Friday, December 12, 2008
I'm stoked about this Christmas. I'm giving out pretty humble presents to my side of the family, but the majority of everything I am giving out was either purchased on etsy or it is something that I am making with my own two hands, and most of it is not jewelry. In fact I think I'm going to wear out my sewing machine this week!
Making presents is hard, fun, exciting and tiring. But what says "you're important to me" more than a gift made just for the recipient? I mean, a lot of what I'm making could be described as "cheap" or "cheesy", but I prefer to think of the presents I'm making as "thoughtful". I hope to take pictures of what I've done and post them up here after Christmas. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
My husband is out of town this week and he has the camera with him, so I have to wait to take more pictures, but here is the start.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
We did all sorts of sporting events with a pumpkin twist. There were pumpkin relays and shuttle runs, pumpkin basketball, and of course, pumpkin shot put, perfect for those pumpkins that were getting a little soft. We capped off the day with an elaborate pumpkin obstacle course. My very first year was quite memorable, too. It was a rainy day, and part of my obstacle course included crossing the monkey bars on the playground (it was optional, with a 10 second penalty). One of the girls, a fourth grader who knew that monkey bars weren't her strong suite, decided to try the crossing them anyway. She slipped and fell halfway across and fractured her forearm. I was new, and she was the principals daughter. I was mortified. Fortunately, her parents were understanding and forgiving.
Pumpkin season is over now, and if I were still in Wisconsin, come Saturday I would be shoveling broken pumpkins off of asphalt basketball course at the church and school that I once worked at. This might not be true for you, but you may be in the position to snag a few end-of-season pumpkins at a good price. If you are lucky enough to get some sugar pumpkins, I encourage you to cook them up and leave the canned pumpkin on the shelf this Thanksgiving.
Cooking a small sugar (or pie) pumpkin is easier than pie, pardon the pun. All you need is a pumpkin, a baking sheet, a sharp knife, and a large spoon. Simply cut your pumpkin into two equal halves and scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp from the inside of the pumpkin. If you make sure to give the pumpkin a good scraping to ensure that you get out as many strings as possible, your end product will be that much smoother. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until the pumpkin is totally soft. Let the pumpkin cool for a bit, and then simply scoop the flesh from the skin of the pumpkin and store in an airtight container. Baked pumpkin freezes and thaws very easily, and a small sugar pumpkin will give you about 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
Then, if you want to separate the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin guts and make delicious homemade pumpkin seeds, go for it. In my opinion, there is nothing better than freshly made pumpkin seeds in the fall, and you can experiment and season your seeds with whatever seasonings trigger your fancy. Enjoy your late fall cooking!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Learning about handmade soap is great, but using handmade soap is an experience not to be missed. I have purchased soap from several soapers on etsy and I will never use commercially made soap again. I've never had sensitive or dry skin, so I never realized what I was missing until now.
I am currently using Cranberry Orange Soap from Swan Mountain Soaps available at http://www.swanmountainsoaps.etsy.com/ Swan also makes other wonderful bath and body products and some seasonal jellies that are incredibly delicious! This is my second bar of soap from this shop, and I am a huge fan. When I get out of the shower, my skin doesn't feel tight or dry or oily, it simply feels clean and wonderful! The scent in the shower is delicious, and the lather is incredible!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 5:00. Ok, it was early, but there was nothing bright about it! I got myself all gussied up and finished loading the car before setting off to my friends house. We met up, and things were going great. We had everything we needed and we were a little ahead of schedule so we stopped at a coffee shop to grab a morning pick-me-up, make mine decaf. When we got to the venue, things were up and going and they were ready for us to check in.
They took us to our vendor spot, where I had to stand and scratch my head for a minute. My friend had taken care of all of the getting and going and had really invited me along to fill out her booth a little more. She had purchased two spots, each spot was supposed to be for an 8 foot table, so we brought two eight foot tables. The lady told us at that time that the additional spot which was purchased at the same price as the original was only supposed to be a 6 foot table, "but they'd let it slide". OOOkayyy. Then we couldn't for the life of us figure out the configuration they wanted our tables in. We were squeezed in behind two other vendor booths, and they explained that the shoppers were to come into our little "U" shape, except the top of the U was over half covered by another table. Yes, we were hidden in the back of this stupid little place.
