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30 November 2012

Color-full World! Welcome to the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color

Welcome to the wonderful world of color!

For the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color we filled up the 80 or so spots that I opened represented by four different continents and a patchwork quilt of countries! I seriously look forward to this hop in particular each year. I am always blown away by how everyone rises to the challenge and pushes their creative limits. I know that this year will be even bigger.bolder.better.brighter!

All glory goes to my good friend and color guru Miss Brandi Hussey. She got so inspired by the 120+ pictures pictures that I found from the Earth As Art exhibit of satellite images that she created each of these 40 palettes that we are using. These images are from the United States Geological Survey and NASA. You can read more about that here. If you haven't met Miss Brandi, be sure and stop by to say hello. I can't recall how I stumbled upon her site, but I am so glad I did! Her color palettes were the first things that hooked me, then her eye for creating timelessly elegant and juicy hued jewelry lured me in to buy some and finally her knowledge about color is outstanding and her soul is generous. Her recent Color Theory 101 series is bookmarked on my computer for frequent reference. You can find those posts here and here and here.

I have to tell you that my Muse went on hiatus right after the sign ups. I heard that happened to a few of you. I think they are in Cahoots. I hope Cahoots was warm and sunny and they had a nice relaxing visit. ;-)

On Wednesday night (yes, just the other day) I knocked my Muse and her companion Motivation over the head with a texturing hammer. I sat them right down and strapped them into a chair. I forced my Muse to bleed creativity for me and my Motivation to keep me engaged and focused. There were more than a few attempts at making a necklace materialize for the Pinacate Volcano Fields. Nothing was working. So I switched gears, gave her a spin on the office chair and came up with a bracelet instead. Nothing mind-blowing to be sure, but it was done. And after I got that one out of my system it allowed me to open myself to other possibilities. I share this to let you know that I suffer the same ills that everyone else does. But sometimes having a challenge like this wakes up my Muse and I know it kicks my Motivation into hyperdrive.

The colors on my monitor and from across the room looked vastly different than what got printed. I understand how frustrating that is! So I didn't tie myself to all six colors on each palette. Sometimes the colors in the palette weren't speaking to me, so I followed the ones that whispered the loudest. But I did force myself to use my stash. It has grown so large over the past year that I can't even put it all away, so I am not sure what I have. These beads are a sickness, I tell you! And I had a goal to put an art bead in each. Actually I started with the art beads and found it amazing that I had beads that suited all 40 palettes.

Now, before you get all crazy on the fact that I did more than one, let me remind you that I am the hostess. And this is my chance to have some special pieces to sell for the holidays and beyond. And it wouldn't look right if the hostess invited you to the party and all she had to serve was a bunch of scalloped potatoes and nothing else. So I did 10. You only saw two that I hand picked for you. But I stared at all 40 every day and it was incredibly hard to narrow it down to just these 10! I have these trays that I put the sparks of an idea into like a little mini Bead Soup to myself. I actually found beads and components and art beads in my stash that would work for all 40 palettes. And I pledge that I will make something for all of them....eventually.

And some of these will be showing up in my Etsy Shop sometime next week. Just in time for gifting ;-)

Speaking of sparks, I know that once you see all the palettes you will be inspired, so I will be loading up the permalinks to the blog posts below as I go through them for easy return visits. I will also post each of your designs to a special Pinterest board with links back to you, and I will eventually compile all 40 palettes on a special page on my blog (or my website. Haven't decided yet.). That way you can come back at any time you need a challenge or an inspiration.

