Entrepreneurship and Kids

Hui.2 is just about 3 weeks old and weighs 10 pounds.  This is a serious mind trip because he’s still a newborn.  My mind thinks I can do lots of stuff around the house or even make jewelry, but my body says, “NO!  Must sleep!  Must lounge comfortably!”  When I wonder why I’m still achy, I remember that I gave birth less than a month ago.  Oops.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, especially for women who are entertaining the notion of having kids.  I consider myself lucky to have found a partner who supports my dreams and ambitions.  During marriage negotiations, I told Jesse if we were to get married and have kids, I would stay home with them while building up my jewelry business.  That’s how I grew up, in the midst of my father’s engineering consulting business.  When I have Hui.2 nursing on the left side so my right hand is free to click the mouse or type on my iPhone, I imagine if that’s what my mom was doing with me at that age.  Growing up in that kind of environment, and eventually working in it as well, really taught me how to manage both a business and household at the same time.  My life is going to be nuts until the kids go off to college, but so is the price of having them.

Despite all this, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the slower pace of not having any plans or social engagements.  It’s also given me time to reflect on how 2014 has been and what I want to do next.  Lariats seem to be attracting the most attention and sales, so I need to crank out more.  I have a new design I’m testing out asd my first conscious attempt at being dainty and understated.  Once it passes the testing stage, I can start working on a lariat and figuring out how to incorporate stones and crystals.

Sales from the shops are doing quite well and I’m looking forward to eventually getting back into the throes of networking and artist demos.  I definitely need to do a trunk show with one of the XCVI stores, if not both.  That would be good around the holidays, at least by October so I can start getting my inventory ready.  By then Hui.2 should be sleeping better and be more inclined to be entertained by his playmat and brother rather than being curled up in my arms all day.  Mind you, I am definitely savoring all this cuddle time while he still has that magical new baby smell which makes all the pain and suffering of having a newborn worthwhile.  It just doesn’t work well for fast or instantaneous results all the time.



Nothing Left to Prove

Chainmaille Goodness

Discussions with Allison are always interesting and thought provoking.  Our initial discussions can get overwhelming, but everyone needs that one person who tells you how it is and occasionally gives you a shove in the right direction.  She does a lot more than just that for me, but you know what I mean.  She pointed out the other day that most of my jewelry designs are bold, statement pieces that are sometimes over-the-top.  The gauge I work the chainmaille in is not feminine and some people have commented I’m taking men’s jewelry and trying to make it feminine.  The more I mulled over this, the more I realized how much my subconscious has snuck its way into my jewelry.

As the youngest of 3 kids, I’ve felt I’ve had to make an extra effort to be taken seriously.  I’ve also spent nearly a decade working in a male-dominated field, on top of being overshadowed by both my father and my sister who work in the same field.  But now with the kids, I’ve been making the mental transition of being out in the field to the backend of the office.  It’s taken some getting used to because I miss the field work and watching the construction work, but being able to stay home with my kids is just as rewarding.

There is some evidence that I’m transitioning out of that “I need to prove myself” mentality, most prominently in the Chinese Knot Collection’s station necklaces and earrings.  It’s just hard to de-program after so many years of fighting against the tide.  I do feel less of a need to be taken seriously and definitely less need to prove myself.  The next step in the journey is remembering that bigger isn’t always better and there is merit in simpler, understated designs.  We’ll see where this next chapter of life takes me and how that translates into jewelry.  Acknowledging where I’ve been and where I hope to go is the first conscious step.

Blocking Out a Schedule

Hui.2 at 4 days old

Welcome Hui.2!

Well, it’s been a week since Hui.2 decided to grace us with his presence and it’s been a small adventure, compared to Hui.1’s arrival.  But, we are all doing well and slowly adjusting to life with a newborn and a toddler.  I have to remind myself to take it easy and rest instead of rushing every which way to work on all the new jewelry designs that have been running amok in my head.  One of the nice things that babies bring is new perspective and constant change.  I need to figure out a schedule that works for everyone… more of that work-life balance everyone is talking about.  Here are some things that need to be blocked out:

Alone Time:

I need time to decompress from the world and sit in my head for awhile, even if it means staring at the walls doing nothing.  I did that this morning by going out into the garden to trim my nails (who honestly wants to vacuum nail clippings?) and soak up a little bit of vitamin D.  Alone time is very important for me and I need to figure out how to block that out whenever I can.  Jesse is actually very good at knowing when he needs to kick me out of the house or take the kids out so I can get some peace and quiet.  Starting kundalini yoga and meditation again falls under this category as well.  I’ve also figured out that I need to put Hui.2 down for a nap before I put Hui.1 down.  Then I’ll actually get some peace and quiet.

Unplugged Family Time:

Let’s face it; we live in a society who would rather stare at their phones to interact with the world instead of actually engaging with people face-to-face.  What that said, I want to be sure that when we’re all together, we’re all present and not glued to the electronics.  Jesse and I are good about not taking out our phones while we’re out for dinner unless it’s to check in on Yelp, but I do not want to spread the technology plague to the kids.  Hui.1 already comes running at me with my phone when I put it down somewhere within his reach.  It’s cute, but it also says he knows how important the phone is to me.  I’m not sure if I like that or not, but since I don’t have a landline, I need to keep the phone within reach 90% of the day.

