Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thats me at .53 ringing up a sale on my trusty iPad 2.

  Sorry I can't embed it cause there is no nifty embed code. But that's the scoop on the show presented by our own wonderful Jess.

Monday, April 25, 2011


that was a grim missive to leave before popping off for a few days. Things are better, details to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm at that stage where I feel like I'm trying to do to many things, unsuccessfully. Some serious winnowing is called for. The only positive there being the chance to use the word 'winnowing'.

Kinley has had a relapse. As in his meds stopped working. I feel like I'm not giving Blue Dot the attention it deserves and I haven't made anything in over a week. Part of that is pollen. Part of that is just I don't know, you could be fancy and call it a malaise. I just feel like I suck at the moment.

Hamid is going to Iran for a couple weeks/month and I'm actually looking forward to that. Gabriel is going back to school Monday and that's good too. Not because I dislike either one, but because maybe a small part of this is I need to be left alone for a few hours.

I love my family but I have never been one of those people who wants to be around them all the time. Anyone really. Unlike Tom Hanks, I don't need a ball with a smiley face on it.

Now Gabriel and I are going to the gym, which is good, but it's one more thing. There are too may things. Or not enough me. Part of it is self discipline or the lack of. That's why I ended up at the gym anyway. Part of it is the doldrums. Part of it is who the hell knows.

This too, shall pass. or it won't and I'll figure out how to deal with that. I just hate feeling like I'm being pecked to death by ducks.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Morbid The Merrier

Meet Lysa, the very talented and always good smelling woman behind the shop. You have to love the name. Lysa has been my go to girl in my ongoing quest to defrump.

Doree supplies me with the best MMU ever, Angie makes the beads that make my hear sing and Lysa makes me smell really, really damn good and a price point I can go a little crazy with.

The first thing that struck me about TMTM was the descriptions. As a soaper I appreciate the difficulty in describing a scent without sounding like some over the top beaker waving version of The Continental.  Her scent write ups are spot on, I have ordered several samples and to a one, they have been what I expected.

My favs so far are Cleo and Drosta, ALL of them were great, just not particularly 'me'. Much to the delight of my massage therapist Amy who gets all the samples that aren't me. It may or may not be related but after she smelled all of them I got the best massage of my life (and she's always excellent) so I'm thinking gift certificate for Christmas for Amy.

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Sample Set                                                      1891 for Men                                            Natali

Q: How did you originally get into the business of making things?

I have *always* made everything. Even a a child, I was never interested in store bought items. I would spend hours making something I could have easily bought down the street. But it was made with MY hands and that made it special. As far as perfume goes, the department store stuff was never my thing. By the time I was about 16,  I had amassed quite a collection of perfume oils, and I mixed them daily tosuit my mood.

Q. What made you decide to sell your wares?

My hours were cut at work and I thought "What the heck?" At the time, I was in a steady relationship, so I had the support there in case I failed (I really hate that word FAIL - I've since cut it out of my vocabulary). I spent most of my savings on supplies and started very, very small.

Q: Tell us about your previous working situation:

I worked caring for people with developmental disabilities. Very challenging and rewarding work.

Q: When you first started selling, did you have dreams of quitting your day job?

Oh, no way!! I thought it was simply going to be a way to supplement my income while having fun at the same time. I actually never expected it to work. When I got my very first sale, I was like "Really?? Someone is interested enough to give me their money?? It was a slow and sometimes heartbreaking first couple months, but when that ball starting rolling, it *really* started rolling.

Q: Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?

Unfortunately, no. I was completely unorganized. I really never thought it would go anywhere, so I didn't make the kinds of plans sensible people make. There were a lot of learning experiences along the way. (**note from me** This is really good advice as I find myself trying to get organised int he middle of a four year "oh, it'll never go anywhere' nightmare of neglect. Thing is, it is, and I'm not ready.**)

Q: What are the most effective ways you've marketed your business?

Word of mouth is extremely effective. I give away a lot of samples. I talk about my product to anyone and everyone. I do trades and swaps. I spent a lot of time in the Etsy community boards, learning from people who had been through it before.

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Black Jack Solid                                                                Noelia                                       Maximo Solid

Q: Walk us through your typical workday:

Up at 6am, COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE, answer emails, relist sold items, etc. After getting the kidlet off to school at 8:20, I turn the television to ID and work work work (I never have time to actually *watch* tv, so listening to it seems like a guilty pleasure). 2:30, kidlet out of school, so it's dropping orders at the the post office, then homework, laundry, dinner - the uber-fun domestic stuff. When she's settled down foe the evening, it's back to work until I'm about to fall asleep. Exciting, no?

