Friday, March 23, 2012

Hot Enough for You?

'Is it hot in here or is it me?'
Before I get too many smirks from you about being middle-aged (and then some) here's something to chew on:
The recent March heatwave that's swept Chicago and much of the country in the past week  has caused quite a buzz among even non-scientists and others concerned about global warming. While I admit to enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and getting an early start on the yardwork, it is cause for concern.
What will the summer be like? Some fear it will be hotter than usual; other weather forecasters say there's no way to predict, at least this early in the game.  
Of more concern are the crazy weather patterns of late throughout the country. Snow in Arizona. Areas of the country, such as California, normally warm at this time of year, have checked in at 15-20 degrees cooler than the 80's here in northern Illinois. Floods. Drought. Fires. Hurricanes and tornadoes of ever-increasing strength and frequency.
If the global warming folks are right - and the weather seems to bear that out - then we can expect more of the same, and it will probably get worse over time.
You and I are contemplating pricetags on electric cars or hybrids, as well as making our homes energy-efficient, recycling, reusing and reducing even as  the petroleum and energy industry lobbyists are working fast and furiously at the behest of the polluters. The oil, gas and coal industries continue to pay huge sums to deep-six any extension or enforcement of legislation aimed at putting the brakes on the polluters.
Among the siren calls of the energy industries is the inducement of jobs creation, such as ballyhooed by the Tar Sands project advocates. While on ice for now, the project, like zombies in a graveyard, threatens to be resurrected and reintroduced, with the potential to cause untold harm to water resources, farmland and the populations living around them.
As Dr. Jeff Masters dubs it in 'The New Normal? Extreme Weather and Climate' article on the Sierra Club's website,  "Global Weirding" may indeed be the New Normal, the inevitable result of decades of pollutants producing CO2 and other gasses that trap heat and affect weather patterns around the globe.
The Sierra Club offers not only information but ways to fight back, including buying shares in 'green' companies, as well as organizing house parties, joining the Mobile Action Network,  and participating in campaigns, such as the current 'So Sue Me!' which protests the actions of Shell Oil in drilling in the Arctic at the expense of polar bears and other wildlife.
I have seen videos of polar bears helplessly paddling for miles, trying unsuccessfully to find an ice floe to rest on before succumbing to fatigue and drowning, as well as the sight of aerial photographs clearly showing shrinkage of the polar ice caps. I remember all too well the sight of dying, mucky oil-covered birds and other animals from the Exxon Valdez spill over 20 years ago. More recently, there was the damage of many hundreds of acres of Gulf coast shoreline, and the tragic loss of lives, of the BP oil rig disaster.
LIke it or not, the hot winds of climate change are blowing harder than ever - and we're all in harm's way. The window of time to slow, if not stop, the damage is shrinking, but it can be done. Whether we will muster the resolve to do so remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Get Rich Click! by Marc Ostrofsky

Get Rich Click! by Marc Ostrofsky
This is a good guide/reference book (the above link offers more info) if you're interested in monetizing a blog or website. It walks you through the process and gives some great real-life examples of folks optimizing websites and blogs for a bit of extra income. Marc seems to have a finger in just about every monetizing pie out there - well worth the time and money spent reading.

The only quibble I have with it is that (unless I somehow missed it) there's no mention of Amazon's 2011 dumping of many of their affiliates in Illinois and elsewhere in states where those states have enacted legislation changing the status of affiliates. As a result of these status changes, charging of sales taxes on purchases resulting from affiliate referrals is now the order of the day. As a result, thousands of Amazon affiliates here in Illinois alone (who as of 2010 produced $9 million in sales for Amazon!) are left out in the cold. I was a former Amazon affiliate myself, and not very happy with their short-sighted decision.

