Friday, December 5, 2014

Who is Handmade

The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us, and many of us are preparing to swarm the big box retailers to gather all kinds of deeply discounted [mass produced] items. Meanwhile a niche of the global community is toiling away, creating things that can't be found in those stores. Makers in places near and far are designing, painting, carving, stitching, weaving, and building magical things, including a revival of small business values, such as attention to detail, customer service, ownership. But who is handmade, and why should you buy from them?
While I can't speak for every other creative person hoping to win your favor and your business, I can clarify in short, from my years in making and selling my art, what I do, why it has value, and why you should patronize makers and small business in general.
In fact, I'll just run down a quick list of what it takes for me to present something I make for you to add to your collection. I hope this list, in some ways, is a nod to what many creative professionals do, but I don't flatter myself to think I know their business like I do mine. Anyway, here's the quick rundown. In my [one woman] company, from the point of idea, to arrival at your door:
  1. Concept/design: including sketches, measurements, various details.
  2. Research unknown aspects needed for the piece.
  3. Acquisition of supplies.
  4. Trial and error, which happens even with an established, repeatedly created design.
  5. Completion of the piece.
  6. Pricing (including research) the new item.
  7. Photographing, photo editing, copywriting, for the new item.
  8. Shop/website administration
  9. Marketing and  promotion to help you find the item.
  10. Package design/packing/shipping.
  11. Customer service.
  12. Bookkeeping.
I'm sure I've left steps out, and they vary from one project/piece to another. Also, this list does not factor in the costs (such as advertising, overhead, supplies) to create original work and offer it to the public. It's a lot, and it takes organization, hard work, and dedication. When you invest in handmade/creative services/small business, you contribute to economic independence over big business, self sufficience over corporate control, and old fashioned ingenuity, resourcefulness, and creativity over mass-distributed indifference. I don't mean to turn a shopping choice into a political statement, lol, but the statement "we vote with our wallets" does have a ring of truth to it. What's more important for me to convey is the care and attention that goes into something you buy handmade. And choosing even one of the gifts you give from a small business, instead of one of millions off a conveyor belt this holiday season speaks volumes.
If you've read this far into my little crusade for "the little guy", thank you! And if you've patronized a small/creative business, thank you again! A very handmade holiday to you.

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    25 Random Facts About Me

    So I've read a few places that people like to know an artist's story. Apparently, folks like to have a connection between the creator and her work, perhaps as a context for the work. Well, my creative existence consists largely of packing orders, planning, and paint-speckled clothes. The mail lady and the neighbors might think I'm nuts, but I can't be glamorous while I'm doing messy work. That's the short of it. But for anyone interested in knowing more, here are twenty random facts about me, the writer of this blog, creator of the things featured in it, and all around "unique" person.
    my favorite chocolate chip recipe

    1. I love to bake chocolate chip cookies (and other sweets!) from scratch. I like the chocolate, but I pick up the cookies with the fewest chips, so I can savor the brown sugary, chewy cookie goodness around the chips more.

    2. I can whistle and yell exceptionally loud (and long). Not sure why I was equipped with these lungs, but they've come in handy under special circumstances.

    3. I can throw a baseball quite far. I mean I don't know the exact distance, but I'm strong and I can definitely get rid of one. Strangely, I didn't play a lot of sports in school. But I do like to be active and consider myself athletic.

    4.  I'm a two point parallel parker. Three on a bad day. (Maybe there's a correlation between that and my last name, Parker?)

    5. I'm fascinated by animals, I like most, but I don't have any pets.

    6. I wouldn't clinically diagnose it, but I can be a bit of a germaphobe. As in, I will use too much cleaner and wipe a surface multiple times until it "feels" clean. I know I've driven a few people crazy with this. I rarely get sick, and I think that's partly because I wash my hands a LOT. Not one of those rubbing the skin off situations, but I frequently go from one thing to another, from cooking to painting, to packing, to cleaning, and I wash my hands between tasks.

    7. Jazz (traditional, not easy listening elevator stuff) is one of my favorite music genres, and I happen to be a pretty decent shower singer. But I cannot scat. I get embarrassed attempting it even when I'm all alone.

    sprouts from Spring

    8. I love the outdoors and eating healthy. This past Spring, I got back into container gardening, and am growing a variety of (mostly edible) plants to one day be part of my dream garden.

