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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!



Rick and I will be celebrating this favorite time of year from tonight, when we dress up and go into town to see all the little (and big) Tricksters, in search of Treats, through to the weekend, when New Mexico celebrates Dia de los Muertos. I've never been very good at communicating with spirits, but it's also a good time to look inward and contemplate what's going on in our own spirits. We'll be sure to walk the labyrinth tonight. Hope you have a good time too!

And my newest Favorite Treat...
I love candy corn. LOVE it. Make it "healthy" by eating raw almonds along with it. Recipe: One candy corn, one almond. Pop in mouth and chew! Trust me on this.... it's wonderful!

Monday, October 29, 2007

this week

Hello, good morning, another week off, and running! I have a couple of things to throw at you today. Catch 'em or let 'em drop at your feet. It's all OK with me!

Our beloved goats are moving to their new home this week, probably Wednesday, and we plan to escort them there so we can tuck them in and bid our fond farewells. We can't take them with us when we move in the spring, and we were lucky to find the terrific, loving people who will be their new best friends. It's all good, but kind of distracting, and the end of the goat era is a little bit sad for us. Each thing we do now is a little step toward a big move. Everything makes us lighter. Lots of deep breaths as we let things go...

And... as a big fan of Halloween, I'm going to allow it to take a big bite out of my time this week. Halloween in Taos is the best. This is our last one here... another deep breath.....

So, for you Bead People, I plan to post the new ones tomorrow, Tuesday. I'll send a note out as soon as they're all up. Savvy shoppers will think to check in at the Etsy Shop sometime around noon to see if I'm getting the job done! I'll do all the mailing this week on Thursday, and then get back to the studio to make things for next week.

That's it for me at the moment. The following is a forwarded email from the MrBead newsletter. (Thanks Norine!) There's alot of good information on how to be a well educated, smart bead shopper. I particularly like the part about lampwork...

"Lampwork beads are most often used as jewelry centerpieces. Creatively made with a torch or in a kiln, these are painstakingly developed and executed by glassmaking professional. Judge the price of lampwork according to the complexity of the finished bead. Comparing the cost of beads, these are among the cheapest considering the production work."

I also like his "Ten Reasons For Buying Beads"

1. Beady eyes keep a happy mind – it’s a great hobby. Cheaper than drugs and more fun than psychiatric care!
2. Buying beads is not immoral, illegal or fattening. It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul and makes us feel good.
3. To make money or investment.
4. A bead keeps without refrigeration. You don't have to cook it to enjoy it, and it never needs feeding, changing, or walking.
5. Buying beads keeps our economy going. It is our patriotic duty to support bead stores.
6. Beads are a proven aphrodisiac.
7. Beads don't argue or get crabby. Like women and wine: beads get better with age.
8. Bags and tubes of beads tightly packed make an excellent insulation for the home.
9. At any moment the employees of a bead factory might go on strike and limit the availability.
10. We are participating in a contest. The one with the most beads wins.


And in case you want it, here's the entire newsletter. It's long, but I don't mind, since I don't have to type it! See you back here in a day or two!

"Buying Bead Tips, Citrine & Yellow Topaz

This month we cover different ways to buy beads - plus citrine and yellow topaz, the gemstones for November. Scroll down, or click one of the links below on the html version to go to a certain section.

To see the full HTML color version with photos click http://www.mrbead.com/october07.htm

If you weren't mailed this newsletter enter your e-mail address here to receive next month's newsletter.
MrBead store here. For our UK customers, see the NEW UK Bead shop in £ at MrBead.co.uk

Glass Beads
Choosing by Material
Choosing by Shape
Top Ten Tips buying Beads Online
Ten Reasons for Buying Beads at all!
What's a Fair Price for Beads?
Buying Beads Wholesale
Citrine, November's gemstone - Mellow Yellow
Yellow Topaz
$10 off Offer

Choosing Beads by Material
Semi-precious stone beads should be studied before buying. Search online or get a good book on minerals and semi-precious stones - well worth the investment. Beads can be compared as to treatment. Some treatments are perfectly acceptable such as heating the stone to enhance its color. Turquoise can vary dramatically in price depending on it's treatment. Advance study and a reputable dealer are your best insurance. Dying of pearls, coral and jade is usual and considered acceptable these days. The color shouldn’t come off.

