I am Lovin'TheGoodOleDays!

Welcome to my blog. I'm glad you're here. You'll find information about my shop; favorite recipes; features of other crafters and artisans; tidbits of beach living; and the ups and downs of life.

Yes, there were some things about the past that were definitely great, but everyone's list is slightly different. This blog is my contribution to the things that make life great, and not so great. Like all things, this blog will grow and change as I do. Come grow with me.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oh Philly, This is Not What They Meant By Brotherly Love

When you live in a major metropolitan area you are bound to see a plethora of billboards advertising a wide range of products and services.  Philadelphia, until recently, was the city I frequented the most. Now I live in lower Delaware and only venture near Philly when I absolutely have to.

Just last week I caught sight of this billboard on the side of I-95.  

Yup, shock value accomplished!  I had to do double-take to make sure I saw that correctly.  Wow, how low can we go?  I was none too happy to have to then explain to my 12 year old stepson and my 9 year old son the whole concept of adultery and the purpose of said billboard.

Last year I remember seeing another shocking billboard advertising laser tattoo removal.  The image was of a woman's bare back with four names tattooed in an ascending list. The first three names were all crossed out with just the top name showing.  The words "People Change" were in large print on the ad.  What changed was her preference to switch from male partners (the first three names) to a female partner (the last name).  I have no problems with a person's sexual orientation. In fact, I couldn't care less who one chooses to be with.  My issue with this billboard in particular is that this advertising company was forcing me to have a conversation with my then 8 year old son about sexual orientation.  Yes, it's a conversation that needed to happen, however, I think it should be up to the parent when they feel their children are ready to discuss such grown up topics.

Then there's this one.  Oh Ashley Madison, I know people cheat. They (not all) always have, and always will, but do we need to see this every day on our way to and from work?

Really, Philadelphia, is this the message you want to be sending out to the world? Money talks, I guess that's the bottom line, eh?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Mojo...Mahna Mahnama

Some Mondays are harder to face than others and that's when you need a heavy duty dose of mojo to get you going and ready to face the week.  This was a particularly hard weekend for me, so I'm bringing out the big guns!  Ok, so maybe I'm dating myself just a bit while I'm at it, but this is THE best way to start the week.  C'mon, am I right?

Muppet Show - Mahna Mahna...m HD 720p bacco... Original!

Enjoy your week...and if you feel yourself losing your mojo, come back here for a refill :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The ABCs Of Life...C Is For Cancer

Honestly, I'd much rather be writing about cookies, or cats, or chocolate, but this is the blog post that has been waiting far too long to be written.

I was one of the lucky ones to go most of my life without being touched by cancer.  I sympathized with others, but I really didn't know how it affects those who have it, as well as the friends and family members of the person fighting it...until 2010.  Then my life was changed forever when, not only did I find out my best friend had cancer, but that she also succumbed to it, with me by her side.

This is the earliest photo I have of us.  I am in the middle in the front (the only one not looking at the camera) and Melanie is to my right in the pale blue outfit.  (My other best friend, Lisa,  is to my left, and she passed away while we were still in high school.)  Lisa and I were 5 and Melanie was 6.

Throughout our childhood we did everything together. (When you live a few houses away from each other it gets like that.)  In high school Melanie and I were inseparable. We hung out at the pool in the summer, we went to the high school dances together, and we were on the debate team together.  She was the ying to my yang.  She would be the one to jump at opportunities for adventure and I'd be weighing the pros and cons, offering the voice of reason.

Posing in a photo booth while we were on one of our many debate tournamanents

We went to college, we got jobs, we had relationships, and we moved to different states.  But through it all she was my person; the one I thought of first when I had news, good or bad. She was the one I would tell first.  And I was the one she would come to when she needed advice.  No matter how much time would pass, it never really felt like it had.

My graduation from Duquesne University

Melanie was always the adventurer, and was often off on some exotic trip to far away lands.  Most of the time she would go by herself, but always she would come back with gifts, amazing tales, and new friends.

Sledding with the dogs in Alaska
Participating in a national celebration in China

Visiting a Masai village in Africa

Learning to play the steel drums in Trinidad

Exploring the canals of Venice, Italy
Speeding on a riverboat down the Amazon River
There are more, so many more.  Her friends and family would eagerly await her return so we could live vicariously through her.  Oh how we envied her and her exciting life...

