Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy,Healthy,& Prosperous 2011,Everyone!

Here we are at the end of the year-already! Who knew? And as usual,I'm looking back to see what could I have done better,as well as projects for next year. Today is the day I hem a pair of jeans I got over a month ago. Funny how the holiday season seems to relax one into procrastination. I've been asked about New Year's resolutions and like most people,I don't keep them-in my mind once something is a "have to" my inner rebel seeks any excuse to get out of it. So I have decided to trick myself. Instead of the standard list of commands,I am doing a "What if I...." list. Which looks like:
"What if I started stretching,etc,3x a week?"  (notice the word "excersise" is forbidden!)
"                        " playing fiddle,etc 2-3x a week & not letting other things distract me?
"                        " keep track of finances on a monthly basis instead of saying "I'll do it but I have plenty of time" only to see it's the last day of the year?'
     So the experiment begins. It's more playful,more of a try it & see which of course will tug at my curiousity. Then I'll have to find out how it goes. Three items are enough for now.
      Christmas was groovin-I got a small Bodhran from my Dad,which means I can start drumming again as a meditation. I've had a whopping 18" bodhran forever that needs a new head on it,which I have. Problem is no matter what I do the thing won't go on right when I try applying the bracket & tightening them. So that one will be going on eBay as a "fixer upper" for someone more skilled than I to get into playing condition. But back to the new one I got-beautiful deep tone,a Walton's. Now I gotta dig up my tutorial books & get back to reading "Drumming the Spirit Alive!" a book on spirit drumming. 
      Yesterday was great as well. This house has been freezing the last couple of days,& my hand knit slippers just weren't cutting it as there's a chill on the floor. Wound up at a Sears outlet,and while slippers weren't on the shopping list I did come across a pair of Isotoners. In my size! (I have small feet which is a pain for footwear shopping.) In periwinkle with cute little embrodered flowers. For $6.00. Was $20. They keep the chill off the soles off my feet & I'm a happy camper! 

     My newest invention for uke-a dustcover that I need to get a catchy name for. I have two in my eBay store right now. I think they're swell! And-I finally finished this:

     That's a gig bag for my baritone ukulele-fully lined & padded-Now it has a safe place to be and I can take it places! (If you're wanting one for yours please contact me-I made a pattern for it) 
     Ads will be in Fiddler magazine for the Etsy store as it needs a bolstering. In the main store,I'm seeing tenor banjo books are in demand. Will be adding a few titles early next year as well. Set your goals and work towards them in 2011! And drive carefully tonight (or not at all if you're sipping bubbly!)


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

   It's Christmas eve and I just had to include a snapshot of the tree this year! Got the bubble lights on it with decorations from childhood,along with more modern Hallmark ornaments & ones I had cross stitched in years past. The heavy rains have passed,thankfully,and we're back to sunny blue skies. 
   I got brave & opened a Utube account under the name "SherrieBariUkeDiva" as I figure if all those other folks can make video of themselves playing,then so can I. Videos forthcoming of mandolin,ukulele, & 6 string banjo playing. (fiddle will be later!) I can't believe how this month has swooshed by. I have a to do list while the college is closed which includes hemming & sewing. I've placed an ad in Fiddler magazine to promote my handcrafted musical accessories. 
    One thing I've learned this year is to start shopping for this holiday in spring-in case the budget gets extra tight like this year has been. 
    I'm grateful tho,for being able to make so many things for myself like slippers,neckwarmers,etc that my budget has been to tight for. Next years list will include adding things to my wardrobe like a new pair of rainboots,cowgirly boots,and starting the purchase of thermal wear. And maybe splurge on a cowgirl hat or two.
    My thoughts go out to all those who lost their homes in CA,AZ,UT,&NV due to the rains,floods,and mudslides. Of all the times of the year this had to happen,something about it happening during holiday season makes it all the worse.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stormy Weather Yet Full Of Cheer!

     Christmas is getting closer by the day. It's a little unusual this year as there's a series of big rainstorms upon us here,and Californians are not used to inclimate weather at Yuletide-rains usually hit in January-February. I don't think the outdoor lights will be put up due to the weather but thankfully I did get a new strand of colorful LEDs to go around the window. One or two more cards to be sent,packages are already out,But the decorating remains to be done. In a bag is new yarns I had purchased at my favorite crafts store to make myself a new cowl and fingerless gloves. I'll be doing that while watching football. Overall the universe has blessed me big time this month-I received the issue of "knit Simple" I wanted but thought my subscription had run out on,I found a wonderful 15% off entire purchase  online,(Good all Dec long!) in that trip I found the last ball of yarn in the right dye lot to finish a gift for a friend,I picked up a pair of reading classes in a bright see thru pink frame that I had my eye on the last 3 times I was there,and a batch of yarn in cheery colors for a cowl for myself. Biggest surprise is when I was checking my receipt to see how much I saved I saw that the cashier never rung up the glasses.
    I'm still working on carols for the baritone uke and have decided to self publish a book of them in tab next year as well as start arranging Irish tunes. Looks like baritones are the most neglected ukes of all as far as songbooks,etc.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Joys of the Season!

