30 April 2010

Grow Through Change

"From a small seed a mighty trunk my grow." ~Aeschylus

The Woman's Fund of Portage County (WI) is turning 10 this year.

Ten years ago a group of women saw the opportunity to make a difference in our community long term by creating a fund that would start small and grow. These women planted a small starter seed of money that has grown into a substantial amount. Each year they hold a spring luncheon to honor the contributions and celebrate the recipients of the grants.

One of the organizers is a fan of mine. She knows that I have participated in the Woman's Fund A.R.T.S. Night (A Reason To Shop) art show in the fall. She asked me to create a special something for the raffle at the luncheon. Since these are the women I would like to have as clients I was honored to be asked. But it wasn't until I saw that my name was prominently featured on their poster for the event that I knew I really had to bring it on.

It is important to me to create something new for a donation, rather than just giving something that is leftover. This was one occasion where the thought of what to make planted its seed in my brain, and I let the design grow organically from one piece to the next.

The theme for their luncheon this year is Plant a Seed.

I started with one of my "Seeds of Inspiration" charm. I thought that would be a perfect place to begin. Each "Seeds of Inspiration" charm is a bezel with words of encouragement and a mustard seed under resin. The lesson of the parable of the mustard seed is that from the tiniest, humblest seed grows a mighty bush so large and so quickly that the birds come to nest in it.

This "Seeds of Inspiration" charm says 'spring (up)' from a book of French poetry {translated into English, of course} and it is paired with a dirt inspired brown snowflake obsidian oval from Rings & Things.

Next I created a leaf shape from copper sheet from the hardware store. It is hand stamped with the phrase "grow through CHANGE" with added texturizing. Then I gently shaped it into a more dimensional leaf and oxidized it with liver of sulfur and polished to highlight the details.

These pictures are a bit dark {my apologies} but you can see that near the leaf I added a soft pink dogwood blossom from Heather Powers at Humblebeads {I love every single thing she makes. This is so soft and pretty and works so well with the metals}. And it is a bit hard to see, but there is a copper colored bird bead on top of the flower that I found at Michaels.

Grow Through Change

All of the links are hand made by me using 19 gauge dark annealed galvanized steel wire. I made coils that I then wrapped in 24 gauge bronze Vintaj wire. And I made some leaf shaped connectors where I dangled some mauve colored keishi pearls from Rings & Things.

Of course I had to 'wear test' it one day {you know, just to be sure there wasn't something pokey...okay...truth be told, I am quite smitten with this one and it would be my only chance!}. I find it quite easy to wear and a very stunning statement piece. I am honored that the Woman's Fund ladies chose me to represent them and I have been invited to attend the event and present the winner with her prize. I will enjoy meeting the person who will be wearing it so that I can tell her of the inspiration behind the piece.

I am reminded that from humble beginnings and a seed so small can come the mightiest of trunks. I am mindful that the seeds that I plant - through my children, my art, my living witness - will grow and prosper and achieve new life far greater than I can ever imagine. I believe that we cannot hope to grow or change or blossom without the attention and care and support of others and that a caring community comes together to do just that. I am humbled by the thought that there will always be someone in need and I am honored that I could play a small role in the growth of new directions for an organziation that does so much good in our community.

A little bit about the organziation:

The Women’s Fund of Portage County is a Donor Advised Fund within the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin ( www.cfcwi.org ) and is a collaborative initiative of Saint Michael’s Foundation, the Stevens Point Area YMCA Foundation and the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin.

The Mission of the Women’s Fund of Portage County is to empower women philanthropists by creating opportunities to fund programs that will develop the full potential of women and children. The vision is that the fund be sufficiently capitalized to make a difference in the lives of women and children in Portage County.

The goals of the Women’s Fund of Portage County include granting funds and offering assistance to nonprofit organizations that foster opportunities for the economic, educational, physical, emotional, social, artistic and/or personal growth of Portage County women and children of all ages, cultures, nationalities, races and abilities and increasing community awareness of the significant needs of women and children.

What about you?

Is there an organzation in your community that you can support with your time, talent or treasure that can take your tiny seed and grow it to new heights?

What can you do to affect change through growth in your community?

Enjoy the day!

26 April 2010

Threads of Her Journey

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” ~J.M. Power

My daughter is a dancer. And a good one, I am told.

She dances at a studio called Dance Education Center. She has been dancing there for six years. And I expect that she will dance there for at least six more. Her studio has had its fair share of ups and downs. In the fall of 2007 a fire destroyed the center. Everything went up in smoke one fateful September afternoon.

But the students and parents rallied. We salvaged what we could. We made do with a temporary home for over a year. And finally we moved back in to a new and better space, one that was made just for dancers.

