Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dallas, here I come...

It's sometimes hard to put the last show behind me and refocus on the next one coming...but this week I've got no time for dilly dallying! I leave for Dallas on Friday afternoon to teach 3 classes over the weekend for the mighty Dallas Bead Society.

One of the classes I'm teaching for them I have not offered as a kit before, so I'm putting a few colorways together especially for them. I imagine they'll make it to the regular kit line up eventually too, but my immediate need is to make sure they're wonderful for the Dallas area ladies!

The Philly Bead Fest show was so busy that I had hardly any time at all to get in trouble by roaming away from the booth and spending money. Both a positive and a negative in that. But I did make sure to scout out and purchase some gorgeous Czech focal beads for the new Glorious Garland kits. I can't wait to dig my fingers into beading up the samples on Wednesday.

Tuesday was spent getting Mom's flat tire replaced and then doing a huge amount of supply ordering. The money comes in....the money flows out...it basically comes to visit me for a short amount of time.

I had my camera with me in Philly, but it never left my purse. Luckily, Jennifer VanBenschoten, the new Beadwork Guide on the About.com Beadwork site, took care of the photo taking! You can see her gallery of photos on Beadwork site. If you're not familiar with the About.com Beadwork site, you should be! Lots of free patterns and reviews and information there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Philadelphia folks are SERIOUS about their beads!

What a trip it's been, and it's not over yet. I still have Sunday at the Expo Hall, and then the madness of packing the remains up in a semi-organized manner when the party ends at 5pm. One more night in the hotel and lastly a non-stop (bliss!) flight home to be reunited with the family - human and furry alike.

My flight here was a breeze...I didn't get lost with my rental car. Thank you Verizon Navigator (GPS)!! I found the mall where I could purchase the cell phone charger I forgot at home, the bed risers I use to raise the table height up that I forgot at home, and a lovely dinner from The Cheesecake Factory. I might have accidentally walked through the Nordstrom's Rack store too, but didn't find anything to buy there. Or maybe I dreamed that part. And I also stopped at a grocery store to grab some Diet Coke which I mainline into my veins as well as general munchies for the show. I'm really glad I did, too, because I've been too busy at the booth to run and get lunch each day. The munchies help me through until my one evening meal.

I spent Thursday putting some last minute kits together. I created two new colorways for Piazza Perline the night before I left that look great, so those kits needed assembly. There were also extra Butterfly Kisses and Hollywood Hula Hoops to make. The extra day in Philly was a bit of an extravagence, but it was nice and I think I used the time well. Originally I'd scheduled myself to get in that early because I was teaching a class on Thursday afternoon, but the Thursday class got cancelled because of low enrollment.

The Friday Piazza Perline class, however, was another story! We ended up with 14 in class, and I think an excellent time was had by all. I know I did! As per usual, I laughed and joked around the entire time. The ladies were great sports and played right along with me. I love a good class with energy!!

So after a solidly busy Friday at the Expo Hall during the day, and the class from 5-8pm, I stopped by the Meet the Teachers Event to talk with some folks for a little while. Why wasn't I showing my kits at Meet the Teachers, you might ask?? In a word, exhaustion. Well, that plus I didn't feel like I had time to get my class ended at 8pm, pull all my kits and samples from the Expo Hall in one hotel to the Meet the Teacher's Ballroom in the other, attached hotel, and set up and be ready to go by 8:30. Additionally the event didn't get done until 11pm, at which time I would have had to do a reverse schlepping of all the materials back to the Expo Hall to open on Saturday morning. I figured it would have ended up being around an 18 hour day in total for me, and honestly I didn't have the energy for it when I was going to be faced with two more days yet in the Expo Hall. Next year, I plan on having Mom with me to help with the booth and logistics so I can participate.

I got the opportunity to catch up with several of the Interweave Magazine editors - Denise Peck from Step by Step Wire, Leslie Rogalski from Step by Step Beads, and Melinda Barta from Beadwork. I've promised some submissions to some of them, and I'll be working on figuring out just the right projects in the next few weeks. It's been quite a while since I did any magazine publication work, and it's well past time.

Saturday's crowds at the Expo were just awesome. I'm so happy to see that in a time of financial crunch, people are still spending on the hobby that gives us all much comfort and peace. Certainly I can see that that they're watching their purchases a little more carefully. Planning. Bringing lists instead of buying everything that takes their fancy. Perhaps buying a pattern instead of the kit. Overall, however, my sales are up significantly over last year, and while I thought I came here better prepared with a larger quanity of kits, I still find myself sold out of several kits and patterns going into the last day. I'm not complaining! I just hate to disappoint anyone who wants to walk away with a certain goody.

