Friday, March 30, 2012

If I Win the Lottery

I could buy a Birkin...or two...or three

As many people know, The Mega Millions Lottery is now some obscene prize of $540 million dollars. More money than most people know what to do with, so I’ve decided that in honor of the lottery I will fantasize about how I would spend that kind of money. First and foremost, I would probably be practical and pay off a bunch of bills. Everyone can admit it, there are probably some debts hanging over our head that we would feel better just not owing. It could be something as simple as the last of the car payments or student loans. Once these things were taken care of I would probably go shopping.

 A Chanel in classic black is always good

Since I’m an accessories kind of gal I would probably buy a Hermes handbag, I’m thinking a Birkin. I’ve seen these bags on the arms of celebrities and at luxury goods sellers such as Portero. I would still want one in classic black or brown but just the thought of owning one of these handbags is unbelievable since some cost more than my first house. The things one could own when winning this much money pretty much has no end. You could shop for furs, jewelry, expensive clothing and shoes and probably never find the end of your “wants” list. If you noticed I put “wants” not “needs” because other than paying my bills I don’t really need these things. It’s like owning more than two watches. I found out long ago I only need two watches, one for everyday and one for nights out. After all, how many wrists do you have?

That’s the quandary of winning this much money. What to do with it and how to spend it. No matter what you do there will be people who think fulfilling your dreams with your money is selfish. I’ve heard horror stories of families and friends who are no longer speaking because of a few million dollars won in a lottery. Can you image the problems $540 million would cause? While I would never turn down this kind of money if I won it, I’m not crazy. I really don’t need it and while I’ve purchased my tickets I know odds are I won’t win, the thought of this much money is still a little daunting. I’m also sure once the thrill of going on a shopping spree is over the real task of what to do with the money and how to spend it wisely would rear its ugly head. I hate having to be practical.

So maybe winning this kind of money isn’t in the cards but it also may not be what I need to make me a better person. My closet is pretty stuffed after all and if I could buy anything I want would that make shopping and bargain hunting less exciting? Kind of like a Twilight Zone episode. Although I could use a few buck, so how about the $250,000, that’s not being greedy! I could do a lot with that kind of money and still have some left over to put in retirement. So no matter who wins good luck to everyone who bought a ticket. Someone has to win and my bets are on some office pool that bought a bunch of tickets. Although I feel sorry for their employer because the whole office will quit come Monday morning. For those who love to image, drop me a comment on what you would buy with your winnings, it’s good to have a fantasy and we still have a day to dream before the numbers are drawn.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Care and Feeding of your Jewelry

Yesterday I wrote about the glory of the natural stone. How it has an organic look that is perfect for spring and spring fashions. One of the important things to remember about natural stone jewelry is that it takes a gentle touch when caring and cleaning these types of stones. As an example, diamonds which are the hardest known natural mineral are a 10 on the Mohs scale. The Mohs scale rates the hardness of minerals from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest). The ability for the mineral to resist scratching determines where it sits on this scale. Natural stones can be relatively soft.

A pearl is quite porous and also soft. It has a Mohs scale rating of about 2.5. In comparison, an opal is 5.5 and quartz is a 7. Knowing where your natural stone sit on the Mohs scale is important. How hard a piece of jewelry is denotes how it should be cared for and also how it is stored. Since diamonds are very hard, it probably isn’t a good idea to store diamonds and pearls together as the diamonds may scratch the pearls and ruin their luster. By the same token cleaning diamond with mild chemicals in an ultrasonic cleaner is okay; cleaning pearls in the same manner will damage them beyond repair.

Natural stones need special care. It is probably best to stay away from any liquids, especially jewelry cleaning solutions. You can usually wipe natural stones with a soft jewelry cleaning cloth. Many jewelers include these clothes with purchase and if not, they are usually available for a small fee on an on-line store such as A jewelry cleaning cloth is also effective for cleaning diamonds and giving them an extra sparkle between ultrasonic cleanings so it’s a wise investment. Storing natural stones is important also since they are not as durable as other minerals. Even storing gemstones that are comparable on the Mohs scale together can lead to scratches or chips to the surface of the stones.

While the Mohs scale is not an exact measurement of the durability of a gemstone or mineral it gives a person the ability to determine the usage, care and storage of their jewelry. Since a delicate stone can be damaged more easily it should be stored wrapped in a soft cloth or padded box away from other jewelry that may damage its finish. Also a soft stone such as opal or calcite, a 3 on the Mohs scale, should be worn with care and make better necklaces and earrings then rings or bracelets as it is easier to scratch jewelry on our hands then around our necks or hanging on our ears. Knowing how to care and store your jewelry is half the battle and will increase the life of every piece you own. It’s important to take care of your precious and beloved pieces because we want to wear them for as long as possible.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Natural Stone

Now that spring is right around the corner, or at least it is suppose to be. I’ve been taking stock of natural stone in jewelry. Now I’m not talking about gemstones which I love, but stones like agate and quartz. If these stones are highly polished and paired with other stones it makes for a dramatic look. Another nice thing about natural stone is the natural feel because of its organic look. Natural stone has a more rugged and hand crafted feel that can translates into a sense of well being. I don’t know what it is exactly but it makes me feel good, but then again jewelry does that for me.

When spring comes around I move away from my more formal jewelry, diamond bracelets, structures precious metal pieces and precision cut gemstones to more natural shapes and stones. An informal piece of jewelry fits better with the more casual and flirty fashions generally associated with spring. It’s not that I don’t wear these pieces, come on, how long can a girl stay away from a diamond bracelet? It just feels better to wear jewelry that has a casual appeal.

