Friday, December 28, 2007

Good article on adoption

I think I will be skipping this week's "Hey! That's Handmade". Look for the next installment sometime after the new year! :o)

Someone on a forum posted this awesome article on adoption. I gleaned so much from it and had to share.

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=20-04-026-f


"Whether our background is Norwegian or Haitian or Indonesian, if we are united to Christ, our family genealogy is found not primarily in the front pages of our dusty old family Bible but inside its pages, in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew."


Don't you just love that? This article has so much good insight into adoption in both the spiritual and physical sense. The author speaks of his and his wife's experience adopting two sons from Russia, the rude questions people asked them concerning the adoptions, and the spiritual journey that followed.

It is a very long article, but a great read that I know you will enjoy whether you long to adopt or not. After all, if you are His, you are adopted.

If you decide to read it, please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The beauty & light within

I found this quote today and thought it was really neat and so very true, so I thought I'd share.

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." ~Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Darkness surely has been setting in for me and for many others I know as well. I can only hope that there's enough light in me to keep me beautiful until the next sunrise.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hey! That's Handmade! - "ConstantDreamer"




Happy holidays! This week, I am featuring "ConstantDreamer", an unbelievably cute Etsy shop filled with art made by Shaylind Standing. I found this shop a while ago, and people... it's so cute that I want a kid JUST so I can have a good excuse to buy Shaylind's art and hang it somewhere in my house! I love it so much. If we don't adopt soon, I'm going to buy one anyway and decorate the spare bedroom around it... or four. Ooh, or maybe my studio. What's wrong with a grown woman having a cute room, huh? *grin*

I asked Shaylind how long she has been painting and what sparked her interest in it, and she says: "I've been painting since I was a kid, but I really got serious about it in college. As an illustration major, I felt a lot of pressure to pick a medium to work in that would give me a consistant style. I also wanted something that gave me a lot of color options. I like acrylic paint the best because it dries so fast and it's so easy for me to work with."

I'm so glad she picked something with lots of color options, because that is one of my favorite things about her work! The colors are attractive and vibrant, and she mixes them so well.


"Giraffe Giclee Print" - ConstantDreamer


This is my favorite piece, like, ever. So cute. Want to cry. Don't you just want to pick the flower for the giraffe? Aww, he's so sweet!

I asked Shaylind, "Your art is so cute and whimsy, but it speaks to me! From where do you draw your inspiration?"

She replied:
"I try to draw the first thing that pops into my head. If I can't think of anything, I pick an animal or a household item. Simple is best. Usually, I do a quick sketch or two before drawing it on the final piece. The minute I start overthinking content and composition and such, everything falls apart. Those are the pieces that end up in the trash."


"Sea Turtle Giclee Print" - ConstantDreamer


Who doesn't love a turtle? Or green? I want to take him home with me!

I asked Shaylind to explain what "giclee" means.

"Giclee is a way of saying "professional ink jet print". I started using it because I once sent out for my prints and the printing place used the term. It's funny you should mention it, because I've been considering calling them "Fine Art Prints"."

"Giclee", "Fine Art", "Super Cute; Want to Cry"... whatever you call it, it's fantabulous!


"Bees Giclee Print" - ConstantDreamer


When asked about her favorite piece, Shaylind said, "Right now, I think it's my Bees. I enjoy how bright and cheerful it is. I'm also a fan of everything new I'm working on right now. I love having fresh work to look at."

Shaylind, we love your Bees too. And your Giraffe, and your Sea Turtle, and the Bunny, and the Bug Eater, and well, probably anything else you will put in your shop in the future. Your work is certainly fresh, and have I mentioned cute?

Please check out Shaylind's
fabulous shop, ConstantDreamer. You will not be disappointed. She has many more wonderful pieces that I did not share with you here. Go.Check.It.NOW. *grin* Also stop by her blog, Constant Dreamer, to keep up with her latest work.

Thank you, Shaylind, for giving me the pleasure of introducing you to my readers! We wish you the best of luck in your business and we really look forward to seeing all of your fresh, new pieces in the future!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Gone!! (Or: Cookies can be the best therapy)

It's gone, it's gone, it's gone!! *Doing a happy dance*

IT'S GONE!!

What's gone, you ask? Oh, just the UGLIEST most ridiculous lawn decoration, ever. It wasn't mine. Oh, no. My lawn is not the nicest on the block, but I'd die before I slapped on something like that and called it pretty. It's GONE, along with the neighbors who put it there. Apparently they sold their house and the new owners aren't Martha Stewart wannabes with their freaky lawn decorations.

In fact, the new neighbors (instead of having my husband and I gossip amongst ourselves about their yard every time we went outside) left the cutest little Christmas box on our porch yesterday while I was out. The cute little box was filled with cute little Christmas cookies. I mean, is that nice or what? I didn't even know people DID that anymore. Now I must find a way to thank them. Do you thank baked goods with baked goods? I also need to thank them for removing the ridiculous lawn ornament.

I know, by now you're DYING to know what it is, but honestly I'm scared to say. What if you utilize the same technique in your lawns? I'd die of embarrassment if I ranted about what you think is just uber cool. But people, it's got to stop! In fact, this decoration disturbed me so deeply that every time I left my house I wanted to stab a fork in my eye, fall onto the ground, curl up in a fetal position and cry for a year. I think I might need therapy. Scratch that. I KNOW I need therapy. Do you see what I just wrote?

