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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Archive for April, 2012


What do you think of when you see those bright yellow flowers in your lawn or garden?  Do you make a beeline for the weed killer?  Maybe you should revise your dinner plans instead.

Yep, I’m talking about eating dandelions.  That’s right, they’re edible!  What part?  ALL OF THEM.

The leaves (especially when they’re young) can go into your salads, or when they’re older (and a bit tougher) saute them with a little garlic and onion.  The flowers can go into salads too, or if you like you can actually batter and deep-fry them!  And then of course, there’s dandelion wine, for which you use just the yellow parts of the flowers.  The root (you know, every gardener’s least favorite part of the plant) is also edible, and is at its best between fall and spring when the colder weather causes the plant to convert starches to sugar.

Dandelions grow anywhere, propagate like wildfire, and are chock-full of important minerals and vitamins.  There’s iron, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, a slew of B-vitamins, and vitamins C, E, and D.  All in high concentrations!

There’s only a few plants that are really similar to dandelions, and in America the most common is coltsfoot.  You can tell the difference in a couple of ways, but the easiest is to look at the leaves.  A dandelion’s leaves are long and skinny, with distinct saw-tooth edges.  Coltsfoot leaves are rounder, kind of heart-shaped in fact, and they’re hairy (sometimes on both top and bottom, sometimes only on one side).  Coltsfoot won’t hurt you if you do eat it (it has medicinal use to suppress coughs), but it’s not quite as good for you as dandelion.

So next time you see one of these guys and start thinking mean thoughts, change your perspective.  And eat the darned thing!  That’ll learn it…

Thanks to from where I got the picture and some of the nutritional info.

Tell me my name!

As you may know if you followed a link to get here, I’ve decided to remove my prayer beads from my Etsy shop MelsBellsJewelry and create a separate shop specifically for the spiritually-related items.  So I need to come up with a name for the new shop.

My first shop takes its name from my business, which got its name thanks to my friend Ed Houser.  We were at karaoke one night in 2008 and I was telling some friends that I planed to open an actual business.  Problem was, I needed a name.  Without hesitation, Ed replied “Call it Mel’s Bells!” and I knew that was perfect.

My second shop got named for the store I plan to open (said plans have been pushed back until the economy improves and opening a new business makes sense, FYI), which will be a combined bead store and coffee bar, called The Bead and Bean.  It’s going to be a fun place to shop with a welcoming atmosphere where you can get a latte and bead very fast.

My third shop needs to have a name that’s just as fun, just as exciting.  And I’ll be honest with you, I’m stuck. So I’d like to enlist your help, internet friends.  Register on this blog and leave a post here with your name suggestion for my new prayer bead shop.   It needs to somehow convey that I sell prayer beads for many different faiths (Catholic, Protestant, Pagan, Buddhist, Muslim) so the name can’t be specific to one faith, like Jesus Beads or anything.  Imaginary bonus points if you search Etsy for the name and nobody’s using it yet!

On May 1 I’ll choose one of the entrants at random to receive a crystal birthstone rosary of your choice.  These beautiful strands make fantastic gifts, or you might want one for yourself.  I’ll email the winner to get a shipping address, so make sure your contact info is complete when you register.  You will also be added to my email list and will get one message about every 3-4 months talking about specials and news.

I look forward to seeing your suggestions, and to notifying the lucky winner!

Obnoxious Legal Statement Designed to Keep My Butt Out of Hot Water:
No purchase necessary to enter.  No age limit.  One entry per person.  Contest ends on April 30, 2012; any entries timestamped after 12:00 AM May 1, 2012 may be disqualified.  One prize will be awarded; no cash equivalent.  Odds of winning will depend on number of entries.  Void where prohibited.  Winner will be chosen on May 1, 2012 and notified by email.  Winner’s name will be announced in social media content published by Mel’s Bells and/or The Bead and Bean, including but not limited to Facebook, blogs, newsletter, and Etsy shops.  Contest is run by Mel’s Bells, 811 Hayward Ave. #5, Bremerton, WA  98310.