Well, we set up, and unfortunately, I forgot my camera. Fortunately, the booth turned out kind of cute. We had muslin draped to the floor and the tops of the tables were covered in a purple velvet. I had one half of a table, and I hung my necklaces from branches stuck in two banana leaf vases and arranged my earrings on a wooden lazy susan. It was very organic looking.
The conference started and the organizers came to chase us out of our booths to "participate". I'm sorry, but I came to sell jewelry and I wasn't very comfortable leaving a table full of merchandise behind. They insisted that there was security and that we needed to leave our booth, so we did. We didn't go participate either.
Let me explain about not participating. This was a women's conference based on sharing Christian faith and growing in that faith. I'm cool with that. It's just that I am of the slightly more conservative Lutheran flavor, and this conference was of the Southern Baptist/Pentecostal/charismatic flavor. I have nothing against different flavors of religion, but I'd rather not participate in things that I might not necessarily agree with or feel comfortable doing.
So my booth partner and I went outside and talked, and then went inside and found an inconspicuous place to stand and talk and watch our booth. Then the vendors were fed lunch, a lunch which we were required to buy for $10. A lunch that consisted of a mayo-pasta-chicken salad and a roll. It was like purchasing food at the airport.
The conference broke for lunch and the ladies were given 45 minutes to lunch and shop. I think two people came by during the lunch break. One bought a cell phone charm from my booth partner. Another asked for my business card.
After lunch we looked at the program and saw that the conference lasted two more hours then ended with "shopping" again at the very end. Some vendors started breaking down right away, but our booth was too complicated to break down without disturbing the conference, so my booth partner and I went to Goodwill for a half hour.
We came back as the conference was wrapping up and I fervently held out the hope that someone would come by the booth at the end of the conference. HA!
Lesson learned. We won't be participating in that conference again, but we did figure out a really cute booth set-up and I have a bunch more inventory now that I can add to my etsy shop. It wasn't a total bust. (At least that's what I keep telling myself.)
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Here's a pretty blog on the interwebs, featuring my etsy shop.
After you read it, go check out America's Handmade Homefront's lovely shops on Hyena cart. There's some really cool stuff there!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I have to mention another little happy milestone for me this week. Last night I went to a yoga class at my gym. I haven't been there in a while because of school, but last night I was going no matter what! The instructor is great, very soothing, and she doesn't even seem to care that I absolutely can't do yoga. I try and struggle through the class, but I kind of look like a fool. You are no doubt wondering why I go. My theory is that eventually, with thousands of years of practice, I will be able to sort of do some yoga, so I keep trying. Well, last night, the whole class (except me) is holding a downward dog position, and the instructor tells us to go into the plank position. Normally, at this point, I will attempt a plank position and utterly fail. My elbows and shoulders will go all jelly-like, and I'll fall into the mat. Last night, I went into plank position, and to my utter surprise, I stayed there! I was so excited, I had to show DH again when I went home. I don't think he was that impressed, but me, I take the little things. :) I have to give proper credit to my personal trainer, Josette, for this little milestone. She loves to torture me with all sorts of upper body strength exercises, and I am very grateful for that!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Yes, the Grand Canyon is big and stunning. I really don't think there are words left to be said about it's beauty. There are plenty of words left about the insanity of people who arrive at the top of the canyon and say, "I wonder what's down there? Let's go check."
It gets hotter the further you go down, and the climb back up is hard. And I didn't even go that far down.
I wasn't smart enough to take a mule ride either, I just took a picture of the people who were.
Yes, that's a picture of a squirrel right next to my foot. Next to people, there were an insane amount of squirrels on the trail, and they were not shy about getting in there and picking up any dropped food. They were also very well fed.
On a second note, I was very grateful for my hiking boots and very flummoxed by the people hiking in flip-flops, skirts, and other clothing meant more for sitting than walking down and then back up a rather steep climb.
