Friday, December 18, 2015

Spending Christmas Alone -- reprise

I've been asked to repost an article I wrote about spending the holidays alone. I've spent my fair share of holidays alone, both here in the states near work and family and thousands of miles overseas. I also wanted to say you can feel completely alone amongst a million people, so this article might be apt for more than a few.

Click here

Love to all.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Soldering with Stephanie Lee -- a blast from the past post

Tonight a friend asked me if I could recommend any books on soldering. I went through my copious collection of beading books to find what she needed. One of them was Stephanie Lee's book "Semiprecious Salvage". As I held the book in my hands, I was overcome with a huge wave of fond memories of taking a class with her via an artBLISS workshop. Since I'm going to be reviewing and giving away books in the next two weeks, I thought you might enjoy a blast from the past and see how I fared.

Click here, and welcome back to 2011 !


Hugs (and Hershey Kisses!)



Sunday, December 06, 2015

More Goodies Coming Your Way~!

(New post at Lemon, Sugar, Hold the Lyme -- just click here.)



You will not BELIEVE the things I'll be giving away and coordinating sooOooOOnnnnn!


A gift certificate from www.successcreations.com -- beautiful masquerade masks and a very generous gift certificate. I sent them photos of Zack in the mask I bought from them for Zack's black and white masquerade ball, and they loved them, took a look at my blog, and thought we could come up with something fun for you.



I also have some VERY good jewelry design books that I'm very excited about. One, in fact, I was so anxious to get I pre-ordered it!


I'll have the 9th Bead Soup Blog Party badge and info up soon. I hope people will be in the mood for it!




Petty packaging.


Pretty beads! 

A beautiful focal and special clasp are required.
Coordinating beads are sent to help give the recipient some ideas, 
but they don't have to be used, and you can make as many pieces as you want.

Information about the party


Past Parties 
(We've had eight so far, with nearly 500 participants!)

(Party #6)



(Ignore the header -- that was for the last party, and I have to take a year off as
I battled and continue to battle Lyme disease.)



I'll also be giving away something I adore and have long since it became a huge trend -- coloring. I have a huge new container of Crayolas, the largest they've made, and I haven't opened them yet. I 'm waiting for when less is on my plate and I can PLAY! I love the smell of a new box of crayons. Now, that's not to say I haven't been eyeing as set of markers that cost nearly $200 but that is not going to happen. Nope. But that's OK!

152 CRAYONS!!!!
Click here to get them!



In between that is card-sending, gift wrapping (or rather, the easy way -- gift in a gift bag, tissue paper, ribbon, tah dah!

OK, I'm getting to where I can't see a danged thing. Good night to all, and to all a good night.




Monday, November 30, 2015

The Winner of Gaea's Eiffel Tower Pendant is....



The winner of Gaea Cannaday's Eiffel Tower pendant goes to:



More giveaways to come.
I love to give things to people.
Brings such joy and my heart kind of tingles
(is that strange?)




You can learn more about Gaea and buy her constantly changing and infinitely beautiful beads and pendants by visiting her at the following sites:


Shop for ready to ship items  http://gaea.indiemade.com/
Shop for made to order items  http://www.gaea.cc/

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pink VW Bug -- Happiness of the Day



(Don't forget to click here to sign up to win a beautiful Eiffel Tower pendant by Gaea).


I needed a little happiness today, and it came two-fold. One, I got my beloved VW Bug back from an annual check up. (I asked they not give it a flu shot). Second is a friend who knew I wasn't feeling well and offered to go with Rick to pick it up, drop it off, and then go pick up the van which needed a major tire rotation. I mean, that thing veered so far to the left that when Rick led the way to our dropping off one car, he kept thinking, "the hell?" as heaven help me if I sneezed, because I was ALLLL over the rumble strip and that was not good. Nope, Not good at all.


What is your happiness today (big or small, spiritual or commercial, it doesn't matter -- happy is happy.)







Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vive la France -- a giveaway for support

Everyone has heard about the horrific terror in France. It's taken me days to process it, and every time I read the news, I often find I have to stop because it scares me so much to think of that happening here in the US. Then I realize the despair so many people are living in and I feel selfish for even being able to have a computer to write on.


I came up with an idea when I was looking through the pages of ceramics artist Gaea Cannaday's web site. Among all the sweet birds and pretty flowers, I found the Eiffel Tower, beautiful as the city of Paris itself,



I decided to purchase a pendant and have a giveaway. I wanted someone to have something beautiful to give them hope, because I believe that people DO come together when tragedies hit, no matter where they are. I want this to be meaningful and important to you.



To put your name in the running, comment below and make sure your blog has your email listed or you will not be able to be contacted, If you don't have a blog, no worries, just put your email in your message as "name at provider dot com", filling the bits in properly of course. This just helps keep you from getting spam.


Winner will be announced a week from today, Saturday the 28th.

Comments are closed -- winner has been announced.



Gaea will be choosing a color for you. If you can't wait and want one now, click here. (The towers are part way down the page, as well as an Eiffel Tower bead.)


Thank you to Gaea for agreeing to work with me on this project. I know it's a small thing, but holding a piece of history in your hand and creating with it at a time when things are so crazy can be a cathartic thing.


Courtesy of Getty Images



You can learn more about Gaea and buy her constantly changing and infinitely beautiful beads and pendants by visiting her at the following sites:


Shop for ready to ship items  http://gaea.indiemade.com/
Shop for made to order items  http://www.gaea.cc/

The Black and White Masquerade

Zack is in 7th grade.

Zack will be 13 in January.

I am not dealing well with this.

My husband and I are fully prepared to move near wherever Zack goes to college, should college be his choice. So far, he's down with that, but give it a month, and he'll hate it.


I'm still moving.


This is my Zack, nine and a half years ago.  This makes me proud but yep, crying.


Anyway, Zack surprised the living daylights out of me by telling me he wanted to go to an Upper School dance at school. He absolutely REFUSED to go last year. R.E.F.U.S.E.D. No. NO Mom. NO. So I was more than surprised, excited, and internally gutted that he wanted to go.


He doesn't have a date (good Lord thank goodness) but then nobody really had one, and it apparently was a bunch of people dancing together, then a bunch of boys dancing together to see who could out-goofy the other, and when he came home, he adamantly said in that girls-are-still-icky-but-kind-of-pretty voice, "I did NOT slow dance.)


I wish I could have been a chaperon, but parents aren't allowed. Parents aren't allowed on most Upper School field trips, either, unless they need drivers (not a lot of kids and not worth renting a bus). They say this is to help them with independence. While I know everything is well-chaperoned, oh my heart hurt this time. I just wanted to be a fly on the wall and SEE.


Right before he left for the dance, we blasted some music and I showed him how to just move feet. Then feel the music, then now that he had gotten the feet and was no longer thinking of them, how to add arms. And we had  such a freaking good time. I have a feeling that's why my entire body feels like I spent the night in a turning cement mixer, but I wouldn't have given it up for anything.


The theme of the dance was "Black and White Masquerade". No one I asked had any clue what the dress code was -- dress up, casual, or what. Just black and white and wear a mask. Fifteen minutes before the dance a parent finally called and said her son wears shorts because it gets hot in the auditorium. so my purchase THAT DAY of a Sugar Skull Darth Vader with "Yo soy tu padre" written on it was perfect.


And of course, so was Zack.


Now quite growing up so fast.


My sweet Zack. One the verge on being a teenager,

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Days are Getting Better and Better

I need to catch things up on my other blog, www.LemonSugarLyme.com, but good news can go anywhere, and I have to say, this is good news. I've had more good days the last three weeks than I have in months. When I crash and have to stay in bed, I don't even mind, because now that I've tasted pain-free freedom, I can deal.


To that end, I've slowly (or, as slowly as I know how to go!) started to complete projects and propose new ones. The biggest plan is doing the 9th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party. There are others who do similar bead swaps, but there's something really special about this group of ladies who jump in with both feet and truly look forward to it. I've given myself doable dates, and of course Rick helps me) so I'm so happy about that.

