Thursday, January 12, 2012

Custom Orders

Making jewelry is a lot of fun. I enjoy looking at the beads and buying the ones I like, then coming up with a pretty way to put them together to create a piece that I enjoy. Sometimes, I sell those pieces. A lot of the time, someone will see something I've made and want something a different color or length. Special orders are always welcome and they present a challenge to me. I want them to be perfect, but for that to happen, I somehow have to combine the customer's wants with an artistic vision to create something perfect just for them. I stress about it quite a bit, but in the end, I haven't had anyone be disappointed yet. I hope I can keep it that way for many years to come. My heart smiles when a custom order is shown or delivered and the recipient is absolutely thrilled with the results. I've had two such orders recently and I wanted to share them here with you.

This special order was for a friend who wanted a gift for her BFF. It is a Breast Cancer Awareness set.
I knew I wanted to convey a couple of things in this piece. One, of course, was the breast cancer awareness part. The other was love. My customer genuinely loves her BFF and I wanted her BFF to feel that when she received the gift. The hearts added that special tough to it and I was able to find an awareness ribbon with a heart too. I was very pleased with how this set turned out and even more so when my friend saw it and decided it was perfect!
This other set is a bracelet and necklace set for a special friend who just so happens to love horses and recently acquired not one, but two of them! A lifelong dream of hers! She wanted something that was turquoise and showed her love of horses. This one took a bit longer and the end product was not exactly how the idea started out, but I couldn't be happier with how it turned out:
 The photo of the necklace definitely does not do this piece justice as it was longer than my little display allowed for, so it is weighted in the back to allow for the photo. Weighting it had the effect of not allowing the different sections lay together. It looks a lot better ON a person. My friend received the set today and is in love with it, which makes me so happy!

I do think I tend to do some of my better work when it is a custom order because I am trying so hard to make it something that they will love and cherish forever. I hope you've enjoyed looking at them as much as I enjoyed making them. If you have an interest in a special order, don't hesitate to email me or convo me on Etsy!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

One Nation...Under English

I got into a debate with an acquaintance of mine a few weeks back. She was talking to a woman whose car had been broken into. The women had left her doors unlocked and some of her music and some other items had been taken. I asked her why she had left her doors unlocked, to which she replied, "Well, this IS Montana!" Umm...okay. That doesn't mean we don't have criminals here. Anyway, the shop owner made some reply that it was because THOSE people were moving into town. Call it intuition or whatever you like, I KNEW who she was speaking of. So I said, "Hey now, let's not get nasty, I'm one of THOSE people." She then argued that no, I was not one of them. I said yes. She said no. I said, "I'm Spanish." And she said, "OH! You ARE one of THOSE people." Yes, to my face. Just like that. Yes folks, racism is alive and well in the USA and Montana does not seem to be any different.

I see the posts on Facebook about being all mad about having to press 1 for English. Did you know I spent over 30 minutes pressing buttons on the phone the other day to get to a real person and I never once had to press anything to speak to anyone in English? It wouldn't matter if they took that option off of there, you'd still have to spend 30 minutes of your life pushing buttons. Everything is automatic and convenient, just the way we wanted it. Pressing 1 for English might just keep you from getting stuck speaking to someone from a foreign country that you wouldn't be able to understand. It's not like businesses actually hire in the US anymore. Is that 1 second for that 1 button really worth griping over? I have an idea, let's teach our children another language so that they have the skills to live and communicate in an ever-shrinking world. Instead of keeping it English only.

I wrote an Argumentative Essay for college. I'm going to share it here. You may disagree with my stand on the topic, my professor sure did. I still got an A because I argued the point well. Hopefully you will see it the same way. The works cited part will probably be a mess, please excuse that.


One Nation Under English

The United States has always been a nation of many languages. Because of the large role that the country plays in world affairs English is a language that is widely used around the globe.  The English language has been declared the official language of many countries, but the United States of America has never declared an official language. In 1780, John Adams proposed a government-sponsored Academy of the English Language. According to an ACLU briefing paper, “the proposal was ‘rejected as undemocratic and a threat to individual liberty’ by the Continental Congress” (The American Civil Liberties Union). Recently there has been a strong drive to make English the recognized language of the U.S. However, to declare a national language for the United States of America would be a grave assault on the intentions of the Founding Fathers when they created this country.

