28 July 2009

Giveaways and more giveaways!

"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Some cool giveaways....

My friend Heather Powers of Humblebeads just came back from a month of vacation at the beach all fired up to whip her studio into shape. I enjoy seeing glimpses into the studios of artists so this was particularly fun. But Heather is having a giveaway of some earrings. But hurry! The giveaway is only for today! Go here to read all about it.

And another bloggy friend, the great and talented glass bead artist Cindy Gimbrone is also having a fun giveaway. Check it out here.

And those fine folks at Interweave are holding an earring swap in honor of the new book 101 Wire Earrings by Denise Peck. Heather Powers likes the book so much that she has been crazy inspired to make all sorts of earring designs. I have to get a copy of this book. But participating in a swap with a couple thousand of my closest bead-y and blogg-y friends is too fun to resist. You can read the rules here. So...not a giveaway per se, but a swap to receive a randomly fabulous pair of earrings. How cool is that?
But the mother of all giveaway is happening on my friend Lorelei's blog. She is a fantastic artist and someone I admire deeply. She is teaming up with the great people at Green Girl Studios to promote Cynthia Thornberg's upcoming book Enchanted Adornments. She will be giving away a whopping 8 prize packages between now and November 2nd! WOW! Count me in! If you want to get in, too, check it out here.
And not to be outdone, I have a July giveaway of my own.

My friend Tom Girolamo just published his first book, Your Eco-Friendly Yard. Tom is a passionate and fun-loving person who really takes his mission to produce lifestyle-centric landscapes to heart. His book is fun and informative and has more than a few tips that even me with my black thumb and aversion to getting my hands dirty could do. You can read about the book at Amazon here.

And here is my review:

It means different things to different people.

Everything from cars to washing detergent to anything in between is being touted these days as Eco-Friendly.

What I think of as Eco-Friendly is a friend of the earth....someone who practices what he preaches....who cares for this place called Earth and shows that in every aspect of his living...who believes wholeheartedly in the truth that we are one people on one planet and we all must do what we can to make ourselves more sustainable while protecting and conserving our natural resources. That person is Tom Girolamo.

I have heard Tom Girolamo speak on numerous occasions. Tom is a perfect blend of entertaining enlightenment. There is one thing that defines who he is: Passion.

Tom is passionate about creating landscapes that suit your lifestyle and are therefore sustainable. There is nothing he likes better than to design a beautiful outdoor space that is inviting and Earth-friendly, or take your existing landscape and re-work it to make it fit your present and future lifestyle.

Tom shows his passion for sustainability throughout his book. And he is not into cookie-cutter landscape plans but really wants to tailor a space to be perfect for you.

Tom is a passionate educator. He has a great sense of humor and a warmth that always shines through in his presentations, and this book is no different. Since I have met Tom personally and heard him give educational talks on this very subject, I really enjoyed how his personality shines through in this book. It doesn't read like a textbook, but rather like having a conversation with a trusted friend who happens to know an awful lot of practical advice about landscapes and outdoor spaces.

Tom is a passionate about having fun. I love his ideas on things that are not what I would typically think of when planning a landscape...like the pleasures of outdoor shower rooms and a wood fired brick oven for entertaining. He really takes the time to get to know who his clients are to ensure that their landscape is not just pretty green space that is viewed through their windows, but rather an extension of their living spaces, integrated perfectly into their lives.

If you are looking for a fun, informative and passionate guide to help you create a personalized ecosystem for your green space, then Your Eco-friendly Yard: Sustainable Ideas to Save You Time, Money and the Earth is a great book for you or as a gift for anyone who loves the Earth."

If you would like to win a copy of the book (and a suitably earthy piece of surprise jewelry from me!), please leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

If you could have a yard makeover, what is the one thing that you would like to have to ensure that your greenscape fit your lifestyle?

I will choose a random winner of my July Giveaway for a copy of Tom Girolamo's book Your Eco-Friendly Yard on Saturday, August 1st.

Check It Out::Landscapes 4 Life
Enjoy the day!

