Monday Musings: HALF!

It’s been way too long since I posted anything here, and for that, I apologize.  Those that follow my personal Facebook know that this first half of 2013 has not been very kind to me.  My husband and I have both spent at least half of the time sick.  His car has needed some work, each time blowing all the money we had hoped to spend on other things.  I’ve been struggling with school and feeling overwhelmed as I try desperately to get caught up.  My studio is a complete disaster area and has absolutely no workable space.  I haven’t created anything new in months.

All the plans I had to post more products and introduce new product lines have fallen at the wayside.  Weekly themed posts for this blog have not been written.  I haven’t even been able to squeeze in the time to post my daily gratitude lists, even though most days it seemed like my list consisted of 1. We’re still alive. 2. We still have each other. 3. We still have our friends.

Even that last one was besmirched a couple weeks ago when I heard that my friend, Tre Chipman, had died.  I’m planning on a memorial post here but it’s been difficult to write.  Soon™.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  I have health insurance now, and drugs that, maybe for the first time in my life, allow me to BREATHE.  It’s kind of amazing to not constantly feel like one of those alien face-huggers is getting friendly with my nose.  I have a CT scan scheduled for next week where they’re going to see if anything else is going on in my sinuses and what they can do to fix them.  Isn’t modern science wonderful?

Speaking of modern science, my husband got sick soon after my friend’s death, which led me to no end of worry.  Especially when the doctor sent us to the ER because she didn’t know what was wrong with him!  They threw around scary words and did a CT scan where he frightened us all by having a bad reaction to the contrast they used.  But thanks to the miracles of modern science and drugs, they had him back to normal (well as normal for him + being sick is anyway) and figured out the problem, which they never would have guessed without those scans: pneumonia.  Who the hell gets pneumonia in June?  My husband, Mr. Special Pants, that’s who!  😛

So we’re both finishing up our antibiotics, him for the pneumonia and me for the CT scan they want to make sure doesn’t show any infections, just chronic problems.  We’re both feeling better and on the road to recovery, and hoping that we’ve met our quota for the year and don’t have to get sick anymore.

I’m done with Spring Term and classes for Summer Term don’t start for another week.  My grades aren’t the best, but they’re not the worst either.  I’m still on track to graduate at the end of next Summer.  Just one more year!  Then I’ll be entering the MLIS program at San Jose State.

I’ve been pretty worried about my business, since I haven’t been able to add new things or implement any of my plans, but things have been going okay.  I’ve done three live events so far this year, and put in my application for one this month.  I’ve been getting a few orders here and there from my Etsy shop.  I’ve been selling my duplicate and unneeded sewing patterns on eBay.  The money has been trickling in while the business has basically been on autopilot.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

But what’s really a good sign is if you compare the numbers from my first six months of business last year, to these six months, just one year later.  I’ve been keeping track of my Etsy numbers, so this data is only from Etsy, but as that’s my primary selling outlet, I think it’s a good litmus test for the entire business.  My total amount of views is up 177%, while my total amount of favorites is up 125%.  Nice, but look at this one: my total amount of sales is up 518%!  Holy cow!  What’s even more interesting though is that I’ve already made more than I did in all of 2012 not including December, which had about 60% of my total sales for the year.  In fact, I’d hit that point before May was over.  So if that’s how my business runs on autopilot, just imagine what will happen when I get the chance to really take the wheel again!

I think this calls for a celebration!  And since I still can’t drink because of the antibiotics, I’ll just have to do it by offering a discount in my Etsy shop.  If you’ve been eying something there for a while, now’s your chance to snap it up at HALF OFF!  Just use the coupon code CELEBRATE when you check out.  I’ll be running this special through Independence Day, as this business is a celebration of my own independence.

This week I’m tying up some loose ends and working on getting my studio back in order.  Then I can really jump into the business again.  I really need to start making things again, it’s been way too long since I let my creativity out of the box.

I’m getting there, slowly but surely.   If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I don’t give up easily.  Okay, okay. they call it “stubborn” but really, it’s the same thing!

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Monday Musings: Of Fools, Failures, and Flames

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Sometimes I think I should adopt this as my own personal holiday, as I way too often end up feeling foolish.  Let’s start with the fact that I haven’t blogged here for an entire month!  March is kind of a blur to me.

My classes ended on Friday, so most of my March was spent frantically trying to get everything done and turned in.  I managed to do so for my Individualized Studies Seminar, which was extremely important since that class is what determines my entire degree program and what I need to do in order to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  But my other class, Research Methods, is where another incidence of feeling foolish comes in.  I did not realize when I registered that pretty much the entire point of the class is to come up with a research proposal that I can use for my degree.  And since I had not completely figured out my degree, that posed a bit of a problem.  Eventually, it was decided that I would use this research proposal as a marketing study for an Independent Learning Contract in the Fall term, but that decision was made so late in the term that getting my proposal done before the end of it was extremely problematic.  So I had to feel foolish once again, and beg my professor for an Incomplete and extra time to finish it.  She has been very kind in granting me an extension until May 5th.