Ok, so I'll spill. The offensive "decoration" in question was this hideous terracotta pot. A huge, hideous terracotta pot.
"That's not so bad", you're thinking, "terracotta is cool and earthy".
Sure, it is. But it wasn't just any old terracotta pot. It was a HUGE, hideous terracotta pot stuck in the middle of their yard.
"Ok, that's weird, but not worthy of therapy".
Oh, but that's not all! HUGE, hideous terracotta pot stuck in the middle of their yard, tipped over onto its side. Like the great winds came through and smote it down, spilling its insipid remains onto the cold, hard ground. (Can a grassy yard in the middle of a hot, Texas summer be considered "cold, hard ground"? Well, it is in my story. Just go with it.)
"Hmmm, now it's getting interesting."
Yes, interesting is one way to put it. Ghastly is another. Repulsive yet another. Cool, fun, lovely, attractive, innovative, or creative? Not so much. It was a huge, hideous terracotta pot stuck in the middle of their yard, tipped over on its side with a tacky, spindly, unkempt... weed (because "plant" or "bush" is just too kind)... planted in front of its opening.
"What??!??!!" *You screaming in terror*

I know, I know! Horrifying picture, isn't it? I mean, who thought that was a good idea? My neighbors, apparently. But that's not all. Sometime during the course of its (thankfully) short lived appearance in our usually nice and attractive neighborhood, this... weed... and its hideous terracotta pot were damaged. As if it needed help looking shabby, the pot decided to *crack* sometime in the last year. Did they remove it, or replace it? No. Did they decide, "oh hey, I'm not Martha Stewart and this wasn't such a good idea after all!"? Of course not. They left it there. Until they sold the house.

And now we have new neighbors. SANS ugly cracked pot/shabby weed. WITH Christmas cookies. On MY porch. The world is now happy place again.

Cookies can be the best therapy...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just a little something to get you in the mood





I thought this was really cute!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hey! That's Handmade! - "outoftheboudoir"




Hello, fellow handmade stuff lovers! This week, I will be featuring "outoftheboudoir", an Etsy shop owned by a sweet and gorgeous woman named Nelly. When asked about her shop, Nelly said:

"I opened my Etsy shop about five months after Etsy made its debut under the name Shabby Boudoir. Two years later, and about two months ago I decided to go to my pre-Etsy name, Out of the Boudoir. For me, a boudoir is a very private cherished place that we can call our very own, therefore what you see in my shop comes from a very special place within me, my creativity. Through my shop and future website I want to share my love of sewing, my love for the home and all things vintage, so I hope to incorporate all of these aspects harmoniously and bring them to the public."

Nelly is definitely creative! Her shop currently has several wonderful handmade bags that I would love to call my own. What woman doesn't love a fun bag?


"Estelle Bag" - outoftheboudoir


Isn't that fab?? The autumn colors, the fun print, and the super cute flower pin - it's a gorgeous bag. You KNOW I have a thing for flowers!

I asked Nelly what her favorite thing is to make. "
I like to make things that make life a little more beautiful... I can't say there is something I prefer to make more than anything. I enjoy fabric and things that spark my creativity, that speak to me. I have used cloth napkins to make some of my bags because I found the print irresistible, I'm open to anything!"



"Shopping Cart Handle Cover" - outoftheboudoir


Now this, I must say, is an ingenious idea! Fun, safe, fashionable - what more could a mom want? And just look at that little model... so cute!

Being a small fish in a huge pond can be a challenging thing. In a world where Wal-Mart and mass produces items are king, it's not so easy to sell hand crafted items. But those of us that love what we do plug on, Nelly included. "The pure joy of creating keeps me going when things are tough! My family and the dream of seeing my vision and goals come to life give me the energy to continue."


"Emalie On the Go Baby/Tote Bag" - outoftheboudoir


Yet another stunning bag here. The colors are cheery and it looks so well made! Any baby would be lucky to have his or her mom carry this... I mean, infants like to look good too, no? I happen to know that some of my readers are a little obsessed with bags, especially diaper bags. Especially fashionable diaper bags. You KNOW who you are!

"I strive to always make things with great quality, I want to be proud of everything I make. They come from my heart, they're meant to make those small details not so mundane... why wrap yourself in a "run of the mill" blanket? why not make that blanket a little more special? why not be more playful on the weekend and carry a fun little purse instead of the usual black leather bag? For me, these are reflections of a Life mantra if you will... Let's make every aspect of our life from the physical three dimensional things, to what we do, what we strive for, to our being... meaningful and happy. Let's take nothing and no one for granted, and enjoy our lives in every aspect."

Ah, Nelly, if only you could see my boring, little brown leather purse! *giggle* What a great mantra to live by though. We should all strive as such.

Go check out Nelly's
fabulous shop, outoftheboudoir. I seriously *heart* everything in it. You can also stop by her lovely blog and say hello!

Thanks for letting me show off your fantastic shop, Nelly, and for sharing from your heart. I wish you lots of luck!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekend Shapshot #1




It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or at least a little. I'm trying out a new photo meme to see if it helps me both use my camera more and blog more. This one doesn't have a set theme, you just post a photo every Monday!

This weekend we put up our Christmas tree, so I figured that would be the perfect photo to share this week. Yep, I have a boring tree! It's all silver and red. White lights only. I grew up with a tree full of colored lights and a large collection of mis-matching ornaments. It was cool, but I guess you can call this tree a little bit of a rebellion. LOL I did it my way! Yes, I know the bow on the top is too small for the tree. I need to figure out something else.

Hope you enjoy! *grin*




Sunday, December 09, 2007

Who wants free jewelry?

You do! You do! I mean, how could you not?

The wonderful, talented, lovely women at 5 Minutes for Mom have done a product review and are hosting a contest for 2 Belles & a Bead! Isn't that so nice of them?

If you visit their blog and leave a comment on our contest there, you will be entered to win $100 worth of free jewelry. That's right, $100 worth! That aint somethin' to sneeze at, you know! They will announce the winner on December 15th, so you better hurry!

Go on, tell all your friends too!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Photo Hunters: Long


Long

I am extremely uncreative today and could not think of a good photograph for this week's theme. So what did I do? That's right. I took a picture of my new camera. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, the lens on it is quite long compared to any camera I have ever owned. Two, the lens I *want* for it is even longer. And three, because I waited so dang LONG to get the camera! *grin*

Enjoy!