I have a standard spring wardrobe that consists of blazer with t-shirt and jean with loafer or sandals, maybe the occasional skirt or sundress. This casual attire would look odd with a beautiful and elegant necklace, but I want to make this casual outfit just a little more dressy. A natural stone necklace with a mix of freshwater pearls, tiger’s eye and/or agate can make a dramatic statement yet keep it all laidback. I also love the fact that the stones aren’t perfect. When you purchase a piece of gemstone jewelry, it’s usually set in precious metal and has a defined shape and size. It’s beautiful and precise and it’s this precision that makes it look so formal. A natural stone doesn’t have to have an exact shape, it can be free formed which makes you feel more like a free spirit.

Different shapes, sizes and colors that blend add some interest is a fashionable look. For those who aren’t sure if this look is for them don’t worry, most natural stone jewelry is relatively inexpensive. So you’re not making a huge investment. Additionally, there are natural stone beads that can be added to a beaded charm bracelet. It will change up your look without depleting your bank account. That’s the nice thing about spring, the fabrics are breezy, the outfits have an unstructured look and most everything is easy on the budget. Can’t wait for some warmer weather so I can wear something natural, I love sweaters and scarves but I’m thinking it’s time for something organic and raw.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do You Have a Mascot?

Tony the Tiger has been around for years

I’ve never given much thought to company mascots, but apparently many do. These iconic symbols of a company can either give sales a boost or create a challenge. Part of the resurgence in brand mascots is due to the explosion of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter according to The Wall Street Journal, Knights, Pirates, Trees Flock to Facebook, Suzanne Vranica, 03/26/2012. People are actually having conversations with company mascots, while this is much easier than posting comments with a logo; it still seems a little silly. In truth, I follow some of my favorite companies’ Facebook pages and this includes large companies with mascots but I know that the posting is done by a marketing team or person, not the actual mascot, so how can I have a conversation with a cartoon character?

 Ronald McDonald has created a challenge as health advocates say he reels in children with poor food choices

Many companies are using their mascots to “engage” with the consumer. They are trying to build a bond between someone who purchases or would likely purchase their product from the company. Consumers do develop brand loyalty. Most large companies wouldn’t spend vast sums on advertising unless they were reaping some sort of benefit. This benefit usually translates into the consumer purchasing the product over and over again. Companies know that if they are instill a sense of trust, belonging or some other emotion that makes the consumer think of their brand first when purchasing, they’ve won a battle. When people think of laundry soap, Proctor & Gamble want consumers to think “Tide.” The same goes for facial tissue, who doesn’t think “Kleenex?”

 The sock puppet was so popular he started a second career as the Bar None mascot

This force of advertising is how companies reel us in. They create a company mascot that is both likeable and informative. The company puts a face on their product and this “face” is who we build a bond with, think Flo from Progressive Insurance. Currently Flo has 3.5 million fans on Facebook. That statistic in itself is mind boggling, but it is also illustrative of the power of a mascot. Apparently many people think that Flo the Progressive mascot is awesome and the Likes prove it! It appears that a sales pitch from a trusted company mascot is not as aggressive as a standard sales pitch in advertising.

 Is it weird that Twinkie the Kid has no voice on Facebook?

So while I may think it’s odd to hold an on-line conversation with Mr. Peanut, some people really go for this sort of thing. Although I do have to say that while Twinkie the Kid doesn’t actually have a voice on Facebook, it is a little creepy that there is someone out there posting for him in the third person, example, “The Twinkie Kid says his favorite snack is a Hostess Cupcake.” It does have that Napoleon complex surrounding the statement. So maybe a mascot isn’t so bad and who can dispute the positive attention that a good mascot can generate. Makes one think doesn’t it?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Advertising on the Internet

There are many forms of advertising on the internet. Even a blog is one form of advertising, I write about my business, my book or what interests me and other read about it. I can give my view about a product or an event. Many people love to read blogs just for this reason. It’s nice to hear what others think about something. A travel blog can give you the ups and downs of a particular site before you visit. A product review can let you know the pros and cons before you buy. I know I read a lot of reviews before I consider buying tickets or products or going somewhere. People are becoming involved with other people’s lives and the internet is a great facilitator.

Social media sites are becoming great places to get information. If you don’t know where you can get something you can always ask a friend. If you have a lot of friends, you will get a lot of answers. A You Tube video can help explain how to do something or what a product is all about. How many people have gone to You Tube to watch a “how-to” video on computer software, iPhones or other technology gadgets? When I was shopping around for a new netbook years ago I scanned the videos on You Tube to research each one. They discussed features, ease of start up and had tutorials on operation. It was free information, it was also advertising.

Many business people are making videos, ads and other forms of advertising and displaying them on the internet. The audience is massive and the cost is relatively low. There is even a website called “Fiver” that has an impressive list of people who will do something for you for just five dollars. The site is usually advertising orientated with pretty girls, cartoon characters and even cute kids and pets who will say whatever you want in a 30 second or less ad for just five dollars. Some of the work is quite impressive for a mere five dollar bill and others are downright silly. So even if you don’t have the time to make your own video, there is a place on the internet to find someone who will, for a nominal fee.

Advertising is one of the most important aspects of business and the days of advertising companies being the only source for an ad are gone. While large companies pay millions of dollars to companies to develop ad campaigns and buy time slots on network television, many companies don’t have this kind of budget. Most of us are advertising on a shoe string. But just because you don’t have a huge budget doesn’t mean you can’t get some advertising out there. Be creative, create word of mouth amongst your friends and acquaintances, be a little daring. You don’t have to spend a fortune you just need to be catchy. There are jingles and television ads by local companies that I saw as a kid and still remember to this day. They didn’t use a high priced Madison Avenue advertiser yet it reached their audience and created memorable advertising and isn’t this what we are striving for with our advertising dollars?