So along with this foolishness, there comes a sense of failure.  Not only did I not get my project for school done in time, but my plans for my business came to a screeching halt during this first quarter of this year.  I had many plans at the beginning of the year, and very few accomplishments thus far.  I’ve let so many things fall by the wayside: my One Hit Wonder Project, my Five By Five/Fifty posts, my gratitude lists… it’s really easy to look at all the things I haven’t done and feel like I’ve failed.

But you know it’s not like me to dwell on the negative.  I truly believe the saying that you haven’t failed until you quit trying.  Then I found this blog post: How to Never Fail at Anything, Ever Again (John’s got some great stuff, so go read that and check out the rest of his blog).  Basically, the idea is to couch everything as an experiment.  “If your goal is to experiment and learn something, it’s pretty hard to fail.”  This is a rather powerful idea, and right up the alley of my wonderful brain that loves to mix creativity and logic.  If an experiment doesn’t work, I have still learned something.  If a plan I’ve made gets derailed, it hasn’t failed, it’s just been postponed or modified.

And we have learned that when I make plans, the universe likes to take the opportunity to laugh at me.  I guess I am the universe’s fool.  But I don’t like feeling like a failure, so I’m going to take steps to erase that word from my vocabulary.  First, I will make commitments to my overall projects, but not any particular schedule, because I’ve learned that things will happen to prevent me from keeping it.  I will experiment with doing things on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but I will give myself choices within that framework that range from quick and simple to much more complex, so I have a chance of completing something when I have less time and energy, and can concentrate on the “big stuff” when I have more time and energy.  For example, the One Hit Wonder Project is extremely complex, requiring multiple posts and page updates as well as research, while posting a few Simple Charm Necklaces is pretty easy.  I have several ideas for revamping my projects, but I’ll save those for another post.

I’ve talked about fools and failures, so you’re probably wondering where the flames comes in.  Well, I have been talking with my hair dresser about making my hair look like “dark flames” for awhile now, and yesterday was our first experiment with it.  The main color is called Mahogany Blonde, so I guess I’m a blonde now, though this is still obviously red.  She added red and orange streaks underneath, and added some layers to the back so they’d peek through.  The pictures taken inside don’t really do it justice, and we’ll likely be adding more streaks and layers in round two of the experiment, but I’m pretty please with the results.  The natural wave in my hair adds to the flame effect, as you can see in this first picture:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 1

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 1

This one shows some of the streaks better:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 2

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 2

But the pics taken outside in the sun REALLY show off the color better:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 3

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 3

So I guess when the sun shines on my hair, it really bursts into flames!

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 4

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 4

And those of you who follow my personal Facebook and believed I meant that I went “real” blonde, I guess you got your April Fool’s joke a day early. 😉

Thursday Thoughts: OMG! I Got Married!

I think I have a pretty good excuse for not blogging for a few weeks.  The days leading up to the wedding were full of last minute planning and DIY projects, running around trying to find all the supplies I needed, making sure everyone had the information they needed, and general craziness.

Last Thursday, I packed up my car with all the things we would need, and headed down to where the wedding was being held.  Then began the whirlwind of connecting with out of town guests, getting everything in place, and trying to remember to breathe.

I was pretty bossy on Saturday, making sure everything got done, but I don’t think I crossed the line into Bridezilla or Bridethulhu territory, just my normal workaholic self coordinating an event.  My hair-dresser/DJ had to practically shove me into the shower and then tie me to the chair so she could get my hair braided.

My guests started arriving, and were probably shocked to see me running around in shorts and a white button-up top, with my hair looking fabulous but the rest of me so obviously not ready for a wedding.  I assured them that nothing would start without me!

Wondie Before the Wedding

I’m going to go get dressed, really I am!

The ceremony was full of fun and laughter, joy and love, and everything turned out wonderfully.  I’ll have a big write-up for you all later, but you can watch it here:

 

We spent Sunday hanging out with our out of town guests, taking my parents up to our house in New Hampshire so they could see where we live, and having dinner at the amazing Dim Sum place in Concord.  Monday, we took my mother to the airport, played miniature golf with my Best Man, then got caught in traffic as we drove down to Providence to meet up with my Dad and his wife and our caterers for dinner.  This was the worst part of the whole weekend, and our levels of cope had completely run out, but we eventually made it down and had a nice dinner.  We changed our original plans to stay in Mansfield another night, and took Tuesday easy, including an unscheduled 3+ hour nap!  We got home again late Tuesday night and I spent Wednesday going through photos and videos and getting them posted online.