    9. I love languages, I speak a little of several, and pronunciation is my strength (while grammar is my weakness). I love to discover old Latin phases, and decipher bits of languages using their common root words. I studied French in school, and don't remember everything I learned, but I spontaneously practice it while I'm working in my studio, cooking, or in the shower. (I know, I'm a dork) Often when I meet someone from another country, I ask them to teach me a few words (no, not those kind of words). Surprisingly, they've come in handy. I've got a couple of good stories around catching people off guard (in good and bad ways) by knowing what they were saying or speaking a few words that created a connection.

    10. I'm a country girl whose grandparents were raised on and around farms in the South. I love being out in the country, but I love a taste of urban life, too.

    11. I'm an introvert. Not the antisocial kind. The kind that likes to go places and do things, but needs her "me" time, to feed my brain, rest, and reflect. I like to get out, have fun, people watch, talk to friends, see scenery, etc. but I'm always glad to get home again.

    12. I love old movies and tv. Classic black and white, colorized, and even a few campy 80's gems. They inspire both my personal and creative style.

    13. I have absolutely NO use for horror movies or anything with graphic violence. They stress me out and affect my outlook. I'd rather watch a funny sitcom, historical documentary, or cartoons.

    14. I've never "fit in". Luckily, most of my life I didn't mind it.

    15. I've been a coffee drinker since I was about 2. Started making my own by the time I was 6. (Back then I was often up before my parents, so one morning I figured it out).

    16. I'm closer now to what I hoped I'd be doing when I grew up than I really thought I'd get. My creative pursuits are not always mistake-free, easy, or fun, but I think little old Renée will one day say "yep! I did it! And it was worth it! Heh heeehh!"

    17. I think of myself as deeply spiritual, I value my faith, and I think it keeps me balanced. I don't go around prophesying, but I don't mind being asked about my beliefs.

    18. One of my favorite things about me is my resourcefulness. I once cooked a casserole in a skillet on a grill during a power outage (and light rain). Yes, being hungry takes those abilities up a notch.

    19. I love to dance, and I'm pretty good at it. But it takes me longer than most people to learn dance routines or line dances.

    20. I don't have any tattoos. Birthmarks, yes (not saying where!), tattoos, no. I'm not exactly against them, and I've admired some. I just don't think I could ever commit to one.

    21. Sometimes facing a blank canvas intimidates the heck outta me! NOT, however, if I'm going at it with a specific inspiration in mind. Creating from a place of inspiration and passion wins out every time over creating out of a robotic sense of "must make something now!"

    22. I like to collect and hoard pretty greeting cards and stationery. I use them when I feel a person or occasion is worthy of my pretties.  I also like to send things via snail mail for a nice surprise.

    23. I'm pretty handy and I'm good at building and fixing things.

    24. I started drawing, painting, sculpting, building at a young age, and just never stopped.

    25. I have to get messy for my work, but I love to get all done up to go out. I love stylish, sexy clothes and shoes, but don't always have time for them.

    And there ya go. Probably more than you ever wanted or needed to know. So, are we kindred spirits on anything? 

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Appy Birthday to Me

    So, in case you didn't guess from the title of this post, today is my birthday. And instead of spending my self-mandated afternoon off in idle luxury, I'm researching apps and brainstorming,  because I think I want to make a creative app. So, one could deduce that, either I am insane, or that I view my work as a fun puzzle to tweak and prod and play with everyday till I get the results I want. Or both. I love being an artist.
    That aside, thinking about my birthday and the prospect of me creating an actual app for people to use (me?!), well, drummed up memories of my very first experiences coding creative stuff. I'm gonna age myself here, for sure, but I don't care. Raise your hand (okay, just comment) if you remember this:
    Commodore 64 "Microcomputer"

    Okay, so, that's about seven of you. But I will confirm loud and proud that my childhood included a genuine Commodore 64 computer. Which came with a huge, spiral-bound instruction book. And blank blue screen with blinking white cursor.
    fireball level
    My younger brother and I spent many afternoons playing Pac-Man and Donkey Kong (the chunky, old-school cartridges you blew into when they wouldn't play) on that computer. These were the pre-internet days! And I got my first experience coding by typing pages and pages of code to create one short "rocket blast off" sound effect on it. Imagine my young heart's dismay if I had made one tiny error in that pages-long code and the effect hadn't worked, lol. And I never expected to be still writing (and copying, and pasting) code this many years later!
    remember "syntax error"?!

