Email Business

(This is a post for a weekly writing challenge through WordPress.  Polly Wolly Designs will on occasion be participating in them, and they will hopefully relate somehow to my business or crafting journey.)

Plop.  Down I go into the computer chair.  My email login comes up, and after glancing around to be sure one of my brothers isn’t spying, I type in my password.  While it loads in, my brain twirls.  What if I have a notification of a big order waiting for me?

Sigh.  Sadly, I click through the inbox.  Oh, look, another offer from Wilton for some goofy shaped pan.  Delete.
Oh, look!  Someone is actually writing on their blog – huh! the idea.  That was really sweet – baby is so cute.  When will I ever meet him?  Delete.
The flavor of the day calendar for Culvers.  Andes Avelanche is the flavor of the day… on the day, of course, when I never go there.  Humph.  Delete?  Nope.  It just might come in handy.
Last but not least – a little line from a friend.  Make that three lines from a friend.  “Hi.”  “Hi.  You aren’t online.”  “You’re still not online”.  Laugh.  Delete.

Yeah, no business yet.  But that’s OK – wool hat business is always slow in the summer.  And, after all, business gets to be not fun.  But what I do get in my inbox is fun.  Even if I would never make a cake that shape, even if I won’t get to Culver’s on an Andes day, even if the consistency of other bloggy friends makes me realize how negligent I am at this, I get the kind of emails like the three I mentioned earlier.  Whether it’s the friend, or the mom, or the auntie, I almost always smile when I check email.  My inbox is in the business of life, and I love it!

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Olympics are over…

…and America has more medals than China, plus beating the Russians in gymnastics.  I’d say we had a pretty good year.  We demonstrated to the world that free society and a capitalistic marketplace is the best one for inspiring competition.

 

Best of all, Gabby Douglas won gold.  And that made me very happy.  Gabby’s smile is continuous and contagious, and her performances were a ton of fun to watch, even when she did mess up, because of the joy she demonstrated while performing.  I was cheering for her in the all-around instead of Aly, because she was just a little pouty-looking, and battling an attitude.  But I was very, very happy to hear that Aly got gold in floor.  She deserved it.  The Russians finished second and third in the all-around, and after years of their producing top-notch gymnasts, it was great to watch the US beat them.

One final thing: the design point of this post.   Someone was not thinking when they let the American coaches wear red shirts.  It clashed with the magenta-ish pink of the American leotards.  It’s  not that big a deal, though.  Pink looks great with gold. ♥

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Happy Birthday to my Pets

Yes, yes.  I know.  How silly.  But here it is: my favorite kitty cats in the entire world are a year old (actually, they turned one about a month ago, maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago).  They are a year old to me, because it was one afternoon one year ago, that a mama cat decided she trusted us enough to bring my family three of her five kittens.  The other two would not obey her call, and she was not interested in going back for them.  two days later, on June 18, we had just come back from a baby shower, and Mama still would not feed the other kittens left behind in the barn across the street (we live in town, the house was abandoned).  So I went over there, and after much heartache got the other two captured and, while they would never admit it, saved.  One of them, in fact, is still very nervous with me.

But the cute-hearts are a year old.  What a year it has been.  I realized that I have to smile every day at least once, because every time I look at them, I am reminded of how cozy, sweet, and downright hilarious they are.

So, allow me to (potentially) bore you with my kitty family.

Mama Catt – I know.  Original name, right?  She has been called that for the last couple years of her neighborhood stray life, and knows it.  Kind of.  She is very sweet, and every time I think of how she was betrayed, my heart rises.  There was no reason to leave her.  She is the best female feline I have every pet.  Her knead is unlike any other cat’s.  She vibrates as she kneads, and it gives a tickly sort of massage sensation.  I’ve thought about opening up a shop, and charging two bucks a massage, but PETA would have things to say about that.  :)  She is now completely indoor, and shows little inclination to return to her previous state.

Fiddle – “My good boy”.  He is my cat, and believes that I am his person “with every fiber of his being”. I think of him as my Bolt cat, and an example of the previously unknown species called a “puppy cat.”  We play this game called “Come Get Me.”  He literally chases me around until I stop.  I then give him a pet, and we start all over.  While I have not yet completed the work of training him to sit (it’s a lot harder to do with six than with the one we had before), his desire to please me and my family goes above and beyond that of many a pure-blooded canine.