So now I’m sitting down and writing this and thinking, “Wow, we did it!  We got married!”  It doesn’t necessarily feel any different, after all, we have felt married for the past year, so the only real difference is that piece of paper that makes it all legal.  But it is an amazing feeling to see how all my hard work in planning and making things for the wedding paid off.  And an even more amazing feeling to see the outpouring of love and affection as our friends and family came together to make this day happen for us.  We could not have done this without their help and support, and I do not have the words to fully express my gratitude, so I will just say “thank you” for now.

If you want to see pictures, I have about half the ones I know were taken up on my Flickr, and will add more as I receive them.  I’m attempting to put together a set with no more than 50 photos so I can submit our wedding to Offbeat Bride, but there are so many great ones, it’s hard to decide which ones best tell our story.  This one sums things up pretty well though, I think. 😛

Who Invited All These Tacky People?

Who Invited All These Tacky People?

Monday Musings: Busy As A Bee

I haven’t posted in awhile, because I’ve been extremely busy.

Black and Yellow Beaded Necklace with Silver Bee Charms by Rewondered

Black and Yellow Beaded Necklace with Silver Bee Charms by Rewondered

My current term at CSCC ends on Wednesday, August 15th, and I just have one final exam and one final project left to complete.  I’m taking care of all the details for transferring and will begin working on my Bachelor’s degree at Granite State College on September 8th.  I am so ready to begin the next chapter of my education, and really looking forward to attending Granite State.

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace by Rewondered

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace by Rewondered

The wedding is now less than two weeks away and I still have tons to do, but I’m also getting tons of help.  We went last Friday to apply for our marriage license, and Lorne will be picking it up today.  We are taste-testing cupcakes (oh the horror!) this weekend while we attend the Festival of Fireworks and hang out with our friends.  The forecast right now is not pretty, and I’m hoping it will be clear on the day of the wedding.

Yellow and Black Beaded Necklace with Silver Bumble Bee Charms by Rewondered

Yellow and Black Beaded Necklace with Silver Bumble Bee Charms

And of course through it all, I am trying to keep the business going and growing.  I am offering 25% off in my Etsy shop with the coupon code WEDDING through the end of August, to help recoup some of the costs of the wedding.  I also have items (many not available on Etsy) up on eBay with the Best Offer option, so feel free to make me an offer!  I do charge shipping and handling on eBay, as they take a greater percentage of my sale than Etsy does, so I can’t afford to offer free shipping there.  I’m hoping to find time to add more items to each by the end of the week, but we’ll see how that goes!

I’ve been working on a few other plans as well, that I will implement after the wedding.  I want to start Weekly Wrap-Up posts that let you know what I’ve done that week to work toward my dreams, like I did in my last post.  I want to offer a consignment service to other artists who only make a few things and don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up their own store.  I’m looking at other venues where I can sell my items.  I’m considering another crowdfunding campaign to help with the Reconnect and Redesign phases I have planned.  And I still have all these ideas in my head that need to be translated into new products.

So you will be seeing more of me, I promise, but if I disappear a bit between now and the wedding, don’t be too surprised.  I’m just tending to what needs tending. 🙂

Pink and Silver Beaded Necklace with Gardening Tools Charms by Rewondered

Pink and Silver Beaded Necklace with Gardening Tools Charms by Rewondered

Remotivation: If I Can Do It, So Can You

Now that I’ve explained my anxiety issues, I must say that the sunshine and optimism I normally display is just as much a part of who I am.  The skies might get cloudy, the storms might roll in, but I have way more sunny days than rainy ones.  So I want to remind you of something: if I can get past my paralyzing fear to get what I want (however long that might take), what’s stopping you from realizing your dreams?

I hear a lot of “if” and “when” statements from people when they talk about their dreams.  “If I won the lottery…” or “When I can afford it…” are probably the most common.  I’ve said them myself, numerous times.  Yes, I realize it takes money to make your dreams come true, but have you really looked into what it would cost?  Have you figured out what you CAN do with the money you have now?  Can you cut out some expense and reallocate those funds toward your dream?

I grew up very poor, so not having money is nothing new to me.  My family was one of the recipients of those canned goods you put in the donation box every Christmas (for goodness sakes, stop putting canned beets in those!) and I never could afford anything that the “cool” kids had.  We shopped at thrift stores and had things handed down to us.  I got pretty good at reinventing things and adapting them to my own style, a skill I use now as the basis of Rewondered.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and being poor taught me to get creative and to adapt.  To hold on to the things that are really important, like family and friends, and to not put too much stock in material goods that might not be there tomorrow.  To be grateful for what I do have, and not whine about what I can’t afford.

