Monday, June 30, 2008

best laid plans

Well, it was one of "those" weekends. In spite of rather carefully planned blocks of time for housecleaning (which actually did eventually get done, more or less) in order to make time for studio work, things intervened. One of the nicer things was a visit by a family we had been friends with when they lived in the area. They moved to Ohio several years ago and were back to see friends. We had a very nice time with them and marvelled at how their children have grown, plus they've added two more for a total of 6. The two oldest are girls who are interested in making jewelry so of course a visit to my studio was necessary, which was fun for everybody. It was a good visit.

I did make several new pieces, including several pairs of earrings, but didn't have the opportunity to photograph anything at all, what with this and that (you know what I mean?) so that will have to wait til later today.

Our cat Romeo gave us a bit of a scare on Saturday. He didn't put in an appearance in the morning to be fed, which in itself isn't that unusual, but we didn't see him the rest of the day either. Finally in the evening Dave went looking around the neighborhood for him, accompanied by three of our other cats. It turned out Romeo had spent the day on a near neighbor's roof and had been apparently unable to get down (it's a 3 storey house). When Dave located him, meowing piteously, he knocked on the door and asked for the neighbor's help. They managed to get Romeo inside via an upstairs window and soon he was home snarfing food as fast as he could, poor kitty. I hope he's learned his lesson, but I doubt it. Cats, as they say, will be cats.

Have a good Monday everyone.

Friday, June 27, 2008


But alas it was just a dream. Better hop to it this weekend. In between making jewelry, that is.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

mea culpa

Sorry for the long absence. Things have just been rather busy around the house.

Since my successful Saturday at Art in the Garden I've been readying some jewelry pieces to go onto etsy. I hope to accomplish that tomorrow. For now here are some photos of representative pieces I will be attempting to sell on etsy.

This is a lovely 3-strand piece of amethyst and garnet beads strung with bali silver and accented with a handmade glass pendant bead, finished with a sterling silver clasp. It sits about collarbone level.
This necklace features textured fine silver disks alternating with topaz Swarovski crystals, suspended from a sterling silver chain. I made the silver disks myself.

This is a bracelet featuring lampworked borosilicate glass beads on hand-formed (by me) silver links, with a silver clasp I made and accented with a Hill Tribes silver charm.

I will be posting lots more stuff on etsy. The only problem is finding time to take photos of things I don't already have pictures of, but I'll get there eventually.

Hope you're all doing well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

i'm back

I am here today, albeit without photos which are still in my camera. I just wanted to share that the weekend was wonderful, from the excellent al fresco dinner on Friday evening (perfect, perfect weather, wonderful company and entertainment, just altogether lovely) to the great day on Saturday. I sold $640.00 worth of jewelry, which makes me extremely happy, plus I have orders for a couple of custom items and other people interested in looking at my pieces on display at the VAAM Gallery. Altogether a very successful weekend.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Here's another necklace strung for Art in the Garden. The starfish pendant is Murano glass and the strands are various semiprecious stones, wood, glass, and silver. The clasp is one I bought a long time ago and had never made anything it seemed right on; it is set with aquamarines.

I'm pretty happy with this piece. The photo is dark and doesn't do it justice, though.

I'm still madly stringing away. Not much time left until Saturday and Art in the Garden. I will take photos to share.

Monday, June 16, 2008

more rain

I'm not complaining, mind you, especially when Iowa is in such dire straits, but it's beginning to remind me of my days in Portland, OR.

I have been madly beading over the weekend and completed a couple of really nice necklaces which I neglected to photograph so you'll just have to take my word for it. Art in the Garden is this coming Saturday, so I shall be frantically preparing over the next few days, culminating, I'm sure, in putting tags on things far into the night on the Friday before as has become my custom.

As usual I feel I've bitten off more than I can chew as far as what I hope to get finished before Saturday. I have a lot of designs in my head, so I guess I'll just keep creating until I'm out of time. Dave and I will be attending the fundraiser dinner the night before Art in the Garden, which is always a lovely event. I will try to get some photos to share.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

another busy saturday

Weekends are so busy around here, and this one includes Father's Day to boot, but I wanted to show you a few bracelets I've put together in the last couple of days.

Some of them are missing clasps but that's easy to remedy, and I've got clasps on order. These will be on my table at Art in the Garden.

