Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

This is the final installment of the Rose trilogy which I have put off reading for a long time.  I loved the first two so wanted to be able to immerse myself in the final book and read it quickly which is hard to do for a 600 plus page book when you have kids.  The flight back from Denmark was the perfect time to do just that.

The book as usual is about the Bristow family and their relatives.  This book starts in pre World War I London and continues into the beginnings of the post-war period.  While Fiona and Joe Bristow are always the cornerstones of the story, this installment was mostly about the relationship between Willa Alden and Seamus Finnegan and their conflicted love story.  In the previous book the two had climbed Kilimanjaro together and Willa fell and broke her leg on the way down.  By the time Seamus got her to a hospital her leg was so gangrenous the doctor recommended amputation and Seamus told him to go ahead despite Willa's protests.  She hated him for it.  Despite that hate they still both love each other and have a hard time having any real relationships with other people because they are always pining for each other.  Willa flees London and conflict as she always does, which takes her on further adventures around the world.  Seamus tries to find love elsewhere but has trouble as well.

Along with all of this there are subplots that have to do with the war, including a complex spy ring.

Altogether an enthralling book which I enjoyed as much as the first two.  I wasn't able to finish it inflight, but I finished it within a week.  The book does a good job of tying up the loose ends in a satisfying way.  Sometimes very much what you would expect, and other times not.  

It's hard to summarize a book of this scope so I'll just say if you enjoy a good epic story of historical fiction, check out the Rose trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly.  You won't be disappointed.  I purposely took my time between each book as I wanted to keep the journey going with these characters as long as I could.  Honestly, I'm going to miss some of them.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Open Letter to Lia Ladies

Dear Lia Sophia Advisors,

I went to my first Lia Sophia party 5 years ago and was instantly hooked.  I didn't consider myself much of a jewelry person, but have acquired over 60 pieces over the years.  I love them all, have had only minor issues with the jewelry and have a couple of times taken advantage of the LRG no problems.  

I've considered becoming an advisor since last summer and really the only reason I haven't done it is that I've been underwhelmed with the starter kits.  Or more to the point - the stuff I like I already have.  I figure if I give this a try and don't succeed a starter kit with jewelry I love would be a nice consolation.  

Last year I wrote a post called 10 tips to having a successful Lia Sophia party and posted it on Pinterest.  It's been repinned a lot by advisors. I don't know if they share my info with their hostesses, but I'd like to think so.  When someone pins it, I check out their profiles and usually find other posts about Lia Sophia and tips on direct sales.

I've been able to learn a lot about the business from what active advisors have pinned, and I follow a bunch of different advisors on Facebook, but there are a few questions I haven't been able to find answers to.  If I've managed to keep your attention this far, I'd love your input.  

I'm a stay at home Mom and my youngest will be going to Kindergarten in the fall.  At this point I don't have a lot of time to myself but by then I will.  I'm looking to do this as a side thing not a major money earner, more a way to subsidize my jewelry addiction :)  

My question is, is it possible to be an advisor without doing in-home parties?  I realize that the most successful advisors do a lot of home parties, but I would have a hard time doing them.  Home parties would be tough as my husband's work schedule is unpredictable, my kids aren't old enough to stay home alone, and while I could get a sitter I'd rather not in case my husband DOES get home in time to watch the kids. If those sound like excuses, I guess in some ways they are, but the fact is I'm an introvert and don't want to give presentations to groups but I am fine one on one.  

One of my initial concerns was the Excellent Beginnings program requiring new advisors to have 3 parties with 5 weeks with a total of $1500 in sales.  That seems to have been replaced with the Smart Start program. Does Smart Stsrt have similar kickoff requirements?  What happens if you don't reach the goals? - my concern is not the amount of sales - the last inhome party I hosted had $1200 worth of sales from just 10 women.  But what happens if I don't get that 3rd party within the 5 weeks. After that my understanding is that you need a minimum of $250 of sales every 3 months to be considered active.  Can that be done with just catalog sales or independent orders?  

My plan would be to have an open house kick off in my home as my starter inviting pretty much everyone I know locally, then have a Facebook party for out of towners or anyone who couldn't be there a week or so later with a mystery hostess, but not sure what I would do for the third.  Maybe a fundraiser for a women's group I am part of (outside of my home).  I'm assuming if you do a fundraiser, the advisors commission is what becomes the donation to the cause, right?  I'm ok with that as I figure it would be a good way to grow the business.  Any other suggestions?  I know the usual way to grow these kinds of businesses is to have friends host a party, but I don't want to do that if I can avoid it.

How do you find the best upline for you?  The advisor who I've had home parties with most recently goes the traditional route of doing most of her sales through home parties.  She doesn't have much of a Facebook presence.  How would I find someone more in tune with my plan?  In case you were wondering, this is why I haven't contacted her with all these questions.  She's a successful advisor and she's a lot of fun but I'm not sure she would be the right fit.  