Q: What do you enjoy most about being self employed?

Definitely the freedom. I don't have to miss Open House at school, parent/teacher meetings, etc. And if I decide I want to swoop her up for a movie matinee or dinner date, we can do that. Also, I was never really good with the public. :-)

Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

BE ORGANIZED. Order supplies as far ahead of time as possible, even if you don't think you'll need them right away.

Q: What advice would you give someone else?

BE ORGANIZED. Plan to succeed. Live as if success is right around the corner and you are preparing for it!

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Thank you so much for thinking of me! :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Killing

Tk about the show main

The Killing is what we are watching over at Team Goat. Feel free to join in. But don't read the Killing Klatch thread until you watch the  pilot. I downloaded the first two shows for free from Itunes. No ads. Awesome. Bought the season pass.

In Standard Definition. Until someone can explain to me WHY HD is ten dollars more, I'm having none of it. I mean, do they have to harvest more pixels or only virgins can record the soundtrack or what?

 I have yet to watch something I find worthy of watching and lament that it isn't in HD.

ANYway, it's based on a Danish series. I seem to be having a Danish weekend as I also rented Let The Right One In just haven't watched it yet. Just discovered Netflicks. yeah I know, but remember I never watch TV or movies.

But now the iPad has data G whatever, I have that hour or so I'm sitting in the car waiting for the boy to get out of school.

SO, why not?

I have like a kagillion scary movies, starting with The Orphanage queued up as well as Season One of Sanctuary. What's not to like about a show where the people save monsters?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pink Quartz Minerals

Meet Doree, she is the owner and sparkly force behind PQM. I stumbled onto her on Etsy after a very unpleasant MMU encounter. Disillusioned and confused (yet still determined to de frump) Doree answered all my questions and turned out to not only be reputable but pretty swell all around.

Now you should know that I interview after I've purchased things. I'm not getting comped, I just want sellers I really like to do well and to spread the word because I'm sure there are others like me who really want to buy but aren't sure....

I bought the complete kit for $70.00 and the brushes were worth the price alone. The foundation is the first I've used, ever, that didn't give me 3D bias relief rash topography for a face. Plus, Doree sends directions. This is more importat then you'd think as with MMU there is a fine line between finished and frosted. Oh! Her lip balm is the best thing I have ever tried, hands down.

So, without further ado;
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Q: How did you originally get into the business of making things?

Actually, I'm not good at making things. I call myself the anti-craft, I have tried many, many crafts and either I don't have the patience to learn it, or it turns out terribly.  After trying the well-known commercial brand of makeup and promptly breaking out, I purchased a ton of minerals and played around trying to figure out what ingredient my skin didn't like and to see if I could make a foundation that would work and actually be the right shade for me.

This appealed to the science geek in me, as well as allowing me to test out some of the color theory I learned in school. I was super pleased and surprised when I finally came up with a formula that not only didn't cause a breakout and was the perfect color for me, but it also actually prevented me from breaking out.

Q. What made you decide to sell your wares?

I began wearing my foundation and other people noticed I looked good. Truth be told, I hadn't worn foundation for years because when I did I would break out badly, whether it was liquid, powder, whatever. So friends and family asked what I did (I have super ruddy skin, but the foundation evened it out noticeably).

Soon they were asking if I could make foundation for them, and then it became a case of having to make money to afford materials for making other things they were requesting like setting powder(veil), eye shadows, blushes, etc.  Also I didn't feel right about charging anyone (I'm over that) so having it become a business gave me the guts to do that.

Q: Tell us about your previous working situation:

I worked in customer service for over 10 years, and had quit to open a consignment shop thinking I would have more time to spend with my son. That lasted as long as the lease did, a year, as I soon realized the location I had chosen was horrible (don't pick a shop location by how much the rent is!).

It was really fun and I learned a lot about what it takes to have a business the hard way. I started selling on ebay then (I think it was 1999) and once I closed my store I continued to sell on ebay from home. After that I went to college, got an associates degree in interior design, and at the same time opened an ebay drop store.

