Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ring in the New Year !!!

Have you made your plans for New Year’s Day yet? 
I didn’t think so.
Heck, we haven't even had Christmas and here I am talking about New Year's Day.


If you’re in the DC metro area, let me suggest this auction to you: 

The Chesapeake Auction House in St. Leonard, Maryland. 



The auction starts at 10 a.m. sharp and will be chock full of wonderful antiques and collectibles. The New Year's Day auction is always a big event, with high end furniture and lots of collectibles.


They have a great image gallery on their website here. Inventory for this auction is arriving daily, and the website is updated frequently so keep checking back.


There’s a large assortment of MCM furniture. This is the kind of place where you never know what you’ll find! One of the items featured in this auction is a Mid Century Modern sofa from Dunbar. The sofa is designed by Edward Wormley, the head designer at Dunbar in Berne, Indiana. Think Don Draper. Think “Mad Men”. Think ultra chic. Trendy and now.



There’s a great blonde 1950s era China Cabinet and Buffet. The handles are large circles, bent. It really gives off a Heywood Wakefield vibe but it doesn’t have any labels or markings. We’ve heard rumors that some signed Heywood Wakefield will be arriving soon.



If MCM isn’t your thing, there’s a fabulous Tiger Oak round table … with 2 leaves and 4 chairs.



A Victorian coffee table is coming. There’s a 1940s white metal table. Sterling silver candlesticks. Something for everyone. 


Good food, too, from Dream Weaver Catering in Prince Frederick.


See ya there!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Change is not a four letter word


Yet I tend to react to hearing the word “change” as if I’m hearing a four-letter word. I cover my ears. I stop listening. My knee-jerk reaction is to respond with a vehement howling “Noooooooooooooo.” Then I may run wildly around the room waving my hands and screaming like a banshee: “The sky is falling, the sky is falling” in my best Chicken Little imitation. Mass hysteria! Panic! Doom! Mayhem! Or, in the words of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, PANDELERIUM !!!
Phew. Ok. I feel better. I got that off my chest.
The recent changes to the Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza websites have caused outright pandelerium for both sellers and shoppers alike. As a shop owner, I’ve had to hold off listing treasures I’ve found that I just know my customers have been searching to buy. As a shopper, I’ve been unable to complete a transaction – only to have that item snatched up by another lucky shopper. I did manage to complete the transaction for a super awesome egg bracelet for my egg jewelry collection.
Every cloud does have its silver lining. In the midst of the chaos, shoppers were able to purchase from us … items did get listed … sales did happen … we were able to communicate with Ruby Lane’s awesome staff … we were kept updated of the status to the best of their ability … and we worked hard at having patience.
This morning I fired up my computer, signed into my Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza shops and was amazed at the speed of page loads. Pictures were all there. Links worked smoothly.
I made the business decision to put all my energy into selling exclusively on Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza. I am proud to have my business linked to the premiere online selling site for antiques and vintage items. The newest Ruby Plaza venture is in its infancy and shows great promise. While some have questioned putting all my “eggs in one basket”, it is a decision I researched diligently after selling “all over the place” before. I had diluted my energy, lost my focus, and spent most of my time dashing from one site to another. Everything was half-done. A little bit here. A little bit there. I worked myself to a frazzle for very little financial gain, and even less emotional satisfaction. Since making the decision to become exclusive to Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza, I have never looked back. I’ve never second-guessed that decision. I’ve learned that my lack of attention to detail was slowing down my progress and not allowing my business to flourish. There were intricacies to selling online that I had not taken into consideration. Since concentrating my focus on selling successfully on Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza, my sales have increased, my knowledge about selling successfully on Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza has increased, and my actual workload has decreased. Yes. You read that right. Decreased. As they say, I am now working “smarter not harder.”
I’m choosing to look at the past few days as time to do some shopkeeping. Cleaned up my office. Caught up on paperwork. Worked on my writing. Took some photographs to have at the ready. Cleaned some inventory. Did some research and reading. Oh, and nursed a bad head cold. Timing is everything, you know.

An early present ...

I love all things Christmas. And I love red. And I love earrings. And I love lampwork beads.


So, I bought myself a little present.


And they arrived today.
And I am in love with them.


http://www.rubylane.com/item/467911-Hox20Hox20Hox20Earrings/Ho-Ho-Ho-Santa-hat

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving ... and Giving Thanks


This is the story of a brother and sister separated for 35 years. A brother and sister who became family when the brother came to live with the sister. They were 5 years old. They bonded, they loved each other, they were each other’s best friends – and then the brother was taken away.