Pearls are usually freshwater cultured, unless they cost US$50 to $100 or more a strand. Except for plastic and faux pearls of course. Cultured means they are 100% natural, but are “farmed” with the help of man, rather than growing in the sea. Expect to find irregular sizes, shapes, and grooving in these pearls. Otherwise they won’t be genuine, unless very expensive. Size quoted by the seller is the largest in the strand – this means that only a few in the strand will be that size.

Metal beads come in all shapes and sizes - silver, gold, copper, round, square, etc. Popular metal beads include the Balinese Beads, which are made in Bali and are usually of sterling silver, gold or gold plated sterling. Also popular are the "liquid silver" and "liquid gold" beads: tiny tubes made of metal, usually strung together which drape beautifully.

Lampwork beads are most often used as jewelry centerpieces. Creatively made with a torch or in a kiln, these are painstakingly developed and executed by glassmaking professional. Judge the price of lampwork according to the complexity of the finished bead. Comparing the cost of beads, these are among the cheapest considering the production work.

Choosing Beads by Shape
To see pictures of all these shapes, click the link to our HTML version here. The different shapes there are:
Abacus, Barrel, Bicone, Briolette, Button, Bottle, Cabochon, Capsule, Chips, Cube, Disc, Dog Bone, Donut, Drum, Fancy Drop, Flower, Heart, Puff Heart, Hour-glass, Leaf, Moon, Nugget, Flat Oval, Puff Oval, Pillow, Rhombus, Rectangle, Wavy Rectangle, Rice, Ring, Rondell, Round , Faceted Round, Spangle, Square, Wavy Square, Star, Triangle, Teardrop and Tube.

Order our bead by shape at MrBead.com
Order our beads by shape at MrBead.co.uk

Top Ten Tips when Buying Beads Online
1. Keep cool. Don't get caught up in the excitement - know your limits. It's easy to get into a bidding war and end up paying more than an item is worth. When an auction closes at five times the original asking price, dealers feel embarrassed.
2. Make sure that the item you are bidding for is what you want. Always be sure you know the size, especially if a picture is enlarged. Don’t assume it is a certain size, then when it arrives in the mail the 'necklace' is suddenly a bracelet for a cat! And don’t buy a strand of beads if you assume you would receive a ready-made necklace.
3. Use your head. Don’t be naive reading descriptions - never take words at face value. Like “This fabulous bead is so hard to describe, the picture speaks for itself!”. “Exquisite” beads are everywhere, and every other item is “unique.” Enter the word “unique” in the search box and its overuse reduces it to meaninglessness. Misinformation is another problem. More sellers misrepresent out of ignorance than by deceit, but it helps to know something yourself and not just trust without question. "Antique" is identified as by U.S. customs laws as being at least 100 years old. Beads from the 1960s are not antique. Occasionally, a little research brings a bargain. You might spot a rare old African tribal necklace being sold as a trinket from Thailand, though more likely you would be fooled the other way round.
4. Search the Web. Look for similar items and determine what a fair price is. Sometimes dealers will have the same items on their web sites for less than you'd pay if you were competing with other bidders, or the other way round. Look at the sellers other auctions. Keep track of many like items before placing your bid, compare over different auction sites.
5. Check what other buyers have said about the seller and examine any negative feedback. If there are unhappy customers, or if the seller presents a nasty defense, be wary.
6. Bid just before the auction ends, if possible. Buyers like to outbid each other in the final moments. This is referred to as “sniping,” although is perfectly legitimate. It's very frustrating to have someone “steal” the item out from under you in the last seconds. Unless you have the time to monitor the close of every auction in which you have a bid, this will happen sometimes. A sniper program like “esnipe” at http://wwwesnipe.com enable you to outbid someone at the last minute. However, don’t feel guilty about sniping, it's not really stealing, the item doesn’t being to your competing bidders.
7. Can you make a return? You should be able to receive a refund on items that don't live up to their promise or match their description. However, don’t expect to be refunded shipping or a handling fee to cover the seller’s expenses. Some dealers don't accept returns, but they have to realize you're buying from a small picture only. If you buy a computer or a car on the web, you probably have a good idea of what you're looking at - not necessarily so with beads. Buying online is like a catalog sale, and catalog vendors always offer a no questions return policy. A good dealer knows that pleased customers will bring extra sales that will more than cover the cost of returns.
8. Good auction etiquette. There are some things you can do to make things easier for the vendors and foster a good relationship. When you win an auction, the dealer will e-mail you the item number(s), always ensure this is quoted with your mailing address and payment. Sellers hate spending hours doing detective work or guessing which beads goes to whom. Don’t just rely on Paypal to inform this for you. Some dealers with many auctions take a few days to contact all their buyers. Unreasonable e-mails demanding a total just slows down the process. And some sellers offer a checkout like MarketWorks that automatically adds all your wins including combined shipping - saving you a lot of time.
9. Pay well. Always pay as quickly as possible. If you have not dealt with the seller before, you may have to wait for your check to clear. And if you are using snail-mail to pay international purchases, allow at least 14-days just for your payment to arrive. US sellers in many states have to collect sales tax for their resale license. They don't get a commission on this and have to pay penalties for mistakes in collecting these taxes – so don’t try to evade. Same with VAT in Europe.
10. Watch Shipping Costs. Some sellers will try to rip you off with shipping, especially from China, so check before you bid. However, be aware that international airmail is expensive, so expect to pay reasonable shipping & handling fee. Under US$10 for a small order is OK, over $20 is scandalous. If you order a lot from abroad, airmail doesn’t come cheap - beads are heavy! Allow a reasonable time for your item to arrive before you complain. Ten days from within your own country, or twenty-days from abroad.