Goodness! I hadn't meant to be away for so long. My part time job at the college went from nearly laid off to full time-at which point I was too tired to do much computer-wise after coming home. Decorating still needs to be done-and I'm arranging carols for baritone ukulele.    
   Unexpected surprise-thumbpicks are now a hot seller in the store-I have nearly sold out at this point and I need to place another order. Weather here has been a mix of near 80's with cool cloudy days and forecasts of rain for later in the week. 
    I love this time of year and a full moon on the Winter Solstice will make this a most magical time indeed! I'm buying more LED lights to make my celebrating more green-I picked up a new strand at Big Lots! last night to go around the frontroom window. 
    The economy has reminded me of how much we equate the joy of this holiday with how much we have to spend on things-and with so many of us on a tighter budget than last year (myself included) I had to readjust my thinking into what really brings joy at this time. Dad will be getting fewer gifts this year but the real joy is being together-decorating the tree,the twinkling lights,the music,and for me,the special enchanted feeling and the return of the sun and longer days-tho I am a "Holly King Girl" I have come to love springtime. 
     Another unexpected seller has been crocheted fingerless gloves that I've been making. I hadn't crocheted in ages- but I stumbled upon two easy patterns that have done well. 
     I made my trip to Hallmark & got a card or two,in addition to "splurging" on a beautiful small stained glass suncatcher of a pointsettia surrounded by ribbon,pine,and holly. It's up in the window of my room & adds a festive touch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going to be livin the Farm/Cowgirl Life in NM!

Dad & I have been wanting to move out of Southern Ca ever since we went to NM and just fell in love with the place-it's not called "The Land of Enchantment" for nothin! We saw a wonderful piece of property that had been foreclosed on in Southern NM with a lot of land,and after working with a most wonderful realtor,the place is ours! Plans are to move in about 2 years-we have a lot of simplifying to do here before going over to the new place. I can live the Farmgirl way at long last. Of course,there'll be some adjustments to be made-I've never dealt with having ones own well,propane tank or septic tank in my entire life. A gas fireplace,a wonderful view,fresh air,and I'll be able to have chickens at long last-I can gather my own eggs instead of wondering if the store bought ones are safe. 
    So now I'm working the biz more than ever-I'd like to be fully self employed by the time the move happens. I'll be able to rehair bows,refurbish fiddles,and not hear helicopters every night or wild partying every other night. 
     I'm greatful to the Earth Mother for all of this!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Knittin Needles are Clickin,Fiddlin,and Carols!

The knitting bug hit me full force recently,and of course this is helping me unclutter by using up some of the yarn that I have in a big bag in my room. Found this pattern for what is called a "scarflette" and it gave me a good reason to use my big vintage buttons that I've been wondering what on earth to do with. More scarflettes are coming. Not to mention cowls. I'm knitting my 3rd one,in earth tones. 
      My fiddling needs tending to-yet I've been arranging carols for Baritone uke as well as 6 string banjo. Been writing them down in tablature. The Bodhran I have has the new drum head halfway on-the brackets are giving me a problem. So a bit at a time,I hope to have a working drum. My part time job has slowed down to being as close to unemployed as I can get without actually being there-well I'll never be there as I have Mandolin Babe's,and sales are perking up. Having a run on fiddle strings lately!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Thoughts The Morning After

For the first time in many years,I got a bigger pumpkin due to the fact there were no smaller ones left,and for whatever reason this year was in many ways,a last minute preparation. My only slight disappointment was Michaels was completely our of pumpkin scented candles,but I filled the house with the scent of pumpkin bread-I baked 3 loaves,and then turned my attention to baking my first ever butternut squash. Thank goodness for free recipes on the web! Turns out this squash will be finding it's way to my dinner table again. The pic of the jack o lantern is the one I carved for last night. I used a free to print template of a bat,and traced a small circle using a spice jar for a full moon. All in all I think it turned out great! 
   As I sat watching the Sunday night game & hearing the kids outside on their trick or treat,I pondered inwardly about what makes this time so magical to me. I believe it's one of the few holidays we have that embraces mystery,a glimpse of the unknown,and acknowledging that there is indeed "something else" out there that we can't see,but can sense. I always make a food & candle offering to my ancestors with thanks for looking over my shoulder & being there when needed. Last night was an offering of a piece of cornbread with a candle. (This practice goes waaay back into my Celtic ancestry). So it was a quiet evening all in all. Only thing that went bump in the night was a pair of opposums in the driveway that woke me up hissing at one another & climbing around. 

The store now has fiddle rosin in stock (light) and I've been making flannel bags to store them in using flannel,some upcycled from pajamas like the one above. I used a vintage decorative button and ta-dah! A useful high quality & attractive item that won't end up in a landfill somewhere. 
    I've also knitted some rosin bags and will post pics of those soon. Seems bloggers photo upload just went wonky.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Haunted Instruments and Tools of the Dead.....

