The Bane of trying to be creative with too many options available

I just read an article from a woman whose title is toilet dress and it was all about her frustration dealing with independent patterns fit style and fabric choices I completely understand your frustration it is such a B major supplies companies out there mainly here in America Jo-Ann’s and Hobby Lobby, and God help us Walmart, leave little in the way of being creative. Yes I quilt but my interest is more in fashion.

Indeed, I have stuck with the big four (Vogue, McCall’s, Simplicity and Butterick) for basic construction needs but, I have found that I added my own special touches to set things apart from the typical look. Of course using these patterns can be helpful but can be a complete nightmare. I don’t even Venture into the ‘independent market’ for fear of what they’ll cook up, not knowing which we the sewing crew are used to or even want to try. I will grant you they have some lovely designs but fitting, draping, and sleeves can be a nightmare for those of us who weren’t familiar with fitting our own body types. And therein lies the rub.

Years ago I inherited 4 books from McCall’s, including one on Tailoring which completely opened up my skills in fitting, hand-stitching and even color Construction. It was here that I learned how to shape the bodice, things to be careful with the shoulders seam, and even pants construction (since WHEN has a crotch worked on ANY pattern without measuring 12 times?!?). Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am one of those body types where my trunk is a petit but my arms and legs are extra tall, hence my problem with measuring, measuring,  measuring the lone shoulder pad installation! How many here even know what a sleeve head is?

Needless to say, I am quite weary of the so-call independent designers because their visions are far outside my needs or skill set. As for the Big Four, I have patterns that are over 10 years old because they are all classic styles and I’m not a cocktail dress/ just for fun sewist (funky term but it works…) so my need for loungewear, or just hanging out is quite minimal. Of course, this much more to this conundrum. Fabric.

Those of us who are looking to design garments, or dare I say sew, are losing out on quality fabric, locally available. Now we have to go Prout poking around on the internet to see if we can find the right color, the rent material and the right price. The most important thing here, as I can see it, is making sure the fabric matches the pattern you want to make. The other problem is, there are no standards for purple, blue, green or even brown. Frustrating enough already, to say the least. Then we get into fabric content. These fabric companies have come up with all sorts of creative ways to describe fabric oh, so you have no idea if what you’re ordering will work with what you want. Wool gabardine from the Midwest has a bunch of polyester in it and won’t work in the Northeast. But I found one delightful company, up in Minnesota, that understands what February is like above the Mason-Dixon line. And because of their creativity, I have to do a lot of digging to figure out if I want to order 4.5 yards of anything on any site.

And, of course there’s buttons but I’ll save that for a future blog because that will be long enough by itself….

10 productivity tricks successful people use every day

I got this on my weekly email and think it’s REALLY good advice to share.  The piece below was written by:

Elana Lyn Gross, Monster contributor

1. Focus on your “why”

If you see your work as meaningful, you’ll work harder and be more productive as a result. At the start of the day, ask yourself what you love (or really like) about your work and what value you create for your colleagues or customers, suggests Steve Farber, president of the San Diego-based leadership coaching firm Extreme Leadership. “It will have an immediate, positive effect on your mindset and personal energy,” says Farber.

2. Check your email in blocks

If you spend all day pruning your email inbox, you’ll have less time to focus on your tasks at hand.

“Set three specific times per day to review your emails,” says Alex Moore, CEO of the Mountain View, California-based email productivity company Boomerang. “Research shows that it takes 64 seconds to fully recover from an email interruption, so checking email only three times a day can end up saving people 20% of time spent.”

3. Prioritize your to-do list

Add “organize your to-do list” to your to-do list ASAP.

Your first step is to organize all your to-do’s into one list instead of having one on your phone and one on your desk, plus a few random coffee-stained Post-it notes, says Matt Girvan, co-founder and president of My Gung Ho, a California-based productivity app company.

He says your next step is to choose the five to 10 tasks that are the most crucial. “This immediately shortens your giant task list and allows you to focus on what is really important.

4. Write a to-don’t list too

“Once you decide what you most need to do in a day, also write a list of what you’re not going to do, in order to make progress on your priorities,” says Brown.

Write down that you will not check social media until you finish writing an article or you won’t check your texts until you finish sending meeting agendas, for example.

“By writing down what we’re not going to do, we become conscious of our distractions and can refer back to our own intention as soon as we naturally feel the urge to switch to a new task,” she says.

5. Use your time (and calendar) wisely

Don’t fall into the workday quicksand of spending all day in meetings, answering emails and completing busy work.

“Blocking out time is an accountability trick,” says Claire Tompkins, a San Francisco-based clutter coach and time management expert. “It makes you honor the time you know you need to devote to that project.” If other people can see your calendars, mark this time as busy so that your time stays meeting-free and uninterrupted.

6 Get to know your optimal focus time

Are you more focused right when you get to your desk in the morning with a steaming hot mug of coffee, or after you’ve been in the zone for a few hours?

“Observe when you are most alert and how long you can stay productive,” says Tompkins. “Schedule your important work for that time of day and that length of time.”

