Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Beaded Branch...Not Just Jewelry Anymore!

Over 10 years ago, when I started The Beaded Branch, I focused mainly on beaded jewelry. If it had beads, and was jewelry, I was willing to try to make it. And I have made some pretty stunning pieces in my life, if I do say so myself.
However, I never gave up my love of doing other kinds of crafts, and continually experimenting. During one of my experimenting phases, I developed a brand new technique for making pendants. I thought they were pretty, and kind of unique, but I didn't know how to finish what I had started, so I set them aside.
A couple of years later, I started experimenting with them again, trying to figure out how to finish them. Once I figured out how to finish them (adding leather onto the back, and ribbon around the edging), I decided to go ahead and make them into pendants. I did, and I started offering them at craft shows. I initially called them "Faux Enameled Filigrees", but that wasn't really very catchy. So, I started talking to Melanie about what we could call these pretty pendants and pins. They had a Victorian air about them, but weren't really Victorian. They were modern looking, but still old-fashioned. We finally settled on the name Present Past Treasures.
At craft shows, they became increasingly popular. People would ooooh and aaaaah over them, and always ask how we made them. After being asked this same question several hundred times (okay, so I'm a little slow...) I decided that maybe, just maybe, writing a tutorial wouldn't be such a bad idea, so I started jotting down ideas on what goes into making Present Past Treasures. I told Melanie that we were going to write a tutorial, and start selling it. She was very excited about the idea.That was two years ago.
For two years, we struggled. We fought. We argued. We made up and would get back to work. It started out as one page of basic directions on a legal pad. We fleshed them out, sending emails back and forth on a weekly basis, and meeting almost monthly to make Present Past Treasures, taking notes of what we couldn't forget to include, where we wanted pictures, what tools we used, what worked, and what didn't. During this time, Melanie was working full time as a teacher (she still is!), and I was a full time, work from home mommy to the twins (I still am!). Once we had the directions and lists of supplies and tools written up, it came time to take pictures. For this, I enlisted my darling hubby. On his one day off, he took photos of me making a tray of Present Past Treasure pendants. He patiently shot the entire process from beginning to end.
Melanie and I then went through all the photos, found the perfect ones, editted them, and put them into the manuscript. As we were going through the writing process, we kept track of helpful hints, safety hints, and the common problems we ran into. At first, we incorporated them into the directions. We then decided, after reading through it, it was too confusing. So we took the hints out, and put them into a seperate section. Then, after reading through it again, the common problems and how to correct them became their own section.
We were never more proud than the day we designed the cover page, added our names as authors, and finished it. We sent it off to several friends of ours to be read to make sure it made sense. After a few minor grammatical changes, we sighed a huge sigh of relief, and got it ready to be listed on our Etsy and ArtFire sites. We couldn't have done it without a lot of people helping. So, we send a special shout out to the following people:

Andrea Baker of Handmade by Andrea Baker:Thanks so much for your proofreading and your wonderful suggestions!

Debbi Andersen:Your support and cheerleading has been completely invaluable!

Jennifer “Coach Ferfer” Stoll: Thanks for teaching us to dream big, and your unwavering belief in us. The Dream will come true!!!

Amanda Day: Your sense of humor, proofreading skills, and believing in us from the first time you heard of this project has been wonderful!!!

Shelley Bossert: Thanks so much for you fabulous advice on copyrighting and being such a lovely lady!

Janine Rowson: Thanks for your proofreading and keeping Theresa from becoming way too comma happy!

The Sassy Sisters in Sales: You ladies ROCK and your support and belief in us is more uplifting than we can possibly explain. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

To our Plurk Buddies: Smiles, laughter, tears, heartache, joy, celebrations. We do it all! You folks are FANTASTIC!!!!!!

Rose and Marlin Meese: Thanks for making sure everything made sense, watching Da Boys when they needed watching, and for being a wonderful inspiration to me to always reach beyond. I love you Mom and Dad.

To Melanie’s family (especially Carolyn Monger, Pamela Jessee, and Rachel Mays): If it weren’t for you bringing out the crafter in me from an early age, who knows if this ever would have been written! Thank you so much!

Tim Landow: Thanks for saying “What ever you want to do honey, you can do!” And for taking AWESOME pictures whenever I asked. And getting dinner when I was intensely writing, editing, or tired. Thanks so much honey! I couldn’t have done it without you! I love you!

Wayne Ellyson: Thank you so much for your support in everything I do. You are my number one cheerleader and I couldn’t do it without you! Love you! (“Quantum!”)

Nick, Joe, Hunter, Stonewall, Sylvester, and Tiger: to all of our kids, 2 and 4 legged. Thanks for your patience while your moms were working on this!!!! We love you more than anything or anyone!!!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Challenge Update and Celebration!

First thing I'm celebrating this week is BEING OVER MY COLD!!! WOOT!!! I hate having a cold worse than anything in the world, so when I recover from one, I'm very happy!
A second thing I'm celebrating is yesterday I got my hair cut. Fairly short. It hasn't been this short in years. But it will help when it comes to time-saving. After I get out of the shower, I can have it dried and styled in about 10 minutes. LOVIN' IT!!!!

