Friday, February 27, 2009

I Went To The Bank Yesterday

I didn't go to the type of bank this title may lead you to believe. No, I went to a private day school, Bankbridge Regional High School, to observe one of my students in her vocational class. The high school caters to a variety of disabilities.

Due to her talent and multiple awards for her work she has been voted in as President of the Horticulture Club, I believe that's the name of the organization. At any rate upon my arrival to the class, I learned that they were preparing for a flower show at the Burlington Mall today. Needless to say I was probably in the way but I stayed and took pictures. Imagine most observations are only words on paper. Here's one that is visual.

Normally when you observe, you're not to have contact with whom you are observing. However the kids all know me so that wasn't going to be the case. I sat near the young lady who was busy putting the finishing touches on her two entries: a Mardi Gras arrangement and a St. Patrick Day's arrangement.

She had gotten this far with the Mardi Gras project previous to the day I was there.

And this was where she started on her St. Patrick's arrangement.

I watched her work quickly and confidently selecting and preparing flowers and inserting them in the arrangement. I was most impressed and learned something new about adding rose buds to the Mardi Gras arrangement.

First the green outer leaves were removed and then the outer most petals were taken off leaving a rose bud. Oh, I forgot she plucked the green leaves off the stem and using scissors scraped the thorns off. Before inserting the rose she blew lightly into the center of it. The bud opened just enough to be perfect.

Ok, the image is somewhat blurred but you get the idea.

Here's the finished Mardi Gras:

I love the added masks and beads. I think there still had to be some adjustments to the arrangement as it could only be 22 inches wide and 36" high.

Upon finishing the Mardi Gras arrangement she turned her attention to the St. Patrick's arrangement. Her teacher had suggested adding more flowers which she did.

Again the added ribbon and bow around the base and the little leprechauns and hats put the finishing touches on this arrangement.

I was impressed with her work ethic disposing of flower remnants immediately and keeping her work area clean and organized. As she selected the flowers she noted how many she used for inventory or perhaps show requirements. She would like to work in a floral shop this summer. I hope she finds one as she would certainly be an asset to the shop.

I can't end without showing some of the other works by students. Below is a floral bridal bouquet.

And in progress was this arrangement for the American Heart Association.

I'm sorry I didn't get to see this when it was finished.

I am always amazed when I visit this school. I think this class impresses me the most. Basically because I can't make a floral arrangement to save my life.

I'm anxious to learn whether she won any awards. I'll let you know next week!

Have a Firecrackin great Day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twitter Or Facebook?

I'm Twittering and doing Facebook. They're fun, different and and a bit hard for me to understand. Maybe I'm just ISM (Internet Socially Maladjusted).

I'm totally at a loss about Twittering. Everyone seems to be doing it but why?

There was a big article in the newspaper the other night with a picture of people Twittering. I didn't read it. My husband was nearby and I proudly pointed out to him that I Twitter. He chuckled and said he had heard about Twitter but hadn't Twittered himself. He asked what I Twittered and I said I mostly promote my Zazzle items and read other posts.

I have to admit I like reading through the trivial things people post. Like one I read about from sharonfosterart: I just got some heinz 57 sauce out of the 'frig. It expired in 2006. I think I'll not use that. Been there, done that too. I can relate. However if you think that's bad, my daughter and I were at the Acme a couple of weeks ago when a woman selecting a salad dressing noticed that the expiration date on the bottle as over a year ago. How about that one? I should probably respond to Sharon's Twitter, nah.

Another Twitter I follow used to Twitter at least one hundred times an hour. That's all I could see was her Twittering. I'm not the type to turn people off so I just stayed away from Twittering. Haven't seen her lately. Maybe that's why I happened to see Sharon's.

I wanted to see what happened when I Twittered my designs and others' designs that I think are pretty cool. Couldn't tell you. There appears to be no way to track hits - that is I haven't found a way to track hits on my Twitter home. If someone reading this post knows of a way, please feel free to tell me. I'm curious.

As for Facebook, that seems a bit more reasonable. Maybe it's because you can do more than Twitter. I'm a visual person and like to see photos associated with posts. Or maybe I like Facebook better because there's more then just idle chit chat about trivial things.

