Monday, December 31

Happy New Year's Eve!

Hello Friends, Family and Random Folk Who Happen By.
As 2007 ends in just hours, do you have big plans for tonight or fantastical resolutions for the new year? Do tell!

Me, I'm resolving to have no resolutions. That way I can't fail, right? Okay, I have SOME goals I guess, but resolve means "to make a firm decision about" and these are more just thoughts, ideas and hope-I-get-to's. I do like lists so without further ado...
1. Do Randolph Arts and Crafts Show in June
2. Go to Hawaii
3. Go surfing (in Hawaii)
4. Snowboard on a "real" mountain
5. Lift more
6. Run a half or full marathon
7. Be more grateful
8. Don't let P.I.T.A.s get to me
9. Read, read, read as always
10. Attain Design Certifications
11. Try to get off this computer more since I'm on one all day
12. And as always, be inspired by one of my favorite groupings of words ever:

By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

No less than the trees and the stars (I just LOVE that)...Happy New Year to each of you.

Tuesday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas one and all while there are just a few short hours left in it.

We worked on the house, had amazing food at my mother-in-law's and parents' (Dad's a great cook and my brother whipped up some amazing fudge with my Mom's perfect recipe and technique), and I got some Etsy-licious presents that I'll post on here eventually from my love.

There is less gift giving (1. Because there are just so many of us and 2. This year we put lots of "gifts" into my parents' new house!), but it's nice to be at that place in life where gifts are the least important thing. I'll be honest, as a kid it was ALL about the gifts. Of course I enjoyed time with my family, but one year I really wanted a boom box. Not only did I get it, but it was an awesome purple color! It's on my best-gifts-ever list mainly 'cause I still remember the wanting of it and how much I used it after I got it. Yeah, I walked down the sidewalk in the small town I'm from with it on my shoulder and Michael Jackson's Thriller blasting out of it. If you're of my era, you know you did it, too, and you're aware of the weight of D batteries. D batteries - do they even make them anymore? I also remember taping songs off the radio and the DJ talking over them. Hated that.

Well, I hope you all got what you wanted, whether it was a specific gift or just time to enjoy the people you love. There is no replacement for them.

Saturday, December 15

My First Movie

Wow, I can't believe I finally got this to work! Yay! So here is a little taste of our first day of snowboarding this year. Don't worry - your speakers are working fine; I just didn't add sound for this first attempt. The videographer - my husband - is snowboarding while taking the video.

I swear this is the only time I fell after fastening my boots - on camera. We started farther back from the hill so had to shimmy before we finally started sliding. The last image is my board on the left and his on the right. We had a blast. Thank goodness for muscle memory. Our first trip down felt like we had just done it yesterday instead of over 9 months ago.

Thursday, December 13

Still Here

Yes, I know it's been days! Here's are pics of last weekend's work: we painted the kitchen a sunny yellow (my mom has wanted a yellow kitchen for as long as I can remember) and installed the subfloor in the new bedroom.

There is going to be a major snow event - a Nor'easter - affecting the area so this weekend we'll stay home and hit the slopes tomorrow. Oddly, we are actually kind of bummed 'cause we could have been that much farther along on the remodel, but we'll get back to work the weekend before Christmas. Slowly but surely we will get this done! It's really looking pretty.

In other news we just got brand spankin' new Macs at work. Mac lovers eat your hearts out! For those still suffering with stone-age Macs, I was still working with OS 8.6 (shudder...release year 1999), Photoshop 5.5 and other, shall we say, "retro software." It's nice to finally reach the 21st century.

Monday, December 3

Let it Snow!

It snowed and snowed all day! I was so happy. We've just had dustings up until now, but today winter came with all its fluff and bluster. My co-worker chucked a paper clip in my direction when I exclaimed (for maybe the third or fifth time), "It's snowing!" I got her back when she started singing along with White Snake on the radio.

