January 31, 2012

January 30, 2012

Life got in the way today.

I was thinking about how I could construct Bridal Bouquets. I even found some promising holders to construct them on. I thought I could relax in the tub and create. But after the tub was full, my DD needed me to hold the fussy baby for a bit. By the time I got in the tub the water was lukewarm. Still wanting to relax and meditate, I tried to light my favorite Nag Champa candle which got wet during the baby's bath and wouldn't light. Never mind, I lit the lilac candle. 

I tried to add a little hot water, but after the laundry, and 2 previous baths there was none left, so I tried to relax and wash up in the warm water and the lilac candle scent. Then I heard a thud and a scream in the kitchen. I hopped out of the tub and ran to see what happened. My daughter fell trying to climb on a chair reaching in the cupboards. Not serious but my bath meditation mood was shot.

Fussy babies aren't great for creativity, but I did manage to do some straightening up of our recycles and found some nice 2 liter bottles to use for the new bangle bracelets. I cut them to size removed the labels and cleaned the plastic well. Bug side panels cut down to 1/2” strips that I will wrap with my eco friendly bamboo/wool yarn. I love that I can make such cute bracelets from soda bottles.

I did manage to list a few items and take a few pictures of the new bracelets. I made a green one and later I made an Ivory one. I'll get more pictures and have my daughter model them too. I really need to update my website with the new product. I will have a pick your own flower bracelet too. I still have to design the longer necklace and my bouquets. But even with the road blocks, today was a good day.

January 30, 2012

January 29, 2012

What an eventful week it was. I've been very overworked, mostly in the creative area. My week started as a featured artist on my venue. Wonderful. It ended with our car breaking down again and a need to kill or throttle our cat who peed in the baby's new high chair. I think he's jealous of her.

Today I took more pictures of my tiny two flower bouquet brooches. I'm so thrilled with them. They turned out so nice. I even made a pick your own bouquet, with lots of flowers to choose from.

I'm also very excited about the logo that a friend is working on for me. I wasn't even considering making a real logo. It's really coming along nicely.

I'm also getting tiny envelopes to put tiny packets of seeds with my jewelry. I need to design little labels for them too. They will be so cute. I'll be using them mostly for shops in the US, but I'll have to consider what I will offer for internationals that can't receive agricultural items.

I'm trying to think of everything that I could possibly encounter.

This week I hope to work on both of my websites. My sewing is almost caught up. Which is good, because usually business is really slow for me this time of year. I really need to finish getting spreadsheets done for taxes too.

I realized that I've lost a lot of sales since I was “booted off” Etsy, but I got lazy there. I know what I make is good, I just need to get off my butt and sell it in person. I also got a suggestion to have people wear my product with business card in hand. People all over the country. Well I know people all over the country and I'm going to work on that too. 

Watch out friends, you may receive flowers, business cards and a request from me.  

January 29, 2012

January, 28 2012

I can't believe January is almost over. I've been spending the whole month working on whether I can possibly support myself at my craft, or if I need to take a 9-5 job again. As I don't have a husband to help me with health insurance and things like a roof over my head and food in my belly. I find I need to sell more than I am selling, if I ever want to move out on my own. You single artist/crafters know what I mean. Most single artist/crafters have to have a 9-5 just for insurance. Bless us all.

I'm taking 4 months to mull things over, refine my offering, and get a design portfolio together so I can go back to my full time career. I'm also finding that about the only money I am making right now is on my sewn items, aprons, pillowcases, bow ties etc.

I've found that because sales have been low on my felt flowers, I have lost motivation. I realized that maybe these are something that people have to see in person, to want to purchase. I also am thinking that I have designed some things that are so unique that the general population won't really want to wear. They are pretty, but not for everyone. I've been working on new configurations that will sell better, and getting new photography.

Today, I designed a simple brooch. I am very pleased with it, I am working out designs for bangle bracelets too. And I added more single flower necklaces. I also think I need to design more long necklaces, as not every woman has the neck for chokers. I'm on a roll.

I'm working very hard on the branding and packaging too. I've got a box and an idea. And I will be tightening up logo, ads and packaging.

As for supporting myself? I'll continue to sew and I will be working on my design portfolio. I'm hoping that I will use it for consulting work, rather than full time work. That way I can pull some income and still sell my flowers. Or I could find a wealthy single old guy with a heart condition. Either way.

January 28, 2012

January 27, 2012

I spent a lazy day today, working on the house and letting my friends and family work on my renewed line of product. OK I did work on it. But I did get a LOT of help. Here's what they came up with.

My tag line idea has to do with we are flowers. Highlighting wear. That was my idea, and then a few little sayings about how we are like flowers, we need nurturing and sunshine, blah blah blah. One suggested the little sayings are like fortune cookies and I thought that the flowers could be tagged with random saying ie. You are like a flower because..... And my dear daughter came up with the idea of making tags out of tiny envelopes filled with seeds or seed embedded paper. Brilliant! I am still working on that.

Another friend is having a friend work on a logo for me. It needs a little tweaking, but is wonderful so far. Really what I want to express in my name. I really have always looked at myself as a gardener. Or at least Id like to be one, even in my work and my relations with others.

So I'll be spending my time looking for tiny seed packets or printable seed paper and thinking up little sayings, and when my business is up and running, I'm owing some friends a share.

Oh and I forgot to mention how my weigh in went. Not too good. No weight loss, but I did loose another inch in my waist. Really glad I'm measuring too.  

January 27, 2012

January 26, 2012

I've sent out my new logo and plan to friends for advice. I've gotten some good advice already and I'm going to make some changes, but not until I get info all back.

I'm also visualizing my customer. A lot of people say they love the flowers and customers who have bought them, really love them, but I'm trying to visualize who will wear them. I'm also visualizing people I know with them and how they might wear my flowers. And because of this, I'm seeing them wearing different versions of what I make. New Product! I need to finalize my bracelet designs and I have a new necklace in mind, and little bouquet pins.

Yesterday I felt so positive that my flowers were the way to go. I know too that with the right motivation and marketing you can sell refrigerators to “Inuits”. But today I'm feeling less sure of myself. Not that I don't want to make this work. I'm just not sure where I want it to go. What am I looking to accomplish in the long run. Am I doing this for a bit of immorality, or do I just want to earn what I need to build my little house and feed myself?

Wow as old as I am, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Remember this young ones, you're never done growing.

