Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seminar Report: Social Media

I attended my first free seminar sponsored by the Small Business Enterprise Centre in Richmond Hill this evening.  The full title was 'Growing Your Network With Social Media'.  The presenter was Justin Popovic, a Success Coach and Online Marketer from Orangeville, ON.

The two hours were packed full of informative tips & tricks to help any business owner craft & implement strategies to leverage the power of social media to grow their brand.  Justin is very knowledgeable and is able to impart information in a fun & engaging manner.

The major topics of discussion were:

- Social media myths
- How to make time for social media interactions
- What to avoid when participating in social networks
- Tools to help your social media initiatives
- Social media success stories

I discovered that I'm already on the right track, utilizing a lot of the strategies he discussed.  I just have to do more of it, as well as, try a few avenues that I have not previously considered.  All in all, a successful evening, worth the time invested.  Thanks, Justin!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Button Collecting: My New/Old Obsession

My interest in buttons has recently be re-awakened after finding a box of vintage buttons I acquired many years ago.  I also found my button jewelry books and have spent some pleasant moments this week leafing through them again.

I always intended to try out a few of the design ideas but never found the time.  I'd like to think that I will do that now, but I'm afraid to make committments that I may not be able to keep.  *smile*  It may end up being another one of my retirement projects.

Several button manufacturing plants were opened up in the 1800's in Berlin, ON (now Kitchener).  There were so many of them that the town became known as 'Buttonville' by the early 20th century.  By 1964, most of those plants had closed their doors though; gone out of business due to the emergence of new raw materials & technologies, along with greater competition from foreign manufacturers.

Just for fun, I've embarked on an online quest to see what I can find about some of those long gone companies.  Information seems quite sparse so the thrill of the hunt has me intrigued now.  I'd sure like to know where & when some of my vintage/antique carded buttons were made.  Aside from 'Made in Canada', many have no other identifying information on them.

I've sent in my membership request to the Pioneer Button Club, based out of Oshawa.  I won't be able to attend their meetings because they take place in the morning during the week but I'm hoping that I will be able to connect with other button enthusiasts to assist my research.  There's a Google Group called Buttonbytes that I've joined also.

There are more vintage buttons lurking around this house, I know there is.  I clearly remember a bin or a box of them I packed away a few years back.  More incentive to continue my de-cluttering project, I'd say.  Wouldn't you?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Secondary Market for Modern Collectibles

The manufacture of contemporary collectibles was at its height from the 1960s through to the 1990s.  Some people purchased these to enjoy and use but many purchased them as investments. Although many collectibles were labeled as 'limited editions' the actual number of items produced was very large. The result of this is that there is very little demand for many items produced during this time period, which means their secondary market values are often low.

The retail price of a new modern collectible is valid only at the time it was purchased. Once the collectible comes into the buyer’s possession most of the costs associated with the retail price (i.e. advertising, production cost, shipping cost, etc.) must be deducted from that to determine the object’s immediate value on the secondary market.  There is no secondary market for an item at all unless someone is willing to buy it, and an object's value is whatever the buyer is willing to pay for it.

That certainly explains why the dolls I purchased during my heydey of doll collecting won't sell for the price I originally paid for them, not even half of their original cost in most cases.  Not that I bought them as investments per se, I bought them to enjoy, to display and to share with others.  But the novelty wore off, my focus changed and many of them have been packed away in boxes in my storage room for so many years that I'm not even sure what is there anymore. 

I've pulled some out over the last few years and tried to sell them on ebay or through online doll groups with very little success.  Seems like every other doll collector is in the same boat.  So I ended up donating a significant portion to charity auctions.  People seem more willing to buy them when the money they spend is going to a good cause and it gets them a charitable donation receipt for their taxes.

I try not to think about how much money I initially spent on all those dolls.  At this point, I'm just happy to have them find a new home where they will be appreciated as they once were in my house. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recipe: Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

The obligatory family dinner this weekend led me to this quick and easy recipe.  We are typically assigned the responsibility of bringing dessert but this time we were surprised when we learned that we had to bring corn.  Thinking that plain corn was boring, I went searching for an interesting way to prepare it that would impress them all. 

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
Original Recipe Yield 10 to 12 servings

560 g frozen corn kernels
224 g cream cheese
115 g butter
120 ml milk
10 g white sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1.In a slow cooker, combine corn, cream cheese, butter, milk, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2.Cook on High for 2 to 4 hours, or on Low for 4 to 6 hours.