Luckily, eBay doesn't resort to those tactics...as of several days ago, according to one of their representatives, they have no intention of dumping their hardworking affiliates ('Partner Network'), bless 'em!
Stay tuned....!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Special Offers & Savings from Aura Cacia

Special Offers & Savings from Aura Cacia
Love their products! I've been to several Herb Fests in Norway, IA, where they were based (at least back then) and they were one of our better sellers when I worked at the Fruitful Yield Vitamin Store when it was in Downers Grove, IL. As a result I carried this line, as well the wonderful teas and bulk herbs by Mountain Rose Herbs, when I had my store in Lockport. 
Aura's website offers specials and other goodies - click on the link and check it out!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

HerbsEvents | Ozark Folk Center

HerbsEvents Ozark Folk Center
Herb lovers: This is a really cool place to visit if you're in the area - check out one of their workshops or festivals!
Wish we had something like this in the Chicago/ DuPage area...if anyone knows of one (other than a garden center, etc.) please let me know - just leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

By My Own Bootstraps

Job-wise, it's been quite a spring.
Left the sales job in March that my former boss rehired me for last fall (after cutting my pay/ hours again for the 3rd year in a row), then in late June started a new gig closer to home, even if the pay was a bit less than I'd like.
Still needed a 2nd income, though.
What to do? Work for the nearest big box at peanut wages?

Back in February I started writing articles for Yahoo's Associated Content, after getting my feet wet at Triond. That was fun, seeing my name in (electronic) print.
Then in June I applied for a post with Examiner.com and landed the spot of Chicago Herbal Kitchen writer. ( www.examiner.com/herbal-kitchen-in-chicago/mary-schnibben )
That was even more fun and a great learning-curve experience. (I'm still at it.)
It pays but still needed more - like hourly or a lump sum $.

A couple months ago I was Googling around here and there and came across a site that's perfect for what I'm looking for right now - and may just be a good source of full-time $ down the road: oDesk.com. www.odesk.com
oDesk is a website for anyone using a computer (or phone, etc.) to make a living. Are you a writer? There's work out there waiting for you. Trying to break into graphic design? Ditto. The list goes on - including customer service, sales, PR and more. The assignments (their term) are generally temporary but can go longer term if there's a good fit between client and contractor (that's me.)

At the time, I didn't feel like going through the application process but last month finally sat down and did the deed.
After filling out and signing the electronic tax forms (so I can get paid!) I spent most of the next week fleshing out my online profile, taking proficiency tests to boost my standings and generally working up my nerve to finally apply for that all-important First Gig.

Then it happened: I applied for a job posting and - about 12 hours later - TA DA!!!
They liked me!!!
They liked my writing!!!!
I'm now a *REAL* (=$) writer !!!
Then along came another job..and another. A few days later I got an unsolicited invitation to apply for a job doing (ghost) rewrites for a website. Then came a craigslist medical writing assignment (for which client I'm still working.)
Although my name won't see the light of day for most of these assignments, the fame is less imporant than the fact I'm using the skills, education and experience I've accumulated over the years to make my living for clients who need and like what I have to offer.
Like ripples after a pebble hits the water, so it goes. One after another.
For the first time in my working life I have something going for me that's close to job security.
And, oh yes, the blessing of doing something I love, something I'm good at - and for a paycheck too.
Sweeeeeet.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Blogger is Born!

Hi - I'm Mary (of the Greene Wood!) -
(Today's my first try at blogging, so here goes: )
A bit about me: I'm a mom of 2, (proud!) grandmother of 4 (soon-to-be-5.) Except for a few months in California in '73 as an Army wife and a year in nearby Naperville, I've lived in Woodridge, IL since1959 when my parents moved here from Brookfield, IL. I remember telling Mom back then how much I wanted 'a garden of my own' - and I got one, once we'd moved in and put in soil, etc.!
I've been gardening ever since.