I went to see the Dalai Lama speak once. Actually it was two sessions on two different days. There was one thing he said that will always stick with me. He talked about how everyone wants to think they are independent. That they strive to make themselves independent. I don't know why, but he's right that we do. Maybe our parents try to make us that way. He said that we aren't independent.

Everything we have or do has been through the hands of so many. The cotton for the shirt we wear was picked in a field then taken to a factory to be sorted, carded, washed and spun into threads that are woven and dyed and sent to be sewn and pressed and packaged and shipped and unwrapped and displayed and sold, and how many hands has your shirt been through to get to you? We really aren't independent. Look around you. How many people have helped you to be what and where you are. Not just your friends and family, but the anonymous people around the world that help make your lives more comfortable and easy.

So don't think that you have to be independent. We all give a bit to each other. It's the way we should be. Now I want you all to give me some advice on my business.

January 26, 2012

January 25, 2012

To say that I'm leaning my decisions in one direction is an understatement. I know what I want to do and maybe if I just put my focus there, and not anywhere else I will have success. Maybe I needed this time to discover what is is that I really love and make it happen.

That being said, I have only sold five, yes, that's right, five pieces of my Jewelry since this venture began. Not that people don't love it. Maybe it's my clientèle. Maybe the people who love to wear flowers are just hippies who would rather garden and save the environment, than spend money on themselves. I would love to be able to donate a percentage of my profits to a “green” organization. I suppose I could, because after all, I'm not selling any, so even 50% of nothing is still nothing, right?

I've gotten my to do list almost done. I know there will be more things to add to it. So far I have 25 things to accomplish, these are for my jewelry business and for my product design and they include things like learn my CAD program, Design Packaging for my Jewelry, Bangle Bracelet design and even finish taxes and apply for student loan forbearance. I've even set dates of completion for all the tasks. Now all I have to do is get on my horse and ride.

All of this organization has really got me moving. I can't even begin to tell you how much this has changed my outlook on everything I've been doing. I've been motivated, and actually filled with anticipation for the future of my art, what ever career path choose to follow. I love my new logo and the tagline I'm working on. I feel that when I'm finished it will be as professional as any marketing firm can do for a major corporation. I plan to make a few high end hand painted pieces and try to enter them in competitions. I even have met some of my newly set goals already.

I do have one thing I think I'm failing miserably at. My daughter just found 2 sealed containers of Christmas cookies that we misplaced. That was a hint. I'm doing my weigh in tomorrow and I think I hate myself. Not sure yet, but I haven't been able to exercise much because I got carried away and hurt myself. I think I just need to go out and walk, because I can't seem to dance without shaking my hips and it seems to kinda throw them out. We shall see. I'll let you know tomorrow.

January 25, 2012

January 24, 2012

I tried to make a spreadsheet, and a timeline for completion. I'm not even sure of everything I want to accomplish. Maybe a spreadsheet is a waste of time. I feel like my head is about to explode. I know I'm trying to do too much. I've sold more than I have in a long time. I'm sewing, and jewelry making, and blogging, and tweeting, and Facebook posting, and planning and designing, and I'm chasing my tail and I seem to be getting nowhere.

I think instead of a spreadsheet and all this work, I'm just going to draw a dartboard with my choices on it. And I'm going to lay on the sofa, because I hurt so bad from exercising, I can barely move, and I'm going to throw the dart and where ever it lands is what I'm doing for the rest of my life until I can retire.

Even though my focus is, well, unfocused, I've managed to work out some new ideas. I'm using my computer as a sketchbook, because I just like it. I came up with what I think might be a good tagline. I also decided that I really need to focus on the flowers and remove everything else from my website. I guess I can keep the others on Artfire for now, but I have to clean up the website and have it flowers only.

I wanted something simple, standout, and totally me. I did these graphics. I know they need a little tweaking. The font isn't quite right, but I think I like it. And the tagline? Do you get it? Still not positive about it.

Need to make a new banner for my website, so I'm off to do that before I go to sleep.

January 24, 2012

January 23, 2012

Why am I doing this again? Oh right, a place of my own where there are a few less animals, and I don't have to sleep on the sofa in the living room. Actually I like sleeping on the sofa. I'm a bit too active at night for my own good and limiting my space seems to prevent a lot of injuries. I should probably sleep in a hammock like sailors do. But knowing me, I'd fall out and crack my skull.

Oh, and maybe health insurance of some kind would be good. I hope I'm not dying, because it's been 3 years since I've seen a health care professional, and the news of my heart was not great at the time. Hoping the exercise, vitamins and supplements are working on that too.

I'm finding that trying to discover which career turn to take, is taking up a lot more of my day. It's a lot of work when you know what direction to turn, it's even more when you don't. For instance writing two blogs? Just forget my evening TV shows. I'm not only writing this one daily, I'm trying to add more posts to my other blog. I'm working on making a serious business out of my eco felt flowers, and make a web portfolio for my product design .And if I decide that sewing my homewares is where my future lies, I have to promote that business too.

I'm finding that just like the way I sleep at night, I'm all over the place. I mean it's tax time too and I have to do that for my business AND my daughter's business. It's not that mind a lot of work, it's just that with so much, I'm not sure the focus is in the right place.

I need to find better focus to get all I need done. I'm big on spreadsheets, or at least I was when I was working. I know it will take a few hours to design one, but I think I need to set out my goals, give my self ample time to complete and put it all on virtual paper. I will never accomplish anything if I don't.

Hopefully in the next day or two, I will design a nice calendar or spreadsheet with my daily or weekly tasks and start to meet them. It needs to be flexible, as I have found I need to add more to my already huge list of to dos. Press Kit. Press Kit. Press Kit. And how do I get Lady Gaga to wear my flowers?

January 23, 2012

January 22, 2012

What I've learned so far:

To make a living at craft, you have to work a lot harder than working a 9-5 job. A LOT harder. But maybe it's worth it.

To loose weight, you have to take your time and get your body in shape BEFORE you start dancing up a storm. I'll be slow dancing for at least another week before I work up a full sweat again with that pulled muscle in my back.

I could possibly make a decent living sewing, if I could tolerate it and focus on that and give up my flower jewelry.

Even though most people like flowers, not everyone wants to wear them. I can live with that. I just need to reach the 3% OK 1% of the population that will.

I can earn a very good living at product design, but I loose some freedom with as well.

I'm getting old.