On with the show! Since you have suffered through enough of my words already, I will just let the palettes and the pieces I have created speak for themselves. (I know. Shocker, right? ;-)

Meandering earrings
Marsha Neal Studios ceramic disks
Vintaj brass disks, head pins, ear wires and jump rings
vintage glass pearls and freshwater pearls



Great Sandy necklace
Humblebeads long tube bead and disk bead
Vintage brushed aluminum chain
waxed linen

crystal and resin beads

North America necklace (a Christmas gift for my long time best friend Lynna!)
Shell, freshwater pearl, Czech glass, lucite, shell mosaic beads, crystals, hematite with copper accents
This is a variation of my Toast of the Town necklace created exclusively for Michaels.com
To see the blog hop of variations and get a copy of the instructions, click here


Lake Amadeus necklace
polymer clay bead from Pam Wynn
green apatite, blue apatite, amethyst
leather, figure 8 connectors and rhinestone clasp


Richat necklace
raku flower button from Lisa Peters Art
sodalite briolettes, blue goldstone magnetic clasp plus some sort of cracked and dyed magnesite perhaps?



Colima necklace
cracked matte fire agate, the same sort of cracked and dyed stone as the last one (anyone know what that is?), Czech faceted glass, pewter daisy spacers, matte peanut beads, sterling silver toggle, ceramic focal lentil Chinook Jewelry, Humblebeads disk bead, amazonite briolette

  
Pinacate bracelet
lampwork focal from Julsbeads, pyrite ovals, lava stone rounds, citrine faceted ovals, blue goldstone, gold vermeil bicones, magnetic clasp






Magical River Delta necklace
'magic' word bead from Diane Hawkey, Humblebeads disks, one of my very own enamel beads (woot!), faux sea glass, brass stars and toggle clasp





Namib bracelet
brushed nickel rollo chain, charcoal gray waxed linen thread
agate, resin, green labradorite, a truly amazing lampwork glass bead from Melissa Rediger of Sea of Glass, amazonite, Swarovski crystal, not sure what this is but Miss Brandi could tell me because I bought it from her ;-)
Last but not least, I added this one that just came back to me from a publication that rejected it :-(
and it seemed like the perfect match for Campeche! Serendipity!

raku flower button from Lisa Peters Art, turquoise nuggets, bayang wood slats, snowflake obsidian, ceramic round from Marsha Neal Studios, teal waxed linen, magnetic clasp


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As happens every year, the detours in our life sometimes get in the way of our best intentions. That happens. Please don't think that I am worried about it! Some of the hoppers in the list below might not have a post...or might have one later. Consider showing them some love and support anyway! They will be with us in spirit.

Please enjoy this virtual house party with all my colorful friends!:



Would you like to win of my Illuminated Chevron reversible necklaces in your choice of two colors? Just leave a comment on this post as to which of the ten palettes I selected to design is your favorite palette. (Please note: I need a way to contact you if you win. If you do not have an email turned on in your profile for ease in reaching you, please leave that in your comment.)
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Inspired?
Want to join in the fun next time? 
The Challenges are held quarterly in February, May, August and November.
Check back here the first week in February for sign ups for the 2nd Annual Challenge of Music!


26 November 2012

The Best Gift Ever

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  
~ Dr Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Tesori Trovati Annual Holiday Sale is on!

I don't do a lot of sales in my Etsy shop but I like to give people the opportunity to get a good deal on their Holiday shopping. It is my gift to you! For being so supportive of me and for encouraging me to try new things. I am where I am because of you.

I am participating in the Artisan Whimsy Market 2012 Holiday Collection. There are 45 shops participating and each has a unique discount code. Plus there are giveaways from all the players, and that totals over $1300 in great gifts!

Here are the codes for my shop:

AWHOLIDAY = 15% off    OR   FREESHIP = free shipping

Both codes are good until Friday, December 30th in my Etsy Shop.

And be sure to hop on over to Artisan Whimsy and see all the other great offers. You might just get your gift shopping done in record time!

I promised that I would give away something to one lucky random commenter. So I will give away one of my new limited edition Botanical Birds that are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop. These birds are a good size for either a large focal pendant or a beautiful ornament to decorate your home for the holidays. The winner can choose from one of four designs and I will make it and wrap it up in time for all your gift giving needs. Value: $25

Your choices:
Top to bottom:
Holly
Mistletoe
Pine Bough (P.S. Your bird will have feet!)
Poinsettia

Winner will be notified by email on December 1st.