'Tis the season of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and the sport that makes me feel joy as good as childhood despite the chance of face plants and bark-tasting: snowboarding. There is a resort selling $4 lift tickets this Wednesday for the first hour it's open, and it's sickening me that we won't be able to go. I guess it will make our first run that much sweeter, albeit at full price (cringe.) I hate paying full price.

Tuesday, November 27

Details, Details, Details

The flower is on the custom molding I designed using drywall compound and stencils. My mom and I completed this fun project together. Click the bathroom picture in the post below to see our finished handiwork.

Getting There

Whenever we asked each other how we were doing as we all worked on my parents' house, our typical response was, "Getting there." We have come so far, but still have a ways to the finish.

Monday, November 26

Enjoy Life Sip by Sip

Jewelry artist Lorelei has made another creation with my beads (the two brown and and ivory swirly ones)!

She is sumbitting this necklace for the Coffee-Inspired Art Bead Scene challenge. I hope she wins! How cute is that charm she got from another Etsy seller?

Update Dec. 3: She won! These fabulous beads were the prize!

Monday, November 12

A Ray of Sunshine

If you're in the northeastern United States, it's gray, it's gloomy, it's fall. It's the perfect time to show you my latest buyer's creation! Jewelry artist Lyrical made these lovely Sunshine Earrings featuring my orange and yellow streaked beads. Do you know someone who needs a ray of sunshine? Head on over to her shop!

Monday, November 5

A Rose - Froze!

My mom's fuchsia rose vividly triumphs through its frosty glaze on a fall morning.

A Buyer's Firey Creation

I love when my buyers share what they create from my beads! A jewelry maker from across the pond created this vibrant necklace using my focal bead as the main pendant and more lampwork glass beads from another artist. Don't they all look like they were meant to be together? Cheerio!

Sunday, November 4

I'm Back!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent working on my parents' new house! This is the view. They are downsizing from the big Ranch that held all us kids to a space that will be just perfect for them. I can't wait until we get it done to come home to this new home! It's actually an existing home, but we are renovating it with them and anyone willing to lift a hammer or paint brush - namely them, my husband and I, my brother and my cousin so far. Conveniently, it's right next door to the house they live in.

We got lots done and lots we didn't expect doing as is usually the case when doing home improvement. My mom's sewing room is painted top to bottom and the outlets and switch plates were replaced, the window was caulked, my brother patched all the cracks he could find on the cinder block exterior, the drop ceiling in the kitchen was removed and then we tore down the ceiling above that (an amazing mess!), my cousin installed a window in their new bedroom (converted from the garage), B put up beams to hold the new ceiling in the bedroom and kitchen, new light fixtures are being wired into the kitchen, and I'll be putting new linoleum tiles in the closet and starting on painting the living room when we return.

We hope to finish before snowy weather sets in, but there is LOTS to do. Next weekend my husband will install the new furnace while I work on the pretty-ing up stuff. He taught me how to replace the outlets and switches though so I get to do that small electrical project - woo-hooo! I love knowing how to do things.

My dad made sure we were fed everyday (a delicious homemade roast, pizza, apple cinnamon pancakes and bacon, A.J.'s Texas Hots - my favorite take-out - and homemade sweet and sour chicken and various Schwann ice creams for dessert), and even though it was hard work, it was satisfying and even fun.

Wednesday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

I was going to buy my husband a cute Halloween card, but then I saw a bunch of tiny pumpkins on they way home and decided to buy one and carve it for him instead (we used to carve pumpkins every year, but we've gotten out of the habit these last few). While there were a couple trucks in the parking area, there was no one tending to the cash register of the nursery except the resident black cat. He scratched his head by rubbing it on the end of my pen as I wrote a note and left the dollar under a ceramic turtle on the stand saying the cat was welcoming but couldn't seem to figure out how to push the buttons.

Once I'd finished the jack-o-lantern, I put it on B's dresser in the dark as a surprise. It had an amazing amount of seeds so I roasted them up for an extra treat.

He got me a sweet card with a little bird on it offering another bird a piece of candy corn.

