Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We started Halloween last night, with me stuffing 18 goodies bags for Zack's Kindergarten party:

They included these very cool pumpkin straws:

All which ended up packaged in wicked witch boots:

I then headed to the school to play Mrs. Craft Lady for the party. Since the school for whatever reason has made this a very politically correct party, no one could wear a costume, and the word "Halloween" could not be mentioned. Likewise, we couldn't decorate ghosts or witches, so stuck with fall leaves, as this was officially a "Happy Fall Party". Sigh. But we had fun, glueing each child's photo to the leaf, letting them decorate it with bright sequins and such, and then putting a magnet on the back to make it fridge-ready.

Of course, there were the obligatory classroom cupcakes (which I fortunately didn't have to make this time).
Then off to home for a quick dinner and trick-or-treating with our neighbors' kids. Zack decided to go in the same costume he had last year, and was a race car driver. He's posing by our pumpkin, who has 350 beads as hair. I know it's that many because we used all 350 quilt pins on the pumpkin.
Once his bucket was full, we came home, and it got a little chilly to sit outside and hand out candy, so we put the bowl out on the steps -- as many houses did. I opened my office window just a little, though, because I wanted to keep up with when it was empty.

So I perked up REALLY fast when I heard a voice go, "OH YEAH!" and then a thunder of feet across the lawn, and "Take it all!!!!" coming from the steps. I YANKED open that door (causing two of the boys to scatter), saw candy spilled ALL over the steps and the others stuffing it into their pillowcases. I asked the two girls there just what they thought they were doing, there were still little kids out trick-or-treating, and besides, weren't they a little old to be trick-or-treating? One girl, dressed as a hooker, sat back and said, "I'm only eleven", and I retorted, "Then you should know better, and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Now get out." And that was the end of the candy bowl at this house.

Yeah, ok, I'm asking for an egging. But what the HECK is up with kids these days that they would even THINK to act like that? I never EVER would have thought to act that way at ANY age. And I won't even get into the two girl's outfits, but saying they were dressed as hookers was being kind.

This is why I'm enjoying the Kindergarten days every single minute. So if I'm late getting jewelry on the web site or I don't have time to torch, so what. My job is being a mom, and teaching him to be a good boy (who can still have quite a lot of fun without being a hooligan).

You Want to be ME????

I was given the topic of "You Want to be ME?" at Collective Creatives, and it took me a while, but I wrote my article. Think that being a jewelry designer is all about making the jewelry? Oh man, no. Click here to read my perspective on the jewelry business.

If you'd like to see the FUN side of the jewelry business, visit my web site,


Quick note - an iPod fix

To those of you who may have a problem with version 8.0 of the iTunes upload (that I had trouble with in the previous post) -- feel free to email me and I'll share what I did to finally get it to work.

I'm very glad to have my tune-uploading-capability back!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Two Hours in India

So I sit down this afternoon with a pile of paperwork, planning to get caught up while adding music to my iTunes list. My iPod is getting a little tired of the same music and I have four huge binders of CDs, so there was really no excuse for that.

Opened iTunes, and a box pops up prompting me to download version 8.0 of iTunes. Downloaded, and hit "restart" as prompted.

Aaaaaaaand, it rebooted to a pure black screen.

Nada. Computer gone.

If I didn't have a ton of pain meds in my system at the time, I believe I'd have majorly freaked out. I knew I had all of my files backed up, and they back up every day -- I just had no computer.

Thus came the dreaded call to the Compaq/HP customer service line. Which is in India. I had a nice chat with the tech (Siddhartha) about India and call centers and such. We had lots of time, as my computer would take FOREVER to do anything it was prompted to do.

Two hours and 49.99 later, computer is fixed. Sort of. Tried to visit iTunes again, bam, same thing happens. Black screen. But this time, at least, I had a quick fix for it.

A visit to the iTunes forums told me this isn't an isolated incident. But that doesn't help me load music onto my iPod.

Where's that radio?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On This Day....

