Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tangible Tidbits 2012 #12: From Romania to Recycled Contact Lenses

Hello, everyone! Hope all is well in your part of the world. :)

I received an email this week from a reader in Romania I've known for probably more than a decade. We've never met, although she calls herself "My Romanian twin," as we have a lot of things in common. She wrote to tell me that she checked out "Smash" after reading my review and she LOVES it! LOL She also invited me to come stay with her in Romania sometime! I've never been...I have no idea how long it takes to fly there. Honestly, I'm not even sure exactly where it is in Europe (sorry, Patty! :o) I may seriously have to consider making this trip one of these years. I have a ton of frequent flyer miles, but not much of a vacation budget. She even offered to cook for me so I can save on food! ;) Anyway, just thought I'd tell you about the most interesting invitation I'd received this week. LOL

I FINALLY got my income tax information organized yesterday and it will be delivered to the accountant tomorrow. It took me about five hours to get it all sorted out...I hope the figures are correct! I'm so glad THAT'S over! WHEW! :p

While surfing around Facebook earlier today, I came across two kewl applications for company pages -- Fan of the Week and Top Fans. The first one acknowledges a fan based on interactions with the page that week. The second app determines and recognizes people with the most points (not sure how that is evaluated by the system yet), likes, & comments on the page in a given week. I've added both apps to the SomethingTangibleLLC and Something Tangible Virtual Mall pages, so keep an eye out for your name to appear! ;)

I've got a few new projects I want to work on over the next week or so. My hair is getting long, so I want to make some new barrettes. I have a few different ideas I'd like to try. Also, I want to start making Shamballa and Chen Luu wrap bracelets. Making the Shamballa bracelets shouldn't be too hard, since I know macramé and I'm pretty sure that's how they're made. The Chen Luu bracelets will be a little harder. Although they may look straight forward to make by looking at them, I want to follow directions in case there's something more to it than I can see with the naked eye. ;) I heard someone taught a class with the wrong size beads and the bracelets all fell apart. I don't want to make THAT mistake. :p I saw instructions for one somewhere on the web not to long ago. I just have to remember where I saw them and print them out. ;)

Well, I wasn't as "well-behaved" at BSNJ's Vendor Night as I had been at the MJSA Expo earlier in the week. Still, I think I only spent about $20. I found some pretty rock-like focal beads, as well as crystal cube beads, leather cord, and a button for the wrap bracelet. There was a lot of really kewl stuff there, including Michael Harrington Beads, who makes colorful and creative focal beads out of recycled contact lenses that look like Lampwork glass. They are too rich for my blood at $10-20 EACH. Still, they are very pretty, and I do admire that he has found an innovative use for old contact lenses. :)

Well, I've got to go dry my hair...I sat down here right after my shower, and it's getting a bit chilly! I can't complain, though. Here on the East Coast, we practically skipped winter altogether this year! :D

Take care and have a great week! :)

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tangible Tidbits 2012 #11: Progressing In Some Areas...Stalled In Others

Good afternoon, all! I had another NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique) treatment first since last June. I've been wanting to go back for a long time, but financial considerations had me put it off. As it stands, the treatments are considered out-of-network for my health insurance, so I have to pay out-of-pocket until I reach my deductible of $3,000. :o I sincerely doubt I will need THAT many treatments, but it is covered by the flexible spending allowance (FSA) plan we have at work, so I can pay for them that way. :p Yesterday's treatment was to eliminate reactions to nuts and spices. When I left the doctor's office yesterday, the reactions had been completely cleared...I just had to stay away from those items for 25 hours to hopefully make it stick. The "fasting period" ended around 1-1/2 hours ago. It's really harder than it seems because things you wouldn't ordinarily associate with nuts or spices may have them in their ingredients. For example, I found out that Cheez-Its have paprika in them! Also, there are spices in many fragrances and aromatherapy oils, as well as mint in chewing gum, toothpaste, lip balm, and mouthwash. To be on the ultra safe side, I tend to avoid anything that MIGHT have the ingredients I'm trying to avoid in them, which makes for a very long 25 hours. I usually get headaches and just spend most of the time in bed. :p My next appointment is in three weeks, so I'll find out then how successful I was. Wish me luck! :)