Tomorrow we will go to my parents' house for a Father's Day barbecue including bbq baby back pork ribs, roast chicken, potato salad, baked beans, and my berry shortcake. Wish you all could join us! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

another day, another necklace

And alas, another bad photo of a rather nice necklace. My problem is I'm in too big a hurry when I'm photographing to do anything like make sure the background is good, etc. That's a big dichroic glass pendant on multiple woven bead strands.

I took these photos of our neighbor Nancy's garden the night we had Chris's birthday barbecue outside. Nancy is an avid and dedicated gardener, and her house really is that shade of green.

Don't know why this came out so dark. Probably camera operator error.

Nancy's front yard faces west, and this photo captures her garden in the waning evening sunlight.

She's a great neighbor for trading plants and advice.
Hope you're all having a good Thursday.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

trauma at the eye doctor

So I went to the eye doctor for a vision test yesterday because, well, the old lenses weren't performing up to snuff anymore. Imagine my chagrin when the doctor (a very nice man, by the way, been a doc for many years so I'm sure he knows what he's talking about) informed me that I've outlived my need for bifocals and now need TRIFOCALS!!! AAAACK! I'm not that old, which apparently has nothing to do with it. So about a week from now I will have new glasses similar to these, at least color and shape-wise, although mine are metal and half-rims. So at least I'll be stylishly trifocaled.

I hope you are all seeing clearly this morning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

since you asked...

I've had several questions about how Dave is doing jobwise, so I thought I'd fill you in.

He has been hired by a hearing aid distributor in Salina, a town about 35 miles from here. He has an office here in town but because of the portability of his equipment will be able to go to his clients instead of them having to come to him, a great thing when so many of them are elderly and not excited about having to get out. Dave is currently engaged in getting his office ready for business (painting, new lighting, furniture, etc.) while waiting for his new equipment which is on order. In the meantime he is using some older existing equipment to get famliar with the software this company uses. So within the next couple of weeks he should be fully functional. This is a line of work Dave spent about 18 months being trained and licensed for, so we're thankful that this position was open for him. Thanks again for your concern and interest.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I apologize in advance for these less than stellar photos, but I wanted to show you what I accomplished during my time staffing the VAAM Gallery on Saturday. I don't know what made me think a red background was a good idea.

This is glass pearls, orange aventurine chips, crab fire agate, and tiny freshwater pearls. I didn't have a good clasp for this piece yet, so it's without.

This one is burgundy freshwater pearls, a few peacock pearls, dark red Swarovski crystals, silver stardust spacers, and a large Thai silver focal bead, plus fancy end cones and a filigree clasp.

Very hard to see the gorgeous burgundy pearl shade with the red background, but it is really nice.

This piece is silvery gray/green pearls accented with mother-of-pearl disks dyed the same color, plus sterling beads and clasp.

And a closeup. I like this design and may make others in different colors.

After going through my existing jewelry I've decided I really don't need to make a lot more for Art in the Garden so the next couple of weeks may not be as hectic as I originally thought. I do have one or two necklace designs swirling around in my head that I will try to make, plus I'd like to get some more precious metals clay pieces done. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 6, 2008

scary weather

We had awful weather yesterday. Big storm systems moved across the state and the region, dropping large hail (quarter to golfball size) in a few places. There were reports of 30 tornados in the midwest throughout the day. We were fortunate in that we only got very heavy rain (about 3/4" in less than an hour), but at 4 p.m. with the storm right overhead it was nearly completely dark outside. Makes a person glad for a basement shelter to go to.

Coming up in two weeks is Art in the Garden, an annual event in our community which combines a tour of several area home/private gardens with the opportunity to view and purchase original artwork. I have participated in this very enjoyable event for several years as an art exhibiter and plan to take part again this year. Since what I usually have on display (and what really appeals to an impulse buyer) is jewelry, I need to get cracking. Fortunately, jewelry making is not an especially time consuming process and I expect to have quite a few new pieces finished quickly. I have a good stock of dyed freshwater pearls on hand and last night took stock of my other beads and findings. Other than probably needing to purchase some clasps and other small bits and pieces I seem to be in pretty good shape. I'll photograph some pieces as I finish them, and plan to put some jewelry on Etsy as well.

I am happy to report I've finished all my garden swap pieces and have mailed off all but two. This was such a fun swap. We'll have to do it again sometime!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

what's blooming in your garden?

Here's what's blooming in mine. Warning: these are NOT my own photos (why take your own when you can kyp them from nursery websites? Besides, I'm never outside with my camera when I have time to snap a pic).

Lollipop lilies, an asiatic variety.