Opportunities Come, Opportunities Go

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, and with a new game every day, that's the way baseball is."
~Bob Feller

(An Iowa farm boy who became a star for baseball's Cleveland Indians, Bob Feller ,born 1918, threw harder than any pitcher of his generation. Six times, he won 20 or more games in a season, and he set new standards as a strikeout artist. Feller also won medals for his service as a Navy aircraft gunner in World War II.)

Last weekend was the final hurrah of the traveling baseball season. It was a great weekend filled with zany weather, more cheeseburgers and cheese curds and ice cream sandwiches consumed than I care to admit (what? That is about as balanced a ballpark meal as you can get!), and some great baseball. I can't thank my son Sport-O enough for being a part of this team. I have had the opportunity to see my son doing that which he does best, surrounded by families that I am proud to call friends. It has brought me much joy.

Now that it is over, I can resume my regularly scheduled life. I can start the hunt for school clothes and new backpacks. I can buy school supplies for my kids and help those who don't have any with Project Fresh Start. I might be able to take in a movie or two. Who knows? I might even finish a book or actually cook a meal at home (if I remember how). But really, I can get back to making art and being creative.

I have missed my studio. It is a hot mess, but it is mine (I am working on the mess part). I am ready to create (just as soon as I can carve out a space to do so and unearth those supplies that I bought so long ago and have misplaced under the clutter). I have watched as my cyber-friends have been blogging about all the creative sessions they have participated in and the vacations at the beach that they have been on. And I have been green with envy. But my time is now and I need to make the best of it. I have the opportunity to take my art in new directions and chart my own course to greatness. I intend to do just that.

Did I ever mention that I had a goal of being published once per month in 2009? Well, at the end of June I actually reached that goal. (Yay me!) I sent off my pieces for December 2009 for Bead Trends. And I almost missed an opportunity due to a technological glitch. But I am happy to say that not only did that opportunity find me, but it was even better than expected (stay tuned on that one). It seems a tad early to set a goal for 2010, but I think I would like to continue my drive to be published, and I am currently creating a portfolio of my successes to spur me on.

I am blessed with opportunities. One of them happened to me early on in my journey: an invitation to have my work represented on commission in a local gallery of a very talented goldsmith. That partnership was a huge stepping stone for me. It helped me not only to believe that I am an artist, but gave me an audience for my my very best work. From November of 2007 until today I was lucky to be the only other jewelry artist represented at Brody's Custom Design Goldsmith besides the talented Brody himself. Today that door is closing. Brody's decision seemed difficult for him to make, but for the sake of his own store, he needs to move on and my designs just won't fit anymore. This isn't something that I was surprised about. I suspected over the past few months that this might come. Am I sad? A little. But I wish him all the best and feel honored that I can call him my friend. I will do anything to see that he succeeds. I am ever grateful for the opportunity that he gave me. And I intend to leave that door ajar in case there might be possibilities in the future.

This spring I was invited to be an exhibiting artist at a new gallery in downtown Stevens Point. The Gallery Q Artists' Cooperative is a new venue for me. I had the courage to see the possibilities that lay on the other side, and I walked on through. And after having been open only one month, I have my first check from sales there. There are so many good things that are bound to come from this opportunity and I have my eyes wide open. So one door closes and another one opens. Ebb and flow.

I continue to embrace the opportunities that allow me to challenge myself in creating new and better things. This is one of my entries called "Sacred Stag" in the July Art Bead Scene challenge based on the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Through these challenges I have had the opportunity to meet many talented artists and designers and take part in a community that promotes creativity which in turn has led to more inspiration.

Change is a hard pill to swallow, yet it is happening all the time. Change allows you to grow. Change pushes you in new directions. Change drop kicks you out of your comfort zone. Change is a good challenge for the soul. I like change as much as I like challenges and surprises.

And that is good, because I sense that bigger changes and more intriguing challenges and even better surprises are coming for me.

Check It Out::Ornamental (Nina Bagley is truly one of the most talented designers, with the most deeply eloquent styles, and someone that I have had the opportunity to follow along my journey. She is a role model for me on how to live and be creative. Do check her out.)

Enjoy the day!

16 July 2009

On the Road Again...

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open." ~Jawaharlal Nehru
Russ Troll hit the road over the 4th of July holiday in search of...what else....inspiration?'

He started his tour by hopping in the car early on the morning of the 3rd. So early in fact that he dozed for awhile. When he woke up he saw the strangest site....a pink elephant! If you know where this pink elephant is located, do tell in the comments!