Miss Tori is the Director of the Dance Education Center. She is a renowned teacher, having received numerous National Dance Educator of the Year awards. But more than that, she is beloved by her students.

2004 - Tiny Dancer and friend

I remember the very first dance recital that my daughter participated in. There was the flowy royal blue dress. The hair pulled back into a bun. The stage make-up. The bow in her hair. There were pointed toes and a huge black stage that threatened to swallow them up. But they were fearless. They swayed to the music and twirled around that big stage. And never once looked frightened or apprehensive. My daughter and her classmates were such natural talents.
{In contrast it took me 24 years to get up the courage to step foot on that same stage. I can't believe how comfortable my daughter is with performing on stage. A skill that will carry her well beyond her performing years.}

I remember that once her little chums skipped off stage, that the next level dancers were already moving into the scene. And then the next level. And the next. By the end of that one part of that first dance recital they went from the littlest dancers to ballerinas on pointe. I recall sitting there mesmerized making the connection that one day my daughter would get to that level. She is not there yet, but she is well on her way.

The Dance Education Center recitals are like none that I have ever witnessed. And with 4 other nieces, I have witnessed a lot of dance recitals over the years.

Miss Tori runs a tight ship. The Act I is about an hour. The Act II is about an hour. And you only need to have a ticket for the one that your dancer is in. {My dancer is almost always in both, but I hear that is a nice thing for those who only have to sit through one act.}

Two years ago Tiny Dancer was invited to join the Training Program. This is the fast track to those pointe shoes. She must take two ballet classes per week, and then all the others that she likes. This year she is in two ballet, and one each of tap, pop, jazz and modern. {Needless to say, we are on the unlimited plan.}

A perk that the Training Program students enjoy is a special performance group show on Friday and Saturday nights of the recital weekend. Last year, Miss Tori and her staff held auditions, complete with requiring all dancers to submit a head shot and resume {it was kind of short for someone who danced for only 5 years}, assigned them a number and treated them as if this were a real audition. That was a great learning experience.

Three years ago the Performance Group did an entire show featuring Harry Connick Jr songs in every style of dance imaginable, with a story line.

Two years ago the Miss Tori got permission to use a children's book called "The Dream" with a lovely and moving poem and beautiful illustrations as the inspiration. Throughout the show portions of the book were read. It was a very moving theme of "Never Surrender Your Dreams" especially since we were just coming off the devastating fire. But out of the ashes comes something even more lovely.

Last year, Dance Education Center took on Broadway. There were selections from The Music Man to The Heights and Billy Elliot to Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was a rousing show.

And this year might be the most ambitious yet.

Last year Miss Tori went to Las Vegas and saw eight different Cirque du Soleil shows. That inspired her to create an epic worthy of the big top. The show is called "The Journey" and features some 70 dancers in very Cirque-esque costumes complete with face paint and very dramatic make-up. And Tiny Dancer is part of a special quartet in the Fabric World, one of several featured dancers in the show.

I have only seen snippets, but I can tell you that this will be a show to remember.

Here is how Miss Tori describes "The Journey."
Sometimes life and choices are clear
(Black & White World).

Sometimes life and choices are multi-faceted
(Jewel World).

Sometimes we encounter things unknown
(Rainforest World).

Sometimes problems seem too big to handle but we always have each other
(Tall World).

Sometimes we discover new layers of ourselves and others
(Tutu World).

Sometimes its about finding the play within the work (Business).
Sometimes we need help just to TRAVEL ON.
And sometimes we take all of those experiences and struggles,
weave them into a stronger version of ourselves
and end up right where we were meant to be
(Fabric World).

I was so excited when Miss Tori asked me to create a special, one-of-a-kind necklace for her to wear to the performance. I wanted to honor the spirit of the journey that Miss Tori has taken herself, but also the one that she is leading my daughter and all the dancers in her studio on. To share her beauty to all those she meets. To ground the dancers with a great root system of knowledge and a strong interwoven compassion for each other. To allow their multi-faceted talents shine for all to see. To give them wings to soar as they leap across the stage. Miss Tori has given them so much, and I hope that this piece gives her that sense as she watches the beauty that she has created in each step those dancers take.

The Journey

Recycled Sari silk
Gold plated soaring bird link
Vintage chain, hand-stamped and colored with "The Journey", "Dream", "Wonder"
Swarovski crystals
You know how there is always one performer that your eye just gravitates to during the show? There is always one, and my Tiny Dancer is one. {Okay. I am a bit biased. But I have heard that from others too.} There is such joy in her movement and confidence in her body, and that inspires me because I never had that.

