Monday, August 31, 2009

Word of the Week: Brother

"The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out his nose." ~Garrison Keillor

Though that never happened, I think it was always a dream of mine to be as amusing to my brother as he was to me. He was precocious, exasperatingly inquisitive, and fearless (with the scars to prove it). He was always funny, always entertaining, always performing. He is still performing.

I have no memory of the time before he came along (a year and a week after me) which means my childhood world always included that partner in crime. Jumping from bureau to bookshelf to bed with a towel tied around your neck superhero-cape-style is never as satisfying without an accomplice. Luckily he was always keen.

I hear other people talk about how competitive they were with their siblings. I don't remember feeling that way. The outside world could be very competitive, but I always felt that he had my back. I tried to look out for him, too. Our mom reminded us to be nice to each other; for my part--for the most part--that was easy.

As adults we've lived in neighboring towns for years without seeing much of each other. We are both self-employed, with business commitments and family responsibilities. He called me today and I remembered how we used to hang out together the night before school started in the fall. We'd talk about the summer: how it went too fast, what we thought the new year would be like. I realized that I've missed little things like that. You forget how simple conversations and connections can really anchor you. You forget how much you sometimes need anchors.

Maya Angelou said, "I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." It's easy to let these relationships go, to assume people will always be there. To take them for granted. I'm thinking I will work a little harder at this, myself.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swap a DVD (or book or CD)

A couple of months ago, we took the plunge and got rid of cable. Our kids were watching too much TV (so was I) and we wanted them to do other things with their time, like read books (which I should also be doing). The other motivation was, of course, the cost: a savings of over $50 a month. Which I promptly began spending on DVDs. Of TV shows. (Oops.)

But all of that is over now. I just came across this awesome web site where you post the DVDs you're willing to part with and earn credits that you can spend toward new DVDs. The only thing you pay for, at this point, is the shipping when you send off your own DVDs. That's it.

Not as TV obsessed as I am? (Read: better about reading than I am?) How about swapping paperbacks? Or maybe even trading CDs? I'm sure I have bags full of both that I can "trade" for new-to-me stuff.

I've been using the local library a lot for videos as well as books this summer, but will supplement their choices with these new options. The selection on these sites is pretty amazing. I found several books I'd been looking for, and if they aren't something I want to keep forever, I can post them again when I'm done with them. Saves money, space in my house...what's not to like about this "green" idea?

I'm already registered and looking forward to swapping some old for some new. Anyone else ever used these services before? Let me know what you think of them!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Word of the Week: Neon

We never give up fashion trends for long, do we? Neon was big for a while in the 80s and it just keeps coming back. I was reading about "acid brights" in makeup just the other day, and they're big this fall in clothing and accessories, too, according to Bloomingdale's. Check out Michael Kors Ready to Wear collection and you'll see what I mean.

What's funny is that brights like this were popular about five years ago, and again for a while in 2007. Yellow was THE color for weddings in 2008, and this year orange was a predicted winner. What's this all about?

Colors like red, orange, and yellow are bright, cheery, and invigorating. Maybe we surround ourselves with these stimulating brights when other aspects of the world (the economy, for example) don't seem as uplifting?

Whatever the reason, I've been talking with customers a lot lately about neon and acid bright colors, with many of them asking which of our bow colors are neon. The picture above shows our four brightest tulle colors. Whether you're asking so you can choose them specifically, or you absolutely do NOT want "neon" colors, we figure forewarned is forearmed!

Is this a trend you enjoy in clothing, accessories, or cosmetics? How long do you think it will last?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Naughty and Nice Party

Anyone who has ever been part of a wedding party knows that it can be very expensive; it's not unusual to spend hundreds, even as much as $1,000, to be a bridesmaid. Especially in this economy people are looking for creative ways to cut costs.

I just ran across this article that talks about ways that bridesmaids can save on the events that lead up to the big day. One of the bridesmaids interviewed described having a Naughty and Nice Party: "Each guest was assigned a room of the house, such as the kitchen, and the task of buying either a naughty or nice present. The nice present counted as the shower present while the naughty was considered the bachelorette gift." The benefit to the guests was that each only had to buy one gift.