Shortly after that ebay raised prices, I ended up closing the drop store as it was so hard to convince people that their priceless heirloom was worth only a buck or two, and to explain that yes, I needed to get paid. I continued selling on ebay from home (I still go thrifting and look for that big treasure) until I started making my makeup to sell.

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Q: When you first started selling, did you have dreams of quitting your day job?

I was doing it mostly for fun until personal circumstances forced me to start a website and find other venues to sell on because I had to support myself and my son on my own. I really saw the possibilities of this business and my niche market as up until then I hadn't seen anyone selling makeup with only 6 or 7 ingredients and all vegan, nor anyone making custom foundations for customers that are hard to match.

I was one of the few sellers on Etsy actually making makeup at the time I started selling there, and being new to this type of venue (after coming from ebay it was like a different planet) I had a lot to learn.

Q: Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?

No, I didn't really know what I was getting into!

Q: What are the most effective ways you've marketed your business?

Lately almost all of my new customers on Etsy are referrals from happy buyers. I've done Project Wonderful on and off over the years, I have a sorely neglected blog, I'm on Facebook, but I think most of my traffic on my dot com is through Google searches.

I also have an ArtFire shop and previously had a store or a presence on DaWanda, Blujay, Zibbit, icraftica,Mint'd, Shopify, Big Cartel, Seeking Designers, Indiepublic,Wibizz, Talentdatabase,Lovli, and maybe some more places I can't remember!

I may still have stuff on some places so if anyone feels like looking they may get a great deal as some of those I haven't been to for years.  I'd love to have someone market for me as I don't have time to do it like I want to.

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Q: Walk us through your typical workday:

You asked for it!

Ok, a typical day would be get up at 7am to get boy up and prod him into getting ready (he's a teenager) and take him to school. Come home and either check email or dive into orders.
I only ship twice a week as it's just me and I have to make everything, and shipping every day was too much.

So I'll sit at the computer and take an order and hopefully orderS, check to make sure all the info is there then make the labels for the products I need. I do it in Word with templates and am constantly changing my mind about how I want them to look so if you get an order with a couple label styles, that's me not making a decision. :)

I print out the labels, then take them to the garage and spray seal them, usually stopping on the way back in the kitchen and grabbing a snack. I don't cook well and I don't like to, so when boy is not home I don't at all.

I'll check email around this time. Now as the labels dry (and de-stinkify) I wash my hands well and head to my office (it took over my bedroom, I sleep on the couch in the living room and the entire bedroom is my office/lab/workroom).

Donning non-latex gloves, a mask and my cute apron I sit at my glass-topped table and pull what I need for the order. I only make small batches at a time so inevitably something needs to be made. I'll fill what I can, I have my jars, sifters, etc in drawers within arms reach, and I put a pot on the scale and tare it, then carefully weigh as I fill. I put a sifter in the pot, put on the lid, then keep going until I have everything filled or I have to stop to make something.

If so I grab my handy dandy recipe notebook and my cups (I use a Magic Bullet to grind the minerals together- don't worry I only use it for makeup!) and I weigh and/or measure out the ingredients, grind it up and then check the color to make sure it matches the last batch.

You'd be surprised how the exact same recipe can come out differently due to factors such as differences in mineral hues, etc. (It just occurred to me that yeah, I guess I do "cook" lol) I'll fill my squirt bottle with the exquisite makeup I just made :) and continue on.

Once that's all done, I remove gloves and head out to garage for the labels. I usually end up changing my gloves about 5+ times a day because when I leave my workroom I automatically take them off and throw them away. I'm OCD about the makeup, I never actually touch anything with my hands- when making it I pour the minerals from my plastic storage containers into the plastic mixing cups, then into the plastic squeeze bottles then into the jars, and wear gloves the whole entire time.

Let me tell you I have seen some gross things on youtube showing people who supposedly make makeup and... ok, let's not go there.

So once I'm back with the labels and my gloves are on, I stick them on the appropriate jars, then double check and shrink wrap the jars. If I'm working on more than one order at a time I'll do them all at once, then when filling the orders I go slowly and double check the orders with the contents of the organza bags.

I like to put the jars in those, wrap with tissue and put in the padded envelope and write a little thank you on the back of my business card and pop that in with a little extra sample of something. I like to put in my new colors if I have one. Then it's print the shipping labels, stick them on and off to the P.O.