As you know, I took the week off to do my income taxes. Well, I still haven't finished them. I printed out reams and reams of paper this week in preparation, though. Statements from my business and personal credit cards and checking accounts -- do you believe Bank of America (BoA) doesn't offer year-end summaries for business checking accounts? I get one for my Cash Management Account at Merrill Lynch, which is affiliated with BoA, as well as most of my credit cards. Particularly for business accounts, you'd think that would be a value-added service they'd offer! Instead, I have to go through statements for all 12 months of last year. Needless to say, that's part of the reason I haven't finished yet. I've pretty much decided to take one figure at a time and work on it piecemeal. I have a worksheet from the accountant to fill in with last year's figures included for reference, so I will just work on the categories (personal medical & health expenses or business education expenses, for example) one by one. Thankfully, I've left myself enough time that I should get them done by the end of March. Fingers crossed! :p

Speaking of education expenses, I found out that the registration and transcript holds on my records at Montclair State are because I owe them $415 and change from the Spring 2011 semester. Their policy, apparently, is that students are required to keep on top of their financial obligations themselves, which is why the school never notified me that there was a balance due. Although I was told where to find the information on the MSU system online, I could not find dollar amounts anywhere. Since they obviously were not anxiously looking for the funds -- and I have no plans to register for another class in the immediate future -- they will have to wait for the money, as I just got my car insurance bill for the next six months. Being that I leased a new car last year, the premiums are almost double what I was paying for the older car! Does it ever end???

On a more positive note, I was invited to join a Facebook group called "We Support Other Businesses" this week. The basic idea is to promote Facebook page traffic on each others' pages in a non-spammy way. They seem like a fun group of people, and very supportive (as you'd expect! LOL). One of the things I promoted there is Factoidz, since these professionals could benefit from the exposure as authors in their areas of expertise. Factoidz happens to be hosting a promotion now to increase awareness, and someone can win a $100 gift certificate. Since I was promoting it anyway, I figured I might as well submit the link. ;) I really have to write another article's been quite a while. :o

I also (finally!) tackled one other "major" project this week...I cleaned up my office/studio work area! It's 98 percent cleaned up...I still have a small pile of stuff to be sorted out and put away, but it is 1,000 times better than it was! :) I heard or read somewhere that "a cluttered environment is the sign of a cluttered mind." Maybe now I can approach the taxes with a clear mind!? LOL

Well, I've taken up enough of your time on this sunny Sunday afternoon (at least it's sunny here!). I hope you all enjoy what's left of your weekend and have a great week! :)

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tangible Tidbits 2012 #10: MJSA Expo & "Smash"

Hello, everyone! Today was pretty busy, as I went into NYC by bus with a couple of friends from the MSU Metalsmith Guild to check out the MJSA (Manufacturers | Jewelers | Suppliers | Artisans) Expo at the New York Hilton. My friend had the address incorrect, so we walked about seven blocks out of the way from Port Authority to the wrong hotel! Luckily, I had the information from the website in my Google Calendar on my phone, so were able to get to where we needed to be. :) I didn't know what to expect of the event, but it was like the other gem shows I've attended in the past...lots of tables of vendors showcasing bead strands, cabochons, faceted gems, focal pieces, chain and other findings, studio equipment, etc. I was good in that I didn't buy anything! ;) It was fun to hang out with my friend Kristina...we had a good time together. Now that I know what to expect, I will only attend if I have money to spend and something specific I want to find. Luckily, the weather was nice...warm enough to wear my denim jacket, and I ended up taking it off on the ride home! I'm feeling the effects of all that walking now in my bad knee and part of my left foot for some reason. :\ I plan to take it easy for the rest of the week, though. :p

I bumped into a couple of members of the Bead Society of New Jersey at the show! We're having our Vendor Night -- a members only shopping event -- on Thursday evening. I will hopefully reign myself in again...twice in one week is a lot to expect, though! LOL In our quest for officers for next year, I was contacted by two sisters who may be interested in serving as Members-at-Large. They will speak to current officers in that role on Thursday, and hopefully put their hats in the ring. :) If they do, then we still have at least one more and possibly two Member-at-Large position(s) to fill, as well as President and Vice President. I have a feeling those last two will be the hardest, as the positions seem daunting. :o We have a number of impressive programs already scheduled for the fall, and it would be a shame if we have to cancel because the group dissolves. :( Wish me luck! :p

I watched a marathon of the first five episodes of NBC-TV's "Smash" on Saturday. I'd read about it and thought it would be interesting, but it airs against "Hawaii Five-0," so I never caught it. I like it a lot! This week's H50 is a rerun, so I'm off to watch "Smash" now. :)

Have a great week! :D

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Tangible Tidbits 2012 #9: My First Runway Show!