January 22, 2012

January 21, 2012 - Wake Up Call

I suppose if I want to make a press kit and do some more promotion, I need to think a little more about branding. Branding. I really need a good logo, good headshot of me (lol) and a good tagline. I've stolen a line from Matisse, which I love, but I think I need something better. Something exclusively me and in my own words. Do you think, “I make great shit, buy it.” will do?

I think I have it. The Morton Salt Girl. I need something somewhere between my current business card and the Morton Salt logo. I am only branding my Eco Felt Flowers.

I found some recycled glass rondelles that I can uses as my flower centers. Too expensive for now. Must remember later.

I also just realized today, that I've been brainwashed by Etsy. I haven't sold there in over a year, but I'm still brainwashed. Everything they encourage their sellers to do for exposure, benefits Etsy. They don't really encourage you to make a press kit or sell your wares to brick and mortars. Why would they, when they can get commission off your sales online? They also encourage you to up your prices (don't undersell yourself) which means more for them too. Not that I don't think that a business shouldn't do all it can to succeed. I think it would be better if they not pretend they are the good guy whey they are just as greedy as the next corporation.

God I'm running my business just like the seller who made crafts in Girl Scouts and thinks she can make a living off of it, just because there is a site and a store with her name on it. There is so much more to running a business than just making pretty things and I should know better. I should just slap myself across the face, knowing that I didn't wake up sooner than this!

If I want this to work, I have to promote, and put a name and a face to it, and hit the road. I need to create in image and get me some press. I am a designer. If I can design lighting, I can design a business that can sell and be viable. I know I can. I just need to take a look at all the parts I need and assemble them in the most appealing way and voila!

January 21, 2012

January 20, 2012

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe I need to think about what I want in life and then figure out what it is that I need to do to get there. I have crossed many things off my bucket list. I am way ahead of most people there. There are a few more things I'd like to do though.

I want to see they pyramids of Egypt. I want to live in a tiny house on a wooded lot by a stream. I'd like to build it myself. I can still do that now, so it should be soon, before I can't move anymore.

I'd love to see the Sistine Chapel in person. I did see a lovely mock up of it at the Papal exhibit in Houston. It was set up like it would have been when Michelangelo painted the ceiling. Wish I could have seen it before the restoration, so I could compare the two versions, but that ship has sailed. At least I did see the David in Florence. Quite a package on that boy. I actually think I saw close to all the art in Florence. I was obsessed, just as I was with Paris, seeing as much as humanly possible.

I'd love to go back to China and see the Great Wall and the Clay Soldiers. I promised my youngest Grandson I'd take him to San Francisco too.

Maybe I need the motivation of my bucket list to get out there and earn the income I know I can.

I'll let you in on a little secret. It has to do with the Morton Salt girl. Ever since I was very young, I was fascinated with the Morton Salt girl. I watched her stand in the rain and I watched her change over the years. Even as a child, I knew that icon was the art I wanted to create. I also knew that it would most likely be anonymous. But to have that icon in most of the homes in the US would be so wonderful. I often think of the smiley face or the peace sign that way. I guess these days the icon would be a meme. How wonderful to create a meme, or better yet, an icon.  

January 20, 2012

January 19, 2012

I've almost forgotten again why I'm writing this diary. I had hoped that I could sort out my life. Find what it is that I really like to do, and really make a living at it. I am finding that trying to set up all of the possibilities is exhausting. Add to that the exercise and I can barely move.

I know I'm crazy, but I really really love my flowers. Yesterday I read something that suggested we all follow our passion. This is going somewhere, I know it. If I can just follow this path. I love flowers, because I love nature. I love the earth and people so I want to create an art that leaves a small footprint on the environment. I do that by making my flowers out of recycled plastics.

I'm not exactly sure that really helps, because I don't think we ever should have used plastics as much as we do. I mean, seriously, disposable cameras? Well I guess with camera phones, we don't really use those any more. I guess it's not as bad as bottled water which when tested turns out to be tap water in a plastic bottle that we pay too much for. I can bottle water myself. Maybe we should all keep milk in it's original container and how about eggs. We can keep chickens and cows (or goats) yes?

My head is splitting today and I'm very tired. I only had about 4 hours sleep last night. Long story, but I was doing dishes and laundry at 3 am because I couldn't sleep.

Then someone tweeted a picture of their press kit. Press Kit? Seriously? And I started doing research. I need a freaking press kit and I need to get some press. Maybe only local to start, but I need some. Now I have to do some more research. Press kits. Once I make them though I know where to start. If I want to start locally I know which press to hit and how to swing it. I need to join more organizations too. Having the feature on Nosh will help a bit. Press kit. Ugh!

January 19, 2012

January 18, 2012

Today is weigh in and I was kind of disappointed. I only lost another pound, two total. I should have lost 5 to reach my goal. But the good news is that I measured too. I'm down an inch in my bust, 1.5 at my waist and 1 at my hips. 

That made me much happier. At least I'm gaining muscle mass. The more muscle, the more calories burned when exercising. It takes a while. I was very pleased with the results of my adding exercise back into my routine. Oh and cutting cookies didn't hurt too much either.

I spent a lot of the day editing photos and listing new jewelry. My headbands turned out so nice and the model was fantastic. The photo's were a little grainy, like I said, but they were very sweet. I didn't add too many pictures here, but I will have to add more product to my site today.

I also did some cutting and sewing. Fortunately I'm selling hand sewn.

I read a blog today, one that I have been following for nearly 4 years now. I know you can't read all the past posts. It is written by a mother of a little girl who has had multiple organ transplants that failed and were transplanted again. This little girl has been so close to death so many times and she fights her way back every time. She is amazing and so is her mother and family.

You must read this post about the miracle Christmas gift they received this year. And read what little Emerson's mother Erica has to say about following your passion. I have to keep remembering that. It's not just about the money or even surviving, it's about following your passion.

January 18, 2012

January 17, 2012

Wondering why I keep writing about things from my past? Memories like those are what I am made of. They are what I use to base my decisions making on. We all have a vast amount of experience and memories that we compile and pull from when we make decisions. Sometimes that is what and why we dream, to sort things out.

When I was in College, I would program myself to problem solve during my sleep. If I had a project or problem I couldn't figure out, I would think about it before I went to sleep and most often I would wake up with the solution. The mind is an amazing machine.