But, what we didn't know was that she had been living with breast cancer for the last five years of her life.  For reasons which I will never understand, Melanie chose to forgo radiation and chemotherapy, knowing that she would only have about five years to live....And boy, did she live!  She did what she wanted. She lived on her terms and she enjoyed her life to the fullest.

Melanie getting a henna tattoo in India

She did not tell us she was that sick, not even me, not until she came home from China, where she had been teaching.  She sent me an email saying she was coming home to be with her family and friends.  A few days later I was told she was in the hospital, the oncology ward. I didn't even know what that was. Even after talking with the nurse it did not register that she would not be getting better or that she would not last much longer.  The first day I saw her she said my name and we hugged.  She was on morphine, so she was very groggy.  I came to see her the next day and I brought my Dictaphone, in case she wanted to leave a message for anyone, but she never spoke again.  I sat by her side, holding her hand, talking to her for hours, reminiscing about days gone by.  For those of you who have not seen what cancer does to the body, I will spare you and preserve the precious memories her friends and family have of her, but cancer is ugly; it is not kind.  Each day I stayed with her for hours as she slipped away.  I didn't want to see her like that, but best friends have a certain obligation to be there for each other in times of need, and I knew she needed me and I knew that she knew I was there.  Five days later, Melanie took her last breath.  To say I miss her does an injustice to our relationship.  For a long time I would grab my phone only to be reminded that she wasn't there.  I have a message from her on my phone as she was in the airport leaving for China that somehow did not get erased.  I play it just so I can hear her voice.  I still cry; for the void that will never be filled, for the friends who will never meet her, for the lives she won't get to touch.

If you knew you only had five years to live, what would you do?  Would you travel, learn a new skill, appreciate every day as if it were your last?

She will always be with me

Snow Day

Today was the first day this season in lower Delaware that we had enough snow to cancel school.  It's a beautiful Winter Wonderland out there.  So, to celebrate the season and wonderful Winter white, I bring you...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making The Most of My Drive Time

Not long ago while driving with my husband I found myself listening to a cd that he had gotten with his subscription to Success Magazine.  We would listen to that cd over and over.  Then my husband decided to see what audiobooks were available from the library.  He's a big history buff, so that's what he gets now.  As for me, I am currently drawn to the ones that help you get out of debt.  So far I've listened to...

Both books by David Bach, as well as some very helpful information, can be found at finishrich.com.
Now, totally hooked on audiobooks, I just started listening to...

This book, and more words of her wisdom, can be found at www.suzeorman.com.
But, you don't have to listen to books on personal finance.  Have you ever wanted to learn a new language, or maybe read a new novel, but just didn't have the time?  There are so many audiobooks out there available either for purchase or for free from your local library.

According to United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, the average annual miles per driver per year ranges from 7,624 for 16-19 year olds to 15,291 for 35-54 year olds.  That's a lot of time spent behind the wheel.  Sure, you could listen to music, which might brighten your mood and entertain you...or you could listen to an audiobook and open up a world of possibilities.

Do you listen to audiobooks or motivational cd during your drive time?  And if so, what would you recommend?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Mojo...The Great And Powerful Iz

Oh, no.  That's not a typo there.  This is not about Oz, but it's close.  This is Iz, actually Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, the songbird from Hawaii.  His rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is one of my all-time favorite mood enhancing songs. It brings me hope, it calms me, it lift my spirit, it's just so beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and I hope you have a marvelous Monday.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The ABCs Of Life...B Is For Brown

I was all set on doing another "heavy," thought-provoking blog about my life, but life is heavy enough sometimes.  This has been a tough week for me, so I'm lightening it up a bit...with a bit of color.  Now, purple is by far my favorite color of all time, but as I grow into myself, I find myself drawn to browns, all shades of brown. I find it relaxing and comforting and it brings me a sense of peace.  So, on that note, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite brown goodies from my Etsy favorites...

Queen Size Quilt with 2 Shams by southerncharmquilts

Beautiful silk scarf by klaradar

Mineral Eye Shadow 'Chocolate Diamonds' by MyBeautyAddiction

Brown and Gold Rhinestone Hoop Earings by StrictlyCute

Pine Cone and Cinnamon Wreath with birch bark stars and spices by NHWoodscreations

Brown Earthtone Broken Pottery Beaded Bracelet by Mysticglassduo

Home Decor Cream and Brown Beaded Tassel Fan Pull by lizbethsgarden

If you are feeling rather generous of late, I'd really love to have each and every one of these fabulous items...hint, hint :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How To Tuesday...How To Be A Complete And Utter Failure On Etsy

I see so many blogs and discussion threads on how to run a successful shop on Etsy, but what about those poor folks who don't want to succeed?  Does anyone care about them?  Well, I do.  So here's my advice...

