Productive long weekend

27 04 2009

Some long weekends are just about relaxation; others are more productive. My Anzac Day long weekend was a bit of both — and the relaxation and productivity actually went hand in hand… it’s not hard to do something if you’re enjoying it! The weather was fantastic, so that helped.

Some of the things I accomplished this weekend, very few of which were on my ‘to do’ list:

  • Updated personal and business accounts (not so pleasurable, but it has to be done).
  • Did some gardening — mostly clearing out the leaf litter near the now-exposed fence.
  • Installed Atlassian’s Confluence wiki on my PC — this was a pretty painless process (yes!), and I’m very impressed so far with the capabilities of Confluence and how it overcomes a lot of the issues associated with previous wikis I’ve worked on or with. I was also impressed with the deal — $5 for a 5-user system!! (Sorry, the deal’s finished now, in case you wanted your own.)
  • Made a luggage tag from an image in my mind of one I saw my friend Sue had at the conference. Documented and photographed the process, then wrote up the full instructions in a pattern, tested the pattern by making another luggage tag based purely on the instructions. I’ve now added this pattern to my Etsy store.
  • Packaged an Etsy order for a friend in Connecticut.
  • Watched a thriller of a football game on Anzac Day between Collingwood and Essendon — Essendon won at the death knock (sad).
  • Did some cooking, and visited a friend.

All in all, a relaxed stress-free weekend… There should be more of them!

Stimulus package — gone before we got it

26 04 2009

I’m the only one in our household to receive the $900 “Stimulus package” cheque from the Australian government, and it was all spent on Friday before I even received it!

We had to get 4 new tyres for my husband’s car and 2 for mine (there went $750+), and my husband has to have new prescription reading glasses (another $400+). We got home from getting the tyres fitted and there was my $900 cheque in the day’s mail. I had hoped to buy a new stove with it as the oven on the old one doesn’t work properly and can’t be repaired. But the tyre fitting people and the optician ended up being the recipients of Kevin’s largesse.

BTW, you don’t find out until later that there are a LOT of people who are NOT eligible for this $900 “Stimulus Package” payment. For example:

  • Self-funded retirees living solely off their retirement funds — even if those retirement funds are small — who don’t have a taxable income and therefore don’t pay tax (i.e. those over 60, and some under 60 whose Superannuation fund is tax free)
  • Pensioners and other welfare recipients (they don’t have a taxable income either)
  • Anyone under 18, even if they have a taxable income
  • Anyone with a taxable income over a certain amount ($100,000??) for the past tax assessment year
  • Anyone who didn’t submit a tax return last financial year

That eliminates a lot of people!

And I wonder if the $900 Stimulus Package was really just a con to get a helluva lot more people filing overdue tax returns. The media reports indicate that accountants and tax agents have been inundated with people trying to file before the deadline — in some cases, they haven’t filed a tax return for 10 years or more. No doubt many of these people have now filed so they can get their ‘free’ $900, but they haven’t received their tax bill or overdue penalty from the Tax Office yet. There could be a few nasty surprises in store — surprises that cost far more than the $900 they might or might not get.

The cynic in me says this was a very handy way for the Tax Office to ferret out all those people who have been lax in submitting a return, and all those younger people who just haven’t been bothered submitting a return since they started work. I suspect the Tax Office’s database (and therefore net) just got a little bigger…

New photos for Etsy store

25 04 2009

I realised that a lot of my photos just weren’t showing up very well on my Etsy store. I’d taken them several times, trying to get the light and resolution right.

One of the issues was that small items are hard to take with a bog-standard digital camera (no macro lens), and then there was the light and shadow, and my early attempts at reading and understanding the photo rules for Etsy. I thought that Etsy photos had to be 430 px wide, so I diligently resized everything to be 430 px wide… only to find out that 430 px is the minimum width, and 1000 px or wider is recommended to avoid blurry photos.

I also found out some more information on the Etsy Forums, including a link to this great tutorial on how to make a light tent or light box for taking photos of small things, and information on such new subjects (to me) as white balance, etc.