I seem to solve things better when I'm asleep, because when I'm awake there is so little focus. I'm supposed to be planning my flower jewelry packaging and new merchandise, and working on my design portfolio. So what do I think about in the tub today? My dream tiny house. I even started imagining plans and dimensions today. I really want a tiny house. I'd love to have one on a little piece of semi secluded land. I want it to be eco, with a composting toilet and solar panels, maybe a small cistern for collecting water. I don't want to be overly eco though, because I want t full sized tub, not just a teeny shower. I think I want a small full refrigerator too. And I can't be totally off the grid. I need my Internet.

I did my photo shoot today. Model was great, but lighting was not. I also had too many things to do, so only took one picture of most. Bad idea. Some were kind of hazy. But they are more for atmosphere and teasing anyhow. Most of them will do just fine. I wasn't crazy about the lighting in some shots. There were shadows that I didn't like much. But I do have a lot of new product for the shop.

Working my tail off on my flower jewelry and accessory shop, and what do I sell? Aprons, bow ties and Aprons, clutches and Aprons.  

January 17, 2012

January 16, 2012

The first time I went to China to develop painted finishes (not my first trip to China) I had a horrible cold. I was working at a factory where no one spoke English and I had a translator/manager that was new and didn't understand paint or paint terms. Nothing could be translated for me. I had to be creative and I had to use other terms that could be understood.

The finish manager, brought me solvents for the paint and pointed me to two different sections of paint. There were 2 sections. She held the solvents in front of my nose so I could tell which was which. (I'm sure that was healthy for me to inhale the fumes) Unfortunately I had the worst cold I had in years and could not smell a thing. I had no idea what I had. I tried to explain, but I don't think it was translated well.

I sat at a table made for me and tried to work with the paints. I must have looked like a total fool as I tried to mix water with lacquer based paint. The finish workers must have thought “who was this fool they brought in”? Again the manager ran the solvents under my nose. Finally I asked for water based paints for me to work with. I got that through by acting like I was drinking the solvent. She brought me a few jars of dried up, fairly useless paint.

This was going to be tough. I was used to developing finishes with latex. Because latex was costly and not as flexible, and it is legal to use more volatile paints in China, they used the solvent based paints. I have to admit, once I got used to them (and the fumes) they were much easier to work with. After a few days, the shop manager realized I was sick, and she helped me with the paint problem.

They were used to having unknowledgable people come in the factory and demand the impossible. I told them, I would never make them do something I couldn't do myself. If they told me something was impossible, I would take the piece from the worker and do the task myself. It shut down the whining, because that was embarrassing, more so there than here. But I gave great praise at a job well done.

If you think buyers are hard to communicate with, try giving instructions to Chinese factory workers through a translator that does not understand the processes you are trying to explain. Sometimes you really have to get creative communicating. I did much better without the translator in the end.

Today I assembled 11 new single flower on chain necklaces and 5 headbands. I do need to make more headbands and some fascinators. I am so excited about my photo shoot tomorrow. I've started listing today, but will edit when I get the modeled pictures.

I also sold several sewn pieces. I'm so torn about this whole thing. Maybe I need to send out emissaries to wear my jewelry and pass out business cards across the country. It does seem that I'm enjoying this now, but I actually really enjoyed working in the factories in China. Hmmmm.  

January 16, 2012

January 15, 2012

My ex husband had Hepatitis C. He was diagnosed while we were separated, just before the divorce. He refused to believe it, probably because he didn't want to give up drinking. When he started having serious health problems the diagnosis was confirmed and he started to get treatment shortly before he remarried. After living with him for 19 years, obviously I could have contracted it from him. Not necessarily, but a possibility.

I mentioned the possibility to my Doctors, but they were good Doctors. They wouldn't test me until I showed symptoms. And you don't need to treat without symptoms. You see, at the time it was possible for an insurance company to drop my coverage just because I had Hepatitis C, or if I got new insurance, it would be a preexisting condition. My Doctors were protecting me. But I was cautious.

My first grandson lived with me, I helped to raise him. I didn't know if I carried the disease so I was always overly cautious. I worried that a bloody hangnail, or a cut could infect him. Unlike my usual casual attitude about cleanliness, I was overly clean. I also worried that I might have exposed my own children, as I didn't know for sure, when my ex was exposed (although I had an idea) or if I was, and when. It was hard, because I always worried about harming my family. And then the laws changed. That was when the health privacy laws went into effect. I finally got my test and thankfully I didn't have Hepatitis C.

Some things in life you have no control over, no matter how much planning, preventing, and worrying you do. Some things in life turn out for the best, no matter how dim the prospects.

Today, I actually got a little work done. I tinted a few acrylic beads, and cut, sculpted and assembled a few flowers. I also got a brilliant idea about packaging. And it was a direct result of a lovely floral image from Pinterest. I can't begin to praise that site. For a visual artist it is the greatest source of inspiration you can get from your sofa. Granted, travel is best, but with a limited budget, Pinterest is definitely a strong second.

I also tried my new headband on my darling 2 month old granddaughter and it looked so cute, I have to make her a shorter version now.

I'm really looking forward to making some packaging samples and discussing them with some of my professional friends.  

January 15, 2012

January 14, 2012 - Progress Report

One of the things I really hate about having my own business, is not having health insurance. I haven't seen a Doctor in about 3 years. I take loads of vitamins and natural diuretics and anti inflammatory things, and of course my ever trusty CoQ10. And I pray a lot. There are things I can do if I really need. There is a free clinic for my county, but it's not very close, and my car is not reliable. If there is an emergency, I can use the local hospital and it should all be covered because of my low income. Not because the Government will help, but because the hospital and benefactors contribute. I really want health care reform to work and mean something to all of us.

I need to look at how far I've come since I started this journey of the mind, nine days ago.

For my jewelry business, I've discovered that I didn't have many single flower pieces. Simple pieces that might be easier to sell. I had started a website, but I need to expand on it and offer some unique pieces there. I also need more wedding offerings, as that is the most searched items in my shop. I needed packaging to offer my jewelry to brick and mortars and I need a catalog.

I made several single flower necklaces and will be offering more. I designed two crocheted pieces and have set up photography, and I've ordered packaging that hopefully will look like corsage/floral boxes. I also had a brilliant idea this morning of creating “package sets” to sell shops. With a variety of best selling product at set prices. Like starter sets.

I also applied to be a featured artist on my selling site and will be the featured artist January 24th and 25th.