Ten Reasons for Buying Beads at all!
1. Beady eyes keep a happy mind – it’s a great hobby. Cheaper than drugs and more fun than psychiatric care!
2. Buying beads is not immoral, illegal or fattening. It calms the nerves, gratifies the soul and makes us feel good.
3. To make money or investment.
4. A bead keeps without refrigeration. You don't have to cook it to enjoy it, and it never needs feeding, changing, or walking.
5. Buying beads keeps our economy going. It is our patriotic duty to support bead stores.
6. Beads are a proven aphrodisiac.
7. Beads don't argue or get crabby. Like women and wine: beads get better with age.
8. Bags and tubes of beads tightly packed make an excellent insulation for the home.
9. At any moment the employees of a bead factory might go on strike and limit the availability.
10. We are participating in a contest. The one with the most beads wins.

What's a Fair Price for Beads?
What are beads worth? On eBay, most buyers are looking for a bargain, but what's a fair price? Machine-made bead are extremely cheap to manufacture. Especially when most are made in low-income countries too. So why do beads cost so much at retail? The answer is labor. The most expensive part of any product is the labor that goes into it, not just the time of the factory workers but of all the other people involved. Four or five middlemen may handle your beads between the factory and you: the manufacturer, the exporter, the importer, the wholesaler, the retailer, and two or three shippers. Each middleman has labor costs. Transportation and storage don’t come cheap.

At MrBead your beads are brought in a large Chinese city from a wholesaler who buys them from another wholesaler in the outskirts who gets them from the factory. They then go by truck to Hong Kong where they are stored and packed, and then travel by air to your country and by road to your door. Unless you buy from our UK auctions, in which case they are shipped from Hong Kong to Britain to be resorted and repacked before mailing to you. Sounds like a lot of work, and it is!

Out of a bead merchants stock, only a few types of beads sell well, the rest gather dust taking years to recover their costs. Other beads get lost, damaged, or go out of style quickly. And often the merchant can’t restock his top sellers because the wholesalers have run out too.

Then there’s the cost of retailing. Shop rents and taxes are crippling, occurring throughout the off season and holidays. Online selling is cheaper, but a web store with out visitors is useless. Hits cost money. Marketing and advertising is a substantial cost of your beads. Auctions like eBay cost the seller over 10% of the retail price, and that’s before the expense of getting paid. Paypay, credit cards, and bounced checks are expensive.

Buying Beads Wholesale
Many people think wholesalers make most of their money from sales to big customers who spend a lot of money. The fact is, most bead wholesalers have many customers who spend small amounts of money. Most wholesalers are also retailers and will charge high prices for small quantities, so walking into a wholesale shop doesn't guarantee low prices. To get cheap, you have to buy a lot, and even then you won't get the best prices unless you spend thousands of dollars.

