Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from K. A. Mace Jewelry! Thank you for your continued support in 2008,and I look forward to bringing some new designs to the K. A. Mace Jewelry website as well as my blog in 2009!

On a personal note, I wanted to share one of my New Year's Resolutions. I have pledged to do a better job of documenting my life and my many joys. My kids are growing up just too quickly and I want to capture all of the many precious moments. I also feel that each year just flies by more and more rapidly, and I have many joys to be proud of and to savor.

I recently got a Flip Video, and urge you to look into getting this amazing video recorder. I carry it with me everywhere I go and have been able to document some amazing moments! It is small, it is convenient, it is so easy to use. I have no video editing skills yet have made very cool videos with music that I can easily share with family and friends.

Click on the image below for more information or to buy one today! This is truly a gadget that will impact your life in such positive ways, and you will find for a very small investment you will enjoy such huge payoffs in documenting the many joys in your life as well!

theFlip MINO

Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to "Winterize" Your Skin Care Regime

Winter weather can be a real challenge to keeping skin hydrated and looking healthy. The harsh outdoor elements take their toll, along with indoor heat and other factors. Skin can easily become chapped, dry, and stripped of its natural beauty and luster. Here are five simple tips to keeping your skin looking fantastic despite the weather outside! And the real beauty of these beauty insider tips? They won't break your beauty bank!

(image from

1. Drink lots of water. At this time of the year, especially in colder climates, we often look to our beverages to bring us some warmth. Thus, we are less likely to drink water and more likely to drink hot tea, coffee or cocoa. Do not forget to drink water, and plenty of it during cold weather! In door heating and the elements can dehydrate us, keeping hydrated will not only keep you healthier, but keep your skin looking great.

Winterizing Tip: Furthermore, with more holiday events and parties, we may be more likely to indulge in drinks containing alcohol. This, too, can dehydrate us and our skin, so a great tip is to drink one glass of water for every cocktail you savor at your holiday bashes!

2. Exfoliate. During the winter months and cold weather our skin can begin to look a bit dull. Many of us do not think of exfoliating as we do during the warm weather months as we may (and should!) be using safe self-tanning products that require exfoliation and shaving more often during that time of the year. It is important to still exfoliate, from head to toe to keep skin looking clean, clear and energized.

Winterizing Tip: When it comes to exfoliation (especially with salt scrubs!) make sure that you do that prior to shaving. Not only do you avoid any stinging sensation from the salt on newly shaved skin, you also avoid any irritation from the scrubbing and exfoliation elements on freshly shaved areas. Best of all, you get a better shave when you exfoliate first!

3. Moisturize. The winter months can be tough on skin, and sometimes we need to look at our moisturizer to ensure that it is up to cold weather duty. Most moisturizers do the job year around, but for some of us, our skin requires more moisture, especially when our heaters are running day and night! Many dermatologists recommend applying your moisturizer while your skin is still a bit moist.

Winterizing Tip: A great way to keeping skin moist is to use a humidifier during the months that you are running your heat in your home, especially in your room while you sleep at night.

4. Avoid hot water. I am the first to want to warm up the Jacuzzi or take long, hot showers and baths to "thaw out" at this time of the year. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to hot water is not good for your skin. That hot water can strip your skin of necessary and natural oils and rob your skin of its natural ability to keep your skin moisturized. While it feels great to soak in a tub with oils and other soothing ingredients added, most of that is simply drained away when you drain your tub. It is better to shower in lukewarm water and avoid excessive exposure to spas and hot tubs that are excessively hot.

Winterizing Tip: A great rule of thumb here is that if you skin turns red in a jacuzzi or shower, it is truly too hot. Cool it down a bit to help maintain the natural and necessary oils your body produces to protect your skin .

5. Still use your sunscreen! You may think that when you see less sun in the winter months, you do not need to apply sunscreen everyday as you do during warm weather months. You are still being exposed to the sun and its potentially damaging rays in the winter. Apply sunscreen to your face and other exposed areas (for some of us, not much else in exposed in this cold weather!) and ensure that you stay on a routine to keep your skin healthy year around.

Winterizing tip: A great product is to find a multi-tasking product that provides sunscreen and powder or foundation style coverage for your skin. This makes applying sunscreen on a daily basis a "no-brainer" and a simple routine!

How do I know all of these amazing tips? I am a retail industry insider with over 15years of retail management experience. My background includes extensive experience in health and beauty products, including managing large volume health and beauty departments and staffing and training beauty consultants. I have been awarded both regional and company-wide awards driving beauty counter sales with one national retailer.

Furthermore, I am an admitted beauty product junkie. I have worked with at least one major beauty company to test products prior to market launch. If you would like me to test your products, or you would like me to blog about your beauty products, please feel free to contact me! I love to try new things and help give exposure to new products and new product companies.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How to Create an Actionable and Successful New Years Resolution

This is an article that I wrote which was recently published! Feel free to visit the article here as well:

It is again that time to evaluate the year that is coming to a close and to dream of what could be in the New Year that is upon us. Some of us will develop New Year's Resolutions and dream big. Some of us will look with a cynical eye at that process and let another year go by without fulfilling a dream. Unfortunately, the latter approach stems from how so many of us have created those New Years resolutions only to find that we are not successful within months, if not weeks into the New Year.

