Craft Talk Video, for No Reason

Blogged under Crafty Videos by Tammy on Friday 16 April 2010 at 8:36 am

Someone sent me the URL to this video, and though I had seen it before, I have to say I laughed just as loud as the first time I watched it! So, for no apparent reason other than this is funny, I’m posting it here for you.

Etsy 101 Help

Blogged under Crafting a Career,etsy by Tammy on Thursday 15 April 2010 at 5:45 pm

I have been crazy busy since school started back up this week, so I’m just kind of throwing this out there for you to catch. You may want to bookmark it for later even, but someone else passed on an awesome Etsy link to me called The Etsy Seller Handbook. I wanted to return the favor to all crafters out there who have been thinking of trying Etsy on for size but have zero clue about how to get started.

Enjoy Some Crafting Links

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 11 April 2010 at 9:23 am

Margot Potter The Impatient Crafter
Madge reviews metal clay artist Kate McKinnon’s amazing new book Sculptural Metal Clay Jewelry.

Mixed Media Artist
Duotones can give a whole different look to your photos than plain black and whites!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery

Check out my summer knitting project from Toe-Up Socks for Every Body by Wendy D. Johnson

The Artful Crafter
How to make an envelope book for little treasures or clutter.

The Crochet Dude
Drew reorganized his garden this spring using squares, and the results are fantastic!

About Family Crafts
If you cannot wait for April showers to bring May flowers, here is a collection of flower crafts you can make now.

Aileen’s Musings
Back in November Aileen posted about an Erosion Bundle Project she’s participating in….yesterday she opened her bundles after 5 months! Stop by and see her after pictures…

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
Craftside’s got a great tutorial on how to sew tie style straps, a peek at how to turn ideas into inspired design, identifying different types of metal, a thread painting tip, a lace detail and a bit of ballerina brilliance from the hot new book Mixed-Media Dollhouses.

End of Spring Break

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Friday 9 April 2010 at 2:41 pm

Today is one of the last days of my spring break, and it occurred to me that I really hadn’t done anything as far as “getting out.” Other than make a few trips for groceries and the usual, I hadn’t gone to a movie or even gotten by hubby to take me out to dinner. I thought about it and then realized that I’m just happy to be home and having fun crafting, writing, and even cleaning (yes, crazy, I know!). So I opted for my chef (aka husband) to make a dinner of roasted vegetables while I got some web work done and as well as a little jewelry making.

I’m not a huge potato fan, but these fingerlings looked so delicious at the grocery store that I couldn’t resist.

I am fine with no meat, but the husband doesn’t know what a non-meat meal is, so he cooked something for him to go with the vegetables. I think this is pork loin?

Our garden is looked pretty rough now, but he managed to find a bunch of fresh rosemary out there still.

Then he covered asparagus and carrots with olive oil as well as the herbs and roasted those.

He did the same with the potatoes, and they were amazing! Yumo x 1,000!

Getting Organized one Shelf at a Time

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Thursday 8 April 2010 at 3:16 pm

Ah, here are some of the fruits of my labor over the past few days. I should have a before picture, I know, but it was just so horrible I was ashamed to show anyone how messy this house was. I still have a long way to go, but I have about a month or so until my summer break is here. Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum. Even small steps like getting our kitchen pantry in order (pictured above) can take so long to accomplish. It reminds me of those logic tests you have to take in school some times: “You have 10 boxes of cereal each 8×10 inches in diameter and 12 bottles of salad dressing, 2 x size, 4 y size, and the rest z size, and you have 1 shelf axbxc in size. How do you fit all of this crap on that one shelf?”

Then you find wacky stuff as I mentioned before. In the kitchen, I found about 5 pot lids with no describable mates. Why do we have these lids if we have no bottoms to the lids?

Other than the pantry and a few closets and cabinets, the other major milestone I accomplished was finding a place for my husband’s beer making equipment. I bought him a little beer kit a few Christmases ago, and though it took him some time to finally make the beer, once he got into it he discovered that he really likes it. This hobby combines his enjoyment of cooking with his mad-scientist side. He is now a card-carrying member of the Mr. Beer of the month club, and for the longest time all this beer stuff was all over the kitchen. I took advantage of a brief camping trip he made, and voila, when he returned showed him his new cabinet cleared out for all of his beer stuff. We are both very happy it all has a home now., Customers Be Damned!

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Wednesday 7 April 2010 at 3:21 pm

EDIT: Since posting this, I have learned that the flowers did make it on time for the service, and I received a personal phone call from an FTD representative profusely apologizing for this mess. It does not change my mind about anything I wrote below, but I thought it was worth communicating.

This post is about the evils of big business and the continued loss of customer service in too many large American companies. It also includes a rant about one company in particular, FTD, a company that I hope to warn as many people as possible about. (As a side note, please do not leave a comment and tell me how I should never use on-line florists and should try to get local ones instead, yeah, figured that out by now, but thanks anyway).