I'ts 3:15am now and I'd better get back to bed. I crashed at 8pm Saturday night and slept until 1am. Got up to catch up on email and news and such. I fell asleep earlier to the sound of a lovely rain storm...a sound I haven't heard in many months in Texas. Saturday was the 63rd day this summer of 100+ degree days, and the all time record is only 69 days. Clearly, we'll be breaking it shortly. How I long to feel a cool evening breeze...

Bead on...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making a list and checking it twice

  1. Massage to soothe the poor body which will be subjected to three solid days standing on a concrete floor. Check.
  2. Pedicure to soothe the poor feetsies which will also be subject to above torment. And to look cute. Check.
  3. New clothing to adorn the poor body which...yada, yada. Check.
  4. Group A boarding pass procured for Southwest Airlines flight in the morning. Group A! Check.
  5. Laundry and packing done. Umm...
  6. Updated Butterfly Kisses instructions printed out. Well...
  7. Facebook status updated every few hours. Check!

Not what I expected

I had PLANNED on having a full and fast-paced weekend. Right up until Friday, aka, the day Jill would like to have skipped. I had a more than full plate last week, between writing instructions for Saturday's Evening Song class, getting my kits made and shipped out to Philly on Friday, and making some new color choices for Piazza Perline among others. I made a pact with myself to work on the accounting stuff for a minimum of an hour a day until I got caught up, so I was throwing that in there too.

And then Friday happened. First off, it was the day for the second half of my root canal. Not so great. But I can handle it. So I get up Friday morning(ish) and I'm packing up the boxes to take to UPS, and as usual, I slept a little later than I'd planned so I was rushing around a bit. I go into the garage to find something, trip over a box on the floor, and wrench my back. OUCH. For those of you who don't know, I used to have very serious back problems that culminated in spinal fusion surgery in 2001. I'm in great shape back-wise now, but I do have to be careful. Honestly, it scared me to death at the time. I'm doing much better now and even had a massage today that worked out the remnants of the soreness.

So I limp off to the endodontist appointment. No big deal there. They got me fixed right up and out the door. I think they were a little overly generous with the nitreous oxide, though, because I was feeling quite loopy.

I get back home, trip over dogs while getting the boxes loaded into my car. The hatchback on my Celica won't stay up any more, so I managed to get several impressive looking bruises on my arms and shoulders getting the boxes in. I'm too late to get the boxes to the UPS drop closest to me, so now it's Friday rush hour and I'm having to drive a ways to get there.

And then I realize that in addition to my twitching eyelid from stress, I have the visual aura starting that precedes a migraine. A migraine. Now. Are you kidding me???? I called Mom, practically in tears, and she took charge. Met me at the UPS store to help me get the boxes in without further damage. Made me realize there was no way I'd be able to teach my class Saturday while in the midst of a migraine, sent me to bed at 7pm, and called all my students to give them the news and the rescheduled class date. Is there anything better than having your mom around when you're falling apart??

So the weekend turned out much slower and lower key than I thought. Honestly, I didn't get much done at all. Slept all day Saturday. Got a little accomplished on Sunday, but was quite lethargic overall.

Monday rolled around and I finally forced myself into gear today. I still feel like I'm dragging, but I don't have the luxury of indulging it. I have a list a mile long of things to get done on Tuesday, and then I'm flying out for Philadelphia on Wednesday morning.

I'm SO looking forward to the show!! You know how I love to see all my beady friends, and I have some new ones to meet in person now from Facebook interactions.

So that's why it's been quiet in blogland the last few days - I promise to do better! But for now, it's 2am and time for Jilly to attempt some rest.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Accounting 101

Basic rule of accounting for small businesses. Keep good records.


I'm making up for a world of hurt at the moment, however. I found two new online services that are thrilling me beyond what any accounting type program should. The first is a simplified online bookkeeping system (Outright.com) that I can wrap my head around. So many of them are way overloaded with features that I just don't need right now. I don't have a payroll. My needs are few. This system scales perfectly with my little business - and I can always transfer the records to a more robust system down the road if I need to. I just finished entering the 2009 year to date Website records, and most of 2008. It's been a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to enter the data so I can get the info out later like I want to see it. For instance, being able to pull up a report that shows me how much of my income came from the website vs. shows vs. home classes vs. traveling teaching gigs. I think I've got it down now.