There's also a negative side to dealing with wholesalers. Many wholesalers have a general attitude that makes you feel a nuisance unless you’re spending thousands. They'll get irritated if you haggle on the price for small orders, despite haggling being part of the wholesale game. They can also get mad when you make returns.

However, you can make substantial savings buying larger quantities of beads wholesale. Think ahead and plan what beads you will need. Buy as much as you can afford to keep the unit cost down. Pool with friends. And you can always auction what you don’t use on eBay. Many wholesalers will even let you use their pictures and copy to sell online.
Wholesale Bead Buying Tips
1. If possible, buy over $100 a time. The more money you spend, the more you save and the they'll take you seriously.
2. In America, get a tax ID number to save paying taxes on your purchases. Makes you look like a serious customer too.
3. Look at the beads under bright light – many defects are not noticeable in dim light. Except for seed beads, don't buy beads that are sealed in plastic without opening to examine the beads inside. Many defects can’t be seen through the bag.
5. Check the prices they put down on the invoice very carefully. If they over-charge you (which is common), it’s much better to say now than later. Also, if you are buying beads on your lunch hour, don't leave the order with them to total up later – there could be problems.
6. Every time you buy beads, note the size, style, price and wholesaler, and bring this list with you when you shop. If they charged you $30 for a bag of beads two months ago, and this month it costs $36 for the same beads, your questioning could save you a lot of money.
7. Be friendly but otherwise unemotional. Don't get angry or defensive if they don't give you the price you want or a refund. You can’t expect the same level of service buying wholesale as you can retail. It helps to have a sense of humor.
8. In conclusion: do your homework before buying wholesale to get the best deal. Know what you want and for what price.

See how to get up to 40% for wholesale beads in our store click here for US or for UK here

Citrine, November's birthstone: Mellow Yellow
”Citrine” comes from the French word for lemon, and is any quartz crystal or cluster that’s yellow to orange. It is the gemstone for November. The darker, orange colors were traditionally the best, but today people prefer bright lemony shades to mix with pastel colors. Citrine with man-made color tends to have more of an orange or reddish caste. Most natural citrine starts life as amethyst until heated in a molten state to change.

Sunny and affordable, citrine brightens all jewelry, blending especially well with the yellow gleam of polished gold. The yellow color is a natural reviver, and citrine focuses the mind bringing a feeling of self-esteem. In medication it helps re-establish the link between your conscious and subconscious minds. If you are feeling down, try holding citrine to lift your spirit. It’s also very good at healing the body and helping people communicate. Citrine has warm energy, promotes optimism, and attracts abundance.

Citrine is one of the few stones that removes negative energy and never requires cleansing. In ancient times it was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Known as a "merchants' stone”, placed in the cash register to not only acquire wealth but to maintain it as well. Citrine is the birthstone for November, and its corresponding signs are Gemini, Aries, Libra, and Leo.

Although the darker, orange colors of citrine, sometimes called Madeira citrine after the color of the wine, has generally been the most valued color, in modern times, many people prefer the bright lemony shades which mix better with pastel colors. Most citrine comes from Brazil.

Sometimes you will hear citrine referred to as topaz quartz, which is incorrect. This name was used in the past in reference to the color, which is sometimes similar to the color of topaz. Since topaz is a separate mineral, this type of name can be confusing. However, citrine is considered an alternative to topaz as the birthstone for November. As long as citrine is protected from prolonged exposure to light or heat, it will last for years.

Yellow Topaz
Yellow topaz looks very similar to citrine. The Egyptians thought topaz was colored with the golden glow of the sun god Ra. This made topaz a very powerful amulet that protected the faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who also is the god of the sun. Topaz sometimes has the amber gold of fine cognac or the blush of a peach and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges. Some rare and exceptional topaz can be pink to sherry red.

Wear topaz only if you wish to be clear-sighted: legend has it that it dispels all enchantment and helps to improve eyesight as well! The ancient Greeks believed that it had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. Topaz was also said to change color in the presence of poisoned food or drink. Its mystical curative powers waxed and waned with the phases of the moon: it was said to cure insomnia, asthma, and hemorrhages.