Script Frenzy, part deux

So apparently my future as a genius screenwriter is just about as likely as my future as a genius novelist.  Which is to say, not likely at all.  Somewhat less likely, in fact, than my future as a genius songwriter, which I only say because I am actually trying to write songs.

Yup.  It’s Day 16 and I haven’t been back to my script since Day 1, which means I have about four lonely little lines in the document.  Meanwhile I have several new songs sketched out and a couple actually in the works.  Obviously we can tell where my priorities lie!

But that’s okay.  You know why?  Because I am in fact a singer and songwriter.  So the fact that I’ve totally blown off SF this year in favor of writing songs (and looking for a day job) doesn’t actually bother me at all.

No more sales

Just concluded my 20% off sale for Easter, and have also concluded that sales don’t really work for me.  I got a little bit more traffic while the sale was going, but no actual increase in sales themselves.  In fact, the only thing I’ve done recently that’s successfully boosted sales is posting on Facebook!

So I’m not going to do any more sales.  At least not for a while.  Instead, I’m going to do some product giveaways!  In fact, I have the first one planned already…  Keep your eyes peeled, I think you’ll like it.  Will post it in a few days once I work the kinks out of it.  😀

Silly me

I did something rather embarrassing a couple nights ago.  Was heading home and stopped in the left turn lane, as was the person in the nearest oncoming lane.  The light turned green, and since my turn lane has its own protected light (the kind with the arrow that lets you know you have the right of  way) I started to turn.  But the oncoming vehicle came through the intersection anyways!  Well I was a bit perturbed, and honked lightly to let the idiot know he jumped the light.  That’s when I looked up and realized my light hadn’t turned yet.


Yup, turns out the thru traffic had the green, and I still had a red.  That’s what you get from putting two lights next to each other and the third light WAY UP ABOVE where the person in that lane has to lean forward over their dashboard to see their own light!

I’m just glad I waited before I started my turn.  Would have had a really bad night if I’d caused an accident and had to explain to the responding officer what an idiot I’d been…

Bad news

Let me be brief: I’m not opening a store any time soon.

Yup, after spending the last year writing a business plan, doing market research, and building interest, I’m going to have to set aside the plans to open The Bead and Bean (and Broads and Bullets and Brews and I forget what the other thing was), at least for now.

Apparently I should have taken a few steps earlier that I waited to take till I had my stuff together better.  One of those things was sitting down with somebody from the bank and talking turkey.  ‘Cause it turns out, the turkey is me.

The short version is that after a brief presentation of my business plan to a panel of four mentors, they’re very impressed with the work I’ve done and the passion I have for my dreams and ideas, but – here’s the kicker – money talks.  And I’d have to have an awful lot of it to get a lease.  In my case, around $50,000.

Once the hysterical laughter subsided and I picked myself back up off the floor, I realized they weren’t kidding and there’s no way I can do this.  I mean, really?  Fifty grand?  Ain’t gonna happen unless I win the lottery, and you can’t win if you don’t play.  So I’m out.

Now, the good news is that by waiting, I’ll be able to open the store at a better time, when the economy is stronger and I’m in a better position to make it all work.  I mean, there really isn’t any advantage to opening a store now.  Let’s be realistic.  Consumer spending is starting to come back up, but it’s still pretty darned low.  And the commercial real estate market isn’t like the residential market; all those empty buildings are not causing lessors to lower their rates.  So there wouldn’t be an upside to opening now anyways.

Still, it’s pretty disappointing for me to have to do a 180 on this, especially since I could have spent the past year improving and refining my presentation for market.  But you know, I’m still teaching, and I’m still offering classes and parties, and I’m still selling online.  And I’m not giving up, not by far.  Just going to focus on those aspects of the biz for now, and leave the store for later.

So it’s bad news.  But it’s better than opening the store in ignorance and failing miserably!