It is important to remember that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Diversity is what has always made the United States great. Each ethnicity, culture, and language brings a special flavor to all that makes us distinctly American. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, people who speak English as a first language only account for 4.68% of the world’s population. Spanish “first language” speakers account for 4.88% (Central Intelligence Agency). Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau declared that there were over 279 million people in the United States. Of those approximately 224 million were English-only speakers. That leaves over 54 million people who speak other languages, more than 34 million of whom speak Spanish (U.S. Census Bureau).

Despite these numbers, there are still numerous attempts across the country to make English the official language of the United States. In an MSNBC report, Alex Johnson writes that “The United States has no official language, but 28 states have declared English their “common” or “official” language. Since January, numerous new initiatives have been introduced at the state, local and federal levels to either declare English the “official language” or to strengthen existing declarations” (Johnson). To sum up their argument, “A nation of immigrants needs a national language,” Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said last month in introducing legislation that would make English the “national language” (Johnson). Opponents of English only legislation say the movement is motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment and is undeniably racist. The current tendency to declare English as the official language of the United States is based on a fear that we are being invaded by “foreign groups” that will somehow change us as a nation. We feel that we must draw a line somewhere. To some, that means declaring English the official language of the U.S.

I accept that people have opinions different from mine about this topic. There are people who do make reasonable arguments in favor of this argument. According to their website, “U.S.ENGLISH, Inc. is the nation's oldest, largest citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States” (U.S. English). U.S. English says that “Declaring English the official language is essential and beneficial for the U.S. government and its citizens. Official English unites Americans, who speak more than 322 languages (2000, U.S. Census), by providing a common means of communication; it encourages immigrants to learn English in order to use government services and participate in the democratic process; and it defines a much-needed common sense language policy” (U.S. English).

One idea of the Official English movement is that if everyone speaks the same language, it facilitates assimilation and saves the government money. If we duplicate government services in multiple languages, there is no incentive to learn English. If people don’t learn English they develop their own cultural enclaves instead of assimilating, possibly causing racial and ethnic conflicts. Making English the official language is supposed to prevent this. However, teaching people English as a second language would not completely eliminate the need for forms in other languages. Even native English speakers can have trouble understanding government forms, so it has to be a bigger challenge for people who speak English as a second language. Providing forms in other languages ensures that people can fill out important documents correctly. I also do not believe that everyone should have to assimilate into one culture. Diverse cultural backgrounds constitute who we are as a nation. We should promote and celebrate them. As long as people respect the laws there should not be a problem.

Another idea of the Official English movement is that it will empower immigrants. If immigrants can learn English they can get a better education, better jobs, and be more productive members of society. The problem with this idea is that while English-only legislation does force people to learn English, it does not generally include any provision for the classes that will teach people the language. “The ACLU believes that “English Only” laws are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. For instance, immigrants may not be able to defend themselves in a courtroom. Laws that have the effect of eliminating courtroom translation severely jeopardize the ability of people on trial to follow and comprehend the proceedings” (The American Civil Liberties Union).

English-only legislation does not explicitly promote stereotypes, but it does have the effect of causing people to disparage people who speak languages other than English. For example, some people assume that all non-English speaking Americans are illegal immigrants who should not be here. English-only legislation reinforces the argument that speaking another language is a negative trait.

The United States of America has always been a country of linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity. It was founded on the principals of having the freedom to choose. My Elementary Spanish professor, SeƱora Curtis, does not believe that the United States should declare an official language. She feels that “The United States should be what it supposedly represents, a refuge for all races whose languages should be respected as well as their cultures” (Curtis).

I agree completely. The use of ancestral language is an inalienable right and the country should not have a single official language, just as it has no official religion. To declare an official language would be a huge regression for the United States in freedom, liberty and justice for all.


