Sunday, December 30, 2007

The importance of recognizing acceptable workplace attire

I learned years ago the importance of recognizing acceptable workplace attire the hard way. I am so happy I work from home now. I don’t have to worry about how people are going to perceive me or judge me by my clothing. I can work at home in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and do not have to spend my money on suits I don’t even like to wear. But trust me I know that when I am out in public how I look is going to affect the opinions people formed about my company and me as a person. I need to look professional, and competent. No matter where you work, there is an appropriate way to dress and you need to be aware of what that is and conform.

If you are working in the corporate world you need to spend the money on real suits. Men and women need to dress in the standard the company expects. In some companies image is every thing. How you represent your self is how you are judged. You don’t get points for putting on cheep suits, even when that is what you can afford. Some times how you dress can be more important then the work you do. Companies have an image and an expectation of their employees to live up to it as they represent the company when they are at work. This in not to say you don’t have to work if you look good, but you will be seen as being more professional if you dress professionally.

For when you are working in an office where the dress code is casual you still need to keep in mind what the actual dress requirements are. Often a company will have a very specific idea of what they consider casual. I have known people to push the boundaries of casual. They forget that how they dress still influences the way people see them and will judge their ability to do the job by their appearance. Trust me, shorts and a tank top is not a professional look. If you are sloppy, miss matched and not concerned about your appearance people will expect the same in the quality of your work. The same goes if you are always dressed well, take care of how you look, showing that you respect yourself. How you dress is how you represent yourself to your employers and co-works. You will find people will treat you accordingly.

When you work in a place with a uniform, make sure you still take care of how you look. Having a uniform that is clean and well taken care of is very important; it shows that you care about yourself. This shows that you care about your job and how you do it. If you don’t keep it clean and in good repair is shows you don’t care. That how you look at work is not important, so the job must not be important.

Now there are a few jobs out there, most of them manual labour, where the perception is exactly the opposite; the worse shape your clothing is in the better worker you are. Why, because your clothing got that way because you were working. Old and shabby clothing are more then appropriate for these jobs. It shows that you expect to get dirty, that you are going to be getting right into it and work hard.

No matter where you are, work or play, the way you dress is used to form opinions about who you are and what you are like. This directly affects how people perceive you and treat you. Show that you respect and like yourself in the way you dress then you are treated better then if you look like you don’t care.

These ladies dress this way because that is the acceptable workplace attire at their job and for the tips.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tips for a successful internet business

Like with any business you need to do your homework. Do not waste your time on the get rich quick types of Internet businesses. Even if the costs less then $10.00 to get started. If it seems to good or easy then it is. There are a lot of scams out there, do not be one of the people taken by them. Taking surveys from home is not going to bring in the money, just suck up your time. You get paid pennies for reading emails or surfing/clicking web sites. It all takes time and work. However you can make money as an affiliate getting people to sign up to do surveys, read emails, or surfing/clicking for money. Do the research on any type of business before you go ahead.

A business plan works just as well for an online Internet business a for a non-Internet business. You need to know what you want to do, and how to do it. You need to know what Internet business’s are out there.

1) The most common one is a retail site of your own. This can be costly to start, as you have to make it yourself or pay some else to make it for you. Then you will have to pay for your domains name every year and monthly hosting fees. However, you have control over content and revenue streams. You can sell product directly, sell dropship items, get money for being an affiliate with retail stores, or get paid for putting other peoples ads on your site, or have something like Google ads where you get paid each time some one clicks the ads.

2) You can also have a web site that sells a service like hits to websites, or connect advertisers to people with sites to put ads on or people to take their surveys or read their email ads. Or be an affiliate broker, getting sites that are looking for affiliates connected with people who want to be affiliates and you take a % of all sales through all the affiliates. You can sell a “How to run a successful Internet business” package for $7.00 or $9.00 a pop. You get them to register for $7.00 and then they get a letter that explains how to be successful making money on the Internet. You might even send them a monthly newsletter with tips for a successful Internet business so they feel they got their moneys worth.

3) A free web site that is really just an affiliate program where they provide you with your own storefront, but you sell someone else’s products that they dropship.