Friday, December 07, 2007

Hey! That's Handmade! - "Gallery32"




I have recently fallen in love with handmade items. Ok, so I guess it's not so recently that I've fallen in love with them as much as it's recently that I have started buying them more. I am not in love with the Wal-Marts of this world, nor am I in love with their cheap, mass produced items made in sweat shops from who knows where. Especially in light of the current problems that we have been having with mass produced items coming from overseas, I am even more conscious of what I buy and from whom and where it comes.

Being one of the "little guys" in the business world, I've really come to appreciate the work that goes into something you make with your hands. It often takes so much time there is no way you will be repaid what it is truly worth. Because of that, it's so important to love what you do in this kind of business!

In honor of others who share their love with the world by making things with their hands, I have decided to do a feature on my blog around once a week (give or take a few days - HOPEFULLY just a few days - you know me...) about handmade products that I have tried and loved or just found and hope to try and love. When I first came up with this idea, I immediately knew where to turn for ideas... my fellow Etsians! (For those of you new to the handmade community, an "Etsian" is a person who buys and/or sells on Etsy. If you have not yet checked out Etsy, I encourage you to. There are a lot of cool things there - all handmade, supplies, or vintage.)

So, today I am starting out with a cool shop I was just introduced to on Etsy called "Gallery32". Trina holds a BFA from the University of Kansas and takes some really great photos. She sells them along with greeting cards and other such things. She does some really cool special affects with the photos in photoshop (aaaaahh, a woman after my own heart!) and they are definitely worth taking a peek!

Trina says, "
I have always been interested in phototography. My grandmother bought me my first camera, a Nikromat, at a garage sale when I was 9 years old. It was love at first sight.

Recently I started taking photos to include in my collage. However, I have enjoyed taking the photos so much I have not made many collages."




Look at the colors in that.... soo nice. Earthy. Love it!

"
I enjoy taking photos of objects and nature. I am also influenced by the beauty that I find here in Kansas. I like to capture images from a different perspective than we normally look at them . I spend a lot of time on the ground taking photos from below object to see it in a different way. I also use a macro lens to get close up to objects to capture texture and tactile features."




Again, I love the colors. I also love how each photo looks old but still somehow not. They're simple but yet complex... they speak to me! I bet you never imagined a photo of candy could speak to me, but it does. What does it say? "Eat me..." But I bet that a photograph wouldn't taste very good. So it also says, "BUY ME!"

Trina says, "
I have a lot of different cameras that I like to use. My current favorite is my Polaroid EE100. I love the look and the instant gratification you get with this camera.

My favorite technique is Through the Viewfinder, TTV, photography. I ran across this technique on flickr. TTV involves using a digital camera, a twin relflex camera and a cardboard light tube. You put the light tube on the twin reflex, then use the digital cmaera to shoot through the viewfinder of the older camera. I also enjoy doing Polaroid transfers."


Christmas Cards - Gallery32


A very cool idea - turning your awesome and unique photographs into cards for the holiday season! And perfect timing too. If you are still in need of some Christmas cards, give these a looksee. They are too cute!

Thank you, Trina for allowing me to feature and interview you! Trina can also be found at her Gallery32 blog. Stop by her Etsy shop and take a look around and don't forget to visit her blog as well to say hello!

So this concludes the first installment of my new "Hey! That's Handmade!" special feature. I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to the next one. I have some neat shops to share with you. Everything from jewelry (*GASP* More jewelry?!) to clothing and from photography to bath & body products... you can find just about anything handmade if you know where to look. I plan to help show you and hopefully welcome you to the wonderful world of handmade!

A Christmas Meme

I swiped this from Heidi. If you haven't played but would like to, leave me a comment so I can be sure to read it!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I like wrapped gifts under the tree because they're so puuurdy, but gift bags are cool otherwise. Very easy and nice looking. Plus, you can often reuse them! Gotta love that.

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. I prefer the look and smell of a real one, but am too cheap. Plus, they're a little messy. Our artificial one is really nice though.

3. When do you put up the tree? To be honest, this is only the second year we've had a tree. I resisted it up until last year. Christmas was too depressing to celebrate much. But last year I decided to try to break out of my humbug-iocity and we bought a tree. We did it almost last minute though. This year we plan to put it up this weekend. I wanted to do it last weekend, but the opportunity did not present itself.

4. When do you take the tree down? Last year we waited a bit since we put it up so late. This year I imagine it will come down around New Years. It's a big tree and I will miss that valuable space in my living room!

5. Do you like eggnog? Uhh, *gag*

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmm, let's see. I don't remember a lot of what I received, but I loved the bike I got one year. I think my favorite of all had to be either the CD player my parents got me (I think I was a teen by then though) and the birth stone ring they gave me. The ring was awesome. Ooh, or these adorable earrings my granny gave me. They are little gold bows with mother of pearl hearts dangling from them. SO tiny but so beautiful. I loved those. I miss granny.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I do! My parents gave it to me. It's very lovely. I don't know where it is. *LOL*

8. Hardest person to buy for? My MOM. Boy is she hard!

9. Easiest person to buy for? My dad. In fact, he's so easy I'm willing to bet he already knows what he's getting...

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Probably a dollar store toy... when I was about 15 or 16 and had long stopped playing with toys.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail! I'm so bad this year. We haven't taken our Christmas picture, nor have we written our Christmas letter. Oops.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? *singing* "You're a mean one... Mr. Grinch!" Aww, that reminds me of granny too. Big Grinch fan, she was.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? November-ish.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think I've ever recycled any gift as a gift to someone else. A gift we gave to a coworker, however, was recycled... as a white elephant gift... at the following year's company Christmas party! Thankfully my husband and I share an awesome sense of humor and got a HUGE chuckle out of that.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Oooh... pumpkin bread, apple bread, pecan pie, cookies, gingerbread... aww, heck. If it has sugar and/or a carb, I'm THERE. BTW, if you have a great gingerbread cookie recipe (SOFT cookie recipe), please share! I'm on a hunt...