Here are some basic tips and examples of how to create a New Year's Resolution that you can truly incorporate into your every day life. Go ahead and dream big, you can be successful with a New Year's Resolution! Make 2009 your year to accomplish greatness and use these tips to help loved ones accomplish their desires along with you!

The first step is to decide what is a realistic desire or dream is and to write it down at the top of a piece of paper. You have to define what your goal is. Furthermore it has to be something that you can realistically accomplish. "World Peace" is amazing, and I admire that sentiment. But that is bigger than me, and I need something that I can work on every day that I own and can directly impact.

Then, on this same piece of paper draw a line down the middle of that paper and one half of the page should be titled Qualitative and the other have should be titled Quantitative. The Qualitative side describes the qualities of your dream or desire. How will it feel, how will it change your life, how will it impact those that you know and love? The Quantitative side is how it will be documented, weighed, supported and measured. Once you have brainstormed this on our own, I strongly suggest sharing these ideas with a loved one. You can get their input and ideas, and even more importantly, their "buy-in" to help support your goals! Putting all of this together on your sheet of paper is the foundation to creating an actionable game plan to accomplish this resolution.

Here are three of examples to assist you in understanding how easy this process is, what it could look like and provide some ideas for your New Year's Resolution!

Example 1:
I want to create a budget to save money.

Qualitative factors:
I will have to prepare myself to go without something that may be special to me.
I will sacrifice to save that money.
I will feel better if I have some extra money in the bank, for an emergency or for something fun.
I love my daily mocha at work, but that would be something that I could sacrifice that would save me a lot of money.

Quantitative factors:
That beloved mocha costs $3.95 each day that I work.
I work roughly 260 days of the year.
If I do not buy that mocha each day, I will save $1027.00 with this resolution.
To ensure that I save that money, I am going to set up a bank account into which I will transfer $3.95 for each day that I go without my mocha.
By the end of the year I should have $1027.00 in that account (without any adjustments for interest, of course!).

Example 2:
I want to lose weight this year.

Qualitative factors:
I know that I will feel better.
I will be able to fit back into my skinny jeans.
I will extend my life expectancy and enjoy my family longer!

Quantitative factors:
It is realistic to lose on the average 1 pound per week, so my first goal is to lose 20 pounds this year. I will strive for that first 20, and continue forward once I have hit that goal.
To lose approximately 1 pound per week, I need to cut about 300-500 calories per day.
A daily mocha is about 330-400 calories, depending upon the milk I ask for (nonfat slightly less than whole milk, of course)
If I no longer drink a daily mocha, I will save at least 330 calories per day.
I will track my daily caloric intake in a weight loss journal and add up the calories each day. I will not add anything to my diet that would take the place of those 330 calories!
I will weigh in every Monday and ensure that I am losing my 1 pound each week.
I will enter that weight each week into my weight loss journal and ensure that I am on track to lose my one pound per week.
I will also increase my exercise by using that time that I typically got the mocha and sat to drink it to walk instead; walking each day, 5 days a week for approximately 30 minutes.
I will note that walking each day in my weight loss journal to stay on track with my overall weight loss goal.

Example 3:
I want to focus on family this year.

Qualitative factors:
I know that it will bring my family closer together.
I know that we will have fun together and create family memories to last a lifetime.
I may save even more money by not going out.

Quantitative factors:
As we are a busy family, we will post a family calendar.
We will set each Friday night aside as a family night and put that on the calendar.
Everyone can plan their week around that evening.
We will create a rotation of who gets to select what we do that evening to keep that evening interesting, fun and spontaneous.
That rotation will be noted on the calendar by calling each Friday night by the family member's name and chosen activity, like Kelly's Cooking Night in which we all cook a meal together.
We will also document each evening by taking pictures or video and create a yearlong digital diary of our evenings together.

As you can see, New Year's Resolutions can be fun and can help you create true change in your life. By discovering both the Qualitative or subjective and emotional roots in your resolution AND the Quantitative or objective and measurable aspects in your resolution, you will be far more successful in accomplishing your resolution all year long. You can dream big and still be successful! With just these few statements on either side of my Resolution page, I can craft a game plan that will work, that is actionable, that is measurable and that will help me save money, lose weight and/or improve my family life.

From here, I suggest typing up your New Year's Resolution and laminating a couple of copies. One posted by your mirror so you are reminded of it every morning is a great way to start your day in the right direction. Put one copy by something that is a constant reminder of your Resolution. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, post it on your pantry door. That way you can think about your Resolution before opening that door for a snack! Of course, you will also need to prepare and have your tools handy and in a place that you touch every day. For example, for weight loss, you may need to get a pedometer and a journal in which you can track your calories, weigh-ins and your exercise routine. Keep that on your desk if you check email each day, or in your purse or briefcase so you can track your progress throughout the day.

Finally, don't forget to celebrate the wins. If you lose your first 20 pounds, treat yourself to something special. Maybe a new pair of jeans you have had your eyes on, or a makeup makeover! If you save your budgeted savings, pay off some debt and celebrate your steps toward financial freedom or retirement! If you find that you enjoy those amazing family nights together, create a digital scrapbook as a gift to your loved ones next Holiday season. Make a calendar that spotlights 12 of your favorite pictures together, or create a journal of your favorite pictures for your kids.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #25

This is going to be my favorite tip of all. I have offered a wide range of holiday shopping tips, 24 so far, that stem mostly from my retail management experience. Some from my own experience as a consumer. All of them, however, lead to this very last tip.