    Well I figured that would get you here & reading! A lot has been afoot since my last entry,a big change is coming,but I don't want to spill the beans just yet. I want to be sure this is an all systems go before I make my announcement. Now that you're wondering what is going on over here.....I'll change the subject. *Giggles*
     Rain has been hitting hard here all week,and I can't tell you how happy I am to see the sun shining this morning. We needed the rain badly,but 3 or 4 days of gloomy all day weather & I start getting lethargic. I planted a cauldron planter with the cutest orange pansies you ever wanted to see-I'll take a pic in the next few days and share it with you. Luckily I did this before the rains hit! 
     I've been getting into the Cowgirl lifestyle these past several months,tho my taste in music hasn't wandered into country music. Instead,I discovered Gypsy violin music and have fallen in love with it. I'm learning my A minor scale as we speak,so I can learn my 1st gypsy tune.Oddly enough,I remember as a grade school girl wanting to join a gypsy caravan as a fortune teller in traditional gypsy garb & jewelry. I also won a Glasser bow for a wheel of a deal on an online auction. Breaking it in is going to be tricky as I'm having a time getting the rosin to stick to the bow hair. 
    Seeing as Halloween is drawing near,I thought I'd share with you a secret:most of my tools I craft with such as knitting needles,crochet hooks,fabric,and sewing notions come from the dearly departed. That's right. It happens when you go to estate sales. Some are freely given,too-I've had knitting needles thrust in my hands more than once with the seller of the goods telling me to just take them for free to get them out of the house. Did they catch the ghost of their loved one attempting to knit? Did they hear the footsteps & clicking of the aluminum needles in the other room? Did they spy a ball of yarn rolling across the floor by itself? If they did they're not telling.
     Which brings me to musical instruments. (I see your eyebrows raising already) Has anyone ever owned a haunted fiddle,guitar,or banjo? Have you ever sensed a presence from a particular instrument,as tho it had a spirit of it's very own? Has anyone ever purchased an instrument from an estate and once you got it home,oddball unexplainable things start happening around the house? I would imagine this must happen every once in awhile but have never heard a tale about it. 
      On the storefront I have rosin coming in so I can offer that as well as nylon guitar strings. Gift packages are also being assembled for Yule that will involve no wrapping. How cool is that? And I'm knitting neckwarmers & will more than likely post one or two to sell. Perfect for fretted instrument players as you never have to worry about it sliding off your neck or getting in the way. Makes me feel productive while watching TV at night,and football on the weekend. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Holiday Crafting,Music Making, & Other Delights!

     I rarely brag on my own creations but isn't that ghost pin the cutest? Yep-I made that myself & it's up for sale in my Etsy store!
     I haven't written sooner due to the Universe shaking things up in a good way,and as Joseph Campbell once put it,there's been "a million unseen hands" working on the next chapter of my Dads & my life. 
     It started on one of those days where nothing much was happening till the doorbell rang. There's a pair of women realtors who stop by every 12-16 months or so & this was their day to ask the same question they've been asking since I believe 2005......"why haven't you moved yet????" Dad & I usually voice our usual story,being discontent with the neghborhood,etc etc to them every time they come around. Well this time Dad told them of his plans to add on & fix up the place we're in now,tho we still feel the same about the area we live in. "Well,"one of the women said,"you can make this place as nice as you like but you'll still be in the same city." Something in her tone really hit a deep resonating note inside me. She was right and we both knew it. "Why don't you check out some properties online in that area you've been wanting to move to?" She suggested. Hmmm. Curiousity up,I went to the site she recommended and figured it wouldn't hurt to look,but of course we're not even thinking about actually doing the deed.
     Until I spied this one property-one workshop and one modern barn. On several acres of land. Neighbors are somewhat close but not on top of you like they are here. House is newer than I prefer,but nice.Fireplace,house is bigger than what we're in now,a raised vegatable garden,and I could have chickens here just like my great grandmother did in Manhattan Beach way before I was born. I showed it to Dad. He fell in love with the buildings. So did I. I could have a fiddle workshop out there & rehair bows. Dad could do his projects he's been wanting to do,and not have to worry about the cats getting into it. 
      Next thing I know he's chatting with the woman handling the property. Next thing I know he's making out the paperwork & getting the $$ together to purchase the place after we discussed it & decided it's now or never. We'll find out for sure in early November. 
      I never understood what Sarah Ban Breathnach experienced when she found her dream home called "Newtons Chapel" in the UK. She talks about just falling in love with the place and going for it. Until I saw this property. It just swept me off my feet. And the view is magnificent. I'll keep you all posted and my fingers are crossed.
     In the meantime I've started putting together these gift sets for my eBay store. I designed the hanging gift bag myself and it's fully lined. No wrapping to do,just buy it and tah dah! Im using vintage buttons for that Old Fashioned Holiday feel,and it makes each one truly unique!
     And the universe has been helping in a huge way with Sassy,(on the left) who I found out after a rather expensive visit to the vet has dermatitis-rather severe & due to her allergy to fleas. The steroid shot she had received in July (which worked magnificently) had wore off & it was starting all over again-the constant scratching,biting,and she was just starting to go back to the rolling off balance as the itching was so severe. I looked up feline dermatitis on the web,found out what natural methods there were to control it,& found a wonderful liquid remedy at Dr Fosters-Smith that I mix in either a small amount of Prego spaghetti sauce or in any other sauce that's leftover when I make chicken for dinner.
     I kid you not,just a 1/2 tsp in the Prego and the next day I could tell a difference-she wasn't in constant motion and the tell tale tiny bumps at the base of her tail are receding.She's been sleeping peacefully and it's cut down on her hairballs as she's no longer constantly grooming. This formula was under $11.00!                                                     

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Better Business Bureau Likes Mandolin Babe's!