When I was a little girl, my parents decided to become foster parents. I don’t know what their motivation was, but both of them came from big families and they wanted to have lots of children. My “new” brother came to live with us when we were both about 5. He didn’t speak much English. He was born in Panama to an American mother. His mother brought him and his 5 (yes FIVE) siblings to America. Life became difficult for her, and the children ended up in the foster care system – separated into 5 different foster homes. My brother was small, tiny, very thin. Undernourished. With the brightest eyes, the sweetest smile, and starving for attention and affection. He found a Mommy & Daddy. He found a new brother and sister. He had his own bed, his own toys, his own clothes. He had all the food he could eat … meatloaf, fried chicken, pineapple upside down cake. Good, solid, homemade all-American food.

His new Mommy worked with him, learning English. She sang the Connie Francis song “Never on Sunday” to him to help him learn the days of the week. She took care of him when he was sick with a “rare tropical disease,” that turned out to be the mumps. When his new Mommy found out that he had other siblings in different foster homes, she worked to find them and help him spend time with his other siblings.

The time came when his father’s family in Panama found the children, all scattered in different foster homes. Arrangements were made to re-unite the siblings and take them back to Panama to live with their father and grandparents.

I didn’t understand how other people could take my brother away from me. I don’t remember being at the airport for the reunion of the siblings, and his departure from our family, but I’ve been told that I was distraught and hysterical. I couldn’t understand how those people could take my brother away. He was mine. He was my best friend and playmate. We shared a bedroom. We shared the mumps, the measles and the chicken pox. We went to church together. We went to school together. We did our homework together.

Life went on. My brother grew up in Panama with his siblings, his father, his grandparents and extended family. I grew up with my parents and two biological brothers. We kept in touch with my brother and his family. He did visit us on occasion. We always had gifts and cards from his grandparents.  He spent some summers with us.

When we were teenagers – 14 or 15 – my brother came to live with us again. We went to junior high together. We were again each other’s best friend. We had the same friends, rode our bikes, went to school together, parties, dances … and again he was suddenly ripped from my life.  My parents explained it to me as a “problem with discipline.” He was “out of control.” They couldn’t “handle” him. I didn’t understand. I didn’t see what they were talking about. I wondered if I became a problem, if they would just get rid of me, too.

If we fast forward a few years, my brother showed up in our lives again when we were young adults. He was living back in my hometown, working with one of our cousins! It was magical. There he was. But the reunion was short-lived. One day he just disappeared. POOF. He was gone. Nobody could find him.  He was just gone.

Life went on. I had a family of my own. Moved around. Worked. All those things life brings us. Years passed. Decades passed. I never forgot my brother. I wondered about him all the time. A framed picture of the two of us sat on a table in my home, always. He was an integral part of my life and my childhood memories. When my Mother became ill and was dying, she gave me a box of letters he had written her over the years. There were photographs he sent her of his life in Panama. Cards from his grandparents. She said to me:  “If anyone is going to find him, it will be you.”

The advent of the internet gave me new tools to search for my brother. Periodically I would search for his name. His grandfather’s name. I never knew where to search. What city? What country? When I joined Facebook, I would often search his name there.

Last November I typed in my brother’s name … and THERE HE WAS. I recognized his face immediately. My heart skipped a beat, my hands got sweaty & shaky. I sent him a private message and just said “I think you’re my brother. I’ve been looking for you.”

Our first phone call lasted over an hour. I had to tell him that Mom was gone – she had died 17 years earlier. We both needed time after that call, and it was a month before we spoke again. Our conversations were always good, and there was laughter and tears. He was able to talk to Dad, and had a visit with him.

The time finally came that we were both ready to see each other. My husband encouraged me to see my brother, spend time with him … it was his encouragement that pushed me forward to set up a reunion with my brother. The date was set. The right time came. We travelled to my brother’s home.

And.

There he was. The same slender boy. The same sparkling eyes. The same shy smile.
Hugs. Smiles. Tears. Stories. Laughter. More tears. More laughter. The first day was 6 hours of talking. The second day was 8 hours of talking. I gave him the box of letters Mom had saved. An envelope of pictures with his name in her handwriting on the outside.  More photographs I found. An album of pictures of Mom and Dad for him to look through.  Some of his stories filled in the gaps in my memory. Some of my stories filled in the gaps in his memory. He learned that he was never forgotten, and always loved. I learned that I was never forgotten, and always loved.