Clematis "Niobe". This plant is having it's most prolific bloom since we planted it, probably a combination of the good wet spring we had and the extra sunshine on that particular flowerbed since our neighbor's tree lost several branches in last winter's ice storms.

This is a New Dawn rose, which isn't what I have but it's a very similar species. Beautiful, delicate shell pink color and a wonderful fragrance.

I cooked an absolutely fabulous pasta dish last night, a Rachael Ray recipe. I thought you all might enjoy it, so here it is:
Not-sagna Pasta Toss

1 pound curly, short-cut pasta, such as Barilla brand capanelle, fusilli or cavatappi
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 pound ground sirloin
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (eyeball it in your palm)
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice (eyeball it in your palm)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (several drops)
1/2 cup dry red wine (a couple of glugs)
1/2 cup beef stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table
1 cup fresh basil (about 20 leaves)

Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Heads up: you will need a ladle of the starchy cooking water before draining to help make the sauce.
Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, two turns of the pan. Add the meat and break it up into small bits as it caramelizes. Once the meat has good color to it, 4-5 minutes, add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes and season with the salt, pepper, allspice and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes, deglaze the meat and onion with the red wine, cook off a minute, then combine about 1/2 cup of stock into the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place the ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a ladleful of boiling, starchy pasta water to the ricotta and stir to combine. Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the ricotta and mix it in.
Drain the pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the cheeses. Add half of the thick meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine. Tear or shred the basil and add to the meat and pasta and toss again. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve bowlfuls of Not-sagna with extra sauce on top and more grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pass at the table.
I served this with crusty Italian bread and a salad made with the lettuce we're growing ourselves. Yummo.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

snake in the grass

We were heading out to the library last night when the kids noticed one of the cats seemed to be playing with something in the grass. On further inspection it turned out to be a fairly decent sized garter snake. The cats were fascinated, patting at the snake, who was trying to hide his poor little head underneath the rest of his body. I'm no snake lover, but I scooped him up and hid him in the undergrowth in the flower bed. Garter snakes are beneficial to gardens, so I figured I owed him some protection. The cats were so keyed up they about jumped out of their skins when touched. They had never come in contact with anything like that before! It was pretty amusing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

treasure trove

I have been remiss in posting all the lovely things I've been getting in my garden swap recently, so I'm attempting to redeem myself today. These adorable ATCs are from Kate. I love the tiny butterflies.

I was thrilled to get this gorgeous book cover from Julie. I've taken photos of the outside and the inside to really give you a good view.

Julie also included two pieces of art paper, one handmade and another painted by her, plus a packet of notepaper, a tiny hanging ornament, and a hank of interesting artsy ribbon. Wonderful!
I love these pieces from Liz. The ATC is one of a set of four she made recently, and the hanging ornament is from a primitive crow pattern, Liz having been exploring the world of primitives lately. Isn't the flowered fabric fun?

Britt really packed a lot into this tiny piece, which is as functional as it is beautiful. On the outside is this wonderfully detailed garden scene, complete with bobbin lace flowers, tiny ladybugs, bees, and a spider in a web, plus any number of wonderful hand embroidered leaves, vines, and blossoms, beads, buttons, and other embellishments. Inside is stitched a piece of felt for organizing my hand sewing needles. If there's anything I could use assistance with, it's organization!

Robin sent these wonderful pieces made from painted and embellished fabric. She says they're out of her usual realm, which surprises me since they're so great. I love the tree on the postcard especially.

The response to this swap has been overwhelming, really much more than I anticipated. Thank you so much to all who have taken part. I am nearly done with my last two items and will send the final mailing soon.
Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, June 2, 2008

teatime at the gallery

The Gallery tea was a huge success yesterday. We served between 70-80 people and everyone had such a good time. They consumed massive quantities of food, which is good because no one wanted to haul a lot of leftovers home. Here's what the tea table looked like before it was demolished.
And here is moi in costume at my serving station. The lovely flowers came from Betty Jo's garden.
Several of the ladies wore hats, which was fun. This is Anne, our resident china painter, with her husband and a friend.

More ladies, with and without hats.

I was definitely footsore by the end of the festivities, but it was a huge success and everyone was very pleased at the turnout and the very fun atmosphere.

Here are a couple more pieces for the garden swap. Above is a tiny canvas, about 3" x 4".
The panel below is 5" square. I've done something different for everyone I've swapped with, which has kept it very interesting for me.
I have received several swap items lately and will post photos of them tomorrow.
Happy Monday, everyone!