Friday, January 31, 2014

The Year Of The Horse.....

2014 is supposed to be the year of the horse....according to the Chinese calendar.  I own horses.  I love horses.  But, I'm not Chinese. 
I have in the past, made the decision to try to improve myself.  I'm 58 this year (in May) and I have decided that "improving myself" means that there is something wrong with myself, and I really don't believe that.  I don't think there's anything "wrong" with me.  I mean, there is nothing wrong with improving ones self, but I don't like the negativity of it.....if that makes sense.

Therefore, I've decided I'm going to be GOOD to myself.  I can be very good at negative self talk.  I'm very good at giving up on myself. I'm also very good at thinking I don't deserve things that I want.  For example, today we went to Staples.  I had a 15% off coupon, and hubby had some points he'd gotten because we turn in our empty ink cartridges.  He needed to get a ream of paper (we don't buy it by the box, but next time there is a sale, I'm going to suggest we do), I needed tape for my desktop dispenser, and I wanted Uniball pens.  They are the only pens that don't seem to give up easily on ink, they don't blotch, and I never have to clean off the tip to avoid a big smear of ink.  We got the tape (it's for my work) and he got the ream of paper, but when I looked at the pens, I thought they were too expensive.  Not that they really were - a box of a dozen pens was $7.99.  I just felt like it was an extravagance for me.   So I put them down and just told Honey, "let's go."   When we got to the checkout, Honey mentioned to the sales person  that we had the coupon and the points....and I said, heck, I should get the pens while we have the coupon and the points....so I ran back and got the box of pens.  We got all that stuff and spent a whopping $5.  Not a bad deal.....

Yeah, I know, that seems trivial, but I have a really B.A.D. habit of doing that to myself - like I don't deserve to have the pens I like.  Or I don't deserve to be able to order something on a menu because it's a little more expensive.  Another example is that at Christmas time, I felt like I shouldn't get anything special, because Honey is the income maker, and I'm busy spending it trying to start up my small business (in case you don't know, it's my fiber shop at www.etsy.com/shop/Spinningmywheelfiber)  so when Honey kept asking me what I wanted, I said, "you've spent enough on me and my business this year.....so I don't want anything."  In reality, there was something I'd been eyeing.  It's a ring.  Black and white diamonds.  Yes, I'd been eyeing the chocolate diamonds also, but I really love the contrast of the black and white diamonds.  Like this one here:

It's a vine, with white diamonds on one vine, and black diamonds on the other vine and they intertwine.  Yes, that's on my left hand, where my wedding ring should go.  I don't wear my wedding ring - haven't in years - except on special occasions, because I get it caught on everything.  I wear rubber gloves when dyeing fiber, or washing dishes (sometimes) and when I was riding horses, I got my ring finger caught once and had to grab the ring off it before it swelled so it wouldn't have to be cut off.   The diamond sticking up on the wedding ring was kind of a pain.  So, I told Honey, that I wanted this ring.  We went searching in every jewelry store in the mall the weekend prior to Christmas.  We finally found it at Zales.  That is where my wedding rings are from too.  Mind you, my wedding ring isn't huge (I guess it's actually my engagement ring but they are one in the same - it's complicated).  So we bought the ring.  Then it had to be sent in to get sized - as you can see from the photo, I have a chubby hand...which matches my chubby (not being negative, but being truthful) body.  We got the ring back the first week in January.  I love LOVE my ring.  I can wear it all the time, and it's really pretty, not huge, and it doesn't get caught on most things (it has little sharp edges though and sometimes they catch a little).

So, now I have an opportunity to join in something called "The Journey To The Golden Fleece."  Here is a link http://fiberygoodness.com/golden-fleece-certificate/ and it explains a bit of what it is all about.  Basically, it's a course to delve into your journey in fiber and fleece.  I think being fairly new (just over a year) into this journey, it sure wouldn't hurt to do this.  Only it costs $250.  Yes, there are less expensive ways to do it, but I want the FULL experience.  The first group of people have really seemed to enjoy what the journey is about, and have posted on FB about it.  It seems exciting.  It could be because I love joining in a group like this - to belong.  That is something I had to think long and hard about - is that the only reason I wanted to do it?  Is it that I don't want to be the one on the outside?  Justifying the cost was huge for me - I really don't give up $250 easily.  Especially since I am not the one MAKING money right now, but the one spending it.....