Whatever the reasons are for people Twittering, I shall continue to Twitter too because it's just the thing to do right now but I like Facebook better.

Here are my Twitters and Facebooks for today.

And of course some humor:

Happy Twittering and Facebooking!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm Not Going To Spend Any Money This Year!

Now you know that's an impossible New Year's Resolution but I had to try it anyhow. After all it only related to my business. You have to give me credit though it's February 23, 2009. I made it this long.

I've been spending a lot of time designing many of my graphics from photographs. I'd say that they've come out pretty good. I mean I'm selling something every day. However I have this need to do better.

So after reading the Zazzle ForumI decided to try a mentioned royalty-free company that upon purchasing graphic arts software gives licensing to use commercially. I'm being mysterious aren't I? You betcha. Can't give away trade secrets! Hmmm...

That's what broke my New Year's resolution. It was difficult selecting from a mass of great CDs, all something I've been looking for. HOWEVER, you should be proud of me, I paid cash and free shipping!!

Now I can't wait for them to come. Meanwhile I'm providing some other great deals that you can browse. You know just in case you need something.

Stay tuned though. As soon as those new ideas come, I'll be playing with them and making some new items.

Meanwhile have a Firecrackin Great Day!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Twittered Today. Have You Twittered Today?

Twittering. I learned about Twittering from the Internet savvy friends I've made on Zazzle. It's really a great means of getting info out to the multitude of Internet users, seducing them to come and see what I am doing.
Evidently many Twitters have thousands of people watching their momentary activities. I am following quite a few but wow the updates are just overwhelming. I'm also wondering how many of the 17 or so that are following my Twitter movements really check out the links I list. I don't suppose you can follow or get that information. Oh, well.

Now I Twittered the other night that I sold 392 of these cards from my Firecrackinmama's Card Store.
The Shamrock Card card
The Shamrock Card by Firecrackinmama

I learned that a law firm purchased them and inserted their logo inside the card. Just imagine 392 people and companies will be receiving my design with my name Firecrackinmama on the back of the card! Wow, great for marketing!!

I now have it listed in my Firecrackinmama's Zazzle Gallery with matching postage. Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

I know I do check out the links others Twitter. I think because it's so easy to do. Just click the link, take a look, hopefully leave a comment (I don't usually, wish I would get into the habit though) and click back to Twitter.

Today I am going to Twitter some other really cool St. Patrick Day items. So take a look, pay a visit to these great galleries and leave a comment if you will.

St. Patrick's Day Green Beer apron
St. Patrick's Day Green Beer by totallypainted

Totallypainted's gallery has truly hundreds of great items. I liked this apron as I can see me drinking my green beer while I make my corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes. Oh, I'm making myself hungry.

Drink till you're Irish t-shirt shirt
Drink till you're Irish t-shirt by holiday_tshirts

Oh, yeah, I have green beer on the brain.

Now I have to admit a celebration is really a celebration if you have guests. I did take some time to design a couple of invitations that can be customized.

Shamrock and Flag Invtiation Card card
Shamrock and Flag Invtiation Card by Firecrackinmama

Here you go if you want to be really Irish on St. Patrick's Day. I believe neckties are for both sexes and all ages.

Irish Pride Kelly Green Tie tie
Irish Pride Kelly Green Tie by SquirrelHugger

An Irish Kiss Tie tie
An Irish Kiss Tie by Firecrackinmama

I found this beautiful postcard that is perfect to send to anyone you may want to wish a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Shamrocks postcard
Shamrocks by pamdicar

I think I've Twittered enough for now. So if you routinely Twitter come find me and Twitter with me.

Have a Firecrackin Great Saturday!!

Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sleep? What Sleep?

Why is it some nights you sleep like a baby and other nights you wake up and your mind runs in a stream of consciousness about trivial things that you have no control over but keeps you from falling back to sleep? Hmmm... tonight was one of those nights. I woke up at 1:30 am and I'm still up with a full day of work, grocery shopping and mom duties.