Business Time:

It partly goes with the alone time, but the alone time gives me a chance to rest my brain and let the ideas cultivate before I start production or even tinkering.  But there’s more to business than just design and production.  There’s writing blog posts, adding listings on Etsy, making sure the website is up and running smoothly, posting on social media, etc.  I’ll start with one goal I want to accomplish for the day so that intention is imprinted into my subconscious with the hope of actually getting it done.  Eventually, once Hui.2’s schedule is less chaotic (yes, I’m being optimistic), I’ll up that to three goals a day, even if it’s something small like wiping down all the mirrors in the house.  Breaking up big projects into little pieces is the best way to get things done.

Hubby Time:

Since we’re limited on babysitters, this includes playing Dominion, watching TV together, and who knows what else.  It’s been nice having him home for the past week and we’ve been experimenting in the kitchen again, yesterday making my mom’s crepes for breakfast with a fruit syrup and then roasting a goose for dinner.  We’re almost finished with Season 6 of the Big Bang Theory.  He got bored of watching Star Trek: Voyager, but Season 7 of Big Bang will be released by the end of the summer.  We can spend that time playing Dominion since we have the base set and 4 expansions.

Holiday goose in July

Of course, this will vary depending on how the kids and I deal with our daily lives, but I’m confident to make this work.  I just need to remember to be patient with everyone, but most importantly, myself.  I can’t do everything at once, but I can be present and make every effort to get a few goals accomplished, even if that means getting 15 minutes of peace and quiet during this newborn stage.

Blog Spotlight ~ 100 Days of Real Food

In my quest of finding healthy but tasty food, my friend got me hooked on this blog about using the freshest and sometimes organic ingredients in their cooking.  I only buy organic if it’s a similar price as the regular produce.  Jesse and I haven’t been convinced that organic foods are the way to go, but I do adore my organic, non-homogenized, cream top whole milk from Trader Joe’s.  As a kid, I used to drink raw milk, so we had to shake the milk bottle to get the cream to mix in with the milk.

So far I’ve tried these recipes with great success:

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

You can’t screw this one up.  Slice up some onions and dump in the meat then the rest is easy.  I’ve made it with raw sugar because I didn’t have any honey and it turned out just fine.  I always improvise my cooking if I don’t have everything the recipe calls for.  Growing up, I never used recipes unless I was baking because cooking calls for a certain improvisational flair.  Make some cornbread or rolls and some kind of cooked greens and this is an awesome dinner.  Costco usually sells 6 or 9 pounds of pork shoulder at a time and it freezes well.  Just be sure to allocate some extra cooking time if the meat is frozen.  I dump it in regardless and it still turns out fine.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

I was curious about making chicken stock because I have frozen wontons that need to be prepared in a different way than being fried.  I love fried wontons, but it gets old after awhile and it isn’t the most healthy dinner option.  So I took my rotisserie chicken bones from Costco and tried out this method of making chicken stock.  It worked out really well and I even used Jesse’s obscure herbs from the yard (Pineapple sage, lemon verbena, and lovage).  The only normal veggies I used were the onions and Italian parsley.  Worked great and I filled up 4 Pyrex glass containers (4-cup capacity, I believe).  For me, that translates into 4 batches of wonton soup.  Whoo hoo!

Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad

This is the best chicken salad recipe, hands down.  I do add cranberries and lovage for some extra flavor (Hui.1 and I love the cranberries and the lovage tastes like celery but without the crunch).  It’s not gummy or slimy because you’re using sour cream instead of mayo.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of mayo so I never keep it in the house.  Since chicken salad is one of the few things I can eat while pregnant (hello, gestational diabetes), I’ve been itching to make some at home instead of constantly buying it at the store or down the street.  This is a great snack or light meal with crackers and fresh fruit.  The last 2 batches I’ve made have been from Trader Joe’s frozen chicken tenderloins, which is a 2.5 pound bag.  I bake in the oven with a hint of olive oil so it doesn’t dry out, then I mash it and start mixing the ingredients together.  Once mixed, it has to be chilled in the fridge before optimal flavor sets in.  I have no idea why, but it tastes best cold.

These are the recipes I’ve been itching try out after I have the baby:

Alfredo Sauce

Mac and Cheese (not baked)


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Once I can start eating more carbs again, I really want to limit them as best I can and supplement it with fresh veggies and some hearty protein.  So tossing in some broccoli and chicken in with the Mac and Cheese and Alfredo sauce seems to be the best idea so far.  The Mac and Cheese seems really easy because it’s just heavy cream and cheese.  How hard is that?  And it’s a great excuse for me to go to the Italian market to get my favorite 4 cheese blend (I don’t remember what 4 cheeses are, but it’s all white cheese).  The cornbread will go great with Jesse’s salsa soup (tons of veggies, beans, and chicken).  And I’m always looking for a good recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.  I haven’t tried making my own Italian meatballs before, but it would be fun to try.  I already make my own sauce from fresh tomatoes and herbs stewed on the stove (store bought sauces have too much salt for my liking).  With 3 tomato plants in the yard, we may have an abundance of tomatoes this summer, so I see lots of salsa and pasta being made.