Your Etsy Shop
  • Do not waste your time making a shop banner.  Don't even bother with a pre-made one for new shops. It makes people think you might actually be serious about what you do and they might want to buy something.
  • Do not include a welcome message.  Honestly, are you really happy people are stopping by to see what you have to offer? Do you even want them to know what you make or if you are running a special?
  • Do not make sections for your shop. Why make it easy for potential shoppers to find particular items in your shop. Make them work for it.
  • Absolutely do not fill out your profile, your policies, or your shipping information. C'mon, people don't really read that stuff anyway, right? Do you think anybody cares how long you've been working on your craft or why you're on Etsy? Policies and shipping info...that's for the folks who want to succeed, remember. Steer clear.
  • Less is better.  Less items in your shop; less information in your product descriptions; and for goodness sake, no more than one photo (bonus points if it's a blurry one!) The quicker they are in and out of your shop, the better.
  • Set your prices ridiculously low.  Is your time and effort really that valuable?

You And The Community
  • Do not go to the forums or any teams to learn how to succeed with your Etsy shop.  You may post comments, but only if you complain about your lack of sales and/or views, and what a failure you are on Etsy, or that you just want to quit.  Oh, and make sure you whine about all the success other sellers are having or how awful the customers are.  Etsians hate negativity:)
  • Do not promote your shop in any way. If people found you through social media (facebook, twitter, pinterest, stumble, google+) they might follow the link back to your shop and like something, share with their network what they like, or worse, buy something. Do not let this happen to you!
  • Do not go to craft fairs with your product. Why in the world would you want people to actually be able to see your products up close? Big No No here! You might sell something.
  • Don't even think about writing a blog.  Like anyone wants to hear what you have to say or like or promote anyway.

Final Words of Encouragement...(Make That Discouragement)
Success takes a lot of work, but so does failure.  Be careful, there are way too many nice folks on Etsy who will want to help you.  Do not make friends, do not join teams, and most importantly, do not believe in yourself.  Save yourself all the time and hard work it would take to become successful. Take the easy way out...as long as you're content with your failure, that is.

"My greatest concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure."
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, January 11, 2013

The ABCs of Life...A is for Anger Management

Yup, just going to jump in with a biggie; anger management.  I'm sure you know someone who could take that class, maybe you're even looking at that person in the mirror right now.  It may be a life-long battle or one recently brought on by a series of misfortunes.  In either case, it still needs to be dealt with before lives and relationships are irrevocably damaged.

Oh, come on now, you may be saying.  Everyone gets angry.  True, but to what extent, and more importantly, to what degree?  What is the impact of the outburst?  Is there property damage?  Bodily harm to the angry person or someone else as a direct result of the outburst?  Has someone been left an emotional basket case as a direct result of dealing with an angry person?  And here's a biggie...has the anger consumed the person to the extent that it has affected them mentally, physically, or emotionally so much so that their well-being is a cause for concern?

(FYI, this video game may be contain content inappropriate content for children, just in case you want to click on the link. I just thought it was a good picture to demonstrate my point. I, personally, do not approve of this type of game, but that's just me.)

I'll admit it.  I was that person for a while as a result of a bad relationship and the battles that followed.  At first it was understandable, and expected.  I am human, after all.  What made me realize it had taken over my life were the warning signs I hadn't seen individually, but, collectively, made me stop dead in my tracks and consciously decide to not let my anger control me any longer.

Now, my warning signs may be similar for others, and I have no medical training, but take note if you see these signs in others or yourself.  You may be headed down my path, or already there.

Here were my warning signs:
  • nightmares
  • anxiety when going anywhere I thought my ex might be (to the point I felt sick)
  • inability to talk about anything else (yup, lost friends over this one)
  • inability to focus on daily tasks
  • frequent daydreams of retaliation and revenge
  • realizing that these feelings were taking over my life

Yeah, it wasn't pretty.  I really didn't like myself for a while, but I really loathed him.  So how did I escape?  One thing was for sure; even I was sick of hearing myself talk about it...reliving the events and conversations over and over was just draining me of my joy.  I didn't like being angry all the time.  I recognized it, but didn't know how to get out of it.  One day I was on my way to work and was flipping channels on the radio, when I came across KWVE, also know as "the Wave." (Before I go any further, let me say this absolutely is not about how you must find God, or any other kind of religion, for that matter.  This is just my story and how I found my happy place again.)  My car ride was an hour and a half each way to  and from work (gotta love L.A.), so I found myself listening to the stories of love and forgiveness.  I also found a local church and started going regularly.  I began counseling to get through my feelings and I stopped talking about "it."  The biggest, and by far, hardest thing I did, was to make myself forgive my ex, really forgive him, in my heart.  It was huge for me.  I could feel the weight just being lifted.