My husband learned more about “who” I am through our shared memories of our not-always-happy childhood. My brother’s wife learned more about “who” my brother is … and more about his family. They sat with us and held our hands, supported us as we shared painful memories and happy memories. I cannot express the gratitude I have to both of them for encouraging us, being there to share these moments with us, supporting both of us through this weekend ... When we went back to our hotel room at night, my husband would help me process all my emotions – and would hold me while I cried at the painful ones.

Our journey has come full circle and brought us back together, just as we should be.

Brother and Sister.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Thrill of the Hunt


I am a hunter. 
My husband is a gatherer.

There is a difference. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Finding a treasure in an unexpected place. Bargaining with the person selling the item, seeking out the best deal on whatever I might be buying.

My husband enjoys acquiring things and having things and having more things. He gathers them around him and keeps them. Lots of them (whatever they might be). The price doesn’t matter. He sees it, he wants it, he buys it.

When we got married we had to blend our shopping styles. The first time he wanted a new pair of jeans and walked into the store and just bought them, I almost fainted. He didn’t check the sale ads. He didn’t look for the clearance rack. He didn’t even check the price tag on the jeans he purchased. He just picked up his size, walked to the cashier and paid for them. The hunter in me flinched. The gatherer in him went home and took the tags off the jeans and put them in the closet with his 100 additional pair of jeans.

Really? That’s how you shop?

I introduced him to auctions. At his first auction he was timid. He wanted a chair he saw, but didn’t understand the bidding process. I explained to him that he needed to decide how much he was willing to pay for the chair, and raise his card up until the chair got to that price. Once it went above the price he had set as what he was willing to pay, he should stop bidding. As a gatherer accustomed to walking into a store and buying things at a fixed price, this idea was difficult for him to grasp. He was used to paying full price for anything he bought without thought to sales or finding a bargain. Imagine his delight when the auctioneer’s hammer came down and he bought his chair for one-third the price he was willing to pay for it! The chair is still in our living room, and I smile every time I see it, remembering his first auction.

He learned about the thrill of the hunt that evening.

I’ve learned to temper my hunting: considering the cost of fuel and time involved in making a purchase and finding “the best price” possible. Sometimes it just isn’t cost effective to drive all over town and spend three hours to save a dollar. When it is a big purchase and there are many dollars to be saved, the fuel costs and time involved are worth the investment.

Online shopping has become an excellent way to comparison shop for most items, and with Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza I never have to leave the comfort of my home to find exactly what I want – whether it’s a gift, home décor, art, jewelry, clothing or the perfect addition to my collection of egg-themed items. I can shop at midnight or I can shop at noon. I don’t have to wear makeup! The “make an offer” option allows me to engage in conversation with the shop owner and “hunt” for the best price. I can even Skype with the shop owner if they have that option! I can add the item to my wish list. I can share it on Facebook (with gentle hints to my kids that I’d sure love that item for my birthday!). I can Tweet the item so my followers who collect can find the item easily. The layaway option gives me the opportunity to purchase an item I really want and stay within my monthly shopping budget. Some shop owners even offer gift wrapping, perfect for a busy schedule and last-minute holiday shopping!

Who is ready to join me for an online shopping trip today? As always, it’s come as you are! All you have to do is fire up your computer, and join me on Ruby Lane or Ruby Plaza!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!

There is an air of excitement in our Charming Home this week !!!
My beloved St. Louis Cardinals are in the World Series!



I was raised in the Midwest, and am a life-long Cardinals baseball fan.
The Charming Husband is cheering them on, but he's really a Seattle Mariners fan at heart. 






It will be a busy week here ... keeping up with the scores and statistics!


There's nothing, for me, like the excitement of watching the Cardinals play in a World Series game ... and in person the atmosphere is electrifying.


This year, I'll settle for the big screen television, popcorn and cheering on my favorite team!


Let's go, Cardinals!
Let's go !!!