For my potential design career, I organized my drawings and product photographs for a portfolio. I started to design a website that will showcase my work. I have also planned a few new designs based on what I see current trends in the US are. I did retouch a few older drawings in Photoshop and I still have to work on my Cad skills. I have a lot of work to do on the website, but I'm pleased with the overall design.

Although I don't really like the sewing shop, I did design and make 5 new offerings and I sold quite a bit there. I need to make totes and I'm totally procrastinating at it. I know they will sell.

As for the fitness. Still working on that one. My body apparently doesn't recognize that I'm cutting calories and exercising, although I'm not doing too much until I get in better shape. Don't want to hurt myself yet. I couldn't resist weighing myself again today. I did loose 1 lb. Hoping to do better next week.

I'm still thinking that maybe I should just be a clerk at a grocery store. Wouldn't it be wonderful to just stand and scan. Oooh they sit at Aldi's. I think I can scan pretty fast.

January 14, 2012

January 13, 2012

I just got some news. Not sure if it's good or bad. My son, who lives in North Dakota, needs heart surgery. I felt totally comfortable with him getting it at the Cleveland Clinic, because for one, they are really good and also, I am able to be with him and then bring him to our house to recuperate. He won't be having his surgery here though, he will be going to the Mayo Clinic. I guess if he needs to go somewhere else, that would be the next best place.

My son was born with a very serious Heart defect. He wasn't expected to live to adulthood. His first open heart surgery was at one year old. We were told that surgery to further correct his condition was impossible, as it would take longer than the 6 hours max for the heart lung. But then, an amazing thing happened. My son started to deteriorate quickly at age 19. He went for tests, and just as it was when he was one, surgery had to be done right then. The miracle was, that there was one man in the world who could perform his correction in less than 6 hours, and he just happened to be working at the Cleveland Clinic.

I'm remembering all this, because my son's appointment at Mayo is on the anniversary of his first open heart surgery. The thing that has me upset, is that I can't be with him when he does have his surgery. I have no way to get there and no money to stay there, although if it's like Cleveland Clinic, there are places for family to crash and change and bathe. Guess I just have to sit by the phone and worry.

I crocheted a pretty lace fan as a flower base. I need to make some flowers for it now. I forgot that I wanted to make it a headband, but I think this one will be a clip. I made a Green headband and another Ivory Headband for a wedding piece. I really need to clean up my shop for my feature and get some new photos. These new pieces will be more expensive, but they'll be worth it. I plan to have some of them available at my website only.

I set up an appointment for a photo shoot Tuesday. Now I just have to finish more pieces. I actually have too much to shoot, so I have to plan quick ways to do them. I'm going to have the model wear the chains and just switch the flowers. The necklaces will be singles anyhow. I'll pin flowers on the headpieces so I can make a few different styles. I have a few premade necklaces and I think I'll use a clothespin to quickly shoot those too. Easier than working the lobster clasp.

I've been working like mad these past few weeks. I certainly hope something comes of this.  

January 13, 2012

January 12, 2012

Look at that date 1-12-2012, seems magical doesn't it? We'll see. I can't believe I've been posting for a week. It seems so much longer. Maybe because I am actually working, although it doesn't seem like it. I should be finishing new sewn items to list, I'm also supposed to help listing fabric, we need the money and we also need the room. My daughter has once again flowed with the tide of change. She has changed her offerings to meet her demand, at the expense of closing a shop and all her original designs that go with it.

Today is my weigh in. I'm not happy about it. But I'll get back to that later. I had a good week, but too many cookies last night.

After looking through product pictures and drawings, I thought I'd share a few here. I have so many drawings, because I was freelancing for 3 companies who were presenting to lots of retailers. I just can't believe how much I did in such a short time.

OK so I weighed in, and I didn't like it so I waited, and weighed in again, and again before lunch. Not doing really well there, I hope the measurement thing works better. I've been pretty good and I weight the same. I certainly hope it's because I've gained muscle. Yeah, that's it.

I did get some good news today. Monday I was featured on a blog. Today I found out that I'm going to be featured on the site I sell and and on their blog. Very happy about that. But I really need to get my shop in better shape before that. I need to make a few new things and take some great pictures. So the portfolio has to go on the back burner for a week or two, and I'm really into that one now. Going to be hard to keep me away. Maybe at night when I can't make jewelry.

See I can find something to complain about even when I have good news.

January 12, 2012

January 11, 2012

Today I thought it might be helpful to make a list of things I do and do not like to do. After all, at this stage in my life, I'd like to earn money, whatever amount, doing something I enjoy. I suppose in a later post I should list all the skills I have or do not have, because it's hard to be happy doing something you don't have the skills for. Just because it sounds fun, doesn't mean it will be.

I like: to yell (boy do I like to yell) - making jewelry - hammer metal (copper is my favorite) - breaking glass (yes really. I had a job where twice a year we got to smash all the glass samples, then they decided to sell them off instead, boo) - drawing with colored pencils (animal and people portraits) - Photoshop, and AutoCad. I love to do graphics and photo editing - flexible hours – travel – gardening – bird watching – teaching, sharing - designing (anything)

I hate: job interviews - customer service (providing) - 9-5 hours – cleaning anything – sewing, not really, but it's not my favorite thing – cleaning – getting yelled at - walking through mud – presentations – sales (I need to hire a rep) - annoying dogs, cats, people

I'm not sure all this is doing anything for me. I feel less motivated. I'm feeling that My best option is to add more items to my sewn offerings and just get over it. I can sew very well. It is what's supporting me now. Not well, but it is.

I had a dream last night that I went back to my old design company and with it I woke with tons of design ideas. I'm anxious to put them to “paper” I actually am going to sketch the ideas by hand before I loose them. I also came to the realization that I have a LOT to offer a company with my past experiences. And I realized that at my age, they might listen. I do have a different approach now, more insinuating and wise, less throttling and fighting.

I got the most wonderful Idea for a lamp or dining room chandelier. I have to draw it up and render it. Now I'm torn. I guess I could do both. Work full time designing and create on the weekends. It's better than remodeling a house on the weekends at my age.

I started my Portfolio website today too. Looking good, but barely started. I had no idea how many drawings I have done. I have designs of lamps, chandeliers, bird feeders, string lights, post lanterns, bird houses, tabletop water fountains, solar lamps and lanterns. I have hundreds of drawings. Wow I was busy.