Brown, yellow, orange, sherry, red and pink topaz is found in Brazil and Sri Lanka. Pink topaz is found in Pakistan and Russia. Today we also have blue topaz, which has a pale to medium blue color created by irradiation. Pale topaz which is enhanced to become blue is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China. In early 1998, a new type of enhanced topaz made its appearance, the surface-enhanced topaz, with colors described as blue to greenish-blue or emerald green. Topaz is a very hard gemstone but it can be split with a single blow, a trait it shares with diamond. As a result it should be protected from hard knocks.

To see all our citrine beads click here
To see all What's New click here
See all our old newsletters here"

Did you actually read all of this? I'm impressed!
xo! Kim

Friday, October 26, 2007

up in the air


Our daughter, Julia, is taking a couple of classes at UNM Taos this semester. Spanish, and "something about radio and TV". The radio/TV class somehow got her an internship through one of the local radio stations. And within a couple of weeks, she was offered an actual job, on the air, as a morning personality/DJ. We're so excited for her. This is really a perfect thing for our smart, witty, chatty girl.

The only drawback... it's a "new country" show she's doing... not exactly my cup of tea... or warm beer... But we listen in now and then, and she does a great job. And how's this for having a charmed life - this morning she was broadcasting from a hot air balloon! Totally cool. It's a gorgeous morning, just perfect for balloons. Rick and I went up on the roof to get a better view. Not many out there today, but this is our annual Balloon Rally in town, so they'll be around all weekend. I think I might have to goof off a little bit, and go get a closer look.

And speaking of big round things in the sky, did you see that crazy full moon last night? Oh my..... I could have sat out there in it's glow all night. Just beautiful! Now I'm inspired to get my Halloween costume together and go out and do a little howling. Sometimes a girl just needs to howl... you know? I'm quite sure I'm overdue. Nothing better than Halloween for clearing cobwebs. More on all that later.

Now go outside, look up, and see whatever there is to see. Bet it's better than what you see when you're looking down... unless you're in southern California... To all of you, be safe and well, and if you want to come to Taos, we'll try to find room for you somehow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Community For Peace

Today I have something of local interest for you, that really is much farther reaching than just Taos. The wonderful organization, Community Against Violence, is holding their annual radio fund raiser at KTAO today. A one-day event, they're hoping to raise $50,000. It's ambitious for a small community, but Taos loves the CAV, and sadly, needs the many free services it offers. Rick and I made our donation this morning. I don't talk about it much, but I spent eleven of my younger years in an abusive marriage. Surprised? Me too. But I'm here to tell you, it can happen even to smart people. And it can be a very tricky situation with so many emotions and cultural stigmas attached. We learn as we go though, and now I'm a big supporter of groups like the CAV.

I urge you to make a donation to a similar peace-loving organization in your own community. Or, if you want to donate to CAV today, you can call the radio station at 575-758-8882. It's tax deductible, and you can also listen to KTAO online. I'll hear you if you call in! They'd love to hear from you!

And interestingly, I've been moved to make the new Butterfly Beads this week... a powerful symbol of beautiful transformation. Seems a fitting tribute to all the women (and men) who need to find their own inner strength. I can tell you from experience, once you make that first step, it all gets easier. Let's support those who provide the safe places, the needed services, and the support and love.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

nothing much

How is it possible that I have nothing to talk about? The weather? Always a safe topic... It's cold. It snowed on Sunday. Now I find myself boiling extra water for my tea in the morning so I can melt the birdbath and make them a nice little birdy spa in the middle of the frost-covered patio. And the cats are getting new "cave" beds so they'll be warm. They're getting old, and even though they don't want to be in the house with the Evil Dog, I'm moving them into the guest bathroom each night, so they don't turn into kitty popsicles out in the studio. Adapting to the cold and making beads... it's about all I have time for these days...

I'm pretty pleased with my new butterfly beads. The whole bead thing, for me, is becoming more and more like collage. I look around in unlikely, un-beady places for things and materials I can add to the glass. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. It's always worth a try.

So that will be my day today. Staying warm and playing with fire at least go well together. Hope you're having a good week! I'll try to be more interesting soon... meanwhile, here's a bead for you...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday at my house...

... it's still a work day, but sort of a goofy work day. Anything goes. Whatever I feel like doing is OK with the boss. She can be a big meany sometimes, but she's usually pretty cool on Saturdays...