So let’s start with that… what do you have now that’s most important, that you’re grateful for?  Number one on my list is Lorne (go ahead, say “d’awww” or gag on the sweetness, your choice 😛 ).  I am eternally grateful to have found someone who gets me, who loves me exactly as I am, who supports and encourages my dreams, who makes me smile and laugh every day, and who is just an amazing human being that I want to be around for the rest of my life.  The wedding is three weeks away now and I’m excited (and flailing about getting everything done in time, but that’s another story).

I’m grateful for my family and friends, and for the technology that keeps us in touch, as most of my family is on the opposite site of the country and most of my friends are scattered across it.

I’m grateful for my creativity, my adaptability, my resourcefulness, my crafting and sewing skills, my organizational skills, my determination, and my optimism.

I’m grateful that I can use all of the above on a daily basis to at least try and support myself.  I’m grateful that my creations are gaining more exposure and more popularity.  I was checking out my stats on Etsy and in all of 2011 my shop and listings were “favorited” 48 times.  As of this writing, in 2012 my shop and listings have been favorited 247 times!  And there are still five months left in the year!  Sure, these numbers aren’t huge, but they do show me that this business has potential.

I could go on forever about the things I’m grateful for (and I really should get back to posting my daily gratitude lists).  But let’s get back to the dreams, and my assertion that if I can live mine, you can live yours.

Of course, my dreams still have a long way to go.  My business isn’t supporting me yet, but I have faith that it will.  The point is that I do something every day to work toward that.  Now, I’m not telling you to stop everything you’re doing, quit your job and go chasing after your dreams (unless that’s what you really want to do and don’t mind the risks involved).  But tell me, what have you done lately for your dreams?

  • I went to Ohio to collect more supplies for my creations, and items to help me organize my studio, as well as things I can use for the wedding.
  • I am organizing all my finished jewelry and supplies, figuring out an exact inventory so that I can use those numbers in my business plan, which I will take to my local Small Business Development Center and see if there are any programs I qualify for that could get me some funding.
  • I put out an offer on loan terms, where I will make payments of 1% of my sales for every $100 loaned to me, until I’ve repaid $110.  I may not be able to repay it fast, but I will repay it. (This offer is open until I raise $5000, contact me if you’re interested).
  • I got up early and set up my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market my town puts on every Saturday during the summer.  I only sold a couple of things, but that’s more sales than I had when I woke up, right?
  • I gave some thought to the Gypsy Faire idea.  Who else might be interested in it, what it would entail, if we could have it actually travel around… perhaps pick one weekend each month and host it in a different state?  I know people in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, at least, who would be interested in this type of thing.  Still mostly just in the pondering stages, but I’m really liking the idea.
  • And though it’s not related to my business dream, I made a decision on my educational dream.  Starting next month, I’ll be working on a Bachelor’s degree in Independent Studies.  After that, I’m going to get the Master’s degree I always wanted, in Library Science.

Have my dreams come true?  Not fully, no, but in some ways at least, yes.  Am I living my dreams?  Yes, every day.  I don’t spend my time wishing I could have my dreams, I spend it working on having my dreams.  And if I can do it, so can you.  Go out there and do something, anything, that works toward making your dream come true.  Then come back here and tell me about it in the comments. 🙂

Repost: Facing the Fear

I’m home from Ohio, and I’ll have more for you tomorrow, but today I was reminded of this old post I wrote about three years ago, and felt the need to reshare.

 

Originally posted Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

I have a horrible, unreasonable but completely paralyzing fear of crowds. I think it’s a form of Agoraphobia, I feel trapped and afraid I won’t be able to escape. I’ve had panic attacks at concerts and dance clubs, and gotten quite violent trying to get free. Now I have no problem with confined spaces where I’m alone or with friends, and I can even be on a crowded bus or train just fine (maybe because I know it’s always just for a few minutes), but the larger the crowd of strangers, the greater my fear. I have no idea where this comes from. And as much as I tell myself I’m being stupid, I can’t get over it.

I LOVE music. I love dancing, I love concerts, I love singing. Music is very, very important to me. It’s one of the reasons I love DJing so much. I think I’d rather go blind than not be able to hear music anymore. So I love going to concerts, but I usually go to ones where I have my own seat and thus SOME personal space. Or I take friends with me to surround myself with so no strangers are touching me. In fact, I’ve never gone to a concert alone. Until Wednesday, August 19th.