Hi, everyone! Well, I survived my participation in Montclair State University's (MSU) Metalsmith Guild's Jewelry Galleria last night! Truth be told, it was more fun than I anticipated. I half-expected it to be tedious and painful. LOL Luckily for me, the turnout wasn't overwhelming due to insufficient publicity. I think I would have been super nervous if there had been 100 people there, as they reportedly had last year. This year, it was closer to 30...and many of those were family members of the other artists or models. :p A coworker from the office was my model, and she and I walked in square around the display tables in the center of the room for SEVEN MINUTES. You have no idea how long seven minutes is until you have to do something like this! LOL We stopped and chatted with people who were interested in looking at the pieces, including some of my former classmates. There were nine artists in all, I think. After the runway portion concluded, we sat at our display tables and chatted with people about our work. I even sold a ring! I didn't really expect this to be a sales event, so that was an unexpected bonus. Many people liked my pieces, especially the Chinese Take-out set and Steampunk box. I didn't bring much with me...just some of my more "arty" pieces, and most of them made in my MSU classes. I did bring one pair of the 4" diameter aluminum disc earrings and the 5" diameter aluminum disc earrings I have. People were blown away by the size, but impressed with the craftsmanship. :) One person made a point of telling me I was very talented, which made me feel good. :) All in all, it was a pretty positive experience.

Earlier this week, I was determined to master making knit ruffle scarves with Katia Triana Lux yarn, which is almost like narrow strips of netting. At least half of the BSNJ Board members were making them at the last Board meeting, and I think they look really kewl. The yarn is back-ordered all over the place -- one person I know bought 20 skeins from a shop in Florida while she was on vacation recently -- but I found some from an eBay seller who happens to be located in Bloomfield, NJ, which is also in Essex County where I live. I went out on a limb and purchased four skeins and some circular knitting needles, even though my "disposable income" these days is already predisposed. :p Still, I was determined. It took me two tries to make my first scarf...the first one was much too wide and short to be functional. Luckily, it came apart with a little effort, and I didn't damage the yarn in the process. My second try was much better, and by the fourth one -- yes, I made all four in a 3-4 day period! -- I made very few mistakes. ;) The design is such that it easily hides imperfections, which I like A LOT! :p Below is a picture of my first completed scarf.

The skeins of yarn I've seen have all been multicolored...I don't know if they make any in one solid color. The ones I purchased were off white-beige-tan (shown above), denim blues, black-white-gray, and teal-turquoise. The last one is my favorite..I may have to keep it for myself! ;) Mom really likes them...she even offered to wear one to Church and sell it right off her neck if anyone wanted it! LOL In fact, one of my friends from the Metalsmith Guild almost bought the black-white-gray one I wore to the show last night right off me! :) Unfortunately, it's pretty warm here right now, so I won't be able to wear them without being too obvious. :o They are almost boa-like, but I wore one to the office last week and they are comfortable. :) With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I wish I found some of the yarn in green! :p

This coming weekend is the MJSA (Manufacturers | Jewelers | Suppliers | Artisans) Expo in New York City. I'm registered for two out of the three days, and will take a day trip with my former classmates at least one day. I'll report on that next week. I've taken the whole week off from the office, partially to recover from the activities and also to get some stuff done around the house. I really have to go through my tax information and get it ready for the accountant. I also have to FINALLY put away some of the stuff on my workbench. I can't even sit at the computer right now -- which has no audio except through headphones at the moment anyway (I am on my Netbook in the kitchen) -- because there's so much "junk" in the way. :o Hopefully, I will get organized next week...maybe I'll feel less claustrophobic! :\

Thanks for sticking with me and have a great week! ;)

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