Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Not To Ring In The New Year

1 - Have 2 out of 3 kids sick as dogs and vomiting their little brains out.

2 - Have a clipper system snow storm blow through that drops a quick 6 inches of snow.

3 - Burn your daughter's morning waffles and stink up the kitchen.

Looks like we are going to be having a movie night at home, again this year. We had hoped to get out to spend time with friends, but both boys have come down with a wicked stomach bug. YUCK! And Ron is telling me he feels a twinge in his stomach too. Looks like champagne and a fancy home cooked meal are outta the question too. Oh well.

I guess it'll give me some good time to reflect. I can think about the things I did good in 2008 and the things I want to work on in 2009. I have told y'all several years in a row that I am not a resolution maker. But that doesn't mean I don't think about things and want to do them differently. The first of the new year is just the perfect starting point for changes, right?

Okay. Time to go sterilize the bathroom... again. Good thing I have lots of Lysol Disinfectant Cleaner!! YOO HOOOOO!!!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Friends

I would like to introduce you to Lammy, Pooh, and Dutch Girl. This trio has spent most of the my near 31yr life with my Mom. Yesterday, though, Mom thought it was time that they finally get to come back to living with me.

Lammy has been mine since birth. And look... my head still fits on her... just like it used to. Pooh is wearing a shirt I wore when I was a baby. Check out those stripes! And yes, he has had to have his mouth repairs a few times over the years. Dutch Girl is from my Great Grandmother, Cornelia. She (and my Great Grandfather) were off the boat immigrants from Holland. Great Grandma lived until I was in about 3rd grade. I remember spending the day with her before she passed away in her sleep later that night. My doll used to have a "dutch" inspired outfit but has long since lost them and some time ago she got dressed in one of Jacob's baby sleepers. No, I didn't cut her hair... it has always been like that. I can still remember the box she came in too.

I love having these three back with me. They are sitting in a chair and when my eyes fall on them I find it so comforting. It makes me stop and take a deep breath and then a little sigh. I am wondering what animals will be my kids' favorites? Is it just a girl thing? Lauren is attached at the hip to a monkey named "Gaston"... but the boys, not so much. Andrew has a whole pile of teddy bears that he lines up on his bed from time to time but no one is especially special. Jacob, nada.

Anyway... just a little childhood flashback for a minute. LOL... I like those.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Over the past few days, I have been debating internally what I would write about first when I came back from my little holiday break. Would I talk about Christmas Day? Would I share the beads of another contributing artist in my book? Would I write about the kids being home all week and me wanting to pull my hair out? Or about about the new mixed media pieces I am working on, would they take center stage?

The answer to all of the above is nope... I want to write about a shifting.

I am feeling a change happening... a shift in my ideas... a new direction I want to move. I have been thinking it for a few months but only really started vocalizing it to family and friends over the past week or so. Now it is time to talk about it here. The more I get my ideas out in the open, the more right they feel and the more settled into them I am getting. And I have to say, it is feeling really good.

So here is the thing... I don't want to do any art shows in 2009.

There I said it.

I want the year off.

Shows are 10 times the stress that I let on that they are. I pull my hair out. Granted, it is all self-inflicted stress, but it is nerve-racking just the same. This year, my applications for shows are due right around the time that I will be heading to Colorado for the photo shoot for my book. I have made the decision that I am not going to attempt to write a book, and come up with new jewelry designs for slides, and photograph them all, and write all the applications, and do the photo shoot, and be home with kids. It is all too much. It is my guess that you would be very hard pressed to find another artist out there that does what I do anyway. One that has a website with both beads and jewelry, a blog, contributes to magazines, does book contributions, makes their own beads for all original jewelry designs, is writing a book, raising three kids (one of which has a mental illness), and does shows. Something has to give.

The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Plenty of artists that write books take the year off to concentrate on the writing. So why can't I? I have it in my head, too, that without the month and half of stressful creating that leads up to a show, I won't have the month of not wanting to make a thing after the show. Right? It might possibly make me more productive. I will have the opportunity to make Bead Box Beads on a more regular basis (once my book deadline is met in April), I want to apply to more exhibitions, I want to pursue selling my jewelry in more galleries, I want to work more with mixed media, ...

and there is something else...

I want to teach more!! I haven't been able to apply to teach at major beading venues because the applications for those are always due around the times I am prepping for a show. I want to hone my classes and apply to teach at Bead & Button in 2010, and BeadFest, and WireFest too. Who knows, maybe I can develop a lampworking class too!!

So there you have it. I am feeling a shift. A shift from what I have done regularly for the past five years, to something new and unexplored. What an adventure it will be, don't ya think? Are you up for the challenge? Will you follow me into the fray of teaching on a national scale and success or failure that will come with it? Are you up for reading my dribbling about writing a book, and writing class applications? Can you prepare yourselves for when I get moody from gallery rejections? Are you still gonna buy up my beads and jewelry?!?

Change is always scary... but, for now, it is feeling so right.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas The Day Before...

...Christmas, and all through the house, everyone was stirring, but we don't have a mouse.

Things are all a hustle and bustle around here. We have a fun day planned with snowboarding at the park, cookie making, Christmas movies, mass, and Ron's family's annual Christmas Eve party. We are as ready as we can be for the big day tomorrow too.

I am going to sign off until Monday.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Comment Caroling

I was on the torch one day last week and as I listened to Christmas music, singing to myself, I thought to would be fun to randomly sing a Christmas Carol in the comment sections of my favorite blogs. I was going to do a whole blog post about it and turn it into one of those chain games where everyone links to a bunch of people in their blog post about it. Alas, I never got around to it, but I still think it would be fun. AND, I realized I better write about it and claim the idea as mine, mine, mine before someone else thinks of it!!

Okay, since I couldn't pull off the next best internet blog tagging game, the least I could do is a quickie tutorial for you. A week or so ago, my friend Lindsey asked for some help on jewelry gifts for her Step Mom and Mother In Law. This is the project we came up with.

It is pretty easy to make and if you have the materials, shouldn't take more then an hour or so to do.