4) A free web site that is actually free. With most free web sites you are limited on your options of what you can do. The company giving you the website is usually getting advertising revenue from companies like Google ads. You may end up having to pay a hosting fee, and they give you the template for your website to work with. Just remember even free comes with a cost these days.

5) A free selling site like Kijiji, livedeal, or Blujay where you advertise products for free. There are usually some limitations to what or how many ads you can have. Though for a monthly fee on livedeal you can have a storefront that you can sell your items. Blujay does not charge you for your storefront. There are 1000’s of these types of sites out there you just have to find the right one for you. There are often limitations with these sites, such as not being able to do link exchanges.

6) There are the auction sites out there, most well known is eBay. You pay a fee to list your item, more fees for any extra features, and a fee if you sell it. You can have a storefront, for a monthly fee, as well as still having to pay all the other fees. Keep in mind that you have to pay a fee when you use an online payment system like Paypal. This all cuts into your profit, but for the most part people can find you and buy from you. So it is all a cost of business. You do not have to pay as much start up money as you would to have your own retail site, and the auction site does the marketing and advertising for you. If you do start selling on an auctions site just figure out what the real cost is so you don’t end up spending more money selling an item then you receive. i.e. all the $1.00 or less items on eBay. Look at the cost of the item, fee to list, end of auction fee, and Paypal fees. It actually cost you more then you made to sell the item. You can be very successful with this if you do your homework on what to sell and at what price to start your auction at.

7) Blogs. You can make some money from having your own blog. You can put advertisements from places like Google ads, or any of the other advertising companies out there. You get money whenever some one clicks onto one of the ads. You can also have affiliate links on your blog. If some one clicks on the link and then buys something or registers you get some money. If you are interested in being an affiliate, has a good affiliate plan with contests for the top affiliates. However, you cannot just sign up and expect money to roll in. You have to use the promotional tools they provide, and promote the link or banner to the site, or the actual product links. You can always find sites that will match you with other affiliate programs as well.

8) Splash pages or sites that are just links to retail sites. This is for when you are an affiliate, you get a % of sales when some one uses your link to go to the store and buy something or registers for something.

9) Sign up to read emails, take surveys or click/surf for money. There are 1000’s of people waiting to sign you up so they can get their $5.00.

10) Write on blog sites that share the earnings from people clicking on the ads, like Google ads. There are a lot out there that claim to do this. You have to figure out what ones actually do. Helium not only gives you part of the revenue from the ads, they help sell your articles to publishers. You can make money several ways on Helium, compete to sell articles on the marketplace, compete to place or win in the many writing contests every week, and in the shared ad revenue.

You need to figure out what of all these options work for you. Then you have to realise no matter what option or path you take you only get out of it what you put into it. You still have to know if there is a market for what you are selling. Then you have to market and promote your website, blog, splash page so people can find it and buy, click or register. If you are doing surveys, read emails, click or surf or write for money, you still have to actually spend the time and do it. If you do not do the work, you don’t make any money. No matter what, time, energy and knowledge are required for any one to succeed on line or off line.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cold calling: What not to do

I spent one summer working in a telemarketing company making cold calls. It is not an easy thing to do. It is incredibly frustration trying to get people who don’t know you to give you enough time to get their interest. Then you have to compete with whatever system, process or business relationships they already have. Most people don’t survive more then a few days. I saw a lot of examples of “what not to do” when cold calling, some of them I made myself.

The biggest what not to do is: Do not call some one unprepared. By this I mean research the company, the people you need to talk to. Find out if they actually could use your services. Understand what the company does and how what ever you are selling would fit in, especially if what you are selling is you for employment or a contract. Take the time to know your product/sales pitch so you don’t have to read a script and can actually answer questions if the person is interested. Nothing kills a deal having to stop a “sales pitch” to bring some one else in to answer questions. It is not very professional to not know what you are selling and this does not make the company look very good. Would you want to deal with some one who did not know the product they are trying to sell to you.

Other “what not to do’s” when cold calling are:

Taking your frustrations out on the people you are calling. You may only be talking to an underling but that person is your current contact in the company. Your actions reflect on you, and the company your working for. Curtsey may not be that common, but it is required when you are making cold calls. You never know whom you are really talking to or how they can help you.