I love your comments and even more so I love to have a conversation with you. In order to win, you MUST have your email turned on in your profile, OR you need to put your email in your comment. I am sorry if that seems miserly to some, but I have to have a way to follow up with you! A good way to tell if you are entered is if I reply to your comment. Any comments without a way to contact you if you win are appreciated, but will not be entered.

Answer the following:

What is the best gift that you have ever received?


22 November 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”


 ~ Albert Schweitzer
I wouldn't be where I am today without people who believed in me. I am not unaware of this fact at other times of the year, and I do hope that people know that I appreciate them always. But this is the time of year when we turn inward and realize our blessings are abundant and then turn outward to be sure to let those in our world know this. If you are reading this, you are part of my world. You are the lighter of my inner flame. You have helped me to become the person, the artist that is within me. For this, I am most grateful.

I am celebrating this thankful time with family and friends. There will be a whole lot of turkey and mashed potatoes and candy apple salad (not sure you can call a dish that is filled with chopped up Snickers candy bars and whipped cream a 'salad,' but I won't be complaining!) and red velvet cupcakes and cheesecake and pumpkin pie consumed tomorrow. I am sure there will be some football on t.v. And hopefully the first showing of one of my favorite holiday movies, A Christmas Story. We will be working on making the house festive this weekend, including putting up our customary forest of lit trees on our front porch and painting and crafting a whole new mantlescape that I will hopefully share with you in a few days.

I know that people are starting their holiday shopping. Are you one of those shoppers who camps out or makes a plan of attack for Black Friday? Not me. I can't believe that there will be people spending time in line at stores to save a few bucks on some things, rather than spending it with those they love focusing on them. I just don't get it. I haven't even thought about making out a wish list, and I have no idea what I might be gifting to anyone. But that doesn't stop me from creating holiday themes. And I love a good online sale. So I am debuting these to you now rather than waiting until the frosty month of December rolls around. And read on for the sale.

Every year for as long as I can remember I have created an ornament. It started with my favorite project of 3rd grade made from slices of toilet paper rolls painted white and dusted with glitter, poked through with toothpicks and held together with a healthy dose of white glue. Last year I debuted my first Simple Truths ornaments. This year I am carrying on the tradition.

I like themes that stand the test of time, something I can leave up for more than just one month, and snow is the first thing I think of for winter. When I was a teacher I would wait for that first real snowfall. You could tell that it was coming because the kids would be really squirrelly the day before. They are good barometers. I would then drop the lesson plan for the day and break out the white paper and scissors and teach them all about the right way to cut a snowflake. Always with 6 sides. I would show overhead pictures of the first microscopic photographs of snow crystals. It still thrills me to see them! These Simple Truths are called "Frosted Flakes" because that is what they look like to me! They are tiny little charms that would look sweet on a simple necklace, or dangling from your ears or off a charm bracelet, but they could also be made into a sweet and dainty ornament. Since no two flakes are alike, each pair will be mismatched. That is how they are in nature, that is how they are here. The silver lacy bezels are 'Frosted Flakes - Steel' for their icy color; the brass lacy bezels are 'Frosted Flakes - Ginger' like the frosting on the roof of our traditional gingerbread house.
frosted flakes - snowflakes - simple truths charms - AWHOLIDAY
Frosted Flakes - Ginger
While I love the idea of snow, I really dislike being in it. I like it through the window, but not so much up close. Still, snow is very beautiful and I have quite a collection of snowfolk including handmade stockings with individual snowfolk on each of them. Each year I make a new snowfolk ornament. I don't repeat them, so that makes them collectible from year to year. This year I have created three different snowfolk. These are shown without a message, but I had originally intended to put a message on them of 'let it snow.' I can't believe I forgot. But I like them as they are. They have quite the personalities! They are available in shiny silver as shown, and in a few days I will have my new shipment of bezels in antique copper, antique brass and antique silver as well.
 