Works Cited


Central Intelligence Agency. "The World Factbook." 2009. Central Intelligence Agency. 24 November      2009 .
Clinton, William J. "EXECUTIVE ORDER 13166." 11 August 2000. United States Department of             Justice: Civil Rights Division. 24 November 2009      .
Curtis, Senora Julianne. Should English Be Declared the Official Language of the U.S.? Shannon McMillan. 1 December 2009.
English First. 2009. 24 November 2009 .
Johnson, Alex. "Pro-English Measures Being Revived Across U.S." 15 June 2009. MSNBC. 24    November 2009 .
ProEnglish: The English Language Advocates. 24 November 2009 .
The American Civil Liberties Union. "ACLU Briefing Paper Number 6 "English Only"." The 'Lectric         Law Library. 24 November 2009 .
The Center for Immigration Studies. 2009. 24 November 2009 .
The Federation for American Immigration Reform. 2009. 24 November 2009 .
"The Official Language of the U.S. and its Impact on the Translation Industry." 2007. Strictly Spanish,       LLC. 24 November 2009 .
U.S. Census Bureau. The 2009 Statistical Abstract. 24 November 2009   .
U.S. English. 2009. 24 November 2009 .

Friday, January 6, 2012

Everyday Incivility: An Illustrative Essay

This one seemed appropriate after the day I had considering I was feeling like being anything but civil today. However, the original tone of the essay was supposed to contain a bit of humor. If you know me well enough, you'll find the humor in it. If not, well...I suppose that might be a good thing! The stories contained in here are shortened to fit the word requirements of the essay and it certainly isn't every story that could be told. My husband enjoys telling them immensely, so just ask him!


Everyday Incivility
Incivility has become quite common in public places. Take me for example. During my pregnancy with my first son I experienced many acts of discourteousness and responded in like-fashion. In one instance I was eight months along and doing a late night shopping trip. I was tired and wanted to go home after a long day working. There was only one lane open and it was a long line. A new checkout lane opened and I got in that line while my husband maneuvered the cart to follow me. A man sprinted to get in front of me, but I got there before he did. The man tried to go around me with his cart because I didn’t have anything in my hands. He gave me a long-winded lecture about how standing in line when you have nothing is wrong. I explained that my husband was coming right behind me. The argument escalated when he threatened to push me out of the way and bumped me with his cart. I threatened to hit him if he hit me with the cart again. When he threatened to call the cops I responded quite matter-of-factly, “They won’t get here in time.” That obviously wasn’t the best way to handle it, but I got through the line and went about my business with no further problems from him.
In another instance I was in a shopping center during the same pregnancy. We were walking into an aisle where a man and a woman stood arguing about which of them should take responsibility for their children, yelling back and forth “They’re YOUR kids!” The two children were in the aisle kicking and hitting each other. When one of the children kicked me in the stomach, my husband and I became concerned about our unborn child. I made the remark that they needed their butts smacked for behaving that way. The man took offense to my observation and ending the fight with his wife, immediately claimed “his” kids. He said he would punch me for threatening his kids. After some vulgarities being hurled back and forth between us, his wife led him by the shirt collar one way and my husband led me by the hand the other way. We both continued to hurl insults and threats at each other all through the store and in the end looked no more mature than his children had.
A more recent example would be during a trip to Costco with my family. My husband and I were walking into the store with our two young boys when a very large man shoved my oldest out of his way. He walked off without an apology or an “excuse me”. I stated that he was just being an asshole and he overheard my comment. Deciding he had enough time to argue with me, but not enough to have said excuse me to my son, he started hurling insults at me. When I told him he could kiss my ass he told me it would take all day. I responded with, “have you looked in a mirror lately?” and, surrounded by the laughter of the people around us, he stalked away angrily.
Of course, I’m not the only uncivilized person in today’s society. Take for example the customers that come into my husband’s place of employment. A man walked in a couple of days ago and told my husband to fuck off because he couldn’t have another free phone. He had dropped his phone in the toilet and since that phone had been free; he wanted another phone for free. There is also the instance where two parents came in yelling profanities at my husband because their children, who were dating, had been sex-ting each other and they thought the phone company should be responsible. This is just a sampling of the people my husband deals with during the week.
The sad truth is that you need only walk out of your front door to find examples of the incivility of people in public places. Incivility has become so common in public places that it has become a normal part of life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Coffee House: A Descriptive Essay