The Station Necklace

Moss Agate Lariat ~ Example of a Station Necklace

It was exciting when I found Cynthia Sliwa’s new blog.  I’ve been following her for years, but that fell to the wayside after getting married and having babies.  I noticed she had stopped posting on her usual website so a few months ago I decided to Google her and discovered she had her own website and blog now.  Score!

This post about station necklaces really stood out to me.  My favorite lariat from the Chinese Knot Collection definitely falls under the station necklace category and in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to make shorter necklaces in that style.  I remember attempting to design similar style necklaces back in the day (2003-4?), but because my technical skills weren’t up to par, it never turned out just right.  I haven’t touched the idea until I came up with the lariat design during the later part of 2013.  I finally had the resources to do it right and I did.  Lariats were also something I’ve always wanted to make, but never got right until now.  As I mentioned in my post about jewelry equations, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect materials and length of chain.

The Chinese Knot Collection has really changed my perspective on design and how to seriously mix-and-match pieces within a collection.  As much as I prefer being eccentric, sometimes a little bit of order amongst the chaos is a great change in pace.  I really did “ascend” as an artist after I released that collection and even to this day, a several months later, I’m still in awe of it all.  Of course, I have to give credit to Allison for all her poking and prodding, or else it would have stayed in my subconscious a lot longer than it did.  Sometimes you need that push to get the momentum going and I’m thankful for the big shove she provided.

Last month, during my “hey, I have time to play with new designs” period (unfortunately short-lived), I started poking at designing a shorter version of the lariat.  At first, I started with a larger focal knot, accompanied by alternating stones and smaller knots, but that didn’t look right.  After tearing that version apart and starting from scratch, I finally figured out the perfect equation for both a necklace and a bracelet.  Once I finish the big chainmaille project I’m working on, these new additions will be my first priority.  One of the prototype necklaces went to the Laguna Gallery during my big jewelry drop-off day and just sold the other day.  Definitely more incentive to get that big chainmaille project finished so I can work on making a pretty pile of jewelry… assuming baby gives me another few days before his arrival.  He’s been pretty stubborn about coming out, but since I hit 40 weeks tomorrow, it really is any day now.

Station Necklace in action

Still Waiting…

39 weeks and no baby. He’s seriously taking his sweet time compared to his brother. He’s going to be at least a pounder heavier too. I can’t complain too much, since I’ve been getting a lot of jewelry projects done and envisioning future plans and schemes. But I miss being able to walk sideways to fit through right spaces, practicing kundalini yoga, wearing skirts at or below my waist instead of hiked up over my belly, my lower body not hurting and/or crunching, and eating French fries.

My postpartum style is pretty similar to my normal style at least. As long as I’m breastfeeding during the day, I’ll be living in nursing tank tops that look like normal tank tops. I have all the cute skirts and capris I’ll ever need to last me through the summer. Being lazy and stylish is the best way to go. Not sure how Hui.2 will react to earrings though. I was paranoid about wearing them with Hui.1, but eventually I got over it. He liked grabbing my necklaces best and still does. These days he grabs it to admire Mommy’s “rocks”. It’s cute and when he finds one laying around the studio, he holds it up to his neck like he’s trying to put it on. When I do put jewelry on him, he smiles his dimple smile, then instantly wants it off. It’s too funny.

As far as plans and schemes and dreams go, I’m on the right track. It feels pretty good despite not knowing when this baby will appear. He’s very content staying in awhile longer. I have a dr’s appointment and growth ultrasound tomorrow so we’ll see what’s happening. But seriously, I have the rest of the year’s designs planned out and I’m even dreaming of next spring’s goodies. Once I have a routine down with the boys and hubby, I can start production and get ready for holiday marketing. The year is almost half over. Yikes. It’s been a good year so far. I hope it continues that way with the smooth arrival of this baby.

Stone Spotlight ~ Moss Agate

Nice day to go to the park

38 weeks and no sign of baby.  And the wait continues…

The stone I’ve been craving the most during this pregnancy has been Moss Agate.  Supposedly Moss Agate will help with labor pains so I better make sure to pack some in my hospital bag.  It’s also the stone of new beginnings, which applies very well to this chapter of my life.  I’ve always kept a hoard of Moss Agate on hand, but I never truly utilized its fullest potential until I released both the Chinese Knot and Stepping Stones Collections, respectively.  My best sales for the past few months have been Moss Agate pieces.  Personally, I love the natural inclusions that gives each bead so much character.  Check out this link for more metaphysical properties of Moss Agate.  The photo below showcases my favorite lariat from the Chinese Knot Collection accompanied by some Moss Agate.  I also have available a simpler lariat with just the Moss Agate stones.  Click the photo or click here to shop.

Click the photo to shop!