Looking at my calendar and local community events, vendor fairs, holidays etc, I have come up with a theme or sales pitch for each month to encourage/increase sales.  

I have "attended" a couple of Facebook parties and love the idea, just not sure how profitable those are?  I know for home parties generally 1/3 of those invited actually attend.  What is the attendance of a Facebook party like?  Are sales usually less or the same as a regular party?

I know all advisors can purchase a website on the lia sophia site with their info on it.  How often/easily can this be updated?  

Lastly, a couple of more general questions
- What do you NOT like about being a Lia Sophia advisor?  I know all the perks, but there must be some negatives every job has some (even if it's just a little pet peeve).  
- How much pressure is there to recruit?
- If you know any advisors who did not succeed, why do you think they didn't?

Thanks in advance for your help. Like I said I'm not ready to really pull the trigger on this until the fall, so don't try to recruit me now ;) but I'd love your advice.  If you would prefer to send me an email rather than write a long comment, fill out the contact form on the top right and I'll email you directly

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stitch Fix

After seeing 3 unrelated friends post on Facebook about stitchfix, I decided to give it a try.  They're pretty popular so there was about a month delay between signing up and receiving my first fix.

I answered a bunch of questions about myself, my sizes, and what I thought of certain "looks". The box arrived on Tuesday with 5 items, and little cards that show different looks using the items in the box.  Some using two pieces that I received but also showing individual pieces with basic items that most people either have in their closet or could easily obtain. 

I knew I only had 3 days to give my feedback so I tried everything on, right away decided I liked two items - a pair of skinny black pants and a black and white knit top.  There were two items I was on the fence about - a long teal sleeveless silk tank and a white jacket with gold threading.  Silk makes me nervous because I've ruined silk pieces before after only wearing them a couple of times.  The white jacket made me nervous because it's white (I have kids and I spill).  I also wish it were lined but that wasn't a deal breaker.  It's one of those pieces that can dress up an otherwise everyday outfit, now I just need an occasion to wear it.  The final piece was a navy sweater with a sailboat on it.  It fit well, but was made of an acrylic blend which I don't like and the big sailboat felt too preppy to me.  I waited a day after trying everything on and then did a fashion show for my kids.  They agreed that the sailboat sweater was a no, but also convinced me that my maybe pieces were worth keeping, along with the two I already liked.  The next day I packed up my one no, gave my feedback of what I thought of my pieces, and am looking forward to my next fix.  

The designers stitchfix uses tend to be relatively small boutique type designers.  I googled them all and only one - sanctuary who made the black pants - was available for online shopping.  The others were either wholesale or only or didn't even have a website.  

You pay $20 for each fix, but that gets credited to anything you buy.  My total for the four pieces ended up being $272, but you can set your price points.  At this point I'm going to stick with monthly fixes as I need to update my wardrobe, but you can schedule as many or as few as you want, there is no obligation.  If you want to give it a try, please use my referral link - yes I get a credit on my next fix, but I wouldn't refer you if I didn't like the service.  Stay tuned for details on next months fix.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Classified Necklace

I bought the silver Classified necklace over the summer and love it.  So far I have yet to wear it in any of the myriad of ways I've seen posted by various Lia sources.  Instead I braid it - like this

I plan on braiding it mixing the hematite and the silver soon too. I'd love to do a fishtail version so I could have an even number of each but haven't been able to figure out how to do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Good Trip

Heading home after a quick but good trip to see my parents.  I scored an entire row to myself on the flight there which meant I got to sleep for a few hours which was a huge difference from my last trip across the pond.

My aunt picked me up at the airport and gave me a quick update on my parents.  Mom fell two days before my arrival.  She didn't get hurt but it took her and my Dad almost an hour to get her off the floor, which finally helped bring her to the realization that they need to be living someplace where they can get help if need be.   My aunt admitted that while she helped them out a lot in the beginning after they came back from the hospital she purposely does it less now.  Partly becuase she lives 45 minutes away and has her own husband to tend to (who is in a nursing home himself).  But even more so, she wants them to realize that they need help (which I agree is the right move) They have a social worker who stops by every two weeks to check on them and they will discuss options with that person when she comes this Thursday. They have already arranged for an antique store to buy some of their things as well as a antikvariat to come and look at their massive book collection and see what if anything they would be interested in.  

We had agreed that my arrival would be a surprise to our Dad (as my sister's had been the day before).  He was happily surprised and shortly after arriving I gave him the chocolate chips cookies I had baked for him before I left.  He happily dug in and ate 3 and has been pacing himself ever since. 

