Friday, December 28, 2007

Jewelry Eye Candy

I haven't posted Eye Candy for a while, so for your viewing (and hopefully buying!) pleasure:

On Etsy:

This is an extra-long, crocheted scarf out of kettle-dyed cotton. Super soft, very pretty!

Another experiment in altered art, this is a 2" square pendant, different on both sides. Made with stamped art paper, a vintage watch face, and brass.

The following are made, photographed, but not on the regular web site yet:

A simple, interesting stretch bracelet made with natural wood and tiny chocolate brown glass beads.

Earrings made with feather-light laminated shell.

A bracelet made with shells and tiny glass beads.

As you can tell, I've also been experimenting with different backgrounds for the jewelry. Not as easy as I'd like, but I'm new to it, so hopefully it will get more intuitive with time. I'd love to know your thoughts on the backgrounds -- do you like the "interesting" ones, or do you prefer a solid/white color?

Thought for the Day

This came across my email today and I thought it was great:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Joys of an iPod

Oh my. I can't believe I didn't get an iPod sooner than this! I guess I held off for so long because I go through these spells where music evokes such strong emotions in me that I just have to stay away from it for a while (anyone else out there like that?) and then I couldn't justify spending the money on myself. But I've been doing really well about going to the gym and I thought having one would be nice for that, so Rick got one for me for Christmas.

I have the 3rd generation iPod Nano and the screen is amazing -- a free movie short (a Pixar film, yay!) came with it and the clarity is something else. And when Colin showed me how to get into iTunes, it reminded me of the first time I went on the interent back in 1997 -- a hushed, "oh wow" from me and life was never the same again.

I stayed up waaaay too late last night exploring music, and after long deliberation downloaded three songs (I have so many cds that I have almost everything I want already) -- and they are cool. I love remixes or covers of songs, so got these:

If you haven't heard those versions, click on the above. "Time of the Season" and "Word Up" rock hard, and Placebo's version of "Running Up That Hill" can move me to tears. I heard "Time of the Season" on CSI Miami (where the clip came from), "Word Up" I have no clue where I heard it, and "Hill" was from Ken Burn's movie "The War".

Just in case you wondered.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Zack managed to sleep until 8am this morning, a true Herculean feat! The night before, I'd wrapped all Zack's presents and we moved them from the tree in the play room to the living room. Here's his first sight of the presents:

Notice our cat Buddy in the bottom center watching attentively. Please try NOT to notice that my house is a wreck and things are stored haphazardly everywhichway.

The first thing he noticed was a special stocking that Santa left him. Santa found a very cool handmade stocking made out of NASCAR fabric at a craft show and filled it with a lot of Matchbox NASCARs. He thought that was very cool. (Quick note -- neither my husband nor I care for NASCAR at all. We don't get it. But Pop-Pop loves it and Zack loves things with wheels so there you go.)

Zack has a bad habit of saying, "I want that!" when he sees a toy commercial (it's often followed by, "What is that?") so it was a little tough at first to really figure out what he REALLY wanted. We finally figured out that this Hot Wheels Spin City track was what he really had to have or he would just die. So Ryan and Colin got it for him....

And if you are interested in seeing five seconds of abject joy (seriously, five seconds -- I couldn't figure out the filming bit on my camera), you can click here.

Zack scored a marble run, lots of cars, more Moon Sand, paints, books, etc. etc. I got an Ipod Nano (this will make the gym more fun!) and a ton of books off my Amazon Wish List. Rick got a lot of new music for the car, among other things.

The older boys are at the stage where money is the best gift of all, but they did get a few things. Ryan wanted a good shredder, and he and Colin promptly set about seeing just how many things the shredder could shred at one time:

....which almost made this the Toy That Broke the Quickest.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve!

Exciting! It's Christmas Eve!

This meant the traditional race about town picking up candy for the stockings (I did that). It also meant delivering jewelry across town for customers who needed last-minute presents.

It meant the cooking of an exquisite meal -- this year featured Gruyere mashed potatoes and sausage stuffing (Rick, Ryan, and Colin did that).

It meant the opening of the Christmas Eve Present -- ornaments for everyone except Zack, who already got his ornament when we did the tree, so he got a game -- Qwirkle, which is loads of fun, and a game Zack has been longing for for a long time. It was one of the many things he circled in a catalog, so he was having conniptions when he opened it. (Breathe deep, Zack, there's more to come!).

I just kissed the piglet goodnight, and Rick is tucking him bed, and now I prepare to wrap all of Zack's presents and then join in a game of Trivial Pursuit with the rest of the family.

Life is good.

Book Review -- The Children's Hospital

Oh, this was a strange one.

I have no idea how "The Children's Hospital" by Chris Adrian ended up on my "To Read" list at, but it was, so I checked it out and read it.