The Grandma Bracelet

1/2in wide 20g sterling silver flat wire cut to 1 1/2in strips
20g sterling silver round wire
3in of sterling silver rolo chain
Toggle clasp

Alphabet stamps
Bench Block
Wire cutters

Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers
Nylon mallet
Metal hole punch
Liver of Sulfur
Polishing cloth

Step 1: Start by filing the sharp edges of the sterling strips where you'll be stamping names. In our example, we have a name tag for each sibling in the family and it is their children that are on the tags. (Ex: 1 tag for Lindsey's kids, 1 tag for her brother's children, 1 tag for her step brother's little ones.)

Step 2: Organize the letters you'll need to stamp names on the tags. I like to have all the letters I need right in front of me. Work from the center out, with the metal strip on your bench block. For the example shown, we stamped the "G" in Logan first. Then work your way out. Have fun and wiggle they letters, it'll drive you crazy trying to make them line up perfect. (DON'T use your good wire working hammers for this!! Grab your hubby's junky house hammer!!)

Step 3: As you are stamping the letters, give the letters a few good whacks for a clean impression, but not too hard or you'll have an extra outline from the outer edge of the stamp. The metal will start to curl as you go, don't worry about it! When you have all the letters of the names stamped, use your nylon mallet to flatten the metal back out.

Step 4: Using a metal punch, add 4 holes (one in each corner) to the center tag. On the two outside tags, put a hole in each corner on the side that will line up with the center tag, and put ONE hole in the center of the outside edge. I wrapped the tags against the handle of my hammer to get a slight arch to the links. That makes the links hug your wrist just so.

Step 5: Using round nose pliers and 4inch pieces of 20g sterling silver wire, make wire wrapped loops to link the tags together. It gets a little tricky linking the third and forth holes together, but go slow, you'll get it. I really like the chunky look of over lapping the wraps too. But you could put a bead in between or a little crystal... mix it up.

Step 6: Time to attach the clasp! I attached a toggle loop on one side with a wrapped loop. And the other side, I use a length of chain and the bar side of toggle. Adjust the length of chain to adjust the finished length you need on the bracelet.

Step 7: To finish things up, oxidize the bracelet with liver of sulfur and tumble for an hour, polish to highlight the stamping.

There ya go! You'll have to forgive any typos or weird phrasing, lol... I just threw this one together. Have fun with it.


Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way...
OOOHHHHH, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, HAY!
Jingle Bells, Jingles Bells, Jingle All The Way!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hunkering Down

Fire going in the wood burner... check.
Christmas lights on... check.
Orangette's Peppermint Bark in the Fridge... check.
Pot roast in the oven... check.
Movies in the DVD player... check.

12-15inches of snow coming over the next few hours... CHECK!!!

I am sure you have heard, the NorthEast is getting hit with some snow. The conservative forcast for our area is 12-15inches by 10pm tonight. I spent the morning running to get the stuff for peppermint bark, and the pot roast is in the oven now, so I think we have everything we need for a toasty night in.

I hope you are staying warm where you are!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wrap It Up, I'll Take It

First, a want to send you all a HUGE, heartfelt ~* Thank You *~ for the love and support sent my way yesterday. I know there will never be a quick fix for the things that trouble Andrew and each day presents new challenges. I wouldn't trade him for the world, though, and we'll get to some place of balance (hopefully) someday.

But, today is a new day... with a fresh dusting of 5inches of snow... and it is time for some new bracelets!! I am going to need to leave myself plenty of time to clean my car off before heading to the Gallery Store this afternoon... it is very snowy out there.

I am super excited to share this new bracelet design!! I am calling it a "Wrapper" bracelet. I was inspired by a bracelet Jennifer shared on her blog HERE. She mixed rubber tubing and her fabulous ceramic beads... I thought it would look great with wire and glass (isn't that always the way? wire and glass...). I was in JoAnn Fabrics and popped down the jewelry supplies aisle, which is something I rarely do. I grabbed some memory wire and gave it a whirl. I still need to tweak it a bit. I need to find a better balance to the beads. It seems heavy on one side to me, but so much fun to wear!! As usual... the picture really doesn't do it justice. The colors are so much more vibrant and rich in person.

(Santa, please bring me a new camera for Christmas!)

And... here a few others that are headed to the Gallery too.

"Spotted Elephants" ~ cool because it uses all colored wire. I haven't done an all color wire bracelet before. Usually, the color is accent. Gotta mix things up, ya know.

"Brace Yourself" B&W ~ Classic colors... I don't see myself getting bored with these anytime soon. I love how these feel.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Learning Lessons

Sorry, this isn't my regularly scheduled blog post. I thought I was going to post bracelets today, but I am putting it off until tomorrow. Something happened yesterday that I need to talk out. I know there is a wealth of motherly support available to me through you blog readers and I want to take advantage of it today.

Today is about Andrew (my 9year old). He is home today, and not because he is sick. He is home because he was given out of school suspension yesterday. My guess is you had no idea fourth graders could get suspended, let alone an out of school suspension.

I was torching yesterday afternoon when I got a phone call from the school. They asked if I could come in to talk about something that happened with Andrew during lunch. I asked if they could clue me in and they said they would talk more when I got there. I knew that couldn't be good. School is just a few miles from my house and my thoughts raced the whole way there. What could have happened? What could have set him off? Andrew is bi-polar and at home can have extremely violent tantrums but they have never seen the behaviors in school.

I love the vice principal at our school. She is so kind and understanding, warm and loving to the kids, and more helpful then every teacher I was ever exposed to at our old district combined. This is what she told me happened... in the lunch room yesterday, a boy named Jacob, who sits near Andrew, started talking about Santa Claus. The boy said he didn't believe and that he would never believe. He continued to push and tease Andrew about it and Andrew said "I am going to kill you." Their was a third boy, Anthony (a good friend of Andrew's), that heard all of this. Andrew's comment upset Anthony and he told an adult. Andrew was pulled out of lunch and sent to the office. The administrative intern (a former special ed teacher) interviewed the boys and no one denied anything. Andrew was very honest and said that was in fact what he said. He told them he knew it was wrong.

The school has a zero tolerance policy on threatening language and that is why Andrew has out of school suspension. I totally agree with the punishment and completely understand that children need to feel safe in their classrooms.

