Monday, June 27, 2011

Tis not Sesame Street - But Today is all about G

I could say the G is for Greg, my little brother who is GREAT... but that's not the entire reason for this post.

It was a very busy weekend and finally the weather here in WI was perfect on a weekend.  We were able to clean out the screen porch for the season... I know it's July next weekend, but prior to this the weather has never cooperated when Chris and I were both available. 

So clean, clean, clean... then GRILL!  Yes, G is the letter of the day!

We had one of our dear friends over and I made an incredible - healthy - dinner yesterday.  I tried all new ideas for dinner including a Greek cucumber dip (for toasted pita chips) and a beautiful GREEN cilantro pesto made with fresh herbs from our garden.  The Cilantro pesto topped chicken that had a light lemon pepper and olive oil for seasoning. 

Both turned out so well, and were healthy I just had to share - see facebook note for cilantro pesto recipe

Greek Cucumber Dip
1 c. organic plain yogurt
1 c. organic sour cream
1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
1 Medium cucumber

De-seed and shred cucumber.  Mix in yogurt, sour cream, greek seasoning and lemon juice.  Refrigerate 2 hours prior to serving.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with baked pita chips.

Glass... yes a very favorite piece of eyecandy for me.  Especially lampwork glass from a wonderful artisan.  I've organized and been working with much of my stash lately and will be adding several new pieces to my Artfire Store.  Pieces include a fuschia set (earrings & necklace), patriotic earrings and a stunning pearl & lampwork bridal set!  Oh yeah... I'm still drooling... So that's on my To DO list today, what's on yours?

G is also for Gallbladder which at this moment Chris' mom is having removed.  What started as a stomach pain ended her in the ER overnight and surgery this morning.  So positive thoughts and healing energies for her today would be most appreciated. 

Good Gravy, can you believe this is the last week in June?  Honestly, I've been working so diligently on puppy training so I have a Good Gurrrrllll... it seems June just slipped out the back door!  So while I'm embracing puppy training because I recognize a good dog is a happy dog, and this little cutie patootie is one smart whipper snapper, I need to work with her while she's absorbing it like a sponge!

Thanks for joining me on G day!  In the words of Tony the Tiger, I hope your day is Grrrrrrr-eat!

{Hugs!}

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brought to you by the letter J

Dragonfly by Jayla Rediger - 11 yr old
J for Jelly Beans, J for jumping, J for JAYLA!

I am so excited to share this piece with you.  I have a little story to share, so if you'll grab a cup of coffee first, I know you'll be so glad you walked on this little journey for me.

"Why Jayla" you ask?

Because Jayla is a beautiful 11 year old aspiring artist that made the dragonfly pendant I've used in this necklace.  Yes, just 11 YEARS OLD!!!!  I first heard about Jayla's talents when I was reading her mom Melissa's blog.  Melissa operates Sea of Glass, a lampwork artist out of Iowa.  When her daughter wanted to take a class with her at their local bead store, Melissa embraced some special mother daughter time and signed them up for a polymer clay class.

Jayla was instantly in love with making the pendants.  From the colors and finishes to all the little add ons that make each pendant one of a kind, she was inspired.  After the class Jayla wasn't about to give up designing.  No, rather she wanted to turn her creative inspirations into a business.  Jayla continue to make her special pendants and Melissa created a section on her website called Jayla's Corner just for her to market her pendants.

When I heard Melissa was going to be selling at Bead and Button and Jayla's dad had created a special display to sell her pendants, I knew I had to get one (and meet Melissa too!)  I had my dear sweet fiance Chris with me (he was SUCH a trooper going to B&B and I'll tell you, he was amazed at the various artisans we met.  He had no idea just how many talented artisans are in this genre.  He's also still waiting for his T-shirt that said "I attended Bead & Button 2011"~ goofball.)

The second I saw this dragonfly pendant, it was mine... as in GIMME-RIGHT-NOW!!!  Her artistry in this pendant is stunning.  She even used a toothpick to paint the body of the dragonfly because it's a tiny area.  As an added touch, she created a flower with a bead cap and sparkly swarovski crystal center for that perfect finishing touch.

I love supporting today's youth because I feel like they are facing challenges much more difficult than I faced growing up.  But I also LOVE when I see parents taking such an interactive role in supporting their kids and fostering their creative spirits.  Jayla's Corner is available on Melissa's website, Sea of Glass and if you want to see Jayla's latest pendants as she creates them, I urge you to follow Melissa's blog too!

This is just the first piece I'll make with one of Jayla's pendants.  It was a pleasure pulling the colors out of the design and adding some additional sparkle with Swarovski crystals in the beaded necklace.  The necklace is currently available in my Artfire Store.  