January 11, 2012

January 10, 2012

A few days ago I was remembering how many opiates I was exposed to as a child. You may not realize this, but people used to give opiates to teething children. They were easy to get back then. I was always given paregoric. It is a mild opiate, rubbed on gums for teething and to help babies sleep. It was also the usual treatment for diarrhea when I was a child.

Also when I was young we used to visit my Uncle in NYC. There was this wonderful Asian store that we always shopped in. Big Blond American woman with a small Chinese husband, ran the shop. There were cool Asian imports, like paper fans and my favorite, tiny clam shells held shut with a strip of paper. Drop them in a glass of water and the shell would open revealing a tiny paper flower on a string that floated toward the waters surface. I loved those little shells.

The shop was filled with this wonderful “incense”, smoke and air so thick you could almost slice through it. My mother hated the smell, but I loved it and drenched it all in every time we went there. In my late teen years I found out what that wonderful smell was. It was Opium, not incense. I still love the scent to this day.

Speaking of opiates, the maker of certain gas reliever and pain pills say to throw out your pills, because they might contain “powerful pain relievers”. Uh! And why would I throw them out again?

Today is Tuesday. I weigh myself Thursday to see if I lost any weight. I need to loose 2.5 lbs to reach my goal. I don't think I'll do that unless I take off my shoes. I weighed myself with my shoes on. I need to measure too to see if I loose any inches, after all, muscle weighs more... well you know.

I took my measurements, no wonder my bras don't fit. I don't think I've seen that size for a while. I will continue to wear my stretched out sports bras though, until I get back to a normal size, and if I have to go out someplace special, well my cup will have to floweth over. Oh and is your waist supposed to be the same measurement as your hips? No? I suppose it could be worse, at least it's not BIGGER.

Still no CAD drawings, although I'm tempted to try a few tonight. I should be cutting and sewing. At least I make money doing that. I had a few sales this week. Maybe I should just focus on that instead.

I might get out the floss and embroider that leaf I was planning. I did get my eco yarn, but need to figure out the lace stitches I want to make. The leaves will be easy, bot not sure about lace.

January 10, 2012

January 9, 2012

My jewelry business is akaCINDERS, and most of the people in the business call me Cinders (because I encourage it). I find it odd that of all the people I talk to on a daily basis, only one has asked my why Cinders. I guess if they know my real name they assume its just an endearing form of Cindy? There is really a reason for the tag Cinders.

For some reason, ever since I was a little girl, people like to turn Cindy, into Cinderella. When I was 6, I even found myself with a step mother and two step sisters (they used to be a little wicked, but are very nice now). So when I decided to open a jewelry shop on Etsy, I thought of Cinderella, and I thought of one of my favorite Hans Christian Anderson story The Tinderbox and I named it Cinderbox. That was the start of Cinders. It also had to do with recycling, I liked to reuse materials, so it was like creating from cinders. I liked that.

I had the most pleasant surprise today. Shortly after I finished my Monday blog, Life on Mars, (the one where I post all the terrible or bizarre things that happened to be the previous week) I got news that I had been featured in a blog. It was a lovely feature and really made my day. I also sold an Apron and a clutch, so that was good.

I have been considering my packaging for my flower jewelry. Packaging for the brick and mortars. I would have loved it to look like florist flower boxes. I would love for them to have windows and be eco friendly, but I'm afraid that would be too expensive or improbable. I thought that clear packaging might look like corsage boxes, but I knew they would have to be plastic and probably not recycled. Darn what a dilemma.

I was going to ask my team of indie seller friends what they thought of the possibilities. My online packaging wouldn't really work in shops. I did some searching online and found the perfect thing, clear plastic pillow boxes with a hang tab. I guess I can at least use recycled Kraft cardstock as backers and recycled Kraft stickers for labels on the packages. So I guess I made my own decision.

I sold enough today that I could buy 50 boxes to start my packaging, I'll have to buy the recycled papers later. I'm getting excited about the process.

As I haven't worked at all on product design, you can tell where my heart really is. I really do love my jewelry and hope I can find the right market for it, so that I can really make a living at it.

I just thought that I have a professional binding machine and plenty of rings. I can make little catalogs that I can ship or hand out with the jewelry samples to shops. have to plan those too. Maybe half sheet. They would need to fit in a small flat rate box, so that I can ship samples and catalog, fairly inexpensively.

Today was a very good day.

January 9, 2012

January 8, 2012

Some days I get so lost, that I have to go back to my ABOUT PAGE to see what the heck this blog is all about.

You have no idea just how cruel the BIG M can be unless you've experienced it yourself. I suppose some don't get it as bad. Maybe it's just those of us who are dysfunctional to begin with. My mom was dyslexic, boy was she dyslexic.

When mom went through menopause she cried every day for at least a year. She was lucky to have a very compassionate boss. She had reason to cry though, she was also going through a very messy divorce. Messy in that the judge lost their trial paperwork and it took over a year for him to make a decision based on nothing left from the trial. I really hate that trial nonsense, because in Ohio, it's simple, what's yours before is yours, what you got together is split evenly. So why a trial when it's cut and dry? Just so the lawyers can make a buck and the judges can keep their jobs.

Mine was miserable too. Menopause, not my divorce. Hormones didn't do a thing, they only dragged out the misery. Vitamins exercise, fish oil and CoQ10 work best for me. I don't know where I'd be now if it wasn't for that CoQ10. It really helped clear out the brain fog. I guess it doesn't work that way for everyone, but it did for me. But maybe it's my odd brain chemistry, or my high cholesterol.

I listed an item this week, that when I went to ship, I found I couldn't send to the buyer. I'm sure that's happened to you sellers at some time or another. You know it makes you feel horrible that it happened, that you screwed up. I gave a full refund and an apology, but the buyer is claiming fraud. I felt bad about it. Now the buyer is such a schmuck and left me my first negative feedback in 5 years (schmuck) that I'm really glad I couldn't send it. And that dude, has some serious bad karma due him.

It is a seriously full moon kind of night tonight. Cats are fighting in the house, customers ranting, baby fussy, 8 yr old full of cola and running around. I really didn't accomplish much more than taking out the garbage and cleaning the litter. I'm really obsessed with crocheting though, and made myself a headband in a new stitch. I haven't crocheted in so long, I have to try some of the new stitches. After all, it will be part of my new product offerings.

I did make some new listings of “single” flowers today. And I researched other seller sites. Not much better than what I'm doing. Guess I really have to work on brick and mortars. I need some clever packaging. I'll have to work on that. I'd love cheap, eco friendly, and looking like florist packaging. Don't want much, do I.