Monday, October 29

Faint Like Dreams

Small fish peered up from the edge of the pond. They were faint like dreams upon waking.

Yeah, I could have said I went for a run in the park, stopped by the pond and saw some fish, but I felt like waxing poetic.

Wednesday, October 24

On My Desk

My friend just found this awesome blog called On My Desk. It's pretty self explanatory; there are pictures and stories about what is on people's desks, but not just any people - wild and crazy creative people!

Have you seen those awesome animated shorts of bunnies reenacting popular movies? No? Yes? Either way, here's what the desk of the creator looks like! Now go watch some bunny movies.

Here's a look at my space.

Sunday, October 21

I Did Bad Things to Carrots Today

I hate when I waste hours in the kitchen only to have what I'm doing come out crappy. Hate it. Waste of time. Waste of food.

My intentions were good. There is a Carrot Ginger soup that I love at a restaurant we frequent. As luck would have it, I was paging through my Moosewood cookbook today and there was a recipe for it: Gingered Carrot Soup! Number one - no way is this the same recipe they use in the restaurant. Number two - I knew one and a half teaspoons of salt was waaaaaaaaaaaay too much. What were they thinking? I've been cooking for years and I do all right, but do I trust my instincts? No. I put in the salt. Result: recipe should be called Salt With a Hint of Carrot soup.

So carrots, two pounds of lovely orange carrots, please accept my deepest apology that ending up in my crappy soup was your fate. You were planted, you grew, were trucked in to my store from wherever you put down roots only to meet this demise. So sad. I promise to do better with the other three pounds still left in my fridge.*

*The store was out of one pound bags so I had to buy a five pound bag. Should have taken that as a sign.

Feel free to confess your food disasters here.

Black Diamond Off-Road Duathlon

The weather was absolutely gorgeous all week, but of course race day brought clouds, wind and a pocket of rain. The start was dry all the way through the 2 mile run, but the beginning of the 10 mile trail ride brought some chilling raindrops. Unlike running (at least for a long distance plodder like me), biking creates a lot more windchill so it's tough to want to keep a good pace. Part of the trail featured about a mile of single track through the trees that was really fun. Large roots and bridges were marked as "bike hazards." We kind of laughed at that because where we usually go the whole trail would be marked "bike hazard."

I had signed up B telling him "it'll be fun!" That's always my ploy, LOL. I didn't see him after the first mile, but he caught up to me on the bike just like he said he would. I stopped to drink some iced tea and put on my rain coat so that bought him a little time. He beat me to the bike drop off and then said he was done. That was a bummer, but he runs about 10 miles a year, and we hadn't trained for this at all. I talked him into walking with me for about 20 yards into the last 2 miles when he showed me he'd already taken off his timing chip. He was feeling fine, and didn't see any point in making that not the case so called it quits. The difference between us is I only aim to finish, and he wants to do well. I could care less how I measure up against the rest. I know I'm not fast, but B wants to be good. He urged me to get going and of course there was no way I was going to get a DNF (did not finish). 20 minutes later I was cruising to the finish.

We cheered on a few other people, and as we watched a couple came through and crossed the line together. I said, "That could've been us!" Of course, there wouldn't be this picture of me hamming it up if he wasn't waiting at the end.

Tonight he asks me if there are any races coming up. I knew he'd be looking for redemption.

Friday, October 19

Handmade Jewelry by Lorelei

I recently had the good fortune of jewelry artist Lorelei purchasing a bead from me and creating a gorgeous necklace that is now available in her shop! I'm so excited to be featured in one of her unique pieces! If you are looking for a gift, save gas, browse her shop from the comfort of your home and purchase a one-of-a-kind piece of art!

This very talented, self-taught jewelry designer and fellow New Yorker says, "I started creating beaded jewelry last Christmas. I wanted to hand-make gifts instead of dealing with the struggle of finding the perfect gift. I am self-taught, and a motivated beader! I love using color in my jewelry, the more the better. Experimenting is the most fun, and I love how easy it is to re-make something if it doesn't turn out. There are endless possibilities."

