Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I really started the candy production late and now I'm rushed to get it all done. No time to write a long post.
I hope to get back to y'all tomorrow. By then, these orders will be in the mail and I'll be all chocolated-out!!!
Yes, Virginia, you can have too much chocolate!!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Want a sneak peek?
It seems I've had goodies on my mind so I've been fixated on items featuring baked goods. (Maybe it's Easter coming up that put the sweet stuff in my head.) I've made a few aprons, potholders and even kitchen plaques and accessories.
These items will begin going in the shop on April 1st in plenty of time for Mother's Day buying.
I fell off the listing wagon during late February and March. The weather just kind of shut down my creative juices then and I had some motivation problems. So, I'm climbing back on and plan to list an item a day in April. I hope I can stick with that plan.
We ate Maryland style today with our first steamed crabs of the season! Ummm, ummm, good!!! They're not quite in season yet, but in just a few weeks, they should become a weekly staple for us until the season ends in November. I'm not sure how we make it through the winter without them!
With the better weather comes a much busier schedule as we begin outdoor events and activities. Festival season will soon be upon us and for our household, that means a lot running around the region. We enjoy our music, crafts and festival food. As KCBS BBQ judges, we're committed to a number of contests which, in essence, are all-day commitments.
We're looking forward to the first competition of the season (in our circuit) which will take place in Salisbury, Maryland in mid-April. Probably the largest BBQ event East of the Mississippi, the 2010 Pork in the Park competition will feature 125-130 competitors and three days of great live entertainment. If you are anywhere in the area, it is well worth the trip.
Hope y'all had a good one, too. (I've got to get back to finishing up my orders tonight so I can start working on making Easter candy tomorrow!)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Before you get too excited, this is what the blooms look like in my yard:
Not real impressive. In past years, we had a full bed of daffodils in the middle of the yard but when the boys dug up the front yard last summer they dislodged about 300 bulbs. I'll admit, I'm the one who did not get them replanted. They're still sitting in a box in the garage. (Wonder if they'd be any good next year if I planted them now.) So, for the first time in over 30 years, there are no daffodils in my yard (Okay, there are a few strays but VERY few!)Thursday was such a pretty day that The Big Guy came home from work and announced we should take a picnic to the park. (How convenient. I'd neglected to get anything out for dinner and was scrambling to think up a meal plan!) We packed some drinks and fruit and stopped and got carryout chicken and a loaf of good bread. (Nothing like a lot of prep!)
The park was beautiful and we enjoyed watching a few boats glide in and out of the marina but the air turned chilly fairly quickly so it was a short picnic. Hopefully, just the start of evenings to come.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
All in all, it was a great weekend!!! I even got a little sunburn. (No I wasn't one of those wearing a bikini!! The Big Guy did wear shorts, though.)
Hope y'all had a great weekend, too!!!
A Verizon story for all:
Once upon a time (Okay, it was a week ago), in a land far away (Oh, all right, it was right here), there lived a pudgy middle-aged woman who went interesting places and did fascinating things in the evenings and on weekends with the man of her dreams (Well, she used to dream of getting married and she did marry him.)
For years, she trudged off to work in a busy law office where she dealt with clients of all types , completed routine paperwork and filed various complaints with the Courts. Then, the day finally came when she had the opportunity to stay at home during the day and do “housewifey” things and start a business that she could do at home. She made wonderful, bright and colorful painted clothing for children, babies and grown-ups, too. Sometimes she painted furniture and other household items. She found various markets for her wares in the online world and life was good. She became a blogger and wrote there daily. She chatted with friends and family on e-mail, Facebook, and various forums. She had a daily routine that began with turning the computer on each morning.
Her computer became a bit sluggish. Her internet connection became sporadic. It would suddenly cut out mid-word and often lost what she was working on. Sometimes it needed to rest before she could restart the system. Gradually, the situation became worse. Then one day, she was not able to reach the internet at all. She was devastated (and also out of touch with her peeps!)