There are a lot of things going on with Andrew right now. We recently went through some IQ testing that reveled a very high level of depression. We have spent the past week weaning him off one medication and are getting ready to introduce a new one. He has little emotional control right now. He is swinging between manic behaviors and irate/agitated ones from moment to moment. This boy was attacking something that is a core belief to Andrew and with no filters or control over himself, he lashed out in this very hurtful way.

You might remember my post last year about whether or not we would have the "Santa Talk" with Andrew. When I discovered what had upset Andrew at lunch yesterday, I knew I had to have the talk with him. I was holding back tears the whole time. It is near impossible to talk with the lump I had in my throat while telling him the news. I started by talking to him about how it is okay that some people believe different things then we do. We talked about the Spirit of Christmas and what it means to give to others. I told him that Santa was a real person but that he died a very long time ago, but that he was such a special person that we keep his spirit alive in our hearts. I told him that this was a special secret and that it is his job now to help keep Santa's spirit alive for others, like Lauren. I told him that if anyone ever says "Santa isn't real" you tell them "he was once, and he is alive in your heart if you want him to be".

I can't tell you the shock that he was in. He thought it more unlikely that Mom and Dad went out, bought all the gifts, wrapped them, hid them, then snuck out on Christmas Eve and put them under the tree. I really don't think he understands. I think with time he'll start to understand, but it broke my heart yesterday having to take that magic away for him.

Today we have an appointment with his psychologist and we'll talk all about this then. I am having Andrew write an apology letter to the two other boys at lunch. I am not really sure what else to do. So... come on... give me some of that wonderful mom-to-mom support that I count on you gals for. I think there needs to be some cyber hugs all around.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Frenzy Prep

It was a weekend full of holiday preparation around here. It started on Friday with a work Christmas party with Ron' co-workers. While we were there, getting our eggnog on, the kids went to my Mom's. While at my Mom's, Lauren got a work out in the kitchen. In our family, Christmas cut outs are a three day process... make the dough and chill it (day 1), roll and cut and cook (day 2), then decorate (day 3)!

Lauren loves rolling dough, and frankly, she's better than I am at it. At one point, my Mom's back was hurting pretty bad, so I needed to take over the rolling. That tube sock over the rolling pin was frustrating me and Lauren chimed in with "Momma, you need to roll it like this.... with the palm of your hand". Little Miss Smarty Pants.

Even though I went to my Mom's Saturday morning to pick the kids up, they just couldn't be torn away from my Mom's house. So, I went back home to a very quiet house, and they came back a few hours later. I was surfing my favorite blogs in my down time and found this sweater pattern on Ravelry. I kicked it out in a matter of hours!! I have been trying to do so much knitting lately that I forgot about crocheting, and I am actually really good at crocheting!! How could I forget that? So now Little Miss Smarty Pants has a matching sweater.

The kids' holiday parties at school are on weird days this year. You would think they would have them on the 23rd, the last day before vacation. This year though they are on Thursday the 18th. So, we cooked up some of the yummy Rolo Turtles that we made for teachers last year. A bell jar full of these is a deeeelish gift, if you ask me. Plus, the kids get to make them for the most part. They unwrap the Rolos, put them on the pretzels, then Mom pops them in the oven, and pushes almonds into the warm chocolate. If you have a cookie exchange coming up anytime soon, these take about 10minutes to make and I am telling you they will be a huge hit!

All this holiday prepping frenzy and then we go and have a 57degree day! It is just down right weird. It doesn't feel Christmasy today. I am dreaming of snow for the rest of the week though. Oh, I almost forgot... I have a meeting set for Wednesday at the Gallery Store to bring them a-last-minute-gift-buying-batch-of-new-bracelets. That means I will have some new jewelry pics to share tomorrow!! Can you stand the suspense?

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Christmas Crafting

I cut out the kids Christmas PJs yesterday... today I am gonna sew 'em all. Should be fun!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There Goes The Orange One...

I have a very funny story to share from this past weekend. And I am imagining we are sitting in my living room, chit chatting, knitting the time away over hot cocoa, as I tell you the hilarious tale...

So, it all started last Friday night. My pal Lindsey took Andrew to "Celebrate The Seasons" at school. I hate those things. There are too many people, I have panic attacks in those kinds of crowds, and I am not that understanding of a Mom that I will put myself in a situation that has 20 kids fighting over the last cookie available to decorate. Thankfully though, Lindsey is sweet and can handle those situations, and our boys get along (most of the time, lol)... so it was an outing match made in heaven.

After the event, all the L's (Lindsey Lucas Logan and Laurelle) and Andrew, came back to our house. The kids played, our husbands bonded over a computer program, and eventually, Lindsey and I were just a little bit tipsy, giggling over our old yearbooks on my kitchen floor. All the while, Lucas was snuggling Rusty (our new kitten). The L's recently lost their cat, Tortellini, and Lucas is quite obviously ready for a new little one to love.

Fast forward to a conversation on Saturday with Lindsey. Yes, indeed they are ready to get a new kitten but oh my stars... it is $125 to adopt a kitten from the Humane Society or PetSmart!! Who can afford that? I offered to go back out to the farm house where Rusty was rescued to catch another kitten. I called up my Mom and she called the old lady that lives on the farm (lol, I like that name it sounds like a book title!). We headed over to catch a kitten at around 4:45pm. Not exactly good kitten catching time. It was nearly dark and very cold. We looked like giant black shadows, menacing and mean, trying to grab them up. So, we decided to try again in the morning.

Bright and early (a rip ol' 8:30am) we set out to the farm house again. It was Lindsey, my Mom and I, all bundled up to brace against the cold and catch us a kitten. And not one, but we were on the hunt for TWO. The L's decided that they would like siblings if they could be caught. Two kitties are always better then one. Try as we might, we just couldn't get our hands on a single one.

The cats aren't just under the porch of the farm house, but in the big barn next to the house as well. The old lady that lives in the house has a bit of dementia and is a hoarder. The barn was packed with old garage sale junk. Piles upon piles of junk with little rows for walking among the big tractors and farming equipment. It took about two hours, but we finally found the corner of the barn where all the little guys were hiding. My Mom was the first to climb the junk and get back in the corner, which had her basically standing on said pile of junk. There were boards and old storm windows leaning against the wall... Mom started to rattle them....