Today I had green tea and Cracker Jacks while I made beads - there's balance in there somewhere. And Rick picked some music for me, and then went in the house to write his blog and look for Oregon real estate. Good thing, because I really felt the need to sing to my beads, and I can only do that when I'm alone with them. I have a terrible singing voice, but beads don't seem to mind. So I was the new backup singer for The Eagles today.... I was great! My voice blends well with those boys... at least when I crank them up loud enough that I can't hear myself. It's good to sing while we work. It's a time honored tradition that's somehow gotten lost along the way. Sing, whistle, whatever... it all makes you breathe... that's always good.

The end result today is small beads with little gold butterfly wings inside. Real gold. Magic. Beautiful magic. And now, I'm off for the rest of the weekend. No computer tomorrow. See you Monday!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Speaking of chilly weather...
I'm finding myself searching Etsy Shops first when I need to buy a gift for someone... or even when I don't. I'm also starting to gather little gifties for my kids' Christmas stockings... they're all in their 20's, but still want the Socks! I'm all over supporting real people making real things. I refuse to buy into the lazy Walmart Mentality! I want Good Stuff made by people who care and are paid a fair wage for their work. That would be other artists!

Last night I found these beautiful merino wool arm warmers at Overcast, an Etsy Shop based in New Zealand. I had to buy them. My fingers get cold when I'm working at the computer, and I'm already a terrible typist, so frozen fingers only make it worse. Looks like she still has a couple of these snuggly wonders left... go get 'em! We'll be twins!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

here it comes

We had our first little snow yesterday. Winter is on the way before the leaves have finished changing. Yikes! Not sure I'm ready for this, but I guess winter isn't exactly optional except for the rich folks who can just go someplace else if they don't care for the weather.

This should be our last winter in Taos, so I plan to snuggle in and enjoy all the things I like about it. We had our first fires yesterday, which always seems lovely and romantic until we remember that the first time you fire up the wood stove each year, all the dust burns off, and it's just a stinky mess. Well at least that's over with, so we'll be ready when the real cold hits. It's just practicing now, and as long as the sun is out, like today, this little house stays nice and warm until dark, thanks to the entire south side of the house being glass. The studio has it's own wood stove, and the torch and kiln do the rest of the heating when I forget to put wood on the fire... it happens often.

So we're set for heat, and the soup recipes are coming out of hiding. Last night Rick made an amazing seafood bisque. One of the best things I've ever eaten. Ever. We found the recipe on cooks.com. Here it is for you to try...

SEAFOOD BISQUE

6-8 oz. shellfish chunks and liquid
1/4 c. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. half and half
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2-3 tbsp. sherry
1/3-1/2 can tomato soup

Some heavy cream may be used for a richer bisque.

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour and blend well. Slowly add milks and cream, stirring constantly. Place over medium heat and continue to stir until thickened and smooth. Add seasonings, tomato soup and sherry. Blend well. Add seafood and heat slowly for 20 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.



We didn't have mace, so skipped that, and used vodka instead of sherry... who has sherry anymore? Ick. We also went a little light on the cream, and added some regular milk, and used lots more seafood than they recommend. Too much crab? Not possible! Serve it up with some great bread and nice wine... man, if this is what winter is going to taste like, I say, bring it on!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

help is on the way

Who watched Oprah yesterday? Yes, I do watch her often. Say what you will - I know a lot of people don't care for her... I even know a man who claims she's a cult leader!... Anyway, I usually watch Oprah in the afternoon, because by 4:00 my day is winding down and I like the company. We don't subscribe to cable or dish TV anymore, so we now get a clean and simple two channels. It's easy to decide what to watch!

I don't watch my friend Oprah when she does those horrid tear-jerker stories. It's dangerous to play with fire and glass while sobbing uncontrollably. The shows I look for are like the one yesterday. She talked to Dr. Christiane Northrup about being "a woman of a certain age". That's most everyone I know! And it was definitely me yesterday. I needed help, and there it was! I'm not a big fan of doctors, and I don't much trust our so-called health care system in this country. But Dr. N rocks, my friends. She was talking straight to me about how we all tend to do, do, do for others for years and years, leaving ourselves for last, and how about now, it's no surprise that we start to fall apart physically and emotionally. The word "depleted" kept coming up. Oh yeah...