Being the fearless little troll that he is, Russ decided to get up close and personal with said pink pachyderm while I took a pit stop and filled up on some snacks. I wonder what they had to talk about??? (Russ took a bit of a spill from that elephants trunk and stubbed his toe. Owww!)

We got back on the road. We cranked the tunes and sang all our favorite songs at the top of our lungs (although I think I may have blew his ear drums out with my crooning!). We were admiring the beautiful rock formations and noted that they reminded us of the July Art Bead Scene challenge. The inspiration this month is the famed cave paintings at Lascaux. You can watch the coolest cave pictures here. The bluffs we traveled through as we went further south had the same colorations and markings. It was easy to get lost in time.

Speaking of the Caves at Lascaux....here is the piece that I made for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge...tell me what you think of "Betty's Rubble" with brown lava beads from Rings & Things (from my June blog partner goodies), Vintaj hook clasp, black leather cord and an awesome polymer clay bead from Pam Wynn....

And get lost we did! All of a sudden, there was a massive bridge looming in front of us. I peeked at the trip odometer to see that I was about 18 miles beyond where I should have been. No worries. Life is a daring adventure, or nothing. Seeing no where to turn, we quickly approached to see that this bridge spanned a most massive river. The Mississippi, I surmised. But was I headed to Minnesota or Iowa? Hmmmm.....

We ended up in downtown Dubuque. Quaint and charming city by the river this is. I was there once when I was little. Lots of hilly streets, so much in fact that they have the most delightful trolley car that goes to the top of the bluff and back down. Great views.

After a quick pit stop to confirm that I was, indeed, in the wrong state, I got back on the highway. We went over another bridge, this time into Illinois. From there it was a quick 10 mile trip down the road to our destination. Not so lost after all....

Driving into downtown Galena is like going back to another era. The Victorians knew how to build some beautiful architecture. Galena, IL is the home of Ulysses S. Grant. Although I didn't tour it I did see the beautiful mansion on the hill above the river.

The row of multi-story, brick buildings narrowly lining the main street in Galena just steps from the river seems so Hollywood backlot. In fact, the movie Field of Dreams filmed some scenes here when they go to visit Doc Graham. There is a very unique array of stores (at which I couldn't edit myself!), coffee shops, restaurants and inns on this 5 block area. And it was packed.

I lucked out in finding a parking spot just a few doors down from our meeting place. Russ and I got out to stretch our legs. We then went to Galena Beads, home of the Beading Divas, to meet up with Jess Italia-Lincoln, Director of Marketing for Vintaj, who was blocking off some time just for us that day.

Galena Beads is where creativity lives. No lie. They have every kind of bead and supply you can imagine, including my favorite Vintaj natural brass. I had to stick my hands in my pocket and keep the drool at bay. The store was bright and colorful, with some of the best ideas for displaying jewelry I have seen. It was also bustling, with all manner of beaders perusing the racks and making beautiful baubles.

When Jess got there it was like we were old friends. We had met at the Bead & Button show in June and Jess invited me down to Galena for a creative session and to get to know her better. I was not disappointed.

Rose Noble joined us for lunch. Rose works the magic behind the scenes at the Vintaj blog and website. She is such a sweet and kind person and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to put a face with a name.

We walked down to Fritz and Frites restaurant which is a cross between a French Bistro and a German biergarten.

Russ ate every last bite of his ham and swiss sandwich on a pretzel bagel. Yes. A bagel that tastes just like a pretzel! C'est ci bon!

Russ had a table all to himself. But we made sure to include him in all the girly fun.

After lunch, we stopped in to Vintaj Earth and met Jamie. This is the retail arm of Vintaj and carries all manner of completed jewelry lines. The rustic old doors and wrought iron were all amazing displays. I bought a Vintaj Earth t-shirt so that I can proudly say that I am a supporter!

Then we were back at Galena Beads to play! What fun we had! Russ couldn't wait to get started. We decided to focus on freeform filigree wrap and filigree rings. We talked about using the new Vintaj blanks to do all sorts of fun things from stamping and dapping to filling with resin and image transfers. Their latest creative day featured riveting. Woohoo! That is right up my alley!