Expect people to say no. What is the point of calling if you don’t expect to be able to get the persons attention and give them a chance to let you know what they need? People can hear defeat in your voice. If your not confident about what you are doing or your product how can you expect the potential client to give you their time.

Be eating, drinking, have candy or gum in your mouth, or be having another conversation when some one is on the phone with you. This is not very professional, and actually offensive.

Forget to follow threw. If some does not have the time when you call and they ask you to call them latter do so. This is a lead people, use it. Get the contact name, number and time correct and then call them at that time. If some one did not want to talk to you the first time, why would they ask you to bug them again unless they did want to hear more about what you are selling.

I am sure that there are a ton of other examples of what not to do when cold calling. However I feel that these are the most common mistakes done by both inexperienced and experienced cold callers. Every one can have a bad day some time.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Just started making a leather Celtic Shield

Starting on new Celtic Shield. It will be 15 1/8" in diameter. The shield is cut from 16 oz. Armour grade Leather by hand. Design drawn, burned and painted by hand by James. The Cross is set in the center with Celtic knot work. The 8 phases of the moon are set in their celestial pattern surrounding the cross. The word Protection is written in runes starting at the top of the cross and running clockwise around the edge.

Here you can see the background pattern of knot work being done.

Next step will be the waxing and then the wrist and forearm straps will be riveted on the back. Once they are in place the shield will rest on the arm and leave some room for the hand and wrist to move. I plan to make the straps adjustable to fit a range of arm sizes.

Waxing the shield

Wax drying

Almost done. Waxing is all done, and I have added the two adjustable arm straps. I don't like how it fits so I am going to change it. I am going to make the wrist strap into a handle, and that will change how the shield is held. Though I am sure this well end up on a wall as decoration. So far I have put in about 5 to 6 hours into this Celtic shield.

New handle - all done.

I had a great time making this shield. I have the shield available for sale if any one is interested at

Friday, December 21, 2007

What you need to know when giving Gift cards for Christmas

If you are giving gift cards for Christmas then there are a few simple easy things to do to make sure that some one else does not get and use the card. We just learned this the hard way. Grandpa sent a $50.00 Wal-Mart card for our two year-old. It never made it here and he does not know what card he sent her so we cannot have the missing one cancelled and a new one issued. We just have to wait and hope that it shows up after Christmas and was not delivered to someone else. Here are some things you should do just in case something happens, like the card gets lost in the mail.

1) Keep the receipt.
2) Mark on the receipt to which person the card is being given. If you are buying a large number of gift cards then buy them in lots. If you are sending 5 cards to one family, 3 to another and 2 to a third then buy them like that and mark on each receipt what family or friend each batch is going to. If you buy several all at once and are mailing them out in individual cards then mark down on the receipt which gift card was sent to whom. If the receipt does not show the card # on it, then write it down on the receipt with who is receiving it. You may have to scratch off the area that has the pin #. This may not look as nice as an unscratched card but it is important information to have if the card never makes it to the person you are giving it to. If the card goes missing there is no way to get the information.
3) Send card by registered mail or signature required or give them in person. This saves a lot of trouble, even if the card is only $10.00 it makes sure it gets to the right person in time.

I hope this information is helpful. Things like this happen all the time. When we get travelers checks we keep track of the numbers so that if they are taken or lost we can cancel them and have new ones issued. We need to think of gift cards the same way. They are money, but if we keep track of some thing so simple as the cards pin # it can be protected.

Wal-Mart would have been able to cancel the card and issue a new one if Grandpa had recorded what card he sent our daughter. Now we have to wait until after Christmas, have every one use their cards and then go through the list of 15 gift cards with Wal-Mart to see if one was not used. Then they will cancel that one and re-issue a new one. What this means is that if some one was delivered out daughters card in error, opened even though it was not for them, gets the card and uses it then to bad for us. They got her $50.00 and there is nothing we can do about it.