Enjoy spending time with family and loved one this holiday season. Your presence is the very best present you can give to someone you love!

I hope that you have a wonderful and restful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #24

When it comes to giving for friends and family, it becomes very complicated when you are on a budget and yet still want to give presents or tips this holiday season. Many of us are also dealing with gifting for teachers, for co-workers, giving tips to service providers. It becomes overwhelming and incredibly expensive to try to accomodate everyone!

However, it does pay to have open, honest conversations with friends and family. While it may feel very uncomfortable to start that conversation, you will most likely find a very open and relieved recipient to that dialogue!


Set realistic expectation for gift-giving with friends and family members!

There are countless other options to spending money on gift after gift after gift. Discuss expectations with friends and family, and while setting gift-giving rules may seem to take away from the holiday spirit, it will certainly help everyone with their holiday budgets...which in the long term makes the holidays much less stressful for everyone!

* Set a budget for kids gifts. Really, kids receive so many presents, they will still love and appreciate smaller gifts as well!

* Make handmade presents and "swap" talents. I can knit, you make soap. I will gladly create a scarf for you, if you are willing to create some luscious soaps for me! I know of many handmade "trading" circles, suggest one for your circle of friends. Most everyone has a unique craft talent!

* Draw names for adult gifts in a family. Instead of large families buying gifts for everyone, it is fun to draw names and get one special gift for that recipient.

* Create fun coupons in which you will offer your unique and special services. A friend of mine has a sister who is a masseuse, and she gives coupons for a free massage. Sounds wonderful to me! She really does not have to spend a lot of money on those gifts, and she gives her friends and family a wonderful gift...her time and talent!

* Get together and simply plan a nice holiday event in which you savor each other's company. Instead of everyone spending so much on gifts, each person could create a special holiday food dish that represents their holiday tradition or heritage and simply enjoy everyone's company. A fun potluck-type get-together creates many more lasting memories!

The reality is that many of us do not have the holiday budget that we have had in the past. It is not realistic to run up debt or overspend to try to please everyone we know and love. Many of them, too, are trying to cut back. It makes much more sense to strive to enjoy handmade gifts, share out talents, and ultimately share our time and love together this holiday season.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, to be 13 again!

Last night was my daughter's Winter Formal Dance. My daughter and three of her girlfriends got ready here at the house and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing them laughing, giggling, helping each other with their hair and makeup. They were simply stunning when they came out...

(my daughter is second from the right)

While I took these pictures, I thought about what it felt to be thirteen. These are young women who have so much potential, they are smart young ladies and each has a wonderful unique style that they embrace and do not allow to be diluted with peer pressure. So...for the sake of some nostalgia, I remember that when I was thirteen the world was such a different place!

When I was thirteen...

The Kent State shooting occurred.
Chile elected a Marxist, Salvador Allende.
The First Earth Day was celebrated.
Monday Night Football was launched.
California became the first no-fault divorce state
First New York City Marathon.
The Beatles released their last studio album, Let It Be.
Black Sabbath released what is considered by many to be the first "Heavy Metal" album, "Black Sabbath".
The floppy disc was invented.
Charles Manson was convicted of killing Sharon Tate.
18 year olds were given the right to vote in federal elections.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty goes into effect, after ratification by 43 nations.
Bar codes were introduced for retail use in England.
The Concorde makes its first supersonic flight.
The U.S. invades Cambodia to hunt out the Viet Cong; massive antiwar protests occur in the U.S.
Jimi Hendrix dies of barbiturate overdose in London.
Janis Joplin dies in a cheap motel from a heroin overdose.
Midnight Cowboy wins the Best Picture Oscar, the first and only time an X-rated movie received the honor.
A United States postage stamp cost 6 cents, a gallon of Gas cost 36 cents, average income in the U.S. was $9,400.00 per year, average cost of new house in the U.S. was $23,450.00, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 838 at year end close.

What a different world these young ladies live in today. They are attached to their laptops, cell phones, ipods and other technology that they simply somehow cannot "live without". They are so much more savvy and wordly than I ever was at that age, they have been exposed to so much more via the media and cable television.

Yet somethings never quite seem to change. They, too, have concern for the war that we are waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand the economic pressures we currently face, and what they will inherit when they complete college and get into the workforce. They will face a world with possible global change issues that will shape how they live, where they live and what they do for a living.

I am proud and honored to be a part of helping one of these young ladies find their way to adulthood and beyond.

What was the world like when you were thirteen? What have and will your thirteen year old children face?

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #23

While many of us are focusing on the wonderful and joyous aspects of the holiday season, there is an unfortunate darker side to the holidays as well. With an economy that is tough for so many, there is a criminal element that arises from this hardship. Also, at a time of the year where so many are doing a great deal of shopping in large crowds, we are sometimes left more vulnerable than we truly know.

Many of us are operating on a "cash-only" holiday shopping budget. So, that means that are carrying more cash than ever, and the thieves know that too! While I certainly do not want to scare anyone during the holiday season, I know from my many years of retail management experience how so many people assume they are safe, are complacent and truly do not focus on their personal safety while out shopping.

Thus, this tip is all about being safe with your cash while shopping this holiday season!