I found Russ checking out some really intricate and delicate wire crochet and he even filled up my bead tray with great goodies while I played.

In the end I walked away with an armload of great beads and filigree and heart full of love for all my new friends at Vintaj. You can bet that I will be back!

I stayed at the Main Street Inn because it was located right on Main Street. The room was very comfortable and roomy enough for Russ to share too. He really enjoyed the fluffy pillows.

Russ and I had a fantastic dinner at One Eleven Main. This relatively new restaurant occupies the upper levels of a great restored property. The original hardwood floors and exposed brick really added to the atmosphere.

I wasn't driving anywhere, just stumbling up Main Street later, so Russ said that we could share a glass or two of shiraz. We enjoyed the appeteaser of fresh salad, cup of soup and a fresh loaf of bread. That would have been enough! But there is more!

In honor of the fact that I was on the tri-state tour that day, I chose their Tri-State Pork entree. I really appreciated that this restaurant strives to incorporate local flavors. Their menu listed all the producing farms where they buy their product from along with their location. This entree featured a pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon (Iowa), mashed potatoes and asparagus, and a demi-glace of maple syrup (Illinois) and Door County cherries (Wisconsin). I hate asparagus, but this dish may have changed my mind. There was nothing left!

Did I save room for dessert? You bet! I ordered a citrus creme brulee. Yumm-o.
Russ was a perfect gentleman and we walked the few blocks back to our Inn arm-in-arm. We decided to fluff up the pillows and create some wire wrapped rings using vintage buttons and Swarovski crystals.

The next day we were off to Sleepy Hollow, IL for a surprise party for my college roommate D. She was turning 40. She is a breast cancer survivor, but that was not the end of her challenges. That is why those who loved her most needed to be there to celebrate her life. When D saw me she cried. I cried. We hugged. We stayed up until the wee hours catching up on all that we have missed since we haven't seen each other in a few years. That is something that I deeply regret. And living a life without regrets is one of my two life resolutions, so I am so very glad that I took the time to be there for her and to support her and show her my love.
We got to witness some amazing fireworks from her mother's backyard. I will leave you with some eye candy to inspire you.

Do you ever take trips by yourself? I have to thank my dear husband and the Tiny Dancer and Sport-O for not only allowing me this time away but also encouraging it. I am truly lucky. It is always fun to take a trip, sometimes even more so by yourself (although I was not alone since I had Russ Troll with me!). When I do travel I find great inspiration in the people and places that I experience. I want to eat the best, shop the best and discover the best that the place has to offer. I am forever changed by having embarked on this little adventure and I wouldn't have it any other way. I may have been lost for a time, but I knew that if I just stayed the course I would get back on track and find my way. And it was a lovely ride. I felt really energized after having made new friends and learned new tricks. It only makes me want to do it more.
Galena is full of beauty, charm and adventure. And I am glad that I experienced it all with my eyes wide open.
Check It Out::Galena Beads
Enjoy the day!

13 July 2009

Meet My New Friend: Lord Byron

"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies."

Lord Byron was a one of the most widely known of the Romantic Poets. His poetry is filled with the flowery language of love as much as his life was lead in pursuit of the ideal of love. His words resonate with a longing and passionate romantic side and his life was filled with many trysts and even scandalous affairs including one with a half-sister. He spent much time in Italy and Switzerland and retained a strong connection to Greece, including a young Greek lover named Nicolo whom he had placed in his will.

"One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place."

Lord Byron wrote this poem in homage to the wife of his deceased cousin, a Mrs. Anne Wilmot. He met her at a party and was enthralled with her great beauty. This is less of a love poem about trying to woo but rather more about ideal of her beauty. And she must have been one heck of a beauty!

"And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!"

I like to have some sort of inspiration when I make a piece of jewelry. I find it incredibly hard to just create in a vacuum for an unnamed wearer, which is likely why most everything I sell is a custom creation for a client. I would like to be able to create and sell more things to the general public, but I find it difficult to do. The things that I make that are the most successful are the ones that have a story to them and allow the wearer to be transported to another realm.

One other such iconic beauty was my grandmother, Agnes. I have a photograph of her that my Aunt Dorothy gave to me that is really one that I treasure. Of course, she was only about 15 in this photo so it is not at all as I remember her, but I love to see the girl that she was.