I watched the whole hour while making new versions of Heart Beads. That told me I was on to something. And damn, if I didn't well up with tears a few times. Permission to say This is what I need now is pretty big to an aging ex-catholic people-pleaser. As soon as the credits rolled, I ran inside and ordered her book from Amazon. I even paid for rush shipping. I'll add it to the stack on my nightstand, where I'm now rotating between "Eat, Pray, Love", "Zen Flesh Zen Bones", "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", and "A Handmade Life" by Bill Coperthwaite.

What can I say? I'm 50. This is new territory for me. All the rules have changed, and even though there's still work and family stuff as part of the regular menu, it's finally time to add a little something extra just for me. How about you? If "depleted" fits into your self-description in any way, it's time to take a closer look. Go on! You have permission!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

hi, my name is...

No, I'm not taking you to a 12 step group. But I will tell you... I'm disturbed. Before you leap to your feet in agreement, I'll explain that there's something quite specific that disturbs me this morning. It's the rampant use of Catchy Business Names, Secret Identities, and Anonymous Signatures.

I'm making an effort to spend time wandering around the Etsy Community. I live there now, and want to know my neighbors. But as I look around, I notice that many people feel the need to hide behind an alias of some sort. I find this curious. Of course it isn't specific to Etsy. Everywhere you look you'll find quirky names disguising the identity of an actual human. Of course I can see a use for this in places like MySpace and FaceBook, and I'd want my kids to be a secretive about their personal information as an undercover agent. But what about the rest of us grown-ups? Am I the only one who thinks that if a person has something to say, they should say it in their own voice and claim their words? Or that an artist should use their own name instead of a witty business name? To fit in with this new trend, Vincent Van Gogh might have been Acid Trip Art. Leonardo Da Vinci could be Secret Smile Portraits. And Claude Monet might call his Etsy Shop Luminous Liquid Landscapes...... are you following me?

I just want to suggest that if you make art, be brave and put your name on it. Those who are just starting hopeful art/craft businesses are often caught up in the clever possibilities of self-naming. But I feel strongly about this. If you care enough to make it, say it, write it, think it, you ought to be willing to stand up and own it. Sure, clever names are fun, but at least add your own real name in there somewhere.

And when it comes to internet identity, what is so wrong with communicating and shopping under our own names? What are we hiding? What are we protecting? And what the heck is a Secret Admirer on Etsy anyway?

So there you are. Free advice for the budding new business person, and a bit of a rant for everyone out there hiding behind an adorable alias. And in case there's still any question, I'll start the introductions... Hi! My name is Kim Miles, and who might you be?

Monday, October 15, 2007

William Tell Overture

I'll let someone else do the talking today... this is a good one. Here's to all the Moms out there! (Thank you, Nancy, for sending this.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

feelin' the love


Well, well... I have to say I'm kind of overwhelmed by your responses to "Talk to me". (But before I go on, can one be simply "whelmed", without being overwhelmed? One of the many things I wonder about.) Anyway, I truly was/am open to some constructive criticism. I'm thrilled to have so much open-minded support, and still I realize that I'm in a competitive business, and I need to stay sharp. I'm always aware that making changes in my "business plan" is risky. I lose a few people each time I mess with things. But I know in my arty little heart, that if I leave things comfortable and familiar, they will soon become stagnant and dull, and so I keep thinking, changing, tweaking, learning-as-I-go. Somewhere, down the road a piece, I can see a book on all of my experience in growing a small, hands-on business. Those who have followed me all these years are really getting the advance copy of the book, and I congratulate you on your courage and character!

For me, the Big Picture will always have to have room for "adjustments". The bead world is growing and changing at alarming rates, as is the internet world. I regularly read jewelry/fashion/design/marketing publications, in hopes of coming across a useful nugget of knowledge now and then. The underlying theme is "adapt or die". So what you can still expect from me is a truthful, if sometimes blabby, blog, and ch-ch-ch-changes in the way I do business as often as they seem useful to me. I'll do my best to not jerk you around or confuse you. I'll also try my best to treat you as the intelligent, insightful, free thinkers you've shown yourselves to be. Thank you all for your thoughts. I'm blushing a little bit, but I do appreciate all the lovely praise. How cool would it be if we all sent someone a Special Email Of Encouragement each day? Maybe we can start a movement somehow... Ready, set, go! Tell someone how great you think they are. I'm telling you ALL, here and now, I have the best bunch of friends/customers in the world. Fabulous Humans, each and every one of you! And I hope you're blushing too... a bit of pink makes the world look pretty.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Talk to me