Dilly – Oh, boy.  Dilly is another “puppy cat.”   If you could imagine a wonderful, spunky friend who likes potato chips just that little bit too much, and then make him a cat, Dilly would be that cat.  Dilly rolls over to get us to pet his tummy (um, a behavior never before seen in previously owned kitties).  Dilly sits on the piano keyboard when I’m working diligently on Moonlight Sonata to get attention, while simultaneously biting my music and throwing it everywhere.  Dilly is just a “regular chum”, and a “jolly good fellow” of a cat, and I love him very dearly.

Pipes – Okay, another person in a cat analogy.  Sorry, folks.  Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.  He is kind; to those who deserve it.  He is quiet, and you can’t touch his heart easily, but when you do, you find it is soft, and good.  Well, folks this is Pipes.  Unlike Mr. Darcy, she is a girl, and a dear heart.  But she is very aloof, and considers herself above many of our visitors.  However: fear not, Miss Lizzies of kitty-admirers.  She has the refined air that must “displease some, and appear proud”, while you may come to say “but I have seen nothing of it.”

Java – Ooh, he is a grand one.  Black sleekness.  Only thing, he is loud.  He caterwauls like you’ve never heard before (unless, of course, you happen to be outside while a kitty courtship is hitting off somewhere in the neighborhood).  He is  “sticky”, that is, once he is enjoying you petting and talking to him, there is no way he’s going anywhere quickly.  He loves people, but spends far too much of his time attempting daring escapes into places he doesn’t belong.  Other names we have considered as better ones for him were Yamaha (piano company), Suzuki (another piano company, and important name in the musical pedagogy world), and Houdini.

Cookie Do – Perhaps, it might be Cooky Do Do.  No, she really is very sweet when she wants to be, but is still very spooked of people after the whole rescuing incident (she and Java were the ones left behind.  Java’s over it.  Cookie is not.)  She loves my mom, and spends all morning running to and from the stairs, looking and waiting for her to come upstairs for family worship time.  It’s really a pretty sight.  Mom sits in the same chair every morning with her iced OrganoGold coffee, with Cookie Do on her lap.  But as for me, Cookie is not always on my radar screen.  She is definitely Mom’s cat.  :)

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Mindful Crafting, Part Two – Color

Color is a part of every design.  Anything that is (except weird invisible things) has color.  The principles of color are pretty basic.  If you look in the picture above, based on the knowledge of our favorite number three, we can say that kitchen is pretty well-designed.  The focal color is on the walls.  That would be green.  The complementary color is in the counter and tile: brown.  And the accent color is found in the glass-front cabinets, on the counter, and in the curtain.  Red.  The appliances are black, which would be a fourth color, but in kitchens, the appliances are not really part of ‘design’, per se, they are just part of the work you do in that kitchen.

We’ve kind of covered that base already.  But another thing to keep in mind is the different families of neutral colors. There’s two families of neutral colors.  Browns and blacks.  As you add more white to brown, you’ll eventually get to off-whites.  As you add more white to black, you’ll get grey-whites.  By the way, just thought I should let you know, that I don’t have a doctorate in color.  This may not be completely correct, but it’s the ultimate point that matters.

When you throw a brown in with a black, you get a sort of a mashed-up, hectic sensation similar to that people get when they look at designs that have too many colors.  Most people know not to wear black shoes with a brown skirt, or vice versa.  If someone will be wearing an ivory wedding dress, great care is taken not to get a pure-white strand of pearls. The effect sort of “buzzes” the eyes, and confuses them.

Of primary and secondary colors there are two families.  Warm, and cool.  Warm colors are colors that have that brownish or off-white tint; reds, pinks, oranges, and yellows.  Cool colors are colors that have a black or white influence, such as blues, greens, grays, and purples.  But, unlike mixing browns and blacks, mixing warm colors with cool colors is very acceptable, and sometimes preferable.  The classic combination of red and blue is very commonly found.

     

Of these two pictures, the first is very commanding, very present, but it also is a little wearying.  So many warm tones makes my eyes a little tired.  It’s beautiful, it isn’t breaking any rules, and it does its job well.  It just is a little much.  The second one is equally as eye-grabbing.  Next to the first one, it doesn’t seem to be as bold, but it brings in a cool color.  The purple helps counter act the orange colors, and while they both would make great logos (I might even prefer the first for its presence), the second is just a little tad bit easier on the eyes.