It's so simply, yet so difficult at times.  We really are in charge of our lives; how we react to situations, who we let affect us, and how; the direction our lives will go.  Am I always happy? Absolutely not!  Do I ever still get angry with my ex?  Darned tootin' I do!  But, he no longer controls my life, or rather I won't allow my negative feelings about the past decide the direction of my future.  I made a conscious decision to take back my life.  I owe it to myself and to the people who care about me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How To Tuesday...He, Who, Him, Whom...Huh?

This is the first "How To Tuesday" blogpost.  Today I will show you how to tell when to use he and whom and him and whom.

Back when I lived in Pittsburgh I taught an adult basic education class at the local Goodwill.  It was my job to help these folks get a basic grasp of the English language.  One of my lessons focused on when to use he or him, and when to use him, or the now archaic, whom.  So, here it is in a nutshell.

(I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they)---Who
You can properly answer the question, "Who ___?" with any of the above pronouns.

They are home.
Who is home.
They are!

She is my sister.
Who is your sister?
She is!

(me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them)---Whom
These pronouns, when not used as the subject ("it" and "you" could be used as either) are always accompanied with "helper words," such as with, to, and for.  As a neumonic device, it also helps to remember that him and whom both end with "m," so it's easy to remember that they go together.  But why you may ask.  It's best to show with an example...

I'm going to the store with him.
With whom are you going?
With him!

She gave the book to us.
Who did she give it to? or (not frequently used anymore, but still correct) To whom did she give the book?
Same answer in either case...To us!

OK, but wait. What's wrong with saying "Me and him?"  I know I've heard a lot of people say that.  I'm sure you have, too.  Here's when you know...

If you can take "him" out of the sentence, what are you left with?  "Me."
So take the sentence, "Me and him are going to eat lunch."
Now take him out of the sentence.  Would you say, "Me is going to eat lunch?" I would hope not.  The correct way to say that would be, "I am going to eat lunch."
OK, now bring him back.  "I and him..." That's just painful to hear.  What's wrong now?  The problem is that "me" didn't do anything.  "I did it."  Remember the question above..."Who did it?"  Well, here you go.  "I did it," and "He did it, too."  So the correct use would be "He and I (think of good manners and always put yourself last) are going to eat lunch"...or, how about..."We are going to eat lunch?"

Hopefully that wasn't too confusing.  Just remember He/Who...Him/Whom.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Mojo...A Cup of Pure Pleasure

It's Monday...again.  Many of you are not overjoyed by that fact, but I know there must be someone else, besides myself, who sees it in a different light.  For me Monday is like New Year's Eve, but on a smaller scale; a fresh start.  So, I have decided that Mondays will be the day I bring you some of my Monday Mojo.  Sometimes I will write about things that inspire me.  Sometimes I will write about people or things that motivate me.  Sometimes I will share something I have learned.

Back in the day, when I was a teacher, I would share one of my favorite saying with "my" kids...

Whatever happened before is over and gone.  New day.  New choices.  New chances to do things better.

OK, but what about those of you who just hate Mondays?  Well, if you're anything like me, the day (any day) doesn't really start without a nice, big steaming cup of coffee. (I'm on my second cup, actually.)  So in honor of my favorite beverage, I offer a few of my favorite coffee-related items I love from Etsy sellers.  I don't know about you, but coffee always motivates me...and a great cup of coffee is a great way to start the day, no?

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about.  But it's not just about the beverage.  Oh, no. It's all things that remind me of coffee, like this fabulous bracelet I recently came across...

Ok now...this is pure luxury.  Don't you agree?

Now, I'll admit it...I love really hot coffee, but I don't like to burn my hands on the cup.  But with this coffee mug cozy, I can protect my hands while I'm proudly letting everyone know that I'm a huge Dr. Who fan!

And for those of us who simply must have a cup of coffee everywhere we go, may I suggest a mini cup of coffee?