If you realize you can only truly focus for an hour without having your mind (and mouse!) wander, schedule a short break after each hour of uninterrupted focus.

7. Resist the urge to multitask

You may think you’re great at moving seamlessly from one task to the next while listening to music or having the television on as “background noise”—but are you really?

“We’re far more effective and productive when we focus on individual tasks,” says Girvan. By doing so, you’ll find that you make more progress, produce higher-quality work and be more productive. (Win-Win-Win!)

8. Institute the “Five-Minute Rule”

If you can do a task in five minutes or less, do it right away instead of putting it on the metaphorical back burner.

“If you spend a minute or so understanding a task but don’t take action, you’ll have to go back and re-familiarize yourself with the task later on,” says Girvan. “Multiply that by hundreds of times throughout a week, and you’ll soon see large chunks of time wasted that could have been better spent.”

9. Track your progress

Celebrate your accomplishments (big and small) by tracking your progress.

“It’s easy to lose track of the progress we make,” says Lisa Skeete Tatum, founder and CEO of Landit, a New York City-based career-coaching tool for women. “Write them down and reflect every week to make sure you are making progress toward your goals.”

10. Take short breaks

You aren’t the Energizer Bunny; it’s okay to take breaks. (Just don’t take five-minute breaks every five minutes.)

“Take a quick, five-minute break and close your eyes, take a walk or meditate. Do whatever you need to do to reignite your fire for the final workday hours,” says Farber.

If your office doesn’t have nap pods or meditation rooms, do a few subtle stretches at your desk, go for a walk around the block, or refill your water bottle or coffee mug.


What it takes to be an Administrator

Definition of administration

1.performance of executive duties :  management worked in the administration of a hospital
2. the act or process of administering something the administration of justice the administration of medication
3. the execution of public affairs as distinguished from policy-making

4. a body of persons who administer b often capitalized:  a group constituting the political executive in a presidential government a member of the Bush administration c :  a governmental agency or board the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
5. the term of office of an administrative officer or body during the first Clinton administration¹

Office workerAs an office Administrator for more than 7 years now, I have taken care of everything from dry-cleaning to dish washing. Although a good part of my job description does not include the usual office jargon, everything that I do has one goal: keeping an office running smoothly no matter what challenge or problem arises.  Another way to look at it is the idea that my boss should not need to worry about anything but the business at hand and part of that is supplying the back up so that they can do their job well.

In this ever-changing world, knowing what the current movements or trends are is essential to business support.  Along with that, computers, printers, coffee machines and the latest in Washington’s version of Labor laws, the Office Administrator has the expertise to keep track of all these things. The Robert Half organization has done a lot of research on what it takes and has come up with a pretty handy list.

“Knowing the three T’s of the industry — terminology, trends and technology — means, as a new hire, you can begin to contribute immediately. A savvy administrative professional is not only familiar with these concepts, but also knows how to use them to full advantage.

Terminology — Knowing the language of a particular business sector means an administrative assistant new to the company can keep up with and contribute to conversations in the workplace right from the start.
Trends — Today’s administrative professionals should be knowledgeable about industrywide trends. They should also be thinking proactively about how these trends could potentially impact the company.,
Technology — Employers prefer administrative professionals who are not only tech-savvy but also well-versed in the company’s most often-used technology. They look for individuals who proactively stay up to date through training so they can maximize these tools.2
Does this mean said Administrator needs to spend a decade or more in some educational institution? Not in my view.  What it means is keeping up, paying attention and figuring out what the Administrator needs to do to keep up. This is all part of the Bottom-Line concept. To quote Bachman Turner Overdrive, it’s Taking Care of Business Every day. Hum if you like, that should be the theme song for everyone out there that oversees company operations. Of course, office minutiae, if you will, is only half of what it takes to get the job done.²

The other half is People. Be it staff, vendors, department heads, or the Boss’s nephew who just graduated from some hefty University, the half of what a good Administrator needs are People skills. Knowing how to negotiate, having the ability to foster collaboration, and recognizing talent are all essential. Robert Kartz from the venerable Harvard Business Review wrote what I deem the most definitive article on what it takes to be a great Administrator. Granted, his article was written in 1974 but, it’s relevancy is still at the forefront of today’s business needs.

In particular is what he has written about people skills.  The ability to speak to someone is the base of a rather important skill in the business world.  What Kartz has done is figured out what direction an Administrator needs to head in order to manage staff.


Human Skill

I now believe that this kind of skill could be usefully subdivided into (a) leadership ability within the manager’s own unit and (b) skill in intergroup relationships. In my experience, outstanding capability in one of these roles is frequently accompanied by mediocre performance in the other.

Often, the most internally efficient department managers are those who have committed themselves fully to the unique values and criteria of their specialized functions, without acknowledging that other departments’ differing values have any validity at all. For example, a production manager may be most efficient if he puts all his emphasis on obtaining a high degree of reliability in his production schedule. He would then resist any external pressures that place a higher priority on criteria other than delivering the required output on time. Or a sales manager may be most efficient if he puts all his emphasis on maintaining positive relationships with customers. He would then resist all pressures that would emphasize other values, such as ease of production or selling the highest gross margin items. In each case, the manager will probably receive strong support from his subordinates, who share the same values. But he will encounter severe antagonism from other departments with conflicting values.