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? All clear. I'm very picky about this! Our tree has white lights and simple decorations that are all silver or red. Boring? Perhaps. But beautiful? No doubt.

17. Favorite Christmas song? When I was growing up, "O Holy Night" was my favorite carol. I'm not sure I have a favorite today, but I like the ones that make me giggle. Like "Baby It's Cold Outside" or "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer". But I also like a good version of "Carol of the Bells". (FYI: you know you've been in the jewelry business too long when you CAN.NOT. type "bells" without redoing it about three times because you keep typing "belles" instead.)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay at home. I'm not fond of traveling.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Well there's Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do I recall the most famous reindeer of all? Umm, he's the one with the red nose, right? Shoot. What's his name? I can also name all of Snow White's Six Dwarves. Ok, show of hands: how many of you, whether in your head or out loud, frantically corrected me? "Seven! There are SE-VEN dwarves!!"

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither, actually. We have a big silver bow. Boring? Yes, perhaps. But Martha would be proud!

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning!!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Big crowds. My goodness, I hate the big crowds. They make me so nervous. And all the commercialism. But not all the commercialism because it helps our business make $$. So I'm just partially a hypocrite then, right?

23. What I love most about Christmas? Family and umm, see question #15.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I see you just got a haircut.

You want some jewelry with that?

Apparently, you do!

We made our first drop of earrings at the salon on Wednesday. Almost half of it was gone before we left. We had to make a second drop today! Apparently the locals love our stuff! All of this started because of our Open House party. We had no idea that little thing would turn into this huge deal! But my oh my, are we thankful.

We've been officially "in business" for less than a year. Most businesses don't take off this fast in less than a year. Our website gets regular orders and we're always working on new pieces. I'm not saying this to brag (although I can't help but be a little proud that people appreciate our work!) but instead I'm saying it because we are BLESSED.

People have been praying over our efforts since before we even started. You all know who you are. Thank you. But, umm, keep on praying. I feel the need for a rolling mill and I'll need to sell a lot more earrings to buy one of those. *giggle*

Here are some of our newest (and apparently very popular!) pieces:















I have most of my Christmas shopping done now. I don't even like waiting this long, but most of it was done online so it's not so bad. I just need to buy for one more person and a few more stocking stuffers for the hubby and I'll be through. That's a huge load off. I think we will be putting up the tree this weekend.

How are you coming along with your shopping and decorating?

Monday, December 03, 2007

A day in the life of a socially anxious phobic

I had a PANIC ATTACK in the health food store tonight and had to call my husband on my cell and have him help talk me down.

I once had a HUGE panic attack in the middle of the grocery store. A couple of years ago, I guess. I had to run out of the store and leave my half full grocery cart there. I'm very embarrassed by that. I did call them as soon as I got home to let them know (I said I had "an emergency" and had to leave right away - if you've ever had a huge panic attack you know that's true) but to make matters worse they were rude to me about it. Sadly, I've found more people are rude than are understanding these days. If I had another choice, I would have taken it. But if I hadn't gotten out of there when I did, I would have passed out, and I'm not joking. I couldn't catch my breath and my heart was pounding harder than it ever has in my life. I was faint and nauseated, and it was one of the most terrifying things EVER. That day I finally understood why people go to the ER during a panic episode. After that experience, I had a very hard time going out and doing things by myself because my mind/body connected store = deathly panic attack and I'd start to uncontrollably panic. A panic attack is a natural and healthy physical response to something the body perceives to be a life threatening situation. It's the same concept as the "fight or flight" response, only it's usually attached to something that's not really life threatening. If it's a true panic attack from a phobia, you can't just "get over it" or "ignore it". It's not a spiritual thing (not that it can't be, but it's not a given). It's a natural and healthy God-given response that is amplified and assigned (beyond your control) to something it shouldn't be assigned to. And it really, really sucks and is very exhausting and embarrassing.

After that huge grocery store incident, it was so very bad for a long time. I had to drag someone out with me anytime I shopped, unless it was a very very short trip to, say, the pharmacy or something. Then I finally worked my way out of it and was able to go shopping alone for hours. Until today. Being sick all last week has completely shot my nerves.

But I didn't run out of this store (though I wanted to SOO badly). My hubby wasn't really able to calm me down, but he kept me grounded enough to where I could get the few items I needed and get out without too much damage. The poor cashier probably thought I was trying to shop lift or something, with as nervous and terrified as I had to look. He kept looking at me funny.

I haven't had to call and have him talk me through something like this in so long! I hope this is a one time thing and doesn't mean I have to work through all this stuff again. It was really hard and really stressful and I still struggle with it sometimes, especially on days where I'm not feeling very well.

1 step forward, 2 back. That's the life of a socially anxious phobic.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Pumpkin Bread Recipe & a New Look!

This is the first year I have made this recipe, but my old one is on my other hard drive and I was in a big hurry on T-day!

So, I hopped onto my favorite recipe site, www.recipezaar.com, and printed out this one. I used a whole can of pumpkin (didn't measure it, so I don't know if it was the "right" amount or not) and substituted unsweetened granny smith apple sauce for 1/2 the oil, mostly for flavor. I also left out the nuts because I did not have any. I'm not sure I could taste a difference between this recipe (even with my modifications which are ones that I don't normally do) and the recipe I usually make, but the bread is really most and it got compliments from everyone that tried it.

http://www.recipezaar.com/13391

Enjoy! :o)

Whatcha think of my blog's new face lift? Be honest!

Photo Hunters: Red


Red

Yeah, it's been a while since I've participated. I keep meaning to but always forget.

This week's theme is "red" and a few things come to mind when I think of red. One would be blood, but since I'm not going to make myself bleed just for the photohunt, let's move on shall we? Next, I think of my hair. I have some photos of my red hair, but they're all on the external drive and I didn't feel like messing with that tonight. Then lastly, I think of gemstones. One of my favorite gemstone colors is red. Try as I might, I can't stop buying RED gemstones. Carnelians are a favorite of mine.