Oh, the smell, the taste, the joy that coffee brings.  So, drink up friends.  It's going to be a great day!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Finding Your Inspiration

Yesterday while filling out a questionnaire about my Etsy shop, TheGoodOleDays, I was asked where I found my inspiration.  It seemed like a simple enough and straightforward question. However, the answer isn't quite so clear cut.  I get my inspiration when I'm walking down the street and I see a skirt or top I like, or when I'm browsing in a bookstore or strolling through the mall.  Colors catch my eye, or fabric designs.  Sometimes I'll buy fabric that I really like but will hold onto it for a while until it "tells" me what it wants to be.  (Ok, I know that sounds crazy.  Let me give you an example.) This apron set...

was a custom order for a friend. She had chosen the fabric she wanted, but when I saw it I just knew this was not going to be barbecue-style apron like the ones I had been making.  This was my first reto-style apron.  Sometimes, like in this instance, I can imagine something totally different, even if it's something I've never made before.  Take this recent fabric purchase of mine...

This one is screaming to me..."I'm not an apron! Please don't make me into an apron." So, what could I do? This fabulous fabric is soon to be a hot little wiggle skirt.  I may be tempted to just keep it for myself ;)

And one more for now.  I absolutely love the sweater coats I keep seeing on Etsy, but they are totally out of my price range right now.  However, when I caught this tutorial...

from Katwise on Etsy I was immediately inspired to make my own sweater coat!

Inspiration is everywhere. The key is letting yourself be inspired and then get out there and make something.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Setting Realistic Goals and How to Achieve Them

First off, let me just say that this is not one of my strong points, however identifying one's weakness is the first step to self improvement.  With that said, looking back on this blog, such as it is, and on my Etsy shop, I realize there are things which I can, and need, to do, to make this year a success.

It would be so easy to blame life's problems, or a lack of time, or anything else on my lack of success.  But the truth is we all have problems, we all have the same number of hours in a day, and we all could come up with a million reasons why we are not successful. The bottom line is, it all rests squarely on my/our shoulders just how successful we all will be.  Plenty of folks have proven it can be done. The question is: what do I need to do that I'm not doing now? What am I doing right and what do I need to work on?  Of course, this really goes for all of us.  So, as I go through my list, just plug in your own situation.

I'm a Realist. I know that without Divine intervention, my Etsy shop, TheGoodOleDays, will not make me a millionaire any time soon, if ever.  Some folks are doing quite well, and are in fact, making a decent living doing what they love. I'm not one of them...yet. So, my first goal is to strive for a specific dollar amount per month that is doable for me at this time. Eventually I would like this to be a full-time career with a comparable full-time income, but for now I'm hoping for an acceptable secondary income. I broke down the dollar amount into how much I would like to earn each month and then each week.  Not a scary, or unattainable number.

Now I know that in order to make sales I need to have the goods, get the word out about my shop, and get the goods to the comsumer.  Instead of saying I need to make more stuff, I will set a weekly quota for myself. I need to see that number posted as a daily reminder, like a challenge.  I thought about a daily quota, but with my family, I realized I would be setting myself up for failure.  Ok, so I have the goods, but who will know unless I spread the word.  In this area I think I'm doing well. I tweet, I pin, I share on fb, and I am active with an etsy team that does a lot of promoting.  My area of weakness is right here...the blog.  But I have a plan. I found a blog planner, which will help me stay on track.

I am currently working on categories and a posting schedule.  Looking back on my epic failures with blogging to date, I will absolutely NOT plan on blogging every day...eventually, yes, but not right now. Three times a week is realistic for now.  OK, make stuff? Check. Get the word out? Check. Get the goods to the consumer?  This is where the craft fairs come in.  It's not enough to say I want to do as many as possible. What would be more practical, and realistic, is for me to research craft fairs in the area (which I have already started doing), and seeing which ones are a good fit for me based on what I make and what I can afford in relation to the fees.  I am planning on two major craft events, one in the Spring/Summer and another one in the Fall/Winter, along with 5-10 smaller events throughout the year.

Of course, each goal, and the steps to reach those goals, all need to be broken down into baby steps; measurable and attainable daily, weekly, and monthly.  Small successes do add up.  Along with the blog planner above, I have a huge wall calendar for mothly tracking, a dry erase board for daily goals, and a day planner for weekly goals. I am also going to post on my bedroom wall a list of my goals and the steps I need to take for each goal and cross them off as I go.

I am determined to make this year the year I finally "get it" and do what I know I am capable of.