I recently had an awful experience with the company FTD, who advertise themselves as “the flower experts,” and it got me thinking about how customer service seems to be a distant memory when it comes to large companies like this one. Customer service is a big issue for small companies who specialize in niche markets like crafting, but for many large companies like FTD, the customers’ needs are overshadowed by the “bottom line.” They are out to make a buck, period. If that means lying to customers and outsourcing jobs to other countries (the company is based in Illinois), so be it. Maybe their underhanded tactics will lose some customers, even a lot of customers, but thanks to the Internet, there are so many more suckers out there the customers they lose can easily be replaced.

Here’s my FTD horror story, and from what I’ve heard from others, it’s not unique at all:

My sweet 91 year old grandmother passed away recently, and the service is being held a few thousand miles away from where I live. My sisters are also not able to attend, so we decided to combine our resources and put in a donation to her local Meals on Wheels (which used to help my grandmother out before she had to move to a nursing home) and send a small plant to the service with a note about the donation. I volunteered to take care of all the details, and after searching on-line, selected FTD to purchase a small pink rose bush from.

I started to order it on-line but realized there was no information provided to tell me when the plant would arrive. I called the customer service number and asked about it, and the FTD saleswoman assured me it could get there on the specific date and time that I requested and proceeded to take my order. She seemed nice enough but was very difficult to understand due to her thick Indian accent, and I had to spell out practically every single word I spoke so that she could understand me. Of course, this should have been a red flag, but I persisted.

Finally, I completed the order, and a few minutes later received a confirmation email that included the note I asked to be included with the plan. Here is another red flag: most of the words were misspelled. For example, grandma was spelled granma. However, the email allowed me to go in and make corrections to the note, so that’s what I did.

I didn’t hear anything for a few days, and then I received an email with a tracking number. I tracked the package only to discover that the time I asked for delivery was not the time listed. I asked for it to show up at 10am, thinking that would be plenty of time for the 2pm service. Fedex had it listed as arriving at 3pm! I immediately called FTD, talked to yet another person with a very heavy Indian accent who asked me crazy questions like what was the address it was being shipped to! I didn’t have it with me, and asked him back, “Don’t you know where it is going?”

I finally got a chance to ask him about why the package was going to be delivered later than promised and was told that “FTD cannot guarantee delivery.”  I said, “So the woman who I talked to yesterday who promised it would be there by 10am either lied or doesn’t know what she’s doing; is that what you are telling me?” He simply replied, “Yes.” Un-freaking believable!

I’ve been going back and forth with the FTD customer service on-line email form too with just about the same amount of success. In fact, I can tell from the canned answers that no one has actually read what I wrote.

I do a fair amount of on-line shopping, both with large and small companies. Good customer service is more important than ever to me when I do not get to touch the merchandise. Some companies (QVC, Lands End, Jjill, Rio Grande, LL Bean, just to name a few) seem to have a strong understanding of how to acquire and keep good customers. It is because of this that I return to them again and again to shop.

Then there are places like FTD who are on the opposite end of the spectrum and personify much of what has gone wrong in American business today. Banks, mortgage companies, some car manufacturers, stock brokerage firms all have gone by the motto “customers be damned; take the money and run.” And what do we all have to show for this attitude? This has trickled down and negatively affected the national economy. Too many corporations have no ethical backbone and view the American citizen as a chump to be taken advantage of.

How can we fight against this?

I don’t think there is one answer. I know for me, the next time I call a company and the person on the other end of the phone has to have me spell every word I speak, I’m simply hanging up and moving on!

Spring Cleaning Jewelry Discoveries!

Blogged under etsy,Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Tuesday 6 April 2010 at 9:33 am

I am on day two of spring cleaning while on spring break, and so far, I’m making some decent progress. Along with general cleaning, I’ve been going through closets and cabinets in an attempt to find more space for all this, er, ah, “stuff” that we have accumulated over the 15 or so years we’ve lived in this house, and I’m finding all kinds of things I had forgotten about.

Some of my finds are on the weird side. For example, I discovered a slew of small candles tucked away in a cabinet. Now, the thing is that I never use candles because I have dogs and cats running around the house, and burning flames and pets just don’t mix. I’m guessing these were all gifts at various points in my life from well-meaning friends who do not own pets themselves.

Here are some other odd items I have found and discarded either on the trash heap out front or will discard via Goodwill later this week: a rotary dial phone (those suckers are heavy too!); a fax machine (we have no land-lines in our house any more and from what I remember some of the buttons on this thing don’t work anymore); a chocolate fountain that has never been opened (and my husband and I are constantly battling weight problems so this thing has to go!); a stack of VHS tapes, some used some not; an assortment of cloth place-mats (which I rarely if ever use); a box full of old checks from the 1990s. Well, I think you get the picture!