So, I poured out a few bags of red gemstones and snapped a quick photo. The oval ones with the stripes are red zebra jasper, but all the rest are carnelian beads and cabochons.

As always, click on photo to enlarge.
Enjoy!

red-hot



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So now it's Wednesday

And I'm still not feeling all that great. I thought I was all better, but not so much.

I have several jewelry items to make in the next couple days to fill a large order. That's fun. So long as I don't melt things again.

I've been in a horrible mood all day, so watch out! ;o) I don't know why, I'm a woman. Do I need a reason?

Something that bugs me this week: copyright infringement. I'm an artist on many fronts, and as such, I own legal rights to my intellectual and otherwise artistic property, no? I'm sure all of you respect those rights and obey the law when you read the pieces I have shared here on my blog. Now when I share something with you and give you permission to read it and perhaps own a copy (whether I give it to you freely or sell it to you) that does not give you license to do anything you want with it. Sure, you can do a lot with it... for your personal use. You can read it or listen to it all you want. You can NOT read it or listen to it all you want. You can drool over it, use it as toilet paper, or smash little bitty bug parts into it, frame it and hang it on your wall declaring it as "modern art". These are all fine (so long as my name is not removed from your "modern art", anyway). What isn't fine is making copies of my work and distributing it without my permission. What REALLY isn't fine is using my name or work or graphic or anything else that is solely my property for your financial gain.

We're all in agreement of this, no? I thought so. So then, my question is, why is it so wrong to steal from a starving artist but it suddenly becomes "okay" when the artist is rich or when the owner of that property is a large corporation? Because "it's not hurting anyone"? Wrong. It IS hurting someone. It hurts me, as an artist, because it breaks the very law that is in place to protect me. Now I'm not all about big government, in fact, I hate big government and in most places just wish it would stay the yahoo out of my life. However, the laws that are in place to protect me (and rich artists alike) I ask you (collective "you" as in every person in this country, as if more than 10 of "you" actually read this blog) to please respect.

I feel like a broken record with this topic because so many people are either ignorant or uncaring about the copyright laws. This really disturbs me, especially when these people are teaching their children that this is an okay practice. Stealing someone else's property is always a crime. Don't make it about who has more.


*Steps off soapox*

Monday, November 26, 2007

My week in fast forward

*Made lots of jewelry, but melted something that shouldn't have been melted and now have to start all over.

*Had turkey day here with the fam. Put the turkey in the roaster oven upside down. Couldn't find can of pumpkin for pumpkin bread. Discovered that I do not have the things you put under pots so you don't burn your table, a turkey baster, or a serving set (though the table isn't burned, the turkey browned, and the people were served just fine with the utensils I DO have. Life goes on.)

*Got to meet new members of the family, including new baby girl cousin. Cuuuute little thing, she is!

*Got sick, almost puked. Hovered over trash can for hour and a half. Not fun. Esp for the vegetarian pukeaphobic who hasn't been that sick in 8 years.

*Dogs ate: dead snake segment found in yard, leather finger guard (and threw it up three days later - though not the snake. Thank goodness for small favors.)

*Had lots of fun with new camera. Learned that taking pictures of inanimate shiny things is easier than taking pictures of moving, drooling things.

*Made deeeelicious pumpkin bread, but only got to eat two slices before the night of sickness. Will never eat anything EVER again.

*Discovered I do not care much for pomegranate 7-up.

*Had lots of fun while shopping cart on our website decided to stop working right IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR HUGE SALE.

*Was very thankful for understanding, patient customers who still love us despite our moody shopping cart. Was also very thankful for the tech support team that fixed moody shopping cart really quickly.

*Felt bad about not blogging for a week, so stayed up until 6am this morning reading blogs and figuring out what to say in mine.

Good night morning!

Monday, November 19, 2007

8 Things Meme

8 things I'm passionate about:

*My husband
*My art (metal/gemstones/jewelry)
*My music
*My camera/photography
*Healthy and all natural things - the stuff "we" put in and on "our" bodies is scary!
*Children and treating them well (parents these days disturb me...)
*Chocolate
*Educating people about phobias - people are so ignorant and rude, it's sickening.



8 things I say often:

*"What the frick/heck/yahoo/that place down there with fire and brimstone?" (YES, I say that word. It's in the Bible, for pete's sake.)
*"Oh, for pete's sake!"
*"Love you. Bye. Love you."
*"Did you wash your hands?"
*"Sick freak."
*"_____ (insert name of dog here), gitcher butt in here!!"
*"Are you freaking kidding me?" (Said when someone says or does something stupid... which... is often.)
*"I mean, who does that?" (Said when *I* say or do something stupid... which... is often.)



8 books I've read recently:


I haven't read any books lately, much less 8. The only ones I've picked up recently are books on jewelry design. Sorry.


8 things I want to do before I die:

*Adopt a couple of children and see them raise their own children.
*Melt glass and cut gemstones.
*Master photography skills.
*Master silver smithing skills.
*Find a cure for my phobias.
*Record an album.
*Bless more people with my music.
*Get published.


8 songs I could listen to over and over again:

I get bored easily... not sure I like to listen to songs over and over again... but... I guess there are a few...

*Breath by Faith Hill
*It's Your Love by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
*My Immortal by Evanescense (sp?)

That's about it.



8 things that attract me to my friends:

*When someone treats their spouse with respect. I can't stand it when people talk down about or to their spouses all the time. It's SO unattractive.
*When someone is understanding even when they don't understand and listens even though it's something that's hard to hear.
*Good sense of humor... you have to have one to hang with me. I'm quirky like that.
*Strong convictions and morals.
*Intelligence... it's not like they need to be rocket scientists, but having a good head on their shoulders is a plus.
*Being able to go through their day without creating needless drama. I.Hate.Drama. and don't really have time for people who feel the need for it.
*Compassion and acceptance. I don't like people who are too judgy. We don't all have to be the same to get along.