I also like to participate in challenges from time to time as a way to keep my work fresh and current. Vintaj is a company that I love to work with as their pieces are of such good quality and the effect is sublime. They have a monthly challenge on their blog and July was "Fond Memories." My grandmother is the subject of this fond memory. Although it is not a memory that I have, I love to invent the story behind this evocative 15-year old beauty sitting in a garden on the family farm. What was she doing there? Who was the photographer? What is she thinking?

So I combined my inspirations for this challenge....my grandmother's photograph, the rich beauty of the Vintaj brass and the poem by Lord Byron. I think that the effect is nothing short of magical.

I am proud to say that my piece "She Walks in Beauty" took second place.

If you would like to know more about my process in creating this piece, I invite you to read the post at the Watch Me Create blog for today.

Check It Out:: Watch Me Create

Enjoy the day!

10 July 2009

Unlocking the Door...What is Your Key?

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." ~ Eddie Robinson

Chris Guillebeau writes some insightful stuff on his blog The Art of Nonconformity. I admit that I started following it particularly because of that title. But I keep following it because he has a way of looking at the world and distilling it to the most basic truths. I dig that.

He wrote a post recently that really provoked me. He wrote about “All the things you don’t need.” That title alone is enough to give you pause.

If you are like most you are always thinking about the next big thing that you need. Or rather, want. There is a big difference. I am no stranger to that sort of thinking.

I have an addiction to all things beading and jewelry. There are some who joke that we need to form a 12-step support group for this beading addiction (I say why? I like it and it makes me feel good!). Sometimes I just can’t stop myself from buying that really shimmery strand of pearls or that new clasp. And tools. Don’t even get me started. You all have heard about my $70 hammer by now (is that NASA calling? They want their overpriced hammer back.)

All those art beads that I am now seeking out on Etsy or through the blogs of some of my favorite artisans are achingly beautiful. I have even bought a whole treasure chest full of 'em. But I don’t use the ones I have fast enough and so I realize that I need to start editing myself (easier said than done). If that pretty component (like this one....from Urban Rose)

is still there when I really do want to use it, it will be meant to be.

I can lurk on Etsy, but that is all that I can do.

One of my other desire-addictions is virtual house hunting. I have been tired of my abode for some time. My neighborhood seems to be swinging in the wrong direction. I feel that we are bursting at the seams. The kids don’t have a space to call their own and my Tiny Dancer’s room is dollhouse sized. My kitchen is outdated and doesn’t function well. My master bathroom is far from a luxurious retreat. I discovered how easy it is to stalk the listings on the real estate circuit in my area.

I can picture myself living the good life in any one of a dozen homes up for sale (like this one that is completely out of my financial reach...but I have loved it from afar ever since it was built and now they have the audacity to put it on the market!)...

complete with their cool furniture and accessories (or maybe I would have Pottery Barn come over and just style my life...how much would that cost?). It doesn’t help that my own sister moved last year into a gorgeous home with lofty ceilings and granite countertops.

I will admit that jealousy can have a powerful grip. But what do I really need anyway? I may want a newer home with more amenities and spaciousness. But I don’t keep the one I have now clean (not when there's beading to be done and baseball games to watch) and I could certainly let go of some of my clutter and hording issues (don’t worry…I am not a candidate for “Clean House”…that show makes me feel that I am not nearly as troubled when I watch it). I am working on it.

I have a great studio and a comfortable place to lay my head. There are so many who don’t even have a roof, let alone a walk-in closet. Who am I to complain? Someday I might have that house that I dream of, and make enough money doing what I love to support that lifestyle, but for now I need to resolve to be happy where I am and with who I am.

Chris Guillebeau writes that there are but a few things that we absolutely need...

"My passions were all gathered together like fingers
that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as
purpose." ~ Bette Davis

Passion – for what you believe in and for something that makes your life worth living.

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without
vision is a nightmare." ~ Japanese proverb

Vision – to see where you are headed and to know when you get there.

"Too many people overvalue what they are not and
undervalue what they are." ~Malcolm Forbes

Value – for what you bring to the world that wasn’t there before and for how you can be an inspiration to others.