First, I hate when a book doesn't have a fly leaf to tell me a synopsis of what I'm getting ready to read. Usually that's more of a pet peeve than anything, but in the case of this book, it really was a necessity to figure out just what the heck was going on. I went to and read the synopsis, because this was one surreal book.

In a nut shell -- you start out reading about the goings-on in a children's hospital during a torrential rain storm. Suddenly, the hospital is afloat, the earth is covered by seven miles of water, and the hospital is watched over by four angels. There doesn't seem to be any life left anywhere else.

What follows in this thick book is how the doctors and interns and medical students deal with day-to-day routines, narrowing in on a select few people whose stories are more closely followed. Spoiler alert -- stop reading if you don't want to ruin it for yourself.....

OK. Basically, all the babies and children get better when Jemma, the appointed "ruler" of the hospital, zaps them with some mystical fire she has but has no idea WHY she has. Oh, and she's also the only pregnant one on the hospital/boat.

For a while, everything is hunky-dorry, life is great, etc.

Then the grownups start falling sick after the discovery of a large boat just floating out in the seven miles of water -- empty except for mysterious ashes. Slowly and then more rapidly, all the grownups fall sick and disappear into ashes. This leave Jemma all alone to give birth, and after she gives birth, the hospital finally lands on dry land, and all the children depart -- but not after taking her newborn with her and to add insult to injury, Jemma turns into dust.

Needless to say, this didn't have the ending I'd hoped for. I had hoped the Jemma and her new husband Rob would make it to land, but they were the last two to dintegrate into nothingness.

A lot of people who have read this correlate it to a morality tale, a cautionary tale, and the parallels between Noah and the ark are there. I read it for the surface content (I don't like to dissect a book to tears if I can help it) and it was interesting, but at many times, especially when it was the angels narrating, I got impatient and then wondered if I hadn't dozed off for a little while and dreamed part of it.

If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, this might do the trick.

New Tip and Technique

I had totally forgotten I'd submitted this until the magazine arrived today -- what to do, what to do, when a toggle ring is too big or the bar is too short:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Watch Me Create

I'm tickled pink to have been invited to blog at "Watch Me Create", a blog with "a diverse group of bead artists that have taken up the challenge to document our process for you as we create new designs and styles."

Most of the folks on there to date are lampwork bead artists (and fanTAStic at what they do) so I'm humbled by the company. For now, I'll be blogging about my foray into the world of altered art. I've been dabbling with it thanks to being on a charm exchange group, but now that I'm on Watch Me Create, it will really push me to make things on a more constant basis.

If you're interested, you can read my introduction post by clicking here. If you're a regular reader, you'll recognize the charms I talked about. They're my first bits of altered art, so it'll be interesting to see how my work progresses.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Review -- The Time Traveler's Wife

I finished reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" last night. Essentially, it's about a man who travels involuntarily through time -- sometimes he goes back to when he was six, sometimes he jumps ahead of his age. During his travels, he meets his future wife, Clare. To quote the back of the book:

"When Henry meets Clare, his is twenty-eight and she is twenty. His is a hip librarian; she is a beautiful art student. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six."


Yeah, me too at first. But it didn't take long to grasp how things were happening, and each chapter starts with how old Clare is and how old Henry is, so you can keep up. It's a great love story, and I'm glad I read it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Bridal Jewelry

I played some more with photographing bridal jewelry -- as you know from previous posts, clear/white/pale is not all that easy for me to capture. It's coming along a bit better today.

This one is so amazing in person. I know that not a lot of brides go elaborate on their necklaces, but wouldn't this be stunning with just the right dress?

These are tiny little frosted hearts with Swarovski crystals, perfect for the flower girl:

This is another for the flower girl -- a sweet pale pink bracelet with a Swarovski crystal charm:

This one is modern and edgy, for the bride or bridesmaid that wants something elegant and not the norm. I've seen a lot more black used for bridesmaids, and even for bridal accents, so this works for those avant garde dresses:

These are elaborate and gorgeous and even though they're showy, the delicate filigree really works (and they're really lightweight!):

And last but DEFINITELY not least, this dramatic large Swarovski crystal pendant on frilly sterling silver chain:

I'd love to know what you think -- click the Comments below. My goal is to make something beautiful but unique for the bride and bridal party -- something different from what you normally see.


I got some wonderful prezzies over the past few days that I wanted to share!

First is this adorable tiny tin that my friend Amber made for me. She embellished it with glitter, pearls, clay, ribbon -- it looks like a little fairy cake! She also etched a special message on the back. VERY cool.