On an up note, other than my house is finally coming together slowly but surely, we’ve been discovering some jewelry stuff around here that I’d totally forgotten about. Recently, for example, my husband was cleaning the soldering area we have set up in our garage and found a whole bunch of unfinished charms we had cast many years ago. They require some filing and polishing, but I plan to get them out and up on my Etsy site. With the cost of silver these days, these babies are worth something. Pictured above is one from the stash that I already have cleaned up, a little sterling silver gator charm. Now my husband is the filing person around here, and I do the polishing, so that means I’ll need some cooperation from him on this venture.

Another find was a fairly large bag of finished jewelry. I think I was carrying it around about 3 or 4 years ago when I was working at another job. People always wanted to see my jewelry and now and then would buy a piece or two, so to keep it out of the work place, I would bring it in a bag and allow them to take it home or look through it during lunch in the break room. I need to go through it, but some of this might also go up on my Etsy site or even here on my blog.

Today, I tackle the kitchen. I don’t think I’ll get the entire room completely cleaned (spring break style cleaned at least), but my goal is to find some space for my husband’s new hobby of making beer. He’s got this stuff all over the kitchen to the point I can’t get to the  pantry without falling over little beer kegs. I’m going to clean out some cabinets and see if I can make room for all his beer stuff. Who knows what I might find?

Crafty Princess Springs into Spring Cleaning

Blogged under My Crafty News by Tammy on Monday 5 April 2010 at 10:20 am

Yes, finally, it is spring break time for me, and I am so looking forward to it. As usual, any time I have a break from school I have a long list of “to-do” items that hopefully I’ll manage to do even half of before the holiday is over. My main goal is to get my house put back together again. Since September 2009, my life outside of my teaching job has revolved primarily around writing my last book. That meant doing the minimum amount of house cleaning to just keep things livable around here.

I am by no means a perfectionist when it comes to house cleaning. In fact, both my husband and I are major clutter bugs, but enough is enough already! I am going room by room and not only cleaning but reorganizing as well so we can get more use out of the space we have around here. Some of this means tossing out (or I should say donating to local thrift stores) a lot of “stuff.” Today I found about a dozen small candles inside a cabinet in the living room (which is the first room I’m tackling). I don’t even use candles because I have dogs and cats running around and feel they are too dangerous. Where did these even come from?

Besides cleaning around here, I have some web house work to do on my site. Primarily this means transferring old content to new templates, which I totally hate doing because I’d much rather have fun creating new jewelry projects, but for SEO purposes, it has to be done sometime.

Before anyone tells me not to work too hard, I have to confess that I’m also reading a wonderful book recently recommended to me, Stoner (New York Review Books Classics). Yes, I know. I’m reading for pleasure, what a concept! I’m about half way through it, and with my horrible allergies, I expect that my cleaning bug will get zapped in about two to three days max, and I’ll be forced to relax and read for awhile.

On that note, I’m returning to my dust mop!

Easter Retro Memories

Blogged under Crafts from the Past by Tammy on Sunday 4 April 2010 at 9:32 am

I’m going through the way back machine today. This is a photo of my two sisters and me (I’m in the center) dressed up for some kind of occasion. I am thinking it might be Easter, but it’s actually hard to say for sure since normally we had matching dresses for Easter Sunday (stitched by mom, of course). However, I do remember that my mother sewed my dress and my little sister’s, and she altered my older sister’s dress, turning it into a mini dress versus the maxi length it originally was.

I don’t know if you can make out some of my mother’s other crafty projects to the right. On the wall is a framed picture of a flower arrangement made of felt pieces. Dangling from the ceiling in front and to the right a little is a faux-bird cage made with yellow pipe cleaners and feathers. Don’t you just love the 1970s for crazy crafts?

Here is wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter holiday!

Get Crafty Link Time

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Saturday 3 April 2010 at 9:47 am

About Family Crafts
April is National Volunteer Month and Sherri has some creative ways you can help others.

Aileen’s Musings
Aileen’s cooked up a printable recipe card with her delicious Strawberry Spring cake recipe.

Cathie Filian
Enter to win a signed advanced copy of Cathie’s new baby fashion book and $130 worth of goodies!!

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
Craftside’s got a bit of ballerina brilliance from the new book Mixed-Media Dollhouses, how to make shag on knitting, a fun recycled decoupage and office supply project and our author make and take schedule for Unique LA.

Farm Girl Roots, City Girl Style
Linda may have finally found the solution to creating a piece of wall art that’s been on her mind for years.

Margot Potter The Impatient Crafter
The Easter Bunny is almost here and Madge has a calorie free jewelry tribute to her favorite holiday candy! Get your Pretty in Peeps Pendant here!

Mixed Media Artist
Want to try doing gel glue resists? Oh, the possibilities!

The Artful Crafter
Does your craft space need de-cluttering? Here are some ways to donate your excess projects and supplies.

The Crochet Dude
Drew thought he might have to freeze himself to avoid going bonkers while waiting to reveal his next full-length book!

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