Friday, May 31, 2013

Look What I Found Online This Week

Bring running water to your campsite with this foot pump operated wash station

Check out this tutorial for a less expensive, more earth friendly laundry detergent you can make yourself.

I found instructions for how to make a simple rock necklace too. Looks like a fun project!

The week would not be complete without one or two yeast-free, wheat-free, gluten-free recipes that look easy to make and delicious too.

Don't they both look yummy? I wonder what goodies I will find online this coming week? Check in next Friday to find out!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Creating a Stress-Free Workspace

Organization is the key to a stress-free workspace. I've known this for some time but still, this past weekend, I found myself searching high and low for a component I 'know' is here...somewhere.

I 'talk' a lot about organizing my workspace but, as we all know, talk is cheap. Note to self: ACTION IS REQUIRED. So, where do you go from here?

1. Get rid of stuff that you will not use or do not need. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Donate all the excess supplies to someone or someplace that will appreciate and use them.

2. Organize what is left, by colour, type, material, etc. Keeping it all in a central location minimizes anxious moments later on. Trust me on this. Having to go from room to room, closet to closet, and drawer to drawer only adds stress to your life. Remember to clearly label all boxes and containers.

3. Work with what you have in the way of storage space if you can. Buying more shelves, cabinets or bins may cut down your usable workspace...even more than it already is. There are situations, of course, when purchasing new storage furniture is the best solution but think twice before buying something that may only add to the chaos.

4. Some of us have great difficulty with letting go of things. When you are overwhelmed by the mess and hesitant to purge, bring in a friend to sort through your supplies with you and help make those tough decisions. They will also motivate you, provide an outsiders' perspective and keep you on track.

Can I do it this time? I hope so because the chaos is taking over and driving me CRAZY!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 21

Here is this weeks photo prompt...

'This week capture what takes you back to moments past and reminisce a little.'

I drive past this building every day on my way to work. The photo below was taken a couple of years ago. This was the church of my grandparents, and my great-grandparents before that. Several generations of my family are buried in the adjoining cemetery, including my father.

But, as with many small country churches, attendance dwindled over the years until finally those who were left could no long sustain the expenses to keep it open. It was a sad day indeed when it was announced that the doors would be closing for good, the congregation dispersed to other local churches and the building put up for sale.

I have many fond memories of attending Sunday school here as a child, weddings (and some funerals too), strawberry socials, euchre nights, church bazarrs, etc. It saddens me that I cannot go inside it's doors anymore. The spirits of my ancestors are embedded in the walls.

The building was eventually sold and it now houses a Jewish day school and community centre. There is a large menorah where the church sign used to be. An 8' tall solid wooden fence has been erected to separate the cemetery from the building. It feels like an insult to the souls laid to rest there. Their eternal view of church of their youth and old age, life and death is forever blocked.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Look What I Found Online This Week

I have not had a lot of time to surf the web this week. I've been busy making Tree of Life Pendants for our upcoming events but I did manage to find a couple of things you may find of interest.

Here is another wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free recipe. Looks yummy, doesn’t it? It is a grain-free, almond flour bread. I'm going to try this recipe out soon.

Did you ever want to know how to make a river stone mat? Wonder no more, you can find all the instructions you need here. They lost me at the E6000 glue. The ingredient toluene in that stuff causes me to have major asthma attacks. Please use it in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.

When planning your vegetable garden this year, here are 6 Reasons to PLANT and EAT Swiss Chard.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next Friday to see what wonders I've found during the last week of May 2013.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Upcoming Events: June, 2013

As always, our busiest month of the year is June. Here is a run-down of where you will be able to find us next month...
June 1st – Brantford Pagan Meet & Greet

My contribution to the silent auction this year

Come out and enjoy a great day of fun, music, vendors, workshops, & silent auction. HEATHER DALE has been confirmed as the headline performer. Check out the Facebook event page for more details and directions.
June 8 – Robin in the Hood

This medieval festival in Elmira is always a fun event. We will be there, dressed in our period garb, peddling our wares.  Come join Robin Hood's merry band of outlaws and pull one over on the Sheriff of Nottingham again! For all the information you will need, go to their webpage.  
June 15 - 16 – The Oxford Renaissance Festival

Experience live hand to hand combat and jousting. Enjoy authentic renaissance foods and family entertainment throughout the weekend. Plenty of wares for your hearts content at the merchant booths. For more information, please see the website
June 22 - 23 – Faery Fest

On this midsummer's weekend, come to beautiful Riverside Park in Guelph, Ontario, because you don’t want to miss the opportunity to sample the sparkling lineup of entertainment, vendors, and activities planned this year. For complete details, go to the website.
I hope you will be able to make it out to one or more of these great events next month. Stop by our booth and say hello if you do. We accept Canadian Tire money as cash.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 20

This week let's change our perspective and look up! 

There is a whole world above us that we sometimes miss seeing because we simply forget to look up.

When I read that prompt, the first thing I did was LOOK UP. I was in my office at home in front of my computer. Oh my, what did I see? I saw a thick layer of dust on the top shelves. And is that a cobweb up in the corner? Time for some serious spring housecleaning, I think.

Later, while driving in my car, I heard about some other people who were looking Mars. They are signing up in the thousands for the chance to go on a one way trip to the red planet to colonize it. People of all ages from around the world are clamoring to do this. Really? Honestly, I couldn't make this up.