8 things I've learned in the last year:


*Infertility sucks, but
*Permanent infertility sucks even more.
*God is good all the time, but
*His ways are not our own.
*Phobias are impossibly difficult, but
*The feeling you get after facing one and surviving it is indescribable.
*God DOES give us more than we can handle, but
*His grace is sufficient.



8 people to tag:


I think most everyone has already been tagged, but if you haven't and want to play along, feel free, but leave a comment. I luuuurve me some comments! *grin*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tomorrow is a new day

Well, I was really disappointed again because the show last night was a bust. It was very, very odd. It was a very small show with very few people that showed up. It was on a military base and only open to people with base access. It was to benefit charity. It seemed like people went to talk to their clique buddies and not really to buy stuff.

Sooo, we sold one thing but passed out a lot of business cards.

But today, my mom made an appointment for a private showing for the ladies that work in her hair salon. We're doing that tomorrow afternoon, and we'll also be talking about leaving some pieces for sale on consignment! This is another new thing for us that we've talked about doing but haven't worked at yet. Well, this time we didn't have to do any of the work... her stylist brought it all up and set it all up. She called my mom before her hair appointment this morning and asked her to bring some jewelry (she was invited to the party but was out of town). My mom took some and sold a piece. She was really impressed with our pieces and our prices and that's how it all started.

Pray it goes well! (And pray my migraine goes away before then!)

Are you on the list?

The Belles are going to have a crazy post-Thanksgiving sale to say thanks to all of our wonderful customers. But it's newsletter member only... are you on the list? The announcement is going out really soon. You won't want to miss this!

http://www.2bellesandabead.com/newsletter.html

Monday, November 12, 2007

Somebody Needs a Haircut

... and it isn't me!



This one just had to see what I was doing...


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Discouraged

So the party did not go as well as I was hoping. Most people who said they were coming did not show. We had a few sales, so it wasn't a total bust, but I am a bit discouraged. We spent so much time over the past couple weeks and we stayed up so late preparing on Friday night!

I'm dreading the show tomorrow. I don't know what to expect, and I hate being stuck in large crowds of people. I wish I had a valium. I've never taken valium that I know of, but I wish I had some right now.

On a positive note, my camera arrived safely on Friday afternoon, a few days earlier than I was expecting. I haven't had much time to play with it yet, but I did play with it for a bit yesterday. I took some pictures of our set up so we'd remember how to set up at the show tomorrow. They came out alright, but being indoors I used the flash, and all I have at the moment is the camera's pop up flash, and flash and mirrors and jewelry don't make for great photos. I really need to figure out what settings work best for what lighting. That would help! It's so fast though. The autofocus is super fast, and the time lag between photos is so short. It feels heavy in my hands, like a real camera should! *grin* And that "click" sound when it takes a photo. *happy sigh* How did I ever live with a point and shoot?

On an even better note, today is our 7th wedding anniversary. I love you, honey!







Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hot off the bench, partie deux

(No, I do not know French. I had to ask my highly intelligent and adorable husband how to write out "part two" in French. He's so smart.)

I've been working overtime lately, and I'm pooped. This isn't everything, but several pieces of eye candy for you to feast upon (including the one that gave me nightmares!). *grin* As always, click photos to enlarge.


Smoky quartz wire wrapped briolettes and sterling silver disc earrings:



Textured sterling rectangles:



Sterling teardrop & flower pendant:


Textured circle necklace:




And finally, a flower. Bloggy friends, this thing HAUNTED me. I wasn't sure I would be able to finish it with my wimpy torch. So I bought a second wimpy torch. Apparently two wimpy torches are better than one, and that did the trick! This thing is five layers deep and took me days to make. Of course, it wouldn't have taken me nearly as long had I had two wimpy torches at the beginning. Also, I think it would be easier in all sterling. Believe it or not, copper is much harder to solder successfully. I'm SO proud of myself for finishing this! *grin* This is the most difficult and challenging piece I've ever made. *BIG GRIN* I have visions of doing a line of flowers, but I chose the magnolia as the first one since it is part of our logo and all.




And guess what! After stewing over it for a couple of months, I decided to just stick with my laptop for now (and hope it doesn't crash too). Soooo, my Canon 400D (Rebel XTi) with a lot of fun accessories is on its way! What kind of accessories can you get for a camera, you ask? Well, umm, I got a remote control. A freaking remote control for a camera. Imagine that! I'm so excited!

I finally read the results of the poll I made a couple weeks ago about our jewelry prices. It looks like most of you think they're priced right. However, one of you thinks it is priced too high! I apologize, but I had a pretty hard giggle at that. Our prices are lower than most, ya know. I have no idea who voted for that option, but whoever you are, if only you knew how much time and money goes into making jewelry and running a design business, I think you might change your vote. It's not as easy as it looks. But then again, I don't think it looks easy either. At least not that magnolia pendant. I dare you to tell me it looks easy and should be priced really low! *giggle*

Anyway, thanks for voting and reaffirming what we were feeling about our business. *grin*

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Letting the cat out of the bag

My husband and I found out late this summer that we cannot have children. Until yesterday, it was sort of semi-private information. My parents have known for a while, but other than that and telling a very few close friends, not many others knew. I think I sort of let it slip once online, but that's it. This is one big reason why I have backed off with my blogging somewhat. It's a huge part of what is on my mind, and I was afraid of saying too much too soon.

Until yesterday, my husband's family didn't even know. I was waiting for him to be ready to tell them, since they're his family and all. It took him a lot longer to process this than it did me, since after two years of infertility, I had already begun to prepare myself for this possibility. Anyway, I didn't want to really talk about it too much until all the close family members knew. That's not really knowledge you want to get around to them in a round about way, you know? Plus, they live very far away and this is difficult information to share over the phone. Unfortunately, we're not sure when we will be able to visit them. (I'm skeered of flying, you know!)