I thought if I had my morning coffee and relaxed a bit on the computer I might be able to get a few z's if I went back to bed a 4:00 am and slept till 6:00 am when it is time to get ready for work. Guess not because it's now 4:02 am and I'm on my last cup of coffee.

Well at least I didn't waste all that time on the Internet. I did have some fun with a photo. Someone gave me a picture of their dog, a Scottish Terrier I think. It was really only a head shot with a very dark background. I wanted to extract his head being sure to keep the wisps of hair. It took a while but I finally did it and I think it came out pretty good. You tell me.

Scottish Terrier Magnet magnet
Wired Hair Terrier Magnet by Firecrackinmama

Terrier Sticker sticker
Wire Haired Terrier Sticker by Firecrackinmama

Scottish Terrier Mousepad mousepad
Wire Haired Terrier Mousepad by Firecrackinmama

The only problem I encountered is whether this is really a Scottish Terrier. If anyone can help me out, I'd appreciate it.

The items can be customized. The background color can be changed. Text can be added or the entire image can be removed and a different one added.

So that's how I've spent my sleepless night.

Now I'm off to design a birthday invitation for my son's upcoming 30th birthday party. Wow! 30, who would have thought those years would go so fast?

Have a Firecrackin Great Day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

When Irish Eyes Are Firecrackin Sparkling

My little bit of Irish eyes were really sparkling and fizzling last night and all day today. I designed a card last year and sold 50 of them which really heightened my desire to continue with this Print On Demand site that houses my Firecrackinmama's Card Store. Well, why are my eyes sparkling and fizzling? I learned last night that I had sold 392 of those cards to a law firm that requested their logo be inserted inside the card! Wow! and Boom!

It's truly a cool site that I haven't promoted as much as perhaps I should. However I seem to do pretty well not doing anything. The best part of course is that anyone can create their own greeting cards and it really isn't that hard. I think my major problem with promotion is that their banners don't really express the ability you as a customer have to create your own. For example:

When you see this instead of understanding that you can go to the site and create your own, it makes one think they have to buy one of my cards. NOT! If you just click on the "Buy My Cards" it will take you to the site and there you go. Be creative!!

Then I started wondering why I hadn't gotten any hits on this card in my Firecrackinmama's Zazzle. Well, duh, I had never posted it. It's there now by Boom!

The Shamrock Card card
The Shamrock Card by Firecrackinmama

That was one of the first cards I did for GCU and now look it's the last one I've done for Zazzle.

Just wanted to share my happiness and I hope everyone that receives my card from this law firm likes it too!

Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Took A Road Trip...

I've started writing about this several times and yet have found it difficult to finish. I'm wondering why that is and I think it's because there is no ending.

Last week I took a business road trip to visit a school that isn't too far from the Jersey shore. With that said you must know that I used to love the shore. I say "used to" simply because during the summer it has become so overcrowded that it isn't any fun any more, nor is it relaxing.

However Spring was in the air the other day and I was in the mood for the beach. Sorry to say I never did reach it - work. The ride from work to the school is beautiful. There's plenty of farmland, which makes me think of:
Red Tractor This Is How I Roll Magnet magnet
Red Tractor This Is How I Roll Magnet by Firecrackinmama

I still pass this old farmer's place every day and hope he'll be back again this year with his produce.

I plan the next time I take my road trip to this school to take some pictures of the farms down that way. My old farmer has the traditional farmhouse, red tractors, and the welcoming feeling of knocking on his door for help. The farms I pass on my road trip have multimillion dollar houses that are mansions in their own right. They look forbidding and intimidating. I'll take some of a few next time too.

The one thing about nearing the Jersey shore is that there are inlets and all kinds of waters with beautiful sights. Since I was short on time I could only quickly pull into the parking lot and get off a few shots.

The parking lot had quite a few Sea Gulls lingering around. Perhaps they were waiting for the dailies to come by and feed them or maybe the fish were getting up for the morning and ready to run. I don't know but I know I disturbed their morning routine.

I couldn't tell whether this particular Sea Gull was posing for me or trying to stare me down so I would leave. Whatever he/she was trying to do, it sure was cute.

I took a couple of more pictures before I went on my way.