I love the idea of combining the two, and what a fun theme that would be. Of course I'm thinking of favor ideas (which this article recommends ditching--perish the thought!) but the decor, cocktails and all of the details would be fun to put together!

Have you ever attended a party like this? What kinds of gifts would you choose (dare I ask...)?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bachelorette party gone wrong

Last week's bachelorette brawl in Oklahoma City highlighted the benefits of a "hold the bars" girls' night out (or in) bachelorette: no beer bottles over the head, no faces pushed into walls, no arrests. Happily ever after. Need ideas and favors for a girls' night in? No problem. You can thank me later.

Other items of interest:
Naughty and Nice Party
Bachelorette Party Favors
Bachelorette Party Gifts
Kiss Single Life Good-Bye
Last Fling in Vegas

Monday, August 17, 2009

Word of the Week: Perseverance

Every spring I start seedlings on my deck, which I transplant into all of my gardens and planters when they're big enough (and the ground has warmed up enough). Somewhere around the middle of June this year I got distracted by something else and a few seedlings were forgotten in their trays.

Yesterday I noticed that the asters have finally started to bloom in my deck planters, with big blossoms of pink and purple. This morning I noticed that the little forgotten asters were blooming, too. That's one in the photo. It's about a centimeter across, a perfectly formed, Bonsai aster proportioned to fit its container.

Apparently no one mentioned to this little plant that she was too small to blossom! How many times do we listen when people tell us the things that we can't do? Perseverance is about doing those things anyway.

"Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go." ~William Feather

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use." ~Earl Nightingale

"Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before." ~Jacob A. Riis

Have a wonderful Monday!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Archie to Marry Veronica??

I was never a huge comic book fan, but I did love Archie comics when I was a kid. Jughead's goofiness, Reggie's vanity, and the love triangle between Archie, Veronica, and Betty created endless drama in issue after issue.

For issue #600, which comes out in the coming weeks, Archie finally takes the plunge. Apparently he's making his choice, and it is NOT the girl next door. A comic book store owner in New Jersey, Dave Luebke, is taking a drastic action to protest the upcoming nuptials of Archie and Veronica: he plans to sell his Archie Comics No 1 (estimated value: $30,000).

The Editor-in-Chief of Archie Comics is being tight-lipped about how this particular story arc turns out, so it's still possible this is just a dream sequence or something. If not, it's clearly the wedding of the century! All I can say is, say it ain't so! I always thought Archie would choose Betty!

Are you a fan of Archie and the gang? What do you think of his choice? Do you think it's for keeps, or is it just in someone's imagination?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Get Ready to Party with Partybluprints Blog

I was so excited to see my lip balm favors featured yesterday on Partybluprints Blog!

There are lots of photos and I really appreciated the nice things they had to say. But what I was even MORE excited about was all the cool party planning info they have!

If you look on the left side of their blog, you'll see a pull down list of Categories, and you can choose from all kinds of things: gifts, party ideas, tabletop, menus, you name it. Of course, my favorite part is the Cocktails! Can you believe how cute this is? (see the photo over there on the right--which is directly from Partybluprints.) This was from a post last week, with a cocktail called "The Bees' Knees". You know how I'm always looking for cool cocktails for new lip balm flavors. (Mmm, honey, lemon and gin would make a yummy balm...but I digress.)

The other post I noticed was this one about mocktails. I love this book by "The Liquid Muse" called "Preggatinis™ Mixology for the Mom-To-Be"--what a cool name for beverages for the expectant! (And what a fantastic web site The Liquid Muse has if you want to know more about cocktails.) Just last year I blogged about mocktails and even added a couple of mocktail lip balms for baby showers. Love this idea!