And then there's this other cool service that links to Outright called Shoeboxed.com. One of the things I collect in massive quantities are receipts, and I never find time to get them entered regularly like I should. Well, Shoeboxed.com is gonna let me put them all in an envelope and mail them off to some magic place where little elves will scan them into the computer for me and I never have to see those pieces of paper again! (The IRS accepts digital copies of receipts, so this is all kosher.) I pull my receipts up on the website a few days later, dump the info into Outright, and categorize it properly, and voila! Done!

Less paper. Less work. More organized. I'm feeling my old administrative assistant days kicking in...The Clutter Fairy (aka, Gayle Goddard) will be so proud of me!

My eyes are growing heavy, no matter how much I'd love to play office worker a little longer. I need my rest too, since there's a trip to Nomadic Notions on tap for Thursday. Rebecca, who took her first seed bead weaving class from me, and became a great beading teacher in her own right, is moving to College Station soon. We're sending her off in grand style. With food and beads and beady friends. We'll miss her greatly around these parts.

PS - the email box is down to 77!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Accomplishments, big and small

I have confessed more than a few times on this blog that I lack a certain amount of work ethic unless I've got deadlines to keep me on track. I think I may have found another thing that will kick me into high gear - getting so hopelessly behind that I'm about to lose my tenuous grip on control.

It's finally gotten to the point where I can't really even function in a reasonable manner - the scramble to get ready for the Shreveport Retreat was really the last straw. I came home to chaos everywhere. EVERYWHERE! So the last few days, I've buckled down and I'm making amazing dents in these literal and virtual piles. (Note: photo is NOT our actual house. Just an example.)

My email inbox was up to 200+ emails that needed action in some way, shape, or form from me. As of this moment, I've got it down to 82, and I plan on whittling away at it more every day this week. Goal: less than 20 by the end of the week. So if you've been waiting on info or a response on something from me, hold tight. I'm almost there.

I had every nook and cranny of the house covered with beads and boxes and paper and who even knows what else under all that. Class table in the teaching studio? Covered. Chairs around the table? Covered. Kitchen ledge? Unviewable under the beads. Coffee and side tables in the living room? Is there a surface under there??? Desk. Covered. Bead Room. I don't even want to talk about it.

My poor, sainted mother. She's no stranger to the messes that follow me everywhere, but this was TOO TOO much. She even voiced a desire to move to a two-story house where my clutter and I could be contained to the upper level. I don't blame her a bit. In fact, it's not a bad idea....

In the meantime, however, I had to regain the upper hand. I spent time on filing today. Email. Mailing packages. Putting things away (or at least consolidating them to a category pile so I can tackle those piles as I shuffle everything around.) And the boxes! Ohmigosh...you just don't know how much packaging for all these supplies I end up tossing. Boxes within boxes containing bags within bags. I hauled two full bags out to the trash tonight of mainly paperwork and boxes and their wrappings.

Please don't misunderstand me. This house is not clean yet. I have more days ahead of me. But I'm seeing progress and it's spurring me on. Just don't ask me where that one thing you gave me that one time to do something with is. I haven't found that yet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pretty pictures

Oh, how I wish I had time to write the expansive and thoughtful blog post you all deserve to find here. But instead I'm sitting at the computer at 3:45am, chugging down ibuprofin and BBQ, trying to find a second wind to complete a myriad of supply orders that HAVE to be placed on Monday. I can barely reach the keyboard because of the beads and papers and samples piled in front of me on the desk. It's a sad, sad sight.

So instead I'll try to buy you off with a few fabulous photos.

First off, we have three amazing antique shoe clips that I purchased off Mary Ann at the Shreveport Bead Retreat last weekend. She needed to raise some cash to pay off her monstrous seed bead bill, and I was only too happy to take advantage of her plight. I have big plans for these pretty things. BIG plans.

Next, Mom and I took a trip to my brother's house to have dinner with the family Sunday night. William is 4 months old now, and boy, is he a talker! Babble, babble, babble! And the sweetest smiles.

Alexis ran around like an over-wound toy, dispensing hugs and kisses and crazy dance steps. She also decided that Aunt Jilly's lap would be the perfect place to get dinner tonight. Smart girl!