snowfolk - hooray for snow - simple truths ornament or pendant - MADE TO ORDER - awholiday
l to r
hooray for snow
it's snow, man
snow much fun
 The final ornament of 2012 is from one of my favorite childhood memories. I can recall when there were only two channels on my television and we would wait all year until the Christmas cartoon specials were on. And for those of you younger than me (considerably younger!), you might not realize that they were not run on channels ad nauseum until the Big Day. There was no such thing as the '25 Days of Christmas' cartoon countdown. You got to see them once and that was it. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (really, all of those same stop action animations) is one of the best and most iconic. I found a reindeer that is not really Rudolph looking, but I wanted to class it up. I call this 'Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?' and it is an ornate reindeer in brown and beige with a bright red Swarovski crystal nose.
 

reindeer - won't you guide my sleigh tonight - simple truths ornament or pendant - MADE TO ORDER - awholiday
Won't You Guide My Sleigh Tonight?
I am participating in the Artisan Whimsy Market 2012 Holiday Collection. A whole group of talented jewelry designers and art bead makers are in on the fun. For one week, there will be discounts in all their stores (45!), including mine, and plenty of giveaways, too. Over $1300 worth! Here are the participants:









If you are on Etsy you can find participating shops by typing in AWHOLIDAY to bring up listings that will link you to their shops. AWHOLIDAY is also an event wide discount, with each store offering something special from Friday, November 23-Friday, November 30th. This is our way of saying thank you for shopping handmade and for supporting the artisans and makers this holiday season.

Here are my codes good only in my Etsy Shop:

  • AWHOLIDAY = 15% off your purchase (discounts do not apply to Sampler Clubs)
    OR
  • FREESHIP = free shipping on all domestic and international orders

These offers will only be available from 11/22-11/30. Orders will start shipping on Monday, November 26th. And if it is a made to order item it will take a few days for me to complete. Please be patient!

I will be sharing a giveaway next week. And the Challenge of Color is coming up with the reveal date on November 30th. Would it freak you out to know that I haven't even started on mine yet? It is freaking me out a bit! But I will make it work! 


16 November 2012

Nunn Design Innovation Team: Call for 2013

I can recall vividly the moment that I found the Nunn Design Innovation Team call last year. It was about this time of year, it was very late at night, and I was feeling like I needed some direction. Or at least some challenge. And there it was. 

We are seeking artists who love to push the envelope. Are you an innovator? A trendsetter? Do you work in varied mediums (paper, resin, polymer, epoxy, metals, fiber, and more)? If you’re a creative powerhouse who wants to work on the inside of innovation, an artisan of any medium —we want to know about you.

I remember answering those questions... yes.... yes.... yes. From there it was an easy step to click the application button and fill it out. 

{This ring design is my favorite and I am making loads of these for Christmas!}
I recall meeting Becky Nunn for the first time at the 2009 Bead & Button show. It might have been one of the first times that they were displaying there. I was smitten with the bezels in their Patera line and the way it was combined with these waterslide transfers and filled with a fast setting Gel du Soleil resin. I was hooked! As I am wont to do, I immediately bought all that I could get my hands on from them. From there it was easy to set up my wholesale account and start buying in bulk. 

What I love about the components from Nunn Designs are the quality of them. I was never one to use precious metals in my work, so it never bothered me when the price of sterling rose through the roof. I love to mix metals and I love to find innovative ways to use materials that are presented to me.

Imagine my surprise when Becky called me the next day after receiving my application. She was happy that I had applied, and I was stunned that not only did she know who I was, but she would actually call me herself! Since this was the first time that she was doing a design team, she was very interested in my prior experience working on teams from small artisan bead maker teams to larger more corporate entities. I was impressed that she would ask for my opinion. I remember leaving the conversation filled with a great deal of respect of Miss Becky and her company.

The designers that were chosen for the 2012 Nunn Design Innovation Team are quite an incredible group. Please be sure to go and check them out!


I feel very honored to have had a place at the table with them. They have really pushed the creative limits and shown me some marvelous ideas for using the products. I love what they have done with mixed metals and especially mixed media. There is an elegance and a playfulness in all that has been created from the team this year.