Today I got a huge box of presents from Allegra with tons for Zack. He was truly amazed ("how did she KNOW?") and appreciative. So was I! First, they were wrapped beautifully:

I have a thing for pretty ribbon. Upon opening, I found two new (well, new to me, they're antique) editions to my tea cup collection:

I now need to get Rick to build me a shelf to display all the tea cups!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bridal Jewelry

I will be doing my first bridal show January 6th, and I'm busily working on the hardest part of the whole venture -- taking photos. Clear and white are two of the hardest things for me to photograph well, and I'm tearing my hair out. I've tried a bunch of different backdrops, and different apertures, etc etc etc. It's just not at all easy. I'm going to try some outdoors tomorrow, and see how that goes.

Out of all the things I've photographed, these are getting the closest.....

These are from my more traditional line of jewelry. I plan to have a beach wedding section, a bridesmaid and flower girl section, and then a special section for the Unconventional Bride. And of course, a lot of the things will work with your wardrobe whether you're getting married or not!
Look for the official launch of the Bridal Section at the beginning of January.

Bead Artist -- Ashton Jewels

You just have to check out Lydia Muell's web site. Lydia is a lampwork bead artist who makes intricate, amazing works of art out of molten glass. I particularly love how she can mixes colors and makes each bead have so much detail. These are some of my favorites:

A lot of the glass she uses, such as the glass in the bead set above, is tricky to work with and requires a lot of patience and a lot of practice, and often you never know what color you'll get. Add to that the huge price difference between the reactive glass and "regular" glass, and you'll soon appreciate how special these beads are!

You can see more of Lydia's work at her site, -- she sells on Ebay and her site. Be sure to check out her gallery of past work!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Swimming Olympic Style

In the excitement of my parents visit, I forgot to post a Very Important Event that happened this week -- Zack earned his green wrist band at the pool! What does that mean? It means he is now officially allowed to swim in the deep end all by himself. He passed the test, which entailed swiming the length of the Olympic pool (he did that using a combination of regular swimming and backstroke) and tread water for a while.

He is VERY proud and so am I. This is such a big deal -- he's not yet five and he can swim so well!

Tinker Toys

Nana and Pop-Pop came for their Christmas visit and Zack was thrilled with his presents. One that he got was a huge set of Tinker Toys, and Daddy made a great elevator for him. Zack spent a lot of time winding up the pieces and then letting them fall.

Isn't he adorable????

While Zack played with is toys, Mom kicked my butt in Scrabble -- I came SO CLOSE once but then she pulled a 64-point word out of somewhere and that was all she wrote.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Busy Bee

I haven't been posting as much -- working on custom Christmas orders, preparing for the bridal show, shopping for and wrapping presents, preparing for family visits -- all good stuff!

I got a package in the mail today from a Secret Santa and it was chock full of things (one of which is the chocolate snowman I'm happily munching on now). One of the goodies in the box was this pretty jar of lavender, which is supposed to help with sleep:

Isn't that pretty??? And it smells divine.

I get to start a new book tonight -- finished "The Shadow of the Wind" today and it goes on my list of one of the best books ever. Wonderful! Anyway, my new book is very special. It's the latest Lord John book, "Lord John and the Hand of the Devils". What makes this special (other than it's by Diana Gabaldon), is that my friend Lisa gifted me with it, and it is SIGNED by Diana Gabaldon! What a wonderful, thoughtful gift. Thanks, Lisa!

My mom arrives for her Christmas visit tomorrow! Zack is so excited. Someone else to spoil him!

Monday, December 10, 2007


OK. I finally got through the entire "Golden Compas" series.

I chose not to write about my thoughts on it here, but if you're interested, you can read my review at Good Reads. I am very glad to be done with that set.

I am now reading a book that is just fascinating and fabulous and I'm not even done with it yet.... "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It takes place in post-WWII Barcelona, and it's about a boy, Daniel (who through the course of the book matures to a young man) who discovers a rare, obscure book. He reads it and loves it and sets out to find others by the author, but discovers that someone has been systematically burning all the copies.
There are lots of subplots in the book, and the writing itself is terrific. I'm not even done with it but just love it. It brings to mind another favorite of mine, "The Historian".
Off to read more.

Gingerbread Trains

On Thursday, Zack's pre-school was supposed to make gingerbread houses. I was going to help out the teachers, so we were very excited. We showed up at the school -- doors are locked and everything's dark.

Yup, closed for the 1/2 inch of snow we had on the ground. And if I'd only gotten through my email, I would have seen the announcement.

Zack was more than disappointed. So imagine our delight and WOO HOO-style shrieks of joy when we opened a big box from my friend Jen-that-I-met-in-college and discovered a Gingerbread Train kit!

We spent a looooong time putting that thing together and decorating it. Zack stretched out the time as long as he could, thinking very carefully about the placement of each little piece. He also ate more than his fair share of candies (smart person who put in a LOT).