Use these tips to be cash safe this holiday season!

1. Many of us rely heavily upon ATMs to withdraw cash. If you can, do the buddy system, especially with ATMs that are slightly more isolated, or if you are withdrawing money while it is dark. If at all possible, it is best to do that cash transaction inside the bank. Take care to make sure that you get your card back (over the last week, I have found TWO cards left in ATMs!) and that you are careful with entering your pin, and requesting and taking your receipts. Yes, the information is somewhat "encrypted" but do you want a potential criminal to know your balance information and decide to target you based off of that info?

2. Do not keep all of your cash in one place. If you are carrying hundreds of dollars, or more, try to break it down into smaller batches so that you are not pulling out a fat wallet or "wad" of money. That is really telegraphing to a potential pickpocket or thief that you are a target. Paper clip it into smaller batches (say $100 in $20s) to minimize how much money you are pulling out in public at any given time.

3. Keep your cash as close to your body as possible. I continue to see moms with their purses in shopping carts everywhere I go. Yes, I live in a safe community. But, remember, the criminal element knows where the "safe" communities are, too. They will pinpoint those very communities as they know that we are more likely to assume that we are safe. I can tell you from experience, when we caught and busted pickpockets and thieves in my stores, they were not from the immediate community. Some had come from as much as 2-3 hours away to get to you in your safe community.

4. Never, ever keep money in pockets, jacket pockets, flaps of your purse or anywhere that a pickpocket could have easy access. A casual "bump" in a crowded mall could be someone relieving you of your cash! I have seen videos of pickpockets that have been caught in my stores, and I can tell you that they were so good I could not even see them taking the cash!

5. Make sure that you are thorough in giving your cash to a cashier. Count it out to them, make sure that they know you are well-aware of what you are handing over to them. Short change artists rip off cashiers all of the time, however, that is reciprocated with cashiers short-changing consumers as well. I had a friend who recently paid for an item and in the hustle and bustle of the transaction was short-changed by $40.00! She told me, in tears, and I called the store on her behalf asking the store manager to count down that drawer immediately. Luckily, the store manager listened, pulled the cashier off of that lane, counted the drawer and found it to be $267.00 OVER in funds. That cashier was creating an amazing little holidy shopping kitty for herself. My friend got her money back, but think of all of the other customers (to the tune of $227.00!) that may not have realized that they were missing change! OUCH!

I do hope that these tips are a reminder to shop safely with your cash this holiday season! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I have had a pretty challenging year, on a personal level. I felt like I kept wishing away so much of the year in trying to get through one thing or another. While I have much to be thankful about and grateful for...I feel like I let a lot of stress and worrying get in the way of simply enjoying what I truly do have to enjoy.

Then, last night I was sitting in my living room, just quietly sipping tea and looking at my Christmas tree. I was struck with a feeling of sadness, I suppose for wishing away so much of the year. Here we are, with 2009 upon us, and I feel like I have a lot less to show for this past year...I simply did not get accomplished what I wanted to achieve.

Then, my son came into the room carrying with him the scent of chlorine from his water polo practice. He came over to me and asked me to look at the ornaments with him. He asked me where I got this one, why I liked that one. I really enjoyed that moment with him and his wonder of these lovely ornaments and the little life moments they represented or measured.

My sadness began to fade and was replaced with a feeling of hope and faith. I know that this was not my banner year. This, however, was a year of transition and change for me and I need to dig even deeper to stop stressing out over what I cannot control and stop worrying for the worst of what can be. I wanted to capture that sense of hope I certainly once had, and that should be part of this holiday season.

After going after ornament after ornament, discussing our past as a family, my son went off to finish his homework. I sat down, cracked open a journal that I bought long ago but never used and started writing down my game plan for 2009. I have hope. I know we will have an even stronger future as a family.

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #22

This holiday season many of us are using far less credit, in some cases because we simply do not have as much credit extended to us, in other cases because we are using cash trying to eliminate debt. Credit card companies have lowered credit limits on many consumers, even those who have faithfully paid their bills on time over years! So, for some consumers they have far less "credit buying power" this holiday season. However, there are ways to protect and maximize that buying power if you so choose!

I have touched upon credit and credit cards in a few other tips, but this one is all about using credit safely this holiday season!


Use credit and/or debit cards safely this holiday season!

By "safely", I mean the following:

Carry as few cards as possible. If you wallet or purse is lost or stolen, you will have far less risk and far fewer cards to follow up on to close or cancel. I have a dear friend who worked so hard to pay down credit and yet for some reason she still carried those cards with her. Her purse was stolen, and she had a serious mess on her hands, months of battling with credit card companies and following up on fixing that damage. Just don't carry the cards with you, not only does it reduce the temptation to spend more, it keeps you safer.

Carry credit cards as closely to your body as possible. While shopping the other day, I noticed several customers who had left their purses in the shopping cart while they were looking elsewhere. Don't set yourself up, when an economy weakens, the criminal element arises.

Ensure that you keep your eye on your credit card at all times. Do not let an associate wander off with it, make sure that they process the credit card transaction immediately and right in front of you. I was recently shopping and an associate asked to take the item I was interested in and my credit card to give to another cashier. I politely told her that I would do that myself, and thanked her for her help. As a retail manager I was involved in countless internal investigations in which associates were able to get (and immediately USE) credit card numbers that they had gotten in seconds (often times they jot down the number, or they make a "carbon" copy by putting a piece of paper over it and rubbing with a pencil).