But yesterday he told them, and now it's out in the open and we're ready to share that we're very, very close to starting the adoption process. We have been considering a lot of options over the past few months and so far, the ones that seem most attractive to us are a local foster to adopt program through Lutheran Services (yes, we're one of those horrible couples that want an infant for our first child and they SAY they have many infants adopted through that program, so we'll see), a program through an agency in our state that adopts African American multi-ethnic babies (sadly, not many people want them, and I simply do.not.get.that.), and an international adoption from S. Korea. My husband spent a year there while he was in the military and is familiar with their culture and would love to go back and visit someday. He says they have really good food and you have not lived until you have eaten their spicy bulgoki and yakimandu. *giggle*

This has, without a doubt, been the most frustrating and hardest year of my life. Never before have I experienced so much heartache and pain. Infertility is hard enough, but finding out that the infertility is permanent is not something that is easily accepted. I feel like a very vital part of my being has been ripped from me... that a part of the reason I exist has died. I've been accused of being bitter and angry, and I freely admit that heck YES I am angry and bitter. But at least I am humble enough to realize that those are very valid emotions, and I accept them and continue to work through them. I don't know anyone that is strong enough or holy enough to go through what we've been through and still be able to keep their happiness and joy 24/7. Being a Christian does not exclude me from feeling real emotions. I'm okay with that, and I thank God He is too. All the accusers can think badly of me if they want - their opinions simply do not matter to me. Or to God. I'm so glad my God is a God of grace and patience. Have you met Him? *grin*

So, anyway. There you have it. If you don't know the reason why, that's because we haven't told you and probably never will, so please do not ask. :) Feel free, however, to ask about our new journey as we begin it. I'm sure it will be long and frustrating, terrifying and wonderful (not to mention one of the most expensive commitments we will have ever made) and I know I'll need a lot of support during that time. I've found some amazing people that have been there, done that, who will hopefully prove to be a rich source of information for us.

It's hard. It sucks. It's something no one can fully prepare for. But it's ours and as such, we have begun to learn to accept it. We are surviving, and our marriage is strong (for which we are extremely thankful since many do not make it through this kind of hardship). We are ready to move on to the next phase in our lives. I'm hopeful that by this time next year we might just be parents, or at least close to it. Who cares that the child will not come from my womb?

I'm okay with that, and I will still be just as much of a mother as anyone else. Without a doubt, whatever child we adopt will know that he or she was much wanted and loved for years before it was even born. Sounds nice a nice way to enter the world, doesn't it? *grin*

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hot off the bench!

A few people (including my IT husband) have told me that my blog gives them issues - freezing, loading really slowly, crashing their computer, etc. - and I can't figure out why. I haven't had any of those things happen to me on either of my computers. However, I took out a bunch of stuff from my sidebar that I either no longer need or were bad links and I'm hoping that helps.

If you've ever had trouble with my blog and are reading now, can you let me know if this is an improvement for you? I've been wanting to redesign the template because I'm getting tired of it, but I simply have not had time lately. So if it's the template, it will be a bit longer before that will be fixed.

Also, if you are subscribed to our 2 Belles & a Bead newsletter, can you let me know if you have NOT been receiving it? We have sent out three now - issues for Sep, Oct, and Nov. I know it has been going to some people's junk mail filters. If you are subscribed and are not receiving it, please check your junk mail folders and consider adding orders@2bellesandabead.com to your "safe" list or "contact" list or whatever it is your email server has. Also, it seems that with every newsletter I send, a few don't make it out, and I'm not sure why. I guess it is the program that sends it. I'm trying to get it worked out, but please let me know if you're not getting them.

In other news...

Here are some of the things I have been working on lately, in preparation for our party and show. You can click on all the pictures to enlarge them.
Enjoy!

Sterling silver byzantine chain maille weave bracelet. 240 hand cut and woven rings went into this:


This pair of earrings is made with hand forged sterling silver teardrops with a hand sawed and soldered copper heart (with sterling center). I love these!! I think I'm going to give the flower some texture and give it a light patina. I also plan to make them in all sterling soon:


Hammered sterling discs:



Over 100 hand cut and woven rings went into this Japanese flower weave necklace:


A few of you were wondering how my art swap gift was going to be made into jewelry. Well, here is one piece I made from one of the weave links sent to me. I have enough of it left over to make some kind of earrings, but they will have different stones. This bracelet has muscovite - they are a BEAUTIFUL color. After taking these links apart, I discovered that this is a pretty simple weave, so I will be making it for sure!


And finally, some earrings made with rectangles that were hand cut from copper and sterling sheet and given two different textures. I love these too! I have some sterling rectangles I cut that are going to be made into all sterling earrings and a very very large sterling circle that was given a really cool texture and will be a pendant, but those are not yet photographed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hey, at least I can laugh at myself, right?

I hereby nominate myself to receive the Almost Darwin Award of the year. Why, you ask? Well, perhaps I should start from the beginning...

As you probably already know, we are doing a mini remodel of our hall bathroom. We my husband and dad replaced the faucet, lighting, and toilet paper holder. Prior to this, we had some yucky looking cheap shiny stuff. Now we have brushed nickel everything. I painted the walls a lavender/gray and the trim a light cream. For some reason, every single freaking doorknob in this house is the shiny fake brass stuff. Have I mentioned before how much I HATE shiny fake brass household items? It is so not my style. I had the brilliant idea of changing them out one by one to match the brushed nickel things we have been installing over the past year. I decided that the bathroom was the perfect place to start, given its recent changes and the fact that the fake shiny brass one had not yet been put back on the door from when I painted it a few days ago.

Soo, off to Lowe's I go over the weekend to buy a lovely new doorknob. They are cheap, so I bought two - one for the bathroom and one for the linen closet across from the bathroom. My husband was sick all weekend and not up to helping me change it, and I decided on Monday that I would try to do it myself. I removed the fake shiny brass one, how hard could it be to put on a new brushed nickel one? HAH!