Thank you, Lorelei, for making a little bit more of my dream come true: for jewelry designers to purchase my beads and hand-make amazing pieces like this.

It's Bewitching Time

It's time for goblins and ghouls and a festive Halloween time-waster. Have fun!

Love this witch? Discover original artwork printed on greeting cards at The Clockwork Dragon Gallery on Etsy!

Tuesday, October 16

Cool Days, Warm Oven

Yep, that's what I brought my co-workers for breakfast! I had a few bananas that weren't good for anything more than making banana bread so I told B if he went to the store to get walnuts, I'd make some. He had his shoes on pretty quick! I looked up a new recipe out of my Moosewood Cookbook, and it called for soaking the mashed bananas in a cup of strong coffee. I was considering skipping that step, but when B got back he made some coffee out of the blue. He never makes coffee in the evening so I figured the universe was trying to give me some direction. The bread was fantastic - do not skip the coffee soaking! It adds a rich flavor to the bread, and it won't taste like a cup of Joe.

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
2/3 cup black coffee

Cream together in a separate bowl:
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine (softened) (3 sticks)
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs (add one at a time, mixing well)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Mix together in another bowl:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup walnuts (optional but highly encourage!)

Set the oven for 350 F. Grease 2 loaf pans. Gently blend the flour mixture and banana mixture into the butter mixture alternately, being careful not to over mix. Add 3/4 cup walnuts at this time. Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let pans cool for 10 minutes then dislodge the loaves and place on a rack. The cookbook says to wait 1 hour before slicing, but seriously, good luck with that.

P.S. Don't forget to e-mail this recipe to your friends! Just click the little white envelope below.

Friday, October 12

A Porpoise of a Different Color

Today I learned that there are pink dolphins in the Amazon River. You know you want to see one - click here! There is also a poisonous snake that is attracted to light - like a flashlight on the water from a boat in the dark.

Wednesday, October 10

Newest Offerings from the Torch

I'll be putting these for sale in the shop as soon as I get a chance. It will probably be sometime this weekend because I'm trying out a new restaurant with a friend tomorrow. Anyone been to P.F. Chang's? I hear it's fabulous.

Tuesday, October 9

New Creations

A new shape, a new fish and beads soaking before I pull them off the mandrels.

Sunday, October 7

Happy Hair

I was kind of rushing out the door this morning to meet a friend to go kayaking. I had decided to make banana-blueberry pancakes so that put me a little behind, and I figured my hair looked a mess. It's time for a haircut, and most days the attention it gets amounts to being washed and combed. I'm very low maintenance, but I'll blow dry it if I think it looks hideous.

I ran to brush my teeth and was pleasantly surprised to see it look pretty good. It's because it knows it's going kayaking, I thought to myself. Yesterday I went mountain biking, and it looked good even after taking off my sweaty helmet. I swear when the hair is happy it shows it. Tomorrow it will part down the middle and hang lankly. The hair does not like Mondays.

Featured Artist: Marcy Lamberson

Marcy Lamberson of Studio Marcy is a talented lampworker who specializes in critters and creatures from a colorful toucan to a bee pirate!

How long have you been creating the pieces you sell on Etsy?
"I have been making beads for seven years and selling on Etsy for almost one year. But many of my pieces that I list are one-of-a-kinds. Each week I have a new style of something."

Do you have a certain ritual you do when you sit down to create?
Yes. My ritual is to make sure my ventilation system is turned on and that I'm wearing my safety glasses. Once or twice I was making beads and I realized that I accidentally was wearing my reading glasses, so now I'm more careful from the start. Nice to work without the soda flare."

What piece are you most proud of and why?
"I made an Inuit-inspired face inside of an eagle mask, which I love. It's quite a departure from my usual style, but I love how the face looks and that it's done all in neutrals. It will be in the October Ornament magazine as part of an advertisement by one of my street teams here on Etsy."