Be very careful with applying for the those "immediate" store credit cards. I myself am very leery of this, and in all of my years of retail management, I have never once done this myself. I know from an insider perspective how "sloppy" this process is, and would never expose my personal information in that manner. The applications often sit at registers, exposed to many associates (and even other customers) and I have been involved in way too many internal investigations linked to instant credit applications and identity fraud. Even if the retailer can offer you a completely paperless manner, in which you enter all personal information into a keypad or telephone, I would still not do it. While the immediate discount is very attractive, weigh it against the risks, the reason they are offering to extend credit to you (to get you to buy MORE!) and the interest rate you will pay if you do not pay that balance off immediately.

Set up online account management with your credit cards. During this time of the year, it is a great idea to log on daily and review your charges. If you see anything suspicious, you can react immediately and get resolution much more quickly.

I hope that these few credit safety tips help you to save money and your credit this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #21

As a veteran of the retail industry, I know all too well that when economic times are tough, retail managers get very creative to "save the sale" and keep your customers happy. Prices are so incredibly promotional right now, and in some cases literally dropping by the day.

I had posted an earlier tip about keeping your receipts to ensure that if prices dropped, you could return to that retailer to get a price adjustment. Many retailers offer at least a 14-day price protection so that if it goes down (except in the case of clearance items) the retailer will give you that lower price.

The following tip is also related to getting the best price, but with a twist:


Keep your eyes open for prices at competitors and ask for that price match if you have already purchased that item at another retailer!

If you have kept your receipts, and find an item that is less expensive elsewhere, you should ask for a price adjustment. If you can find documentation of this lower price, bring that with you (an ad circular, a screenprint, etc.). If the retailer refuses to adjust your price you always have the option of returning the item and purchasing it from the retailer that is less expensive. In today's competitive retail world, the chances are pretty good that the retailer will try to "save the sale" and adjust your price by a few dollars instead of losing many more dollars. The best thing you can do is to ask for the "Manager on Duty" and politely and professionally inform them of the price difference.

This also applies to your online purchases, you should inform the online retailer that there is a lower price from another online competitor and that you would like to ask for a price adjustment. Again, you should have documentation, and can send them a link to the item in your communication.

Where it gets tricky is when you purchased something in a store, but see it online at a competitor for less. Online pricing will often be different than store pricing as they are working with different economies of scale. However, in my experience as both a retail manager and as a consumer is that a retailer will honor that price adjustment if the customer can provide some documentation. I recently was awarded a sizeable price adjustment from a national big box retailer when I brought in a screenprint of the same item with a much lower price online.

It can also be more complex when you have purchased something online but find it for less in a store. It can be done with persistence, patience, politeness and "please and thank you"! Remember, these employees are feeling the pinch of this holiday season, they WANT to find a great way to help friendly customers! The online process can take a bit longer, but I am again proof that it can be done...a certain major online retailer adjusted a $5.00 price difference for me.

Good luck, and remember to always keep your receipts!!! has fantastic offers for the holidays!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

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Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #20

I received some great emails regarding my shopping tips about making gifts (and not really doing all that much shopping!) and shopping handmade. Of course I network with other artists and creative types and those kind of gift-giving tips are ones that are near and dear to us!

It then dawned upon me that there is a fantastic Holiday shopping/Holiday gift-giving tip combines a "Do-It-Yourself" aesthetic and creating something "Handmade" with what you already have in your possession...


Look to what you already own that you can embellish or improve upon to re-purpose and give as a one-of-a-kind gift!

This is not "re-gifting" or doing any kind of "White Elephant" type gift. I once had a circle of friends and we passed around this really ugly (in our humble opinions) purse that one of them had received as a gift from their grandmother. Of course it was done tongue-in-cheek, but it almost became a gift of "hot potato"...who could get rid of that purse the quickest?! This is not getting rid of a fruit cake or some other odd gift you have received!

Instead, this tip is about re-purposing, and creating something completely new and different out of something that you may already own. I have a friend who is giving people on her list scarves that she has beaded and embellished. She has taken smaller scarves and pieced and sewn them together into large wraps, then crocheted borders and painstakingly beaded accents onto the silk. She has taken something that she already owned, but did not use (and that she acquired from ebay, garage sales, vintage finds, etc.), and made these items into something extraordinary. What an amazing gift!

Think of how you can re-purpose items that you no longer use that can make them special and unique for friends and loved ones!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #19

With so many of us cutting back this holiday season, we are searching for sensible, meaningful gifts to help stretch our gift-giving dollars. Many of us are looking for gifts for people who may need some extra help this holiday season including elderly parents, college students and others. In the past, it would have made sense to give a splurge gift, now it makes sense to give something that is considerate and useful.


Look to gift cards for sensible gifts this holiday season!

A couple of extra tips to accompany this tip:

A word of caution in purchasing gift cards from smaller, boutique type stores, smaller regional retailers and retailers that are currently struggling. Well, yes, most retailers are having a tough season, but big box national retailers are in this game to stay, so to purchase and give gift cards from Target, Walmart and Best Buy are all a solid bet.