That's it!  Quick and easy to prepare.  All the ingredients go into the crock pot, and aside from stirring it occasionally, there is nothing else to do.  And it is SO delicious!  Try it, you'll like it.  Oh, in case you were wondering, it was a big hit with everyone too.  *smile*

Book Review: Kitschy Crafts - A Celebration of Overlooked 20th-Century Crafts

Retro is back in style and this book gives a broad overview of the range of kitschy crafts from the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's.  The vintage drawings add to the visual appeal of the book.  Leafing through the pages was a walk down memory lane.  Many of the crafts featured are ones that I had dabbled in myself. 

I had to smile when I saw the Days of the Week hand embroidered tea towels.  Yes, I made several sets of them, one for myself and a few that were given as wedding shower gifts.  My set is long gone, worn out by use.  I hope that the sets I gifted were equally used and appreciated.  I also hand embroidered pillowcases for myself that were finished off with hand crocheted lace made by my grandmother.

Remember crocheted toilet paper covers, knitted tea cosies, sock monkeys and tie-dye t-shirts?  What about macramed handbags and plant hangers?  Of course, the anthology would not be complete without strands of love beads, string art pictures, bed dolls with crocheted or knitted gowns and bottle cap trivets, would it?  And do you recall the latch-hook wall hangings?  *smile*

There are instructions for some, but not all, of the projects pictured.  It's a good coffee table book and conversation starter for people who grew up in those eras.  Found for $5.00 at a second hand book store, it was a real bargain too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yadda Yadda Degenerative Blah Blah Blah

Why do doctors use all those multi-syllabled, unpronouncable, unrepeatable words when delivering a diagnosis?  Degenerative is the only word that I could pick out of what the doctor said during a recent visit.  I was getting the results of some x-rays that I'd had on my hips.  X-rays, I might add, that left me in three times more pain when I left the clinic than when I arrived.  The technician required me to get into positions that I should no longer attempt and he wondered why I screamed out in pain.

'Perhaps that's why I'm having the x-rays?', I suggested.

So, there I was sitting in the doctor's office a week later to get the results.  You have 'Yadda Yadda Degenerative Blah Blah Blah'.  I stared at her with a blank look on my face.

'Correct me if I'm wrong, but what you are trying to say is that I have arthritis, right?', I quipped.

'Yeah, pretty much.', she cheekily replies.

What a revelation!  Who knew?  For heavens sake, I could have told them that BEFORE they tortured me on the x-ray table!!  All the signs and symptoms were there....stiff, swollen joints, lots of pain, even a family history of arthritis. 

At least it's confirmed now.  I'm old.  Thanks a lot, Doc!  I would never have known otherwise.  *smile*  So, please excuse me for being negligent in posting to the blog this month.  The damp weather has been making my days, and my nights, pretty challenging.  I'll try to do better from here on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Social Media Seminar

The local small business resource centre offers free seminars once or twice a month on a variety of topics of interest.  The seminars take place in the evening, between 6 - 8 p.m., which works out perfectly for me.  I have plenty of time to get from my 'day job' to the business centre.

The seminar that caught my interest immediately is the 'Growing Your Network with Social Media' one.  The presenter is a success coach and online marketing expert who will share practical techniques that any business owner can implement quickly & easily to leverage the power of social media to grow their brand. 

This is something that I've been pondering for some time.  I wasn't sure there was a lot of value in utilizing social media in this way.  It will be interesting to learn what to do & what not to do and how it can help promote my company, Jasper Moon.  Knowing what to avoid in social networks and what some of the tools available to help are will be extremely useful.

If you are a small business owner, I highly recommend that you look into local business centres to see what free resources and seminars are available to you.  It's amazing what you can find when you go looking.  Often public libraries offer programs that may be of interest also.  Check it out.  I'm glad that I did.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Birthstone: Diamond

April's birthstone is remarkably simple in composition, yet stunning in its unique ability to reflect and refract light into vivid flashes of brilliant color.   Formed deep within the earth where there is intense heat and pressure, diamonds are simply crystallized carbon.  Volcanic activity brought these gemstones to the earth's surface, where they were found within volcanic rock formations or washed out into rivers.  India is thought to be the first river-bed source of diamond mining, but today they are found primarily in Australia, the Soviet Union, and Africa.  

No more notable in its uncut state than a plain pebble upon the beach, the true beauty of the diamond was not revealed until the 16th century, when gemstone cutting and polishing techniques were perfected.  Prior to this time, it was considered taboo to modify the original state of a diamond.  Today, the value and appeal of this stone depends largely upon how skillfully it is cut and faceted. 