     Sometimes the Universe hands you an unexpected gift you hadn't even thought of asking about. In my case,it was a phone call last week from the BBB. I thought it was a phishing scam at first,so after screening the message,I looked the phone # up on a reverse directory.  Sure enough,it was a legit call. I called back,a little hesitant and curious as to what on earth made them call me.
     The BBB rep was kind,professional,and had a surprising bit of news-"did you know people have been contacting us asking about your company?" In truth,I hadn't. In fact,I had shut down some ad deals I had going because orders just weren't increasing & funds were getting tight. So this bit of news came as a pleasant shock. 
      So I joined up,and the rep further informed me "you have no complaints against you! Do you know how rare that is?" For that.I have an excellent rating with the BBB! I just wish I could place the badge on my Etsy store,but alas,they don't allow HTML.  
       Yesterday was a record breaking day temprature wise. In all the years I've had my cats,this was the first time I could see it was having a slight effect on Lightning. This was with having all the curtains drawn & fans running,aimed at the cats. Today,I'm grateful for mostly cloudy skies & much cooler temps. 
       I'm pleased to announce my handcrafted Strap Pals™ have been selling well! I've sold 3 this week. Very pleased about that. Hoping the wave continues. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fiddling,Customizing,& Accessorizing!

      Seeing as I now can grow orchids,my Dad picked one up for me from Lowes in gorgeous white! Watering from the bottom has made all the difference in the world.
       Things are picking up in the store,I completed the bottom panels of my curtains mentioned earlier-now I'm just waiting for the eyelet to arrive so I can add that as a decorative trim & make the valance at the top for it. Pics forthcoming after I get it all done.  Uncluttering continues as I have 12 auctions running of things I don't use/need/want anymore. Took advantage of eBays 10¢ listing fee special & hope it brings me more space. 
       The purple fiddle has been restrung-however,the chunky high set chin rest made it impossible for me to hold it proper to free my left hand. I thought at first the fiddle was perhaps too big,but luckily I have a couple of spare chinrests and one of them has made it possible for me (along with the shoulder rest that came with it) to finally hold it the right way. As this current chin rest is still uncomfy, I have purchased an ergomatic model that lies very flat. Should arrive next week. 
       For whatever reason I've gotten an interest in Cowgirl things and the Civil War era. Tho I make an odd sort of Cowgirl....not into "country western" music but I do love old time tunes,Irish music,blues,and classical. Perhaps I'm more of an antique Cowgirl as opposed to a modern one. So I got myself a Union army belt buckle (repro) and a Irish Battalion patch for my mandolin gig bag. I've basted the patch on & will have it all sewn on before Monday. Weird thing is I just don't care for the more girly looking belt buckles that are "cowgirl style" I like the Union army one as it feels more authentically "western style" to me. Go figure-past life recall,maybe? 
       Biz wise I cut back on advertising that simply wasn't working for me so I can funnel the funds into more productive avenues. Hoping the string shipment arrives today. Considering closing the Prostore as it simply hasn't done me any good at all. That would be more savings for other directions. I was going to have a printed ad run in a magazine for the holiday season but they seem so flaky in adhering to deadlines that I'm afraid any holiday ad will come out in Jan. & that wouldn't be very helpful. 
       The Etsy team I started is doing well-members have joined the group page and exchanging of flyers has begun. Hoping sales increase for everyone on the team. I also started knitting in the NFL pre season & am focusing on neck warmers instead of scarves as I think they work better for musicians-you don't have to worry about a neck warmer working it's way off you as you move your neck,and no scarf ends to get in the way of fingerboards,etc. I need to post my fingerless gloves & arm warmers as well. I'm wondering how cold this winter will be seeing as Summer has been very mild-only 2 hot weeks this year to date (no complaints from me!) In addition there's a legwarmer pattern I purchased last year that buttons up (another way to use up my vintage button collection!) that I want to try-of course I'll be redoing the pattern to fit my legs,but the 1st pair will be as the pattern says to do it so I can see how much tailoring I need to do. 
    And along going green lines after seeing some sort of documentary on bottled water & how much it isn't tested & all the bad stuff in it has been documented,including trace amounts of arsenic,(oh lovely) I picked up one of those Brita Pitchers at my local Costco. I wish California would ban the sale of bottled water the way Colorado has. Scary knowing how much pollution the plastic bottles have caused. Did you know those little plastic bottles are only recycled if the caps are not on the bottle? It's true. 
    Fiddle fixin tip of the day-for slippery tuning pegs that just won't stay put,try using a small amount of shavings from a bar of Lava soap. The purple fiddle has a super slick E tuning peg that was gonna drive me nuts. I had read this tip in a beginners book I have & gave it a try-and it worked!  I used the curved end of a small bobby pin to get the shavings-then I put my finger in the shavings & placed it on the shiny part of the peg-has to do it twice but it does work.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mandolin Babe's Becomes a Black Diamond Dealer

As in Black Diamond Strings! The company has been around since 1892 and meets all my requirements: the strings are made in the USA ,has a wonderful reputation,and there is no minimum wholesale order amount. I have an account with another manufacturer,but their min order was nearly $300,and that's something that's out of range right now. Black diamond also owns "Super-sensitive String" products which makes fiddle accessories & strings as well,so now I have accomplished my goal of finding a string supplier for banjo,mandolin,guitar & fiddle in addition to being able to supply rosin and accessories. I'm hoping to place my 1st order on Monday. I was directed toward sthis company when I received a purple fiddle I had won in an online auction. Inside was a box of fiddle rosin from this company,so I made an inquiry, and Tah dah!
     The pic you see above shows one of my hand knit rosin bags with the rosin I'll be carrying soon in my store. I made the pattern for the bag myself & have made another bag in olive green,and am currently knitting one in white. I use vintage buttons for that decorative finishing touch. I'm hoping to draw fiddlers that want more attractive accessories instead of the mass produced "survivalist" looking items they've been making due with (till now!) 
     The Etsy team I formed is gaining members,which is wonderful. Hoping business for all of us on the team starts growing thru a team effort. 
      I do need ladies to join my "Song & Season Spinnin Farmgirl Chapter" This is an online group,so location is not important. If you're an organic livin,nature lovin,traditional musician who honors the earth and all her wonders & wants to join up,please leave a comment on this post. This is a "Mary Janes Farm" Farmgirl group.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