Find out if you get bonus points from your grocery store for purchasing gift cards. Currently, my Ralph's store is offering triple points for gift card purchases, and I can buy gift cards and translate those points into discounts for gas and groceries. Be careful, however, as they sometimes charge a processing fee that can cut into your total purchasing power and erode the "benefit" of bonus points awarded.

Find out if you receive special points, air miles, etc., on your credit card for buying MasterCard, Visa or American Express branded gift cards. I recently got an XBox 360, a Nintendo DS and some Wii games at NO CHARGE by "cashing in" on my Amex points. Not bad!

Be careful about purchasing gift cards, as there at least one major gift card scam that is impacting consumers. Both internal and external thieves will write down gift card numbers and frequently check to see if those gift cards have been purchased and activated. As the activation is often immediate upon purchase, if they have captured a gift card number that is activated they can use those funds themselves. Pick gift cards from the middle of the display, or try to select the gift cards that require a scratch off number for activation. Better yet, if you can, ask a cashier for gift cards that are located at their register as those would be more difficult to be tampered with (most registers at major retailers have cameras on them, it would be exceedingly difficult for a cashier to play any kind of gift card scam while being watched by the "eye in the sky".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #18

To accompany my last Shopping Tip #17 (DIY this holiday for gift-giving!) I thought it would be important to also pass along another related shopping tip that is certainly near and dear to my heart...


Buy HANDMADE gifts this holiday season!

I love handmade gifts. I love that someone took the time to make something by hand. I enjoy that passion for their talent and gift. I really dig the idea of supporting an entrepreneur and not a huge corporation. Of course I love some really amazing brand products, however, I also truly appreciate how hard an individual works at creating something that is often one-of-a-kind or something that simply cannot and should not be replicated in a factory somewhere!

So, support an artisan this holiday season, buy local, buy handmade!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #17

From my own personal experience and in talking to so many friends and family, and even in the feedback that I have received from this series of tips, I get that many of us are on serious budgets this holiday season. Coupled with that is a feeling of being pretty "burnt out" on the usual holiday consumer message. All too many are struggling with credit card debt, decling home values, and we just do not want to be overwhelmed with the usual "buy this, buy that" message.

So, I say this is a tip that many of us are probably already following, and can still follow this holiday season...


Do-It-Yourself this holiday for gifts and holiday events!

Ditch the usual media push to consume, consume,, buy, buy! Many of us have fantastic talents that we can put to good use for gift-giving! Offer a "cookie of the month" club for friends, knit a scarf, or make hot cocoa mix (see my recent blog post on!). All of these gifts will cost you so much less and be so well-received! People love personal, handmade and homemade gifts.

Beyond the fun gift-giving aspect, many "DIY" gifts have an incredible element of being personal and very practical. For example, create a coupon book for elderly parents in which you offer to do "handyman" duties to help them keep up with their home. So many of us don't need more "stuff", but we could certainly use practical solutions to make our lives easier! Think how much less will end up in a landfill, think how a DIY gift will instead fill up hearts and lift spirits!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #16

Many retailers offer a variety of frequent shopper programs, and I am sure that many of us take advantage of them in one way or another. Retailers have to differentiate and in a retail environment in which so much looks and seems the same one true way they have to keep hold your attention is to offer you rewards for your hard-earned discretionary spending! But have you truly thought about how you could leverage that buying power all year long to pay off for you at the holidays? While this tip is offered in December, this is a tip that you can be thinking of all year long...


Leverage your year-long shopping with retailers that offer frequent shopper awards to get "free" holidays gifts and stocking stuffers!

This is a tip that all of us can truly follow all year to "cash" out for the holiday season! I shop a variety of retailers and always inquire about their frequent shopper/rewards programs to get free Spanx, free makeup and beauty products, free groceries, free clothing, free stocking stuffers and more! You are already giving them your business, you deserve to get something back for that is a great added bonus!

I simply have a small wallet in my purse that holds the rewards cards or frequent shopper cards to ensure that I have them on me at all times. Just make sure that you know if any of the rewards "expire" as some of them have to be used in a certain time frame. However, many, like my BeautyOne cards, had no expiration date and I was able to cash in over $120.00 for free makeup and beauty products!

P.S. Speaking of getting amazing beauty and skincare products, here is one of my favorite websites to find top-of-the-line beauty products:! They have amazing offers to take advantage of, from free shipping to free product to much, much more! Click on the image below to experience what has to offer any beauty product and skincare aficionado!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspirations, continued...

Recently, I blogged about some gorgeous hibiscus in my backyard that totally inspired me. I have been thinking a lot about inspirations lately and wanting to find a new approach to my jewelry and jewelry design.

I loved the color of the hibiscus, and felt that it somehow represented my desire to create bold and bright jewelry.

After decorating the tree, I noticed two ornaments that the kids had put on the tree. They were a couple of gorgeous Christopher Radko hibiscus ornaments. One in bright pink...

...another in a vibrant, sunny yellow!

Those two ornaments were right in the front of the tree, and in the midst of many other brightly colored and sparkly ornaments, those two truly jumped out at me. I think that they are yet another sign, another message for me to receive this inspiration and continue forward to find a new energy with which to bring to my designs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #15

Retailers are savvy about the message that they send to their customers. They spend countless dollars on marketing and media consultants, in-house and outside advertising and marketing gurus and test with focus groups the kind of commercials and advertising they plan to use. I myself saw first hand how marketing campaigns are crafted while working for a national retailer, and it is truly an amazing process.