I hope you enjoy the simple beauty and you find creative inspiration from the story of this very talented 11 year old girl.  She's got a great start to a very bright future!

{Hugs!}

Available in my Artfire Store

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ode to my Dad

It's hard to believe that Father's Day weekend is here - already!  Zoinks, I'm still thinking it's May, I better catch up.  LOL

This is my Dad... Short little fella (5'5" - or he was at one time) so that's where I got my substantial height from.  (pun intended)  He's a hard working, simple man that has worked my entire life to provide for the family.  My dad has a great sense of humor... and LOVES to be the life of the party AND the brunt of all the jokes.  Seriously, he really enjoys people picking on him (when it's done out of love of course).  He's got a sweet tooth that resembles a saber-toothed tiger (seriously, I guess I owe that quality in myself to him too).  Dad, my hips, butt and thighs really thank you for that one... NOT. But really, he can't help it - he's a Schwan man... ice cream is in his DNA. :o)

All in all, he's a pretty darn great guy!
Happy Father's Day Dad!

To all the Dad's out there (and Fur Dad's too) I hope the weekend to celebrate you finds you surrounded in Love and Family! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baring it All - Just for YOU

Fancy Photo Studio
Yes, many people have asked for pictures, so today I'm baring it all for you!

I've tried many, many different methods and continue to read blog posts and articles about how to take the best photos of handcrafted jewelry.  Last summer I took advantage of all the nature around me and took outside photos.  I really loved bring that organic element into my photos.

But I live in WI and summer leads to fall... and then WINTER.  And I'll be gol darn it I'm not going to freeze my fingers off taking outside photos through the winter. 

So I needed to find a solution that worked indoors.  My good friend Stacy who's an excellent photographer shares anytime she finds great articles about photographing our items and one in particular really helped me.  (Sorry, I don't still have the link, but it was great!)
With some of my props

The article said use natural lighting from a window, but filter it with a sheet of tracing paper.  Put a table right up to the window and cover it with aluminum foil... with full sunlight coming in, this will appear white.

They also had a number of other "reflective elements" to shift the light back on the item you are photographing.  My challenge, in an old house, most of my windows are multi-pane and leaded glass.  Not good because of the shadows that it throws behind the paper.

I have two windows that I've found work great... one worked all winter, but then when the trees bloomed, I no longer got direct sun.  So I found a better window which happens to be right by my desk. 

So using the M setting on my little point & shoot Canon camera, and using a mirror to capture light on the front of the object with the natural backlighting, this is my "photo studio" set up.  Nothing fancy... trust me. 

Click photo to enlarge
At some point I will set up a silly photo tent, so I'm not reliant on Mother Nature to give me sunshine so I can take good photos.  Note in the photo the lilac bushes outside of my window.  Yes, the period of time I can capture just the right light for my photos is from about 11 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m. 

How do you photograph your pieces?  It's not just jewelry, it's any of us that are creating artistic treasures and marketing or blogging about them online.

Hope your day is terrific!
{Hugs!}
Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles: Take Great Digital Photos for Portfolios, Documentation, or Selling on the Web (A Lark Photography Book)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gardening Question

Dear Fellow Gardeners... I have a situation brewing in my garden and if you have any ideas that can help, I'd deeply appreciate it!

In my veggie garden I have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce planted.  As well as herbs (basil, cilantro and parsley.)  In the last few days, something has been eating my basil leaves and lettuce.  But that's it.  It hasn't touched my tomatoes, cucumbers or red pepper. 

It's not something like a bunny.... it's not that kind of bites.  Rather it's insect like, but I haven't seen the culprit.  Has anybody had a similar pest munching on basil and lettuce?  If so, any ideas on what to do about it?  I was thrilled to be able to have a plethora of lettuce.... not to mention bruschetta when the tomatoes come in.  Now, I'm not sure those itty bitty plants will make it.

This gardener appreciates your solutions very much!

{Hugs!}

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bling for the Lobes

Happy Thursday all!  I've been working on balance (finding it) and seem to be making some headway.  I was recently able to create... on another day I was able to photograph... and on the third day I listed. 

So these glass beaded earrings are all brand new in my Artfire store.  Asymmetrical anybody???  It's something new for me... but I think I rather like it!
In other news... check out this lady that stopped by as I was washing dishes.  She primped and preened, and scavenged bugs out of the puddle for at least 20 minutes while I was cleaning up the kitchen.  She's definitely a BIG bird.  It's funny, she walked over to our "potty pen" where's we're potty training Bella and she was sniffing around there too.  Very comfortable bird in her own feathers I'd conclude!  LOL  Have a terrific day! :)

P.S.  All lampwork glass beads used in these earrings were created and designed by Julianna Cannon of JulsBeads!  Check out her store to pick your favs! http://www.etsy.com/shop/Julsbeads

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where do you read blogs?