    That's crazy to me, and it confirms how, if we pay attention, we realize we are on a journey, and everything we pick up along the way (good or bad) pours something into our direction in life. I love that "aha moment" I have when I realize certain experiences throughout my life equipped me with something (even if it was just a clue or a preview) applicable to the current chapter of my journey. I pay more attention to that now more than ever. Life really does come full circle.

    So, I'm spending the day enjoying the things that make my heart happy (research, reading, walking, sunshine, nature, making, planning, designing, dreaming, laughing, sharing, oh, and eating cake), even if some of them might be considered work to some folks. This has been a damn good, blessed 39 years (even the crappy times), I'm excited to have made it to the 4-0 milestone, and the craziest, loveliest, creative best is yet to come!

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    New Things

    I've been doing some tweaking here and there around my website, my shops, and my social outlets, and I wanted to share two new things I've finally found time to get rolling. I have an ages-old, neglected Pinterest account where I'm finally actively pinning. I'm finding and sharing some awesome inspiration there, and as someone who likes to feel she's maximizing every moment, pinning is an awesome way to fill time while I stand in line, wait for an appointment, etc. Find my boards, and what's inspiring me here:

    The other new outlet is my sketch blog, which can be found on my website in the drop down menu under "blog". There, I will be sharing some of my (often cryptic and crazy) sketches, some of which will become finished projects. If you've ever wanted an inside look at my work, this is one place to find it. Check out the first few posts here.

    I hope you'll take a look, and connect with me there, if you have a Pinterest account!

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    One Tip Tuesday: Can Do

    Okay, I know I haven't done a "One Tip Tuesday" in ages, but it's not because I don't love you, dear reader.
    Anyway, I wanted to share a ridiculously obvious tip for studio and beyond. You may even already employ this. But I know that I personally sometimes discover a good thing, then eventually forget it and stop using it. Today I'm talking about cans. Or tins, depending on what part of the world you're in. If you are at all familiar with my work, you know I like to recycle. A guilty conscience about landfills and a love of the potential of empty vessels and forms drives me.
    created Renee Parker
    various sizes around my studio
    Metal cans are no exception. I clean out empty cans of all sizes, and use them throughout my studio to neatly contain things and create a sense of order.  I often see fancy organizer collections at my favorite retailers (they come up with new ones EVERY season!). But if I bought every pretty container I admired, I'd have more storage than stuff to put in it. And that would defeat my ideal of less is more. So I skip the "store-bought", and slap some paint onto some classic cans.
    created by Renee Parker
    supplies corralled into cans
                      I love the end result: pretty, organized sanity. BUT today's tip is really more about something else I do with cans, that is a little like having an extra hand.
    Objects that I paint are often various shapes and sizes, and therefore tricky to work with. By accident one day I realized that most things I paint, glaze, whatever, sit nicely on cans and do not roll, slide, or fall. So I started saving extra cans just for propping things. It's so simple, I can't believe it never occurred to me before.
    created by Renee Parkercreated by Renee Parkerbowl on a can by Renee Parker

    For heavier or more cumbersome items, I simply place rocks in the can for stability. Cans make great paint/glaze/detailing stands that help me be productive without losing it because my subject won't sit still. You could probably use this trick for other things, too. And that's the tip.

    Find more  painted can inspiration on my creative reuse board on Pinterest: Click here.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Life Hack: Cheap Luxe