{Aren't these shield shapes awesome? I am thinking up ways to incorporate these into my Simple Truths for the spring.}

I met Miss Stephanie and Miss Rochelle at the Bead & Button Show this year while having dinner with Miss Becky and her friend and fellow designer Miss Donna Musarra. It was such a treat and a real highlight of my time there. Actually, it was a hoot! There was a lot of laughter at that table. At that time we were introduced to the new fall line of shield shaped bezels, religious medallions and various chains including my new favorite the rhinestone cup chain. The next day I even bumped into Miss Stephanie again at my new favorite gemstone vendor's booth and it seems that we share a love of sparkly rough faceted stones!

{Glitter filled glass tube pendant with waterslide decals of mermaids on the outside covered in a thin layer of resin, like a water globe. I had to really experiment with this one and I am so happy with the way it turned out!}
Over the course of the year, I received several boxes of treasures from Nunn Design. Each new thing has sparked new ideas and Becky gave me the push to try new-to-me techniques. I played around with polymer clay stained with inks and layered with decals. I stamped the metal blanks and mixed my metals. I experienced the versatility of Crystal Clay and new ways with resin. In short, it was a great experience.
{Crystal Clay embedded in a channel tube bead, set with a piece of filigree and dusted with micro glitter. See the tutorial here.}
With each new release, we’ll send you a Goody Box of secret treasures ready for you to play and experiment with. Then you’ll send us a minimum of two finished pieces of jewelry made from these secret treasures. With your pieces, you’ll include detailed, written instructions on how each was created (including a list of any tools and supplies that were used). And you’ll promote Nunn Design through your preferred social media pathways.

When I first started my Simple Truths line of polymer clay pendants, I started with the Nunn Patera findings, and still use them for some of my designs. They are such a nice quality plating and I appreciate the very unique shapes. I specifically appreciate the double sided ones. They were the start of all my Simple Truths messages.

My favorites are the toggle clasps,


the tiny squares and circles,


and the large tube bead channels.


They were the foundation for my success at the start of my own line of pendants and they still form a strong supporting role in my Simple Truths line.
 
I love the quality and heft of the chain, particularly the textured oval link chain. Having open links in a chain is very important to me so I don't waste the chain with cuts. I also love the new rhinestone chain in various sizes and metals. Copper has always been a signature color for me, and I love that it comes in this finish.


I use a lot of the Nunn branch connectors in my work. I like the way they add a subtle texture. Little leafy toggles and connectors, as well as the array of cute bead caps is always a nice staple to have at my disposal since I tend to do a lot of things that are nature-inspired.

So.....what are you doing for 2013? Are you looking to challenge yourself, push your creative boundaries and try new things? What are you waiting for? 


Become a part of the inner circle.
Become an architect of innovation.
Become a source of inspiration.
The Nunn Design Innovation Team
Innovate. Create. Inspire.

If you are ready to play a part in the Nunn Design Innovation Team for 2013, click here for more details.

Today I am honored to be featured on the Nunn Design blog.
Such nice things that Miss Becky has to say about me, I am most certainly blushing! ;-)

Thank you to Miss Becky, the whole Nunn Design crew, and especially my fellow Nunn Design Innovation Team members for inspiring me in 2012. I am truly honored to collaborate and support all of you and I look forward to the innovation that the 2013 team will bring.


14 November 2012

Meatloaf, Smeatloaf, Double-Beatloaf


"Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf," Randy says forlornly.

"All right," shouts Mr. Parker. "I'll get that kid to eat. Where's my screwdriver and my plumber's helper? I'll open up his mouth and I'll shove it in."

Ralphie just shrugs his shoulders and dives right in.

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That scene in A Christmas Story (one of my top 5 Christmas movies) is a classic. They are having meatloaf for dinner and Randy - the younger, fussier brother - whines about it.

Last night I served meatloaf. It is my favorite recipe adapted from the Southern Living Homestyle Cooking cookbook called Horseradish Meatloaf.