That ironing board you see has a earth friendly new cover-made by yours truly. I had aquired it many years ago from a man who was selling his wife's sewing tools (she had passed on). The original cover was so old it tore with no effort at all-it's so old the board is actually made of wood! So I added a layer of batting,my "save the planet" fabric,and Tah-dah! 
    I apologize for my absence-the part time job at the college turned full time for a week as it always does-the beginning of Fall semester is the most hectic of the year. But having to earn one's bread doing something you don't like only gives you more incentive to work harder doing what you feel you're meant to do. So this holiday weekend I've been busy at the sewing machine making more fiddle accessories. Today I may actually make those bedroom curtains I've had on my mind since last year in addition to more fiddle bow "bed-rolls" as I like to call them. They look like this: 
   This was born of necessity-I recently won a full size fiddle (in purple!) with the case,bow, & rosin for a mere $10.49. (plus shipping made it $27 something plus investing in new strings) At any rate,the case will not permit me to really loosen the bow hair as one must when you're not playing-if I did so it wouldn't fit in the case. So this idea got put into my head and I made a pattern. I have it up in my eBay store at the moment. 
    And as far as the rosin bags go,I made one using the same southwestern flair flannel:

 I have one in my eBay store & the other in my Etsy shop. Had to add the vintage button for a little extra snazzi-ness. (Plus it helps me move my button collection out the door) 
   I've also come to the realization that one can only play so many instruments & play them well. While I will continue to noodle with uke & my 6 string banjo,I've decided my main focus of musical pursuit will be mandolin & fiddle-for their tone,versatility in music,and thier size & portability. When you're petite,it's a royal pain trying to lug a guitar around. The mandolin and fiddle are a breeze to carry. 
        Other exciting personal news: I got the urge last week,for whatever reason,to look at copies of my Great Grandfathers birth certificate and other documents dating back to 1875. These had been stuffed away in one of those flexible file folders for a few years. My Dad had passed them to me,and at the time,I just couldn't focus on it. Well,at any rate,I discovered that my fiddle playing Great Grandfather was part Scottish. Another relative also has Scottish roots. Clan names of Little and McCown are on these documents. It appears my Moms side of the family settled in Texas coming from North Carolina,Missouri & Alabama. So I'm part Irish,Welsh,and Scottish as far as European influences go. No wonder I loved the UK so much from earliest memory,and King Arthur was among my favorite books to read!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Following Etsy's Lead,Introducing a Product Line,Getting Licensed!

    It's been a busy and somewhat unsettling month-nothing horrible,nothing catastrophic,but unsettling all the same. Mandolin Babe's is now an officially licensed as a business in the city of Gardena. This drama started unfolding right around Yule of '09 when an outside agency hired by the city started sending me letters wanting information-at first I wondered if I was being phished for info. Finally a call to the city after receiving a bill for nearly $500 and a visit to the Community services dept cleared things up. Quite simply,once you have a resale permit,you are considered a business. I experimented until the fall of '09 when I got Mandolin Babe's going.
    Until then,it was try selling this,that, & the other and it all failed. Thankfully,as I couldn't afford the hefty bill,the fellow in charge cut it in half. I wondered as I came home while I was grateful for the reduction in fees,why wasn't I more joyful about this important step?  The answer came this morning as I was reading a book: because in doing so I made a commitment. A commitment to my life's direction as far as creating a living goes. No more dabbling,no more getting distracted,no more wondering if I should be doing something else. At the same time,it is a blessing from the Universe: a sign that this is what I should be doing....a validation. I passed go,I collected my $200,so to speak. I got the green light. Of course,when the orders are slow in coming,I start to worry:what if I made a mistake? what happens if I end up shutting it all down? What happens if I fail? Just having arrived in the "past mid 40's stage" of life,I fear I need to find something that works,that guarantees success. Yet there's a still voice within me that tells me everything will be ok,be patient. 
     In the meantime,I read an article on Etsy on starting one's own product line. It so happens that I've made more accessories for fiddle than anything other instrument to date. The ideas fall from the heavens into my head. Then they come out thru my hands & sewing machine. So I followed an idea I had months ago & started making fiddle chin rest covers. 

   The one above (and off center as far as the pic goes-couldn't figure how to center it) is the first one I made for myself. I thought them silly until the humidity & heat hit this month & I didn't want to be sweating all over my rosewood chin rest. I wound up making the next few longer in length,and have posted one in my Etsy store and one in the eBay store. At any rate,I followed Etsy's advice and started the "FiddleBelle" line of fiddle accessories. We'll see how it fares. I've made rosin bags,Fiddle Flyers,now the chin rest covers,and rosin/cleaning cloths so far & who knows what could be next. Here's a pic of the one I have presently on eBay:
  I'm also making holiday ones,and have decided to focus on the sharkfin style of chinrest. Easier to fit,and I have a couple to test fit on.  Here's one I made for myself using a scrap piece of Fall fabric I simply adored:
 Don't mind the print in the pic-I also made myself a Holly one for Yule. A Santa one will be forthcoming. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A new way to unclutter!