HEY... there goes the white one...

there goes the orange one...

HEY... there is the black one... get it...

We chased them around again only to have them find their way back to the junk pile corner. And this time, I decided to scale the junk heap and rattle the boards. I had to step on an old metal lawn chair, down between some apple crates, over something in a cardboard box and up on to things that were I-don't-know-whats. I rattled the boards....

there goes the orange one...

there goes the black one...

oh... the black one with white...


From out behind the boards, suddenly climbed a HUGE raccoon. I took off running. I jumped off the junk pile (totally bashed and bruised my knee) and screaming the whole way out. Lindsey and Mom though I said "it's a rat" and both not liking the idea of rats, took off running too. We ran from the barn laughing so hard we nearly peed our pants. I swear, this raccoon was bigger then my Mom's English Bull Dog and she's 56pounds. Once assured that their were no rats, Mom and Lindsey went back into the barn to see the raccoon climbing the rafters and sneaking into the attic of the barn. I, on the other hand, refuse to set foot in the barn ever again!

It was just like something out of a movie. The way that the raccoon climbed out slowly... it taking just a few second for it to dawn on me what had climbed out... the way it turned to look at me... and my sudden scream, turn, and run. LOL!! OH how I wish we had a camera, lol... we would have won America's Funniest Home Videos for sure.

Alas, we never got our hands on the kittens. Though the son of the old lady that lives in the farm house says he'll set up the humane trap and call us if he can catch them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bead Box Beads!

Beads are coming in just about 15 minutes... are you ready for them?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sniff, Sniff, Ugh... and Beads

Yep, I am sick. Ugh. Everyone in the house has had a cold in one form or another for at least a month now. I have been lucky and stayed germ free... until now. I started feeling it coming on Sunday night and it finally hit full force in the middle of the night. I am sure you all know what I'm talking about. The tossing and turning, the stuffed on one side drippy nose thing, phlegm on your teeth grossness... yuck! Oh well, it can't last forever. I'll just take it easy and knit on the couch with some peppermint hot cocoa.

And while I am at it... I'll be working on a Bead Box Update too!! Consider this your official warning... Bead Box Beads TOMORROW!! Let's say at Noon-ish (east coast time). I have lots of goodies that I am very excited to share. And I decided to upgrade every one's shipping to USPS Priority Mail, so beads will be in your mailbox in time to make some last minute holiday gifts, if you are so inclined. Or, wrap them up as a gift to yourself!! LOL.

And every set of beads will come with a free squirt of Lysol disinfectant to make them germ-free, lol.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ornament Tour

We finally got our tree on Sunday. I thought it might be fun to give you a little tour of some of my favorite ornaments on our tree.

But first, the story behind getting our tree. Yes, we always get a live tree. We bundle up in our snow pants and head out into the elements. Most years, we end up at Dennie's Christmas Tree Farm. The trees are usually full, fluffy, tall, healthy green beauties that have us arguing over which one is the best. At the old house, we would have to move all the furniture out of the room (except for the couch) to make room for the tree. I was so excited to bring one of those big trees into our new house. But, when we arrived at the tree farm, we discovered that this year, pickins were slim... and so were the trees. All were cut into tall, SKINNY, shapes. I don't like skinny trees!!! But the weather was frigid and the kids were ansie, so we picked and cut the best we could find. And we made it work. Next year though, I am getting me a "Christmas Story" sized tree. You mark my words.

On to the ornaments!!

I know, I know, I have shown this one before... but it is a favorite, so you'll just have to suffer through it again! Shaving cream beard... red Santa hat... glue the picture to an ornament shaped piece of construction paper and you are good to go.

Every year, I pick up a few wooden ornaments from JoAnn Fabrics and have the kids paint them up. Andrew did this one in 2003 (don't forget to label the ornaments!) and I love it. This was from my kid who, at the time, hated coloring or painting. It turned out so good!!

Andrew happens to be the proud maker of many of my favorite ornaments. Look at that face!! That was his kindergarten school picture. Yes, I had it retaken but not soon enough. All his project with a photo of himself came home with that picture. We call it his fish face.

This is one of the oldest ornaments on the tree. I made it in girl scouts when I was eight. It is one of those metal bangles that were all the rage in the 80s. With a little glittered pine cone and some curly ribbon. Look at that amateur eight year old wire work hook!! I have come a long way haven't I.

I made this one for Lauren's first Christmas. I took one of her socks and embroidered her name on it. I can't wait to give it to her when she has her own apartment with a tree. Yes Lauren, your feet really were that small once.

This one is very special. Ron and I have had it since our first Christmas together in our first apartment. It is cutting from the trunk of your first tree. That was 12 years ago.

A different kind of ornament you'll find this year is under the tree. Andrew decided to dress things up and make a tunnel for the train out of legos. He has a lot of good ideas that kid.

And there you have it. A little ornament tour. HEY, you should post an ornament tour on your blog!! And come back here and share a link so I can see. I am always looking for new ornament making ideas :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thrifting Thwarted Beading

Curses! Foiled Again!!

About 5 minutes after I wrote that blog post yesterday, my phone rang. It was my Mom. She heard from one of my Aunts that there was an estate sale across town with some cool stuff and dirt cheap prices.

Did I wanna take a ride out to it with her?

Well OF COURSE I did!!!

I haven't been to an estate sale in weeks. I love the little treasures you can find there. So, I turned off the ramping kiln, threw on some sneakers, and headed out the door. Turns out is was SO worth the 20minute drive.

Check out my latest thrifted goodies...

First up, my absolute favorite find! A full set of Corelle Lightware Snowflake dishes with service for 8. Last Christmas, my Mom gave me a huge casserole dish by Pyrex in this pattern. Who knew that Pyrex and Corelle were working together to make such fabulous things?!? This set has everything... dinner plates, lunch size plates, dessert dishes, cereal and soup bowls, coffee cups and saucers, butter dish, salt and pepper shakers, little chicken egg cups, and a small casserole too!! You are not going to believe how much I paid for it... go ahead guess... nope, you're wrong. I paid $12. YES, TWELVE. Oh.My.Stars. I know you are jealous.