Friday, October 14, 2011

Pinterest


I’ve “discovered” a new social networking tool that works well with Facebook, Twitter and my personal lifestyle.  Not “discovered” as in Columbus discovering The New World, but “discovered” as in found and fell in love with. As a collector and purveyor of vintage goods, I’m always running across something I love and think I can’t live without while searching the internet. I happen across it on the internet, and add it to my bookmarks. Then I forget which website it was on and where I found it, and spend hours scouring my myriad bookmarks and folders. Grumbling and grousing, “now, where was that amazing thing I found?? I know I just saw it online yesterday and now I can’t find it again!”

One of my daily rituals includes watching “The Nate Berkus Show,” just because he’s funny and entertaining and he loves to use vintage items in his design work. He repurposes and upcycles, and sometimes he even keeps vintage items true to their original form and style. “Vintage is the new green,” he touts. I’m fascinated by his use of design boards, with scraps of fabric, paint colors, sketches, and samples. One particular afternoon, he shared a new website with his audience. The website is http://www.pinterest.com.

The concept behind Pinterest is building visual bulletin boards online. Pictures of items we find that strike our fancy are “pinned” to boards we create. Remember when you were a teenager and had a bulletin board in your bedroom? You’d cut pictures out of a magazine of a hairstyle you liked, a dress you wanted for prom, or the latest teen heart-throb and thumbtack them to your bulletin board.

Pinterest works in the same way, but in a virtual space. No more searching among hundreds of bookmarks on my computer for the name of a website. Instead I sign into my account on the Pinterest website and bring up my page of bulletin boards and find an image of the item I'm looking for and click on it and go right to the item's website !!! As I'm surfing the internet and find something I really like, I use the Pinterest button added right to my browser. Using what they call their "bookmarkit", I can pin any item to one of my boards on the Pinterest site. Easy as a couple clicks of the mouse. I can share my boards and allow other people to post to them, or I can make them private so only I can post to them.

The question becomes how to use Pinterest without it becoming shameless self-promotion of my items for sale. From Pinterest’s etiquette page we are told “Avoid Self Promotion:” Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion. (http://pinterest.com/about/etiquette/)

I’ve built a few boards while learning how to use Pinterest. One is Vintage Costume Jewelry, which has links to pages I use for researching costume jewelry, websites that specialize in vintage costume jewelry, and pieces of vintage costume jewelry I’ve found that I love on Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza. Another board is devoted to “Things I Covet,” and has links to all kinds of things I find while researching and shopping and surfing. I’ve also got a board for our “Dream Home” ideas for the retirement home we plan to build. Of course, my Pinterest boards wouldn’t be complete without “Great ideas I didn’t come up with,” “Just Funny”, and “Food Glorious Food.”

Follow my Pinterest Boards here: http://pinterest.com/charmedliving/

As a member of the Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza groups on The Vintage Village, I’d like to build a network of sellers who promote each other’s items on Pinterest boards devoted to shopping/collecting/decorating. A consortium of sellers, if you like.

Join us on The Vintage Village !!!


I’ll pin your items if you’ll pin mine!

Pre-Holiday Extravaganza on The Vintage Village

This Sunday kicks off an amazing shopping event on The Vintage Village !!!


October 16 through October 23 is our Pre-Holiday Extravaganza.
Members of The Vintage Village (and we're one of the proud members!) will feature awesome sale items on the website.


As always, we're open 24 hours a day 7 days a week! 
It's come as you are, stay as long as you like!
Look around! Explore!
Shoes are optional!
Jammies are welcome !!


Join us at The Vintage Village for our Pre-Holiday Extravaganza.









Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall has Fell

Fall has arrived here in Southern Maryland. It went from 90 degrees one day to 50 degrees the next. Time to dig out the sweaters! Beef stew in the crockpot. A fire in the woodstove. Time to cozy up.


My son shared this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese that I might just have to try out: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/buffalo-chicken-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html


A new friend introduced me to a new website, offering me HOPE for my slovenly ways: 


Flylady

Today, I am a FlyBaby. Trying to whip this house into submission before the holidays arrive. Can it be done? We can hope! If I can organize my house, I can organize my business ... right?


Check out the Flylady website. I think you'll love it!




For my birthday, my Charming Husband gave me a Kindle (of course, the week before all the announcements about the latest and greatest Kindles, but I'm loving mine!). I've downloaded some all time favorites. I also downloaded the Flylady books "Sink Reflections" and "Body Clutter". Trying to stay motivated and on-track.


