Monday, July 28, 2014

Adventures with Mom

My mom came out to visit for a few days in mid-July. It was so good to see her. Before I went to the airport to pick her up, I went to Trader Joe's to get some flowers to welcome her. Buried in the daisies and roses, I found some really pretty snapdragons. On our last visit to Missouri Botanical Gardens, I had pointed some out to my mom and photographed them, so I thought they'd be perfect.

As I was leaving, a guy sitting outside on a bench stopped me to ask me if there was an occasion for the flowers. I explained that my mom was visiting from out of town. This started a very long conversation full of his life experiences and advice for my future. Oh, people at Trader Joe's ;)

Everything went smoothly at the airport. Austin was waiting for us when we got back, and we all went out to dinner. We had a good time taking Mom to all of our favorite places. I also went shopping with her in San Jose, and of course we had to hit the rose garden. I found some purple roses there. I hadn't ever seen one this color before:

We went to the Google campus to meet Austin at work and have lunch with him. It was nice to see where he works, and the food was pretty good. Then, we walked around for all of 20 minutes, and I got a sunburn (like I do).

I took Mom to an amazing local nursery that's on the way home from Google. I'm lucky to have a mom that likes flowers as much as I do, and puts up with me constantly taking photos of them. Dahlias are my favorite.

We went up to the city one day and went to Pier 39. We did the little boat ride up to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was kind of drizzly and very foggy, but we were still able to see. Austin took some nice photos on the boat, but I think they were on Mom's camera, so I don't have them to show :(

We also went to the aquarium. It was fun, and I took EVEN MORE photos.

It was a very nice visit, and I'm so glad my mom got to see where I live.

Things are still going well in general. Austin and I are starting to make some new friends in the apartment building. I'm still working on jewelry. Riley is still very happy prowling on the balcony. I might break down and start looking for a job soon, but I'm enjoying my break from the corporate world.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Swimming and Making Things

Things are still going great out in California.

The weather has been consistently awesome, except for one day that was overcast. That was a bummer. ;)

Austin got a couple of days off for 4th of July. We took the train up to AT&T park since the Giants were playing the Cardinals. It was a lot of fun. I wore my Cardinals gear (including this "rally squirrel" pendant that I made) and got boo'd by a few people. It was ok, because we stomped them. Quite a fun day.

I'm getting back into swimming again. There's a small pool at our apartment complex. I've never lived anywhere with a pool. I've been going out there when it opens at 9 and swimming laps until the sun starts hitting it at around 9:45. It feels so good. Swimming is so much easier on me than running or using gym equipment.

I'm staying pretty busy with jewelry orders. I recently got a custom request from a friend for a ring-holder necklace for when she can't wear her wedding ring on her finger. I'd seen them on Pinterest, and already had most of the supplies I'd need. I added some crystals and pearls in her wedding colors to make it unique. I'm very happy with how it turned out, and I hope she is too:

I also got a custom order from my mother-in-law, Susan. My sister-in-law is getting married at the end of August and she was nice enough to ask me about jewelry for the event. She liked these earrings and wanted a necklace to match. I came up with the design below, and now she's testing it out to make sure it's perfect for a formal occasion:

I love making things for my friends and family. I'm always so thankful that they're willing to help support my creative ventures. You guys are awesome.

The hummingbirds are becoming very comfortable with my feeder. They're coming up to it even when we're sitting out there now. It's pretty cool. Here's one chilling out on my railing:

My mom is flying out to visit tomorrow and staying until Sunday. I can't wait to show her around and hang out with her. I love living here, but I'm used to spending a lot of time with my family. It'll be so great to see her.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Flowers and Hummingbirds

Things have been going pretty well. I like my new home. The weather is incredible, I can sit outside without being eaten alive by bugs, and I'm able to walk to lots of different kinds of stores.

We've been spending the past few days decorating. My favorite place by far is the patio. I like to sit out there and drink my coffee in the morning. I noticed that one of our neighbors across the courtyard had a hummingbird feeder that was getting lots of activity. I decided lure them over to my side and bought this feeder.

Also in the spirit of attracting hummingbirds, I bought some huge red dahlias to put out there.

Riley is turning into quite the wild patio cat. There are lots of birds out there for her to stalk. She is well-loved by little kids in the hot tub. Every once in awhile I'll see one of them pointing and squealing at her.