Now, onto my big celebration! My "Organization Challenge"! I have a lot to celebrate this week when it comes to that! The great thing about this book (Organize Now!) is that it has checklists. I follow the checklists, and can show you what I have accomplished and how I accomplished them!

Week 1: Organizing the Mind

1. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.
Wow has this helped me get a better perspective on life in general! I wake up refreshed, instead of already exhausted. I feel like I can take on the day much better. I don't need as much coffee. (Okay, I still drink a lot of coffee, but that's just because I love the stuff!!!) And I feel MUCH healthier all around. Sleep is a good thing. Get your seven hours a night. Your body will love you for it!

2. Jotting down a To Do list every morning and
3. Keep a journal
I've always had a journal of some sort, and always wrote out a To Do list first thing in the morning. However, I always made the mistake of having a To Do list with over 30 things on it. Not very realistic, considering I have a house to keep in order, and kids to chase after. So, I have now combined my journal and my To Do list. It really helps to keep things more manageable. I do a "mental" dump every morning of everything that eventually needs to be done into my journal. I then take a look at the big picture, of what big projects are coming up, craft shows, and things like that. I pick out the 5 things from my journal that MUST be accomplished that day. Those 5 things become my To Do list. If I finish early, I can always add something. But if I only accomplish those 5, that's okay, because I have completed a list. And that is something to celebrate!!!!

4. Limit the amount of TV you watch
The TV in our bedroom died recently, so that helps. But the big thing is, I haven't been watching that much TV lately, except for PBS Kids and PBS Sprout. Great shows for kids. Less so for adults. VERY annoying. So, I now schedule TV time for ME! Now, I get to watch one or two shows that I like every afternoon. Which is a good thing, because I think our DVR was about to explode from all the shows that are on there. And it's a wonderful panacea to my frazzled brain. Watching an episode of Ghost Hunters or Dr. Phil or Destination Truth clears my brain of The Little Einsteins, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and The Wiggles.

5. Schedule 2 or 3 two-minute breaks throughout the day and
6. Practice meditating

I have started combining these two. I sit on my screened in porch, and clear my mind for a couple of minutes. I breathe deep and slowly, with my eyes closed, and listen to the sounds of nature around me. I allow myself to relax. This has been so very helpful, and I can get back to my "center". It invigorates me when I return back to whatever task I have next on my list of things to do.

7. Schedule exercise time.
Bad me, I haven't done this yet. But I will. As soon as life calms down a little bit.

8. Schedule "Me Time"
I've always been an advocate of this for everyone. After a day of being on call to what seems like everyone in the world, I need some time away from everyone and everything. Every evening, after dinner, my hubby is now in charge of getting everything ready for bedtime for the boys. He has to prep the nursery, get sippy cups filled with water, and start to pick up toys. I get to go take a long, hot, bubble-filled bath, with a good book or relaxing music. It's always been my favorite time of the day.

9. Eliminate energy drainers--clutter, trash, projects that will never get done due to loss of interest, things like that.
Okay, I'm still working on this. Pretty much, this encapsulates my entire house. But I'm working on it. Slowly.

10. Take better control of your time.
I'm having a little trouble doing this. The boys are very demanding at times, and it really interrupts my work flow. HOWEVER--since I have only 5 things on my To Do list at any given time, I'm getting a little better at this. I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to find a schedule and stick to it!!!!

Now we skip ahead to:

Week 14: Organize you Crafts

This project I'm realizing is going to have to be on going though out this challenge. There is so much STUFF in the craft room/office that sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees. I am trying to cut down some of those trees, however.

Recently, I cleared a small space in the middle of the craft room, and did a slow 360, really seeing things as they are, not just looking around. One thing I saw was a box of soap making supplies that have been through 2 moves, and are now collecting dust. I got online, contacted one of my soap-making friends, asked if she wanted a bunch of old supplies I don't need anymore, and now they are boxed up, ready to go into the mail next week. She called it a "Random Act of Kindness". I call it "Decluttering" and "Moving Stuff to Someone Who Will Actually Use It." But, whatever works! LOL. So, soon I'm hoping to see some more pretty soaps coming from Mary at Satisfy Your Senses. I can guarentee she'll be having some new soaps sometime in the future! (LOL)

So, what's the message there? If you have a bunch of old supplies you don't need or don't want--find someone who does. Find someone who has that interest and pass the stuff on to them. It's a twofold reward: You clear out space, and your friend will aquire new supplies, at no cost. (Yeah, that's the key--GIVE the supplies. Don't SELL them. The karma that comes back will be wonderful! Plus, it gives warm, fuzzy feelings for all involved.)

My jewelry supplies are an ongoing battle. And will for awhile. But small dents are being made, and everytime I bag, label, and put away another set of beads, or piece of jewelry, I'm one step closer to my goal. Baby steps. Not huge strides. But even baby steps can get me somewhere.

Next week: Week 14 (Organize your Crafts) (I did say this is going to be ongoing!!) and Week 2: Organize your Schedule.

Keep your sand blue and have a great week!!!!