You wouldn't believe the grin using these dishes put on my face at dinner last night. I remember my Grandma Kester had Corelle dishes and I loved having Thanksgiving dinner at her house on those dishes. They were so light and airy, but so pretty. *sigh* I love 'em. And I will kill my kids if they break any of them. LOL.

This blanket/comforter has me totally kicking myself. Any of you familiar with "Martha Washington" blankets, aka Bates blankets? I didn't know they were called that, but I was educated by the woman running the sale. This actually fits a twin size bed. My sister and I had matching ones of these when we shared a room living in Texas when we were 6 & 4 years old. They are a kind of cotton chenille. And HEAVY, so heavy. I bought it to put on Lauren's bed, but Ron got a load of how warm it was, and what good shape it is in, and said "keep it in the living room for keeping warm". Okay, sounds good. Why am I kicking myself though? THERE WERE TWO OF THEM!! Matching!! But I was being practical and only bought the one. I so should have gotten the other one too. How much you say? Again, $12. A steal, if you ask me.

I don't know what it is about old book. I love them. (I feel like I am saying "I love" way too much in this post.) I have this horrible feeling that the day after these estate sales are closed, someone goes into a house and throws everything that hasn't sold into trash bags. I can't bare the thought of books being in a garage bag. These are late 1800s-early 1900s book. The oldest is copyright 1869, and titles "Evelyn's Mistake". I love the old art work on the covers and the last language/way of speaking in the pages. I had to save some of them. Cost on these? 50cents each. The bubbly blue vase is from the sale too. I found it in a box in the basement. And it was only $1. It'll go quite nicely on my window sill that is collecting glass bottles. I love when the light comes through all those colors in the window!! Everyone should have a window sill with glass bottles. Everyone.

Last up, a simple chair. You might remember the vintage enamel table that I spruced up earlier this summer. Well, it doesn't have any chairs. I have been on the look out for plain wooden chairs to go with it. Mix match style. This is officially the first chair for the table. Simple, solid, kids-can't-break-it, someday-I'll-paint-it, kind of kitchen chair. It even has a handle at the top for grabbing it and dragging it to another room! It works. And I shelled out $8 for it.

Other goodies, not shown, is an old Bernz-O-Matic torch tin case. It is like a mini tool box, and just the right size for jewelry tools. I'll have to get a picture of it myself for you. For all my googling, I can't seem to find one. I think the case is great because 1)it is a lovely shade of vintage blue and 2) it was only 50cents. I also bought an old Pyrex 4 cup glass measuring cup. And a glass refrigerator loaf jar thingy. So pretty. And on my way out, found a vintage suitcase in fantastic shape just thrown in the garbage!! So, I brought that home too. All in all I spent about $45 and have tons of cool finds. A lovely way to spend an afternoon if you ask me.

Today's bead making plans are being foiled again, but I can't say I mind. Lindsey is coming by for some yoga, lunch, and Christmas pajama pants sewing for the kids. :) FUN!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bead Box Teaser

Today turned into one of those running-around-like-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off kind of days. Between sleeping late, needing to be up early for tutoring, a 9:00am doctors appointment, Ron home sick from work, Lauren at a friend's house, a spur of the moment phone call from my editor, and little Rusty needing his shots... I didn't know if I was coming or going. Things have finally slowed down to a point where I can get back to what *I* had planned for the day.

What's my plan?


I streamed Christmas music in my studio yesterday while snuggling up with my torch. I am thrill with what the kiln was holding this morning. And I am headed back into the studio to make more. I am giving you a little teaser of some of the new beads you'll see in next week's Bead Box update. A few beads inspired by the Wood Grain plate I showed you in yesterday's post. A few long tubular beads... that have never been available on my site before (how cool is that!). I revisited some "cube" designs with my famous square dots. And yeah, even a big toggle style bead (or two... or three). Oh and there are Mod Dots in there too. All the colors are ivory, intense black, turquoise and persimmon. Not very Christmasy, I know... you all know that I am not a holiday theme bead maker anyway.

It is shaping up to be one heck of an update if I stay on the roll I am on!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What I Want For Christmas...

Just in case my Mom, Sister, or Husband was wondering what I would like to see under the Christmas Tree...

And it is delicious eye candy too!

Vintage Pyrex Casserole - I love the color!!
Metal Roller Skates - These sold already but I still love 'em. (a cool decorating find)
Candy Apple Coffee Table - Pricey, but I think it would ROCK in my living room.
Multi Stripe Strip Quilt - OGM... fan-fraking-tastic!
Yellena Prints - I think a trio of these, framed, would be a great touch to the kitchen.
Wood Grain Plate - So cool.
Sleek Bubble Bustier - I could pull this off.
Something from Jessica Doyle - Everything is fabulous in this shop.
Mad Hatter Tea Cup - I bet my morning coffee would be even better in one of these.
Autumn Waste Not Scarf - I love these colors no matter what the season.
A Wacky Wall Clock - in lime please.
Vintage Scarf Bedspread - yeah, I am so looking for scarfs and making one of these.

Now this is a pretty lofty list. It's a few of my favorite things. But, no, I don't actually expect to get a $500 bedspread... lol. Hey, it's Christmas... a girl can dream!

Feel free to post links to a few of your favorite things in the comments!! What are you wishing for? *I mean, apart from peace and joy in the world, lol*

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Beads For The Book

It has been a while now since I had a book update. Too long. And now is the perfect time for an update! A few things are going on in the bloggy background and lots of it will have to be kept under wraps. BUT, I can give you a little sneak peak at a couple of details.

One thing going on is title talk. I have title ideas, and Interweave has title ideas. Remember those two books I wrote projects for back in August and September? Well, I need to turn in my "artist bio" for both those books and we would like to mention the new book in the bios. You need a title to mention it, right? I mean, sure we could say "Kerry is currently working on writing her first book..." and leave it at that. But that's no fun. I wanna say "Look for Kerry's new book, fill-in-the-blank, coming in the spring 2010." Oh well, we'll figure it out.

Almost more exciting then figuring out the title is the BEADS!!

