I Do it to Myself

I’m taken advantage of a lot. However, before you feel sorry for me, know this, it’s my own fault. I like helping people out. It makes me feel good. And I’m humbled that they put so much faith and trust in me. And though it embarrasses the socks off of me when the people I help gush their gratitude, it SATISFIES some deep-seated need in me to have helped them out of a jam.

I don’t have many talents, but what talents I do possess, I freely give away.

My husband gets very annoyed with me. My time is worth something, he says. And he’s absolutely right. But I always feel guilty putting a dollar amount on my time because, well, helping people out isn’t about money for me – it never has been, nor ever will be.

But when I do charge someone for something, I’m cheap. I’m dirt cheap, if you want the truth. And again, it’s not that I don’t WANT to charge more, I just feel GUILTY doing so. What I do is so easy for me and I enjoy it so much, I just feel terrible charging people for it. So, to appease the husband and to satisfy the client, I charge a pittance.

I’ve been doing websites for about four years now. Again, I LOVE what I do. I get a high out of designing something from nothing, or taking someone’s idea and turning it into something concrete. And it’s only been recently that I started a “business” of sorts. I still don’t think of it as a business because I love it so much – it’s still classified as a hobby in my mind. But I’m slowly changing that way of thinking because people?

Really are taking advantage of me.

I see this but I’m loathe to do anything about it.

However, I’m starting to learn to put my foot down and say no … occasionally.

When I offer to help someone, I do so because I have an honest desire to see them settled – to help them get back on their feet and produce a website they can be proud of. A lot of times, I make an offer to help before I really stop to think about how much of my time it’s really going to take. And once I realize it, I end up kicking myself because I never once quoted a price to help them, though I really should have.

By the time all of this goes through my head, it’s too late. I can’t offer to help and then say, “Oh, and by the way, this is going to cost x-number of dollars because it’s going to take x-number of hours to complete.”

I just can’t do it. I have a super active guilty conscience and I would rather do something for free and be guilt-free than get stuck in an awkward business transaction and feel like a meanie the entire time.

But this last email correspondence …. is really the last straw.

I don’t advertise. I haven’t had to because word gets out and I get a lot of referrals. I love this. Mainly because people have seen my work, they like what they see and they would like me to do something similar for them.

But this can backfire, too. Sometimes people expect me to give them the same deal I gave someone else and due to the nature of what I do and the people I deal with, this is a gray area. There are often times I do something for someone because I owe them a favor, or they have been a long-time client of mine so I offer a discount, etc. etc.

This email started out great. They had seen my work on another website of mine and wanted me to do something for their website. But they needed to leave their web host, transfer their domain name and get copies of their files because their previous web master was no where to be found. (Shame on you).

So, I offered to help them make the transfer … and neglected to quote a price because I felt sorry for them. It sounds like they got quite a run-around with their previous web master.

It didn’t dawn on me, until after I made the offer, what I had done and what I HADN’T done.

*sigh* I’m such an idiot.

But I couldn’t back out because I honor what I say and I figured, oh well, I’ll consider this an investment toward the price of obtaining another project, right?

Wrong.

Weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything from these people. I just figured they had found someone else to help them out and I stored the emails in the appropriate folder and moved on.

And then, out of the blue. I received an email. It listed their situation, what they needed from me and oh yeah, they had decided not to obtain my services after the transfer was complete – they were going to train someone to do the job.

*blink*

The way I see it, I have two options: 1). quote them a price to help them make the transfer, or 2). shuffle my current work schedule around, expend time and energy setting up accounts and making phone calls for them all for free.

And with no promise of future work from them.

I have to say, I’m pretty irritated with my choices here. I suppose I should be grateful that they were honest with me upfront as opposed to letting me go through all of the work and THEN say, “Oh by the way, thanks, but we don’t need you anymore. Have a nice day!”

Again, this is entirely my fault. I’m just not firm enough when I deal with people. I tend to read between the lines and feel sorry for people.

Now, I’m in an awkward situation and I have no one to blame but myself.

Friday (edible) Craft – Halloween Goodies

Nothing says spooky like eating gross, creepy Halloween goodies. 😀

Here is one of my favorites this season from Family Fun:

Melon Brain

Made from nothing more than a small, round seedless watermelon, this spooky cerebral creation is bound to turn heads.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
1 small seedless watermelon

1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the entire green rind, exposing the inner white rind.

2. Slice off the bottom of the melon to create a flat base that will keep it from rolling. With a toothpick, outline squiggly furrows that resemble the folded surface of a brain.

3. Finally, carve narrow channels along the tracings with a sharp paring knife (a parent’s job) to expose the pink fruit beneath the rind.


Ghost Toast

Looking for a treat that truly embodies the spirit of Halloween? Try serving some of these flavorful phantoms.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
White Bread (1 slice per ghost)
Whipped cream cheese
Currants

1. For each, toast a slice of white bread and then cut a ghost shape from it. You can do this freehand using a knife, or you can use a gingerbread-girl cookie cutter.

2. When the cutouts have cooled, spread on a generous coating of whipped cream cheese.

3. For eyes and mouths, add currants.


Goblin Tongues

On a night when everyone will get more than their fill of sweets, these mini bagel sandwiches will add a little variety to the offerings.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Mini bagels
Cream cheese
Bologna slices

1. For each Goblin Tongue sandwich, spread cream cheese between the top and bottom of a mini bagel.

2. Use a butter knife or kitchen shears to cut a tongue shape from a half slice of bologna. Then gently press the base of the tongue into the bagel hole.


Monster Cupcakes

Surprise your little goblins with monster-headed cupcakes filled with a slimy surprise-green pudding.

Watch a step-by-step video demonstration of this recipe.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
2 dozen cupcakes from your favorite recipe
3.4-ounce box of vanilla-flavored instant pudding
green food coloring
1 cup of green melting candy (we used Wilton Candy Melts)
24 large marshmallows
skewers
waxed-paper-lined baking sheet
M&M’s Minis
small serrated knife
chocolate frosting
black gel
2 green Tic Tac mints

1. Bake and cool 2 dozen cupcakes from your favorite recipe. Prepare a 3.4-ounce box of vanilla-flavored instant pudding. Stir in drops of green food coloring until you have a shade you like, then place it in the refrigerator to chill.

2. Next, microwave 1 cup of green melting candy (we used Wilton Candy Melts, available at party supply stores) for 1 minute at 50 percent power, then stir. If necessary, heat in 15-second intervals until completely melted. One at a time, spear 24 large marshmallows with a skewer and roll them in the melted candy, coating the sides. Set them on a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet, add M&M’s Minis for eyes, and place them in the refrigerator to chill.

3. With a small serrated knife, remove a 1-inch-wide chunk from the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a tablespoon or so of the pudding, then spread chocolate frosting around each pudding hole.

4. Cover each pool of pudding with a chilled marshmallow. Add black gel facial features and 2 green Tic Tac mints for bolts.

5. Finally, top each monster head with a bit of frosting and muss with your finger or a fork. Keep the cupcakes chilled until serving time.