I like this approach as it gives you instant room-and with the "out of sight out of mind" approach,you're only going to think about an object if you need it. The stuff you don't need or want is already packed up & ready to donate,sell,etc. Why didn't I think of this?

Amplify’d from
tuff. Clearing away obligations. Deleting old emails.

If you’re having trouble deciding when to hold on to something and when to let it go, try doing things backward. Learn to add responsibly instead of subtracting.

I call it the clean-slate approach to simplifying. Here’s how it works, in three steps.

Step one: Take all the clutter you’re facing, useful or not, and put it away. All of it. Put the pile of clothes in a box; put the old emails in a hidden folder. Now you have a “clean slate” to work with, but you don’t have to throw anything away. Yet.

Step two: Go about your business as usual. As you discover a genuine need for something (genuine being the operative word), take it out of storage with a clear conscience. No more agonizing over what to keep. Life will show exactly which things you actually need, and which things you only thought you needed.

Step three: When you’re ready, sell, donate, or throw away the stuff in storage. It’s easier now, since you’ve had weeks or months to overcome your attachment to it.

And here’s a bonus: if you develop the discipline to only put stuff back in your life when you absolutely, positively need it, you’ll find it easier to keep from buying, collecting, or accumulating unnecessary stuff in the first place.

4 Ways to Simplify with the Clean Slate Method

How can you put this method to use? Here are a few ideas:

2. Pare Down Your Library: Clear off your bookshelves and put all the books in a box. Now you have empty shelves to work with.

If you discover you need a book to read or reference, pull it out of the box and put it back on the shelf. Books that you need and love will naturally come back into your life; books that were just nice to look at or think about reading will stay out of your way. This also works well with DVDs, CDs, or cassette tapes, if you have them.

Eventually, you may feel ready to donate or sell that box of old books entirely.

4. Simplify Your Closet: Take all your clothes and put them aside. Most items can go in a box or a drawer. If you’re worried about your nicer garments, just push them to one side of the bar or use a placeholder hanger to divide your “storage” section from your “useful” section.

After a while, you’ll develop a cycle or routine of clothing that shows you exactly which clothes you actually need, and which clothes are just closet eye candy.

Setting a Purge Deadline

To really make the clean slate method work for you, it’s helpful to set a purge deadline. This deadline is how long you allow yourself to keep all your old stuff in storage before you get rid of it for good.

When you set the deadline is up to you. You might decide to eliminate anything you haven’t found a need for within 60 days, or 90 days, or a month. Whatever your number is, it’s a good idea to commit to it in advance, so there’s no second-guessing yourself later on.

The clean-slate method is just one way to simplify your life and your stuff, but it’s worked very well for me. If you find it difficult to simplify the “normal” way, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.


Monday, August 2, 2010

cooking breakfast-fried potatoes,turkey bacon,& eggs in my fave cast iron skillet- with hot buttered to hear the skillet sputter & sing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Lammas!

    My favorite time of the year has arrived....starting today,we have Lammas,the first of 3 harvest festivals. Autumn is near,veggies are harvested,magazines abound with fall & Halloween decor. Soon I'll be burning pumpkin & candy corn scented candles & loving the color orange. Tho this is the first time in many years I actually am kinda bummed at the near end of summer. It's been a mellow one here at the cottage so far,and it's been relaxing for the most part. I gotta find those mini pumpkin seeds & plant them. 
       My birthday is also this month and as an early gift,my Father got me a baritone uke! I'd been wanting one for quite awhile,and I absolutely love it. Very mellow tone,sweet,soft,great for medieval & ren tunes as well as Irish. 
      It's a Savannah brand. I'm getting a strap for it too,from Uke Star Straps!
Other things going on are the forming of an Etsy team for those of us who make musical instrument accessories or instruments,and realising I need to work on my prostores & do some needed tweaking there. I also joined Amplify to work my social networking in a more in depth way as well as being more efficient. Oh! I'm moving some of my musical interest pages to Squidoo. I even started a baritone ukulele page and I need to tweak the soprano uke one I have there. I'm probably moving the banjitar page there as well,but am keeping this blog right where it is. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Opened Etsy Store for Handcrafted Wares!

        For whatever reason,the Gigulele Bags & Strap Pals™,fiddle cloths,fiddle flyers,& pick pouches I make just don't move on eBay. I have no idea why,I sell the uke gig bags fine in person,but put em on eBay & I get lookers & nothing else. What to do? I  decided to place them in a handcrafted friendly environment on Etsy & see how it goes. I'll be placing the embellished violin tailpieces there too,in addition to hair bands. Here's an environmental/go green soprano Gigulele Bag™ I have up on Etsy as of this writing:
    If any of my readers are interested,please click on the Etsy widget I placed to the left side of the page,or visit my Etsy store   where you'll see more ukulele gigbags made with Hawaiian prints,froggies,and more! They are lightly padded,and while not of the caliber you'd use to throw in the cargo hold of a jet,they are simply divine for taking around town,to a jam,to a lesson,music fests,and so on.                 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Introducing: The Gigulele Bag! ™