 When someone mentioned it on Facebook, I responded and said I was trying to justify the cost.  Her comeback was, she justified it as an educational cost.  Insert another head slap here!   Yes, it IS educational.  I'll be guided through this journey by people that have a LOT of experience in this field.  It certainly can't hurt to IMPROVE myself.  I can't really go anywhere to seminars, or classes, and yes, it's a lot of money, but I'm NOT going to classes and traveling, so why not take advantage of having mentors (something I've really wanted along the way) and having help with figuring out what MY journey is about?  Instead of floundering around like a fish out of water, I want to swim with the rest of the fish, big and little, in our little school. 

However, because this is the year of me being good to myself, and treating myself like I deserve to be able to have good things, nice things, and things that will help me through my life, I wanted to really belong to this, join in this, and learn something about myself.

See, I seem to get very lost in my "business."  Someone recently tagged me in a post on FB, and said that this blog she read here reminded me of the struggles I go through, and what I consider "success."  Yes, I do struggle - a LOT!  I think I'm not successful with my business because I'm not making a ton of money, and people aren't buying my fiber in droves.  Well, guess what?  People ARE buying my fiber - maybe not in droves, but I get a couple of sales a month.....and that's better than nuthin!  Well, I get a couple of sales most months, after all, I have to be truthful.  LOL

That blog post really hit home with me.  I realized that I make this all about the money.  You know what the Universe says, right?  It says, if you think about NOT having money, you'll never have money.  If you think about how UNsuccessful you are, you'll never have success!  Well, duh!!!!  Insert head slap here....

So, I am working on being good to myself this year, right?  Here I am, trying to figure out what makes me happy, and what I can do to make myself happier, and be better to myself.  Here it is - BE HAPPY with what I'm doing!  When I'm happy, I tend to get a sale in my shop.  When I'm doing what I love, I get compliments and I get attention (and I seem to like attention). 

Therefore, I am getting better at being better to myself.  I'm going to be going on a journey that excites me.  I'm working harder on my business, and I'm being a better business person by keeping better track of everything as one of my goals for this year. 

There is certainly nothing wrong with being good to yourself.  Whether it be to be healthier, feel better, treat people around you better, or treat yourself to things you deserve -- as long as I don't go overboard, I think I'll be fine.  And I am happier than I've been in a long time!

So be good to yourself.  You DO deserve it.  If you work hard, and you have someone supporting you, then you're half way there.....

Take care,
Martha
P.S. - I wanted to add photos but something happens between blogger and Internet Explorer and my computer - they don't like each other.  I'm having a really difficult time with photos on my blog. :-(  So I'm sorry there weren't more pics.









Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Photography

I love photography.  I love outdoor photography the best, but since I have a business, I'm working on getting better photos of my items for sale.
Most of the time, I can get decent photographs inside, in natural light.  In our office, we have double windows facing North/Northwest, and a single window facing North/Northeast.  The walls are white and reflect a lot of light. In fact, right now, it's really bright in here, and that's partly because it snowed yesterday and the sun is out, so LOTS of natural light. 
I invested in a better camera, a DSLR, last year, finally!  I have wanted a DSLR for years, but couldn't justify the expense, but needing it for "work" was a better justification for me.  I LOVE my DSLR.  It's a Nikon D3100. I did some research and read that it can be very good in low light.  With a lot of Oak trees on our property, this place is always darker than if we had no trees.  So low light is something we live with ALL the time, even in summer.....

Here is what my setup looks like. I took these photos with my IPhone 4S because I wanted my camera in the pictures, and it can't be in 2 places at once.  It was night time, the overhead light with daylight bulb was on, and the camera used the flash.

Here, you can see one of the windows - this is the single window.  You can also see the sheet on the wall, and the back of the mirror (the brown in the front right of the photo).

 Here, you can see a straight on shot of the setup - sheet on the wall, bowl I place things in, a small vas for smaller items to be up against, and the tripod with the camera.  Please don't pay attention to the messy bookcase! 
 Here is a closer version of the setup. You can see the mirror better and how it reflects the light.  It is one of those mirrors you hang on a door, or hallway, to see yourself full length - not really expensive either.  It leans up against the table.
I have tried other setups.  I've tried making light boxes, using the 3 sided cardboard setups kids use to display their stuff in school. I've tried the cardboard box, cutting out the sides and top and placing tissue paper in there and using lights.  The only thing I haven't tried is a real light box, and that's mostly because I think it would be too small for most of my stuff.  I've tried lights of all sorts, and it's never right - the colors don't come true at all, and all the playing in the world with editing programs, never makes it come out right.