The Coffee House
Winter is approaching; I feel the chill in the air. I hurry across the parking lot and stoop under a canopy of colorful flowers that will soon need to be taken in out of the cold weather. I open the door and I’m welcomed by a warm blanket of air that envelopes me in the rich aromas of fresh coffee and baked goods. Stepping into the coffee house and closing the door behind me, I lock the chill of the cold fall day outside.
Live plants are positioned around the room, their leaves casting shadows in the muted lighting. The dark blue ceiling appears low enough to touch. Pine wood panels cover the bottom half of the walls. The tan color on the top half of the walls is a shade darker than the pine, tying the pine wood panels to the darker color of the ceiling. Various works of art hang on the wall. I feel as though I’ve stepped into the den of a country home. Overstuffed chairs in shades of green, blue and maroon are arranged into mini-living rooms with matching pine end tables and coffee tables. Sets of dining tables are set comfortably apart with padded forest green chairs. The blue carpet has maroon running through it, tying the whole color scheme together into a nice country setting. The ceiling fans are on, moving just enough to keep the aroma of coffee and baked goods circulating throughout the room. The front of the counter is open, revealing an array of delicious-looking baked goods arranged in wicker baskets.
A man is seated in a corner of the room, his coffee cup in one hand and a newspaper in the other. A group of older women are chatting happily as they crochet, hooks flying skillfully through the yarn as they talk. They smile as I walk toward the counter, nodding their hellos. I place my order with the man behind the counter and he expertly creates my perfect blend of coffee, milk and caramel. My fresh hot coffee warming my cold hands, I walk to one of the dining and rest in one of the padded chairs. The whirring of the coffee grinder, the gurgling of the coffee brewing, the bubbling of the steamer warming the milk and the humming of the refrigerator create a relaxing symphony of sounds. I take a sip of my hot coffee, relishing the warmth. My eyes get heavy and I settle to the sounds and smells of the coffee shop. I can hear the man moving behind the counter and it carries me back to memories of my mother moving through the kitchen making Sunday morning breakfast. The rustling of the newspaper as a page is turned reminding me of my father at the dining table reading his paper. I feel as though I have come home. The serenity of the coffee shop is only interrupted by the occasional rush of traffic sounds as the door is opened by the next cold customer eagerly awaiting their taste of home.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Projects for 2012





I really have no intention of making New Year's Resolutions this year. Typically, it's just a feel-good promise to myself that I usually forget all about before my birthday anyway. So, this year I just have some projects I plan to work on for 2012. I thought I'd share them with you and I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts on some or all of them.

1. A healthier me. This one actually started last year. I quit drinking soda. I guess I shouldn't say I completely quit. I don't drink soda everyday. In fact, I haven't had a soda in over a week. My plan is to try to make other choices, healthier choices. Not just about soda either, but about other things. Obviously I want to eat right and find a way to be more active. I also need to deal with some stress (this is another blog post altogether) and other things that in the end will make me a healthier person. In the end, it is about feeling good about myself when I wake up in the morning and living long enough to see my boys grow up to be the men they are to become.

2. School. I have been going to school for some time now. The reason I started school was simple, I was bored out of my mind once the boys started school and I wanted to feed my mind. I always loved school, so I went back for the education and for the stimulation of it all. There was no goal. There never has been. I tend to lean toward Psychology and Sociology courses because I'm comfortable with the material and I have a lot of life experience that I feel allows me to add something to my classes. I'd like to branch out a little into the arts and literature because I enjoy those things. I've avoided them so far because there are no right answers, so I was never sure how to "ace" the class. I want to go back to going to school for the experience. I'm sure the grades will follow. I suppose I might have to start looking toward graduating at some point as well since school can get rather expensive.