My sister had taken it upon herself to plan a party for him - with 21 people in attendance.  Normally he doesn't like to be the center of attention, in fact for his 50th birthday he purposely booked a family trip to Rome fro us so he could escape any party plans.  My Mom knew about the party but we didn't tell him about it until the day before so he wouldn't get overly anxious.  Mom was already worried about where everyone would sit since their dining room only seats 12 but we spread them out and no one minded being split up or having some eat in the living room.

We did have one more surprise in store though.  My parents tend to be homebodies but they do have some good friends they have known for almost 50 years who live in a different part of the country so they don't see each other too often.  The friends are mobile and love any excuse to travel so quickly agreed to come to the party as well and would stay with family near by for the weekend.  We arranged for them to arrive an hour before everyone else so they could all catch up.

Around 6 everyone else showed up and I think at first my Dad was overwhelmed as they pretty much all showed up at once.  Our house is not that big so it quickly became a flurry of activity.  My sister, my cousin and I were busy in the kitchen with final prep, while everyone else caught up.  We did our best to keep my Mom out of all the prep as she uses a walker now, but inevitably had some questions for her and unfortunately she always seemed to find it easier to go get what we needed for us, rather than just telling us where things were.  

The meal went well - roast beef (one of his favorites) along with the traditional birthday cake.  My sister and I each gave a short speech.  Our cousins with young kids didn't stay too long after dinner as the kids were getting tired, but I think that worked well for my Dad too.  Everyone was gone by around 1030 and then after we relaxed a bit, my parents went to bed and my sister and I cleaned up everything.  

The next day my parents slept in and relaxed and my sister and I each went for a run and then went into town to pick up souvenirs for our kids and to meet some of her friends for dinner.  Which was perfect.  I think my parents needed a chill day after the chaos of the day before, and I know my sister needed a night out.  I was happy to tag along.  We went to a great restaurant that she found on line called madklubben near nyhavn.  It was a pretty early night and we were home by 1030.  We talked with my parents a bit when we got home.  In my sister's usual take charge style she tried to get my Mom to agree to see a therapist.  She's going through a lot with my Dad, and finalizing her aunt's estate, along with getting their own house ready to sell, and all of this without being very mobile.  There's no faulting her being depressed but she doesn't like to talk about it with us and I truly doubt that she will see someone, but we tried to impress upon her that we are worried about them and we worry because we care.  Hopefully if nothing else, she'll be more forthcoming with what is going on in their life, the good and the bad.  

The next morning my sister left and I went for a run at the Ermitage castle.  It was a beautiful spring day and I got 5 miles in.  Felt great to run outdoors.

Traffic jam on the path to the castle :)

I went to the store and picked up a couple of things for me to bring home and to tide my parents over until their food delivery.  Along the way I passed a cute little flower shop full of promise that spring is on it's way.  I helped my Mom get the house back in order and went through some of my old things including lots of dollhouse stuff for the kids.

After my sister's badgering the previous night that my parents need to get out of the house more, the three of us did go out for dinner.  Just a new local place a short cab ride away (actually owned by the same people who run the restaurant we had been to the previous night) which was very good.  She brought her walker with us to get in and out of the restaurant and when we got there it was a little tight to get to our table.  She had to collapse her walker a little so she could get through and the people on both sides were both very nice to scooch their chairs in to help her get by, but I could tell her pride was hurt that they even noticed her.  Still once we settled in we had a nice meal and since we had a late reservation, it was pretty empty when we left.   It was definitely good to get them out.  I doubt they'll do it much on their own, but I hope so.  

Now I'm back to my regular duties as Mom.  I probably won't make another trip out until the fall as we're getting into the more expensive season ticketwise, but my sister and I are planning on going back for her birthday in September.  No idea where they will be at that point but hopefully somewhere more appropriate.  My aunt's apartment closes on the first of April so hopefully once she gets that settled she can focus on their own needs.  I don't think we'll plan a big party again, something smaller.  Another long weekend (thankfully my husband is already off) with a nice dinner out and maybe a trip to one of the art museums she's always enjoyed going to.  I know it embarrasses her to use a walker or be in a wheelchair for longer outings but I would hate for them both to just give up and waste away at home.

Overall I feel better now that I have been to see them, and have a better understanding of how things are going. My Dad's memory is definitely worse.  He does help my Mom a little bit, but there are times that she'll ask him to do simple tasks, like bring something up from the basement for her, and he gets down there and forgets why he's there.  Or he will try to say something and it will be really vague and when asked for more information he's already lost his train of thought.  She understandably gets frustrated but I also think she's getting a little forgetful too which certainly doesn't help matters.  

At this point there are still a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but I feel better knowing that they have finally resigned themselves to the fact that a change needs to be made, as much as they hate to leave their home.