A Bead Soup example.


I'm also loving family time. Zack and I played Monopoly Empire tonight, and we've been playing at lot of the card game WAR in the morning over breakfast. We talk about a ton of random things, too. For instance, today on the way to school, we were coming up with band names and their first songs.


NOT Biscuits (Don't Bake Me For Breakfast, Darling)

The Purple Cucumber (Salad for Seniors)


I know there were more but my laughter gene trumped my memory gene and I no longer remember, and I was driving, so I couldn't write them down. But this is a game we're going to keep playing ... especially once we start drawing their album covers.


I continue on my slowly but surely liquidating certain things both from my stash of beads and my stash of jewelry. My web site is down for now, and I'll get to putting a new one up soon, but in order to keep this post positive, I won't go into the mess that was WebGate 2015. Lordy.


I will leave you with this from a Jane Austen book, dear readers, and hope you will come back and enjoy. Feel free to ask for certain topics!




Monday, October 26, 2015

Winner of Fast and Easy Earrings book

Woops. I should have done this on the 17th but I can hardly remember the past couple of weeks and this is the first time I've had the computer open. Please forgive me!


The winner of the Fast and Easy Earrings book is

Karen (formerly kcinnova)

Congratulations!




Monday, October 12, 2015

Fast and Easy Earrings Book Giveaway!


Want it now?


I love earrings. LOOOOVE them. I wear them all the time, even in pajamas, and I feel completely "off" if I don't have them on. Earrings are also a huge seller at my craft shows. Back when I was doing lots of shows, I made sure I had at least 300 pairs ready to go at any given time. I have a divided box that houses only pairs of beads, and when my creativity decides to head out the door and play without me, I can pull out the doubles box and get to work making earrings.



Photo above and below show my display of never-ending earrings.



This Kalmbach book is packed with over 100 projects for earrings, including everything from long, delicate chain earrings, simple wire work adornments, and mixed materials. I have Lucite earrings on page 103, too!

The book is separated into sections:
  • Crystals
  • Glass
  • Metal and Wire
  • Stones
  • Pearls
  • Mixed Materials

You will learn everything from how to make your own ear wires (and how to make the ear wire part of the entire earring design) to how to make post earrings using wire and a few twists of the wrist. Making post earrings from start to finish is something I'm going to jump on, because it's a great way to use my collection of lampwork disks and even buttons! 




With over 100 earring tutorials, you can choose to make something fun and flirty or demure and classic. Hoops, chandeliers, posts, and everything in between!


I am giving away a copy of Fast and Easy Earrings and you only have to do a few things to get a chance to win. 

You don't have to do them all, but the more slips with your name on it go into the Sorting Bowl and the greater the chances you have to grab this awesome book!


1) Comment here at www.PrettyThingsBlog.com

2) Share the giveaway on your Facebook or Google + page.

Use this link:


3) Become a blog follower by clicking the "Join This Site" icon
on the top right side of this page.



The winner will be announced on Friday, October 16th.

Best wishes!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things...



(The title is even more fun if you sing it!)


My little boy (and he's so little here it pangs my heart!) trying out new things even if they're uncomfortable and a bit confusing.


My little boy again, trying new things when he's unsure. He's brave in so many ways, but joining the swim team at barely five years of age was huge.




Me trying new things, even when they're waaay outside my comfort zone. This caterpillar bracelet on square stitch is so pretty..but an inch too large to wear. Now it adorns the neck of a vase. I made this years ago, at the beach.


Source unknown

My VW bug. It's not magenta (yet) but it has hearts and flowers on the back. One of Zack's teachers called it "the coolest car on campus".




Writing. My brain stalls a lot right now, but writing down small vignettes helps me remember later how to put things together.


Photo by Ken Graham

Rick. We will have been married fifteen years October 28th.  He's put new meaning into the vows "in sickness and in health."