I had to download the instruction manual from online, for this camera, but I only printed the pages I needed to tell me how to set it up for the best indoor photos.  This camera has settings on the dial, one of which is an M.  Right now, I can't find the pages I downloaded (not unusual) so I can't tell you what the M stands for, but with the other settings on the camera in the right places, this setting reads the light when I push the button down halfway, then when it's done reading the light, I finish pressing the button, and it takes a GREAT photo.  The only thing is, I have to use a tripod because if the camera shakes at all, the photo is blurry and ruined.  The lens stays open a LONG time, and any movement will cause a blur. 

Mind you, I haven't perfected this whole process yet.  I have a long way to go to really LEARN what I should be doing.  Having a DSLR isn't always the easiest way out and it's not cheap.  But I'm learning and I'm having more success with my photos.  I'm learning to use a bowl and a vase and other props to help make the photos more interesting.

I know a lot of people that have the huge setups - with the professional reflectors, and the extra flash that extends away from the camera, and even fancier backdrops.  I've read reviews of the smaller light boxes and the lights that come with them, and people have said the lights are worthless.  They don't add enough light to really help.  I think natural light is SO much better to work with.  Even if you have to take things outside, in the shade.  My problem is, there is way too much shade on our property and the photos come out too dark.  Or it's too hot outside, or too cold, or raining.  Virginia weather can be fickle......

I'm also learning that running an online shop is a LOT of work, and can be frustrating when I don't get views and sales.  The sales are few and far between.  I've recently had to raise my prices a bit, and add shipping, which previously was included in the cost of the items I sold. 

Pricing is such a tricky thing.  But I'll get into that in a separate post.  :-)

I'm glad you stopped by today.  I hope this helped you out if you've been struggling with a photo setup.  Not everyone can do it this way.  But not everyone can afford the large light reflectors and fancier camera, and fancier lights either.....

Thanks, and take care.
Martha

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!!!!!

2014!  Wow.  Who'da thunk it?  When I was young, I used to think about the progression of the years and what it would be like to live in the 2000's.  SO  many changes since I was a kid - and I'm 57 now...soon to be 58.  Egads.  2 more years, I'll be 60!  Holy cow!  How did that happen????

Okay, well, now that I am feeling quite old....not that 60 is old, but I do feel old....I'll get on with 2014!  lol

I have started dyeing fiber again.  Some of it, I've been very pleased with. Some of it, not so much.  I thought I was good with color.....but now I'm rethinking that.  I think I need to study some color theory, or somehing. I have a color chart hanging in the basement over the dye table.  I also have a chart that I took from Pinterest from a company that sells yarns, and they have put together a chart of complimentary colors for people to use when they buy yarn.  I'm seriously thinking of going to the bookstore to buy a set of Pantone color cards, or something.  I just really want to put together better colors.  Things that people will want to buy! 

I have also been dying add-ins - Firestar, Snow Mountain, Starbright, Milk Protein, and Silk.  Its fun because those things suck up the color SO easily and fast and the colors are so bright and perfect.  They will be fun to sell, and use as add-ins in my batts!  That stuff makes the batts so pretty.

I had to do inventory today.  Not fun.  In fact, I'm stalling. I did count what I have left in the basement, to the best of my ability.  Numbers are so not my thing!  I need to go through my book where I keep all my receipts.  I have to figure out what I purchased, and what I still have, to know the difference.

I also bought a lot of equipment this year.  That should slow down now.  At least, that's what dear hubby is hoping!  lol  I do want a real hackle (mine is home made) and I also would love to have a Country Spinner 2 from Ashford.  It's the kind of wheel I can really put a lot of yarn onto, and I want to start spinning yarn, so I can weave with it, therefore, I need a lot of yarn!  The kind of yarn that is consistant.  Not a bunch of short skeins that vary in their size.

I was outside with the dogs, and there was a HUGE hawk I had to keep my eye on, because he was eyeballing my little Gabbi.  She only weighs 8 lbs and I know that hawk wanted her for lunch!  After the dogs were done doing their business, I brought them in and got my camera and removed the screen from the bathroom window.  The bathroom faces the back of the pastures where I saw the hawk. Of course, by the time I did that, and got my distance lens on the camera, there was no hawk in the back.  :-(    I watched for him for about 5 minutes, but my hands were freezing so I closed the window and gave up.  I made some hot chocolate, and now I'm stalling catching up on the computer. 

Oh, I have a fun tidbit -  I had put out a request for more likes on my FB page, and because some of my new fiber friends shared the link, I went from 95 likes yesterday morning, to 134 likes today!  :-D  SO happy.  That was a nice lift of my spirits.

Okay, back to the grind.  Have a great and safe day. 
Always,
Martha