I know what you are thinking. Ewwww to the horseradish. Don't be such a whiner. I grew up with a great appreciation for horseradish. My dad was a connoisseur. Especially when mixed with ketchup on his polska kielbasa. ;-)

For those that think they don't like the flavor, I usually don't tell them this has horseradish in it until they taste it and exclaim it as delicious. Then I come clean and they are always surprised. But the horseradish is the secret ingredient and does, indeed, make this flavor out of this world!

The only thing I dislike about making meatloaf (besides getting my hands all mushy) is the fact that it takes so long to bake. Even in the mini loaf pans that I buy in bulk.

But when I saw this picture from Pinterest...


...I knew that would be the solution! Cooks up way faster and perfect portion sizes, too!

I whipped up the ingredients and popped the balls in the muffin tins. From this one batch I got 22 tins full.
They cooked in about 30 minutes. I will never make meatloaf in a loaf pan again.

And while that was cooking I threw in some carrots to roast in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and honey. They were okay, except I put on too much vinegar and not nearly enough honey. I usually steam some baby carrots and then add them to a sauce pan with melted butter, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt and pepper. I call them candy carrots and it is the only way I will eat them next to raw. Next time I will try doing that in the oven instead!

You have to have mashed potatoes with meatloaf. It is a law, right? I know that I could wash and peel and poke and cut and boil and then mash, but I don't have that kind of time. Nor patience. So I bought two packages from my pal Bob Evans of already whipped mashed potatoes in both plain butter and garlic and then mixed the two. Voila! Dinner is served!


Horseradish Meatloaf
2 pounds ground beef (I use 85% lean)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C. oatmeal (but next time I am going to try dry bread crumbs instead)
1/2 C. ketchup
1 T. horseradish (or more if you are like me!)
1/4 C. milk (but a dash of worcestshire sauce might be a good alternative)
1/2 onion, finely minced (I didn't mince fine enough. Next time it might be 1 t. onion powder instead.)
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 C. finely diced cheese (try crumbled Cotswald Cheddar for great flavor. I used a basil asiago that we happened to have which was also good.)

Sauce:
1/2 C. ketchup
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. horseradish
2 t. spicy brown or dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix all meatloaf ingredients together well (Although messy, it’s easiest to do this with your hands). Roll the meat mixture into a large balls and press into a greased muffin tin.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. (I actually don't measure. I just go by feeling on this). Spoon half of the sauce mixture on top of the meatloaf. Place meatloaf in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.
4. Spoon remaining sauce over the top and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for an additional 5 minutes before serving.


A few fun facts about meatloaf:

  • Meatloaf traces its origins back to German traditions, but just about every country has a variety from Austria, Finland, Macedonia and even Vietnam. 
  • During the Great Depression, meatloaf was a way to stretch a food budget using inexpensive meats and other leftover ingredients along with spices and cereal grains to bind it together and make it go farther.
  • Meatloaf is interchangeable with meatballs and is traditionally served with some sort of sauce over the top. Either a tomato based sauce, a simple gravy or even barbecue sauce is popular.
  • Some people 'frost' their meatloaf with mashed potatoes, drizzling with butter and browning in the oven. Now that would make the muffin tin idea really work!
  • Meatloaf is typically served warm as a main dish, but a lot of people like to eat it cold the next day as a sandwich meat and many diners and restaurants today are finding the charm of this humble comfort food.

What is your favorite meatloaf memory? Is there anything different or surprising that you like to include in your recipe? Do tell!

12 November 2012

Art Charm Swap :: Laugh

I never would have made it if I could not have laughed.
It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.
— Viktor Frankl

Last year I got in on a special art charm swap that Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions was hosting. When I saw the sign ups this year I knew that I had to get in no matter how busy I was going to be!

This time there are way more people involved which makes the element of surprise that much greater! Miss Jen was posting pictures of packages that would come in each day and little teasers on Facebook and that was so much fun! I don't know how she did it, but she got them all, and then made each of us a set of art charms that were handmade by all the talented people. I have some really fun charms in my collection now! As if swapping handmade charms was not fun enough, Miss Jen had us send her an extra one to put in an auction on eBay to benefit Beads of Courage.