At we are very lucky because when some one buys a gift certificate from us it is on line so we have their information. They can have the gift certificate emailed to them and they can print it off, or we email it to the person they are giving it to, or it can be mailed. Why is this good? We have a record of who bought each certificate, and usually whom it is being given to. If the gift certificate was lost, destroyed, or the email was deleted (it has happened), we can easily find the gift certificate number and reissue it or a new one. If someone has used a gift certificate that is not his or hers, if the person who actually owns the gift certificate lets us know, we know who used it. Or at least where the gifts were shipped. It is easy for us because of the way we sell gift certificates.

We have been planning to pre-print and sell gift certificates at festivals this summer. This incident has made me realise we need to make some changes on that plan. We need to take a computer with us and sell them off the web site and then just print them there. That way all the important information is recorded and it will make things easer for us to help any one that has a problem with a lost gift certificate.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic

Why static landing pages are good for Internet marketing

A landing page is an html page that you use as an ad for web sites you are promoting. You can think of it as a one-page web site that you use to direct people to other sites. You can focus on marketing this page instead of trying to promote several web sites. The page promotes the web sites for you. It does not matter if the page is marketing retail web sites that you own or are an affiliate of, or ads. The idea is to use the landing page to get more search engine traffic.

A landing page also helps target for specific products. If a web site has many diverse products it is very difficult to use key words and phrases on the home page for all the products. You use landing pages to optimize key words and phrases for just one product or category of products with direct links to the products on the web site. This way when someone uses a search engine to look for a product you have a better chance of being found with the targeted landing page, then with the more general home page.

This is also a great way to capture a hidden market; people misspell words when using search engines. You make a landing page that uses common misspellings of key words and phrases. Your competitors may not be marketing to incorrectly spelled words so they are not showing up on the search engine, but you are. It is useful if you make the landing page to look the same as your home page but with the misspelled words, and then link it to your web site. This way people don’t notice that they did not open your web site in the first place.

Another reason to use static landing pages is because they can be used for both Adwords and Overture. As of January 12th, 2005 Google lets one affiliate advertise one product per domain. This makes it hard to promote affiliate products. When using landing pages you don’t need to put “affiliate” in your ad, you meet the requirements of Adwords and Overture.

Before making a landing page you need to know what type to make, reference or transactional. A reference landing page provides information that is of interest to a visitor. The information can be text, images, a selection of links, or any combination. The information is used to bring people to the page and needs to tie into the ads so the ads are relevant. You can write an article on the history of Celtic designs and the meanings of them with pictures. Maybe have a short video on the page. Then have ads for Celtic jewelry sites, trips to Ireland, Family history research company, books on Celtic designs and more. You use the right key words on the page so a person interested in Celtic designs or Celtic history finds your page. Now they see your ads and are more likely to click on them because every thing has been targeted to them.

The other landing page is transactional. The goal is the sale of a product or service, or capturing information such as email addresses. Again you have some type of write up that is designed to use key words to get visitors. Once some one is on the page you want them to buy some thing. You have an actual ad that they can buy the product directly. If you are an affiliate of a retail site you sell their product on your page or have an affiliate link so people can buy the product on their site. You are interested in the sale, not a click through. If you are trying to get some ones email address you are still getting them to buy into whatever idea or offer you are promoting, but to get the “product” they have to fill in a form. Reports on how to be successful or make money online are usually the type of product being promoted. The pay off here is the email address, name or phone number that can be used as a lead.

Not every one knows how to make landing pages. If you are like most of us and do not know how to make a landing page then you want to look at the many different programs available to create landing pages. I am lucky, my husband has learned HTML just so he can create our landing pages. He has indicated that it is not as hard as he thought it would be, but that he is looking forward to when we can get a program that is "what you see is what you get" that does the coding for you. You just put what you want, be it text, pictures, or ads where you want it and your done.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An informative guide to Google Page Rank

So what is Google PageRank? Google describes PageRank as “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important".”

So what does that mean? It is like a popularity contest in high school. The more people who like you the more popular you are, but if the in crowd likes you then you are even more popular. The more popular you are the more people see you or know how to find you. So the more links you have for your page on other sites the higher Google rates your PageRank. The more popular or higher PageRank of the page that has your link on it, the higher your page is ranked. The higher your PageRank the higher you are on the list of related web sites Google shows when some one does a search inquiry.