January 8, 2012

January 7, 2012

I have a confession, I'm terrified of working full time. I had such a bad experience last time and damn, I have a really good memory. When I remember the horrors, like being yelled at for problems that never were my responsibility, or even part of my job, I just cringe. I try to fill in the terrors with memories of good bosses, and enjoyable working conditions. That's the only way I'll get my butt out there again.

Today I was in a very foul mood. I think I'm catching what the rest of the family has, or maybe it's because I fell asleep and missed the end of Merlin. Maybe it's because the powers that be at the site I'm selling at, all of a sudden are doing things to harm the site and turn off their customers (us). I'm so mad at the arrogance of a certain person there, and I was trying to be all peaceful and loving. HA! It might also be because I'm damn sore from exercising. But as soon as Poppy leaves with her friend I'm exercising.

I didn't exercise till later cause I had a drunk day. I was moody and I needed it and I ate a beef hamburger for lunch an hour late because I had to watch the baby and had to take off the cat litter and cat and bird food and boxes and fabric bucket off the water softener that takes the place of one of the only closets we have, because the owner of the property has the softener in our house instead of their house that is 4 times the size of ours. But I guess he doesn't realize that water flows both ways. Our house also holds the water pump and we have to pay electric for softener and pump for both houses. Not disclosed on the lease, but I'm going to use that info sometime in the future if he ever threatens to raise the rent again. RELATIVES!

Sobered up, and glad I got a drunk on. Finally got half a brain and figured out a problem is with selling my jewelry. I think I'll have the remedy in no time. Just a few more pieces and a few pictures and maybe an altered picture or two. Glad I got my brain back. I'll be adding lots of new listing and clearing out a lot of older things.

I exercised a lot too. Just a few days and I'm starting to feel really strong. At my age I should never let a few months go like I did. I'll end up not being able to walk upright, like the old folks who are the same age as me next door.

All in all, today was a good day. Now I either have to get over the workplace terrors that don't even compare to the “interview” terrors. Or I could decide to keep selling on the Internet and remain a hermit.

January 7, 2012

January 6, 2012

I want to say that I am no longer all about the money. That might be obvious as I am dirt poor right now. At one time I was earning 18 times my current earnings. I am not proud of either my motivation, or what I did to earn it. I clawed, wrangled and I, lets say, avoided the truth. I didn't outright lie, but I didn't exactly disclose all I knew, either.

My motivation to excel? To best my ex husband, who passed away a few years after I earned my top dollar, and to prove to my father that I could be a success. My father who had already passed several years earlier. The father that said that a secretary or a hairdresser were good careers for a woman. Did I best my ex? Yes at the tune of about 30K more than his top earnings.

I had a lot of good and bad experiences where I went, and I guess I'm glad I did it. I am kind of sad about my motivation though.

Late last night after I wrote my January 5th entry, I decided to apply for an Artisan Feature on the site I sell at. I've been thinking about this for a few years and I finally did it. I can't believe how motivated I am. Maybe it's just because you are watching. All 8 of you who are following this post now. Lets see if I can get a few more interested. Just to let you know, it only took about 90 minutes to complete the application. Fortunately I already had a picture the correct size. I'll let you know if it's accepted, and when and where it will be posted.

I've also decided, that the best way to show my many designs to a potential client or employer, is to make a website for that too, with password protected pages of my designs, or maybe a flash player, so that they aren't on the screen too long. I'll have to work on that too.
I did not really exercise today. I even ate a little candy. I had to babysit most of the morning, run the taxi in the afternoon and I hate to exercise late. If I do, I won't sleep well. Maybe I'll do some strength, not aerobic. I guess I did more than I thought yesterday. My hip muscles hurt. I'm trying some yoga to stretch them out. The warrior pose is fantastic for hip flexors. Mine stiffen up when I exercise.

I did make a decision on yarn and I can't wait to get it. Eco friendly Bamboo Wool blend. I love the idea of bamboo. It is the best renewable resource. Bamboo is strong, durable, and you can make just about anything out of it. I ordered Green for Leaves and Ivory for Bridal Lace. Can't wait to make some new pieces. I'm going to crochet headbands too. I do wish I could make a living off my Jewelry and the Felt flowers, because that's what I love the most. C'mon people love my flowers as much as I do and buy, buy, buy!.

Funny, I've always said that you should make what people will buy, not just what you like. Somehow I have to combine what will sell with my love. I know I need to focus more on wedding pieces, fascinators, and even bouquets.

I need to force myself to try the New CAD program next week. I have to do some new designs. Maybe doing drawings on the CAD is what I need to to “change” everything. We'll see.

January 6, 2012

January 5, 2012

Baths are wonderful, at least for me. I meditate and relax so that my mind opens to the world.

Once at an interview, I was asked how I brainstorm. I replied: “In the bathtub”. I guess that was the wrong answer, as my interviewers exchanged uncomfortable glares and snickers. But I speak the truth. Something about water is so primal, like returning to the womb, it opens your mind in a way that you just can't any other way. I did NOT get the job, by the way. Guess they wanted someone who could brainstorm in a work group, in appropriate attire.

Last night, in my bath I thought “crochet forms made with eco friendly yarn to use as frames for my flowers”! I just have to choose which yarn. Maybe poly yarn from soda bottles (like my felt), or eco friendly cotton, wools, or bamboo. I can crochet wonderful lacy bridal headpieces and bibs for my flowers. Thank you warm water and Lavender bath salts. But yet another decision to make, and I still need bangle bracelet materials.

New shoes are wonderful. My Christmas gift from my daughter (I've been complaining for months). I just received a pair that fit, because the ones she bought were incorrectly sized. They're still a bit tight, not like my usual buy, but they have much nicer cushy toes. I think I'll get used to them.

Stepping on the scale today. Whoot! I weigh one pound less than I did last time and about 10 less than expected. Maybe those cookies were good for me? Guess I only have sixty nine pounds to loose. I'm going to do a weigh-in weekly, so check back next week to see how I'm doing on weight. I'm actually shooting for 10 pounds a month, so forty total. That'll do. If I do well, I'll share before and after pics.

I exercised, or rather danced while doing housework. I'm really loving Lady Gaga lately. She not only has a beat, she has a soul, something I seem to be seriously lacking of late.