Tree Hugger
After my family, my gardens are the joys of my life. I love growing flowers, especially perennials such as purple coneflower, yarrow, black-eyed Susan, phlox, and other flowers and herbs beloved by butterflies, bees & hummingbirds. I planted 2 small patches in the front yard and a longer one in back with plants selected for my winged buddies in mind as well as my own enjoyment. As soon as I can, I'll put up photos of some of my colorful visitors.
I grow organically and compost, avoid chemicals and try to keep the safety of the birds and other critters in mind when I use any outdoor products. ('Roundup' and 'Cutter' are 'no-nos'!)
I'm thinking about going for Master Gardener status, but that costs more money & time than I have right now, but am keeping it in the forefront of my mind.
(There was a website on monarch butterflies that I found a few years ago; will look it up again as they offer a sign you can put up announcing that you offer a monarch-friendly yard/ environment.)

Health Nut
I'm pretty health-conscious, having worked for 5+ years at a local health food store, most of them as a Keyholder (1 step down from Asst. Mgr.) so I've had training and practical experience with herbs, nutritional advice/ supplements, etc. It bothers me when I see our government trying to block access and (over) regulate the use of herbs and supplements. I take no Rx drugs - I watch what I eat, have a mostly-plant-based diet with plenty of fresh veggies/ fruit (some of which I grow in my 2 tomato/pepper/green bean/squash patches out back), get exercise, take omega-3 fish oil ('Fisol' is one of the best I've tried - it doesn't leave a fishy aftertaste and it keeps arthritis under control beautifully!) and B vit's (for brain - need all the help I can get!), calcium (citrate is the best form) for the bones (I had a stress-fracture last year), and that's about it.
I want to stay strong and fit for as long as possible - who wants to go through life ill and in pain??

Artsy Fartsy
I love creating with gourds, fused glass and making jewelry; last year (2009) I had a booth at the Bristol (WI) Ren Faire - it  was fun but VERY expensive and I probably should have waited for things to improve economy-wise, as sales were slower on most of the weekends there than I'd experienced previously in other smaller shows. I've cut way back on shows overall due to the economy - and the fees in so many are ridiculous - often upwards of $500.  I've joined etsy.com - link here to *buy* my artwork!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/cbcraftwyrkes

**Warning! (Another) Shameless Promo Alert!!**
My son Craig makes some really awesome woodturned products - (sometimes I sold more of his stuff than mine at the Ren Fair.) 
 http://www.blacklanternwoodworks.com/ 
Want More Moola
Right now, my biggest concern is landing a job whose wages I can actually live on - not an easy feat when you're over 50! I need something beyond 'here & there' sales that I can count on. So far, not much - read last week that there's 5 applicants for every available job (assuming they're qualified!) so I guess that's a big part of the problem, besides age. My experience has been in retail sales, customer service, healthcare billing/collections, outbound giftware telesales, insurance claims processing and office management as well as fine crafts.
Pretty broad experience overall, but due to corporate cutbacks and the overall economic woes these days, will likely look to become an entrepeneur (again) - have toyed with the idea of becoming an independent giftware sales rep but gift buying is definitely down in much of the country, even in this more affluent area.  Will probably turn to the Internet (probably eBay, craigslist, etc.) for additional short-term income.
There's a good book I just read: "Selling Online 2.0" by Michael Miller. (www.molehillgroup.com) If, like me, you're thinking of getting some extra income from the I'net, it's worth reading, as it takes a lot of the guesswork out of navigating various online venues such as eBay, Amazon, craigslist, etc.
Speaking of craigslist, there's some good jobs to be had out there - lots of postings: try www.craigslist.org and see what's available. I've landed a couple of tide-me-over jobs and so have a couple of friends.

Whooo??
I also just joined an organization called 'OWL' - short for 'Older (and Midlife) Women's League.' If you're a woman "of a certain age" and interested in learning more about legislation, events and other topics relevant to us, then I suggest paying a visit to their website: http://www.owl-national.org/ - they're worth checking out.
Never underestimate the power of contacts and connections!
Please take the time to click on the link on their Home page to the info on Social Security www.socialsecuritymatters.org - the White Paper featured blasts the myths and overall b.s. about SS's longterm viability, the debate on raising the minimum retirement age, etc. right out of the water!
This is very important info - especially for women!

All for now, friends- I'll be back later (I have to use the library's computer for now, so can't get to a computer daily).
Have fun and many blessings!
Mary