The third thing to remember with colors is something many people know already.  With clothing, keep in mind 1) when you’ll be wearing it, and 2)where you’ll be wearing it.
If you’ll be wearing this new dress for a wedding in June, pick a light color.  But if the dress is for a Christmas party, go for dark colors.  Autumn is a great season (my personal favorite), and having a peaches-and-cream complexion, the colors that go with it are great for me too.  Autumn is a great time for the darker colors of both families to come out, but especially the warmer tones.
If you are sewing for a joyous occasion, keep in mind that black might not be a great idea.  But if you’re working on a project to be used for your winter recital (or, sadly, a funeral), black is very appropriate.  Going with neon colors in almost any situation is a little overboard.  Remember that by choosing a color that stands out, the person wearing that color will stand out.  As a result, if said neon garment is for a performance, it will serve the performer well.  But if you decide to wear it to a friend’s wedding, said friend’s dress must pale to yours, and that is, of course, a wedding taboo.

Color is an amazing thing, and so much fun to work with.  Keep your color scheme simple, and you make it gorgeous. ♥

This is the second post in a multi-part series on principles to keep in mind as you design and make things.

Read “Mindful Crafting, Part One – Three” here.  Logos designed by Polly Wolly Designs for this series.

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Mindful Crafting, Part One – Three

This is the first part of a series (don’t ask me how many parts–could just be one, could be 7, who knows?) on things to remember as you make things.  By “crafting”, I mean anything you make or design.  This could (depending on the post) be costumes, clothing, or even websites.  But, without further ado:

Three.  That would be 3, III, or just plain old three.  When we design things, an important thing to keep in mind is this small number.  The number three represents a perfect unity in design.  It is an odd number, which makes it pleasing to the eye  (if three isn’t a large enough number for what you need in your projects, then a five or a seven works, too.  Even numbers are almost always a big no-no.)  But most importantly, it’s simple.  If there are more than three elements to draw your attention in, a thing will look busy.

Photography:  Photographers and Videographers have a “rule of thirds”.  Imagine a screen divided into thirds vertically and horizontally.  Photographers want to get their subject squarely into these thirds.  This is why photos almost always have the subject in the center, or along one of the sides.  If a subject is not mostly within one of these thirds, the photo looks uncomfortable.

Color:  In many spheres of design, color plays a crucial role.  Notice in this pattern (which I will be buying sometime because I think the first and third dresses are absolutely stunning) the unity of coloring.  In the first dress, you have three colors.  That green dress, the off-white shirt, and the black belt and shoes.  The green is the focal color, the off-white is the complementary color, and the black is the accent color.  As you can see, the other two photos demonstrate that having only two colors is not disobeying this rule.

What does disobey this rule is having four or more colors.  This distracts your eye, and gives you a hectic sensation.  In the above textile there are way too many colors for our eyes to take in comfortably.  Magenta, orange, brown, white, yellow and black.  There is no focal color, nothing for our eyes to rest on!  Notice in the previous photo, although there were two greens in that dress, they were really the same color, just different shades.  In this textile, however, we have six totally different colors going at the same time.

Elements: In design and crafting, each portion of your chosen project is called an “element”.  Let me explain it better.  In graphic design, your three elements are (usually) going to be:
1) Color (of which, as said before, three are allowed)
2) Fonts (Fonts will be discussed in a little bit)
and
3) Your emblem, photo, or clip art

A very similar thing ought to be taken into consideration when scrapbooking, as scrapbooking is graphic design in paper and tangible elements versus pixels and electronic elements.

EXCEPTIONS:

There are a couple exceptions to the (almost) universal rule of three.

The first has to do with color.  You will notice, perhaps, that my own blog theme is made up of more than three colors.  I admit it.  Pink, green, brown, yellow, and blue.  But remember what I said at the very beginning.  Sometimes, three can be replaced with five or seven.  I could not settle on just three colors for my site.  They all looked empty, and sort of lost.   So I went with five, but made the design simple enough that it isn’t painful on my viewers’ eyes and trying to their patience.