If you're looking for a hot new product, need help with your party menu, or are looking for other party planning tips, head on over to Partybluprints Blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Word of the Week: Present

Regardless of where you are geographically, the hardest place to live is in the present. It's the only place that we truly spend time, but we're trying so hard to save time that we fill it up with looking back (to see how time was wasted) or planning forward (so we can keep more for ourselves).
This is one of my favorite places in the summertime. I plant flowers and veggies and herbs all over my deck, and then I sit out there as often as I can. Sometimes I have a book with me, sometimes my laptop (gotta multitask, right?). But my favorite time is when I can "steal" a minute to just be. The nasturtiums are a favorite for hummingbirds, who come to take a taste almost every day. Some days I pick a few mint leaves for my lemonade, and other days I can't sit still, but feel the need to deadhead and weed, water and prune. I still manage to leave this little space feeling content and ready for what's next.

I think the secret is that when I'm in my garden, I'm really present, really experiencing every moment as it comes. The interesting thing is that when I can do that, when I can be mindful and present, time seems to slow down. There's no need to save it, or steal it, or borrow against tomorrow. Just being here, right now, makes the moment last.

What about you? Do you find that it's easier to be "present" when you're doing certain things, or you're in a particular place? Does time seem to slow for you, too?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Take the Long, Long Train

Photograph by: Stringer, Reuters

Imagine a wedding dress with a train 1.2 miles long. The dress, recently worn by a Chinese bride, may qualify for not one but two world records: both the length of the train and the number of silk roses sewn on the dress (9,999) are believed to top the old records. Guinness has been informed. The previous record for the length of a wedding dress train was 1.5 kilometers, or approximately 9/10 of a mile. No walking down the aisle for this bride!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Word of the Week: Criticism

I got the most marvelous email last week from Claire in Delaware. She said she liked my web site: "I have done a lot of favors for different showers," she said, "and just the overall layout/selection that you offered was great. The different tags and ideas were very cute. Also, the fact that they are wrapped and everything for a reasonable price is a great convenience!!"

I could truly retire now on an email like that. That is just the fantasy world we'd all like to live in: "Everything was perfect and wonderful! No complaints!" But that's not reality, not the whole picture. There's always room for improvement, and that's why criticism--intended as "constructive" or not--is such a gift.

I admit, I haven't always had an easy relationship with criticism. Ask my poor mother, who read and corrected my high school papers--a truly thankless job for which she received little praise (and copious punishment. Sorry, Mom.). In the past, I think I took things too personally. I interpreted negative comments as an attack rather than an opportunity. I'm working on it--and thanks to some of my other customers, that's not all I've been working on.

The week before Claire's email, I received a phone call from Leslie, a great customer whose previous ordering experiences at my site were straightforward and uneventful. This time she expressed real frustration. "You need to get some help with your web site," she said. (Ouch!) I swallowed my pride and asked her what was wrong. She explained that she'd found a design she liked and then found it difficult to order it. I started to explain how she would go about ordering, then realized that she was right! Sure, it was possible to order what she wanted, but it was not easy. And honestly, I was lucky that she'd followed through and ordered over the phone. Another customer might not have had the patience to call.

So, back to the drawing board. I looked at the page she was browsing--the page with our tag and label designs--and I added links directly to the favors. Now you can look at our designs, write down the ID numbers for the ones you like, and order lip balm, lotion, or bath gel favors right from this page--not just for bachelorette parties or baby showers, but for any party. I'm hoping this will make it easier to place orders for these other events. (Thank you, Leslie, for your help with this.)

So why am I telling you about this? I order things several times a week, and I do almost all of my personal and business shopping online. I have filled out countless feedback forms and customer service surveys, often with no indication that my comments are reaching another human being or that it matters at all. I'm sharing this word today--and these stories of my customers' feedback--because to me, it REALLY matters. I love to hear that things are great and that you like what you see here, but I also need to hear when things aren't just right and should be improved. It helps me to know what's working, and it's vital to know what isn't.

I just wanted you to know that your comments, whether here at my blog, through an email, or over the phone, come straight to me, and I use them to make improvements. So thank you for sharing your feedback and your criticism! And please feel comfortable sharing more!

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