Check Out My New Blogs

 

I’ve moved my blog!

Not only that, it’s now two blogs!
twin day clipart
No, not twins. More like siblings. 

Find my jewelry blog at www.jularee.com

Find my creative blog  at www.ritamitchell.com

 

Which one should you follow? 

 

The blog at Jularee.com is where…

… I write about gemstones and jewelry. At “Jularee’s Blog” you will find fashion news, holiday gift ideas, and tips for choosing and caring for handmade jewelry. Recent articles include DIY Valentine gift ideas, cleaning tarnished sterling silver, and cleansing gemstones. I write about chakras, birthstones, gemstone properties, my workbench, and my new designs. Future plans for contests and sales are in the works!

 

At RitaMitchell.com you’ll find…

… a more personal approach. “Life in General… A creative procrastinator spills the beans” covers many topics. You’ll read about writing and reading, food and cooking, gardening and my chickens, traveling and outdoors, crafts and hobbies, personal observations, and whatever seems important at the time.

 

Which one is for you? Maybe both!

 

Click to find out more.

Jularee.com

RitaMitchell.com

 

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Thanks for reading!
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Brrrr… My Poor Plants!

I was shocked to see the “freeze warning” on the news last night. After all, it’s almost Mother’s Day! This year I’m a bit ahead and have plants in the garden… already… after all it’s almost Mother’s Day, so it should be fine. But according to our local meteorologists, it wasn’t fine at all.

So I ran outside, at 11:15 PM, with a few plastic flower pots and covered my two little cucumber plants. But the sunflowers are too tall. And how do you cover a few rows of radishes and lettuce, and do they really need to be covered anyway?  In the end, the only plants I protected were the cucumbers, and I’m glad I did. It was really cold!

cucumber plant

It was saved!

It was still cold this morning when my friends, Leann and Kristin, met me at the Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival, wearing winter coats, scarves, and gloves. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who opted for warmth over spring clothing. We were outside much of the day, heading to Rancocas Woods for their craft fair after the Earth Festival.

The weather forecast for tonight is 41 degrees. It’s not the best temperature for my poor little cucumber plants, but it’s better than freezing!

Looking forward to the summer and much warmer weather. How about you?

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Read a different kind of post at my new blog: www.jularee.com/blog. This week’s post tells how to use gemstones for the health of you garden and plants. Check it out here Gardening with Gemstones.

Gardening with Gemstones

Once Upon A Time….

I was bound and determined to have a fabulously successful blog. The words came easily. The topics were plentiful. But after a short time I stopped posting.

My plan has always been to write often. I like to write more than I like making jewelry. In fact, I like cooking more than making jewelry.

Bringing writing back to the forefront of my life is my 2015 goal.

Wish me luck!

Decisions, Decisions

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ~Theodore Roosevelt 
Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

I agree with Theodore Roosevelt that “nothing” is the worst thing you can do when a decision is needed. So, I’m finally working on making decisions. They might not be the absolute correct decisions, but they are decisions, and I’ll learn from my mistakes.

My Websites

For several years I did nothing with my websites. Yes, websites… plural. I have two websites and three domains. Jularee.com is the website for my jewelry business. I last updated the site in January – and that was a poor excuse for an update. RitaMitchell.com and RitaRiebelMitchell.com both link to my more personal, writing website that I have not updated since July 2012 following my retirement from teaching. How sad is that? This week I finally started to make a few decisions about my websites.

Decision #1:

I transferred my Jularee.com domain to GatorHost and I purchased a hosting plan. I was nervous about it, so I only committed to six months. But so far so good. Support has been pleasant and quick. Everything is working after a few minor bumps.

Decision #2: Dreamweaver vs. WordPress

Jularee.com needed a major overhaul. The question was: Dreamweaver or WordPress? Since the last time I worked with Dreamweaver it was in version 1 (one), and my current version is CS6, I thought the learning curve might be a bit time consuming. So, I decided to use WordPress to recreate the site.

jularee.com

Jularee.com is under construction

Decision #3: WordPress Theme and Pages

I chose a tentative theme for the “under construction” type of messages (see above). The pages are Jularee, Shop, Blog, About, and Contact. I included links to my Etsy shops and a contact email address.

Decision #4: Learn How to Use WordPress and Choose a Possibly Permanent Theme

My goal: By the end of today I will have watched/ listened to at least three instructional videos about creating a website using WordPress. My next decisions will be to choose a “possibly permanent” WordPress theme and a color scheme. I’m hoping the videos will lead me in the right direction.

Decision #5: What to do with RitaMitchell.com

Regarding my more personal, writing website: I left the domains registered with GoDaddy for a year. I’ll update the current pages a bit, and prepare to move it to my HostGator hosting plan within the next few months.