"The quality of a person's life is in direct
proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field
of endeavor." ~ Vince Lombardi

Commitment – to keep at it (whatever it is) even when you want to give up and walk away.

Very thought provoking indeed.

Passion. Vision. Value. Commitment. It cannot get more basic than this.

I think we sometimes feel that life could be great, if only....{fill in your own blank}.

But why not be great right now? (And stop with the "if only" mentality!)

My 11 year old son Sport-o is on a traveling baseball team. I have been watching the team up close as the 'dugout mom', taking pictures, recording it all.

What I see is that the kids who are most successful aren't the ones with excuses

...the mound is too low

…the ump can't make the ‘right’ call

… the other team is too loud

The successful players are the ones

...who rise to the occasion

…who look like they are having fun at all times

…who pick themselves up and dust themselves off when they have had a tumble in the dirt whether they were safe or out

…they are the ones who live, eat, and dream baseball

… see every pitch as an opportunity

…know their place on the team and perform it willingly

...pick their teammates up and cheer them on

…understand that sometimes you get a hit, and sometimes you get an out, but you always get to play the game

...they are the ones who know that there comes a time when you have to be the sacrifice in order to get the other runner in scoring position

...that you are part of the team (and there is no "I" in that).

Passion. Vision. Value. Commitment. That is the sort of success I hope for my son and all his teammates. And the sort of life I hope for myself.

What sort of keys to unlock the door to personal excellence do you hope to pass along to those around you? Do tell!

Check It Out::The Art Of Nonconformity

Enjoy the day!

06 July 2009

Teaming Up

"Demand no more out of your partner than what you are willing to give yourself." ~ Martha Quinn

Recently, I was propositioned. And I took the plunge.
I was admired. I was offered gifts. I was given compliments. I could wear something special to let the world know that I was committed. I was being given the opportunity to start a new relationship, for better or worse.
I would be one of many, yet still treated as a special partner.

Relax.....I have the best husband in the world. But if you have noticed the badges on my blog you will see that recently I added one to indicate my new relationship with Rings & Things as a Blog Partner.

I have shopped at Rings & Things for a few years now, including at the Bead Tour as it came to my state, so I was really excited by this opportunity.

Part of my responsibility lies in trying new products from Rings & Things (easy enough) and blogging about it (even better!). I can make things with these goodies, give them away or whatever. All they ask is that I give my honest opinions. For better or worse. That I can do.
And you can do it, too. They are offering interested parties the chance to become a guest blog partner for 3 months. You can find out more about that opportunity here.
My first month has been great so far. Instead of a mystery package, I was treated to a gift certificate to purchase whatever I wanted. Well, you should know that I ended up spending WAY more than the certificate (did I ever mention that I have not filters when it comes to shopping?) but I did get some really cool things.

I got some brown lava beads in a cool flying saucer shape (I really dig those holes and the color is so earthy and they are very lightweight)

....some beads I am calling lemon-lime quartz (but it is actually a lab created yellow to green citrine quarz combo)

...two different shapes of a green-tinged labradorite (I like the elongated and chunky shapes which is different than any other beads I have)

...old coins (I always appreciate the beauty of the characters and pictures on money and coins...and these have holes in them already!)

...tiny square shaped gunmetal rings (will make some fun connectors)

...and little glass bottles with cork tops (I am really looking forward to playing with these and challenging myself).

Also, not pictured, I bought two different sizes of a jump ring maker (since I took a class in chain maille at Bead & Button I would realy like to test more of those waters), and a wood dapping block (fun to hammer all sorts of things in!).

I also bought a ring mandrel because I would like to rise to the challenge of rings. The day that I placed the order I arrived home about an hour later to find a package from another supplier with a ring mandrel. Apparently, I forgot that months ago I had purchased it. I just thought it was on back order and I wouldn't get it. But there it was. I quickly called the Rings & Things customer service to cancel that one item, but my order had already been shipped within the hour. Now that is service with a smile! They instructed me to just return it for a credit. After working with their customer service I finally sent it back to them....and ordered few more things (and now I owe them...hey, they are making out okay on having me as a blog partner!). I just can't thank the whole crew at Rings & Things enough for their "make your day" customer service.