During the holidays, these campaigns are even more intense and there is an even stronger emotional and cultural component that is designed to resonate more deeply with the consumer. This is more than selling a toy or a bike, this is selling how that toy or bike fits into your family, your lifestyle and your dreams and desires of how the holidays "should" look and feel for your family. These campaigns even poke a bit at feelings of guilt (hurried working mom who feels that she should be spending more time with her kids) or inferiority (the next door neighbor has the Lexus sedan with a big red bow, why don't I have one?)! I won't even touch the intensity of the media campaigns focusing on kids and the "want" vs. "need" factor for toys and gadgets!

This leads to an easy, no-nonsense holiday tip:


Turn off the TV during the holiday season, or dramatically limit viewing time!

These commercials are skillfully designed to provoke a very simple, visceral and emotional response. Of course, so many of us truly want the holidays to be special, and it is easy to process the media messages from retailers and their marketing messages to help us define that "special". However, with so many of us cutting back this holiday season, we are better off turning away from the TV and turning to one another to craft that "special" message ourselves. With a tighter budget it will be all the more important to turn inward to focus on how we are going to define the holidays for our family, how we are going to help our kids decide what is "need" and what is "want" and how we are going to celebrate what is most important: enjoying the holidays with friends and family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #14

From an earlier post, I described how I truly love how technology truly allows retailers to maximize customer service and drive sales. When I first started in retail, I remember how excited we were to get an corporate-wide email/intranet system. In fact, for about a month or so I went from store to store in our district, and beyond, to help train the store staff on how to use the intranet system.

What a different a few years (okay, about 17 or so!) makes! Technology leads us to the next couple of retai insider tips!


Sign up for retailers' text/cell phone updates.

I have received text messages from a handful of retailers that have alerted me to products (finally) instock (a hot Wii game!) to a "text only" coupon to save 25% over a two day window. Not bad. I did get the Wii game, did not use the coupon (it was instore only, I have no desire to deal with the mall right now!!!). Remember, text messaging charges may apply, so know your carrier's text message charges and policies.

I am also sure that many of you have heard of other functions and applications, such as the Amazon application for iPhone users called "Amazon Remembers". This is pretty cool. You can take a picture of an item, upload it to Amazon and within minutes (althought anecdotally I have been told that it can take a day or even two, but that has not been my experience) you can have an Amazon match of that same item with what is typically a better price! I love to price shop, as you can see in previous shopping tips, so if you have an iPhone, this is a very slick way of trying to get the best price possible (especially when Amazon ships that item for free!).

One cautionary note: I also have been told that there are some retailers that will ask you to not take pictures in their store. I can tell you from my past retail experience that indeed we did ask customers to not take pictures in our store. Mostly to protect people, however, not our sales! So click with caution!

p.s. Here is a killer site for finding amazing prices on highend designer items for holiday gift giving (and free shipping!!!):

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shopping Tips for the 25 Days of Christmas: Tip #14

I love how technology truly allows retailers to maximize customer service and drive sales. When I first started in retail, I remember how excited we were to get an corporate-wide email/intranet system. In fact, for about a month or so I went from store to store in our district, and beyond, to help train the store staff on how to use the intranet system.

What a different a few years (okay, about 17 or so!) makes! Technology leads us to the next couple of retai insider tips!


Sign up for retailers' email updates.

As much as many of us hate to get spam, or emails that simply clog up our inbasket, you can make these emails pay off in savings of both time and money! I have received emails that have offered exclusive savings and special buys. You can always sign up for the emails, and if you truly do not find them to be value-added, you can opt-out (look at the bottom of the email, there will be some kind of verbage to remove your email from their list).

I get emails from both online retailers and brick and mortar retailers. I am a huge fan of emails as they not only offer great savings in many cases, but they are also designed to focus on my likes and interests based off of my recent purchases. (Yes, I am a sucker and think that somehow they "know" me there at!) I have already saved over $100.00 easily by watching my emails and taking advantage of special offers.

p.s. Shopping for eco-friendly loved ones? is the online destination for people living a lifestyle of health and sustainability. We offer over 4,500 products in categories including; yoga, Pilates, organic cotton clothing and natural and healthy products for the home. Click here for more information and amazing savings!, Inc

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Benefit has amazing gifts for anyone who loves fun beauty products that actually do what they claim (I know, but it has to be said as way too many products simply do not!)! Click on the image below to unlock the many beauty treasures that Benefit offers you this holiday season!

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Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bliss on MY List!

I love Bliss products, and this is at the top of my Christmas List! I swear that I have been a good girl, Santa! Click on this image for more info or to get it for a beauty enthusiast on YOUR list!

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Gaiam is the online destination for people living a lifestyle of health and sustainability. We offer over 4,500 products in categories including; yoga, Pilates, organic cotton clothing and natural and healthy products for your home. an added benefit, Gaiam is offering great holiday specials to make your holiday shopping not only fit your lifestyle, but your budget as well!

Click here for more fantastic gift ideas from Gaiam:

Gift Guide Landing Page


I recently received my first BeautyFix shipment, and I am bursting at the seams to share how incredibly pleased and excited I am! I have done countless makeup memberships, autoships, and ended up with lots of pretty expensive tester-sized no-name "makeup" and "beauty products". (Using quotations as I would not claim some of those products to be makeup or beauty products at all!)