RitaMitchell.com

The July 2012 “update” to RitaMitchell.com website.

RitaMitchell.com and RitaRiebelMitchell.com will be linked to Jularee.com but will have a different, more personal twist… a biography, a photo gallery, and Sunday Dinner (currently part of this blog). I will add a list of my publishing credits, information about writers’ organizations, conferences, and references, as well as names of the books I’m reading. Bits and pieces of my writing, personal life, and travel will be thrown once in awhile. Past that, I don’t know, yet.

I’m Looking for Training Videos

If you know of any training videos about creating a WordPress website or with tips for designing websites, will you please share them?

On to more decision making! ~Rita

Change is good

Change is good. It’s scary, but it’s good.

This week I finally made a decision to transfer my jewelry website from GoDaddy to HostGator. I was nervous about making this change but it had to be done. I wasn’t doing anything with my GoDaddy site other than paying for my domains and using the free web builder to make a static site that I didn’t want anyone to see.

So far, I opened (and paid for) a “baby” web hosting account with HostGator. I requested a free transfer of my domain, Jularee.com, to HostGator as well. Hopefully, that will happen quickly and without a snag.

Now to design my new site. To start my requirements are minimal.

  • A professional, attractive home page with links to my Etsy shops.
  • Links to social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  • Sign up for newsletter
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Blog

Additional requirements for the future:

  • Store (eCommerce)
  • links to my writing site (sorely neglected – last post was in 2012!)
  • Informational pages such as jewelry care, gemstone properties, etc.
  • Informational videos (DIY?)

Should I use Dreamweaver CS6 or WordPress to design this new site? I’m leaning toward WordPress.

 

Remembering the Heroes

Thinking about all of the Americans who have died for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, here are a few famous and not so famous quotes in their honor.

 

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” ~Joseph Campbell

The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage serves a thousand living men.” ~Minot J. Savage

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

They fell, but o’er their glorious grave floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.” ~Francis Marion Crawford

Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” ~Wallace Bruce

 

Find more here: Memorial Day 2014 Quotes 

Enjoy your barbecue… for them.

Do you have a favorite Memorial Day themed quote? Add it to the comments below.

Sunday Dinner: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

What???

Avocado and chocolate? Sounds dreadful!

However, as I found out, this combination makes a wonderfully rich dessert that is gluten free and cane sugar free and dairy free (unless you top it with whipped cream).

You’ll need a food processor or blender, an avocado (peeled and pitted), 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp. raw organic agave nectar , pinch of sea salt (1/16 tsp), and 1/2 Tbsp. oil (I use coconut oil).

Adjust the ingredients according to the size of your avocado. In New Jersey, most of the avocados that we get are about the size of a pear or smaller.

Whip all of the ingredients together in the food processor until you don’t see any lumps of avocado and it looks like a thick pudding.

Taste it now.

If it’s too bitter, add a bit more agave or a touch of pure stevia powder (and make a note to use a bit less cocoa powder next time). If it’s not chocolatey enough add more cocoa powder and whip it a little longer.

I’m sure you could try substituting stevia powder (or liquid) for the agave, but you might need to adjust the oil or add a little bit of water to improve the consistency.

It keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, but the consistency is best right after it is made.

Now that you made it, here are a few ideas of how to enjoy it.

  • Eat it as it is, right out of the food processor.
  • Top with home made whipped cream sweetened with stevia.
  • Layer it with bananas and/or strawberries.
  • Top it with chopped peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Add some shaved chocolate or gluten free chocolate chips.
  • Use it as a dip for fruit.

Additional notes:

Substitute raw local honey for raw organic agave nectar for a more natural sweetner.

I prefer organic products when possible (organic coconut oil, organic avocados, etc.).

Let me know how you like this version of a chocolate mousse dessert in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why dye gemstones?

 

Why do you dye your hair? Maybe you dye it to enhance your natural hair color. Maybe you dye it a completely different color for excitement or to be fashionable. And then, like me, you might dye your hair to look a few years younger (ie. cover the gray).

Gemstones are frequently dyed, too. Sometimes they are dyed to enhance their natural colors. Sometimes they are dyed to look like another gemstone.

Sometimes they are dyed to give them a very different color for fashion purposes.

Picasso jasper necklace

These Picasso Jasper gemstones were dyed a brilliant turquoise to make a fashion statement.

When buying loose gemstones to make into jewelry, be sure to look for the information indicating that the gem is natural, treated, stabilized, or dyed. These enhancements are not necessarily bad, they simply improve the appearance or stability of the stones. The gemstones are still genuine gemstones, but they are not natural. It’s important to remember that the treatment might have improved their appearance but it does not turn them into a higher quality or more valuable gem.

How are gemstones dyed? The Gemological Institute of America explains it best in their article: An Introduction to Gem Treatment.