Let me back up a little bit here and talk about the concert I went to on Friday, August 14th. It was CrueFest and I’d promised my roommate months ago that I would go with him. I nearly backed out though. Large outdoor concerts are the worst for me. There’s no assigned seating and everyone is always pressing to get closer to the stage. Doesn’t help that I’m short and if I get caught up in that crowd I can’t see the stage or an escape route. Having two close friends with me in that type of environment wasn’t enough to prevent a panic attack at a Van Halen concert in my past, and I was going to go with just one this time? But my roommate told me he didn’t care if I was completely incapacitated, he’d toss me over his shoulder and take me to CrueFest. So I went. I gulped down two glasses of wine as soon as we got there and we found a place off to the side that wasn’t very crowded. Not the best view but it worked for me. I was able to enjoy the show and was glad I went.

On the way in I saw the marquee advertising the next show. Saving Abel, Papa Roach, Hinder, and Nickelback on Wednesday, August 19th. I ADORE all of these bands! I have to go to this! A chance to see all four at one time, I can’t pass that up! Only one problem: NO ONE CAN GO WITH ME.

And thus sets in the panic.

I waffled all the way up until it was time to leave. I arranged for coverage of my show on The Cape. I told myself I couldn’t afford it anyway. I got the albums I didn’t have yet of those four bands and listened to a continual playlist of every song I have by them for four days. I alternated between convincing myself to go, and convincing myself not to. And I cried. I got myself so stressed out that the only way to release it was through tears.

Wednesday was the worst, of course. I tried taking a long, hot bath to relax me, reading something frivolous enough to occupy my mind but not tax it. But the closer it got to the time to leave, the worse I got. I was shaking and crying for a good hour. And berating myself for being so stupid. I HATE having this fear but I don’t know how to turn it off. Intellectually I understand how unreasonable it is, but that doesn’t stop my heart from racing.

Lucky for me I have some really good friends. I was chatting through IMs with a couple of them who basically gave me a pep talk, telling me that I was strong enough to do this and I’d have a good time, that I’d always regret not going. One suggested imagining that his City of Heroes character, a big rock giant guy, was there with me as my bodyguard. That made me giggle. So after their encouraging words, I got in my car.

As I sat there waiting for the AC to kick in, taking deep breaths and repeating the “you can do this” mantra, my radio happened to be tuned in to the station sponsoring the show. They were talking about the concert and then played a song by Papa Roach. It was Lifeline. I had to laugh, how much more appropriate could it get? That’s exactly what I was doing, looking for a lifeline to get myself through this.

I got a phone call on my way to the show and my best friend kept me entertained as I made my way to the show, parked, bought my ticket, and got through the gate. I looked at all the people inside and stopped, taking another deep breath to try and calm my racing heart. I looked to my left and saw a sign! It said Southern Comfort. My favorite! I knew I couldn’t get as drunk as I’d like to get me through this ordeal since I was driving home after the show, but I figured one drink to relax me at the beginning would be worked through my system by the time the show was over. So I bought a Hurricane and wended my way through the crowd to the far side, near where we had been for CrueFest. I was hoping to get a little better view of the stage than we had had on Friday, so I went up the little hill and staked out a spot just at the top of the rise. I figured people wouldn’t stand on the actual slope so I had an escape route. And a pretty decent view of the stage. My timing was perfect because Saving Abel came on just then and broke in the evening with one of my favorite songs of theirs, New Tattoo.

I was able to lose myself in the music and not notice the gathering crowd around me. The set changes were the hardest for me, as my heart would start racing again. I did a lot of texting during those down times! Something, anything to keep me occupied. Huge thanks to those friends that put up with my inane chatter during those times!

It began to rain about halfway through Papa Roach’s set, which thinned out the crowd a little bit, so I didn’t mind too much. Besides I’m from Oregon, what’s a little rain? It was done with by the time Papa Roach was too. My only complaint was the sound system going out during my favorite song of theirs, Scars. Luckily it was back before the song was over. They really put on an awesome show and mentioned they’d be back in my area in November or December. Might have to give myself a Christmas gift and go see them again.

All of the bands were fantastic, and I had apparently found a really good spot, as most of the time I could have stuck out my arms, turned around in a circle, and not touched anyone. Maybe I was just really giving off some good “don’t touch me” vibes. I tried not to look around at the crowd, keep my eyes focused on the stage and just enjoy the music. I was doing pretty good until Chad Kroeger mentioned that there were 15,000 people in the audience. Yikes! They started playing one of my favorite songs and I was able to put that number out of my mind for a bit. Until the show was over anyway and I had to leave the venue with the rest of that mass of humanity. Having been there the one time before, I knew I was close to the exit, so I was able to insert myself into a good sized gap in the stream and head straight for it, and my car.