    One bouquet = 3 arrangements
    I love little things that come together to make a rich, happy existence, and I don't think having that kind of existence needs to be expensive. I'd like to share something I call a "life hack" that I enjoy doing from time to time. 
    I love having fresh flowers around, but as a self employed artist, I don't devote much of my budget (or time) to rolling in blooms everyday. When I do treat myself to flowers (or receive some as a gift), I like to max them out. Here are some examples.
    Grocery stores and markets are often looked upon with disdain when people think of buying fresh flowers. But I love finding pretty blooms to take home with my groceries. Places like this will often mark down bouquets to move out the older ones and make room for fresher buds. When I'm already stopping for groceries, I cruise by to see if any of the discounted bouquets appeal to me. Sometimes I find bunches of a single type of flower. Often, they are assorted bouquets like the one I used to make the arrangements pictured (right). To make the most of whatever I have, I divide them up into several small vases or other pretty vessels. Florists recommend cutting ends prior to putting them in vases anyway, so I go ahead and pick my containers, and trim my flowers down to fit the containers. I like to pick containers that are unexpected and compliment the flowers, so for these, I used a teacup that belonged to my grandmother, a little glass bowl, and a white ceramic bowl. I would have preferred to use a piece of silver from my other grandmother for the roses, but I didn't want to go searching for it, so I chose a white ceramic bowl. Here's another example of the same approach, different assortment, shown in steps:  
    from left (click to enlarge): BEFORE, an assortment from a florist, various small containers, screw on jar top, helpful for arranging in mason jars, water additive, trimming stems underwater (cut at an angle)
    AFTER: same flowers, sorted into mini arrangements
    The trick is to use several small containers that will end up looking full and vibrant, rather than one big vase that might look lackluster and sparse. I trim them underwater in a sink, as recommended, then arrange them into pretty bursts of color.
    I often group like flowers together for visual impact. I try to find ways to use most of the pieces in a bouquet, including the leaves, which helps each arrangement look lush and plentiful. Here's an arrangement I did in an old glass jar I saved after I used up the candle inside:
    flowers arranged by Renee Parker
    An empty candle jar, repurposed
    The size and shape of the jar and its mouth make 5-6 grocery store blooms and their leaves look much grander than they did in the refrigerated case at the store. Use your imagination and what you have on hand!
    If I'm using glass or crystal, I will sometimes use leaves, small fruit (like cumquats), or glass gems inside the container to hide the stems and make the arrangement look extra fancy. When I've finished arranging them, I add a little of the fertilizer packet that usually comes with the flowers, to the water in each arrangement. Finally, I put the arrangements in various spots around the house, so it feels like I have flowers and pretty pops of color everywhere.
    That's one of my favorite cheap and [I think] easy life hacks. Hope you try it, and I hope to share more of these soon!

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Makeover Monday: Long Necklaces
    Click to view this necklace in my shop.
    So I'm declaring this Makeover Monday, to address a pressing style issue. Underused adornment. Okay, how about "stuff we only wear in default mode, without adding our own flair".  Specifically, long single or multi-strand necklaces.
    How do you wear a long, rope style necklace? Do you simply wear it as is, or do you experiment with different ways to adorn yourself?
    I recently finished a new necklace for my shop on Etsy. It's a piece that's only been a picture in my mind, taunting me for months, until I finally found time to sit down and get it out of my head. I enjoyed creating this piece! It consists of five strands, with a lobster clasp and an extension chain, which allow adjustment of length and fit. 
    As I was taking  pictures of the finished piece, I began finding more and more ways to drape, wrap, and knot it, to the point where I kept saying to myself "one more!". I was really inspired by the endless ways a long necklace can be worn, whether it's multi-strand like this one, several necklaces grouped, or a single strand. These are only some of the ways you can wear long pieces. I'm seriously still thinking of more! So I may have to add more pictures later, lol.
    Click to enlarge image.
    I had fun with this, and I will definitely be trying this with some of necklaces in my own closet! Hope you're inspired, too. Find more info on the necklace pictured here.