By this time it's generally 5-5:30 and time to pick up boy from school. I do most of my email, internet etc. work- ordering supplies, researching said supplies(always looking for a better quality/price on things), making new shades (which I love to do) and custom color matching, making lip balms, lipstick balms and whipped perfumes after suppertime.

Hopefully you're still with me and not too bored after that manifesto!

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Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

How far back? High school? Before I got married? LOL

If I could go back to when I first had to sell my makeup, I would tell myself to write down a mini business plan with financial goals, and above all to market my makeup HARD. I really didn't know what to do and there are other people that are much more well known than me that started their makeup businesses a long while after me.

It's now to the point where there are SO many makeup sellers it's amazing I get any new customers at all. I would really push the custom foundation aspect a lot more, and I would likely use more than the 7 ingredients that I do use so I could get more bright colors and color changing products- or at least start 2 completely separate makeup lines to do that.

I would force myself to learn to use an accounting software instead of what I still use, a ledger book.

I would tell myself not to be afraid of facebook, twitter and other social networking and tell myself to actually learn how to use all these great tools instead of just the rudimentary aspects.

I also would tell myself to open a supply shop on Etsy :)

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Q: What advice would you give someone else?

I'd love to sound all sage and wise here and say something about being true to your vision or don't give up on your dreams or such. Other more eloquent people have said those things already.

All I can say is if you want to make things to sell to make a living, it's going to be a hard road so prepare yourself by talking to successful business people in your community and online and take advantage of all the business and marketing info on the internet that you can.

Also make sure you know how much it will cost to start up, then double it.  It is possible, and it is worth it.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

*sigh* I love me some Chris

I am SO renting these tonight.

Brini Maxwell

Back To Press Index
By Jonathan Soroff 
Photograph by Joel Benjamin

Improper Bostonian
Cross-dressing cult figure, domestic doyenne, TV personality and cookbook author Brini Maxwell was born and raised in Wellesley and moved to Ohio before graduating from high school in Kansas City. After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and working in the industry in New York, she launched her eponymous program on local access cable and quickly became such a hit that the show was picked up by the Style network. 
Advocating a unique blend of mid-century aesthetics with a modern flair, she is the author of Brini Maxwell’s Guide to Gracious Living: Tips, Tricks, Recipes and Ideas to Make Your Life Bloom, in addition to host of The Brini Maxwell Show. 
In early June, she rode the Yale Appliance and Hardware float in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade. She lives in New York.Jonathan Soroff: First of all, are your legs insured by Lloyds of London?

Brini Maxwell: [Laughs] Yes, they are. If I lose them they have to replace them.

JS: How do you keep your girlish figure?

BM: A lot of cinching. I have a wonderful corset-maker.

JS: Ever feel like bitch-slapping Martha Stewart?

BM: Not at all. To each her own, darling. I think Martha has contributed so much. I think she has priority issues. That’s her thing to work out, but I have nothing bad to say about her.

JS: You’re the perfect lady. Do you ever curse?

BM: No, goddamn it!

JS: I used to tell my mother she was like Donna Reed on Prozac. How would you describe yourself?

BM: There’s a quote from Guy Trebay that I’ve always used, which is that I’m consider myself “the prototypical prefeminist 1960’s homemaker”

JS: One thing all chic gals should have in their closets?

BM: A sachet.

JS: Ten friends suddenly show up on your doorstep. How do you entertain them?

BM: Well, I always have some cheese in the fridge. But if you want them to leave, just break out the smoked oysters.

JS: Celebrity you’d most like to entertain at home?

BM: Good question. Most of them are dead.

JS: Well, we’ll dig them up for you.
BM: It would be marvelous to have Bette Davis to tea. Or Audrey Hepburn at dinner. And frankly I’d like to have Joan Crawford, too, but not on the same day as I have Bette. Not a good idea.

JS: Who would you rather serve tuna casserole to: Ozzie Nelson or Dick van Dyke?

BM: Well, I’ll tell you: I met Dick van Dyke. It was rather shocking. I had just done a book signing on Sunset Boulevard, and then I met some friends at a cafĂ©. Who comes ambling up with his wife but Dick van Dyke, and I thought, “This is too surreal.” I jumped up from my seat, and I’ve never been much of a gusher, but I couldn’t help myself. 
I said “Mr. Van Dyke, I so enjoy your work,” and he pulled out a card and said “Can you tell me where this gallery is?” I was shocked how… not tall he is. So that’s my answer. I’d love to break tuna casserole with Dick van Dyke.