When her brilliant, much more technically savvy husband came home he tried all he knew to get a connection. He, too, admitted defeat and was forced to seek professional help.
Thus, began their journey into the land of Verizon Tech Support.
It was a very long journey and many obstacles were placed in their way. There were at least 7 phone calls to Technical Support spanning a total of more than 5 hours on hold and in conversation with the representatives that answered. In one phone call, she was forced to state her home phone number 14 separate times!!! Repairs involved two visits by two different technicians who, between them, logged over 4 ½ hours of work on the outside lines - some up to 2 blocks from the home. Service was restarted one day only to stop again 4 hours later. Two days after that, the second repairman was able to get them up and running again.
Life is once again good.
Several questions did stick with them, though.
**Why does one need to state their home phone number multiple times in one phone conversation with one person?
**Why doesn’t the company who installed and maintains your system know what system you are using?
**Why do they repeatedly suggest you go online to resolve the issue quicker when you are on hold for internet connection problems? (If you could get online, you wouldn’t be calling in the first place!)
And the two most puzzling questions were asked in the process of setting up the service appointment -
**They cannot give a precise appointment time but you can choose one of two windows - service between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., however, someone MUST be present during that window to wait for the repairman. (Who would tie themselves down for 13 hours as opposed to 4 hours? Does anyone actually select that time slot?)
**After emphatically stating that someone must be there while the repairman is present, they ask if there is a security code the technician will need to enter the home. (Who, in their right mind, would simply give out their security code and why when they had to be present anyway? Do people actually do this?)
Assuming my connection lasts longer than 12 hours this time, I plan to get back to the daily routine of blog posting beginning with this post.
We can only hope.
I've got loads and loads of messages to deal with and some customers to touch base with and then I'll get back here to post. (Hopefully.)
Based on my withdrawal symptoms this past week, computer addiction is just as bad as all those other 12-step vices!!!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Still having computer probs - so no pics today. (Using someone else's computer.) Just a quick, humorous story ...
Every Sunday a woman went to a cozy local wine bar in Napa Valley and ordered three glasses of wine, she drank each one quietly and then would quietly leave. People began talking about her, wondering why she did this, she became a bit of a celebrity.
One day the bar keeper asked her why she drank three glasses of wine each Sunday. She replied, each Sunday she and her two sisters agreed to have one glass for each sister in honor of each other, though they lived far, one in Italy and the other in New Zealand they would be close in heart. They always enjoyed a fine glass of wine.
Recently, the woman arrived to the wine bar and ordered only two glasses of wine. The bar tender was saddened, and the locals too, they talked, and word spread that she may have lost a sister...A couple weeks later the bar keeper said to the woman, I'm sorry, did you lose a sister? The woman replied, no I just gave up wine for Lent.
Hope you're sitting there with a smile on your face and a glass of good wine in your hand!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thought I'd drop another recipe on you just in case you were looking for something easy and tasty to whip up for that St. Paddy's Day get-together.
I found this recipe a year or two ago in one of the local weekly papers just a few days before our St. Patrick’s Day house party. It went over very well as an appetizer and that crowd has requested it a number of times since then.
CORNED BEEF & HORSERADISH SPREAD
1 (12 oz.) can corned beef
3-5 oz. from a jar of horseradish (to taste)
4 oz. cream cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
Black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for several hours (even overnight). Serve with crackers. Can be garnished with some fresh parsley to make it look pretty.
For a more “dip-like” consistency, use 1 cup of mayo and omit the cream cheese.
Hope y'all are planning a BIG party day. After all, everybody's a little Irish on St. Paddy's Day!!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
It's been a weekend of catching up with folks through some long phone calls and newsy emails. Maybe everybody is just waking up from winter's hibernation. Spring MUST be on its way - we turned the clocks forward. It was well worth sacrificing an hour's sleep to encourage Spring to get here soon!
I finished up a fair-sized order this weekend and it was picked up today. Good news is, I've got more orders to work on. Business has begun to awaken from its deep winter sleep. (It may have been in a coma as opposed to a nap!)
