Saturday, October 1, 2011

Getting Back to Me

I realised today that it has been nearly 8 months since my last post.  I realized this as I was putting the finishing touches on a necklace, and planning on what the matching earrings were going to look like.  It wasn't some huge revelation, or anything, but it was something significant to me.

About two years ago, I embarked on a new life journey.  At that time, I made the decision that I wanted to be a teacher.  Not just any teacher, but a middle school special education teacher, one of the more challenging breeds of teacher.  I had a background in working with children, both in daycare and in the school setting as an aide, and I knew that teaching would be something that I would find fulfilling and challenging.

Three years later, I can safely say that being a teacher IS both fulfilling and challenging.  And for a long time, I let it be all-encompassing.  I lived and breathed teaching.  The only time I wasn't focused on being a better teacher or figuring out how to tackle some challenge, I was being "mommy" to my kids.  My life revolved around two things: teaching and trying to be a better teacher, and mothering and trying to "make up" for suddenly being a working mom when my kids had been so used to mommy being at their beck and call..  I got away from all the other little things that I loved in life.

Well, this spring, when my first full year of teaching ended, I realised things needed to be different.  I needed to rediscover the things I love in life.  I needed to get back to the part of me that wasn't "MISS" or "MOMMY".  By doing this, I could not only be a better person, I would be happier, and get a better perspective.

So, I started a garden.  A small one.  Mostly in containers.  Most of the plants have died with the drought, but I have a few that are doing OK.  I grilled some fish with Sage and Rosemary from my garden for lunch this afternoon, actually.

I also got back to my jewelry making.  I had made one little necklace last spring, and it has become rather popular.  After making about 20 of them, I decided to start branching off and making different pieces as well.  Every weekend, I make a few pieces now, just as an escape from obligations, and to help me focus my mind.  Some of my best teaching ideas this year have popped into my brain while I was stringing a necklace or sorting beads for earrings. 

When we went back to school this fall, I noticed something.  My attitude had changed.  Challenges were no longer felt with an agonizing "I suck. I'm the worst teacher ever," and instead with a "OK, I can figure this out and get through it." I came in ready to learn and with a new enthusiasm.  Yes, there will always be bad days, but I have been so much more proactive and positive this year, and I like to think that it is being noticed by and helping my students.  I feel like the more I get back to the "other things", the better I am at working through and dealing with the challenges.

This blog is my next step.  I love writing this blog.  It doesn't matter to me how many people read it, it matters to me that I get the ideas and reviews out there, because, if even one person reads one of my reviews, or tutorials, or thoughts, and it helps them, even in a small way, then I am happy.  And I love writing my reviews.  I love trying new things, and writing the reviews helps me justify all of the little samples littering my shower to myself, if not my husband. 

I still have a lot of challenges.  I'm worried about the wire work.  Last year, I permanently damaged my right hand and wrist, and I'm worried about whether or not I am ever going to be able to properly wrap wire again.  Right now, I'm avoiding it, but I am going to have to face it someday.

I also need to get back to my sewing.  I haven't sewed since we moved to Texas two and a half years ago. I realised the other day how much I miss it.  The challenge will be setting up my sewing room, which is currently just a big dumping ground of junk.

I figure I will blog through my journey.  I'm going to keep writing my reviews and thoughts on samplers, and I'm hoping to have a few tutorials cleaned up and ready to post sooner rather than later.  It's going to be an interesting year, and I hope you, my readers, will enjoy being brought along.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Customer Service No-Nos

When you provide a sample in a sampler, and get a question about it from a  POTENTIAL FUTURE BUYER, especially a question involving ingredients, responding "I don't see what the big deal is. If it is so important and you don't know, just don't use it." will lead to my not only throwing out your sample (as opposed to giving it to someone who CAN use/eat it), but also to my bad-mouthing your business's customer service and warning people away from your site.

Customer service is IMPORTANT, people. If you cannot handle that, get out of retail.

So ends my service announcement of the day. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life's Little Luxuries

I have a confession to make:  I want to be one of those top-shelf, pampered, luxury-loving women of leisure.  Unfortunately, I am VERY uncomfortable every time I try to be. Spas make me nervous and uncomfortable.  It took me 4 months of going with people to get used to pedicures and manicures, and I completely stopped them after I moved and had to find a new place with people who weren't used to me. Luxury packages and "higher level" rooms/suites/etc tend to make me feel gypped, and so on.

This got me thinking about what I consider luxuries.  Life's little gratuitous extra pleasures that make me feel SOOOOO decadent and spoiled. And they're not the presidential suite at the Bellagio....that's just an overpriced room.