Sitting down in the driver’s seat, I realized two things. One, I was sore all over and felt like I’d just ran a marathon. And two. I DID IT!! I faced my fear, and I made it through! I even enjoyed myself, though it would have been a lot more fun with someone else to share it with. Of course, I did have my imaginary bodyguard there, so I wasn’t really alone. :)

The Final Countdown – 1…

One day left in my IndieGoGo campaign!  You only have until 11:59pm Pacific to make a contribution!

I think I saved the best video for last:

Last day… only about 10 hours left as I finally get to posting this.  So the next countdown from 10 starts now, but I won’t be posting for each number, mostly because I don’t want to stay up until 3am my time!

I wanted to get the last six new products done before I posted, and I’m happy to say I did it!  I made 50 new items in 50 days!  And I still have tons of ideas and half-finished products.  I’m going to continue to try and make one new item every day, because it feeds my soul as well as my business.  I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up this posting every day though!  I’ll be taking a break next week as I head down to Columbus to pick up some of the supplies I have in storage and take care of some other business there, but after my return I plan to post new products on a regular basis.

So here’s the last of the new products!

I had a bunch of these scraps of white fabric, all cut exactly the same in a vaguely triangular shape.  I decided to sew them together and make a wrap skirt, using silver blanket binding as the sash/belt.  It’s just folded up on the hanger here, I’ll have to get a pic of it actually on someone.

White Scrap Wrap Skirt

White Scrap Wrap Skirt

I used to be very into scrapbooking, and actually had someone pay me $750 to do a 50-page custom scrapbook as a gift for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (and I’d be happy to do more custom scrapbooking, just email me).  I even decoupaged an album cover, like I did with this new product, which will be the front cover of my own wedding scrapbook.

Wedding Scrapbook Album Cover

Wedding Scrapbook Album Cover

I’m amused with the “Once upon a time” paper, as the story is “The Princess and the Frog.”  I still need to seal it and make the back cover, and get page protectors for the inside.  This next item will be the first page of my scrapbook:

Wedding Scrapbook Page

Wedding Scrapbook Page

I know the cover and page don’t seem to go together, but our “theme” is An Eclectic Hodge-Podge of Happiness so we’re just throwing everything we love together and having a mash-up wedding.  Which is appropriate since this princess is marrying the King of the Mash-up. 😉

Our colors are pretty much all the colors, and I have a huge storage tub full of odds and ends of ribbons, so I decided to make this Bow-quet.

Bow-quet

Bow-quet

I love puns.  And it was a lot of fun sticking bows all over this!

And last but not least, I’ll give you a sneak peak at my wedding dress.  I’m planning to do a Before and After post, showing you what I started with and how the entire dress looks finished, but I need to get someone to take pics of me actually in the dress.  And it’s 91 degrees out right now so that’s not happening today.  I’d rather wait until my actual wedding day to sweat in my dress!  But anyway, here’s what it looks like on the hanger:

My Wedding Dress

My Wedding Dress

But wait, that’s only five things.  Where’s number 50?  Well, I think it’s so awesome that it deserves a post all to itself.  So I’ll be posting that a little bit later.  I think it’s going to become one of my signature pieces.  I told one friend of the idea and his immediate response was “I want one!”  Don’t worry, I won’t keep you in suspense TOO long. 😉

Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all my new products as I’ve made them.  I need to get some better pictures and create the listings for my Etsy shop, which will be next up on the agenda.  Thanks for taking an interest in my IndieGoGo campaign and your support!  I’m still $290 from my goal, which would go a long way toward getting these products up for sale (Etsy fees, packaging, store subscription, etc) and getting more supplies from storage so I can create even more new products.  I know I have a bunch of steampunk ideas in the works sitting in that storage unit in Columbus, and the more I can get from my IndieGoGo campaign, the less I need to borrow for gas money to get things here where I can actually work on them!  So please, make a contribution, even $5 will help.  And don’t forget to tell all your friends to make their contribution before the clock runs out tonight!

Monday Musings: Milestones

Last night, I watched the streaming video of Oregon State University’s commencement ceremony, hoping to catch a glimpse of my Dad, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History (will be upgraded to summa cum laude after summer term grades are added in).  As I watched, I worked on my wedding dress, and it struck me how surreal this all was.  Seven years ago, I was living with my Dad and his wife after I got divorced, and neither one of us could have predicted we’d be where we are now.

My Dad turned 17 a couple of weeks before I was born, and graduated from high school a few months later.  He joined the Air Force but left two years later when his own father passed away.  He took a few college courses, but time and money were in short supply and he didn’t really have any idea what he wanted to be when he grew up.