What is Beads of Courage?

I am glad you asked!

Beads of Courage is a non-profit organization that gathers beads and charms that are then gifted to children undergoing treatment for serious life threatening illnesses. The different beads signify different milestones in their treatment and the children string them on these necklaces that they wear as a sort of talisman to make it through the ordeal. It is a source of great pride and also a bit of storytelling and remembering this very important part of their lives. For our part, we were asked to make an extra charm that would be auctioned off for the Beads of Courage organization.

Jen decided our theme would be LAUGH since this is for a children's charity, and those who are facing the kinds of treatments that these kids are leave little room for being a kid, so LAUGH just made sense!

I knew that my charm would be in my 'Simple Truths' style - polymer clay in a metal bezel that has been stamped, tinted and painted, antiqued and highlighted and then sealed with a preservation wax. But what would fit the theme?


I was searching for a stamp that would evoke something lighthearted when I stumbled upon this cute little birdie cartoon in a jaunty little hat with a flower. The message on the stamp was 'Chirp Up!" As soon as I saw it I actually let out a chuckle, so right then I knew I had found my subject. And what better message to those young patients than to keep it positive. I am not a pollyanna when it comes to these tough health issues, but we all know that attitude is everything. And you have to make the most of every day while you are here. I sure as heck don't want to be wasting my time being sour, so 'chirp up' it is!
 

I decided to just stamp the birdie on the front and the message "chirp up, buttercup" on the back.  I hope that this gives someone a reason to smile and remember that there is nothing so bad that can't be made better by a smile.

In keeping with the playful attitude of this birdie and the theme, I decided to make them in an array of bright crayon colors: orange and blue and green and pink and purple and red and teal and yellow.

And it was very late when I took this picture, so I apologize for the fuzziness, but I thought you might like to see the cool charms that I got in my package.

Left to Right:
1: Sweet little embossed owl from Cheri Mitchell-Reed
2: Enameled flower charm from Melissa Meman of Melismatic
3: A clever 'Break In Case of Emergency Laughs' complete with hammer and grins by Deb Kauzlarich
4: A pretty glass bead the reminds me of a tulip with intricate bead embroidery by Shannon Hicks
5: A polymer clay birdie on a stamped leather disk from Cassi Paslick
6: A gorgeous polymer clay bead - do you see a funny face? - from Alenka Obid of Pepita in Slovenia (!)
7: This looks like the man in the moon to me in copper clay from Kristi Bowman
8: Funny little glass alien from our hostess Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions
9: My 'Chirp Up Buttercup' birdie charm
10: A dottie glass bead with a silver bead cap stamped 'giggle' by Carol Watson






I haven't decided yet what I am going to do with all the fun charms that I received. I think I want to live with them a bit more and enjoy them. I like to hold art beads in my hand and channel the artist who made each one and marvel at the beauty that came forth from their hands to mine. And at some point they will speak to me and I will make them into something special and worthy of their love and light!

Thank you Miss Jen, for hosting this challenge and for all the hard work that you put into it. I always enjoy partying with you!

Please go to Jennifer's blog Glass Addictions and see what all the other participants made. And be sure to visit the auction for your chance to win some beautiful art charms and know that your donation will be going to such a worthy cause to bring some cheer to those that need it most!

06 November 2012

Exercise Your Right

"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt



In 1980, I was 12 years old.

I recall vividly that this was the first time that I was keenly aware of politics. Probably because Mrs. Danforth, my seventh grade teacher, was giving us a glimpse of the way our government works through our civics class, but also because it was the Presidential election between candidates Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The day of the election every kid in school - from kindergarten to eighth grade - was given a slip with the names of the candidates on it. We filed past the office and dropped our ballot in the ballot box decorated with red, white and blue streamers and buntings.

I can recall that I selected the only name that I had really heard of in my house. And the feeling of triumph when it was announced at the end of the school day who had won the popular vote at Saint Stephen's Elementary School. I had picked the winning team!