In the spirit of fresh starts, I think I've created a monster within myself. I reopened my Facebook account that I had closed last June. I've spent a lot of time logging on to see who has responded to my friend invites and actually catching up with some folks that I haven't had a chance to speak with recently. I haven't posted a lot there yet as I'm still getting the hang of it.
Last year, I found too few of my friends and family there and never really learned the gist of the whole thing. Now, many of those folks are on there and have settled in well. At the moment, I only have a regular personal page for friends and family. When I finally get a Fan Page set up for my shop, I'll let y'all know.
Then, when I should have been working on some merchandise or at least getting this blog together, I got into reading the many blogs I follow. It' so easy to get lost in that activity!!! I truly find it relaxing to read what everyone else is up to and commenting to so many.
I'm still working my way through the plan to visit with each and every one of my Followers. While many are already on my blog list, I constantly find new folks to follow. So much chatter, so little time!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
One of my marketing ploys is providing items for swag bags for several large organizations. It's a great way to reach my target markets as I know what type of attendance a specific event will yield. I need to produce something that can be done relatively inexpensively (I generally need to provide 100-200 pieces) . It needs to reflect my business image enough to guide the recipients to my shop. Most of all, it needs to impress those folks enough to make them want to see what else I have to offer. My latest offering in this area are keychains with handpainted characters attached. My etsy site is painted on the back of the character. (My cards are also attached.)
In an attempt to make 200 like items there are always a few "slightly irregular" pieces. I used to occasionally think "it's good enough" and include it in the batch. That is, until it dawned on me that my ideal customer might receive one of the flawed pieces and think it reflected the quality of all of my merchandise. They now go in the reject pile. Each of these cheaper products MUST be perfect. FIRST IMPRESSIONS DO COUNT!!!! In fact, they are MOST IMPORTANT.
I have a higher priced custom order I am working on at the moment that involves me not only painting a garment but making the base garment from scratch. (I usually paint commercially made garments.) To avoid having to make alterations to the finished handpainted garment, I have created a dummy garment for the customer to try on to be sure the fit is 100% correct. It is made from a spare piece of fabric I had on hand and not decorated. I used the exact pattern and measurements I intend to use for the "actual" garment. I almost mailed it without the fine tuning that I intended to give the actual garment. Luckily, the light bulb went off in my head and reminded me this is the first the customer will actually see and feel of my work. I don't want her to wonder about the finishing and have any doubts about the workmanship on her order. I took the few minutes to go ahead and finish off the seams as I will the actual garment. I think, in the long run, those 15 minutes will prove worthwhile when my customer sees the "preview" of my work.
Take a few moments and look at all of your business contacts with potential customers. Have they all passed your quality control procedures?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The contributor pointed out that one of the basic things taught in marketing is that a business should be able to state its very own uniqueness in order to stand out from the crowd. That writer then asked:
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
There's a little spot near home where folks simply park along the roadway and walk down to the river that flows under the roadway to fish. We laughed Sunday to see the men literally standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the river banks. Those poor fish didn't stand a chance!!! Looked like you needed a ticket just to get close to the edge. The Big Guy has never dropped a line there but judging by the fact that there seems to be somebody fishing there just about all the time (when the river's not frozen!), they must be catching something.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
We're all used to seeing those little yellow "Baby on Board" signs in vehicles all over the neighborhood and just how many of those "My child is an Honor Student" bumper stickers have you seen around town? I've got to admit, seeing the above on the back of The Partridge Family's bus made me smile.
After all, who wouldn't get a little anxious driving around the country in an old school bus, hauling five kids with musical instruments, knowing your meals, clothing and all other living expenses depend on making those music lessons pay off?
I gave it a little thought. If each of those "Baby on Board" signs brought in just $1 of profit, it was a gold mine! Sooooo, wouldn't all those nervous and anxious Moms be a virtually untapped market? Imagine the possibilitlities...
I think this would be preferred over the Honor Student stickers by a lot of the Moms I know. There are a lot of non-academic accomplishments to brag about, too.