Sunset at the Grand Canyon=totally beautiful and worth the walk back to the rim even though I was sore and tired. It was a great experience, and I'm even more sold on hiking than I was before.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Next post: my weekend at the Grand Canyon. I'll try not to bore you, I promise!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I have a few "go-to" props, including my backdrops, the cut-off bottoms of two t-shirts, one cream and the other navy. Also, I rely very heavily on a white frosted vase, which incidentally was the vase that came with the very first flowers (and present of any sort) that my husband sent to me when we first started dating. I have a small collection of rocks also, some from the shores of Lake Michigan, some I picked up in Alaska, and others from the National Petrified Forest in Arizona. I like the texture and interest that rocks add to my photos.
Other things I also use are the patio wall itself, with its distinctive stucco texture, some dry black beans, dry branches, and some pink silk lilies (which were a part of my hometown wedding reception). Taking photos is quite romantic for me. :)
I shoot my pictures with a rather standard Kodak Easy Share camera on the Close Up setting (otherwise known as macro). I think that I happen to be the lucky victim of great circumstances for decent photo shoots. I am also a person who has always thought in macro. I love texture and color and getting right up close to it to really experience the fullness of sensation.
My photo studio, camera, backdrops, and props aren't completely ideal. For instance, I sweat a lot while taking photos (it's HOT in Vegas!), and just recently came upon the revelation of sitting while I take some shots in order to help steady my hands. I would love a tripod and maybe a light tent, but the concept of my jewelry really came about making the most of what is available, and my photography is the same way.
I really enjoy taking pictures, and for those who struggle with it, I encourage you to make it true to yourself. You never know, you might begin to enjoy photography, too!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Today Goodwill was running a 50% off everything in the store sale, so it was a perfect time to run out and stock up on surprise supplies. I've found a plastic cow and a necklace made from a walnut painted like a jack o' lantern in one jar already. I won't be making jewelry from them! :)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Well, I've been super busy over the last few days, actually insanely busy for a person who never does anything. :) I've barely been online at all between Thursday evening and this afternoon.
Friday I went to base for a reception that was held for all of the new Staff Sergeant selects, my wonderful DH included, and then we went out afterward to celebrate. We ended up at Red Rock Casino at the end of the night, in the arcade of all places. We spent $25 and won a handful of candy. Woot!
Saturday was a girl's day out for a few Air Force wives (and one Air Force airwoman/wife). I am really mostly acquaintances with all but one of the girls, but it was fun anyway. And long! We started the day at 9 AM, and I didn't make it home until around midnight. One of our stops was at Goodwill, and I bought a jar of broken jewelry as supplies to make more pieces for my etsy shop. I took a few pictures of my raw, unsorted materials, to give you an idea of what I work with. I'm excited about some of the separate possibilities, and looking forward to a challenge with some of the other materials. :)
Today I had to work to get up and make a dish for a potluck lunch. My friend Nichole picked DH and I up this morning and we drove to Mount Charleston for church in the mountains. It was beautiful up there, the weather was excellent, and the service was just what I needed after a long weekend. After church was the potluck, and then we sat and visited with members of the congregation. I got to hold on to the cutest brindle coated beagle/Boston terrier puppy (a bogle) for a while. I really want a dog!
I really hope that your weekend was excellent also. It's time to get to sorting my new materials!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I have been preoccupied with watching the Olympics and having insomnia lately. Insomnia really messes with one's ability to think clearly.
I've also been on an Etsy spending spree. I congratulated myself for making sales by spending twice the amount of my toal sales in other shops. :)
I bought a bunch of soap, some soap dishes, and lavender. I feel good about my purchases because they are not hard to justify. I mean, who doesn't need soap?