I can imagine being retired and living on the water way. I'd get up every morning with my coffee and watch nature come alive in the morning sun. Then take a leisurely walk soaking up the fragrance of a new day. Maybe I'd even go to this park and sit right in the middle and listen to the heavy traffic passing behind me and smile because they were all in a hurry to get somewhere while I sat peacefully enjoying a beautiful day. I might even attempt a canoe ride only because I'm known to tip and some great looking young man might come along and save me. Ah to be young again?

Nope, been there and done that. I'm now enjoying the aging process and the peacefulness it brings with it.

Here's what I missed by not going to the beach:

Soothing Waves Print print
Soothing Waves Print by Firecrackinmama

Here's where I'd really like to be though:

Hawaiian Paradise Print print
Hawaiian Paradise Print by Firecrackinmama

Hmm... Maybe next year.

Have a Firecrackin Great Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Design? Market? Sell? You Can Do It Too

This time of year is good for learning how to do new designs in my various graphic programs. Fortunately those with the gift of original ideas give tutorials so you can create something that looks close to what it should look like. I'll be checking out my tutorials within the next few weeks but for now, I have become the original designer.

Before work yesterday I took some time to make these items.

Yellow Rose Magnet magnet
Yellow Rose Magnet by Firecrackinmama


Yellow Rose Mug mug
Yellow Rose Mug by Firecrackinmama

Then I thought it would be cool to make a background design for customers to either add to or remove and make their own mugs.

Yellow Disco Background Mug mug
Yellow Disco Background Mug by Firecrackinmama

I'll spend some time playing with some more colors and see how it goes.

Marketing is really time consuming but worth every minute. I've had my website, for a couple of years now. I really need to go in and redesign the site as it is where I direct everyone for all my Firecrackinmamas Zazzle" .

I've been using my Facebook and my Windows Live Firecrackinmama's Space Blog.

One of my better ways of marketing though is via postcards.

Halloween Online Party Invitation Postcard postcard
Halloween Online Party Invitation Postcard by Firecrackinmama

I used this with matching postage for my first Halloween online party. The back has all the information. I found that the print should have been a bit larger and darker but it served it's purpose. I'm in the process of designing and sending another one for Mother's Day.

With the New Year came a new business card. Last year I actually used postcards as business cards and people hung them on their refrigerators. That certainly beats the circular file.

The first batch of cards I made came out great but my website was a little too light. So when Zazzle" offered free business cards to gallery owners, I redesigned that one issue and here's the front of my card! Business Card - Customized profilecard Business Card - Customized by Firecrackinmama

I'm unable to link to the back but it lists all the types of gifts available already designed or create your own.

I still using the ones that didn't turn out like above. You know how you find all those advertisements in your bills and most time throw them out? Well, as I send my remittance in I'm adding my business card. Seems to be working as I think it really surprises the person who opens the envelope. :) :)

Last but not the last I've updated my fashion design. The image online doesn't do it justice. I received my shirt last week and to me it came out very well. Shirt shirt Shirt by Firecrackinmama

Can't be without my cup of Joe:

Firecrackinmama Travel Mug mug
Firecrackinmama Travel Mug by Firecrackinmama

If you're just starting out or have been trying to increase business you can design your own items and have as much fun trying to get ahead as I am.

As for sales, they've been averaging 5 or more per day. I have been truly surprised by some of the items I have sold. Valentine's Day is Saturday so ordering now will be costly. Therefore shoppers are looking for the next big party day, St. Patricks Day"

With that said, I was so excited last night when I got home from work. I may actually see one of my designs around town. Someone from West Deptford bought:

Here are some of my more popular items sold last year:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Unconditional Love

With Valentine's Day right around the corner a lot of people have love on their minds. I definitely love my husband, kids, mother and brother and his family. However I have to say that I'm not so sure there is unconditional love involved with any of those relationships. I do know though that I have unconditional love from my extended family.

Springer Unconditional Love Mousepad mousepad
Springer Unconditional Love Mousepad by Firecrackinmama

She is really my husband's dog but he definitely shares her with my mother. Chrys sometimes believes she is human. I can't remember why my mother was eating by herself out on our deck but as you can see Chrys was not going to let her eat by herself.