The road (or river) less traveled. You miss a lot of you don't look around once in a while.




Fun colors in my hair. It's like painting a wall in your house. You can be in complete awe at how it looks, or head back to the store to buy a different color and start over, muttering, "I'll never do THAT again!"




Mail day, when a package arrives. Isn't that the coolest?

I'll do more posts like this more often. It's fun to dig through old photos and see what's there.

What are a few of YOUR favorite things?


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Good Stuff is Coming....



Keep checking in..you have no idea the things I have in store, or what you might laugh at, love, enjoy.

More Etsy Finds.

More ways to connect with people.

More giveaways.

More random fun/pretty/cool.

Follow me (click the box on the right) or sign up for emails.

And never be afraid to ask for certain topics!

Yeah. Good stuff.

Stay tuned.






Monday, October 05, 2015

Winners of Maire Dodd's Stamped Spoon Theory Spoons

If you haven't read "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino, you really need to, even if you've never been sick a day in your life. The story tells how those who live with a chronic illness, or even a short-term-but-never-the-less-daunting short-term illness, have to be careful about how they parcel out what they can do in a day.


The original post appeared on my nascent blog, but as it's just getting started, I wanted to share it here as well, since so many of you have followed my journey. This giveaway is a cross over from my new blog about Lyme disease and other invisible diseases -- www.lemonsugarlyme.com. My friend Maire Dodd, who some of you know, created special imprinted spoons for the launch of the blog, and I am very grateful to her for her selflessness and her friendship.




Each spoon is vintage and is stamped by Maire with the words "inner peace". Side note - I have no idea how she stamped so well on a concave surface, but that's Maire. She can do major things with her hammer! They're adorned with natural rose quartz and twine and a spoon is going out to the following people:



Jean from Pretty Kitty Dog Moon Jewelry

and

Mimi from Baubles, Beads, & Other Curiousities




I'll email each of your for a shipping address.

Please pass along both blogs


and


to your friends!

I also opened a Facebook page just for Lemon Sugar Hold the Lyme, 
which can be found at

https://www.facebook.com/LemonSugarLyme


This blog will begin again its journey through books, beads, Zack, vintage goodies, and funny things. I'm not saying there won't be a sad post from time to time, but I'd like to make this place happy, and even the Lyme blog happy. I hope that it will grow, with your help, and become a place where people of like minds can commiserate, help each other, laugh, share stories and successes, and boost each other up. 

No more being alone. 
There's a place to go, and it's 




Thursday, October 01, 2015

Blog Giveaway Crossover!!!!!

OK folks! For those of you who don't know, I've split my blog in two. This blog is the revamped Pretty Things, full of pie, silliness, giveaways, a Bead Soup Blog Party next year (!!!!!!), and all sorts of "the pretty things in life". I moved my Lyme story to a new blog, www.LemonSugarLyme.com.

Even though it's about Lyme disease, it really covers a lot of ground for those who suffer from invisible diseases with no cure -- fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, you name it. So please visit, Lemon Sugar Hold the Lyme, sign up to follow, and I am ALWAYS looking for guest bloggers (who may remain anonymous, of course).

Maire Dodd created a special giveaway to help launch the site and this is your LAST CHANGE to sign up to win one of her amazing vintage spoons, stamped with the words "inner peace" and adorned with natural rose quartz. This was a very generous move on her part!





Here is the full post to learn why a SPOON.  Leave a comment ON THAT PAGE and I've extended the date for comments to Saturday, October 3rd. 


Thanks so much for your support over the past three years and beyond. I know it hasn't been easy watching me disintegrate before your eyes into someone you don't really want to be around (and I get that) but things are swinging up.


Much love to you all!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Winner of the Books! (Don't worry, more coming soon!)

The winner of 


The print copy of the book goes to 

Carole of 

The e-copy goes to 

Elm of


And the winner of 


is 
Emmy of


You will be contacted by the publishers shortly.




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Handcrafted Metal Findings -- Book Review and Giveaway #2!