I'm sure I know a few Moms who'd love to post this one just so they could glance across at the next vehicle and get one of those knowing nods from another woman who totally commiserates.
And what Mom couldn't use one of these from time to time?
I've really got to figure out how to make bumper stickers and window signs for cars. I think I've found a niche market!!!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
So, what’s a gal to do when she can’t get online? I actually got down to work and started producing new merchandise. I’m hoping for some sunshine tomorrow so I can get some decent photos taken. With any luck, we can get this connection issue resolved by then and I can begin getting them listed in the shop. If not, I’ll have to resort to the mundane - housework, laundry and cooking!!
Oh yeah, I also watched a fair amount of TV. The Today Show has had some of the old sitcom families on this week. Sort of a “where are they now” type of feature. Monday, the Eight is Enough crowd was on. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to catch up with The Partridge Family and today, the gang from 227 was reunited.
I was a fan of Eight is Enough, probably due to a big crush on Grant Goodeve who played the oldest son, David. He was there on Monday and still looks pretty good, though a little older. (He’s about to become a Grandpa!) Dick Van Patten (age 81 !) and Betty Buckley are definitely showing their age. (She’s only in her early 60s but looks older.) Those who played Joanie, Elizabeth, Willie and Nancy all put in appearances. Susan Richardson (who played Susan) was never mentioned and Adam Rich, the cute little moppet, Nicholas, sent a note as he was unable to appear. Lani O’Grady who played the oldest daughter, Mary, died of a drug overdose in 2001.
Dick Van Patten is occasionally seen on TV these days and owns Natural Balance Dog Food and Betty is doing a lot of stage work. Connie Needham (Elizabeth) runs a dance studio and has recently fought ovarian cancer. Laurie Walters (Joanie) directs some community theater and works for Ironweed Films, a documentary distribution company. Dianne Kay (Nancy) lives in LA but has not been on television since the early 90s. Willie Aames (Tommy) is, ironically, a licensed financial planner in Kansas these days. Ironic as he filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and held an estate sale in early 2009 in an attempt to avoid foreclosure on his home before becoming a licensed advisor ! (Guess he must have learned form the experience!)
Susan Richardson was never even mentioned but I understand she is alive and well and living in Pennsylvania where she works for a nursing home. Though a short note from Adam Rich (Nicholas) was read out loud, no one mentioned what he is doing these days. Notably, Susan, Willie and Adam, as well as Lani, all had substance abuse issues. Adam also has a criminal record concerning breaking and entering, burglary, shoplifting and multiple drug charges.
And then there were the Partridges …
With the exception of David Cassidy and Danny Bonaduce, the Partridge kids seem to have simply faded into the woodwork. Brian Forster, who played Chris, the youngest boy, claims to be an unemployed actor and race car driver. Suzanne Crough, the youngest Partridge of all - Tracy, is a manager for Office Max.
Danny hasn’t faded away but perhaps he should aim at a lower profile. He‘s a morning-drive disc jockey on a Philadelphia radio station and still flirting with the law a little too frequently. I was surprised at the joking he and David did on the air about his criminal history. David is still out there doing shows around the country, singing all of his greatest hits and the three Partridge hits. (For those that don’t remember, he and Shirley Jones were the only ones who actually sang on the show. The rest simply lip-synced.)
None of them have had contact with Susan Dey in the last decade. Internet reports claim she is married to a TV producer and living in LA where she is a board member at the UCLA Rape Treatment Center. Shirley Jones was not on as she is in the midst of a 17 day, 17-city tour, singing with symphony orchestras. That’s a pretty tough schedule for a 76 year old woman! (Incidentally, David Cassidy will be 60 this year!) Dave Madden (Rueben Kincaid) is happily retired. He did not appear on The Today Show reunion as he does not fly at all.
The Today Show had also scheduled a reunion of the Brady Bunch but, due to some sort of dispute between Eve Plumb and Maureen McCormick, we won't be seeing the Bradys.