Little bloomers... Some of the first courtyard flowers are the Helleborus Orientalis. They are loverly nodding little blooms. Also, the Gunnera that we experimented with seems to still be alive despite looking brown and dead. It is the courtyards second year and I am expecting great things from all the plants. We recently uncovered the banana and it looks ready for the warmer weather. We are hoping that this year it gets taller than we are and gives that great tropical look to the garden.

I still love the sound that the palm fronds give in the breeze. It's like a vacation in the courtyard and everyone should have an outdoor space like that!

Pergola Update

The pergola is coming along... another level of compacting the base has been done and it is being prepped for laying the patio. The kitties sometimes like to watch from the window.

Want a Million dollars?!

Yeah, me too.

How about just adding your blog to a list that will make you officially: One in a Million...
Okay, sure, I'll play. It's an experiment to see how long it will take to get to one million. I am mostly interested in the social aspect to how it is networked in and developed.

I first heard about this from the forums on Etsy at this thread:

Then as I was looking thru my blog subscriptions I found that Waterrose
(a fabulous Etsy seller) had posted about it on her blog as well...

so there you go, this is how it spread to me. I have the Million blog disease...

Join the Million Blog List here.

I want to know how much it costs to make!

Previously, I would just get over the fact that I had no idea what these beads cost. I would just have to guestimate what the cost was and cross my fingers that I was somewhat accurate.

However, I am starting a new thing. When a order arrives (which is a bit too often) I now price out the cost per bead. (It's funny, I do the same for my biodiesel MPG's.) As things get more costly, I want to keep closer track.

So, grab the string of beads, count them, divide the cost per string by the # of beads (and round up to the nearest penny for sanity's sake). Viola! Now you can tell the exact cost of the jewelry when you add up the bead costs.

Check out the good mess that Unwired created using this process. I don't have a pretty little computer program calculating the costs yet, but maybe in the future.

JJMFinance on etsy also has some great tools, and is a wonderful supporter of the etsy community!

So keep track! The future success of your business depends on it.

Price this, price that, and keeping track!

I sell my handmade beaded jewelry on Etsy.

Etsy, for those of you who are:
1 ~ not clicking on my links
2 ~ not inclined to hang out all hours of the day looking for great handmade things to buy
is an online resource in which crafters can sell their items.

It is full of helpful people, and people who are looking to get handmade items for a great price but cutting out the middle man (or as much of the middle man as possible).

Because it's open to pretty much anyone who wants to sell their handmade items, this also means that many people are not necessarily "business savvy". I'm not saying that I am, but I will tell you a few little things that I have learned.

I realized that I would need a business license to do what I wanted. It also allows me to purchase wholesale and be tax exempt (that is not pay sales tax). This also means that I have to do my business taxes... it's only the right thing to do.

The next thing I needed to to was find a way to keep track of all these things. This is where it gets interesting...
I find it enjoyable to be organized and know all the details of where the money is going. I feel it is only the responsible thing to do if I want to be successful at this.

I use MS Excel to keep track of all the sold items pennies. (Click the photo above). This is a list of the categories that I include at the top of each column:
1 Item : Actual item that sold ( I actually hyperlink to the sold listing in Etsy)
2 Sold date : self explanitory I hope...
3 Ship date : The date I actually get it into the hands of the post office
4 Purchaser: The name of the purchaser according to PayPal
5 Address: The address according to PayPal (I do check to make sure Etsy address complies)
6 E-mail: E-Mail according to PayPal
7 Notes: I have this just in case I need to remember anything
8 Price: Full item price as listed in Etsy (I don't have sales, so I have not needed to adjust anything)
9 Shipping: Actual cost of postage
10 Handling: Anything over the actual shipping price goes towards packaging and transportation to the post office, time it takes to package the items etc.
11 Shipping notes: Information such as tracking number, additional shipping services, special requests...
12 Tax: Sales tax applies to WA state residents
13 Sales total: (sum of 8, 9 and 12) is the actual grand total for the purchaser including everything
14 Etsy Fees: cost of fees to sell on Etsy
15 PayPal Fees: cost of fees to sell via paypal
16 Net Total: (sum of 8 - 14 - 15)
17 Cost: Actual cost of materials used (sometimes I have to guestimate this)
18 Listing Fee: the 20 cents that it costs to list on Etsy (or more if relisted)
19 Item Income: (sum of 16 - 17 - 18) actual income

So from what I have heard, #19 should reflect the cost of materials (meaning double materials) and time (whatever you choose your hourly wage to be) and overhead (cost of tools, replacing items, health insurance if needed, display supplies, camera, batteries (I know you have Venom brand rechargables!).... all those little things...

Clear as mud?

No seriously, this is what I have learned so far... it is different for different types of items. Let me know what you think, or if you see anything I have missed.

Happy Crafting!

Staying up too late leads to silliness

Beads and silliness can mix it up sometimes... :)

Etsy things that scream "mom!"

So, some of you know my parents. Well, Krista (sis) who reads this does anyway. Maybe a few others, I have no idea really who reads this.

I am going to make the (not so bold) assumption that mom has no idea how to get to my blog, doesn't know the address to it, and will not ask the librarian how to do it.

There are some things on Etsy that my mom really needs. See, they (my parents) don't spend money on many things and it leads to an interesting re purposing of items around the house. I guess it keeps things interesting and leads to conversation. My half of the conversation usually goes like this "Why don't you just spend $5 and get something that works?" To which the reply would be "This works great!"