On this day, eight years ago, Rick and I got married. It was a lovely, lovely day in Charlottesville, VA, with the temperature a balmy 72° and the leaves at peak color. I wrote about our wedding a bit last year -- click here if you're interested.

Just one photo this time, but it's one with a lot of meaning to me.

A couple of years before Rick and I connected over email and phone (we'd actually known each other way back in 1989 when I arrived as an A1C to Osan AB, Korea, but had only chatted in passing) life was very dismal. I already had one tattoo (yes! me! a tattoo!) and decided to get another one, sort of a symbol that this, too, shall pass. My best friend Jen is fluent in Japanese and gave me the symbols for "hope". Hope is something we all need at some point in our lives, and now, Hope has my back.

I never thought I'd meet the right person -- and then Rick came along. That tattoo has some magical powers. 

Happy Anniversary to us!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Review -- "Mr Sebastian and the Negro Magician"

I haven't done a book review in a while, so I'll share with you a book I read this weekend while relaxing at Prospect Hill with my hubby on an early anniversary get-away. We spent two days with no email, TV, or phones and completely enjoyed it. However, the drive down to drop Zack at Nana's house, then back up to the bed and breakfast, then back down to pick UP Zack, then in the same day drive home -- long, LOOOOOONG hours in the car, and my back problems (of which there are many) are killing me right now. At this point, back surgery looks to be a sooner rather than later thing.

Which is why I'm going to cheat and give you the blurb from about the book --

"Henry Walker was once one of the world’s greatest magicians. Now this dark-skinned prestidigitator has been reduced to a novelty act in a traveling circus. But when this one-time master of the disappearing act disappears himself, it’s up to a motley crew including a private detective, a strong man, a carnival barker and Jenny the Ossified Girl to piece together the puzzle of his life. It’s an adventure that starts with a childhood deal with the Devil and only gets stranger. As the true cost of his Faustian bargain is made clear, is his very identity the greatest illusion of all?"

My bit -- I was immediately captivated. Each chapter is narrated by a different person, so we learn a bit more about Henry from a different point of view. There are a number of interesting twists, and the only complaint I have is the ending. It was very abrupt, but no ending would have been good for me, because I flat out did not want this book to end.

It's a wonderful read, and I recommend it!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Tutorial in Easy Wire Magazine

I have a new tutorial available in the latest Easy Wire magazine (presented by Beadwork magazine). As soon as I get off this crazy on-the-road-always schedule, I'll be offering the necklace (and its matching bracelet) for sale on my web site.

The magazine is great, and full of ideas, so check it out at your local bookstore!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tag, You're It -- Seven Random Things

I got tagged by Kerry of Kab's Creative Concepts to tell you seven random things about me. I'm supposed to tag seven people back, but as I'm packing yet AGAIN to hit the road on Thursday (three weekends away from home = very little time to catch up), I'll have to do that later.

Here are my Seven Random Things:

1) I understand, can read, and used to be able to speak Korean. (I am, however, quite rusty).

2) I used to want to be a forensic anthropologist.

3) In 1999, I competed in the National Aerobics Championships. (No, that's not a photo of me, but of Sylviane, who is amazing. But yes, I could do that.)

4) My ideal day starts around 11am and ends around 3am.

5) The first concert I attended (and while in high school, and on a date) was Barry Manilow. I haven't listened to him on purpose since.

6) My dream vacation is to hit Angkor Wat, with off-trail trips into Vietnam.

7) I still enjoy a fresh box of Crayola crayons all for myself.

So make a comment below, tell me something random about yourself!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Fun Part of Craft Shows-- Stealth Sales

Today I had a bunch of fun sales -- Stealth Sales.

These are the sales I make when a husband and wife, or friend and friend, come in, and one ooohs and aaaahs over something, but won't buy themselves anything, because they have to stick to their list of gifts to buy for others.

I had more than a few this weekend. It works something like this....