As promised, the book reviews and giveaways are still coming! It's so exciting to take a look at these publications and feel the beginnings of creative spirit start erupting!


Today I'm reviewing a fabulous book by Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson. Both women are very well-versed in writing books that give you great instructions and usable components with lots of room to vary things to your own taste. Denise and Jane also wrote the book Handcrafted Wire Findings, which I love and recommend everyone get no matter what your skill level. Their newest book, Handcrafted Metal Findings: 30 Creative Components, is another must-have, and it's available as a regular book (my favorite kind) or an e-book.

click here to buy



One of the things my clients know me for is my use of creative clasps. Imagine how my heart sank when my two favorite vendors, both who made outstanding beads and findings, shut their doors. NOW what, I thought. I refuse to use a spring clasp or lobster claw clasp on a bracelet. As my considerable stash of cool toggles and findings began to quickly dwindle, Denise and Jane's first book came out and I devoured it. Now, they add 30 more excellent tutorials to make your design work so satisfying. To say, "Oh that? I made it myself," can really bump up the appeal of your work.


Below is a representation of the types of projects you can find in the book. There are charms, pendants, large end caps for things such as kumihimo or Viking knit, bails, ear wires, and clasps, just to name a few. There are beautiful findings on the market, but there's something about making your own that gives your jewelry an extra-special something, don't you think? And with this book, you'll never be stuck trying to find just the right size, metal, or design of difficult-to-find beads, such as triple-strand spacers.

Shown -- Sugar Skull Clasp, Crisscross Bead Caps, and Buttercup Bead Caps


I chose two specific tutorials to talk about. The first one is a gorgeous toggle clasp created by book contributor Cassie Donlen. It's called the Tectonic Toggle (say that three times really fast!) and I just love it. Made with copper, it incorporates punching out the disc using a disc cutter. I have used both the Lindstrom and the Pepe and they're both great. I can say the cheaper versions just are not worth the money if you plan to do a lot with them. I took one class, punched six discs, and threw the entire disc cutter in the trash. (Of course, your experience may be completely different.) If you click this link, you'll find your first way to make this design your own -- disc shapes like hearts and ovals! 


The tutorial includes photos so you can gauge your progress as you go along. You'll learn how to dap (or make concave) the toggle, but you could decide to leave it flat. You'll also learn how to pattern the disc, or you can choose to etch it or buy pre-etched sheets of metal such as those at Metal Me This. I would consider this particular tutorial to be for the intermediate designer, but do NOT let that stop you from trying it if you're completely new to this sort of work. Practice makes perfect, and in the end, you'll be thrilled to make your own toggles!

Tectonic Toggle in Copper with silver and aluminum accents


Next are Bubble Wand Head Pins by Denise Peck. I LOVE bubble wands. Zack and I have collected a lot of handcrafted ones in various shapes over the years and I firmly believe you're never too old to blow bubbles. (Little known fact -- blowing bubbles works best in humid weather.)


When I saw Denise's design, I immediately got a lot of ideas, and I bet you will, too! Not only can they be used as head pins, but you can bend the straight wire and instantly create cool ear wires.

Bubble Wand Head Pins by Denise Peck

This project involves simple soldering that I kid you not, anyone can do. I know the thought of using flame can be daunting, but it's no more difficult that lighting a candle. You use bead wire, so you don't have to solder each tiny sterling silver ball to each other (big bonus!). After winding the wire on a mandrel the size you want, you flush cut the rings and solder them to the straight wire using a small handheld butane torch, similar to ones you use to brown the sugar on creme brulee. (Yum.) 


There's a list of suppliers at the very back of the book so you aren't left stranded, I love this page on Beaducation.com. I've used all three torches shown and each is great, and there's a handy soldering starter kit you can buy. After you read Handcrafted Metal Findings, I'd be willing to bet you'll want to jump in immediately with both feet, so the starter kit is an awesome find.