Flash forward a few years to 1986. I was 18 and a freshman in college. I don't recall much in the way of political action on the campus that I was attending, and the biggest campaign in Wisconsin was for governor that year. I remember feeling very grown up that I could walk into the polling place on campus and be given the paper ballot to fill out. But I realized when I got in the booth that I had no knowledge of either candidate aside from the name that I had heard at home over the summer.

After I cast my ballot for governor and tried to muddle through the convoluted meaning of some referendums on the ballot that day, I remember walking back to my dorm rather confused.

Instead of feeling empowered and all grown up, I felt more unsure and childlike.

I had just voted for a candidate in my first election ever and I had not bothered to pay attention to who he really was, to find out if I agreed with him, to know what was even important to me, and not to just vote because it was a name I heard at the dinner table at home, or because they had the biggest and fanciest signs around town.

I had an epiphany.

I vowed right then and there that I would really investigate the candidates running for office, pay attention to character - not just what they said, but how they said it and more importantly, what they did - and decide in my own heart what was most important to me.

I have voted in every election since.

Every four years, I am sort of a pariah in my family. I am seen as the black sheep, the one that goes against the grain because my views are not the same as my parents. I am frequently the butt of condescending behing-the-back chuckling, almost to the point of feeling like they are ashamed of me, and it is painful to feel the arrogance and derision that comes around once every four years. Suffice it to say that the subject of politics is not one that comes up around our Thanksgiving table.  I would hope that my family would be happy that they raised me to be free thinking, someone who sees the act of voting as an important duty, questioning the candidates and their positions and voting with my heart. But that is not the case.

I will tell you that I don't believe in party line voting because I feel that it is lazy and dangerous and irresponsible - no matter which party you align yourself with - and for that reason I have always firmly stated that I am in independent, not affiliated with any party, taking a critical look at all candidates and perfectly willing to vote for candidates of any persuasion if I feel that they best represent my voice. And because of this, I am one of those undecideds until I step into that booth. All those glossy postcards and robo-calls and increasingly ridiculous TV and radio ads directed at swinging my vote.

{Seriously. We have an ad on the radio right now that is two women talking over coffee about deciding between two candidates for Senate. The topic centers around the candidate in question as a good husband and father, to which the other girl says, "And he's the cute one, right?" WTH...So now we are asked to vote for a candidate who is cute?!@?*!? If it wasn't so infuriating that women are portrayed as superficial and only caring for a person's looks, it would sound just like an SNL skit and be hilariously funny. But it is not. It is real.} 

When McCain chose his running mate in 2008, it was with great fanfare that they first appeared in our state, near where my sister lives. She was beside herself with giddiness that it was a woman and suggested that she thought I would be voting for that ticket simply BECAUSE of the fact that we shared the same chromosomes. Um. No. I love my sister dearly, but that sort of thinking scares me. That is as ridiculous as saying that you are voting for the "cute one." Or because you share the same race. Or that the candidate happens to be from your state.

My daughter came home yesterday and announced that they would be casting ballots today for the President at her school. She wondered aloud if her vote would be added to the national election ;-). I explained that no, her vote was not added to the national tally, but this was just a way to understand what is meant by exercising her right to vote and that everyone - every single person in the United States - has that right. There are people in other countries who don't have this right, there was a time when women here didn't have that right, so it is not something to be taken lightly. I asked her to read a bit about the candidates and decide with her heart whom she felt would be the best to govern our country. I also told her that her vote is her own and it doesn't change my feeling for her one bit if she doesn't cast a ballot for the same candidate that I do.

I want my children to grow up and take this right seriously, to find out what matters most to them, and to be informed about their decisions. I look forward to having discussions with them in the future, and I will never insult their intelligence by telling them who I expect they will vote for. I want them to know that I will not belittle their choice but will celebrate them taking part in the process.

And I especially want them to know that I will love them all the more for casting that ballot no matter whom which candidate gets their vote.

Please, go and vote today.
 Vote with your conscience and your heart. 
Just vote.


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