Husband/friend notices what the wife/friend longs for. While her back is turned, he nudges me and shows me what she wants. Then I go into Super Stealth Mode -- getting the money squared away and then, if I'm lucky, sticking the box quickly into a bag the husband/friend already has, all without her noticing. If we're not lucky, they all wander off from the booth, and the husband/friend says, "Oh, I'll be right back/I have to run to the restroom/I need to check on something, I'll catch up", and then they scoot back for me to do a hand-off that would make the Secret Service proud.

The BEST part of Stealth Sales is when I slip a little something extra in the bag that even the husband/friend doesn't know they're getting. It doesn't happen every time, it's totally random, but you Just Never Know when the Stealth Fairy will strike.

And that's MY secret.


Friday, October 17, 2008

The Craft Show Circuit

I've often said that I have the best job ever, making jewelry for a living. However, for me, part of making that living is doing craft shows.

I did one last week:

Drive six hours on Thursday, set up the booth on that same day (a many-hour job), and then work the show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Basically, that means being "on" for at least ten hours, a lot of that on your feet. Staying cheerful even when someone casually tosses your jewelry down on the table to go look at another piece that they can throw down (and I do mean THROW), as if that jewelry was just so much lint and fluff to be brushed off a sweater. It's doubtful that they would appreciate it if I went to their office on Monday morning and started throwing their files around and then went in search of a latte.

So I get home from the show on Monday, rush like mad to get everything normally done in one week crammed into two days, because we're off again on Thursday -- driving two hours this time, but on the DC Beltway, set up the display in an expo center that will NOT turn on A/C until the next day (no fault of the show promoters, btw), and start another three day show.

But I do love shows, really. I hate the fact that people steal, or throw things down as if they accidentally picked up a rat, but thankfully, those times are few and far between. I love seeing my regular customers, and I love seeing the other vendors I've met over the years. Today was exhilarating and exciting and I am completely exhausted.

But it's a happy exhausted.

Today was Friday, and most people aren't off work today, so if it was this crazy today -- one can only hope tomorrow will be just as crazy. Good crazy. Exciting crazy.

The kind of crazy that makes me realize, I love my job.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Here I Am

The whole family just got back from a long trip to Roanoke, VA (my home town) for a craft show. It's a long trip. I hate riding in the car. Hate it. I am the world's WORST back-seat driver, and I also get bored just sitting there. So I alternately read magazines and knitted.

I used to knit all the time, and made four (five?) sweaters while I was pregnant with Zack, as beads had been introduced but not fully embraced at that point in time. Now, my impressive yarn stash is languishing, and only comes out to play when I have to be the passenger on long car trips.

(Patagonia Nature Cotton, made by Araucania Yarns, btw).

My idea is to knit these random blocks of color, using up a good chunk of my stash, and randomly sew them together like a quilt. My friend Jen now has an Etsy store and makes, among other things, very cool felted quilts with recycled sweaters. I take my inspiration from her and from the book "100 Afghan Squares to Knit" -- a VERY cool book that has been languishing (like my yarn) on my bookshelf for far too long.

Oh dear.

I just realized that Debbie Abrahams has ANOTHER book out... "100 MORE Afghan Squares to Knit".


Looks like it's time for another road trip.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Overheard at the Dentist Office

Today Zack had a check-up at the pediatric dentist. The following is verbatim, I kid you not.

Dentist: "We have to do a flouride treatment today. What flavor would you like?"

Zack: "Hmm. What's on the menu?"


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

I am exhausted. Not only did I make my own muscles sore due to teaching the strength part of an aerobics class yesterday, but I helped chaperone Zack's Kindergarten class to the local pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch has a huge play area with a corn maze, straw bale maze, two bike courses, slides, and things like that. We were there from 9:30 to noon, and not only am *I* exhausted, but Zack opted to NOT go to swim practice tonight. So you know he was tired.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Candy Corn Earrings and a Wicked Bracelet

I originally only had one pair of candy corn earrings, but then got a custom order for a bracelet and had two left over -- so there is ONE MORE PAIR of candy corn earrings left on the web site!

Click here to get them!

There's also one more bracelet left -- perfect if you're heading to Broadway to see "Wicked".

Click here to see!