        Etsy shop

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    A Thank You

    I don't really discuss my business financials, especially not on social media. But I recently reviewed my numbers, and I am less than $200 away from exceeding last year's total sales. In JULY. I've grown every year since I started, even if it was just in baby steps! I have my customers to thank for that. It's an exciting revelation. I love creating, and it's a privilege to be paid to do it.
    I track my growth regularly, but especially when I get frustrated because it feels like my progress is slower than I think it should be, or things still don't match my ultimate vision. I step back and compare where I am now to where I was in my work last year, and the year before. Notice the comparison is with myself. Not other business women. Not other artists (THAT would be DEATH to my creative spirit). But to myself, so I can gauge whether I've made any progress in different areas, and pinpoint places I might be stuck. It helps me help myself.
    I'm not saying that I don't ever look at other creative business people and think "why don't I have it together like her!", but I am saying that I know that is not productive. I've trained myself to admire others' work, branding, style, and go back to doing what I do best, improving, tweaking, believing in my own direction.   
    All that being said, there's still a lot I need to do to keep pushing my work to closer alignment with my dream. The numbers revelation was the perfect juncture to announce a little celebratory sale to kickstart the next phase of ideas, upgrades and announcements in my work. I would love to make it to last year's total before month's end. So I want to offer something special to show my appreciation, and to clear out some existing stock to make room for new stuff in the works now for fall/holiday. I'm offering a never before 25% off orders in my home website store and my shop on Etsy through July 31st. It's my way of saying thanks, and I hope you stick around as I continue to grow! You can say you "knew me when", lol. The discount does not apply to shipping or to custom orders, but it does include items that are already marked down in both stores! *Be sure to enter the promo code, 25OFFJULY at checkout to receive the discount (see shopping cart examples below for where to enter the code).
    Click to Enlarge. Website store cart (left), Etsy cart (right).
    Follow the links to start shopping.  And a big, huge, ginormous thank you to those who've supported my work in even the tiniest way. You make this possible!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Photo Finish

    Ugh. The season I've been avoiding seems to be nearing. Most of the pics seen on this blog, on my website, in my stores, etc. were taken with my trusty little Canon point and shoot (the rest with my cell phone cam). I've enjoyed it because its quick, convenient, and I don't have to concern myself with extra steps or adjustments prior to just snapping pictures.

    But I knew the time would come when I would have to bite the bullet and invest in a DSLR camera. Lately I've been finding myself yearning for more from my images (i.e. depth, color range, minute detail). The thing that bugs me most about this is that if I make such an investment, I will need to commit to learning the ins and outs and all the bells and whistles. Otherwise, why waste good money? Why does that bug me? Because it means carving time out to do that learning. Time that I would rather be spending making things, or planning to make things.

    While it's not my main focus, I do enjoy taking photos. Photography facilitates a lot of other work I do, so it's a necessity for me. I took photography as one of my elective classes in high school (35mm, enlargers, smelly chemicals and all) and enjoyed that. I love learning new things... but this is a broad, encompassing level, which I don't feel I have the focus to absorb yet. Still, I feel it's important for me to start planning. Luckily, I like to spend plenty of time procrastina- uh researching steps like this so I can make an educated decision and feel like I'm doing the right thing for my work (and my purse).

    So I've put it out there. Guess we'll see how this plays out. Hopefully I'll have a plan of action by month's end, and have it executed (new knowledge, equipment, and all) by the end of the year, if not sooner...

    Monday, May 19, 2014

    Monday Mediation

    A crazy Monday morning seems to be settling down into a manageable afternoon in my studio. I encountered a minor snag or two with shipping and a customer's expectations, but I put on my diplomat and customer service hats, mustered up some creativity, and faced it all head on. Things seemed to magically give way to messages about new opportunities, loose ends tied, and wonderful, kind messages from customers who had received their pieces and were happy. Yes! Take charge, and watch life make way for you. 

    I am continually thankful for all the wacky, fun, and/or pain-in-the butt jobs I've had over the years in everything from sales, management, customer service, to advertising, and yes, gaffing, to name a few. All of those (and many personal experiences), in some respect have prepared me to face Mondays like this and still love what I do (most of the time). Every. Single. Job.

    Working for oneself is no joke, but for those who truly want it, I would say don't despise time you spend working for others. Take full advantage of that time to learn and take notes for when YOU are the boss. I still draw on things I experienced as a teenager at my very first jobs to help me run my growing business today. I'm an artist, first and foremost, but there is no getting around managing every other aspect of promoting and selling my work until I have people who take care of that for me. And when I do, I'll know what they are confronted with, because I did the job myself first. I managed the Mondays (and every other day!).
    This is going to be a good week. [Psst- make yours good, too!]

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Good Bad News

    "... we are sorry to inform you that your application was not selected for the finalist round..."

    Why in the world would I be happy to receive this kind of message in response to submitting my work for an art competition? Well, I am, and the reason has several facets.  First, I should say that I am a full time artist. I spend most of my time creating things, and I sell what I create. That has been my goal since childhood, and, well, here I am. But since life and work are (ideally) about constant growth and learning, my passion and work are not about arriving at some cut and dry destination and stopping. So for the sake of continued growth, and because making a living (for me) requires diversifying, pursuing a range of opportunities, I submit my work and ideas to different entities. On top of making enough to pay bills and have respectable savings, my goal the past few years has been to set a minimum number of projects/shows/grants/opportunities to submit to, and to exhibit more every year. It is a challenge to juggle everyday orders with "big picture" efforts, but a necessary part of my artistic growth. And the more an artist submits, the more she faces getting a "yes" or often, "no".