I took a handful of college classes between my junior and senior years of high school, and another handful after graduation, but like my Dad, time and money and any idea of what I wanted to do with my life just weren’t available.  I got married, worked a variety of temporary jobs, tried a couple of those home party sales businesses, and finally tried college again just before I turned 30.  But everything got shook up when I asked for a divorce.  My nine years of marriage had left me with a distaste for the institution and I vowed it would take someone very special to convince me to try it again.

So in 2005, I started my life over.  I eventually ended up in Virginia, working in a call center as a customer service representative.  In 2008, I moved to the Chicago area and started working for a non-profit agency.  In 2009, I decided to give college another try, and began taking classes online through Columbus State Community College, majoring in Business Management – Entrepreneurship, with the idea of starting my own business someday.  That “someday” came sooner than I expected, as I was laid off in June of 2009.  I’ve had some fits and starts and lots of trial and error to get to Rewondered and upcycled fashion design, but I feel I’m on the right track now.  I’ve decided to take another year at CSCC to take some classes that will specifically help me with my business, then transfer to Granite State in Autumn of 2013 for my Bachelor’s degree.  If my plans work out (and we know how well my life goes according to plan!) I should graduate after Summer term of 2014.

Unfortunately, my Dad also got laid off in 2009, but that was the catalyst for him to go back to college.  His wife asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and as he sat down and seriously thought about the question, his love of history, particularly World War I aviation, took the forefront.  He’s worked very hard over the last three years, and that all paid off yesterday as he sat in a crowd of nearly 4000 other students waiting to be handed their degrees.  I caught a glimpse of him when the camera panned the crowd already at their seats during the processional, but he wasn’t facing the camera.  Then the first shot of the crowd when they asked everyone graduating with honors to stand was centered on him.  I yelled out “there he is!” even though I was the only one in the room at the time.  Lorne and I tried to catch him actually being handed his degree but with six different cameras to watch and no idea where he was in line, we weren’t able to.  But I stole this picture off his Facebook this morning:

My Dad, the Grad

My Dad, the Grad

The ceremony was pretty long, and afforded me the perfect opportunity to work on the hand sewing I needed to do for my wedding dress.  I have it mostly done, but there are a few tweaks left before it’s perfect.  I’m still planning to make it the first entry in my Rewondered: Before and After series, so you’ll get to see pictures.  My vision is definitely coming together!

So my Dad is now a college graduate (woohoo!) and I am getting married again in about two months (eek!) and I’m still sitting here in a bit of shock and awe.  We’re growing up so fast!  😛

The Best Laid Plans…

… go completely to hell when you get a migraine.  I should cross stitch that on a sampler and put it up in my bedroom.

Wednesday morning I woke up around 4am in excruciating pain.  I managed to stumble downstairs to get something to drink so I could take some pain killers and fell back into bed again.  I woke up around 10am and the worst of the pain was over, but I was still having occasional stabs of pain through my head and my eyes had that hollowed out feeling.  My concentration was shot, my vision was blurred, and I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  Reading and writing were out, as was making jewelry.  The noise of the sewing machine wasn’t going to be pleasant either.  So I ended up taking Lorne’s advice and had tea and chocolate and played Diablo 3 all day.  The graphics aren’t too bright or flashy, and playing by myself I could limit my movement and pace to what my eyes could handle.

Unfortunately, I have a circulatory issue that makes it impossible for me to take most migraine medications, so I’m stuck with over the counter pain relievers.  This means it usually takes me a day or two at least to completely recover from a migraine.  Thursday I ran some errands and was fighting off dizziness and nausea the whole time.  Friday I was doing better but I mostly did “maintenance” work: a little cleaning and organizing of the studio, washing fabric and clothes I want to rewonder, putting the things I need for a project together in one place, that sort of thing.  So I haven’t been able to complete any new products for a few days.  I’m hoping to get a few done this weekend.

One thing I thought would be fun to do with my rewondered pieces is show you before and after pictures.  This means I’ll have to plan my projects ahead a little better so I can get those before pictures taken before I start cutting things up.  Today I’m going to work on my wedding dress, so that will be my first entry in the Before and After series.  Depending on how long that takes me, I might have it up later today or tomorrow.

Last week, I asked for your help getting my IndieGoGo campaign noticed.  While I’m still not appearing anywhere on IndieGoGo, my numbers are going up, so thank you for all your efforts and please, keep it up!  Here’s a peek at the difference in my stats since last week:

  • Vistitors – Up to 71 from 36 (nearly doubled!)
  • Views – Up to 163 from 58 (nearly tripled!)
  • Funders – Up to 3 from 1 (tripled!)
  • Contributions – Up to $70 from $25 (nearly tripled!)
  • Favorites – Up to 7 from 2 (nearly quadrupled!)
  • Referrals – Up to 165 from 129.  Referrals is the number of visits that result from someone sharing your campaign using widgets, facebook, twitter and emails (from the SHARE THIS CAMPAIGN section)

I’ve got two weeks left for my campaign, so I’m still holding out hope that I can hit that $500 mark.  If we can continue to get it viewed, shared, favorited and referred, perhaps I’ll start showing up in the Final Countdown section when I have 10 days left.  So please, please, please, follow the instructions laid out in No News and Good News and do whatever you can to help!