No, for me, some of my luxuries are:

  • Taking a bath or shower when I don't need one, just want one.  AHHH.....the wonders of hot water cascading down your skin, or that lovely scented water you can just sink into.  How much more decadent can you get?  You are wasting time, wasting water, and hiding from the world in your bathroom. I think this luxury links to my being hooked on handmade soaps and bath products....
  • Opening a new something before the other one is used up.  Ahh, the luxury of a new lip gloss when I am sick of the old one that I still have half a tube of.  The wonders of sample soaps, so I can use a fresh scent for a week and set the full-sized bar to the side, the annoyance to my husband of two open shampoos...or sodas...or wines.
  • Good food that is bad for me - Whether I have cooked it or not.  Whether I get it in a bakery, a little street corner shop, or a fancy restaurant.  That madeline dipped in whipped cream; that elephant ear cookie; The buttered handmade bread fresh out of the oven; whatever it is, it feels like such a luxury eating it...ESPECIALLY if it is between meals!
  • Curling up in a blanket in the middle of a day with a book - Again, this is especially luxurious if you have somehting you "should" be doing.  Not necessarily because you are skirking work, but more like "I really SHOULD finish grading these papers first, THEN I can read," but instead, you cur up and read for an hour then do the papers.  AAAhhhhh.
So, what are your little luxuries??

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's been a Rough Few Months

For those of you who don't know, I tore my wrist to shreds at work. Though I would love to give you a gruesome play by play of the exciting things that I did, leading to what has already been 2 months in a brace, and which will probably be another WHO KNOWS HOW LONG in said brace, possily with some lovely surgery in there...but I can't.  I walked into the rack at the bottom of a blackboard.  That's it.

(Cue taunting).

Yes, I totally tore apart my dominant wrist smacking it into a chalk rack while walking in a classroom.  *sigh*  This has led to all sorts of issues.  Painful writing and showering (and dressing, and tying of shoes, and...), an inability to write legibly, not being able to carry heavy things, needing to learn to use a mouse left handed, my husband having to learn how to do laundry properly, and a full stop to my wire wrapping hobby.

It has also led to a new line of jewelry and my discovery of the wonderful world of solid shampoo and conditioner.

The damage in my wrist has led to a marked decrease in the strength of my grip.  Opening bottles, squeezing things with any kind of force, and maintining my hold on anything heavy is very difficult.  Fortunately, I had bought some solid shampoo and conditioner from Arcadia Aromatics a while back, and they were just waiting for me when I got home from the hospital, and had one hand in a cast that was not to get wet.

As a side note: the reason I had the shampoo sitting around was because in the past, I have had bad experiences with solid shampoos and conditioners, leading to sticky, gummy hair, and a rough hour in the shower trying to get all of the gook out of my hair. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous going into the shower that day.

To my great pleasure and surprise, the shampoo and conditioner worked BETTER than commercial shampoo and conditioner!!  I am never going back!  My hair has been shinier, softer, and more manageable than it has ever been.  I have the kind of hair that requires daily washing, and STILL is more often than not involved in a "bad hair day," but not anymore!  It's a whole new world.

Now, Arcadia Aromatics' Etsy store has all sorts of wonderful scents of shampoos and conditioners, and some really fun looking soaps, too.  Just check this one out!!

That's SOAP!!  How awesome is that??  They have "regular looking" soaps, too.  I picked up a few, and they work as well as their shampoo and conditioner.  It's a one stop shop of awesome.

Now, I had not been using Arcadia Aromatics' soap until recently, because for the last MONTH AND A HALF, I have been using the world's largest sample soap from Indian Moon Soap.  I got a "sample" of soap from Indian Moon Soap in my Sampler Village Box a few months ago. The sample they sent is bigger than most full sized bars!!  The soap also came in its own muslin bag, so if you are the type who likes your soap in a cozy or its own shower bag, they have already taken care of that for you!

Here's a picture of the other sample I got from Indian Moon Soap.  I know the pics aren't great, but I took one picture up against a quarter to let you see how huge this sample is!

See how huge??  And the soap leaves your skin so soft and supple.  Indian Moon Soaps' site has a wonderful selection of lip balms, lotions, soaps, hair care, and other bath accessories.  It's a great site, and they have a very easy checkout.

Finally, a little plug for my new line.

Due to my grip issues, I have decided to givew myself some physical therapy.  I have been making charm necklaces, and focal bead necklaces to help strengthen my hand.  They are adorable and interchangeable, making them so versatile.  It's really too bad it took this injury for me to come up with them, because they're awesome.

I am still making my keychains, too.  Everything has free shipping until I get out of my brace.

I think that's enough for now.  Enjoy your shopping, and remember, buy Handmade!