Be aware that lab created gemstones should be labeled as simulated or synthetic. They are not genuine gemstones in the same way that a wig is not your real hair.

 

 

 

 

Is it Lapis or Lapiz?

 

 

Lapis lazuli is one of my favorite gemstones. I love blue and a high quality lapis lazuli will contain gorgeous shades of deep, rich blues. As in the photo above, the lapis gemstones are often flecked with calcite, sodalite, and pyrite.

High quality lapis can be pricey. If you are shopping for stones or beads, you’ll usually find a wide selection of A- to D grade lapis lazuli stones at reasonable prices online from Fire Mountain Gems or ArtBeads or, if you have a business license, you could also search for wholesale vendors.

For the best quality, look for the A (or AA, AAA) graded gemstones. They will be the most expensive but upon close examination, you’ll understand why.

What’s the real difference between an A grade and a D grade? Remember back to elementary school and you’ll get the picture. Or read more about it here. 

I prefer to shop for my lapis lazuli gemstones in person as much as possible. Attending gems and bead shows or visiting rock shops is a must if you want to see, touch, and ask specific questions about the quality of the stones you are about to buy. Although when I shop in person, I invariably fall in love with the most expensive gemstones on the table.

Maybe next time I should take cash and leave my credit card at home.

As for the metaphysical properties of lapis lazuli, it’s energy is believed to enhance intuitive perception and psychic abilities. It opens the Third Eye chakra (Brow chakra). Lapis is also balances the Throat chakra, so wearing it as a necklace can help with truthfulness and communication. Learn more about chakras here.

 

 

Tweet Like a Bird

Lately I’ve been reading about using social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Twitter to market my jewelry business. I’m reading articles, blogs, guides, and I’ve joined social networking teams on Etsy. I’m trying to learn everything I can to improve my bottom line and to increase my sales. Social networking is suggested as a way to do that.

Most recently my focus has been Twitter.

How to Tweet

I like to tweet. It’s quick and you don’t have to write a lot. In fact, Twitter limits the length of a tweet. For any Twitter newbies reading this, you have only 140 characters. That includes every letter, space, dash, period, parenthesis, and so on. And, if you are going to include a link to your shop, you need to have 22 characters left over for the URL, no matter how long or short it is.

What Should I Tweet?

Deciding what to tweet shouldn’t be difficult. Of course I’ll tweet about my product. But if every tweet I post is a link to my shop, I won’t keep many followers. And if I post lots of tweets everyday with links to my products, I am spamming. No one likes a spammer.

So, I’m tweeting links to my products sparingly. One in every three or four tweets posted is a good guide.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.39.53 PM

What about those other two or three tweets? Think: information, interesting facts, links, and responses to those who follow you.

Respond to Followers

When someone new follows me, I send them a message. It’s easy enough to visit their Twitter page and write a message there. Sometimes I will send a message to multiple followers at the same time.  I use the @ sign before each user name to let everyone know that the tweet is especially for them. I also sometimes thank followers for retweeting my posts. And I always reply when a follower makes a comment on my post.

Information, Interesting Facts, and Links

I choose the information based on my business and my focus. I post about making jewelry, jewelry materials, gemstone meanings and healing properties, yoga, and meditation. Other topics I write about are building a handcrafting business, care and handling of jewelry, how to buy jewelry, and anything else I can think of that relates to my shop and the items I create to sell.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.30.30 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.36.14 PM

Personally Speaking

Sometimes I get a bit personal, but not too personal. Maybe a tweet about a place I visited (with a photo of course) or a great recipe I found. I post links to my blog posts. I might also link to information provided by my sons. For example, as soon as I get it, I’ll be posting the link to my son’s presentation at a recent TedX talk.

Targeted Tweeting

When you are a Twitter newbie, you don’t have any followers. You post to an audience of zero. Well, maybe three or four if you coerced your spouse and children to follow you. But don’t ask them what they think of your tweets. They are not your target audience.

You can begin building your followers by emailing everyone you know announcing your new endeavor. Include every customer on your mailing list. Include your friends and other family members. Ask them to follow you. Some won’t but some will. Don’t badger them. Just ask once. Some of these new followers will retweet your posts and their followers might like what you offer.

Use keywords and hastags (for example: #MothersDay) to draw attention of users who are searching Twitter for information on a topic. Some of them will choose to follow you, or at least click on your link.

Also

Include a link to Twitter from your website or Etsy shop. Add Twitter to your business cards: Twitter.com/jularee.

Still Learning

I’m learning more about Twitter everyday. Maybe you have a tip for me. Please add it in the comments.

As I see it, Twitter is one of the many ways I can get my business name out there… and maybe increase my sales.

Here’s hoping.

Follow me on Twitter @jularee.