Google uses a very complicated PageRank algorithm to figure out all sorts of factors. But the general idea is to calculate the chances of a person randomly surfing coming across your site. This calculation determins where a site sits in a search enquiry. The Google toolbar shows a sites PageRank as a number between 0 and 10. 10 being the most popular. However no one out side of Google knows how they get the number they assign to the toolbar for a web site. It is kind of hard to know how valuable the toolbar PageRank is if you have no idea what it is bassed on.

So you type in Medieval Magic and several pages of sites show up with the words Medieval and Magic on the page. There are several sites called Medieval Magic, or Medieval Magic is part of the name, or some were on the page. The site on the top of the first page has the highest PageRank. So it pays to have the best PageRank possible. Most people will look at the first 10 web site or pages listed in a search enquiry. Some will even go to the top 20 or 30 sites, but not many.

So you work hard doing link exchanges, join every site registry out there, advertise your site on other sites so they have your link up, web rings, any thing to get links back to your site. Now if some one types in Medieval Magic as their key words you show up on the first page. Your site has been found and chances are some one will at least open your page and look at it. They may even look around, read what you have to say, bookmark it or buy some thing.

What happens if some one only looked for Medieval, or medieval jewelry or medieval jewellery? Unless you have a huge PageRank Medieval Magic web site is not found in the top 100 sites. It does not matter that if the words Medieval, jewelry and jewellery are all on the home page. There are a lot more sites or pages with the words Medieval, jewelry and jewellery that have a higher PageRank and are going to show up first. They did not show up when the person looked under Medieval Magic because they did not have the word Magic on the page.

This is why people tend to be as specific as possible when using a search engine. If you do not use the exact words for what you want then you have lots of sites that are not what you wanted. It is like typing in the word ring. You will get millions of sites and pages with the word ring. So you type in sterling silver ring. You still get millions of sites that may or may not have what you are looking for. Are you looking for a sterling silver ring to make jewellery with or a ring to go on a finger? Still need to be more specific. So now it is a sterling silver ring size 6. Still millions of sites to pick from. Lets say you want a sterling silver dragon ring size 6. So now you have the top sites or pages with the most links with sterling silver dragon ring size 6. Did the site Medieval Magic show up? No. Why not? The page that has the size 6 sterling silver dragon rings does not have a high enough PageRate to compete with the other sites.

The bottom line is that if people cannot find your site, they cannot buy from you, or read your work, or find the answer they are looking for. Google PageRank is what decides where your site is on the list when some one does a search. And the search is only as good as the keywords used.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Assessing the effect of email on common business courtesy

Gone are the days that you can respond to every one who contacts you with in 24 hrs. It used to be standard to return a call no latter then the next business day. Now you get calls and a ton of emails. It is so much quicker and easer to send an email these days then to call some one and hope to get them. If you think of some thing you can send an email at any time, 12 pm or 3 am. The result of this is tons of emails, legitimate business contacts, spam and friends and family. It is time consuming and frustrating to open, read and delete or respond to them all. So instead of getting back to people in a timely manner you have to prioritize and depending on the subject line emails may or may not be even opened, let alone read.

Why is it that people understand not to call some one at work to tell them a joke or funny story but it is ok to send it as an email to some ones work email. Then they expect you to take time from your work to respond to their emails and chat at work. It is easy to find yourself receiving lots of non-work related emails and fall into the trap of responding to the emails instead of working. It only takes a minute, but that is not your job. I am not going to even try to understand the people who send inappropriate material to your work email. I had to ask people to stop emailing me at work. It is such a large problem that a lot of large companies actually have computer programs to track and read your incoming and outgoing emails. Think about that the next time you forward a joke or respond to a personal email.

At work I would not go to every one in my department and show them my vacation pictures, or tell them the joke I just heard. It looks bad and would be keeping them from their work. But people seem to feel it is ok to do the same thing by email. Same with having conversations that you don’t want people to over hear. It is easy to be sitting at your desk, look like you are working but you are really gossiping with a co-worker.