Everyday I pick my mother up on my way home from work and when we pull in the driveway guess who is at the door ready to greet us? I don't really believe this is my mother any more. When I was growing up she never, never fed the dog from the table. To this day I don't. My Reg wasn't even allowed in the kitchen! Chrys though begs from the table, from my mother specifically, and my mother gives her food!!

Chrys loves the water. We've nicknamed her Scuba Dog. The following picture was taken at RiverWinds in West Deptford, NJ and gives you an idea of how she swims.

Normally she swims in a large kiddy pool we always have set up in the yard during the summer. She absolutely loves the water.
This Isn't in My Job Description magnet
This Isn't in My Job Description by Firecrackinmama

Chrys had a very difficult time getting over the loss of my dog. She was my teddy bear and I could do anything I wanted to her and she wouldn't bite, growl or run.
I Miss You card
I Miss You by Firecrackinmama

Reggie was beautiful. She had permanent make-up and followed me everywhere. When she was a puppy I built a two layered brick wall around all our gardens. Reggie wouldn't leave my side. She had such a wonderful personality and had more ailments then you can believe. She came from a good home and had all her shots in a timely fashion but still contracted Distemper.

We took her to GrayFox Animal Hospital where she received the best help ever. They had taken care of her when she was born so had a vested interest in her welfare. Reggie had the run of the hospital. They told and we later saw for ourselves that she would and could open the doors between the rooms. Later in life she contracted Lyme's disease, had fatty tumors and some other things. She lived to be 16 years old.

One of her outstanding characteristics was that whenever she was able to get loose, she would run back to her birth home which was a couple of blocks away. Reggie had siblings living within our development too. She naturally loved visiting them, running up to little kids to give them a great big lick across their tiny faces and evading us from taking her back home. Usually we didn't know for a while that she was running but when we found out we'd call our friends who sold her to us and sure enough she'd be there.

One of my lasting memories of her was a time we thought she was choking to death on one of those bacon thingy. It was awful. My husband cuddled her while she let me stick my hand down her throat!! I could feel anything and thought for sure we were going to lose her. She never growled or tried to bite me. She even allowed me to open her mouth again and look in. Here the pet bacon strip was trapped sideways in the roof of her mouth between her teeth.
Yellow Lab Mousepad mousepad
Yellow Lab Mousepad by Firecrackinmama

Is she not a beautiful dog??

I have to mention our cat. I've mentioned in past blogs that we originally thought it was a she but quickly found out it was a he.

The Great Hunter mousepad
The Great Hunter by Firecrackinmama

Tigger was a stray before he should have been taken from his mother. Evidently someone dumped him near our Community College. My son found him as a tiny little thing and brought him home. I was not a happy camper but...

Chrys wasn't around then only Reggie and Tigger was looking for a mommy. Reggie was fixed but she was loving towards Tigger. Tigger imprinted off Reggie and to this day he thinks he's a dog. He loves to hunt.

One time he went after a chipmunk like the one above. For all I know it may be the same chipmunk that left us laughing until we had tears in our eyes. For some reason our neighbors were outside and we were talking when all of a sudden we saw Tigger stalking a chipmunk. Oh, he ever so stealthily crouched and pounced. Well, the chipmunk was even quicker. He darted one way and then then the other. Finally the chipmunk had enough and started chasing Tigger! Tigger was so taken back that he ran for the nearest tree and started climbing it. He took one second to look back and then scurried up the tree as fast as he could with the chipmunk right behind him!

Now we have some new live in cats. My daughter moved back here after eight years in LA and brought her pets with her. They are very cute and have sweet personalities.

This is Pumpkin. She is very cautious but content to be in her new home. As you can see she is computer literate and if she is not working on her laptop she is right in front of my husband's monitor helping him.

This is Larry. He, Tigger and Chrys are learning to become friends. So far, so good. Larry is a riot. He is still in his kitten stage and plays with everything.

I'm writing this blog today because these pets have unconditional love without a doubt. I encourage those of you who do have pets and want to remember them, go to Create Your Own Gift and have some memorable fun!

Have a Firecrackin Great Day!