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Gardening That Was

Before I started making jewelry, and before there was a Zack, I was a gardener. Not just any gardener -- a gardener who didn't know a thing about flowers or vegetables before she decided that THIS was what she MUST do.

I had a very tiny vegetable patch at my very tiny house in Charlottesville, so when Rick and I got married and moved into a nice, large house with a huge yard, I rubbed my hands together in glee and started plotting.

Here is what the backyard looked like before (and please forgive the quality of the photos, as they're scans of film -- no digital back then!).

Rick's middle son, Colin, helped translate what I drew on graph paper to the actual ground. Rick's oldest, Ryan, and Rick himself rented an industrial-grade roto-tiller and tore up the ground, measured, marked, laid down timbers, and filled the pathways with mulch. Here's the result.

Each plot was about 10x10, give or take. I planted a ton of tulips around the outer edge, then mums and petunias, so there would be a flower "fence". I set in two huge metal wash tubs to the front right and left (barely visible above) and filled each with three different types of herbs. A huge pot was set at the end of the center walkway, planted with a rose bush.

The next part was planting. I decided to grow organic, and grow from seed as much as I could. I particularly love heirloom tomatoes, and got those started under a huge grow light that took up the dining room table for a long time:

The problem was my cat, Max, would pat them down as soon as they'd peek a little green up. I had to build a cardboard fence all around the plants and tape it to the light to keep him out!

Here's the garden mid-season.

I planted onions, peas (which the rabbits ate and I never harvested), Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, four types of lettuce (sown in a pattern, so they grew in a design), peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, six types of herbs, and tomatoes.

Ah, tomatoes.

I planted 48 bushes.

Yup. Forty-eight.

No one told me how prolific tomatoes are. And all of them grew to my height (5'2"). I had planted two of each type, so not only did I have 48 tomato bushes, but 24 different strains.

I picked at least a bushel a day. I went up and down the street giving them away. It got to where they wouldn't answer my knock anymore and I'd have to leave them in paper bags, knock, and run away. (Not really. But close). I did can some, but there wasn't enough time in the world.

In addition to the vegetable garden, we had tons of flower gardens --eight, in fact. The previous owner of the house had planted NOTHING, so we got busy.

This was my favorite bed -- it had a lilac tree, a huge chunk of rock, and 700 bulbs that we planted to guarantee that there would be something coming up all the time. This garden was on the corner of our property, and we often had people stop and look. The photo just does NOT do it justice (the back alliums hadn't bloomed yet, for instance).

And when the summer flowers died, we planted winter flowers.

These were some of my favorite -- lisianthus -- because a) they're purple, and b) they were in my bridal bouquet.

There were always cut flowers in the house, it seemed.

So you can see, I really, truly throw myself into each and every endeavor I undertake. I do that now with my jewelry. I may not have had classical education in the art of jewelry design, but I didn't need it -- I learned from trial and error. I keep the forty-eight tomato plants in mind when I think I MUST have EVERY bead known to man, and ten strands of it at that.

So, what are your passions?


Friday, October 03, 2008

When One Thing Leads To Another

I have another article up on Watch Me Create -- it's about how sometimes, when you set out to design one piece, you end up with another!

One of the necklaces I designed for the Watch Me Create article is already on the web site , and check the "What's New" section often to see the latest things as they're added!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Book Review -- "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

rating: 5 of 5 stars


"A Tale of Two Cities" is one of those books that a lot of people THINK they've read, but never have, because it has an ending that nearly everyone knows -- one man trades his life for another under the guillotine. I knew how it ended, but also knew I'd never read the book, and felt it was high time to get on with it.

There's a lot more to it than just swapping Man A with Man B. There's intrigue, plot twists, lots of history, and suspense. There were times I had to read passages and even entire chapters over again due to the way English was written back in Dicken's time, but it was well worth it. The edition I had also had a lot of end notes so I was flipping from front of book to back often, learning just WHY what I'd read was significant. Those notes made the book more interesting (even though I hated the flipping and inevitably losing my place).

I've never read a single thing Dickens has ever written, and this was a great one to start with. The hard part now is choosing which book to pick next!