Notes From Me to You About
Creating Gifts of Love
June 18 - 2008 -
Lost in Space - Did You Miss Me?
All I wanted to do was make it
easier for everyone to purchase more than one of my eggs without having to
do it one at a time. The answer, of course, was a shopping cart process.
So, I decided to upgrade Creative Handz with my web service,
1and1, and it's been an
adventure, ever since.
Apparently, when you direct a
website package to a particular web site, everything about the old
disappears! Yup, files, pictures, e-mail addresses -- everything was gone.
Omigod! No one could find me, and I had given out so many cards and
brochures to people who could not locate me. I just hope they'll come
It's been constant tweaking
(again!) back and forth, but we've finally figured out how to pull it all
together. My e-shop is the actual
site and this friendly little place is a subdirectory (see how I can use the
lingo!) of MCRPNC.com which
automatically directs everyone to creativehandz.mcrpnc.com (that's us) --
which, in turn, makes this site accessible! Yeah! I'm
June 12 - 2008 -
No Matter How Old,
They're Still Your Baby
Thank you, thank you, thank you,
God! My daughter could have been killed but, fortunately, it was just her
right foot that took the brunt of the accident.
"Just her right foot" doesn't
really convey how her next few months will be spent totally dependent on
other people helping her get through the day. Family and friends have
entered into controlled shifts for care and food. She has to keep her foot
elevated for three weeks and won't be able to really attempt putting any
weight down on it for three months. Bad words for a jogger to hear.
But, she wasn't even jogging when
she was hit. She was taking an early morning walk with her man and the
trucker was watching a pretty young jogger while talking on his cell phone!
He must have thought he was in the clear and just didn't see two people in
the middle of the road when he made his turn.
But, as all you mothers can
understand, the bright side is that I am getting to spend much more time
with my 'baby' and that's always a good thing.
June 10 - 2008 -
You're Tempting the Gods
Just when I thought life had
settled into a nice routine, the gods decided to amuse themselves.
What with high gas prices, the craft fair and my daughter getting run over
by a truck, normal got thrown way back into the pile of life.
Annual Millstock Music & Clayton Arts Faire was a great success. The weather
has been unusually hot for these parts and we were on a side street in the
middle of tall buildings. Everyone had hand-fans. Arriving later than usual,
we were left with one of the last available spaces -- right in front of a
long alleyway. Well, lucky us! The alley made a great funnel for
whatever wind was available and we stayed cool throughout the day.
Like being on a sailboat!
Discovered my sister is a great
saleswoman, making sure everyone was taken care of and knew the history an
meaning of all the eggs. Handed out brochures like crazy, while I was
figuring out how to take credit cards offline. But, my new portable
card machine hadn't arrived in time and I was REALLY doing it the
old-fashioned way -- rubbing a hard tube across the top to impress the name
The E-Z Pop-up Tent did as
promised and it was in place in under a minute. We did practice the night
before, just to make sure all the parts were there. One thing for
sure, I will have real cloth table covers for the next fair. Fighting
any kind of wind with plastic table covers is just too much work.
I've been invited to display my
eggs in two separate art galleries and take part in some upcoming art fairs
in the fall. So, you'll be hearing more about that in the next few
When I got home, there was a
message from my daughter. While I had been busy at the fair, she had
been run over by a truck!
May 2008 -
Can the IRS be Your Friend?
Will be doing my first
craft show for Creative Handz at the 8th
Annual Millstock Music & Clayton Arts Faire, Saturday, June 7, 2008, from
ten a.m. to six p.m. It's been
several years since I've done one and found my portable pop-up tent no
longer available. Just recovering from paying my taxes and getting a new
printer, there just wasn't enough money to buy one of those new snazzy EZ
pop tents that I've coveted for so many years. What to do? What to do?
Well, waiting in my
mailbox was a letter from the IRS (dare I open it?). There was no question
about a refund -- none expected, this year. Not only was I more than
curious, it was very obvious that I was out of the loop, as well.
My favorite government
office informed me that I was getting a "stimulus" payment that I could just
run out and spend to my heart's delight. YES! I could do that! And, I will!
Thank you, IRS people.
Creative Handz will make
its debut under a new tent (with fake windows on each side, yet) and the
other accessories needed to make the displays just right. Again, thank you,
God, for your exquisite timing.
Should be fun and
interesting to see what happens. Will not only have a sales display, but
will be demonstrating the technique, as well. Wish me luck.
July 2007 thru April 2008
- Hanging on to the Tiger's Tale
With everything going on,
something had to stop and it was this journal. Had all new flooring put in
the house, which meant moving everything out -- again! -- and then, back in,
again. I feel as though I've been moving for two years and have really lost
track of some items.
So, let's catch up . . .
The Garden - Production
was way above what I expected and there was more than enough to give to
friends and family. Discovered what worked in North Carolina and what
wasn't worth my time. So, this year, the garden is more personal and
defined for our tastes. Stayed ahead of the bugs and hope for the same, this
year. Swiss Chard has become a favorite for everyone and, because it's
so versatile, a very regular part of our diet. My green chard carried
over through the winter and is bigger and better than ever. I cook the stems
along with the greens and they're a great addition to recipes. Have
also decided to keep the orchard inside the back yard for easier kitchen
Solar Cooking - Stunned
our electric company with the fuel savings of $70 per month. Didn't
even know about sun ovens and said I was the only one who actually used less
energy during peak periods. It was no different from using a grill and the
food was always delicious. My biggest most daunting problem was learning how
to measure ingredients for my cookbook. Everything has been tested and
re-tested and now I'm comfortable enough to actually publish it. Going
through my fifth editing and proofing, and this should be it.
Was able to finalize my
accessories to the sun oven and will soon have those items available on this
site, as well. This year's projects include building a stone oven for bread
baking. I've always loved the crustiness of stone-baked breads and decided
it was an easy thing to build, so, why not?!
The Craft Shop - It has
been so hot here in NC that it became almost impossible to work in the shop,
even with several fans running. Decided to insulate and add
air-conditioning. Yup, that meant moving everything out and bringing
in the heavy equipment to get things done. Found a great deal at Lowe's on
white paneling (to help with the lighting), insulating, and flooring tiles.
Put up shelving on three walls and built-in bookcases. Insulated and
finished paneling in time for my Fall Open House, and it really felt good.
Didn't get the flooring
down but plan on doing so in the next few weeks. Suffice to say, it took
longer than I expected. Getting older now requires a different approach to
measuring time. Going up and down ladders is definitely harder. Don't
even want to think about getting on my knees for the flooring!
Well, that about does it
for what's been keeping me busy. The holidays were wonderful and this
should be a good year. Now that I've finally found my niche for giving
workshops (Ukrainian eggs) and have let go some of the other projects on my
to-do list, things should settle into some form of normalcy at Creative
June, 2007 -
Fresh Greens, Sun Cooking,
I am the envy of all my sister's friends
-- well, through association. She is actually the envy of her friends; but,
since I'm the reason for their envy, it's a natural extension. You see, she
had never actually had a garden-fresh salad until this year and she's been
telling everyone how delicious they are and how the average restaurant salad
can't begin to compare with it. And, of course, she's right.
Frankly, it has been years since I've had
a garden-fresh salad and have really enjoyed the fruits of my bounty.
Mostly, it has been the cool weather crop items: spinach, red and green
chard, radishes, lettuce, beet greens, and anything else that looked young
and fresh and green. Even the broccoli has offered up some tender shoots. It
has been unseasonably hot, so they haven't headed up as they should but,
since I'm not entering any contests, I'll simply enjoy it as offered.
I've used the sun oven almost every day
and have tried all my recipes, without mishap. I can't believe this
wonderful appliance has been available and totally slipped by me. I started
keeping track by taking pictures of each recipe and actually writing down
the ingredients so that I can have a cookbook done by the middle of next
year. I'm going to need that much time for re-testing and making sure
there's enough variety to make an interesting cookbook.
Having used it often enough, now, I've
been able to stumble upon a new invention which will also be launched, next
year. I've googled and googled and have yet to find anything near it so I'm
pretty excited about what's happened. It's always easy to get excited about
new things but it's rare when you find a new thing is actually something
worth incorporating into your lifestyle because of the many advantages it
offers. Stay tuned.
May, 2007 -
See The Layered Gardens!
The sun oven arrived
and I have been having a ball testing out my recipes. It seems as though it
will cook anything and I've decided to buckle down and write a cookbook that
will help middle America embrace this fantastic appliance. Will definitely
keep you posted.
I've been able to
get fresh greens from the garden, along with some radishes, and there is no
doubt in my mind that a backyard garden is the way to go. It takes about 20
minutes from garden to table and the food is delicious. You can check out my
progress with building the layered gardens
here . There's no question I
got very ambitious. This year will fill them with vegetables; next year,
herbs and flowers for balance.
One of the advantages of working in the garden is that your mind can wander
to other things. I've been trying to decide exactly what type of crafts I'm
going to offer and how much time I want to devote to workshops, without
losing my own personal freedom. So, for now, I'll focus on the gardening in
backyard and getting the craft shop into shape before I start working on
April, 2007 -
Solar Cooking Comes Home
Made a major
discovery (for me, anyway!) In the last few weeks while I was surfing the
net. Solar cooking. Yes, the very thing you used to do at camp with tinfoil
and hamburger, except, that it has grown up into a very sophisticated
movement towards keeping America Green and helping Third World countries.
And, I have to say, that the one put out by
Global Sun Ovens is very attractive, as well. I ordered one,
immediately, and anxiously await its arrival.
Although most of the sites seem to offer recipes
geared more toward the backpacker and camping ground, I don't see any reason
why it can't be used in your own backyard to help cut down on those heavy
utility bills. Will definitely keep you posted on this one.
March, 2007 -
Facing Retirement Slowdown
Most of the
garden beds have been completed and seeds planted. I'm really looking
forward to fresh garden salads and veggies. This is mostly a year for
exploration of what will grow well in my area and what produces the
most for the least amount of work. I'm not trying to remove myself
completely from modern-day conveniences; just want to incorporate a
healthier lifestyle in my retirement.
There is still a lot of work to do in getting the craft shop ready for
visitors, so I don't have to worry what to do when I'm not working in the
garden. I've been making a list of all of the different garden tools and
equipment I'll be needing, as well as tools that will have to be refurbished
or replenished to get the workshop in condition. I'm going to have to get a
list going to keep track of my other lists!
It seems to me things were
a lot easier only 10 years ago. Now, I have to plan my day with the idea
that things are going to take me a little longer and I'm not going to be
able to lift as much weight as I used to. On the bright side, it means I'm
definitely closer to full retirement; on the downside, it means I'm
definitely closer to full retirement...
As much as I miss my 16
acre farm, downsizing was definitely the right way to go. I'm still
ambivalent about the pool but we'll see how I feel during the heat of
February 11, 2007 -
has Sprung and Gates are Swung
One of the biggest
problems with the new place has been getting about the yard with the old
gates. They all need adjusting and latches that could be accessed from
either side. The front and back gates were dragging so low that it was
almost impossible to get through without some very heavy lifting.
Got the new digital camera
and have been busy taking pix of projects, the gardens, and crafting steps.
I really think I need a tripod for some of these pix. My hands are
older and shakier than I like to think about.
January 30, 2007 -
Layers Upon Gardening Layers
It's been fun trying to
squeeze gardening time in between cold fronts, this January. Barely
got the first layers down before the weather turned and I had to stop.
And, so wanted to take pix. But, there are several very good sites
showing how others have been using the Lasagna Gardening method, so it
shouldn't be hard for you to find them with a fast Google!
I went to work as soon as
my guy showed up with a trailer full of "black gold" -- really old,
feather-light, horse manure! I told him I'd take all he could bring
me. And, of course, have informed all my friends to save their old
leaves for me, next year. (You'll always need more for adding layers.)
Have located a really
great digital camera on eBay and hope that it'll be here by next week.
Then, there's the old learning curve with new technology, but I really want
to have some pix of my own gardens for you for inspiration.
Don't worry. There's
plenty to do and more opportunities to expand into fruit vines and trees.
January 23, 2007 -
A Very BUSY January
It's hard to believe that
January is almost over and so much has been accomplished -- albeit, not
visible. Planning for the year's gardens and trying to decide on a
project for this month has kept me busy.
The only problem is that my
digital camera died on me. I had used it for the holidays, inserted new
batteries (which, apparently, weren't) that corroded almost overnight, and
now I'm without all those great pix. Grrrrrr. I know; I know.
