Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Positive lesson from a horrible experience

Last month my Visa debit card was hacked.

It was a week of ... oh I so want to type the word but I don't swear, at least not usually.  But you can insert the word that you think is coming out of my mouth.

I won't go into details, but all is now resolved and I have my money back.  But that is not the horrible part of the whole situation.

The horrible part was the lack of communication with my banking institution.  There was only one person everyone said I had to speak to, the person who pretty much never returned any of the messages I left (many of which were how to fill out their forms!).  I would have to call and complain to customer service to get a return call.  After 2 days of leaving messages I finally reached this person on day 3 - to find out that my fraud report hadn't even been looked at.  I was stressed, and freaking out.  This began at 8am on Monday and by Friday I had reached my breaking point.  I was so frustrated I thought I would cry.  Long story short - I have switched financial institutions.

But out of a horrible week I realized something really important.  Most of my frustration was because they did not return any of my messages - or when I called no one could help me.  It got me thinking about the calls I receive for my business.  I don't answer my phone when I'm teaching or working.  How quickly do I return calls when people call about my classes?  How quickly do I respond to email inquiries?  Sadly there are some times that I do take a few days to return a call.  Then I got thinking that if I was out of work because my CPR card had lapsed and I called someone who took days to call me back - how stressed would I be?  Probably as stressed as I was with my former banking institution.

Lesson learned from a horrible experience:  I need to make sure I follow up with voice mail and email in a timely fashion.  The perception someone has of me as an instructor or business depends on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Random acts of kindness

All this month I've been seeing friends posting what they are thankful for this month.  This morning as my children's CCD program began the kids were sharing what they were thankful for this month.  I realized I'm thankful for random acts of kindness.

I didn't realize how true that thought would be until a few hours later.

I bet you're wondering why there is a picture of a set of keys with a CPR barrier on the dashboard of my van.  What do my studio keys have to do with this post?  They tie in with why I'm thankful for random acts of kindness.

This afternoon I arrived early for my CPR for New & Expecting Parents class.  I managed to snag a really close and prime parking spot in downtown Dover.  It was a good afternoon, until I reached in my bag for my studio keys.  And they weren't there.  [you can mentally insert ominous music and images of me beginning to panic...]

Over the next hour I managed to:
  • Dump my purse and search it.
  • Search under the seats of my van.
  • Call home to have the kids start looking for my keys while I drove home.
  • Search my desk, dresser and under the furniture.
  • Drove all the way back to Dover while trying to reach someone from the studio to see if they could let me in.
  • Circled downtown looking for parking space; parked on Main St and ran down a dirt path to get to the studio to meet the nice parents who had signed up for my class.
  • Explain why class would be late.  All my equipment was locked in the studio.
  • Run up and down Central Ave along where I walked Saturday evening after my Saturday class.
  • Visit 2 downtown business near where I had parked to see if any had turned in my keys.
  • Went back to the studio to explain why there would be no class.
  • Reached someone who was going to try to find one of the local instructors to let me in.
  • Go back to looking under parked cars.
And then finally I thought to call the one other place I had stopped the night before.... Domino's.  I had picked up pizza for the kids on my way home.  And they had my keys!  The very nice woman I met when I picked them up said someone found them in the parking lot and had brought them inside.  I was so happy I thought I would cry.

Most people would just notice the keys on the ground, step over them and then keep on walking.  Some very nice person brought them in to Domino's where they nicely put them in their safe for safekeeping.

I am very thankful for random acts of kindness.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The no-pattern fleece hat

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to teach something different. I taught 2 sewing classes at the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains Older Girl conference. I had a quite a few requests for the patterns for what we made. The second project was an online pattern for an over-sized tote bag. The first project was a fleece hat. We made 2 - one to keep and one to donate. There isn't a pattern for this hat, so here are the directions. I'll try to add pictures of each step at a later time, but for now here's a pic of the same pattern but with added ears I did for my son's Halloween costume.

1. Measure your head, or the head of the person you are making the hat for.
2. Cut a rectangle out of fleece. It should be 18" high and the width should be the head measurement plus 1". For little kid hats cut only 16" high. The height is measured up the selvage, the width is across, so the measurement of your head is the stretchy part of the fleece.
3. Sew up the selvage, 1/2" seam allowance.
4. Fold up one end of the hat to the inside of the hat; making a 4-6" hem. This is the part of the hat the will fold up on the bottom.  Make sure the seam is open so that the brim lays flat and isn't bumpy.  Sew with the smallest seam allowance you can manage.

The next steps are where it gets trickier:
5. Lay the hat down flat, inside out, with the seam on one side.  Measure down 2" on the seam from the top edge and mark with a pin.  Do the same on the opposite fold.
6.  Measure 1/4 the width of the hat across the top (open) edge from the seam and mark with a pin.   Do the same on the fold.
7.  Sew a diagonal from side pin to top pin on both sides of the hat. Cut those little triangles off.
8.  Refold the hat so the back seam is in the middle, and your 2 cut top edges are in the middle.  Measure the same 2" down the side on both folds.
9. Line up the top open sides and pin towards the middle. Sew up on a diagonal (I find it easier to sew from the side to the top, not the other way around).  Cut off those little triangles.
10.  Remove any pins that are left & turn the hat right-side-out because... you're done!

If you want to add a tassle, ears, or anything else you'll do that when sewing the top. I sometimes make a loop or tassle from the triangle piece I cut off.  I trim it to the shape I want, tuck it up inside the hat and sew the ends in when I'm sewing the last 2 top seams.

Enjoy your hat!