It took a couple of days, but I eventually started seeing hummingbirds. I'm still not getting very many, but hopefully more of them start finding it.

Austin started his job this week. The drive isn't bad at all... it usually takes about 10 minutes and there's never much traffic on his route. We're very relieved about that because this area is known for its ridiculous traffic. I dropped him off at work on Wednesday so I could go to the DMV and get a California license. It was pretty much a nightmare. I was there for five hours. My name change plagued me ONCE AGAIN and cost me an extra two hours. They repeatedly thought I hadn't registered my name change with social security even though I had (about 4 years ago). I have the worst trouble with name change issues. I told Austin he'd better hang onto me and never die because I won't change it again under any circumstances. Haha.

My Etsy shop has been doing well. I've been taking lots of new photos and putting things up for sale online. It takes longer to photograph, edit, and list things than it takes to make them. I'm really backed up with a ton of items I've made for shows, but have never photographed. Getting caught up on that has really made a difference.

The post office is only about a mile away, and it's along Austin's route to work. Makes it easy for me to drop of my little jewelry orders. I also found THE BEST nursery right by the post office. My flower and plant addiction shall be well-fueled.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Big Move

On Monday, June 16, I moved from St. Louis, MO to Mountain View, CA. My husband got a job at Google and will be starting next week. He moved into our new apartment at the end of May, but I decided to stay behind so I could make some extra money, sell the car, and clean our old apartment.

I stayed with my mom in St. Charles for a few weeks. My brother and sister were also staying with her. It was nice to have some togetherness time with my family before I had to leave. I also got to spend some time with this lovely little dog.

My birthday was on the 12th. It was a pretty good one. I always seem to be traveling or working a night shift or something on my birthday. It was nice to have a free day. I went to Cheesecake Factory with my grandparents, mom, and sister for lunch, did a little shopping, and relaxed.

I booked a one-way, nonstop flight to San Francisco with Frontier Airlines. They recently added a very affordable nonstop flight, and they also allowed pets in the cabin. I needed to bring Riley (my huge cat) along with me. I ordered this carrier online since it was designed to go on airlines and had good reviews.

My mom and sister took me to the airport. It was such a help because I was really freaked out about flying with the cat. We said our goodbyes and they watched me go through security. This was the part I'd been dreading the most. I knew I'd have to take the cat out of the carrier, put the carrier through the X-ray machine, and carry the cat in my arms through the metal detector. It went fine, though. I had a little leash and harness for Riley, so I was able to put her on the ground while I put my bags on the conveyor. She was very well-behaved. She practically cuddled against me when I carried her through the metal detector.

The next step was getting the carrier under the seat on the plane. I took it slow and eventually maneuvered the carrier into place. Luckily, the other two people sitting in my row hadn't gotten there yet. It gave me a little more room and time to work with. Here's a photo I took of her carrier (with my hoodie draped over it) safely under the seat.

The flight went very smoothly. Riley was incredibly quiet throughout the four hour flight. I'm not sure if the people sitting around me even knew I had a pet with me.

We landed in San Francisco, and my handsome husband was waiting for me with beautiful flowers.

We traveled to our new apartment in Mountain View. I'm now on my 3rd full day living here. We've been spending lots of time decorating the new apartment, and getting new things to put in the new space. The weather has been phenomenal, so I've been spending a lot more time outside. We have a balcony that's juuuust big enough for two chairs and a small table. It's my favorite part of the place. Riley likes it too. Here she is begging to go outside:

I don't have a job here yet, and quite frankly I'm in no hurry to find one. I worked pretty hard in the few years before this move. I'm looking forward to spending more time working on my little jewelry business and art ventures. I'm sure I'll get stir crazy and start looking for something eventually, though.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Square Market Update

Looks like I have to eat my words a little bit.

In February, Square rolled out some site improvements. They sent me an e-mail about it, and I putzed around a bit, but I couldn't see a huge amount of difference.

Then I made a sale. Suddenly, I became much more interested in listing things in the Square Market. I started putting all of my items there. Why not? It's free.

While I was working, I discovered something amazing. It seems that you can now add as many photos as you'd like to any listing. Before, they only allowed you to post one photo per item. This was originally my number one problem with Square Market; a problem that (in my opinion) rendered it practically useless. I quickly went through all of my items and added 4 to 5 photos apiece. This change alone makes Square a much more viable option for selling online.