Back in early November, I started sending out emails to some of my favoritest, most amazingest, beads artists. I am so psyched that everyone I have asked has said YES!! I am honored to be working with every one of them. The bead packages have already started arriving in my mailbox. (Which seems early, but considering I have to turn in more then half of the book and as many finished projects as possible by Jan 19th, I have get my backside in gear.) One of the first things I did when starting to write the book is come up with a project list. I work on writing the steps for each of those projects, then check it off the list as written. As I was thinking of who to ask for beads, I looked at the project list and tried to visualize the best project for that artist's beads. I don't know if that makes sense... but it works for me.

The first beads to arrive were the ones from farthest away. The super talented Melanie Moertel sent me this lovely set.

You can purchase Melanie's beads HERE in her Etsy shop. Melanie's beads are truly miniture masterpieces. She has stringer control like no other. I wish you could see how fine the detail lines are in these beauties. Not only are they wonderfully high quality, but the colors!! OH THE COLORS!! One of the topics of the book is going to be using color in design. For beads like these, it is all about contrast. Orange and Blue are just about as opposite as you can get on the color wheel. Melanie choose to use a subtler shade of coral orange with pops of dark periwinkle blue. The contrast is softened just a little bit with some bits of opal yellow, cobalt blue and turquoise too. Just dreamy.

These beads are going to work perfect in the project I picked out for them. And no... I am not going to tell you about it. You'll just have to wait for the book.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Right Back Atcha

Yeah, time out is done! I can't tell you how many times my inner 3 year old was saying "can I get out now!?!" But, my inner Momma was saying... "not until the timer goes off". LOL. And I am glad that Momma stuck to her guns and made me stay in time out. It turns out, I needed that time out more then I knew.

I am guessing you want a time out events recap. Unfortunately, I don't think there is much to tell. I kept busy. A lot of time spent finishing up the kitchen... a lot of time with family... pretty much no school for the kids... a big Thanksgiving dinner... and then more time in the kitchen. I got to make beads only once all week. And I took only one nap all week. LOL.

Speaking of the kitchen, here is where we are right now!

The kitchen as it was when I last showed you an update.

The kitchen as of about 6pm yesterday.

Look at that mess!! Yes, the remains of a deep fried chicken eaten to the bones is on the stove. The sink is over flowing with dishes. Their is a bright pink bucket of tile mastic and about 2/3rds of the tiles set on the back splash. I have decided that if this art jewelry gig ever falls through, I am going to become a professional tile setter. I discovered that tile setting is a very soothing thing for me. It feeds both my obsessive compulsive side and my artistic side. The OCD in me gets to make lots of straight lines, and my artistic side gets to swirl the mastic in a beautiful way. *sigh*

It took forever to pick out the tiles. I wanted these really pretty seafoam blue/green tiles, but Ron didn't think they matched the counter tops. And he was right. So we decided to go with something more neutral. We went with this accent stripe all the way around base. I really wanted to get some glass tiles in there some where. Being a glass artist, there should be glass in this project some where. We found these at Lowes. They came in sheets that were 12x12in. I cut the sheets into 12x3in strips. You could buy just the 12x3in strips but they would have been $6 each... buying the sheet and cutting them ourselves shave about $2 a strip, because the big 12x12in sheets were about $16. So, our accent stripe cost about $120. Had we tiled the WHOLE back splash in those little squares, it would have been more then $500. Doing things this way made the project cost about $150 in tiles.

And here is where we are this morning. I'll be popping out those little green spacer thingies this afternoon and grouting everything tonight. (gotta let it finish setting) Then, later this week, I'll be painting the walls and then... we done!! It has taken longer then I expected, but not too bad. A full kitchen remodel in just over three weeks is a big accomplishment in my mind. LOL.

Okay... still to come this week... I have BOOK NEWS for you, YOO HOOO!!... I am going to be working on Bead Box Beads all week and I'll be posting them early next week... I have a new bracelet design I am working on too... and then there is knitting projects in the work too. Oh, and not to mention the holiday shopping that has already started!! Check out I love this place!! I put together an art set for each of my kids, complete with their own sketchbook. My favorite item... the Watercolor Ecopencils. Yea, you draw with the pencils then go in with a wet paint brush and turn it into a watercolor!! How cool is that?!?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Sent To Time Out

Ron has a friend at work with a 20month old little boy that is learning about time outs. From the stories that Ron has told me, it is quite funny. He will hit his Mom and then say "hitting bad, I got to time out", then with a big smile on his face, he goes and sits himself in time out. He does it at his school too, hitting someone, laughing, and putting himself in time out. I am sure it isn't funny to his parents, but I found it cute when I imagined it in my head.

This morning, putting one's self in time out is resonating with me. I haven't been hitting anyone, but I think I need a time out. I don't know what it is... maybe it is the come down after all the show excitement of the past month... or maybe it is the lull before the holiday craziness that is going to ensue... or maybe it is the "family drama" I have going on in the background right now (that I don't blog about out of respect to my in-laws)... whatever it is, I am just not feeling like myself.

I am usually a very happy, bubbly, excited person. And right now, I am just plain down. So, this morning I decided to put myself in time out. When kids go to time out, they are supposed to think about what they did wrong. I am not going to be doing that, though. I am going to focus on reminding myself about the things I am doing right. I am going to take the next week off from blogging and take some time to get a little recentered. I am going to cherish my time with family... I am going to reflect on all the things I am so very thankful for... I want to slow down and get reconnected with my art... and hopefully, I will get that bit of rejuvenation I need to kick this funk and get back to being me.

I'll be back on Monday December 1st and feel free to send any emails you need to. I'll be here! And, in the meantime... A Very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Website Stuff

Just a quick note to let you know I finally finished updating my website with new jewelry. You'll find goodies in the Necklace, Bracelet, and Pendant sections!!

That Was Fast

Tuesday it was a ball of yarn... today it is a mitten for my Dad. (Mom, make sure Dad doesn't see this!!) I am loving all the projects that are available on the knitting/crocheting website Ravelry. If your on it, friend me, and you can track all the projects I am working on that I won't be showing here, lol. This mit was made with a pattern by Kate Gilbert (I actually went to high school with her). This pattern, Gifted, was so easy to do, and I need easy!! I remember that when we were growing up, my Grandma Kester would knit mittens for everyone. My Mom would give her a couple of balls of Red Heart yarn from Walmart and a few days later we would have new mittens. My kids wear some of the ones I used to wear!! Now that I am a grown up crafter, I know about "good yarn" and "bad yarn", so no more Red Heart mittens... these were made with Reynolds Smile yarn. I just happened to pick out my Dad's favorite colors... green and yellow. I can't wait to give these to him. He'll be packing snowballs to throw at my boys in no time.