3. One aspect of our business is to find furniture that is headed to the dump or that someone is selling cheap because it is not in good condition and then fix it up and sell it at a reasonable cost to families in our hometown. There is a severe lack of affordable furniture here unless you want  the assemble yourself stuff from walmart. It has it's place, but I think that recycling or upcycling things really helps the environment and can create really unique, one of a kind pieces. It's not just furniture either. There's just so much out there that can be done to use or reuse items in unique and trendy ways. Throwing stuff is such a waste and it really does take up so much space in landfills. We are currently in a campaign through Indiegogo to fund this particular aspect of our business. Go check out the link: http://igg.me/p/57454 and please, leave a comment letting us know you were there. We appreciate the support. Also, feel free to forward on the link through facebook, blog posts, or twitter. Don't forget to check out the Perks for your donations while you are there. We've teamed up our two businesses to provide some pretty  nice ones that I think you'll really love.

4. The other aspect of my business is handmade items. Right now, I'm focusing on my handmade items, which consist of handmade jewelry, knitted items, crocheted items, sewn items, and sometimes I make handmade greeting cards. Custom orders are always welcome. You can find my business on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ShaunnaMichelles and on Etsy at: http://shaunnamichelle.etsy.com. I do giveaways on Facebook frequently, plus that is the place to find out about coupon codes for the Etsy store. You can also find some antique, vintage, or collectible items on Etsy if they fit the guidelines for Etsy. Items that do not fit the guidelines for Etsy can be found on my Facebook page or you can visit my Yardsellr Yard Sale at: http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/Shannon-McMillan-140752. I tend to list most of my destash items there too. Sometimes we use our local craigslist for larger items, but I post those listings on the Facebook page too. I hope you'll stop by and fan the page, I'd love to see you there. Also, if you have a facebook fan page, leave me a note and I'll fan you back. And you are welcome to add me to your circle on Etsy and I will add you back.

5. My hope is to have the entire business combined together and then branded appropriately to really let customers know what we're all about and what we want to accomplish. Once we've found our look and our name, we hope to open a real store in our home town by the end of the year. There's so many ideas we have for this store and we're sure you are going to love them. I hope you'll stick with us for the journey because I'm sure you'll love what you are going to see from us in the near future. If you want to help us in this venture, please visit the indiegogo link, spread the word, donate if you can (the lowest donation is $5.00), and show us your support!

I'm sure other projects will come and go throughout the year. Life is about changing and adjusting. These five are the ones I want to truly focus on and make the dreams come to a reality. Especially the business. I really believe in this business and I really believe that this is the best idea for our family. So, what do you think? Please give me your input, as that is how we get better!

What are your projects for 2012? Share one or a few, we'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

giveaways and reviews: Sponsored Giveaway from Forth Worth Fabric Studio

giveaways and reviews: Sponsored Giveaway from Forth Worth Fabric Studio: Today we have a lovely giveaway from sponsor, Fort Worth Fabric Studio . I have so enjoyed discovering this amazing online fabric shop tha...

10 Guilty Pleasures Of Mine

10 Guilty Pleasures..of Mine.

I have a hard time with this because when I enjoy something, it is really difficult to feel guilty about it. However, I suppose I do have some that make me think twice. Such as...

1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries. I'm supposed to be trying to eat healthy, lose weight, yada, yada. I cannot imagine that, despite the fact that strawberries ARE a fruit, anything slathered in chocolate could be considered good for you. So, when eating them, I have no cares in the world. Afterwords, I wonder just how mean the scale will be to me.

2. Moscato Wine. As a general rule, I don't usually drink. For starters, I have children. Children that are rarely ever away from me except for those times when they are at school or the rare occasion that I leave them with my mother-in-law to go on a *gasp* date with my husband. I do not personally believe in drinking around children. Not that I haven't done it, I have. And I don't care if you do. I'm just not entirely sure I consider it a good idea in MY personal parenting handbook. However, moscato wine is my weakness. I'll drink the bottle if you'll let me. Good news is that I rarely buy the stuff.