They still have a way to go. They still insist on cropping your photos into a perfect square (get it... SQUARE? HAHAHAHA. But seriously, let me crop my own damn photos). They still order your items and categories alphabetically by title. They still have a quantity option of "one" or "infinity" with nothing in between. I'm still not convinced that modifiers actually work for customers. They still set a default price of $0.00. They still have zero analytics. BUT, it's free until you make a sale, they addressed my most important issue, so I officially like where this is going.

Check out my square shop here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pros and Cons of Square Market

Ahhhh Square. Every crafter's reasonably-priced credit card processing friend. This lovely company recently started an online marketplace so customers could purchase items from local businesses without leaving home. I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it turned out to be my least favorite option as a free Etsy alternative. Click on the image above to take a look at my Square shop.

  • Operates under your existing Square account if you have one. When you add an item, it also becomes available in your Square app that you use to process credit cards.
  • New look. My Square shop looks vastly different from my Etsy shop, which I like. I think Square's look is sleek and pretty.
  • Unlimited free listings! Buyers use their credit card to purchase items and Square takes a small percentage of the purchase price. The rest is deposited into the seller's bank account. I love the fact that Square only makes money when its sellers make money.
  • Items are only available to buyers who live in the USA. Others might see this as a "con," but it makes shipping profiles a lot easier to handle. With the skyrocketing price of international shipping and those pesky customs forms, I can't say I miss it here.

  • Difficult to set up. When you first start, your items are "online" but not "for sale." You have to check a box in your shop profile to sell publicly. For the longest time, I tried checking the box, and it would uncheck itself. It finally "stuck" after about 20 minutes.
  • It takes FOREVER for your items to show up in a search on Square's main page. We're talking weeks.
  • Only one photo per item. Come on, Square! ONE photo? REALLY? I feel like I have to link to an entirely different web site with alternate views of my products. Or create one photo that's a montage of many photos. Ain't nobody got time for that.
  • There's a semblance of a "quantity" feature there, but it's so limited I can't use it. The options for availability are "one" or "many." What if I have 10, list my quantity as "many" and someone orders 15?
  • Square has a variation feature (so you can add options for size etc.) but your customers only see it if they're using an iPad. Wait... what?
  • Items and sections are listed alphabetically. I wish it was arranged by date or relevancy. I named my sections "section 1 - rings," "section 2 - necklaces," etc. to get them in the order I wanted. I'm tempted to do the same thing with my items. "Amazing necklace," "beautiful necklace," "cute necklace," "delicate necklace"...
  • Listing items is pretty easy, but it's also sort of easy to skip over the "price" section while you're filling in other things. The default price is $0, and they don't stop you from posting items for free. Every time I put something up, I have to check to make sure I'm not giving things away ;)
  • No shop stats at all. Nothing. I have no idea how many times my shop or items have been viewed. It makes it very difficult to gauge the potential of this site.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pros and Cons of Zibbet

As promised, here are my thoughts on my free Zibbet shop. I decided to start with this one first since it's my favorite of the three free alternatives to Etsy that I've tried. I started listing items in mid-November and now have 42 items up for sale. Click on the image above if you'd like to see my shop.

  • Easy integration of existing Etsy shop. I was able to download a file from Etsy and upload it to Zibbet. Not everything translated exactly correctly, but with a little editing I was able to get most of my items up without completely re-writing everything.
  • Nice community. I've had a few of my items pinned on pinterest by fellow Zibbet sellers. I was also featured in a blog within a day of setting up my Zibbet shop.
  • Shop performance stats. I've been able to check up on my items. When I'm updating and listing items, I get a decent amount of views. The shop stats aren't as detailed and extensive as they are on Etsy, but at least they're there.
  • No fees for selling with a free account, even if something sells. Zibbet makes all their profits from paid, premium accounts.
  • I've heard lots of rumors that Zibbet will be unrolling an update in early 2014. I'm asked at every turn what I think of my experience on Zibbet and how it can be improved. It will be interesting to see how they evolve.

  • Lack of (free) features that Etsy has. You can't list multiple quantities of an item without paying extra.
  • Limit of 50 items unless you pay for a premium account.
  • No item variations. From what I can tell, there's no way to let a buyer select a variation on an item (size, etc.) even if you pay extra.
  • It appears that buyers have to use paypal. There is no "direct checkout" like on Etsy.
  • Almost TOO similar to Etsy. It would have been nice to get a fresh look from this new site, but it just feels like a copycat web site.