I've been playing with my Pinterest boards, and having a lot of fun! If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do ... be sure to follow Charmed Living on Pinterest.


Ok, time to set my timer and shine my sink!





Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We'll be smelling good this weekend ...

This weekend you'll find us hanging out at the Grapevine on Saturday for a Sidewalk Sale! We love to set up there and meet all kinds of new folks. We bring our pretty sparklies and so much more. Our friends Roz and Ray set up, and they bring loads of fun stuff and fantastic bargains.


Today, my friend Smokeo told me about a new fragrance from Bath & Body Works.
We're so excited that they honored us with our own fragrance !!



Ok. Ok. So maybe they didn't name it after us ... but a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

As I sit here typing this and look at my calendar, I see that Christmas is a short 95 days away.
Yes, folks, just 95 shopping days left until Christmas !!!

Between now and then we have Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. 



 
If you're an online shop owner like me, some cyber-housekeeping is in order. We need to shake out the welcome mat and dust away those cobwebs. We want our shop’s items to entice shoppers to come in and look around.
§  We need to check our inventory and make sure our pictures are all sharp and in focus. Are there any photographs in our inventory that need to be updated?
§  We need to check our descriptions and make sure we have used all the appropriate key words we need to get our items found by the search engines.
§  Have we checked our vintage clothing, accessories, and jewelry items to be sure their Google attributes are properly checked?
§  We need to check our shipping information and make sure we've got it right - keeping in mind that the post office may have changed rates since we listed that item. Is it time to think about offering free shipping for the holiday selling season?
§  We need to check our pricing and look at inventory items that have been around for a while. How long do we keep an item in our inventory if it's not selling?

The next big step is to make sure we have new items ready to list. We need to keep our inventory fresh and growing – which keeps our items at the top of the Ruby Lane search results.

What's going to sell this year?

What's on everyone's shopping list?

As a Ruby Lane shop owner, I also add these questions:
What are our buyers looking for while shopping on Ruby Lane?
We all know that Ruby Lane likes to see new inventory on a regular basis, we need to be sure we list something new ... every day ... every other day ... it will keep our items at the top of the searches from within Ruby Lane. And we cannot forget that Google needs some time to index our items!

Shipping is the next thing to think about ... do we have shipping supplies? If we need Priority Mail supplies, now is the time to order them! Are we up on all the latest shipping rules from the USPS? Don't forget to add bubble wrap, packing tape, tissue paper, paper and printer cartridges to your shopping list! Do we have a stock of business cards to tuck into our packages? Some gift wrap so we can offer gift wrapping as a perk for our customers?

A recent blog post on Notes from The Lane gave us some great information.  Here's a link to Thinking Outside the Box: New USPS Rates. I learned something new reading it! You might want to check it out.
Cyber Monday is November 28 this year … are you ready?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kindness goes a long way ...

Kindness goes a long way. Respect goes even further.
I love a good auction as much as the next person. I enjoy arriving a little early and walking around the tables of offerings to see what there is to see. If I’ve done my homework, I’ve already been online to the auctioneer’s webpage and seen what there is to expect in the day’s offerings.
Since we live in a small community, it’s easy to become regulars at the local auction houses. We see the same faces most weeks, and from auction house to auction house. We notice when there are new faces in the crowd, and we can always spot a newcomer to the auction world. Part of the fun of attending an auction is the social interaction and the “people watching.”
We attended one of our favorite local auctions one evening last week. I toured the auction floor to check out items that had caught my eye on the auctioneer’s web page. I knew which tables held the treasures I sought. I said “hello” to my fellow bidders, caught up on the news from friends. I noticed that there were a few new faces in the crowd, and a few bidders I had seen a time or two before but not on a regular basis.
What happened this evening between two bidders left me shocked by one bidder’s behavior. We’ve all been caught up in the excitement of bidding and the thrill of wanting to win a certain item – whether for our own collection or because we just know our customers will love this just as much as we love it. Tonight the item in question was a small decorative piece, nothing remarkable. The bidding opened, and several bidders held their bidding cards in the air. Finally, the bidding came down to two bidders. One of the bidders became enraged that someone would dare to bid against them. Angry. Loudly demanding that the other bidder stop bidding against them. Declaring that they would win this at any cost. The second bidder seemed unaffected by the anger of the first bidder and continued to bid until they reached their bidding limit. The behavior of the first bidder caused several of us to look around at each other, eyebrows raised quizzically. This type of behavior is not seen among the bidders in our area. While we might enter into a lively bidding war, once the bidding is over we often congratulate the winning bidder – even if they outbid us on something we wanted. When a bidder wins something they really want and are excited about their win, we cheer them on and applause is often heard around the room when “good sale” is made. Civility is the norm.
One of the other attendees commented to me “That felt like we are on one of those reality television shows!” Indeed, it did.
What happened to manners? What happened to polite behavior? What happened to civility? It apparently went out the window that evening.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How do you plan for a natural disaster?