3. Twilight. I don't care if it's the books or the movies. I don't care if it's Edward or if it's Jacob. I'm team BOTH of them! Get your mind out of the gutter! For some strange reason, this story captured my attention. I read the entire series in 2 days. Then I was sad because I had finished it too quickly and I knew I would not get to be with the characters anymore. I could always read it again and again, but it wouldn't be the same. So I spend my time hoping Ms. Stephanie Meyer will indulge me and write another book telling us more about Bella and Edward. Does Jacob stick around? Does he end up with Bella and Edward's child when she grows up? Too many unanswered questions for me.

4. The Emo/Goth look. When I was growing up, I rocked that black hair with the burgundy highlights, the black clothing, the massive crosses, the bangs in my eyes, the dark eyeliner. Now I have children and I feel like I'm not supposed to dress that way anymore. But it is still in there. Lately I've been severely tempted to dye my hair black, cut some long bangs, and start wearing black eyeliner again. My kids assure me that they would not be humiliated beyond belief, but they are only 9 and 11, give them another year or two and I'm sure the tune will change. Still, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to rock the style just once more?

5. Coffee. Specifically, Starbuck's Caramel Macchiato. Oh. My. GAWD! That stuff is so amazing. Of course, you must ask for extra caramel AND dump a load of raw sugar into it...just to make it extra sinful. 3 shots of espresso should do it too. Why do I feel guilty you may ask? Well, have you SEEN the price of that stuff? It isn't cheap folks. Buy it a few times a week and you could make a house payment by the end of the year. Still, once in a while won't hurt anyone. Right?

6. Keno. I love those automated games, not the live keno. I NEVER win at live keno. Of course, I never really win at the automated games either. I've walked out with $20 or more sometimes, but if you left me alone, I can spend an entire paycheck in one of those places. Don't believe me? Ask my husband. When we first got married, I actually did that once. Oops. So now he goes with me and we have a limit. Still, it's fun to dream of possibly winning the jackpot, whether it's keno or the lottery. It is one of my favorite conversations..."What would you do if you won the lottery?"

7. The Mustard Seed General Mustard's Chicken with a side of Asian Slaw and those shrimp rangoons. YUMMO! I will literally drive the 2 hours it takes to get that meal. Not a problem. If you haven't tried it...come to Montana immediately and go go go! It is a must!

8. Collecting fabric. I've sewn two things in my entire life. One was a half apron and the other was a really big rag blanket. However, I have mounds of fabric in my house. I REALLY like it all and I'm really afraid to mess it up, so I tend not to use it, just collect it. I should probably use it. I'll work on that this year.

9. Having packages delivered to me. I will sign up for every free thing this side of the Mississippi River to get something in the mail other than bills. I LOVE packages. RAK packages, magazines, samples, whatever. I just love getting mail for ME that does not ask me for something in return (like a check for the monthly amount due).

10. Stuffed animals, especially stuffed teddy bears and amigurumi. They are cute and fuzzy...and cute. Oh, and my husband doesn't get terribly ticked off when I bring one home. Maybe a little, but a lot less than if it's breathing. I tend to be a critter rescuer and he doesn't appreciate the strays I bring home. Some of them tend to get a little anxious about being inside, like that one feral cat that tried to take his arm off or that one falcon I picked up on the highway. Anyway, back to the stuffed toys. I just LOVE amigurumi lately. I have a collection of these adorable little octopus made by a friend of mine who owns Little Sticky Fingers on Etsy. Trouble is, I have allergies and stuffed critters collect dust. A good air fluff in the drier fixes that right up though.

11. I'll have to add an extra one for good measure...Shopping. Etsy. eBay. Yardsellr. Listia. Amazon. Wherever...I just LOVE shopping. I don't even really HAVE to buy it because they've created pinterest which is like a permanent shopping cart that you can go back and look at whenever you want.

So....what is YOUR guilty pleasure? Tell me so I might possibly add it to my list! :)