I also came upon the realization that I love selling on eBay. I love their messaging system, feedback is OK, shipping is fantastic, you can even ship international first class. They will take money from you if there's a complaint and even if you are perfect, someone will either be confused by your listing or try to rip you off. I don't like that you can't leave negative for buyers. But the thing I hate the most about eBay is THEIR FEES! I would have to find something that I could sell a lot of that is very desirable. Maybe jewelry supplies. I have a lot of those.

I had a lot of people contact me today about my aprons. It makes me feel better about those, and that's the career I really DON'T want to pursue. But right now, that's where I make most of my money. Maybe I can freelance design, make jewelry, sew, and sell vintage. Oh my! My head is imploding again. But really? I'm doing most of that already.

Today I cleaned. Not what I needed to do to reach my goals, but it needed to be done. I dug in my jewelry boxes to find some things I sold. Yay! Sales! And I did a sketch of the brooch I want to make. 

See the sketch here. The lines on the leaf will be embroidered, and the spots will be French knots. I love the look of French knots. I'm hoping to make the flowers, a stick pin. I might have to buy some thin brass rod and fashion my own, I'll see what I can find. I think I might sketch out the bangles I want to make tomorrow.  I also want to make a crocheted lace Bridal brooch or fascinator.  

January 5, 2012

January 4, 2012

Putting it down on “paper” is motivating me to work harder toward my goals. At least I'm thinking of what I need to do to organize. I'm certainly not closer to finding my path, but I am thinking of what I need to lead me there.

My goal is to find a career that not only makes me happy, but can feed me and put a roof over my head. Right now I barely make enough to pay my bills and my tiny share of the rent with my Daughter.

There are other things to consider. Now, I don't have insurance, but if I get really sick, I can go to the local hospital and all my bills will be taken care of because of my low income. If I make just enough amount more, I'd have to pay. That could lower my overall free income.

Also, at the moment, my student loans are in forbearance, with just a bit more income, I might be expected to pay the absurd $600 a month payment. Who has $600 extra a month? Really absurd. I had to go to school when the interest rate was 9.5 percent. I've already consolidated so I can lower the interest if I go back to school and get out another loan.

Another consideration? In a little over a year, I'll be eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits. Seems that unpleasant man I was married to for 19 years was worth something after all. I think I can talk to Social Security about it later this year. I have no idea how much I might receive. But still, 80% what he would have made, even if it was $1000 a (If I earned more I would have to pay back a percentage) what would I have left after student loans?

This is all making my head spin. Basically I have to figure out how much I need to make and work from there. Can I earn what I need selling on the Internet? Not sure. Certainly not what I'm doing now. Maybe selling vintage legos or electronics on eBay. I do like making my own hours. Maybe I could make more money if I spam. Oh, but I just don't have the heart for that.

Now, I just need to work on getting things together for either career I might choose. For product design, I've started organizing a portfolio. OK, so I created a new file and looked through all my drawing files and dragged ones I liked into a the new folder. But at least I did something.

I also need to try to make new drawings on a program I bought a few years ago, and didn't take the time to learn. Now is a perfect time to do that. A new project on my list. I used to do 2D Cad and this is 3D. Scary!

I need to make some statement pieces for my Flower Jewelry website. I'm thinking of embroidery on the felt and yarn wrapped bangle bracelets. I still have to sketch out ideas. I never sketch anymore. I really need to start that too. I need colored pencils, but for now I'll sketch in black and white.

I didn't exercise today, but I did haul groceries a very long way down the hill in the snow. I also ate fairly well so far, at least no big pile of cookies. But I did eat beef twice, and I hardly eat it at all anymore.

Tomorrow I will exercise a little and do my sketches. I also need to figure out if there is something I can recycle to make my bangles with. Oh and I want to make a large collar necklace. A leather base would be nice, but I think I'd rather something eco friendly. Hmmm, maybe old tire tube rubber, flexible and sturdy.

January 4, 2012

January 3, 2012

It's January third. A new year. I guess it's time I left my self imposed exile and started back into the world. I started to crash with the economy back in late 2006, by January of 2007 I was gone. Five years of wading through menopause and trying to find who I really am, with little success at either.

I'm fairly dysfunctional. Ask anyone who knows me. It's amazing that I had succeeded as well as I did. I took a long time but got myself through school in my forties, and made a decent career as a product designer, lighting being my specialty. I was driven to succeed, taking jobs wherever it meant more financial success and glory, even at the expense of my family and my soul.

There that's the ticket. I was soulless.

I can only guess that being soulless was the real reason I crashed. My heart just wasn't in sync with my ambition. Either that or those damn hormones made me scream to my Mercurial boss, who claimed to never change his mind, “BULLSHIT”, so loud that the employees out in the factory heard it.

Kind of like being mad as hell and not taking it anymore. Or just raving mad.

Since then I've tried a few alternative career paths, to avoid being put into that position again. I took on some consulting work in China,which I loved, but the back and forth travel made me very ill. And then I thought I could craft and sell on the Internet, like my very successful daughter.

After finishing my spreadsheet for my taxes this year and realizing that I made in the whole year what she made her top month. Very depressing. But I guess my heart wasn't in it. Well actually my heart wasn't in anything lately I guess.

I have so many skills and had so many goals, that I think I just imploded. I have met many of my lifetime goals, but not all yet. So I'm setting a time limit on my future. For the next four months I will spend a bit of time each day, honing a different skill, for the goals I think I might pursue. Somewhere I might find my heart and soul. I'm also going to spend this time meditating on life and getting my body back into shape. By that I mean to spend the four months healing my body and soul.

I have a bucket list of goals, but maybe I'll be able to pick one, or maybe I can combine a few. I still like to design, but maybe something more meaningful than pretty lighting, so I'm going to work on my portfolio. I'd like to teach, not sure how to approach that one yet, maybe write a CV. I love the jewelry I make, but I think it needs to be a bit more extraordinary, so I'm going to try to improve that, work on my website and get ready to contact retailers. I did want to open a Bed and Breakfast, but the one I wanted to buy, sold. And I wanted to raise Alpaca, but I'm not sure that's going to be practical.

I'm really not sure where this journey will take me, but I promise to detail it all, every day in this diary. I also swear to take a little time to be more sociable outside of the Internet. So from today, until May third, I will document my successes or failures. Starting with the five cookies and the chunk of chocolate I ate balanced with the salad for dinner. And the new design for an embroidered floral brooch.