Her parents have taught her that this is the proper response when asked, "Who is the cutest little girl?"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's been one of THOSE weeks

Oh, how happy I am this week is almost over. It's been one challenge after another, none of them bead-related for a change!

I had a restful drive home from Shreveport on Monday. I'm SO glad I stayed that extra night. I was tired and run-down going into the weekend, and then got even more so at the retreat. Next year I VOW to be more rested and ready ahead of time so I can get there earlier, stay up until 2am beading with the hard-core beaders, and I'll plan up front to stay over through Monday so I don't try to drive home tired. There! I've put it in writing! Ya'll are in charge of reminding me of my VOW next year, okay?

So Monday, home. Tuesday - 8am - roofers arrive to replace our roof. Banging, pounding, clanking, barking, whining (both the dogs AND me,) and general insanity reign supreme for the next 11 hours. But we have a lovely new roof with a darker color and three-tab shingles and who could have guessed I'd become such a roof expert?

Wednesday - DirectTV dude arrives to reinstall our satellite after the roof replacement. Large shopping trip to Tar-jay.

Thursday (today) - rapidly scheduled dentist appointment. I had three old fillings replaced about six weeks ago, and over the last two weeks I've been getting increasingly intense hot/cold sensitivity back there, and some chewing discomfort. You know they were drill happy in the old dental days, and many of my generation have these HUGE metal fillings. Well, in this case, the darned huge filling replacement exposed a root tip and it's not responding to the medication they put on it, so here we go. I'm having a root canal on Friday, and then a crown. And there goes $2200. I'm hoping to get the work all finished before I leave for Bead Fest Philadelpia on the 18th.

Needless to say, there hasn't been a lot of beading going on this week! I finally started a sample of the new black and silver Twisted Sister for display in Philly and beyond. Even without a sample, the kit sold out at the retreat. It's classic and super wearable. Can't beat that! I have other samples to work up before too long also. I'm teaching the very first class of Evening Song here at Tapestry Beads studio on the 15th, and I need samples of the 2 extra colorways the kit will be available in. I'm also kitting Glorious Garland for the first time, and need to make my color selections there. It's a class I taught several times at Nomadic Notions, and now I'll be teaching it for the Dallas Bead Society at the end of the month.

All of which means, I'd better get off to work!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hanging out in Shreveport

Wow. What a retreat! The annual Shreveport Bead Retreat this weekend was a whirlwind of beady friend reunions and amazing classes and nonstop laughter, as per usual. There's a reason why I look forward to the two bead retreats each year! We had a lot of new faces this year as some of our regulars had to sit out this retreat for a variety of reasons, and it was delightful getting to know and encourage them.

Julie, who sat near me, had never been to a retreat before and was nervous about entering the Bead Challenge. And guess who WON the challenge!! See, Miss Julie? Anne has been wanting to take my classes in the past, but they were always full by the time she got to do class sign-ups...this year she got into both of them and we are now fast friends! Leigh is a sweet, southern lady with the accent to prove it, but she's sassy as they come! Love that! Rebecca came to the retreat from Arkansas for the first time after reading about it on my blog. We're glad to have her! There are many more stories, but only so many brain cells left at this moment to tell them.

I taught two overflowing classes on Saturday, and they plumb wore me out! By the end of the day I'd lost my voice from talking nonstop. So after feeling completely worn out when I woke up Sunday morning, I made the decision to stay in Shreveport one more night so I could be fully rested before I take to the roads for my six hour drive. Driving sleepy is just too dangerous, and I'd have a lot of folks mad at me if I managed to kill myself by falling asleep behind the wheel. Besides, I have too many designs in my head that need to get out first. :-)

A few teaching announcements: I'll be teaching in Lake Jackson in December - classes to be determined. I'm going to teach a few class at the Bead Renaissance Show in San Antonio on Halloween weekend. I still need to pick which classes, but I'm pretty sure one will be the Kumihimo with Beads. We haven't set the date yet for teaching in Ft. Worth for the Wild West Bead Society, but it will probably be in November. And I'll also be teaching a class at Bead Crazee in Tyler - again, date and class to be determined. I'm gonna have a busy fall!!

Back to bed now so I can get an early start for home in the morning. Mom returns to work on Tuesday, so I'm going to take her out for a nice steak dinner Monday night. She's got great timing - we're having our roof replaced on Tuesday, and she's going to miss the special excitement of being inside a house all day with all the banging and noise and insanity. I can't wait to see how the dogs take it!