I have no idea what I am going to make with these things but they are some real great finds. You will just have to stay tuned.

One of the other little goodies that we all received this month was a traveller from afar.
Russ Troll made a special trip to visit with each of the Blog Partners.

Batter up!

Since baseball is king here now, we packed Russ Troll into our gear bag and took him to our traveling baseball tournaments. We took Russ with us to Ashwaubenon (4th place), Stevens Point (2nd place) and Waupaca (1st place!), WI for a little action on the diamonds (and we all know that Russ likes diamonds!)
Safety first!

Do they have one of these in troll size?

And of course, he wanted to play along with the boys. Good thing he was wearing the right colors!
Play ball!
I have seen Russ Troll popping up all over the Beadosphere. And now he is catching pop flies!
You're out!

And he learned from the best! My son...Sport-o....

How would you like a chance to win Rings & Things gift certificates? If you have ever used a Rings & Things product, simply go to their site and write a review...and honest review. For every review you write you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win. Hurry! Contest ends at the end of July. Read all about it here.

P.S. If you would like to see one of my latest creations, head over to the Vintaj blog. They have a monthly themed contest and July is "Fond Memories." I used one of my most favorite pictures of my grandmother when she was about 15 years old as the pendant. It is sealed under jeweler's grade resin. I stamped the first line to a poem by Lord Byron that inspired me..."She walks in beauty, like the night"...on the back and a patina was added to the metal for an even more aged appearance. And I took my color cues and other items from the remainder of the poem.

The voting for this item is open until July 10th. I would be honored if you would vote for #5 here: Vintaj Fond Memories
Enjoy the day!

01 July 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
~ Mae West

Could there ever be too much of a good thing? {I didn’t think so.}

A Fanciful Feast for the Guests

The last time I had a tea party was for my daughter’s second birthday. And that was 6 years ago. So it was time to don the feathered chapeaus and bring out the finest china for a party like no other. {Found the tea party pictures! These are from 2003 when my darling daughter, the Tiny Dancer was just a wee two years old. I had to scan them at work to upload them since they were B.D. (Before Digital!)}

I had no idea what I was in for when I signed up with Vanessa. I just knew that it would be fun. And I was not disappointed. I was determined to reach every last one of the parties. It took me 5 days…but I did it! I tried to leave a comment on each of them, but if I missed a comment here or there, please know that I actually did stop by. I have to admit that I thought about giving up on that around “H” …but I realized that I was way down in “T” and I would hope that no one gave up before they got to me!

The Party Princess Herself...One Lump or Two?

And 92 comments (92?!!). That is way more than I have EVER had. And also, because of this, I have swelled the ranks of my followers to 112. Considering that I never thought I would have more followers than I could count on my hands, especially not 7 months after I started, is really quite extraordinary.
Teapot Cake

In the spirit of giving, I have decided to award the winner of my Mad Tea Party giveaway with not only a pair of luscious earrings in the color of her choice.

Happy Birthday Tiny Dancer (now she is 8!) with the Queen Mum

And the winner, chosen by random, number 70 from all comments: megan v

I stopped by her own Mad Tea party at Running Stitch. This young one (just turned 25) has a great sense of style and joy. She had all these wonderful frocks (including the most gorgeous ruffled one), a teapot necklace (sweet) and a peony clutch (luscious).

I will sharing all of your sweet comments with Miss Vanessa so she knows how very much we appreciate her magical world. Megan's favorite Vanessa Valencia print is "Strange Beautiful Lady - Carnivale"...and since I had an unprecedented amount of comments, I have decided that she should have a fanciful something from Miss Vanessa herself!
My favorites? The ones with the dimensional dresses made from old book paper. My daughter is especially fond of the Lantern Dance. I also have the Siren Finds Her Passion in my studio to remind me to never lose sight of the passion and the purpose behind what I do!

Congratulations, Megan! I will be in touch!

Many blessings to all of you as you journey through this holiday weekend. I wish you sparklers and cotton candy and parades and fun times with friends and family. And fireworks that light the night sky in a wondrous bouquet of fanciful flowers! Oh....and gratitude for those who serve our country and especially to their family and friends awaiting their return.

Check It Out::The Gratitude Campaign

Enjoy the day!


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