Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #24: Six Month Status Check

Greetings from Ocean City, MD! It doesn't have the same ring as "Greetings from Asbury Park" -- an early Springsteen album for those not familiar with the reference -- but it's where I am at the moment. :)

Since I'm technically on vacation, I'm not going to spend too much time on this week's message. I just wanted to check in with my audience, since this is the 24th message posted here. I'm new to blogging, so I would like to get some feedback on what I'm doing right and what I'm not. In the six months I've been writing here, I've gotten two off-list emails about these entries. For all I know, that means only two people have read anything I've written. I'm used to the interactive dialogue of message boards, so I kind of feel like I'm talking to myself here. :o

If you can please take a minute or two to let me know what you like and don't like about these weekly messages, I'd appreciate it. What content do you like to read here? What stuff do you think is uninteresting? Is there anything you would like me to include more or less of in future messages? What kind of content would be beneficial to you? Does the stuff about my personal life feel like TMI, or do you like reading about I'm up to these days? I basically recap what's going on in my life at the moment, both personally and professionally, when I sit down to write. I tend to put more of the educational-type stuff in the Focal Piece of the Month feature on the website (the new one is up, BTW). Is that working for you? I would be grateful to receive any and all thoughts, suggestions, critical commentary, etc. directly on the blog and/or Facebook Fan Page, or via email. My first preference would be to have them on the blog, but feel free choose whatever method works best for you. The important thing is to get the information to me, as it will help me map out a direction in which to take Something Tangible's blog/email newsletter in the future. Thanks so much in advance for your input! :)

It was 101 degrees here today, and I got sunburned while crabbing. :\

Have a good week, one and all! :)
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #23: Happy Father's Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Father's Day.

Mom came with me to the Rings & Things Bead Tour in East Hanover, NJ today. Man, was she blown away! LOL She had no idea what to expect, so seeing a large hotel ballroom set up with rows and rows of tables full of bead strands and findings made her eyes pop out! :p I think she was mildly impressed that I knew what I was doing. I spent way too much money -- but I got a lot of good deals, and I even found some of the stuff that was on my Wish List at their website, so it made the trip worthwhile. ;) They will be back again in September...I'll have to make sure I get there! :D

I also made time this weekend to finally finish my first bead stitching project...the St. Petersburg Medallion piece that I started at Linda Gettings' workshop in March. I decided to undo the medallions and start over again, since my first ones were pretty sloppy. :o What started out as a bracelet turned into a necklace because I had seven medallions and attached them to each other across the top, then realized the bracelet would be too large. So, I used the piece I created as the center of a necklace and sewed a St. Petersburg chain onto each end to finish it. I'm pretty pleased with the result, although I apparently took an unorthodox approach to the project. Apparently, people usually pick one base color and one accent color and use that pattern throughout the piece. In my "dare to be different" mentality, I mixed and matched the combinations, choosing a different pair in each medallion. I also alternated back and forth between the two colors in the attached chain, so I think it balances well. :)

This past week, I had a minor coup when Factoidz accepted my first submitted article! I adapted the Focal Piece of the Month on cuttlebone casting and submitted it as a how-to article. It's gotten a lot of positive feedback and I am now ranked the #3 expert in jewelry-making on Factoidz! LOL I haven't even been doing this for a year and I'm already an expert. Only in America, folks! ;) In case you missed the article, you can find it here: Cuttlebone Casting: A Technique for Jewelry and Sculptures.

I'm making headway on the administrative projects I mentioned last week. Breaking down overwhelming tasks into manageable chunks of time definitely takes the stress out of them for me. :)

We're due for website updates later this week, so keep an eye out for a new Focal Piece of the Month. We'll all be surprised, since I haven't decided what it is yet! LOL

Next week, I will be writing from Ocean City, Maryland via my new Acer Notebook. My family goes there during the last week of June every year, and we're leaving on Saturday morning. :)

Have a good week, everyone!
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #22: It's All About Time Management and Productivity

When you own your own company, it takes a lot of dedication, determination, patience, flexibility, (money!), and very good time management skills to make it a success. I'm learning this the hard way, but it's still early enough in my journey to make the most of my new discovery.

I ended up working most of the day today...and it is a Sunday...because I got very little done on Friday. I went to lunch with a former colleague, accompanied her to Walmart afterward, and ended up getting home close to 5:00 p.m. I also have a bunch of appointments scheduled for next week, very few of them business-related. However, I've made an investment in two tools of modern technology that will hopefully help me to maximize the time I am working. One of them will also help me in my personal life.