I fiddled around with the settings on my camera and experimented with my light box and my new (free!) OTT-lite daylight desk lamp, and hunted out my husband’s old camera tripod. After a good day of taking photos, loading them up, experimenting with setting after setting, I think I’ve got a better handle on taking photos of my fabric art items.

I’ve now uploaded the replacement photos for most of the items, and I’m happier with them. They’re still not perfect, but for the purposes of displaying my work, they’ll do.

And the light box definitely makes a difference.

Oceanic Blues

Oceanic Blues

Even incident reports can be funny

16 04 2009

I just saw this incident report from a client (who shall remain nameless). Normally I just skim these, but the first line of the incident caught my eye, so I kept reading. The incident wasn’t funny, but I laughed out loud at the final sentence 😉

BTW, “IP” is “Injured Person”.

There's even humour in incident reports

There's even humour in incident reports

Clever Seattle t-shirt

15 04 2009

I found this t-shirt downstairs at the Pike Place Markets in Seattle — I thought it was pretty clever and entirely apt for Seattle (note the dates…)! So much so that I bought one.

Witty Seattle t-shirt

Witty Seattle t-shirt

A nice Mastercard-style invoice

14 04 2009

A good friend of ours, Dave Gash, is a JavaScript guru amongst other things. Dave’s tried to teach me JavaScript and while I can understand what a function is trying to do, I can’t write the stuff!  Anyhow, when I was in southern California prior to the conference we both spoke at in Seattle, I asked Dave if he could make a thingy (technical term!) for my website that showed snippets of some of the testimonials and recommendations I’ve received from clients, conference attendees, etc. He said “Sure!” and a few days after the conference was over he had emailed me a prototype. With a little tweaking on my end to make it the right size, use the right font etc. it works a treat!

So I ask Dave for an invoice, and this is what he sends me:

Scouring looking for code to steal modify: $0
Approving nods at original author’s ingenuity: $0
Frowny faces at original author’s sloppy-arse code: $0
Reformatting code so I could frigging read it: $0
Ripping out and throwing away about 90% of it: $0
Merrily tinkering with it until it did what I want: $0
Adding ‘random’ feature original author didn’t think of: $0
Smug self-assurance that my version is way better: $0
Doing something nice for one of my best mates: $0
Total cost: One (1) outstanding lunch at Tip Top Meats [German restaurant in Carlsbad, CA]

…and would you look at that, you’ve already paid in advance! 🙂

Thanks Dave! I owe you one.

If you’re looking for someone who can get very techy with web stuff, Dave’s available for hire for long or short projects or even little bits like he created for me. His background is computer programming, but don’t hold that against him! He can work anywhere in the world via the internet (I’m in Western Australia and he’s near San Diego). You can contact Dave via his website: or email him at

My Etsy store is now live!

11 04 2009

After some months of making products, taking lots of dud photos, writing descriptions, defining shop policies, etc. I have FINALLY opened my Etsy store! Woohoo!

It’s called “Rhonda Made It” and it’s here:

I’m selling some of the little fabric pieces I’ve been making that I’ve featured on this blog, such as sets of coasters, landscape fabric art cards, bookmarks, etc. And there are some that haven’t appeared on this blog too — I wanted to keep some as a surprise! Go take a look!

I think I’ve mentioned before that there’s little to no money to be made in handmade crafts because you pretty much can’t charge for labour. My store is a case in point — some of the pieces took 5 or more hours to create, in which case they would be well over $100 even at a low $20 an hour for labour. The Japanese Meshwork, for example, took more than 8 hours to create plus there was a workshop fee of $45. I’m selling it for only $60, which *might* cover the costs of the workshop and the materials, but only just.

Anyhow, my store is now up. I’ll report back every so often as to the views it’s getting, and how the sales are tracking — or not.

rhondamadeit_banner_smaller(BTW, I have lots of timeout issues with Etsy on Firefox, but not on Internet Explorer, so if you can’t access the store easily, try it in IE — even if you’d rather not touch IE!)