Friday, August 15, 2008
I went from having 0 sales to having 3 sales in about 24 hours, too. I sold a necklace with a PIF (PIF means Pay It Forward, and it's not so much a sale as a gift, which makes it even more fun!) on Wednesday night, and I was so excited about it, I had to go tell my husband, who was mostly asleep, the exciting news. Then last night, I sold a pair of earrings, which came as a surprise to me. I had to go tell my husband again, and this time he was totally asleep. I think he heard me, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't all that happy about me waking him up out of a sound sleep! I shall try to only sell things when he is wide awake from now on! ;)
I'm so happy about my sales, I made a little trinket to celebrate and now I want to give it away! I think I like sending packages as much as receiving them. As I send them out, I'm imagining the person on the other end opening their package and loving the contents, of course!
If you would like to receive the *surprise!* trinket that I want to give, please, just leave a comment on this entry. I will randomly pick a winner in one week, next Friday, August 22, I think. Make sure that I have a way to contact you if you win. (The best way to do that is leave your e-mail address in the comments section)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I am so blessed to work with recycled materials. I work with what comes to me, broken and discarded things and I don't do a lot of picking through things to get my materials. I mostly take discarded jewelry off the hands of friends and buy lots of broken jewelry from the local thrift stores.
I have to sift through what comes to me and see how different elements from different pieces of jewelry come together. I never simply restring what comes to me. I always recombine elements of different pieces. I do a lot of experimenting, too. Sometimes elements scream out that they need to go together, but the technical aspects don't work, so I have to remake it until it works. Other times I get a great idea and when I visualize it, it looks bad.
Every time a necklace works, or my accidental beads match in that perfect way, I feel the thrill of my creative vision being realized and gratitude for the beauty that is all around us, that can be seen if you just look.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I got another lovely convo about my photography, too, so a couple things to make my day!
I have a meme that I WILL post soon, I didn't forget, Robin!
I'm off to work on pictures, though, and maybe list some new jewelry on Etsy!
Have a blessed day!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Last weekend I finally got up to Mt. Charleston! Ever since I moved to Vegas, I've complained about the heat and lack of vegetation. People have always encouraged me to visit Mt. Charleston, which is about an hour drive from downtown Las Vegas, and about a 45 minute drive for me. DH never seemed to want to go, but on Friday, he decided we should go and spend Saturday night there. So he reserved a cabin at the lodge, and Saturday morning we set off.
We decided to hike a trail before checking in, and we picked a trail named Mary Jane Falls. The brochure said it was an intermediate hike that should take an hour each way.
Not so much. It took us two hours to get up the trail, mostly due to my general out-of-shapeness, and an hour to get back down, It was worth it. We saw this butterfly on the way up.
This butterfly was somewhat easier to photograph. :)
When we checked in, the lady at the desk good-naturedly scolded my husband for not asking about their military discount when he called to make the reservation. Then she threw in a free bottle of champagne instead. This is what the back porch of the cabin looked like. It was heavenly.
We woke up on Sunday intending to hike a second trail before heading home. We overestimated ourselves. Instead we headed home and went to see "The Dark Knight" I realize that probably makes us the last people on earth to go see it, but that's ok. We prefer our theaters a little empty. It was a pretty darn good movie, too.
And as a parting shot, a newly listed necklace from my etsy shop.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Things don't always go as planned in life however, and I woke up early this morning not feeling well and inexplicably thinking about needle felting. I got up and perused etsy for needle felted wall hangings for a while and then I was driven back to bed by my unhappy body.
My DH has been home from Afghanistan for around nine months now, and on his way back he had a layover of sorts in Kyrgyzstan. He went to a restaurant, and in the foyer of the restaurant, there were some stalls for tourists to buy little pieces of Kyrgyzstan. My DH bought a few of those pieces, which made a few things clear to me. The first was, there's probably a lot of sheep in Kyrgyzstan, because everything he brought back was made of wool. The second thing that was clear to me was that Kyrgyzstan had rapidly joined Mongolia on near the top of places I wish to visit someday. There was an organic beauty to the crafts and pictures of this place that I can't even pronounce.
This finally brings me back to the beginning. I had never heard of etsy when my DH handed me the piece pictured above, but I had heard of needle felting, thanks to Martha Stewart, so I knew what this piece was, even though my DH didn't. He had chosen it because he could roll it up and put it in his backpack for the ride home!