A co-worker recently asked if I would make a gig bag for her soprano ukulele- a pineapple one. First I tested one of the ones I was making with side handles. Thankfully,it fit! Then came out of nowhere a request. "Can you make it where I can carry it over my shoulder like a purse and perhaps put a drawstring closure at the top?" Hmmmm. I told her what I could come up with,but a drawstring closure was out of the question as it wouldn't work with batting. And it had to be Hawaiian print. Luckily,I had purchased a yard for a sweet deal online. It's not my fave pattern fabric,and I realised I had placed my personal taste ahead of the customers wants. As ukuleles are seen to be hawaiian,of course it should be in the coordinating print gig bag! So when I got home,I worked with my usual pattern & I had a thought-make it to where the uke goes in head first & place a strip of velcro across the top. It worked! She loved it so much the uke now stays in it's gig bag and she doesn't play it at all. (Something wrong with that picture) Well,thanks to her this is the new standard design and I had come up with a name for my gig bags but didn't want to use it till I got domain names for it. I call them "Gigulele bags". Rightdown catchy,isn't it? I also made this one:
         Both will be up for bid in my ebay store this evening. And I have more planned. 
I got an early b-day gift-a baritone ukulele! Went to a local store that was running a BIN on ebay. Dad prudently wanted me to play it first-good thing I did cause I didn't find the Lauren too hot or high quality. I got the floor model Savannah BU-200 at a discount because of "shop wear" ie little dings & scratches from being sampled by prospective buyers. Here tis:
   She's a beauty,and all for $50. Sounds great tho I need strings for it-I didn't realise the ones on there are as old as the hills-the lighting in this little store was by no means grand. Has great sustain and a very sweet sound. Good volume,action & feel. Been playing ren tunes,Irish music,Yule carols,and the next project will be TJB tunes. (for those of you younger than 40 that stands for The Tijuana Brass. Loved em as a kid & had no idea their videos are on Utube. I didn't know there was any videos of them at all!) Hopefully I'll have 2 of their songbooks by the end of the week.
    New books will be coming into the store soon-baritone uke & dulcimer books. Tinwhistles continue to be a hottie.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Freaky Mist,July Shower,and Redesigned Uke Gig Bag

   This past Saturday we had increasing clouds-the type of clouds I would see gathering when I lived in TX many years ago which always meant a sudden strong shower. Well guess what-we had a sudden shower that lasted for about 15 min or so. I was watching my every Saturday "Celebrity Ghost Stories" and when I looked outside I saw this low lying mist rising from our street. I went outside & it was the entire street with this low lying,wandering,floating mist. So I grabbed my camera & started shooting. (One bright neighbor thought it was from a neighbors bar b que)
   It was delightfully mysterious in appearance and danced with the slightest breeze. How ghosty is that??
           Aside from freaky weather patterns,at the suggestion of a co-worker & ukulele player,I redesigned my ukulele gig bag pattern and it's turned out to be much better. Less pieces to cut out,you carry it over your shoulder,and it has a good strong velcro closure. And I've given in to Hawaiian prints. Personally I don't care for them, but this woman insisted it had to be "that print" and I'm wondering if that's why I hadn't been able to sell any except to her. 
          My orchid continues to thrive and I'm getting the "Orchids for Dummies" book. So far so good.  Another huge help has been on Twitter I'm following @OrchidCareLady and she's offered great watering advice. I think I was drowning my orchids I had before & didn't know you water em early in the day so they can dry out. 
           I'm also lending encouragement to @ukestarstraps on Twitter as she makes the most groovin ukulele straps you ever wanted to see. She's a little shy on Twitter,but does perform here & there with a Ukulele group.
           Speaking of ukes,I'm hoping to get a baritone for my upcoming b-day.  Being a guitarist since I was 11,I figure I know how to play one already. I'm ok on soprano but it requires effort on my part to do well melody wise tho I've memorized a lot of chords. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank You's Mean So Much....

     As many of you know, I work a part time job at a college. Every so often I get to play receptionist/help desk sort of thing. A student had called in the morning,and I did what I could to help her out on the phone. She asks me if I ever shop at Costco & tells me she's bringing me flowers. I tell her she doesn't need to do that,I'm just "doin my job" and she insists. I'm imagining a cute cut bouquet. She arrives an hour later with this drop dead gorgeous orchid plant! It's over 2 ft in height,planted in a narrow tall ceramic pot. (and in my fave color!)
    While I simply work the part time gig to support the budding biz & pay for my own medical insurance,it is for the most part a pretty thankless place to work. Only time you get attention as a cashier is when you don't balance,and when you balance 99.9% of the time not a word is said. But that's not why I'm writing this entry. 
    I can't tell you how good receiving this gift made me feel. To know someone out there appreciates the good you do,that you made a positive change in their lives,is just awesome. It's why we're here on this planet at this time. To help & nurture others in our own unique way. To connect with each other in the great "web of lights" & keep the light show going & make it brighter! And if you've ever been in a really dark place in your life & emerged back into the sunlight,you're even better equipped to help those who are in their own "dark spot" because you've been there & have a good idea of what it's like.
    Personal project wise,I obtained a 6 string concert uke in an online auction for $5.00 as it was labeled as a miniature guitar. I need to get a saddle for it-but have the strings on & hoping it'll sound decent when it's done. Unusual that it has a tailpiece. No brand name or anything like that. 
    I'm back to making ukulele gig bags to sell again and am going to be changing the design a bit-I'm going to be including a loop in the back so you can hang the bag on the wall with the ukulele inside. That idea occured to me yesterday as I'm making a custom order for a woman using a surfer/Hawaiian print. In the meantime I'm keeping one I had made previously for me as my old Hilo needs a bag. It's got comical kitties on the fabric. I also made a pattern for the concert size uke & need to make one to see how it turns out. 
    Fiddle playing wise I picked it up after about a week of now sawing and was pleased that I can now play "Mary Had a Lil Lamb" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star",making it not only recognizable but meaning I've learned my D & A scale. (DNA scale?) *laughs*  Not that I'll get any requests for those hot tunes,but it does mean I'm progressing. And that's what counts.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy 4th-Take Liberties This Weekend!