The second has to do with fonts.  While three fonts are acceptable, two are preferable.  On my website, you will find two font styles:  Poor Richard, and Georgia.  Two fonts can be used to draw a person’s eye to the most important things, and the other font fills in the spaces.  With three fonts, your eye can get confused.  I have seen pleasing designs that use three font styles, but I have also seen some that drive me distracted, because it can look hectic.  However, like many other things, more than four fonts are very rarely visually appealing.

The number 3 is just another number, but it is a number that can help us design things that are beautiful, and stand out among the crowds of other amateur designers who make us all want to sing:

“Busy, busy, dreadfully busy…” ♥

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An Experiment

I like costuming from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, commonly called the Regency Era.

I decided I was going to try to do my hair that way, too.

The look I was going for:

This is Jane Bennet from the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice by A&E.

I didn’t quite get it:

The picture isn’t great.  No hairspray was used, so it’s very frizzy there.  I was very tired, and it was bright outside.  But, I don’t consider it a fail.  Because the look that I did get was appropriate, too.

This is Miss Wade from the latest production of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.  I don’t much like her character, but I got my hair to look similar to something that would have actually been.  So no, not a fail.  Very much a success.

 

So what did I do?  I have bangs.  Long ones, but bangs they are.  I separated my bangs (hardly damp) out from the rest of my hair, and parted them down the middle.  I divided them in four parts.  I cut a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper in four pieces lengthwise, and folded each in half.  I slipped my bang quadrants into each piece of paper, and rolled them up (*tightly*)!  I then used a bobby pin to pin each quadrant to my head and went to bed.  I was going to do more than just four, but something happens to my bobby pins!  I could only find four of them!  Humph.  A girl’s life is hard. LOL.

Many people do rag curls, and I was going to try those, but I knew with my hair the curl would be too loose.  So I used papers, which would have been the method used in the Regency, I think.  If you have seen the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, you will notice a scene in which Mrs. Bennet still has her hair in papers.  It is when Mr. Bingley comes over and no one is dressed but Kitty.  “Oh, hang Kitty!”  You know, that scene.

But anyway.  There’s my latest experiment.  ‘Twas fun, and I am in a fair way to do it again.  ♥

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The Violinist’s Vacuum

Yes, you read that right.  This is what happens when you start teaching something.  Things start popping up as pedagogy tools all over the place.

When you’re teaching violin, pencils are used to teach proper bow technique, balls are placed to help keep the correct distance between your palm and the neck of your instrument, and popsicle sticks with Velcro straps force a beginner student to keep the right wrist position.  But I’m guessing that few teachers implement vacuums.  While my student cannot afford such an expensive pedagogical tool, I delight in sharing with you the ideal vacuum for instructing your violin pupil in proper bow hand fluidity.

The “Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Vacuum – Model NV356”.

Now.  Why is it that I would highly recommend this vacuum to violinists of all ages and abilities?  Because of its swivel head feature.

This vacuum is steered by rotating the handle.  This means (drumroll, please) that you can vacuum your room simply by turning the wrist.  You can turn it the way you turn most vacuums, too, but for violinists, the ability to rotate your wrist independent of your elbow and shoulder is crucial to good form.  Another plus is that it also puts little to no strain on the muscles between your individual arm joints (shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist).

Violinists, particularly fiddlers, need their arms to be as relaxed as possible in playing.  Training one’s arm to remain in a root position from the shoulder to elbow allows the elbow and wrist to do their thing.  One thing, perhaps the thing, that violinists need to look out for is tightness in their joints, and the absence of fluid motion.  Tight muscles lead to fatigue, and even bad circulation by cutting of blood supply.  This vacuum, if used with its swivel head feature, would help fiddlers and classical players alike reinforce that circular wrist action so necessary for good form–in a common, everyday, extra-practicing section of our time.  And for those of my readers who don’t play this awesome instrument, I would say two things:

– Number One –
Consider picking it up.  Hah!  You probably felt that coming.

– Number Two –
I would still get this vacuum.  The swivel head feature reduces strain on the joints and muscles that everyone could benefit from.  Relaxed form is crucial not just to musicians but all people who want to live an ache-free life.

 

Yes.  *sigh*.  Who knew musicians and vacuuming could be such good buddies? ♥

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