JS: Favorite thrift store find of all time?

BM: I’d have to say the one that started my television show: a set of 1950s Pyrex mixing bowls. I got them at the Salvation Army. They’re blue and white and they’re just darling. I found them for $15, and I was very pleased with myself. 
But while I was putting them away, I realized they were for food preparation and no one would ever see them. I was despondent for days. I wouldn’t talk to anyone and just moped around the house, until I realized that if I did a television show with a cooking segment, everyone could see my mixing bowls. And that’s how it started.

JS: I’m not sure if I’m disturbed or charmed by that story. Where do you stand on TV dinners?

BM: They make great doorstops.

JS: Which do you prefer for a casual family meal: Meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, or Shake ‘n’ Bake?

BM: I have a wonderful macaroni and cheese recipe, so I would stand firmly on macaroni and cheese… but only in theory. Not in high heels.

JS: Are pigs in a blanket an appropriate hors d’ouevre for any occasion?

BM: Well, I don’t know that you’d serve them at a coronation, but certainly for most anything else.

JS: Is avocado the best color for kitchen appliances?

BM: There are three colors for kitchen appliances: Avocado, Harvest Gold and Burnt Orange.

JS: Floral prints: Do they hide a multitude of sins?

BM: Floral prints expose a multitude of sins. Floral prints are one of the sins they seek to hide.

JS: So what do you suggest in their stead?

BM: Solids, stripes and subtlety.

JS: Who would you guess is a better cook: Martha Stewart or Julia Child, or you?

BM: I think we’d all have to defer to Julia Child. And although I love to cook, I don’t consider myself a great chef. I’m more of a visual person. I know how to create wonderful food for entertaining and everyday life, but it’s not my first skill.

JS: What is?

BM: I’d say design.

JS: OK, what’s the best way to brighten up a hospital room?BM: Leave. I think a hospital room is much happier when it’s empty.

JS: Single biggest sign of a gracious homemaker?

BM: Relaxation. This is very important. When you’re entertaining, the most important thing is that you be comfortable, because if you are, you guests will be as well.

JS: Favorite household tip?

BM: Probably using lighter fluid to remove the skidmarks from your wedgies. It just works wonders.

JS: Favorite spice?

BM: Probably Baby Spice. Oh, you mean like for cooking? Let’s see. I’m standing in front of my spice rack as we speak, and I’d have to say chives, although they’re more of an herb. 
So if you’re going to hold my feet to the fire about requiring an actual spice, I’d have to say cinnamon. But chives have a special place in my heart.

JS: How do you get red wine out of a carpet?

BM: White wine. And a bit of seltzer. But you have to get it right away, and remember to blot. And if that doesn’t work, try a product called Kaboom.

JS: How do you keep lipstick off your teeth?

BM: Well, there’s that rather vulgar trick of putting your finger in your mouth, closing your lips around it and drawing your finger out, but that’s something best done in private.

JS: So who the hell is Heloise and where the hell does she get her helpful household hints?

BM: Heloise is the second generation of Heloises and she gets her tips from her mother, the other Heloise.

JS: Is there some secret society of domestic divas?

BM: Well, I may have to go into the witness protection program for admitting this, but yes, there is a secret society, and we all belong to it. Martha belongs to it, too.

JS: What about Nigella Lawson?

BM: Oh, no, she’s only a food person, so we blackballed her.

JS: Favorite unconventional use of a cucumber?

BM: Garnish, darling! Garnish!

JS: Does Mayonnaise belong on everything?

BM: Mayonnaise should be used sparingly, but it’s a great binder.

JS: Last question: When will we see the Brini Maxwell line of home furnishings at Kmart?

BM: Well, initially you won’t see it at Kmart. You’ll see it very soon. In fact, I’m launching a new pillow line, but they’re going to be frightfully expensive because I can only afford to produce domestically to begin with. 
But perhaps they’ll give everyone some ideas about what they can do themselves, and hopefully, someday I’ll be able to produce off-shore and create a line of more budget-priced home accessories.

JS: Brini, you’re a goddess.

BM: Well, thank you, dear.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pendant Number One

Thought you might want to see the finished pendant. I can't wait to seem them all together. If you look you can see how K hand polished the silver finish.  That's an Australian Fire Opal. Pretty awesome, huh?