I grew up in the Midwest, in the heart of tornado alley and along the New Madrid fault line. I know what to do in tornadoes and earthquakes. Mostly it’s “duck and cover” sprinkled with a dose of “pray”. You don’t have time to think or prepare. Tornadoes and earthquakes both hit and run – you might get a few minutes’ warning to head to the basement or storm cellar with a tornado.

A hurricane was new to me. We could sit, glued for days to weather reports on television and the internet, and watch Hurricane Irene inch her way toward us. Where would she go? How strong would she be when she gets here? How high will the winds be? How much rain will fall? It seemed to be anyone’s guess. Of course, some guesses were more educated than others.

We made certain we had plenty of bottled water for drinking. We stocked our pantry shelves with staples like peanut butter and crackers. The pet food was restocked. Large containers of water for household use were gathered in a safe place. Batteries, candles, propane, medications … everything we were told were essential to survive.

And then Hurricane Irene arrived. She wasn’t as forceful as they predicted, but she was certainly strong enough for this girl’s first Hurricane! The huge changes in barometric pressure triggered a migraine (glad I had my medication!). We lost power with the first tree that went down at 7:00 p.m. Our only access to the outside world was our cell phone, which also has “smartphone” technology.

As a Ruby Lane shop owner, I knew to put my shop on vacation. I also added information to my shop’s information page that we were visited by Hurricane Irene and were without power. Our loyal customers were welcome to shop and we would ship as soon as possible.
The morning after Hurricane Irene hit us, we stumbled around the neighborhood – all our neighbors came out with the same shell-shocked look on their face. Hair unkempt, exhaustion in their eyes, wearing whatever they threw together. We made sure everyone was safe, that no people or pets were harmed. The next order of business was to make our roads passable so emergency vehicles could access our homes if necessary. The only sounds we heard that morning were the engines of chainsaws. Those who didn’t have a chainsaw grabbed limbs and branches and began the task of clearing the roads by hand. Then the driveways. Then entire neighborhood worked together until everyone had safe access to the roads and to the greater community. Generators started to hum. We all began to assess the damage to our homes and property.

While our neighborhood suffered extensive tree loss and complete loss of power, the damage to homes was minimal. As we heard over and over from friends and neighbors “It could have been so much worse, if that tree had fallen this way or that way we would have lost everything!”

As a small business owner, with my inventory stored in my home, I had to stop and think about what that means as I prepare for the next natural disaster (and I’m sure there will be a next!).

My means of communication with my business and customers is through the internet and my computer. Are my files backed up in case of computer damage? There are online sites that allow for backup so the records can be restored to any computer. If my home is damaged, do I want my backup files on my property along with my computer? If my backup files are on a disk, which is sitting on the same desk as my computer and a tree falls through the roof into my office, then I lose both my computer and my backup files.
Is my computer on a surge protector that is strong enough to protect it? If my computer is damaged in a natural disaster, will my homeowners insurance cover repair or replacement of my computer?

If I am without power for a significant length of time, do I have a way to stay in communication with my online business customers? Does my local library have internet access? Perhaps the local coffee shop? But what if they are without power? Can I use my “smartphone” to keep in communication with the outside world? Do I know how to use this technology? (The time to learn is before an emergency, not during!)

Then there is the question of my inventory: is it stored safely? Will it survive a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane?
If my inventory doesn’t survive, would my homeowners insurance policy cover that loss?
While we might have coverage for our home’s personal contents, is the dollar enough high enough to absorb the cost of re-stocking our inventory? Is there a separate endorsement we should have to cover our small business inventory against loss?