Emails tend to be viewed as a more casual form of communication. This changes the tone we take when we send an email instead of a letter, memo or phone call. It is very easy to loose “common courtesy” that we would have in other forms of communication. We try to keep them brief and to the point and this can also seem impersonal and by some seen as lacking in respect.

When you are sending an email are you still being professional in your tone and the information being passed? Did you take the time to check your spelling and context? Or did you just dash off a quick response or question with out thinking it through first? Instead of bugging a co-worker could you have thought about what you were asking or do some research yourself? It is so easy to send an email about some thing we would not have bothered some one if we had to get up from our desk and find them, and ask them in person. It is a trivial thing we could have resolved ourselves. It was easer to send an email then doing the work. Just because it is easy to email some one we need to ask ourselves “should I”.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic

A guide to developing an effective brand strategy

When working on developing an effective brand strategy make sure you know what you want your brand to mean to you and your customers. Your brand is your image, how people perceive your company, and this affects what people expect from your company. In this case image is everything. Does your brand strategy convey everything you want people to know or think about your company? What is the message you want to give? Who is your market, how do you use your brand strategy to reach them?

When you start to develop an effective brand strategy for your company, you should have a logo designed that would be easily identifiable with symbols relevant to your target market. Your company name should be created to strike a chord with your customers, but also contains key words that your customers will use on search engines. The design of your web site should be tied into your customer base and how you wanted to be seen. For example you may want to go with simple, uncluttered, and no flash. Your product should be the focus. Make sure you show your integrity, both on the home and about us pages. So now you have put the work into the imagery, what’s next?

You have to build brand recognition through customer relations. You are trying to get uniqueness, quality and value associated with your name and logo. Make sure you respond promptly to any customer inquiries and comments. What people see on the web site is what they must receive when they buy from you. Items need to be ship as soon as payment is received. Stand by your product and don’t play games with the return policy. What you do is just as important as how your web site looks. Every interaction you have with people affects how people see you, your company, and what they associate with your brand. Even when you just have a casual conversation with some one that can affect the image of your company. As the owner you represent the company even when you are not working.

You design and build your brand image, now you need to have a strategy to protect it. You cannot just stop selling and promoting your brand image once your brand is known. A brand image can be destroyed much faster then it takes to build it up and maintain it. You have to be careful with customer relations because word of mouth is a powerful thing. As the saying goes, one happy customer will tell two of their friends about you, one of them might come to see you and maybe buy. An unhappy customer tells 20 people who will each tell at least two other not to deal with you. So once you have built your brand image you still need to spend time and money to maintain it. Other wise everything you invested into building your brand image is wasted.

Written by: Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas 2007 Astronomy gift ideas for adults

What do you give someone interested in Astronomy as a gift? Astronomy has been around for a very long time, so there are traditional gifts available. Also with the huge advancements in technology there are constantly new astronomy equipment becoming available and there is always something new to discover. It can actually become overwhelming to decide what to get them. I have made a list of the top Christmas 2007 Astronomy gift ideas for adults.

1) Novelty items and just fun astronomy gifts:
“You Are Here”, is a 100% cotton heavyweight t-shirt black. On the front, a view of the Milky Way galaxy with a sign that reads "You are Here" pointing in the general direction of Earth. $16.99

Astrolabe Kit. Use this handy device to determine the declination (elevation) and azimuth (horizontal arc) of any star or celestial body. You provide a compass. Astrolabes have been used in navigation for more than 2000 years, although their heyday was during the explorations of the 1400-1500s. Now the Global Positioning System has eliminated the need to rely on the stars for navigation, but using an astrolabe is still a fun astronomy activity! Instructions are printed right on the plastic body. This is $13.50 at

Galilea Moon Phase Clock. This lunar phase clock shows the current Moon phase, the time and date. Galilea's revolutionary design precisely reproduces the daily evolution of the moon phases during it's 29.5 day cycle. This clock is $69.95 at

Constellation Illuminated Globe. This illuminated globe shows a spherical map of the sun, moon and stars that appear to surround our great earth. Using your globe, you can actually determine what stars are visible at certain dates and times. The globe also breathtakingly displays over 70 zodiac images when illuminated. This globe is $79.95 at