Another finished project is a special Christmas gift for my god son, Ben. He is getting so big!! And he already has a new sibling on the way. I wanted to make him something he could grow into and then have it be passed on to his little brother or little sister. Is this or is this not a "Kab's Kid Sweater"?!?! Bright turquoise and stripes in royal blue. I know I have made these beads before. LOL. This is my first baby sweater ever. And I learned a ton. The pattern was from Knot Another Hat and it is by Gardiner Yarn Works. The yarn for this is Heirloom and its cotton (if I remember right).

Next up... leg warmers for Lauren.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Cup Of Coffee Day

aka A Boring Blog Post...

Today is one of those days where I really shouldn't blog, lol. Life is boring and I don't have anything witty or clever to say. I don't have jewelry share or a cool idea to tell you about. I am just plain tired.

Lauren has been sick the past few days which is making for very little sleep. I am painting away at my FIFTEEN cabinet doors in the kitchen, of which nine are done. I have a pile of laundry up to my hip bone. Oh, and that list of projects I told ya about yesterday. We have a bunch of snow too.

See... nothing much to talk about.

I think its time for another cup of coffee and/or a nap on the couch. Don't you think that's a good idea?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Commence The Christmas Crafting

I told myself that I wasn't going to do anything related to Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Last year I think I started to early and used up all my Christmas spirit. By the time the big day rolled around I had already overdosed on the holidays and wasn't in the mood. But that is no way to spend what should be a such a magical time of year.

So, I told myself I would wait.

But I can't.

I have a rather ambitious (for me) list of handmade goodies I want to make for each member of my family. I haven't officially taken "The Handmade Challenge", because there are too many things I'll end up buying at Target, lol. But, everyone gets something handmade with love from me. If I am going to make things... I need to get started if I want it all done in time. So, I am braking my pack with myself and I got started on my list.

My list has all the projects for each person listed and narrowed down to just the right project for them . This afternoon I went for an outing with my good friend Lindsey to the local yarn store. I am fully loaded with all the yummy yarn I need to get the jobs done. I'll share a few here along the way. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of present snoops and I know my Mom and sister wouldn't be able to NOT look here to see what I am making. LOL.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving Right Along

Weekend? What weekend? I didn't know it was the weekend?

Dang, what a whirl wind of a couple of days that just was!! Most of the past 48 hours has been spent in the kitchen. It started around 10am on Saturday, and finished about 10pm on Sunday. Ugh. Can anyone say "nap time"? Before all that though, Jacob had 6 football playing best friends over for a birthday party on Friday night. To say 7 boys (ages 11 & 12) in one place is chaotic, is putting it very very lightly. HA! They are so much more then chaotic. Jacob has a big divot in the top of his nose, one left a sweatshirt outside in one of the gardens, and one left with a very torn shirt. LOL, oh well, it was all in good fun.

But back to the kitchen.

Kitchen Before (on Saturday)

Yucky Yellow Formica Counters Close Up

I had a plan of attack in my head going into it. Little mini goals to get the bigger goals done. The big goal: the counter tops in and the new sink hooked up. So, on Saturday, I went to Lowes and bought all the materials. (3 pieces of counter top, miter corner kit, end caps, electrical supplies, and a new sink cost $494) We started small and installed the short 4 foot area of counter to the left of the stove. Then we had to move some light switches near the sink. That was done in plenty of time for an early bedtime Saturday night. LOL.

Sunday was the rougher of the two days, for sure. My Dad came over to help. It was a pain in the butt to get that big run of counters out. The sink side is just about 11 feet long and the side near the stove is about 7 feet. We pulled out the old sink, then had to saw the counter in half to get it out. Even with a gigantic crowbar, it wasn't budging. OH, and when we took the sink out, we got an estimated date of the last remodel. The date on the bottom of the sink was 9/30/69. My Dad says that would have been when the sink was made, so the remodel was probably in 1970.

Rusty was so helpful. Ron couldn't have installed the sink without him.

The sink was the worse part of the whole project, but worth it. The old porcelain lined cast iron was always stained (unless I had bleached it the day before), anytime the kids dropped something glass in the sink it broke (at least 3 glasses since and one bowl since moving in), and the bowls were really kinda small for how big the sink was. Getting the size of the whole just right was really the problem. You are supposed to leave a 1/4in lip for the sink to set on, but there is about 3 inches of wiggle room on the underside of the sink, and I thought that you could make the lip bigger, but I was wrong. It to HOURS to get it in.

We went from this...

... to this. (yes, I have a park bench in my living room)

There is still a lot to do. But the worst of it is finished. I am going to work on painting the base cabinets this week. And if I stay on track, I will be doing the tiled back splash by the weekend. Oh, and I should tell you... the colors really aren't working out as I had hoped. Since we went with a pre-made counter top instead of a custom one (and saved about $2000), I didn't get the chocolate brown color I wanted. I had to go with this more gray/brown color. So, I probably won't do the seafoam blue tiles I was thinking I would use. Now, the plan is for simpler bisque tiles in a running bond pattern, and maybe an accent tile in a blue-ish color.

The Kitchen Now (or Sunday Night)

With all the weekend happens, I didn't get to finish updating my website with new jewelry. I am going to work on that more today. Be sure to check things out!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tale Of Two Kitties

LOL, it is a sad day in Kerry Blogland when all she has to blog about is kittens, but hey, that's what is going on in my life right now. It is 6:30am, I am up way before I should be and the coffee still needs making. But, I am feeling chatty anyway. So, forgive me my rambling. You can skip reading today if you aren't up for it.

You might remember earlier this summer the addition of a little kitten to our family, Miss Sally Seashell. Sally and me, we never bonded. She was loud and fussy, prissy and uptight, and was more interested in playing then forming a loving connection with anyone. I am not a pure preed cat kind of person anyway. I like my side of the road "free kittens" much better. Besides, I had my lovely Bity Kity and no little Sally Seashell would get in the way of our love.