It's been gently suggested to me, by a well-meaning sometime-customer, that I'm "inconsistent" and "unnerving". I guess I have to agree to a certain extent, and because I feel all grumpy and bristly and a bit defensive about it, I know I need to take a look in the mirror on this one. It's possible that my willingness to try new things, and share the inner workings of my business and family with you is unprofessional. But how important is it to be slick and smooth and apparently in control all the time? Maybe it is important. I need to think about it. But it makes me sad to think that people shy away from buying my beads because I don't come across as a well-oiled corporate entity. I'm just a beadmaker, trying to make a living with my own two hands. There doesn't seem to be a lot of value placed on that in this society of ours, but I'm sticking to it anyway. If anyone out there needs an apology for my apparent flakiness, you've got it! But please also consider that my changes, adventures, and experiments are part of the evolution of my work, my life, and my business. I share it all with you, and you can, of course, take it or leave it. What do you think? Would you prefer it if I clam up and act more "professional"? Or do you want to ride along with me and see where we go next? I want to know. I really do. Leave your comments here please. I don't want a bunch of private email over this - I want a community discussion because you all are part of how I make my living. You're a big group. Talk to me. Talk to each other. You're such lovely people, I wish I could throw a big party so you could all meet. But for now... what do you think? Hmmm???

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Jim

This is completely embarrassing. Rick, Karena, and I sang Happy Birthday to Jim last night, over a wonderful chocolate cake. Jim is in New York, so in order to get the song to him, we made this dumb little video. Then I couldn't get the video to attach to an email... so here we are, publicly humiliating ourselves, because we feel very strongly about getting this Special Birthday Wish where it belongs. Happy Birthday Jim! A day late, but just as heartfelt!

video

Monday, October 08, 2007

I'm Home

Well, here I am, back in Taos, after 10 days in San Jose. I won't say it was a fun trip. It was difficult and exhausting. Now my Dad is out of the hospital and back in his house, but to be honest with you (which you know I always am), I'm sure this is only a break between trips, and I'll likely have to go back again soon. But for now, I'm happy to be home, ready to get back to making some beads, and enjoying this amazing fall weather we're having here.

And there were a few high points in my trip back to my childhood stomping grounds. Dick's Bakery for one... the sacred place where all of our birthday cakes were made, with sugar, magic, and great little plastic decorations we got to keep for ever and ever... Linda and I went in searching for some cupcakes, but late in the day, we could only score a bag of cookies. No complaints out of me. I like cookies too.

My sisters and I tidied up Dad's house while he was in the hospital. It was actually quite a big job, like maybe bears had been living in the house with him... but I found some of my old stuff, and brought this one thing home with me. It's an egg. I drew on it and painted it back in about 1974. It reminds me that the tiny detail work I still prefer to do in beads started much longer ago than my first go at the torch. Mostly I'm just shocked that it's survived all these years. I'm glad it's a small bit of fluff. I'll be able to find a place for it even with all the downsizing we're doing.





Jill and Mike and some friends took me out to shoot bows one day. Jill is way more of a jock than I am. She's such a Warrior Goddess. Just look at her with this thing! I shot it twice, but it thwacked my arm and scared me, so I just enjoyed the scenery after that...

Then one day Linda and I took a much needed break and went over the hill to Santa Cruz. We used to go there a lot, from the time we were little, on through high school, when we maybe should have been in class... It was a spectacular, sparkling day. We had lunch on the water, and walked along the pier and the boardwalk.

Our first-ever rides on a roller coaster was here on the Giant Dipper. The three of us sisters, before there were height limits on these scary rides... we sat in the seat in front of our Dad (Mom wouldn't go on anything but the merry-go-round), and he held onto the hoods of our little matching turquoise sweatshirts, to keep us from flying out... yes he did that. I adore roller coasters to this day, but we didn't get to ride this time because everything was closed. Whistful sigh...


The sea lions lounging on a platform below the pier were cool too. I had to take a little video of them, for the whole effect. Here you go... video
And so... while it wasn't by any means a vacation, there were some darn fine moments. Now it's time to catch my breath and get some work done. I hope I don't have to go back soon, but there's no way to know for sure... At least I was a Girl Scout. I know how to be ready for anything...