T-shirts, hats, cups, posters and a clock are all available with wonderful pictures taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the Cat's Eye Nebula, The Crab Nebula, the Orion Nebula, NGC 2264, the Cone Nebula, IC 4406, a dying star dubbed the "Retina Nebula, the Spirograph Nebula, and many other wonderful pictures. These are unbelievably cool and can be found at

Kinetic Solar System. Brilliant colors and movement add a decorative flair to this scientific desk sculpture. A series of rings and a sphere representing our solar system rotate and spin in a sturdy base, creating a miniature moving galaxy. It is $12.95 at

Solar System Shower Curtain Liner. This vibrant vinyl shower curtain boldly displays the solar system in accurate representation along with fascinating facts about our galaxy. It is $29.95 at

2) Telescopes, Binoculars, and Accessories:
Little Mak Hand-held Telescope. The Little Mak is the smallest Maksutov Gregorian telescope on the market. It’s small enough to fit in any pocket or purse, has crisp 10x magnification, and can be used as a telescope the images produced by the Little Mak are as sharp at the edges as they are in the center. It is $39.95 at

Konus Motor-500 Telescope. This heavy-duty telescope is an electronically advanced tool that is designed to give a wide-angle low power view of outer space; this telescope is lightweight and easy to use. It is 114mm (4, 5”) in size and has a focal length of 500 mm. This set includes an R.A. Motor for tracking, a moon filter for observing a full moon, a 50x Eye piece Plossl and a 30x Eye piece Plossl. It is $199.95 at

Konus Giant-80 Binocular. These giant binoculars are perfect to view the moon, planets, International Space Station, constellations. They are built to maximize the field of view and provide outstanding panoramic vision. T they are quite heavy and it is recommended to use them with a tripod. Tripod connector is included with these binoculars. They are $99.95 at

Telescope Digital Photo Adapter. This lets you attach a digital camera to most telescopes and spotting scopes and take digital photos. This is $19.95 at

Electronic Night Navigator. The portable, hand-held Night Navigator automatically shows you where to look to find the four visible planets—Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, all first magnitude (brightest) stars visible from your location, and 43 different constellations and Zodiac Signs. Sixteen different illuminated screens chart the night sky. To operate just press the find button, type in your request and Night Navigator™ tells you which chart to select, highlights the object on the chart, and helps you locate the object in the sky by beeping when you are facing in the correct direction. This is $79.95 at

3) Gift Certificates:
You can always pick up gift cards so that they can pick out what they want. However the best gift card is the Slooh 50 min Telescope Card. This is a pre-paid card gives them 50 minutes spectacular deep space objects streamed real-time live to your computer from powerful telescopes located high on a mountain off the coast of Africa. This is $9.95 at

4) Books, Maps, software and Calendars:
A subscription to “Astronomy” magazine. Here is the web site to get the subscription.

“What's Out Tonight?” This is a 50 Year Astronomy Field Guide 2000 to 2050 (Paperback). “What's Out Tonight?” is a popular celestial almanac and astronomy field guide provides the enthusiast, beginner or the seasoned amateur with a snapshot of the heavens until 2050. There are star charts of the entire sky as well as tables indicating the Planets that are out, the phase of the Moon, meteor showers and more. At a glance you will know what is happening in the night sky for 50 years. This book is $39.95 at

“Space Encyclopedia”. Contains thousands of photographs, illustrations, graphics, maps and charts. It is $29.95 at

“What Your Astronomy Textbook Won't Tell You.” Learn how science figures out how nature works-and how it debunks bogus claims. See how stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and meteoroids compare. Norman Sperling, a top-rated teacher, author, inventor, and expert witness penned this original astronomy book discussing thousands of term paper topics, clears up confusing jargon, and chortles at blunders you can dodge.
This book is $24.95 at

Starry Night Enthusiast Astronomy Software. This software provides a comprehensive astronomy course. The 3D graphics will take you on a journey from the stars visible in your backyard to distant galaxies deep in space. You can also view live images from special observation equipment via the Internet, keep track of upcoming events, create videos and files to easily view an event again later and read detailed information about each of the 2.5 million celestial objects. This software is $79.95 at