I'm here to tell you, it doesn't work great. Sometimes it doesn't work at all.

This has led to me purchasing several little things for them occasionally. I did get them a big thing once, and that was just a waste. Remember when DVD's came out (lets date ourselves now)? Well my parents (who avoid R rated movies) were still trying to find VHS compatible media to watch. Dad would come home from the thrift store with a very old, hardly playable movie to watch. Then every few minutes he would have to fuss with the player to get the darn thing to play properly.

This would drive me nuts! So for the holidays one year I got them something that I thought would be great, a VCR/DVD combo! Then dad could watch "Overboard, with Goldie Hawn" to his hearts content. It works perfectly, came with a remote that could work the TV also, but do they use it.... no. Somehow, they have stopped watching movies altogether! I would too if my TV didn't get "red". It seriously is all green and yellow... I suppose if it really bothers them they can watch the black and white 12 inch that they have. Just like the good old days.

So, this leads me to my other point. My mother uses an old blue sock to keep her glasses in. I mean, that is great and all that she is reusing the sock... and it does lead to conversations among the family... but I found a reasonable other option so that the poor sock can finally retire to sock heaven...
It even has chickens on it Ma! Whats not to love!

It's not so bad, you can use it to catch up on reading my blog!

What is this? Is it a scheduled downtime? Did someone break Etsy again?

I was going to update a few things, but alas, I guess it will have to wait till tomorrow. This gives everyone some time to either prepare their rants, or get caught up on those things that we should all be doing otherwise anyhow. (Aren't otherwise & anyhow great together! It could be a great store name.)

In any case, I hope that everyone is at least glancing at my shops and browsing my blog. I try to keep it light and refreshing... let me know if there is a subject that you would like to hear about.

I guess I get to bead (I have some great colors I am working with!) and watch Letterman drop a bunch of balls on a car. He's always up to something that seems interesting while I am sleepy. He should do eggs, but that would be a waste.

In any case, I hope that you get some things done and feel accomplished despite the Etsy downtime.

Pergola construction update

There has been a whole lot of progress on the pergola. I have mostly been documenting this progress from a distance. So here it is, a custom pergola with custom cut wood from Uncle Rays mill.

I believe next up is the "floor"of poured concrete... which will eventually become a footing for us to fill in the odd corner of the house...

Yeah, we are not sure why there is a corner missing. In any case, the shed that once was is being turned into cozy wood stove heat, and the enormous old stump is waiting it's turn as it dries out for winter.

Long time no photo!

I know you are probably getting bored reading all the text. I know that I like a photo occasionally too.

So the other day, we were going about the things that we go about here. Mostly beading and working on improvements... and we looked out the back window to see that one of the neighbors has a pot of gold! I like how the whole area is lit up like the rainbow actually ends there!

It was after a rain during sunset and we were delighted to see two rainbows! Yup. Happy photos.

Do it yourself!

I knew when I bought it I would be having to sacrifice a little sanity and money. I bought it anyway.

The most recent vehicular event has been minor, and I learned a few more tidbits about my little car. One of the things I learned is that many "car" people who work on their own, while they want to be their usual very helpful selves, don't "do diesel". I know ahead of time that the used car I was getting was not the perfect car that would never have an issue at all. James has that vehicle, it's a Toyota. His runs on gas though and maxes out at 18 MPG.

When I bought the car, I also bought the manual. It is full of writing. Yup, I think it's English too.

About a week ago we were leaving to go somewhere and the cute little "check engine" light came on. The lights are actually cute in a beetle as they are shaped like the car itself, which further enamored me when I bought it. So here is this little harmless looking light, so easily ignored... I did a u-turn and went back up the driveway.

We have this nifty little Scanner that we can hook up to the computer so that it will tell us the "codes" and give us a hint as to what she (Sprout is a girl) needs. Besides just the codes it has great information about efficiency (see previous posts).

The code was PO380. Looking up the code on the handy dandy internet led me to believe that my Glow Plug Relay needed to be replaced. Sounds simple right? It is if you have the right tools... luckily, James has the right tools and the correct skills to read that manual, and more importantly, find things in it.

My parents were able to pick up the part that is apparently made with diamonds and I was forced to pay them back...

I sat (if you can call it that) upside down in the car. Literally, with my head at the gas pedal, and my feet in the air. Don't laugh, it's like yoga. So here I am, blood rushing to my head, contorted so that I can see what I am doing, yet not have things fall in my face, trying to decide if I would do this all day for $50 an hour.... Considering the hospital bill for "contortion strain", maybe not.

I got all this done, put the plastic covers back where they belong and the car started just as well as it ever had. Then the little light came on. This is usually the point where (were I working) I would take it to the dealer and pay them to use their diamond encrusted tools to fix it. I didn't.

After consulting the internet once again I decided to check the electric conductivity of the glow plugs themselves. With James' help we got out the handy dandy multimeter and got some fantastically odd readings! The kind of readings that make a person think that maybe the world is flat after all and Einstein was just this crazy dude who liked to stick his fingers in light sockets. Then we changed the battery in the multimeter.

As it turned out, the #2 glowplug was bad according to the ohms reading. After purchasing a new one and it took about 30 minutes of work changing them out. (I'm sure a mechanic could have done this in less than 5 minutes, but I bet s/he couldn't bead a cellini spiral one drop peyote stitch bracelet).

Sprout is very happy, and none of her cute little lights are on (unless I open the trunk).
I bet I saved $300, which will go toward Biodiesel and piece of mind that I can change a glow plug and relay!