Since this picture was taken, we have gotten this piece framed, and we spent $350 on the framing. My DH was a little baffled at the cost of the framing, while I am still a bit baffled at how much he spent buying this piece originally. A similar sized piece of needle felted artwork on etsy costs around $200 and is worth every penny. The DH claims he doesn't know exactly how much he spent buying this piece, but it was around $40. I call that a great buy!
And honestly, it's probably the most beautiful piece of art I have ever touched. I am honored to have it in my home.
Friday, July 25, 2008
It's my mother in my head. I love my mother, and she is the one who taught me practicality. I think she might have done too good of a job at it. I was always afraid to make creative mistakes, in that if something I "invented" didn't turn out, then I just wasted materials and money. Wasting anything was always a sin in the household I grew up in.
I've learned, though, that the creative process is just that, a process. Most things you try new won't work the first time, but you will learn techniques for the next time. Now that I used recycled materials in almost all of my crafting, it's loosened the knot in my head that's terrified of wasting things. I've also had this realization: Unused materials are wasted twice as much as materials that are destroyed by learning. Write that on your workroom wall.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Last Tuesday when I went to the thrift store I bought a large mason jar filled with broken jewelry. I've deconstructed almost all of it and made quite a bit of new pieces already. It was an exciting and inspiring find, and I wanted to share a picture of one of the pieces I made from two broken necklaces, a single earring, and some faux pearls that I had already. I love how it turned out!
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I got my DH to leave me the car with A/C today, so I must take advantage. I want to get groceries, go to a few thrift stores, pick up my friends mail (she's on vacay for most of the summer, and I'm her apartment sitter), and last but not least hit up the farmer's market. I've never been, I hope it's good, I'm dying for farm fresh food!
Sometimes, Nevada bums me out, ok, it does a lot. It is not the fault of Las Vegas, but I've been terrible at assimilating here.
I'm homesick for Wisconsin and green grass, cool summer nights, and FLOWERS!! I'm not a gardener, that is my mom's job, but I could always tell what part of spring/summer we were in by what flowers were blooming around the house. I took them all for granted.
Around a month or so ago, I was in Trader Joe's and I kinda sorta wanted to buy some fresh flowers. I had it in my mind to pick up some stargazer lilies (my favorite!), but another flower they had caught my eye. Trader Joe's was selling fresh cut peonies. This is probably not exciting to anyone else, but my mom had massive peony bushes as I was growing up. In early to mid June, those fluffy pink puffballs of flowers were everywhere, along with the sweet smell that waved at you as you passed by the bushes on the way to do chores or just enjoy a beautiful June day. I had to smell the peonies at Trader Joe's, and then I had to walk away. I wanted to buy them and bring them home with me, but that would just have been another reminder of how far away from home I really am.
On to better things. I made the earrings in the picture and took pictures of them, but I don't think I'm going to post them in my etsy shop. I'm planning on giving them to my little sis on the occasion of her and her husband buying their first house, quitting her job, and moving to a new community. Her husband is now a for real pastor and starts at his new church in about two weeks. We're going to visit, and it's in MO, so at least we get to go to the Midwest!
I feel like I should make something for the new pastor, too, but I'm kinda stumped at that one. :)
Now I really do have to run!
Monday, June 30, 2008
So the little things are being taken care of and for fun, I'm putting together a t-shirt blanket. In a burst of impatience at this cluttered apartment, I decided that it was time to get rid of all the old t-shirts just lying around not being worn. Sentimental soul that I am, I couldn't just throw them out and say goodbye to all the memories that they represented, but I didn't also want to make a hoity-toity t-shirt "memory quilt." Those always seem too full blown for something as humble as a t-shirt. So, I mercilessly cut my (and some of DH's) old tshirts into squares, not even fully preserving the design in some cases. The intent was to preserve the spirit of the shirt more than any design. I've started sewing the squares together, but now I have to rustle up three more shirts to finish. I'm not intending to put any batting of any sort in the blanket, I'm just going to back it with hodgepodged t-shirt material and sew through both layers in a frankensteiny attempt at machine quilting, I guess. I'll post a pic when it's done.