Should have uploaded them, right away. But, I didn't. I'd like
to say I've learned a lesson, but will probably mess up, again, down the
One of the projects I wanted
to share for January is how to prepare a garden in almost no time, at all,
and have fresh veggies for family and friends throughout the year.
Then, a fast way to create markers for all your plants while you learn the
actual structure and leaves of the plants. Veggies are pretty easy;
it's those darn flowers and shrubs that will really throw you. Will
take pix of completed signs with new camera and post, later.
January 3, 2007 -
Holiday Over, New Year Lineup
It's hard to believe everything was
finished in time for the Holidays. There's been a wonderful response
to the Christmas for $15 e-book and I hope that those who are trying out the
ideas will share their finished products with the rest of us.
Located a big box of leftover yarns
from projects over the years, so I have a head start on my blankets,
bonnets, and teddy bears for those in need. I really love the Teddy
Bear project. Will share photos of the new ones for 2007. Hope
some of you had joined in the project and are keeping busy.
I've been waiting for permission from
another crafter to use her pattern for our January project, but, if I don't
hear from her before the end of the week, I'm just going to get started on
my own. It's a great project for revitalizing those old silhouette
pictures your kids brought home from kindergarten.
December 21, 2006 -
Christmas Thoughts for 2006
Having a great response to
the new e-book, so I'm looking forward to hearing some of the ways new items
have been created by all of you. That's the fun of seeing a new
project -- discovering even more exciting things to make with the same
materials, which is why, I suppose, crafting never grows old.
There's an exciting new idea
I'm hoping to use for our January project and just waiting for permission
before setting it up.
Hope you all have wonderful
plans for the Holidays and will have lots of opportunities to make some
beautiful memories. Don't forget to have them made even more special
by ordering your own Staria Melody
before the rush! I know there are already several Christmas gifts
waiting to be scheduled, so it never hurts to get your orders in early!
If you get coal in your
stocking, just remember that Santa wants you around for a very long time or
else you wouldn't have gotten a baby diamond! Merry Christmas!
December 11, 2006 -
One Can Only Tweak for So Long
The time was late (or, early
in the morning, depending on viewpoint) and I had to get several things
finished -- including an e-book and website to be ready for a published
article promising the world the same.
Well, it's been an
interesting experience, to say the least. Every time I would tweak one
thing, something else would go awry. It could well have been that I
was just tired and looking at things, oddly. In any event, it seemed
to be a non-ending job.
The book, "Decorating
for Christmas on a $15 Budget," was put online as a .pdf
document, and the actual executable e-book will go up later tonight with its
own section. Pages needed alignment, and I'm going through one of
those phases where I type letters out of sequence, so everything takes twice
as long. And, that's been for every page.
Now, I seem to have a problem
with one of the breathing exercises books in the Bookshop. I see the price
everywhere but online. Check the "Source," and there it is; check the
preview, and there it is. Go online, and -- there it isn't! This
will take some time.
But, mission accomplished!
December 9, 2006 -
Off the Ground, But Hello Cyberspace!
It's been such fun getting
this site altogether. Of course, there will be some mistakes and I'll
have to redo links, but, at least we're flying -- low, though it may be.
I'm trying for a leaner look with faster access to pages. We'll see.
My holiday budget book,
Decorating for Christmas On a $15 Budget, is
finally finished and online. I've tried to create a well-rounded
holiday theme with crafts and a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
It's a whopping 70 pages, but there's lots of photos to fill that space.
I've kept the price very low ($3.99) so that it won't suck up the whole
budget and more will be able to take advantage of it.
The next few days will be
spent preparing for the holidays, getting cards addressed, and transferring
what needs to be done from other sites. The last several months have
been so hectic, there has been little time for just enjoying the change of
Please check out
Jil's Shop, while you're here.
She does such beautiful work.
And, don't forget the less
fortunate. Check out my new found page for children of tragedies.
Any of you have any small scraps of yarn should have a ball making these
super-easy Teddy Bears. Fill a box,
through the year, and send them on the ladies located in your area.
November 30, 2006 -
Handmade is Great
'Handmade' gifts, made in
China by exhausted, underpaid, workers, always look as though that was how
they were created. Just thrown together, with painted eyes and lips askew,
and rest of the colors just dabbed on without regard to the end of one part
as it joins another. The manufacturer wants an incredible price, to cover
packaging, for something you would never allow out of your own home as a
But, what really tickles me
is how many people say they love handmade items but, invariably, buy
factory-made items in commercial packaging at gift-giving time. They're
like crows, caught up in the sparkle of the plastic protective wrapping.
The product, itself, is cheaply made and will usually fall apart in a few
months, while homemade items, picked up at craft fairs, are made with pride
and attention to detail.
I actually conducted an
experiment, a few years ago. Made my usual ornaments and headed off to the
craft fair. At one fair, the ornaments were being sold just as they were
made, in all their beauty, ready for purchase with the little handmade cards
on a string -- but, no packaging. Less than a third were sold. I can't
tell you how many thoughtless people walked by saying, "Oh, yeah; I can do
At the next fair, the exact
same ornaments were for sale but these were packaged in plastic bags or
containers with insert cards, and I raised the prices by 25% to cover the
cost of packaging. They sold out! So-o-o-o-o, lesson learned:
handmade is all right, as long as it's offered as a commercial product. And,
by the way, not a single person said, "Oh, yeah; I can do that!"
Scarey, isn't it.
November 27, 2006 -
Tweak, Tweak, the Missing Links
Just when you think you can
upload, you find another missing link! Aaargh. Seems to me, I'm
in deja vu -- all over, again! Sure enough, checked my blogs for the
Captain and went through the same process, back then.
The beauty of it all, this
time, though, is that preparation and planning have made the task so much
easier. Knowing what I want and how to achieve it has been a hard-earned
skill. Understanding my checklist notes is a novel treat, too.
While I appeared to be in a
daze for the better part of the summer, my mind was in constant motion,
deciding what went where, what to include, and how many pages were actually
required for each sales item (it's at least three, by the way) and had I
done them all.
But, I do like the look and
think it gives everything a comfy, cozy, crafty, sense. The tag line
came about because I really do believe that home made gifts that are
original and done especially for someone you love are gifts of love.
November 25, 2006 -
Creative Handz is Launched
Do I hit the monitor with
champagne to launch the site? It's been
a long time coming but I've finally reached that point - breaking down my
larger web site thePenmanShip.com
into smaller mini-sites to make it easier to control and keep them focused
on my varied interests. The latest server crash convinced me that, without a
lot of office help, rebuilding more than 100 pages was too exhausting.
More and more, in retirement, I'm
crossing over into the more creative side of my life, and being more
selective with my writing. Still do consulting, but only if the pay is
Having moved to a home with
its own Craft Shop on the grounds was just too much temptation. Have
christened the shop, Creative Handz, and, of course, it needed an online
presence. Sooner or later, those original works I've been creating
over the years will find their way into the Shopping section.
Grumbles is moving over here, too, and will be offering her own line of
Look for online
mini-workshops in the newer crafts. And, yes, I'm going to have a
Newsletter so you can keep track of upcoming events and what's happening at
Creative Handz in Willow Spring. For local residents, I'll be
scheduling onsite workshops, offering a new craft every month.
there'll be something for everyone. Why? Because local crafters will also
have their mini-shops on site for you to discover their beautiful crafts.
Jil Green's magnetic lanyards and necklaces in your choice of real glass
bead colors can be found in Jil's Shop; Laurie Partlo will soon be coming
aboard with her beautiful handmade silver and bead necklaces and earrings;
and, I'm hoping to get Jan Ryals to offer some of her original wooden home
The kilns are hooked up and
plans are being made for some great springtime projects. And, with the wired
Workshop, I'm really looking into ways of incorporating the pottery with
some woodworking projects.
garden (though, small) really fed us through the latter part of the summer.
Have already figured out new places to set up additional gardens , as well.
Will be able to get an early start, this coming year.
I built this layered garden up to waist level, using three concrete blocks
and a light spraying of green paint. (This year, I will darken the colors.
Just didn't like the concrete look.) Waist high is the way to go,
whenever you can. Garden fresh is the best!
Still, setting up this web
site has been quite an adventure for an old lady. But, the time's are changin' and you have to keep up or get left behind.
For now, getting the site up
and functioning is reason enough for a tea break! Phew!