Photo via Beaducation

At the back of the book are 34 pages with detailed photos, instructions, and templates on how to do all the metal work necessary to make every project. This is actually my favorite part of the book, as it's easy to follow, visually appealing, and gives you lots of information which can take you in so many creative directions. Most times, I skip these sections of books, but this book is an exception.




So you want this book, right?
I know you do. I can feel it.

Here's what you can do in order to win -- 
simply leave a comment below!
(Sharing on Facebook or with your friends would be SO cool, too!)


Please make sure your comment has a way to reach you -
check your blogger information and 
make sure your email is linked on your About Me page!


A book will be sent to ONE winner in the United States.
An e-book will be sent to one winner elsewhere in the world
(international, yay!)

Winners will be announced on Saturday, Sept 26th.

Now the fine print:

I was not paid to write this article, and all opinions are mine. 
I was given the book to review and write my honest opinion.




By Denise Peck and Jane Dickerson
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

About the Authors

Denise Peck is the editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine and the author of101 Wire EarringsWire Style, and Wire Style 2. She is also the coauthor ofHandcrafted Wire FindingsThe Wireworker’s Companion, and Wire + Metal. Denise lives in Pennsylvania.

Jane Dickerson is the author of Chain Style, coauthor of Handcrafted Wire FindingsThe Wireworker’s Companion, and Wire + Metal, and a freelance editor, writer, and jewelry designer. She was formerly the editor of Step by Step Beads,Creative Jewelry, and Bead Starmagazines and a contributing editor to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine.



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway -- Knitless - 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects


Today I am kicking off the book blog tour of Laura McFadden's new craft book, 

Knitless - 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects

One thing caught my attention immediately -- stash-busting. I have a scary collection of yarn (and many unfinished projects) and I've discovered that a lot of jewelry designers and bead makers also knit. That shouldn't surprise me, because both yarn and beads are tactile and colorful. I've been known to buy a skein of yarn (or a bead!) and buy it purely because of how it feels.


Yarn from Blue Heron Yarn, a local yarn purveyor. 

The projects in this 208-page book run from super-simple to plan-ahead-a-little complex. Some of the embroidered yarn designs for pillows reminded me of seed-beading or soutache, lush and colorful and a great way to use up bits and pieces of yarn you have left over from projects. As with beads, I hate to discard remnants of yarn, and tend to hoard them because I KNOW I can find SOMETHING to do with them, if only to display them. I'm odd like that.

Some of my yarn stash waiting for a project to arrive.


There are lots of templates in the back of the book, so if you want to tackle a more difficult piece that requires embroidery, don't hesitate. I learned to embroider when I was a kid, and if you can thread a needle, you can do it.


There are a number of simple projects that certainly didn't LOOK simple. They are deceptively easy. For instance the pom pom chair. Adorable.


This is too cute for words. This requires a pom pom maker or you can make your own using some simple household items (click here). I use this one, and there are a lot of different methods to be found on YouTube. However you make the pom pom, though, once you get going, you'll probably be eyeing the room looking for something that needs some added fluffiness.


This scarf would make a marvelous gift.



In the above example, you simply twist yarn of different colors together. I love the colors, and I think this would be equally interesting if you used various weights and types of yarn. You can also choose to braid chunky bunches of yarn together, but for braiding, you'll need more yarn than the instructions call for the twist.


As a jewelry designer and knitter, I couldn't help but think how the various fibers that have fallen into the jewelry-making world would work equally well in this book. For instance, instead of embroidering a lampshade with yarn, I could see sari silk being used. So while you flip through all fifty of the projects, think beyond yarn -- leather, waxed linen, ribbon, sari silk, and even wire. 


If you would like to win a copy of this book 
(US only, I'm sorry!)
then leave a comment below. 

Feel free to tell me about your favorite places to buy yarn or share a link showing off your stash!

You can increase your chances of winning by visiting the rest of the book tour:



Winner will be announced at the end of the month.


Thank you to Laura McFadden and Running Press for allowing me the opportunity to review this creative new book. Per federal law, I state that all opinions are mine and I was not paid to write this.



DESIGN BY: THE BLOG DECORATOR