These questions need to be asked now. A discussion with your homeowners insurance agent and/or company may be in order. It’s time to pull out homeowner insurance policies and find out exactly what they say. Take the time to read them carefully, and ask questions of your insurance agent and/or company if you don’t understand.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pro-cras-tinate

That’s what the coffee cup said on it. I pulled it out of the box lot we just purchased and raised it triumphantly over my head and presented it, Vanna White-style, to my Charming Husband. Yup. That’s me. If there’s a way to procrastinate, I will find it.
Like writing this blog. We’re having a friend over for dinner. I still have to finish picking up the detritus laying around the family room: the two pair of shoes on the sofa, the old high school year book on the loveseat, the box of sheet protectors and tube of Sports Crème sitting on top of it. Of course, there is also the pot from last night that’s still on the stove. Let’s not forget the jeans that are in the dryer that need to be folded. Instead of doing any of that, I’m sitting here writing this blog.
I haven’t listed anything new in my Ruby Lane or Ruby Plaza shops today. But I did watch Nate Berkus. Yes, it was a re-run. But I watched it anyway.
Earlier I got up and went into the kitchen to finish loading the dishwasher, and got distracted by the wooden bowl sitting on the counter. It came from an auction a few weeks ago and has been sitting there, waiting for me to decide what to do with it. There’s a maker’s mark on the bottom that needs research. Do I put it in our brick & mortar shop? Do I list it online? Do I keep it to use? Still unable to decide, I put it on a shelf with all the other things that are awaiting my decision … Scarlett O’Hara has nothing on me!
I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow. 
Oh, and there’s that sterling and “jelly belly” brooch that needs to be cleaned up a bit. It’s been moved from spot to spot to spot for a couple months. I pick it up, walk to the laundry room to grab the silver polish and see that there’s a load of laundry that needs to be finished. So, I put the duck back down and proceed to finish the laundry. That was 3 hours ago, and Mr. Duck is still waiting for his polishing.
I have a tray of jewelry that needs to be photographed and listed online. I choose a few pieces on a daily basis and photograph them, download and edit them and then upload them to my shops on Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza. I have three pieces right next to me, all ready to go. All they need is for me to upload them to my selling sites and write a glowing description that will bring attention to them and make a buyer breathless with desire to own them. Of course, they’ve been sitting here next to me for a few days now. I can’t seem to find those words. Maybe they’ll go back on the tray and I’ll pick some new items. Or maybe inspiration will strike me at 10 p.m. and the words will flow fluidly from my keyboard. Or maybe not.
Therein lies both the danger and the pleasure of being one’s own boss, selling on the internet, and working at one’s own pace. Sometimes that pace is as frantic as a squirrel gathering nuts to store for a long, cold winter. Sometimes that pace is as slow as a snail, leaving a trail across the forest floor as it travels to its next destination.  I can spend my day working diligently taking photographs, writing listings, promoting my shops through online venues like Facebook, Twitter, The Vintage Village and Squidoo. Or I can keep putting things off, waiting for "tomorrow" to arrive. Sometimes tomorrow just doesn't get here. All my procrastinating has an effect on my bottom line, my sales, my profitability.
I can choose my own priorities, and I can make my own success.
Or I can sabotage my success through my habit of procrastination.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hunkered down ...

We've been in recovery mode here at the Charming House.
The grandkids are safely home. We've been hanging around the house and getting re-organized. Mr. Charming put some great new storage shelves in the basement for our inventory for our booth at The Grapevine. It sure cleared space in my office and living room and dining room and .... well, you get the idea.
At a local auction we found a great 1950s buffet that I'm now using as a storage cabinet in my office. The doors and drawers make great storage for my jewelry inventory, and for our postcards and photographs.

I've fallen in love with my P Touch label Maker. I'm in good company, because Nate Berkus was just talking about his on his show the other day. And I just found some pink labels for it ... wonder if they make blue? hmmm.  Everything is labelled !!

We went to a local auction the other night and had a great time. It had been a while since we'd been to an auction, and I think we were going through auction withdrawal. Stopped for dinner at Captain Leonard's with our friends. Mr. Charming had the crab cake, and I had their fried shrimp basket. Be sure to get the ones that say "Our Fried Shrimp", which are fresh, shelled, deveined and cleaned in house.

Got home ... and darned if I didn't hurt myself. We drive a great-big-pick-up-truck. The grandkids call him "Bob", for Big Old Beast. I stepped out, turned to close the door, and slammed the corner of it right into my bad knee. At my age, neither knee is what it used to be, but the left is worse than the right. The point of that door caught me square in the knee.