I had just finished scrubbing the front door outside, and I was overheated and in desperate need of a shower. So I headed towards the master bathroom. On the way, I saw that lovely new doorknob and it was just calling my name. "Cryyyyystal... CRYYYYSTAL!! You can install me yourself, you know!" I figured, well, now is as good a time as any, right? After all, it will only take a few minutes, and then I'll hop in the shower. Why my conscience didn't stop me from making this huge mistake, I will never know. I think my woman's intuition must have been thrown out with the ugly fake shiny brass stuff. Or perhaps I was born intuition-less. Either way, this lack of judgment has proven that I have somehow gone from graduating valedictorian of my high school class to the stupidest person still alive on the planet. I used to be smart. I promise. Does chocolate kill brain cells? Maybe I just ate too much.

I know what you're thinking: she must be overreacting. Why is it such a big deal to not be able to change a doorknob? Who cares? That's what men are for, right? Oh, but see, my story isn't even close to being finished yet...

I opened up the doorknob package and began to carefully study the instructions. I prided myself on opening the packaging with such care as to not rip it, and the fact that *I*, a woman, was going to actually read and follow the instructions, much unlike a man. I was going to install the strike plate first, but decided to do the knob instead. So I stuck the innards of it in the hole in the door. You know, the part with the piece that moves in and out - the piece that catches in the strike plate and causes the door to latch shut? I put that piece in first and was getting ready to put on the actual knobs when I had a stroke of genius. I figured that before I got too committed I ought to make sure it was going to line up correctly with the strike plate hole, so I pushed the door up against the door jamb. Ok, great, it looks like it will line up just fine. But did that satisfy me? Heck no, I wanted this thing done RIGHT. I had to be sure. Push. Click. The door was closed. Whew. It will work perfectly. Oh happy day!

I believe I failed to mention that at the point in which I "tested" the inner workings of this lovely new doorknob, I was actually in the bathroom. Remember, the actual knobs had not been put on at this time... just the innards. The part that causes the door to latch. Well, folks, the door latched and it latched WELL. It figures that the drunk aliens who designed and built my home actually did something right for a change (and just so my new readers know, that is not a racial comment. At least not a human racial comment. By "aliens" I mean the little green men that come from Mars... humans did not design my home.). I was trapped. In the bathroom. A teeny, tiny, windowless, claustrophobia-inducing bathroom. Without my cellphone. Hours from when my husband would come home from work. Hot. Sweaty. Hungry. Thirsty. Naked. Oh yes, did I fail to mention that part? I was buck freaking naked... on the way to take a shower, remember?

Bloggy friends, I panicked. Big time. I'm a phobic, you know, and claustrophobia is definitely one I experience. Can't breathe. Gonna puke. Tiny bathroom. No phone. No window. NO CLOTHES. *screams* - "NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" Oh boy, did I scream. Like a person trapped in a car about to fall off the edge of a cliff and burst into flames, did I scream. Like a germaphobic nerd about to get a swirly. And cried. Oh, did I cry. Cried and screamed and panicked. I was going to die in there, you know. My husband was going to come home a few hours later and find my lifeless, naked body trapped inside that coffin of a doorknobless room. And if I didn't die, I would at the very least lose whatever smidgen of sanity I had remaining. These thoughts ran through my head over and over, along with many others, such as:

*I wonder if I scream loud enough, will the neighbors hear and call 911? Then the cops could find my lifeless, naked body trapped in the bathroom.
*Is the bathroom just big enough for me to back up and ram into the door hard enough to break it without breaking me?
*Oh for pete's sake, I'm NAKED.
*There is NO chocolate in here!!

I was just about to sit my naked butt down on the cold, bare floor and resign myself to my fate when I glanced at the vanity and saw the key. No, not the key, but the key... channel lock pliers left here from when the men changed out the faucet. Oh, oh, oh! Surely the combination of my adrenaline fight-or-flight response and the heftiness of these pliers could help me out somehow, right? I determined that I would either rip apart and destroy the doorknob innnards enough to be able to open the door again, or I would start hacking away at the wall. I mean, yeah, we'd have a huge hole in the wall... but I would be free! And then later, we could, you know, buy a mini counter top and install a bar under the hole. What bathroom couldn't use a bar?

Luckily with a few really good tugs, I was able to perform doorknob surgery and mutilate its innards and walk out of the claustrophobia inducing bathroom into freedom. I was then naked and free! What a shame we won't get that bathroom bar though...

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, bloggy friends.

One - I am obviously NOT made to do home renovations. At all. I will never attempt to do house stuff involving tools and doorknobs again. From here on out, I will commit my creative and handiwork skills solely to making beautiful jewelry. I'll leave the house junk to my husband and dad. Let THEM get locked in the bathroom naked. I mean, who does that?!

Two - never attempt bathroom renovations without a phone and chocolate in hand.

Three - never change a doorknob naked.

Four - never test a doorknob naked.

Five - never, ever, EVER call your husband afterwards and tell him your story so he can laugh his butt off at you.

Lovely new doorknob: $8.75
Pair of channel lock pliers: $20
Can of paint to fix the gouge in the door: $28
Funny story to tell your coworkers about your hot, naked wife locking herself in a tiny bathroom and ripping apart the doorknob innards to regain her sanity and freedom only to realize after the fact that the actual doorknob was probably laying on the sink the entire time and could have been used to open it like a, you know, sane person: priceless

I almost died, people! So the Almost Darwin Award of the year goes to... *drum roll*... *sigh*... me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to


But I really don't want to. Bloggy friends, this boring bloggy belle needs your help! Our party is two weeks away, and our guests are expecting food, fun, and fabulous jewelry. We have the food and fab jewelry down, but the fun? We're kind of at a loss. Help! A few people are coming just because it "sounds fun". AAHHH!!!

I know some of you are really good at parties and fun stuff, so give me some suggestions, people. *grin* Or else we may resort to playing pin the diamond on the ring. And that's just scary... very, very scary. I want our guests to actually like us, you know.