Bity Kity was an indoor/outdoor cat at our old house. We lived in the country so that was okay. But here has more traffic, and more wild life... so we attempted to make her an indoor only cat. It lasted the first month we were here. Then Ron couldn't take the digging up of plants and using random areas of carpet as liter boxes any more. He convinced me to let her outside. We started slow, just letting her on the deck, but with in a week she was all over the backyard. September 12th was the last time we saw her. We looked all over!! We put an ad on Craigs List... we drove up and down the street looking for signs she had been hit. We looked in the woods. Nothing. I didn't put up signs, because I figured, I don't pay attention to those signs, why would someone else? Someone called on our Craigs List ad saying they saw her just 2 streets away. I went to that street 3-4 times a day for a week and never saw her. I cried every morning missing her. Bity Kity was the first cat I had since having to give up Rudy, a cat I had for 13 years that started peeing in Jacob's crib as an infant. I miss both of them terribly.

Last week, my Mom took a visit out to visit friends in an area where Ron and I had our first apartment. Under the porch of our friend's house, Mom found a mommy cat and babies. Upon further inspection we think this mommy is on her third litter of kittens in about 6 months. Of course, Mom wanted me to have one. These were feral kittens, but a few had been held and handled since birth so they were tame and loving. I told my Mom a very firm no... and that I wasn't ready to replace Bity Kity yet.

Yesterday, I am getting ready to paint another coat of paint on the cabinets when I notice my Mom's car in the driveway. What is she doing here? I thought. She was caring a box too. Oh, she must be bringing Lauren something. I thought. NOPE... in the box was two dirty, muddy, under the porch living, white as snow, heart breaking boy kittens. I was instantly smitten. We bathed them, and snuggled them... cleaned their ears and played with them. The smaller of the two told me his name was Charlie. He was Charlie the minute my Mom opened the box. He was spunky and curious... playful and likes to perch on your shoulder. Now, the bigger boy on the other hand... he's a thinker... quiet and reserved... a lovey dovey white ball of mush. All the while we cleaned them up, I told my Mom we couldn't keep them... Ron would never go for it. She said she was just happy to have rescued them. She didn't want them living in the mud and cold under a porch. She said she would take them to the humane society. YEAH RIGHT! She just walked out the door and left them to run away with my heart.

I called her and had her come back and get them. Lauren and I both were sobbing messes. I called Ron through my blubbering and he said I could have one. ONE! I had my Mom bring them back, yeah both of them. My heart was made up on who I wanted but I had a little hope that seeing them together would soften Ron up. Nope. He stuck with saying just one. I have to give Ron some credit. He isn't a pet person at all. The fact that he said yes to one without me needing to just do it without his consent is a huge step.

So we kept this little guy. The bigger boy. The fluff boy. The snugly boy. Jacob wants to name him Tiberius, Ron likes the name Troy, Andrew likes Jack and Me and Lauren like the name Rusty. Why Rusty you ask? Because he has this little spot of orange on the top of his head. You can barely see it, but it is there. Just a little bit of rust on his snowball body, lol.

Yes, he slept in our bed last night. Surprisingly, it was Ron and was snuggling and spooning him!! LOL. He stays close to me. He is never far from my ankles. He is already liter trained! And, he literally hasn't stopped purrrrring since he walked in the door yesterday. I think he is as thankful for being rescued from the muck as we are to have him here.

Charlie found a very fast home on Craigs List. He is in the hands of a cute young couple that she always wanted an all white cat... and he always wanted a boy. I heard them giggling as they walked to the car and she was saying "I am so excited... he is so adorable." And their was a skip in her step. We are still hopeful that Bity Kity will come back too. Lauren says she is gone on an adventure, Milo and Otis style.

Okay... so that is my Thursday and Friday... what is up with you?

Jack Tiberius Rusty Troy Bogert

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heads UP!

I have started posting new pieces to my website!! YOO HOO!! No longer will you be plagued by countless *SOLD* items. LOL. I am starting with necklaces... then I'll work on bracelets. I am warning you... I don't have much. So if ya want it, you better get it!

More pieces coming Thrusday and Friday too!

The Big Kitchen Remodel Of 2008

I told you a few weeks ago that this was coming. I told you that in the couple of weeks between the art show and Thanksgiving, the kitchen was getting a face lift. You can see the first step in the project HERE. Yesterday, I started on the second step... the upper cabinets!

My before shots really leave something to be desired, I know, but you'll get the gist. The cabinets aren't as dark as they look in this photo. They are a light wood. We aren't sure what the cabinets are made of... maple? birch? Whatever it is, it's blond wood. Ron really wanted to rip all the cabinets out, but these cabinets are the good kind. Made in the days when craftsmanship was a point of pride... not a price point like in the big home improvement stores. These aren't going anywhere! The drawers are deep and slide so nice. The cabinet doors swing so wide, you have to step out of the way to open them! At one point, the kitchen still had the original extra wide stove. But I hear from the neighbor that someone got it in a divorce, lol. We'll be taking care of that extra space on each side of the stove. Goodness, those gabs catch a lot of crud.

It is hard to get a good shot of the kitchen in one frame. My kitchen sink looks into the family room, where the toasty warm wood burner is. See that shiny silver edging to the oh so lovely yellow formica counter tops? See why I wanted to do the remodel?

So, yesterday, all the upper cabinet doors came off, and the bases were primed. I'll be painting the first coat of "Linen White" on those bases in little bit. I know what you are thinking... Kerry? Painting white? Are you feeling okay? Well, linen white is a pale, slightly yellowed white that is very creamy. It is just enough yellow to balance the brown counter tops and blue walls and teal tiles. You'll see... it'll all come together.

The cabinet door face lift was Ron's idea. He saw an advertisement that came in the mail showing cabinet doors that had this little rails of trim on them. He thought it would doll up the doors and make them look a little newer. So far, having only 4 clamps in the house, this has been a pain in the butt. But, I am going to pick up more clamps today. Hopefully it'll speed things up.

Okay... the rough schedule for the next couple of weeks... Upper cabinets finished by Friday... Saturday and Sunday, replace the counter tops and put in new sink... next week, finish the lower cabinets and paint the walls... next weekend, tile the back splash. Here's hoping we can stick to my plan!