    I got this message yesterday, and I was frankly happy for a number of reasons. First, I was happy that I could say this was another opportunity that I tried. That I didn't miss, or shy away from. The answer was honestly not as crucial to me as the feeling of taking advantage of a chance. And the more chances I take, the less it matters to me when some come back with a "no". Yes, it is a numbers game.
    I was happy that I've grown enough in my approach to my work that I didn't take the no personally and begin to question my whole creative direction. I now feel that as long as I focus on doing what I'm driven to do, and doing it to my best ability, with an eye towards my own standards of excellence, that's what matters. A few years ago, I would have cried and started picking apart every life choice I'd ever made, down to the breakfast cereal I bought in 2001, and wasted time thinking that if my work were more like this person's and that person's, I would be better/happier/more successful. But these days, I am drenched in the realization that I don't need to try to create like someone else does, or mimic someone else's style to be fulfilled and successful. What's mine is mine and will happen in its time. Also, how many of the same artist (or whatever you are) does the world need? We are all different for a very good reason. Don't ask me what that is- this was supposed to be a quick post.
    I'm [secretly] happy that I wasn't chosen because I can keep chugging along with other things, without the particular set of expectations that would have accompanied this "yes" (hey, I'm human, and though I can stir up some megalomaniac tendencies from time to time, sometimes I just wanna hide under a blanket with a book, or daydream and not be expected to create a masterpiece).
    I'm happy that, though I'm staying busy making a living (which in itself is a beast), I'm pushing myself to reach further, even when it's not necessarily comfy. Bigger goals have bigger requirements.
    Lastly, I'm happy that I know that whatever happens, I've eluded the what-ifs one more time, and have devoted time to things I will one day be glad I tried. What's the saying? "Do something today that your future self will thank you for." (paraphrased, not sure who to credit...)

    Okaaay, wow, and speaking of devoting time (my most precious commodity), I think time's up for completing this post. I got an afternoon waiting to be conquered. How about you?

    P.S. Just in case you haven't heard this repeatedly already, typing the word "happy" about a million times made me think of this, which is the truth:

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    An Artist's Tools

    Where I go to play when it's not sunny outside... (let's be real- I go here to play almost every day).

    color around my studio

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Low Tech/No Tech

    I'm SO not a tech head. Meaning, though innovation interests me, and I do things like write code and tinker with prototypes for my own designs, I'm usually the last on board for new gadgets. I haven't played a video game in years, I don't have a flat screen (who cares?), and I still sometimes use CDs and non-blu ray DVDs. Don't judge me. That stuff doesn't usually excite me. What does excite me are gadgets that improve my life, make me more efficient, etc. Yes, I do have a fairly recent phone. I use that and my laptop for my work. But for most other stuff, I allow the masses to try stuff out, sometimes for years before I break and buy. I would honestly rather have another book, or art supplies than zip zing zoom. 

    Now that I've said all that, I will shamelessly admit that something came along that challenged my [old fashioned?] sensibilities. Enter Google Glass. When I first heard about it, I was instantly intrigued. As someone who loves the idea of hands-free multitasking, instant photo referencing/research, and hopes to get rolling with more technique sharing, this new concept sounded awesome. Check out the video:

    Before you could say contradiction, I found myself signing up for Google's "Explorer Program" to buy and try this strange new technology. Last week, (after a few weeks' wait) I received an email from Google. An official invitation to purchase a pair of these space age specs while they are still in the testing phases. And after a quick look, I slowly backed out of the email, not completely certain that I wasn't being filmed like someone browsing in a brick and mortar store, being beckoned to open an account and sign a limb away. I haven't looked again, so I'm also not certain the email didn't self destruct. Let's just say, these special glasses are being valued higher than the most expensive trip I've ever taken (overseas!).
    So I've snapped out of it, and am back to my old low-tech ways. At least for now, lol. They're not off my wishlist, though. Maybe on my vision board...