To the extent that two departments’ values conflict with each other, skillful intergroup relationships require some equivocation. But compromise is often perceived by departmental subordinates as a “sellout.” Thus the manager is obliged to choose between gaining full support from subordinates or enjoying full collaboration with peers and/or superiors. Having both is rarely possible. Consequently, …internal intragroup skills are essential in lower and middle management roles and that intergroup skills become increasingly important in successively higher levels of management

If you are looking for a good Administrator or strive to be one yourself, Kartz’s article should be considered biblical in both size and importance. Of course, since it was written in a time that had very few computers, NO cells phones and office hours were solely 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday so the other skills I have mentioned should also be considered essential to today’s office Administrators. And what does this mean to the crew that wants someone to manage their details? You need to seek out someone who is willing to learn, willing to teach and willing to nurture.







Hi folks,

I know most of my posts are about cooking (will post a few recipes really soon) but I can’t help but state my opinion on the current crisis.  First of all, I married an emigrant.

The process was arduous but not hard.  It cost money but not a huge sum. There was some bureaucracy to be dealt with but nothing surprising. Oh, and that test? Think 7th grade Social Studies, and no, you don’t have to memorize the Capital of North Dakota (Bismark for all you East Coasters…).  It took my husband 6 years, while holding down a steady job, and a couple of trips to various agencies but he did it. Sound impossible?

Because I went through the process with him, I have given a lot of thought to the idea of solving a slightly different problem. Most of what I’ve heard about farm laborers is that they don’t speak English or they didn’t register. What if the farmers took 10% of their profits and each working gave 10% of their wages to a fund that would pay for their citizenship application? Beside that, loop in the Churches and communities to help them learn passable English. That’s been done with several other communities and does require some effort but the most that is needed is the desire to help. Big Deal? You bet!

Instead of pointing fingers and pontificating on the evils of Board Patrol, why don’t we try and solve the problem by providing answers? Is it really too much for people to volunteer some time? Is it really too much for those beastly, nasty, greedy Financial Institutions to set up savings accounts FREE OF CHARGE? Do we need to get a bunch of White, Anglo-Saxon Capitalists to put their heads together and get this going?

Sure, this sounds complicated but if we all gave some effort, we might just solve the problem.

Where would we be without friends?

The song that comes to mind is “He ain’t heavy, he’s my Brother.” Over the past few months I have been challenged with a number of struggles that most people would collapse from. I didn’t give any thought to asking for help, I just tried to figure my problems out by myself.

Cancer? I have a bunch of Doctors and a lot of research. Child problems? More research and asking a lot of  questions. Finances? Dig, Dig, DIG to find an answer (including Lottery tickets…). All these problems/questions I tried to figure out on my own but, somebody upstairs said, “Hey, STUPID! You’ve got buddies galore! Ask for HELP!” (A blog on my spirituality but dislike of organized Religion will pop up at some point).

Now the average homo sapiens would yell, “HELP!” but, me? I started paying attention to all the letters, notes, cards, texts, emails and phone calls from all the people who know me as a friend.  You’d think I would have given in and said, “oh please!” immediately but, no. Instead, I muddled in and tried to solve my problems. Then things got a little harder to ignore.

Friends came to my house, packages arrive in the mail and people brought gifts of every kind. They took charge of what needed to be taken care of.  After the last “rescue,” I realized that I must be the luckiest person on Earth to have such an out-pouring of concern. Was it something I said? Did? Didn’t do? Took care of? Helped out with? Gave counsel for? Some how I was blessed and awakened to the fact that a lot of people love me and I am forever grateful for all of their help.

In sympathy of calculators

I have been using math, in one form or another, for the past 46 years.  It all started with measuring insulin dosages (that’s another blog post down the road…) and I learned early on, numbers are my favorite thing.

Forever and always, 2 + 2 will equal 4.  There’s no semantics, underlying meanings or inuendos, just answers. What I find funny is that many folks are scared of math, somehow intimidated by a jumble of figures. I think the fear comes from not knowing what to do with those numbers, not knowing how to figure out what the answer is. My father was one of those people who could think on their feet and he wow’ed people all the time with facts and figures.  Of course, his progeny had to follow in his foot-steps so he told us, NO CALCULATORS until we handed him a Bachelor’s diploma.  Anyone can get a High-school diploma, but a Bachelor’s???  Need less to say, it took me 10 years to graduate (another blog post down the road…) and I got my first calculator when I turned 32.


Did I jump for joy? Did I wear it out trying the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division keys?  No, it sat in the corner and collected dust for a long time.  I had already developed several methods or calculating in my head so to punch buttons almost seem redundant, wasteful. After college, I worked in Sales and wow’ed my clients all the time by figuring out costs in my head but I could never figure out why they were so surprised.  To me, it was easy.  Like I said before, nothing ever changes when you add things up so where’s the angst?

And to the world out there, is math something you hate? Is it something that scares you? Or is something you can handle without a lot of problems…?