Diamonds represent faithfulness, love, purity, innocence, and relationships filled with love. It removes certain types of deviations in the aura, which can be best imagined as empty voids, and diamond fills them with the pure energy of love. It inspires creativity, ingenuity, inventivity, faith, endurance, and helps in manifesting abundance in all areas of life.  Diamond brings purity, and clear positive resolution of all problems that bother us, especially after we have become willing to admit our wrong perceptions and approaches, or our unreal expectations.

This gemstone is capable of cleansing your energetic obstacles. By the increased feeling of self respect and self love, diamond will also help you understand your own emotional obstructions. That will bring you inner peace and a feeling of calm.  Diamond is capable of casting away the negative emotions and thoughts that might want to find their way to you, thus increasing your physical, mental, and spiritual energy, and bringing positive mental attitude. It will enable new things to start happening in your life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vendor Profile: Silver Dragon Jewellery

After finishing two years at a trade school where she was the only Anglophone student in a class of 24, Stephenie worked in jewellery production shops, jewellery repair studios and as the technician in a retail environment.  Having worked for 12 years as a jeweller for someone else, she finally went into business for herself last year.  Her company, Silver Dragon Jewellery, is now her full-time job.

She specializes in creating jewellery in the lost wax technique.  The first step is to carve the design in a hard jewellery wax much like carving wood.  The original is then cast in metal, followed by making a mold of the piece using vulcanized rubber from which she makes wax copies to be cast in either silver or bronze. 

One of Stephenie's signature designs that I really love is a Celtic (knot-work) dragon pendant.  The intricate detail on this piece is astounding! 

It's not hard to tell that she loves what she does.  She points to herself as living proof that anyone can make a living from what they are passionate about, even if they do have ADD and are dyslexic!  A disability does not mean you can't do what you want to do, it just makes you more determined to succeed.  Watch for Stephenie and her unique line of jewellery at festivals & events throughout the year, or go to her Etsy shop to see her latest creations.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lecture & Workshop Report

The Bricker Building at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo was a hub of activity yesterday.  Forward Into The Past, a one-day symposium on a broad range of historical topics, took place from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.   The open-format day is designed to allow academics, experimental archaeologists, members of the public, and members of various historical re-enactment and recreation groups to gather and explore history together.

Both Jerry and I conducted workshops at this event.  Jerry offered chain mail courses for beginner and advanced participants.  I presented the Myth & Symbolism of the Tree of Life throughout the ages and across cultures around the world.  After that, attendees each made a Tree of Life pendant to take home with them.  I wanted to share my students' work with you.  Aren't they fabulous?



I went to a French Beaded Flower making class in the morning.  It wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be and I managed to make a decent looking flower.  I was quite impressed with myself.  Unfortunately, it somehow got left at the venue.  It did not make it home with me.  *frown*  I will have to make another one, just to prove to everyone that I can do it.

I'm already looking forward to next years' event and planning to develop a new lecture topic.  It's kind of cool that I can now honestly claim that I have taught classes at a university!  I can check that off my 'life list' of things I want to do.  *smile*  What's next, I wonder?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Reading Blogs: My Cup Runneth Over

Everybody and their uncle (aunt, cousin, sister, etc.) has a blog these days. Google Reader, when it's working the way it's supposed to, helps you keep track of those you find the most interesting and that you want to 'Follow'.  Your entire life, every waking moment, could be consumed reading them and you would still only have scratched the surface of what is out there.

From time to time, a friend will send me an interesting post from a blog they are reading, and I will add the blog to my reading list. More often than not, the original post that caught my attention is the only thing ever posted that I would want to read there.  So, the blog gets removed from my reading list as quickly as it was added.

Every once in awhile, a special blog comes along though and that is what I want to share with you today.  Lori Anderson makes and sells 'Pretty Things', aka jewelry, because she believes that 'life should be full of beautiful experiences and pretty things'.  I found Lori's blog via another blog that I'm subscribed to.  Her posts are always entertaining, sometimes thought provoking, full of wonderful ideas & informative tidbits.

Lori suffers from frequent migraines and I really like her newest pain management technicque.  Pink hair.  Yes, that's right folks, pink hair.  On a particularly bad day, when the pain level was really high and she was feeling lousy, she went to the salon for her standard hair appointment.  On a whim, she asked the stylist to put a bit of pink on the tips of her hair.  And you know what?  It bolstered her mood and gave her the strength to keep rockin' in spite of the pain.

I wonder if purple hair would work the same for me?  Yeah, purple hair to match my new purple glasses.  Hmmmmm.