Neither of those two initial thoughts on this prompt seemed appropriate for a photo this week. As I stood outside enjoying the warm breeze and sunshine, I looked up at the trees. The trees, which only a couple of weeks ago were bare, are now bursting with new leaves. I smiled. I love spring.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Look What I Found Online This Week

Since I can’t eat wheat, yeast or gluten, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that I can make and enjoy without having an asthma attack.  This one for banana oat bites is perfect...quick and easy too!

You have to watch this video. This couple is way too much fun! I love it.

Eliminate harsh chemicals in your dryer with these wool dryer balls.

How would you like to make your own lip gloss? Not something I would have thought of either but you can check out this tutorial to learn how.

There are so many interesting things to be found online. I hope you enjoy these links this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Price Handmade - Labour

A lot of people forget, when pricing their work, they have to pay themselves for their time and expertise.  We, as artists, often feel that our efforts in the process are inconsequential. That kind of mentality might work if it is just a hobby for you but if you expect it to become a profitable business you have to factor in your contributions to the end result.

Let me be very clear here. You deserve to be paid for your time, effort and craftsmanship.  You put a lot of yourself into all aspects of your business and you should get adequately compensated for your part in the creative process.

From the conceptual drawing board, through the purchase of materials, down to pulling it all together into the finished product, you spend a lot of time on each project. Your time is valuable. I’m going to repeat that because it is very important to remember. Your time is valuable.

So, how do you calculate the labour costs for each piece? It’s actually easier than you think. Decide how much you want to earn per hour. Then, multiply the hourly rate by the amount of time it takes you to plan and make each piece. That is what you will plug into the pricing formula you are using.

Below minimum wage is not acceptable! You are worth more than that.

As an example, if you decide you want $20 per hour, and you spend 1 hour and 15 minutes in the planning and execution of your design, then you would add $25 to each piece for labour. Don’t cringe and try to tell me that it’s too much! If you don’t think your work deserves the recognition, no one else will either.

Keep in mind, your initial prototype will take more time but once the concept is finalized they will come together quicker. Keep the ‘first’ of any design for your personal collection, or perhaps offer it at a higher cost than subsequent ones...a 'special edition'.

Next week, we will discuss your profit margin and why you have to factor that into your pricing formula.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 19

"Put the self doubt and worry on the shelf for this week and capture what represents hope in my life!!"

Many years ago, more that I care to divulge, my father planted tulip bulbs in the front garden. They have not bloomed for a LONG time. Oh, the leaves would sprout up as the warmer weather came, but the buds never formed. I'd pretty much given up 'hope' that they would ever flower again.

To my surprise, this April, the first signs of buds began to appear. I was not expecting it at all. I was delighted, yet cautious. I'd been disappointed so many times before.

I continued to watch them, day by day and have been awarded with many blooms in several colours. Proof positive that you should never lose 'hope'.

“Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all.” 
― Emily Dickinson

Friday, May 10, 2013

Look What I Found Online This Week

This will be a new weekly feature on my blog. I will share ideas, recipes, tutorials and other interesting tidbits that I have found online the previous week.

Say goodbye to soda pop, sugary juices, and bottled water with these refreshing, healthy, naturally flavoured waters.

If you want a little 'bling' in your life, this fun, rhinestone shoe project will definitely provide it. 

These easy to make bug repellent bars seem to be more effective at keeping bugs away than any regular homemade bug spray, according to Wellness Mama.

Or check out these instructions for making Wild Chamomile Body Cream.

I picked up a copy of the Inspired: Spring 2013 magazine at Sobey's this week and found it full of fabulous recipes. You can peruse all the back issues on their website too.

Stay tuned next week for my newest discoveries. I hope you enjoy all these projects and recipes.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 18

"Take this week and step out of reality and change your view of things! You can have a lot of fun editing in one of the photo editor programs. Play with light, focal blur, liquify, sharpen lines, add color or take it away! You are working in the abstract, HAVE FUN!!!"

That is exactly what I did! I had fun pinching, swirling, inverting, zig zagging, polarizing, dithering, saturating and pixelizing to create the following works of art, suitably framed for presentation.

I used some of the various filters in Photoshop and also a free online photo editor. In case you are wondering what the original photo looks like, here it is...

Yes, folks...all those abstract pictures were created from the same photo! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Price Handmade: Materials

Let’s first examine how to calculate the cost of the materials you use to create a handmade piece. That is easy enough to do, right? Well, wait a minute...are you factoring in ALL the expenses?

Since I am a jewelry designer, we will look at the true costs of that. Here are all the elements you need to add in when calculating the cost of your beads alone:

1. Cost of the strand or bag of beads
2. Taxes paid on them
3. Any postal charges if they were ordered online
4. Gasoline or transit charges if you went to a specialty shop to get them

Add all those together then divide the total by the number of beads in the strand or bag. That is your price per each. I strongly suggest that you do this calculation as soon as you bring new beads in. It will make your life much easier later on because you will only have to multiply the number of beads used for a piece by the cost per each.

Note: I should take my own good advice. I acknowledge that I do not and have lived to regret it.

Next, look at the other supplies needed to create your jewelry piece:

1. The clasp
2. Spacer beads
3. Stringing material
4. Charms
5. Miscellaneous findings

Once you’ve factored in all your true costs, you can plug the total into whatever pricing formula you end up using to calculate your customer and wholesale pricing.

I’ve considered looking into a commercial inventory system for my computer to keep track of all my material costs but you can also create a database in your favourite spreadsheet program. It’s a lot of work at the front end but will pay off in the back end. Trust me.