What is BeautyFix? As Beauty Fix states, "BE THE FIRST TO KNOW, FIRST TO TRY! As a Beautyfix member, you’re privy to a sampling of the latest hand-picked, high-performance products, as well as the inside scoop on anything and everything beauty-related from industry experts and beauty aficionados alike." Beauty Fix is $50 for a quarterly subscription. Yes, $50 is a lot of money, however, here is exactly what I received, you are seeing it all as I unpack it!

Here is the Beautyfix bag, directly out of the box. It is a nicely quilted and embroidered makeup bag. So far, so good...

BeautyFix bag opened! VOILA! This bag is obviously packed with all kinds of goodies! First out:

Jane Iredale, 24-Karat Gold Dust Powder. Full Size Retail Value: $12.00

This product is divine, I tried to capture how lovely the rosy color is with flecks of genuine 24-Karat Gold! This would be gorgeous on the cheeks, or anywhere else you want a bit of a rosy-golden glow! I am excited to even try it on my eyes!

NOC-Out Cover-Up Compact. Full Size Retail Value: $38.00

This compact is wonderful and contains a generous portion of three lovely and silky concealers: yellow, peachy-beige and salmon. These three concealers will help to hide a bevy of skin concerns, and can be blended to be perfect for your skin tone!

Kronos Phyx Full. Size Retail Value $105.00

Phyx is a "ph-antastic" overnight hair treatment. I personally can't wait for tonight to try this one, with the dryer winter conditions, this can help to repair damaged, dull hair while you sleep!

Perricone MD, Firming Neck Therapy. Full Size Retail Value $95.00

I have been looking for a great product to try to ensure that I keep my neck firm. Often, that is one of the places on the body that you can tell a woman's true age!

Amarte, Aqua Veil Pure Hydration Serum. Full Size Retail Value: $42.00

Amarte is a Korean product making its US debut. Again, much like with my hair getting so dry in the winter, this lightweight serum may just perform wonders in hydrating my skin! It smells like cucumber, and has a mineral dense water base and wonderful herbal extracts. In Asia, this product is referred to as "Magic Water"!

Amarte, Natural Wonder Cream. Full Size Retail Value: $90

BeautyFix included this as a bonus, and this Natural Wonder Cream is a combination of pine extract, argan oil and sulfur. These combined can help to soothe and further hydrate the skin. My dermatologist recommends products with sulfur for my skin type, so I am excited to try this product as well!

Sensa. 15 Day Trial Retail Value: $29.50

I have heard wonders about Sensa, and am going to try it myself in the New Year. It is based in science of smells and aromas and how we are drawn to eat (and overeat) by our sense of smell. I cannot wait to get started with this product (maybe I can even knock out a few pounds BEFORE the New Year!).

PCA Skin, pHaze 9 Purifying Mask. Full Size Retail Value: $56.00

This is a fast-acting refining mask and exfoliating scrub all in one product! Red Sea algae, French red clay and red wine extract brighten skin while essential oils hydrate. I am about to use this product, so I need to stop typing soon!

M LAB, Anti-Aging Treatment Cream. Full Size Retail Value: $260.00

Last but not least, is an anti-aging cream referred to as the "Rolls Royce" of skin cream. Peptides, anti-oxidants and hydration firm the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Sold!

All of these products for only $50.00. Amazing! I wanted to share each item with you so you can see the true value. These are not little trial sizes, or simply a one-time sample. These are amazing products and respected brands at a price that is too good to be true!

In addition, as a BeautyFix member, you have the ability to get these products and many others at huge savings. One such member exclusive: A Redpoint Makeup Clutch, Mascara, Shadow Duo, Eyeliner, Shadow Brush and Blushwhip all valued at $141.50 for only $59.00!

Come and join me! View my profile (still under construction a bit!) at If you would like to join in on the BeautyFix bounty, please let BeautyFix know that I helped to refer you! I deeply appreciate the referral, and I truly hope that you invite your beauty product-loving friends and family to also indulge in these amazing products at such a great value! And, products change with each quarterly shipment, so you can look forward to more shipments of cutting-edge products!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Admitted, I have taken a bit of a "break" from my jewelry design. I think that for many of us, as artists and "creative types", it can be great to step away for a minute or two and step back to see the bigger picture. It can be a quiet, introspective time to look at the world a bit differently, possibly learn a new aspect to our craft (or another!) and find new inspirations.

Inspiration can certainly come in many different forms. I have always been inspired by nature, and have tried to work those organic themes into my designs. My love for the beach, for example, is often reflected in my work.

I found some new inspirations, I believe, just this morning. Outside, drinking my coffee, this is what welcomed me this morning, this amazing array of hibiscus blooms:

Yes, even on December 4th, these beauties are bursting with color and vying for the sunlight!

I looked at each one more closely, to see its full glory...At first, my favorite was this amazing yellow, so yellow-licious it hurt my eyes!

Then, on further inspection, I fell for the graceful, more quiet loveliness of this incredible coral blossom:

Then, my heart truly stopped. This showy pink blossom called out to me!

I truly began to think that these blooms were trying to send me a message...that I, too, should find the sun. I, too, need to bloom. I, too, can bring a bit of color, hope, joy, loveliness to someone else.

I am already plotting and planning my next collection...Inspiration.