Other antique collectors/dealers can relate to this part of the story:  I managed to NOT drop or damage the fragile piece I was carrying. The Charming Husband helped me rescue it, and then helped me hobble in the house. Ice packs and pain pills were my best friends on the weekend. Which gave me time to explore some new online sites like Squidoo and Pinterest.

There's more to share ... but that's for another day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I am my Mother's daughter ...

I've always enjoyed reading Harry Rinker's columns. Today's "Rinker on Collectibles: What Happened to Grandpa's Things" from Ruby Lane's "Notes from the Lane" is no exception, and it brought back a flood of memories. For those of us "of a certain age", the article will likely evoke an emotional response.

I never knew either of my Grandfathers. Both had died long before I was born, or was even a twinkle in my parents' eyes. My paternal Grandmother died when I was 4, and my maternal Grandmother died at age 90.

My parents retired to Florida from the Midwest, selling the family home and downsizing. My brothers and I were invited to help them sort the memories long-stored in boxes and drawers. As the only daughter, many of my Mother's prized possessions came to me.
In her cedar chest, she had a white box. In the white box was a white silk scarf carefully wrapped in tissue paper. This silk scarf was her father's. He would wear it with his "good" coat to go to church on Sunday. She also had 3 small wooden boxes, all hand made by her father. My brothers, being men, had no interest in "sentimental" items. I have my Grandfather's scarves. We each were given a wooden box. I keep my little box polished and proudly displayed. I was entrusted with all the family photographs and albums. They adorn my guest room walls.

Over the ensuing years, my mother would give me things so she could see me enjoy them while she was still alive. Jewelry pieces. A knick knack. Some little treasure she knew that I always admired. They assumed places of honor in my home.

My father's family, while wealthy in the early 1900s, lost everything in the depression. There is a box of photographs, but few items. I have my grandmother's cameo pin. Her hand mirror. A pink depression glass bowl. I don't think my brothers have anything. Nor were they interested.

In the cedar chest mentioned above, we found my father's Korean war shower clogs. Some military issue clothing. Bits and bobs of his history. A family vote was taken, and the vote was that what was in the cedar chest stayed in the cedar chest and came to my home.

My father was as was described in Rinker's column: hard-working, a saver, a fixer. If it was useful, keep it. If it had no "purpose", then why bother. He is now in his 80s, and has grown very attached to the few things he has that were part of his family history. He has an old "watermelon glass" bowl. While not worth millions of dollars, it does have a high monetary price, but more importantly a high sentimental value to him. He has all his Masonic keepsakes.

My mother was sentimental and saved things based on their emotional value.
We lost her to cancer 16 years ago.
Among her treasures we found a cardboard box, about 12x12x7. Inside was every wedding invitation, birth announcement, graduation announcement, obituary, and card she had ever received.  My puzzled father looked at me and said "You mean I have moved this box around the country for 45 years, and that's all there was inside? Trash?"  Mom never thought of it as "trash". It was history, memories, love ... from birth to death, it was all there. I took that box and sorted through it. Most of the announcements were from people long gone. When I found something related to someone I knew, I sent it along to them. A very "woman thing" to do.

I'm still a sucker for ephemera. I will buy large lots of old letters and cards and photographs at auctions. Baby books. Post cards. It evokes a sense of history, of continuity, of the fragility of life and love and relationships.

I am my Mother's daughter.

 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We love our Blenko ...

On the way home from dropping off our grandchildren, the Charming Husband decided I needed a stop at our favorite place in West Virginia:  Blenko Glass. We love their glass, and have a large collection of their signature water bottles, including several in long retired colors. We picked up a new bottle in Kiwi, and a vase in this season's Patriotic Red, White & Blue colors.

I could spend hours watching the glass blowers, and I have. We only had a short amount of time this visit, so we couldn't stay long. This visit we found them making cobalt blue vases with a clear flat base and two clear handles on the necks. Loved watching them do the pulled handles.

Here's the last picture we took of our water bottle collection ... we've since added 8 additional colors!



If you ever find yourself near Milton, West Virginia, I highly recommend a visit to Blenko's visitor center.

Here are some other sites devoted to Blenko Glass:

The Blenko Archive

The Blenko Four and Friends

The Blenko Project

and, finally, Hillary Homburg's Blog about Blenko Glass.