Oh, and you know how I said I’d be lucky if 20 people read my Regarding The Oatmeal post?  Currently, that post has had 42 views!  It ranks 4th in my most popular posts, behind the one where I announced my engagement, the one about making the Mardi Gras bead bikini, and the one listing the things I’d like for my wedding.  I did put a note up on The Oatmeal’s Facebook page asking him to direct his fans to support other IndieGoGo campaigns, but I doubt he ever saw it.  It was buried within minutes under the flow of comments, and I can’t imagine he has time to read every comment posted like I do (they’re sent to my email so I don’t miss them).  His campaign is currently up to $174,065 from 11,485 funders.  And he’s not even offering any perks!  I’m in awe.

Anyway, time for me to get back to work.  Stay tuned for the results of my efforts today!

Rising To The Challenge

I have several friends in the SCA and I’ve been hearing for years that they think I’d enjoy it, thanks to my background in theatre and my love of cosplay.  I’ve never really looked into it though.  But now I live with someone who is very involved with her clan, have other friends I see on a regular basis who are members, and my SE calls himself a “camp follower” so it was inevitable that I’d be dragged along to an event.  Of course, by “dragged along” I mean “go quite willingly!”

So Saturday I went to a private clan gather.  I borrowed some garb from my roommate because I didn’t have time to sew anything (though I did manage to get out the fabric and patterns for three outfits, my ferret-brainness didn’t get me any farther).  Unfortunately I didn’t think to take my camera so I didn’t get any pictures, but the SE and I looked pretty good.  I had been told I could take some of my necklaces to offer for sale, so I packed up two small tubs full and a bag of supplies to work on a few more if I got the chance.  We arrived at the event, said hi to the people I already knew, and the SE introduced me to a few of his friends that I had not yet met.  It was a fairly low-key, informal event so I we just hung around and chatted with people.  I sat down at the table where my friends were playing cards and worked on a couple of necklaces, and even managed to sell two of my Simple Charm Necklaces.

Now, you’re probably wondering where the title of this blog post comes in, as I doubt you see much of a challenge in what I’ve described so far, other than that of a socially awkward person going into a new environment with lots of unknown people.  Sure, that is a bit challenging for me, but after attending ten different schools (1st-12th grades), I’m kind of a pro at it.  I’m still pretty shy, but I’ve learned to work through it.  Of course, those that know me well will laugh at the notion of me being shy, as I am anything but around my friends!

No, the challenge I’m speaking of was issued to the clan before I arrived.  In the wee small hours of the morning, the hall was decorated with Mardi Gras beads and they were challenged to create a piece of art from them.  I learned later that the challengers were expecting something along the lines of a mosaic, but the clan had other ideas.  Knowing that I am a designer who works with beads, my help was enlisted.  The idea?  A beadkini.  Yes, a bikini made out of Mardi Gras beads.

It took me about four hours, but in the end I had created a bikini top using gold and purple Mardi Gras beads.  I joined the design together with the jump rings I had brought with me (thank goodness I’d thought to bring that bag of stuff to work on and my tools).  My “partner in crime” attached strings of beads to a piece of rope to form a sort of loincloth.  Once I’d finished, my model was brought in and I tied her into the thing with pieces of string and decorated her with more beads.  We covered her with a cloak and preceded out into the main hall for the unveiling.  I was introduced as the main artist and the model was introduced as our canvas.  Needless to say, when we removed the cloak there was quite a bit of surprise!  And cheers and applause, of course!

Now, I don’t have any pictures of the model wearing the outfit, but I was given the beadkini to take home with me.  Here’s the top:

Mardi Gras Beadkini Top

Mardi Gras Beadkini Top

 

My first SCA event, and I’ll probably go down in clan history.  I’ll forever be known as “the one who made the beadkini.”  I suppose there are worse things to be known for.  And I heard that at least one person was thinking they should commission me to make a belly dancing outfit after seeing what I could do with limited materials in a limited time frame.  I am happy to do custom work, and can make something much better with the right materials!  Feel free to email me with your ideas!

And yes, I will likely be attending more SCA events.  I’ll need to come up with a persona and garb of my own.  Just what I needed, another project. 😉

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