My Surprise - Yummy Big Hole Beads from JulsBeads
When I logged in this morning, Blogger had a little pop up window that asked me if I wanted to turn on Mobile templates so my blog would be readable on mobile phones.  So my question to you is where do YOU read the blogs you follow?

Do you read it in your blogger dashboard?
Do you read them on The Hive forum?
Do you use Google Reader?
Do you follow via Networked Blogs on Facebook?
Are you a Twitter follower?

So many choices.  I'm just curious, how do you follow?  If you're on Facebook or Twitter, feel free to share your links to your profile in your comment!  Take some time and visit a few others and spread the networking love around!  K?

Make it a terrific day!
{Hugs!}

One Big Beautiful Bead: Simple Jewelry with Focal Beads (Lark Jewelry Books)
One Big Beautiful Bead by Sarah McConnell is a great book for inspiration to create using lampwork glass beads!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Starry, Starry Night

Starry, Starry Night
I'm so excited to share the photos of this special necklace with you.  I made it as a gift for my sister Amy for her birthday.  Even though her birthday isn't for another week, we celebrated her birthday and my Dad's birthday yesterday at a wonderful family BBQ.  We missed my baby sister and her family as she was working. :( 

For Amy's birthday I wanted to give her something really special.  Something she couldn't just go to the store and buy.... or she would consider frivolous and not spend the money on for herself.  She's so generous with others and when it comes to spending money on things for herself, she's very economical.

When I set out to make Amy's birthday present, I knew I wanted it to be in the blue family.  Amy just loves that deep, rich blue.  And I might add, with her fair skin, red hair and the only blue eyes of my siblings, it's a great color on her!  So I brought her personality along with her personal tastes into this bead embroidered necklace.

I'm calling this piece Starry, Starry Night because once it was finished that's exactly what it reminded me of.  The deep blue glass center surrounded by vitrail FP Czech Glass rounds looked like stars in the sky.  In the chain I used some gunmetal and frosted sapphire Toho seed beads, Black diamond & sapphire swarovski crystals and a gunmetal chain to tie it all together.  The bead embroidered pendant was again stitched on Nicole's BeadBacking in grey... which was perfect with the vitrail beads.

I matching pair of earrings using sapphire & crystal rondelles & bicones.  For a fun factor, I used my jig and created at little twisty turvy curly loopy headpin, which made Amy (another curly girl) smile.

Amy loved it.  I cried tears of happiness (I know, I'm such a sap) and it was a great day for everybody.  Hope your birthday is absolutely wonderful next week Amers!  Love you lots!

xoxo,
Your Big Sis
Crystal Jewelry Creations

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's the Worst Thing to Lose for a Conversationalist?

Custom Order Eyeglasses Chain - Turquoise & Hematite
Answer:  Your voice.

As spoken from a true talker... Yes, I have no voice.  This is day #2 without any voice.  I'm glad I can type because e-mail has been a lifesaver.  The last time I lost my voice was 2001 and it was gone for 3 weeks... yes, WEEKS!  And I'm not cool with having no vocal chords for the next 3 weeks, so I'd like to hear your remedies that can help bring my voice back.

It started with what I thought was a cold, sniffles and a cough.  Then the pollen kicked up, so I was sure that my allergies had blown the door to the Kleenex factory wide open.  But after trying to alleviate the allergies naturally using lavender oil, then taking an antihistamine and it did nothing, I don't think it's allergies.

I'm still blowing through Kleenexes like they are water... I had no idea one body could produce that much... well I'll spare you the juicy details.  BUT I would like to get my voice back.  I actually "felt" when my voice went, if that makes sense.  I could feel it in my throat.  Not cool at all.

So do you have any ideas or tips to get my voice back.  Trust me, I'm not a singer so my voice isn't golden.  But when puppy training, I've now learned it is a very close thing.  My dogs are having a hayday with this!  They know mom can't call them when they decide the best place to do their business is the far corners of our yard.  That means mom has to go out and tap their head to confirm them that it's time to come back in.  The puppy, Bella just looks at me with her adorable little head cocking back and forth when I "try" to talk.  It's more of a squeak and it hurts my throat.

While I practice silence (which I think Chris is really enjoying LOL) I'm reading, e-mailing, blogging, and just loving the pups.  Love doesn't need a voice, just adoring eyes, a big heart and plenty of belly rubs for all - them not me. :~)

Hope your day is terrific! {Hugs!}

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