The first investment is making an effort to organize my schedule. I decided to start using the Google Calendar feature on Gmail, since my new Palm Pixi (free upgrade from Verizon) can sync with it and keep me on time (for a change). You can input events and tasks in the calendar and assign times when you want to receive email and pop-up reminders for each event. I actually got to see this week's episode of "Three Rivers" -- congratulations to Alex O'Loughlin for being named Donate Life's Person of the Year 2010! -- live! I got involved in something last week and forgot all about it. I had to watch it online mid-week at With the calendar's pop-up feature, I got a message on my screen 10 minutes before the show started, so I could finish what I was doing and watch it! My Palm Pixi also alerted me to the airtime, and I could hit the "Snooze" button to have it remind me again in five minutes! I LOVE these features! :) And adding my To-Do tasks into the calendar rids my desk of the multitude of notes on tiny slips of paper I had all over it. I will be beyond organized if I keep this up. Good-bye pocket calendar! ;)

The second investment I made was a financial one, but still related to time management and productivity. I purchased Bead Manager Pro software to help me keep track of my materials, inventory, customers, vendors, etc. It even takes into account my overhead direct and indirect expenses to calculate my ideal hourly rate! It seems to be pretty straight-forward and easy to use. The challenge will be getting ALL of that information into the system. I wish I knew about this eight months ago! :p At times like this, I wish I had a partner or an employee...anyone with whom I can split up the work (and in the case of a partner, the finances! :D). So, I've blocked out an hour each weekday morning on the calendar to enter data into the system. Once I have that all completed, I can erase the handful of Excel spreadsheets I am currently using to keep track of expenses, NJ Sales Tax collected, funds invested in the company, etc. The program can print profit/loss statements (I'm not in a hurry to use that feature), catalogs (a more professional presentation binder, perhaps?), invoices, etc. Everything I did myself the hard way, this program will be able to expedite. Well worth the $97 investment (on sale for customers until tonight), if you ask me. ;)

In addition to the Palm Pixi, I also received an Aspire One Acer Notebook I purchased on eBay this week. I've linked it up to my home PC, so I can take all of my files with me when I go on vacation in a couple of weeks. No rest for the weary! ;) Seriously, though, I don't plan to work all through my vacation, but being able to keep up with minimal administrative tasks while I'm gone will make my return that much easier. :)

I finished my Bead Challenge project for the Bead Society of New Jersey (BSNJ) meeting this Thursday. I'm happy with how it turned out...we'll see if the voters on Thursday are, too! Wish me luck! :)

Still trying to fit in some "real work" in the midst of all of the administrative set-up and personal stuff. I've been working on some handcrafted sterling silver blank links (there's a bracelet with hammered ones in the Design Samples GALLERY on the website and on the company's Facebook Fan Page if you don't know what I mean) for a family friend's necklace. She wants a Venetian glass necklace revamped because the original links looked like macaroni. LOL She bought the necklace in Venice, so she figures it is worth the cost of having it "fixed." :)

Back to work! Have a great week! At least the weather has calmed down here somewhat. :)
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #21: Plugging Right Along...

Last week was pretty productive for my first week as a full-time jewelry designer. I'm learning how to juggle my "job" with my other real-life commitments and responsibilities, but I think it will all eventually balance out. I ended up still working most nights and part of the weekend, but I figure that's a trade off for the "business hours" I spent doing personal stuff. :\ Eventually, I hope to be productive enough during the day to take evenings and weekends off! That may be a fantasy, but wish me luck! ;)

Still playing catch-up on "back burner" projects, but I'm hoping to get them done before the end of June. That may also be wishful thinking. LOL Yesterday, I started making a bracelet for the Bead Society of New Jersey's (BSNJ) Bead Challenge, which will take place at the June meeting in a couple of weeks. We were provided with a variety of beads to use (we must use a minimum of two of each kind). We can add anything we want to complete the project, so I'm adding the base material for the bracelet and a few additional beads. I'll let you know how it turns out next week! :)

I went to see "Peter Pan" today at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Mom bought tickets for me, herself and my two nieces. It was a good production (PMP ones usually are), and we all had a good time. We met up with my sister and her husband for dinner afterward to celebrate Mom's birthday, which was Friday. She's 66. :)

Unfortunately, early June seems to have carried over May's "doom and gloom" element. I just received word that a high school friend's mother passed away last night, and I found out about the sudden death of an acquaintance yesterday. They say things like that happen in threes. I don't want to know what's coming next. Ironically, I did make my cemetery visit on Friday. The funeral flowers were still on the grave a month later...all dead. Not a pretty picture, but it seemed to fit the mood, I guess. :(

I got a surprise visit from another high school friend yesterday, who was visiting his sister in New Jersey (he currently works in Maryland). We had a nice's been four or five years since we saw each other in person, I think. At least he didn't bring any bad news with him! ;)

A new week starts wishes to all! ;)
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