  Where I focus on housekeeping (it’s gotten somewhat lax lately) or doing something with my husband.  When your business is at home, it’s hard to “walk” away, especially when you are trying to get it established.  You feel like all your time should be spent working toward making it successful.  I now realize it’s not helping my business and it’s just driving me crazy.

Clearly, I know what I need to do.  I know what the problem is.  Knowing the problem isn’t the hard part…the next hurdle is putting it into practice.  Daily.  That will take a lot of discipline, something I’m also not great at.  I think it would be so much easier to locate a DeLorean with a flux capacitor and just give myself more hours in the day…or use it to go to the future and find out the winning lottery numbers.  Just a small jackpot….ah to dream…

Until tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Swear Jar for Social Media?

A few articles ago, I wrote (more like lamented) about when it went out of style to be a lady  ( ).  In that vein, I would like to propose a swear jar for social media.
Now, for the record, I would like to state I have been known to swear.  I do try to keep it to a minimum.  We all have moments when life gets the best of us.  I get it.  However, these are moments when the filter in our brain is so freaked out by what just happened it takes a temporary leave of absence.  It happens to the best of us.  I, however, do not understand, why some among us have the need to use swear words in social media.  When you type something, you have to think about it.  Really think about it.  And proof it.  And there is this thing called the backspace key (hint hint).

I get it.  Life can be frustrating and you need to vent.  You want people in your social circle or your followers to know you are hacked off.  Being frustrated or angry about something is fine.  However, I do not think this is the venue to curse like a sailor.  Everyone knows four letter words.  By using them in your posts, all you prove is that you have a limited vocabulary…  Or that you were raised by a pack of wolves… or you do not value your image enough not to come off as trashy.

In a world of reality TV (which I do believe is aiding and abetting  our societal de-evolution), contrary to popular belief, it is not cool to be trash.  It’s not something to aspire to.  Anyone can be trashy.  It’s the lowest common denominator.  I have an idea:  Rise above it!  Value yourself and your image.  Have a smidgeon of class (that’s all I ask).  

There is this really great thing called the internet.  On it, you can learn a number of great things and there are lots of resources out there.  I’d like to share one with you now.  It’s called .  A thesaurus is a really great tool.  It can help you expand you vocabulary.  If you want to tell the world you are ANGRY, but want to do it with a little more panache, you can look up other words that also mean ANGRY  (aka synonyms).  Synonyms for ANGRY are: affronted, annoyed, antagonized, bitter, chafed, choleric, convulsed, cross, displeased, enraged, exacerbated, exasperated, ferocious, fierce, fiery, fuming, furious, galled, hateful, heated, hot, huffy, ill-tempered, impassioned, incensed, indignant, inflamed, infuriated, irascible, irate, ireful, irritable, irritated, maddened, nettled, offended, outraged, piqued, provoked, raging, resentful, riled, sore, splenetic, storming, sulky, sullen, tumultous/tumultuous, turbulent, uptight, vexed, wrathful .

See?  There are many, MANY words in the English language.  Here’s the best part: you don’t have to be an English PhD to use them.  That’s the great thing about these United States, we have freedom of speech!  You have the choice to use proper speech.  Use speech to show you have an iota of class.  Show us you have the proper upbringing to use speech in a socially acceptable manner.  It’s not hard.

For those of you who insist on proving to all your lack of elegance, I propose a social media swear jar.  We can agree to a fine rate and the proceeds can benefit a charity.  Maybe…just maybe…it will help you learn how to type classier posts.  If only I had the power to do so (*sigh*).

I will now get off my soapbox.  If you need some soap to wash your mouth out, I know a great little shop on Etsy ( ).

Until Tomorrow - Melissa