Astro Pack. This handy pack is a great tool for the beginning astronomy hobbyist. It includes a planisphere that shows the positions of the stars and constellations for any hour in the year; a book on how to choose, set up, and use a telescope; a month-by-month guide to the night sky; and a star chart that contains detailed comprehensive maps of the heavens. This is $21.95 at

Hubble Picture CD. This feature packed CD-ROM that works on both PC and Mac computers includes 450+ pictures & captions, educational text of a full paragraph on each image, screen saver with 20 Hubble images to enhance your screen. Image Browser software allows you to easily review the photos, search & read detailed captions or print the catalog for handy reference. Also includes drag and drop features for publishing programs. This CD is $14.95 at

Deep Space iCD. This CD is filled with hundreds of images and amazing facts; this multi-media program lets you explore space with the very best images from the Hubble Space Telescope. This CD features a complete collection of Hubble images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's, plus 32 superb earth-based astronomical photographs. This is $19.95 at

Calendars with night skies or even pictures from space can be found almost any place. Some of them will even have reminders of important viewing events and historical date for astronomy. Calendars can make great gifts.

5) DVD’s:
The Stars DVD Set. This set has three star DVD’s:
“Death Star”, Learn how these violet explosions could have the power to eradicate life in an entire galaxy.
“Death of a Star”, Experience one of the most violent celestial events since the creation of the universe.
“Runaway Universe”, Join a dramatic quest to unlock the secrets of the universe, including the mysterious "dark energy."
This set is $39.95 at

The Mysteries of the Cosmos DVD Set. Explore some of the greatest mysteries in the Universe. From the Big Bang to the Hubble telescope, this stunning collection brings you up close and personal to the mysteries and wonders of space. Learn about current research being performed by the greatest minds in space exploration. Witness stunning animation, actual satellite photography and archival NASA footage that bring the farthest reaches of the Universe. This DVD set is $29.95 at

6) Models and posters:
Map of the Universe Poster. Shows all major constellations, nebulas, stars, precession cycle...and it glows in the dark. It is 36" x 36". This is $18.95 at

The Caldwell Objects Poster. Caldwell Object Poster is an informative color poster (approximately 36"x24") that displays and lists the 109 Deep-Sky objects from the Caldwell Catalog. It is $14.95 at

7) Games:
The MONOPOLY: Night Sky Edition brings the wonders of the universe right into your living room. Move around the game board as you purchase comets, planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies and build observatories. Comes with six custom pewter tokens (Meade telescope, Hubble space telescope, binoculars, radio dish, observatory, Mars Rover) and custom dice. Mars and Moon cards replace classic Chance and Community Chest cards, respectively. Read all about the different wonders featured on the game board. This game is $34.95 at

8) Home Planetariums:
Planetica Portable Planetarium. With this portable planetarium you can determine the planets' positions in the solar system at any time from 1970 to 2049. Planetica can be used in both hemispheres and is set to the solar time at the place of use. If necessary, allow for summer/winter time differences. This planetarium is $59.95 at

Star Theater SE. Watch as a darkened room is transformed into a home planetarium. Project hundreds of stars and constellations on your walls and ceiling. Continue your exploration of the galaxy with the included Stellarium computer software. This is $45.95 at

9) A Vacation Plan:
If you live in a city it can be hard to see the stars. Plan a vacation some place that is “dark”. There are also quite a few places that will give unusual sites like the Northern Lights in Alaska. Take the time to look around and see what you can do with your family budget. It does not have to be expensive or a faraway vacation. It does not even have to be longer then one night. Any lover of Astronomy would love to go out into the country and get to stay up late, spending the night looking at stars they cannot see at home.

If you are looking to have an Astronomy vacation you may want to look into, Mayhugh Travel is owned and operated by Roy and Bonnie Mayhugh. Developing and marketing Astronomy Vacations is what their business is about. They are astronomy buffs that started selling travel because they couldn't find a travel agent that really understood the particular requirements of mixing astronomy with one's vacation.

Written by Lori-Lee Craig
Medieval Magic