      In a good way, of course! 
Start learning that song you've been meaning to work on or take up re-learning that instrument you've been wanting to play but putting off cause "duty is calling". Our ancestors & founding Fathers & Mothers sacrificed an awful lot just so we can sit on our behinds & surf the web & Tweet. Perhaps you've been wanting to start knitting a project or finish sewing that garment you started months ago. Well guess what-it's time to start taking liberties & get to it! 
      I've been expanding the stock at Mandolin Babe's & have added some flatpicking books,basic mando books,and have gotten more children's books in for banjo,mandolin,& fiddle. I still need to make a pattern for a banjo cradle strap (should I make that my liberty this weekend??) and I've made a gig bag pattern for a concert size ukulele. 
     Reading wise I'm into "The Handmade Marketplace: How to sell crafts locally,globally, & Online" by Kari Chapin. One of the best books on the topic I've read so far. She really gets into the details in an easy way that doesn't make you feel weighed down. I got the book as what handcrafted items I sell gets accolades from who ever buys them,but the prob is they sell so slowly. I want to find out what it is that I need to improve on in the promotion dept.! 
     Wanting to wish all my readers a warm,safe,& Happy 4th. Celebrate!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name....

      This rose really surprised me. I picked up 4 bare root roses at my local Big Lots,who had discounted them an additional $ just to move them out. The bag showed a deep red,but this is just absolutely delightful. I've never seen a rose this color,and all for $2 something! 
       I've started up the 6 string Banjo Blog again-tho I have an itching to get a banjolin or a tenor banjo,I keep getting outbid on any that I'm eyeballing,& I'm gettin the clue to stick with what I have. So I've been playing the 6 string and it's great because now I feel like my guitar playing skills aren't going to waste. I should write a book on tips for beginners for it. 
      Summer has finally arrived at the cottage-not too sure I'm happy with the heat aspect of it-I love the flowers blooming,seeing the carpenter bees,honey bees & dragonflies but if we could just turn the temp down 8 degrees or so it'd be perfect! 
      I've been winning more antique musician photos for the store. At wonderful prices. I'm still tweaking the Prostore that I now have. It takes a lot of effort,but it's a gorgeous storefront. 
  Here's my latest "for me" project:a violin case for my fiddle. Needs a lot of work,but what a win at $9.99 + shipping! Found out thru an antique dealer on Twitter, @OldMotherRiley, that it's a good bet it's 19th century. Made in England. Here's a pic of the inside that I need to redo:
  It'll fit my 7/8 very nice & snug when I'm done. Want to put a little compartment for rosin & a cleaning cloth in as well. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Tailpieces,Banjitar,and Junkin!

That adorable hand carved moon face is on a 16 1/2" viola tailpiece I have up for bid in the store,in addition to 2 other viola tailpieces I embellished. I have contacted my supplier for more fiddle tailpieces,and I have some beautiful cabachons to add to those. 
    I re-rediscovered my banjitar after joining the banjo players hangout-I've been picking Irish tunes on it at night & just plain enjoying myself! 
    The fiddle is going to be practiced on again now that I'm mostly over making myself sore under my chin while I was working with my new shoulder rest and switching chin rests-trying to adjust & see what was right for me so  was no longer supporting the fiddle with m left hand. Aggravated a gland or something but it's nearly gone now. I've really missed not fiddling! Mandolin needs plunking on & so does my ukulele.
    I'm awaiting my antique fiddle case that I got from a seller who was taken nearly 3 weeks to ship it. I reported him to the site,then he gives me a tracking #. Hoping the case is worth the wait. It'll be a relief to have the fiddle in a case,safe from the cats & dust.
    Went to the semi annual neighborhood yard sale extravaganza last Sat & got 2 small frames-on for a pic of Dad & I,and one for an antique hand tinted pic of a fireman fiddler I have. Other prizes were sewing notions,a bag of buttons,2 Oscar De La Renta scarves,one paisley scarf,a harp CD by Carol Thompson,a fall sign for the kitchen,and 2 pairs of sterling silver earrings-one having quartz crystal points. I made sure whatever  got I would have a use for-I don't want to start cluttering up the house again with items because they were a steal or cute. My unloading of previously gained goods is working-people are bidding on my stuff and helping me clear out more clutter. 
     The store will be having an increase in selection of Mel Bay books once the latest shipment arrives-will see if it comes today *crosses fingers* I ordered banjo,fiddle,mando,and guitar books. Trying to cut the drop shipping way down as I like packing the items myself and givng away a business card magnet. Plus it does help to be able to thumb thru the books if I get asked something.