What's something people may not know about you?
"I can write in cursive with both hands at the same time in different directions."

What are you looking forward to creating next?
"There are so many items. I'd like to do a series on fairies, and I'm enjoying making customers' pet portraits. I've got an African Gray Parrot named Lulu lined up next, but usually it's their dogs or cats. It's so much fun to hear what the owners think and how much they enjoy it."

Learn more about Marcy here

Wednesday, October 3

Featured Artist: Ginny Headley Maserang

Today I interviewed Ginny Headley Maserang of That's Headley! Jewelry Designs. She is a fellow Etsy artist and makes truly unique jewelry. These photos are just a few samples of her beautiful work. Left to Right: Stone Rainbow Necklace in Mixed Semi Precious Gemstones and Sterling Silver, True Colors Necklace in Olive Jade, Apatite, Citrine and Sterling Silver and Color Me Sudoku Necklace in Copper, Crystal and Silk.

Her Creative Process
"I have had a shop on Etsy since March 2006, but have been creating jewelry for myself and family and friends for more than 30 years. When I sit down to create, if I haven't had a compelling inspiration that made me sit down in the first place (you know how that wake up at 3 AM with a vision of a completed piece completely formed in your head, and you can't wait until morning comes and you can get to your workbench and make it real), my ritual is to pull out my "pretties" - all the stones and beads that "made" me buy them when I saw them, even though I had no idea at the time what I would do with them - and I start playing, combining them, seeing how their colors and textures work or don't work together, and before too long, what I want to do for the next piece emerges."

The Piece She's Most Proud Of
"...the bracelet I made for the Spring 2007 Beads4You Challenge on Etsy. It won the Anything Goes category, but that's not the reason I am proud of the piece (although that does contribute a bit!). It was a real stretch for me technique-wise, and it took quite a bit of work to make it come out the way I had planned. In the end, I persevered, and it exceeded even my own vision. What I am looking forward most to creating next is another bracelet using the same technique, but with amethysts and lavender-colored pearls. Look for it soon in my shop!"

What is Something People May Not Know About You?
"I have a Ph.D in microbiology, I'm an expert in bioterrorism (preventing it, not doing it, let's make that clear!), and can really kill a conversation at a dinner party - haha!"

Visit Ginny's blog.

Content (accent on the second syllable)

This afternoon I had a moment of pure contentment. I like to eat my lunch at my desk and take my actual lunch hour in my car. First I went across the street to buy chocolate - chocolate covered gummie bears and pretzels to be exact. Then I went to my car, grabbed a deliciously dark pretzel and started a new book. The sun was shining, the car was warm. It was perfect hour on an autumn afternoon.

The book? Spark Your Dream. The true story of two people who left their life of routine behind and embarked on a journey in an antique car from Argentina to Alaska. People like that rock.

Tuesday, October 2

The Kiln is On

Oh, I am so excited! My brand new kiln is heating up for the first time, and I'm just about to head to the torch. It's like preheating the oven to make cookies. (Cookies would be good, too.) The colorful rods of glass are laid out ready to be made into delightful creations - this is the best part of the day. Hey, maybe I'll have to start going to bed early and then getting up even earlier to make beads before my day job. I feel obsession coming on.

Saturday, September 29

Good Things Come in Threes

I sent these necklaces out a few weeks ago to a customer who attended my craft show over the summer.

I was thrilled when she wrote this really sweet response upon receiving her package: "Absolutely, positively gorgeous. I love them. These necklaces have exceeded my expectations. I WILL BE PURCHASING MORE. They make great gifts!"

Earrings to Match

A coworker bought her mom a really pretty necklace with green lampwork beads and asked me if I could make some earrings to match. I used a vivid green to create these heart drop earrings. I shaped the main beads into bi-cones and then formed the little hearts with gravity and a knife-like tool. My wire work and the hooks are silver.

Below is the glass necklace created by another artisan.