Our train didn't look at all like the professionally done one on the box -- I think ours is MUCH better!

There's the added advantage that the kitchen smells wonderfully of sugar and gingerbread. Mmmmm. Yummy.

I'm just waiting for the cats to discover it.......

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Catalogs and Santa Lists

Here I sit at 11:30 at night, ordering a few things online for Zack-a-moo. There's a stack of toy catalogs that have been coming in the mail since October, and whenever we get one, I put it on his little table and give him a marker and tell him, "Circle what you like".

Tonight I picked up the stack. I am so keeping one of these.

There are black marker circles around some of the funniest things. Who knows why a certain toy appeals to him. More times than I can count, he's said, "I want that!...... What is it?"

He may circle it because of the color. He may circle it because of its resemblance to a toy he has already.

All I know is I'm almost in tears for some stupid reason, HAPPY tears, that I have this little boy.

Product Review -- Lemoncholy's

I just bought this gorgeous altered box -- it's just amazing in real life, and I am so glad I bought it! You can check out the rest of Lemoncholy's work by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Our Christmas Tree

This year we only put up the one tree -- Zack's favorite white tree that we bought last year. I have another green tree and boxes upon boxes of ornaments that I've bought and collected for years, but I decided that this year, it was going to be all about fun and all about Zack.

It's been a work in progress. We first made the paper chains and put those up. Then we made a few wooden ornaments from a kit I bought, and put those up. Then we took some things he made with Melty Beads and hung those up.

Today we spent a long time putting up all the ornaments he picked out -- all bright metallic Crayola colors. He put up most of them, so we have some branches that have a LOT and some that have none, but I think it's perfect.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Painting

I just bought this painting -- don't you love it? Visit Barbara Ann Tubbs' shop on Etsy by clicking here.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Texture in Jewelry

You can read my article about Texture in Jewelry by clicking here.

There are lots of articles about color and designs at Collective Creatives -- take a look!

Product Review -- Paper Source

I love Paper Source. I visit it every time I'm in Alexandria, VA. Not only do they have awesome paper/cards/notebooks, but they have some great gifts and fun things.

I just got their catalog today, and fell in LOVE with this apron -- isn't it cute?

And I love non-traditional Christmas wrap. This reminded me of the tree they just put up at the gym -- totally delightful in hot pink and chartreuse!

For storage, how about these cute suitcases?

And for a fun stocking stuffer, how about their erasers? In addition to Ooops, the have "holy crap" and "s**t", which if you have a wicked sense of humor, can really be quite funny!

And of course, jewelry is the gift that is ALWAYS welcome and uber-fashionable, so get on over to and buy something for yourself! For your wife! For your friend! For your sister-in-law's best friend's hair dresser's daughter!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Product Review -- Hodaka Hasebe Pottery

I was on Etsy today and was struck by this GORGEOUS dish. You have to check out the store:

The colors are amazing, the prices are reasonable -- perfect gifts (although they're so great, you may never wrap them up, but keep them for yourself!

Over the Top Starfish Necklace

I absolutely adore Stephanie Sersich -- not only is she incredibly talented, with a sense of color and texture that I can only dream to aspire to, but she's gracious and giving, teaching tons of people each year her signature technique.

I finally got around to making a necklace in her style -- I'd adapted it in the past but was never really happy with the results. I still adapated the ending -- instead of using a button closure, I made two tiny loops so I can attach a standard clasp and extender chain. The bad thing about these babies is that if you use the button closure, you're stuck with just one size.

This necklace is made with one of Stephanie's lampwork glass starfish, and I then mixed up a bowl of Bead Soup, full of healthy glass and vintage lucite beads, and started working. It took HOURS. Two days, actually, because I can't work on this sort of thing non-stop or I get blisters and tunnel vision.

The result is not for the shy. It's loud, and it's bold, and it's bright. But how can you not be happy wearing something like this? This is a necklace that says, "Yep, I'm living life and I'm tickled pink about it." It's a necklace that makes a statement, and it's up to you to decide what that statement IS.

I readily agree it's not for everyone. But if you love it, I just put it on my Etsy store -- not inexpensive, due to the amount of work that went into it and the very expensive glass bead, but boy is it worth it. NO ONE in the WORLD will have this, ever ever ever.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Experimenting with Etsy

If you haven't already found Etsy -- oh my! I love it, buy a lot of things there. It's geared towards all things handmade, from cards to bags to jewelry, and you won't believe some of the talent there.

I've been toying with the idea of opening a small store on Etsy for a while -- Ebay just isn't good for artisan jewelry and I have been looking at ways to attract new customers who might otherwise not find my web site. So I opened a store today, and will carry a few things that are NOT on my official site.

So click here to visit the store, and bookmark it so you can check it often!

In the meantime, here is some eye candy for you: