Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Cha Cha

Whooo boy! I'm trying to remind myself that taking a step back after taking a step (or two!) forward is okay!

So... I get a little ambitious, then I can't keep up. I feel absolutely awful about this. Guilty. I've got this [horribly neglected] blog, an [as yet unopened] Etsy, a display at the wonderful coffee shop Burial Grounds in downtown Olympia, as well as a full time job. Here's a little tidbit about what moving, what's not, and why.

First off, Spring Arts Walk was this past weekend, an event I've spent the past month or so trying to make product for. It wasn't my first one with a jewelry display, but it was the first one I was able to attend. The owner of Burial Grounds allowed me to set up in her shop to sell and make stuff all weekend. (Thanks Mara!) All my hard work on my days off and before/after shifts at work paid off, having made a handful of sales and meeting some supremely awesome people.

There's no feeling like the one you get when someone exchanges their hard-earned cash for your handmade crafts, then walks away wearing it, happy as can be.

Anyway, my goal for the weekend (besides selling everything!) was to make enough product to fill up my display downtown. Then, I wanted to have enough to set up the Etsy.

I managed to fill up the display enough, for now, but I failed in having enough to open the Etsy. They want you to have at least 8 items when you open, and while I have lots of photos of old product I don't have anymore, I just don't have the stock to open it! I realize it's not such a bad problem to have, but I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you!

I keep saying "I'm working on getting it open!" or, "I'm planning to list stuff and open it by X!" then something happens and I don't get it done. I know, I know, it's me, excuses or not. This is going to change! Soon as I can. Sure, you'll believe me when it happens, I know.

This isn't completely related, but I'm sure that having the appropriate number of employees at my day job will help. Where we normally have 5 or 6, we've only got 3 right now, and only two of us are available as needed, which has had the unfortunate side effect of having to put Ishtar's Garden on the backburner for a while. It's been this way for some time. Holiday season gets crazy in retail, of course, but then we had a staffing change and lost several people right at the same time. This is looking to be remedied soon. Why am I boring you with the finer details of my day job? Because as mundane as it is, it really does effect the time and energy I can put in the business. Then when I don't get to the business as I'd like to, I feel guilty and unfulfilled. So, I've got my hopes hung on promises that work will settle down and I can get back to the Garden, which will in turn mean I will be more accessible for following through on getting these systems in place!

Phew.

Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of me at work at Arts Walk, just a goofy one I took of myself and the boy on a break I took to watch an amazing juggler. Bear with me:


That's right. All makeupified and even wearing lipstick. Whoa. And he's got the whole beard thing going on. Just wanted to share!

Until next time!
~Inara

Friday, March 15, 2013

Geekery

More new things!

I FINALLY got my business license in the mail today! What's that mean for you? It means I can finally go do some behind-the-scenes financial stuff so I can start listing things in my etsy store.

"But you don't need a business license to list on etsy," you say. Well, yes. That's true. But it will help me keep my finances organized, which in turn means more creating and less headaches!

I also just placed my first order for business cards. I'll have to figure out the ins and outs of getting a custom logo made eventually, but since graphic design is like trying to understand Swahili, these will do for now.

Now onto the stuff you want to see!

I have a friend who is getting married later this year. Her husband-to-be owns a gaming store, and it comes as no surprise that their wedding will have some geeky elements to it. She and her bridesmaids will be wearing d20 pendants. She asked if I could come up with a design. I haven't gotten her approval yet, but I'm so excited about what I've come up with so far, I'm going to be offering wrapped dice as a regular thing if they go over well.

So tell me what you think!

Here's the prototype:


Wrapped with the 20 facing outward. As if there were any other way!



Blurry top detail.

This one was "borrowed" from the Boy's dice bag while he was sleeping, and wrapped using my practice wire. Which means it's not for sale and I'll have to cut it out and give it back anyway. *sad* But I needed the practice, so that's alright.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you wear such a thing? Do you have any suggestions or critiques that could make it better?

There will be more geeky dice-centered jewelry in the future, assuming these go over well. I've had at least one business owner geek over this so much she offered to give me her spare dice to kick start the process of making more, and demanded I get my merchandise on her walls, pronto. That's the value of networking, kids!

So I picked up her lonely, neglected dice and picked out some pretty fancy d20s (and a couple d4s) today. Here's a group shot:


As always, any and all feedback is appreciated! Let me know in the comments what you think, or tell me over at Ishtar's Garden on Facebook, here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Return!

Oh my goodness! So, so sorry about disappearing on you like that. Two jobs, a side job and winter really hit me hard this year. Sorry I haven't been keeping you updated. How rude of me! Hopefully I'm back to stay for a while this time.

I've been up to more than plenty in the mean time. I switched out one stressful day job for another less stressful one, and still have the other. So there's that. I truly have been working on jewelry when no one was looking (unless you follow Ishtar's Garden on Facebook, then you already know all about it! Click --> here <-- to check it out!).

One of the most important developments I'd like to talk about is that I've taken the next step in making this dream of a business a reality. I've registered the business name with the state as well as applied for the actual business license and associated permits. Still waiting on getting the license from the city, but I got one of the permits in the mail, which makes me think it's been approved. However, I still have to wait on that piece of paper before I can continue moving forward. Both a grumble and "yay" are appropriate here, I believe. So, grumble. And yay!

Now on to the part you actually care about! What have I been doing these past two months since I posted last? Well, I've been really inspired the last month or so! Follows are a few photos of just some of the things I've been working on... I'll update more when I've worked out some of the kinks in the other styles I'm not ready to unveil yet. (Shameless plug - I definitely update the Facebook page with this info, including my works in progress, much more regularly if you're interested in keeping up to date. There are even cell phone photos of prototype styles I haven't officially unveiled yet!)

******************************************************************************************

So here's what I've been working on!

I've got a brand new style of crescent moon pendant...

 Dark blue base, hammered for strength and texture, with mother-of-pearl chips and stars, turquoise howlite, as well as a few turquoise and clear Czech glass beads.

Hammered gunmetal base with tiger's eye and labradorite chips, hematite stars, and black weaving wire. 

Hammered dark blue base wire with lapis lazuli, blue goldstone, turquoise howlite and black Czech pressed glass stars woven with black wire. 

Magenta hammered base wire with mother-of-pearl and rose quartz chips, delicate pink fire polished Czech pressed glass flowers, mother-of-pearl stars and woven with pink wire.

Tiny little nest pendants...

Rose quartz "eggs" in a nest of magenta and tarnish resistant sterling silver wire.

Size reference.


I've also finally started wrapping stones. Here's an example...

Amethyst point wrapped in purple and tarnish resistant sterling silver wire with a decorative twist on the front.


I also have a new design for the trees of life in the works, as well as a few new bead wraps for simple. elegant pendants or earrings. I may also start making chains for necklaces, bracelets etc but that's still in the works.

As you can see, I am still alive and well! I've just been so busy with my day jobs and so inspired with new ideas I've kind of hermited away. I'll try to keep the updates coming much more regularly! Forgive me?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Repairing the Bat


There's a local coffee shop called Burial Grounds in downtown Olympia. Some time ago, for reasons unknown to me, the owner added me on Facebook. I was flattered.

After I started this jewelry adventure, she contacted me to fix a beloved pendant she had. (Did I mention flattered? What's flattered squared?) After enduring scheduling conflicts and illnesses and forgetfulness and snow and everything else, we finally set a day for me to come in and work on it.

I'm kicking myself for not taking a "before" picture, but she had it wrapped with some black wire and a poor cord was also tied around it to make it wearable.

She cooked me up a fancy raspberry and lavender mocha and I set to work.

After a few false starts and a veto or two, I finally finished it and we're both extremely happy with how it came out!

I was going for Tim Burton inspired spirals.

The owner, Mara, did a little happy dance when I gave it back, and now I have something new I can add to my knowledge base, so we both win! I hope it lasts her a long time.

-Inara

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Learning to Say "Yes"

First off, I hope your mid-winter festivities were fabulous, and if you were sick like myself and most people I know, I hope it didn't take too much away from your holiday and that you're almost healed!

I must apologize for my absence from the Garden lately; holidays, two mundane jobs and being ill have all occupied my time. I hope to start posting regularly!

Back to the topic.

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. I used to. I'd get all ambitious and think of all the things I didn't like about myself and pledge to make every change imaginable. But I'm horrible at sticking to things when I'm not truly ready for them, so I was just setting myself up for failure in the end. Instead, I've decided over the years to learn to love myself as I am and then make changes based on healthy decisions, at any time of the year. I'm much happier this way.

Something I've been noticing for a while now is that I have no trouble doing things for other people with little thought other than helping them out. The Boy keeps telling me I need to not be so much of a "yes-man" for others and start doing for me. It's okay to not go into work on my only day off to cover for someone who made the decision to go out drinking the night before and come in hungover.

When a friend is visiting from out of town and says, "Let's go to Seattle," I automatically say no. But then I have to ask myself, why? I don't have to navigate the city, I have no other obligations other than visiting with this friend; why am I so adamant to tell myself no?

After analyzing my situation, I finally just said yes. And you know what? No harm done! A good time was had by all! And I almost missed out because I'm so used to saying no to myself.

So if I were to make any sort of resolution for this year, it would have to be to say yes to myself more.

Tree full of lights at University Village in Seattle, that I would have never seen had I not said yes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A London Broil Experiment



The finished cut

This morning I get the Boy out of bed, begrudgingly of course, so he can make it to his appointment on time. I make the coffee, this time in the dark flavor he prefers. When I get the creamer out of the fridge I notice the london broil I had taken out a few days ago with every intent to make. After the Boy informs me his appointment is scheduled to be approximately two hours long, I decide I'm not actually going to accompany him, and will instead do the homemaker thing I love so much but have horribly neglected!

After he leaves, I pour myself another cup of coffee and dig out my much loved cookbook. I knew I had seen a recipe for a london broil in there somewhere. Aha! Pull out the cut of beef, start to make the seasoning and realize... the recipe is actually for flank steak. Now, as I don't eat beef too often, I'm not actually sure the difference, but the recipe is for grilling outside anyway. Well, that's okay, I'll just wing it, like I often do.

As I've never actually made a london broil, I didn't really know what temperature it should be baked on, for how long, any of the technical stuff. But I'm winging it, remember? So I turn the oven to 350°, prepare the beef the way the recipe states for flank steaks, place it carefully on a foil covered pizza sheet (we meant to replace the baking sheets when we moved but haven't gotten that far yet!) and place it in the oven with crossed fingers.

Since I have the house to myself for a while, I enjoy my coffee and do some research into the Boy's possible Christmas present. After he'd only been gone an hour, there's a key in the door and someone comes in. I say hello and it's the Roommate, in fact. We geek out over new Borderlands 2 stuff I didn't know existed, he spoils a major plot point for me.... then I remember I have the oven occupied.

It's been in there about an hour and a half at this point, which was my guess for how long it might take. Stick in the meat thermometer and it's at 185°, well done. I let it rest for a while, until the Boy comes home and kicks me off the computer. So back into the kitchen I go... it's cooled down by this point so I venture to try it - and I'm amazed at the result! I don't want to throw away the juices either so I end up making a gravy out of it. Slice the beef, toast some sourdough, spread a small bit of horseradish on the bread and voila!


Lunch!

Now I get to relax for a bit while listening to the sounds of the boys playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Oh, before I go! I wanted to share the recipe of the marinade with you:

3 cloves of garlic minced (I pressed them which I find easier, faster, and less messy)
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I ended up draining it when I made the gravy so I'm not sure if this is necessary)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic minced (I pressed them which I find easier, faster, and less messy)

Mix together and rub into scored meat. Meat could be marinated for 5-6 hours or overnight but I didn't have time and it still came out delicious.
Until next time!

-Nar

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happiness Is... Part 1

It's been a chilly, rather gloomy day, but that doesn't mean my mood matches the weather. In fact, I'd have to say that the weather has multiplied my good spirits.

It's nearly 5pm, the sky is full of dark clouds, and rain is gently pattering against the large window in front of my creative space. I'm cozy in my lounging clothes, complete with newly-acquired furry black moccasins and an extra large mug of hot pumpkin spice flavored coffee.

The extra giant mug my sister gave me, bamboo, my diary-turned-creative-journal,
and a delicious candle.

The house still needs unpacking, the bed is only half made, and my laundry still won't fold itself, but little could really soil my contentment. The Roommate is playing the brand new copy of Halo 4 we picked up for him last night, the Boy is in the kitchen making homemade chili, I'll be making cornbread in a bit and there's a generous pumpkin pie for dessert. It's the simple things, truly.
Luna cuddles my feet.