There may come a time when Tiny Dancer will have to choose, and it may come sooner than I would like. Softball starts soon. And in the winter she enjoys Basketball. Softball or dance. Basketball or dance. Or so many other things that could compete with her time and talents. I hope it doesn't have to be an either-or choice, I hope that she can have it all. But Tiny Dancer is devoted to dancing now. And she is good at it. No matter what may happen down the road, I will relish all the days that I have to see her shine there in the spotlight.

2005 - Tiny Dancer the ballerina

I couldn't be more excited to watch my Tiny Dancer as she has grown from such a wee one into such a powerful and strong young lady filled with dreams and wonder. She amazes me with her grace and poise and confidence every day. And I am so glad that I can get her started on her journey and watch her weave the threads of her tapestry no matter where it takes her.

2010 - Tiny Dancer leaping for joy!

"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietsche


Threads of Her Journey by Raymond A. Foss

A tapestry is being stitched
story by story,
step by step, thread by thread
Pictures of her life come alive
with threads of gold,
of silver, of royal purple,
of hope, of faith, of love
her story unfolding
in the fabric, the knitted
tapestry of her life

Where are you on your journey?
What thread of your tapestry is a constant woven through your life?
Are you where you are meant to be? or are you still traveling to an unknown destination?
Have you had the opportunity to witness the journey of a child? to support the tapestry that is being woven for them?

Do tell!
There is still time to enter the Inspired by...Before & After challenge. You have until Friday, April 30th to upload your photos to the Flickr account (see the link in the sidebar). The winner will have the choice of the prizes shown here.

What are you waiting for? Go and be inspired!

Enjoy the day!

23 April 2010

Out On A Limb For You

"How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said." ~Victor Hugo

{Buy this sweet bird print on Etsy from vol25}

Thanks to Lorelei and her tutorial at Art Bead Scene today, I just made my very first Etsy Treasury!

I have always loved these collections of things that the members of Etsy curate. I have discovered many wonderful new things. I love the patchwork quilt quality of them. I have always wanted to make one of my own, but the whole process seemed rooted in mystery and a sense that you have to pounce on a split second if you want in. I am just not that patient.

I am seeking some decoration for my new bedroom. I have been gravitating to birds on branches. So I was inspired to make a treasury called "Out on a Limb for You" showing two birds on branches. I was able to find some really great variety of mediums and objects in about 30 minutes and post it. Thanks for the great tutorial, Lorelei!

So how about you...
Have you ever wanted to make a Treasury on Etsy?
What theme would you choose?
What sorts of things would you hope to put in it?
What are you waiting for? Go and do it!

Check It Out::Treasury East

Enjoy the day!

21 April 2010

30 Words::No Words

{Photo Credit: SkyeArt on Etsy - the most colorful paintings and pendants!}

Ever lost your voice?
Try not talking for one day.
Or two.

(Not easy.)

Dry. Tight. Painful.

up now.

You'll be singing like a canary in no time.

(shhhh...enjoy the day!)

18 April 2010

Hour 54, where are you?

"Why is it trivia? People call it trivia because they know nothing and are embarrassed about it."
~Robbie Coltrane

Do you like to eat junk food, stay up around the clock and answer silly questions? Then the World's Largest Trivia Contest is for you!

Every April heralds a special time in my community of Stevens Point, Wisconsin when our star shines most brightly as we host the World's Largest Trivia Contest.

Forty-one years ago the first trivia contest was held on the campus at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) as a fundraiser for the campus radio station WWSP. From those humble beginnings back in 1969 with 16 teams over 8 hours to the more than 400 teams comprised of 6,000-10,000 people competing over 54 hours, this fundraiser has become more than just a trivial place in the record books.

Q: What is the answer to the first trivia question asked each year?
A: Robert Redford

Teams can be anyone with a phone and a streaming audio connection to WWSP 90 FM. They range from 3 friends in a dorm room to over 50 friends, family and neighbors who work out shifts and have specialties in questions. There are people coming back from Ohio, Illinois, and Alaska. And there is even a team from as far away as Rome playing online. Some teams prepare year round for this event by keeping notebooks nearby and recording anything that might be trivia-worthy throughout the year. They save candy wrappers and cereal boxes. Whole storage sheds full of stuff that comes out once a year for this weekend.

I can recall when I played on teams in the 1980s complete with basements full of old almanacs, box after box of National Geographic magazines, tables filled with every manner of late night munchies, and a healthy dose of optimism. Today, the teams are more than likely completely connected to the internet {Goodsearch will donate for each search performed on their site. WWSP is a nonprofit.} But the snacks are still the same. And the drinking. Let's not forget about that. Whether it is Red Bull or Budweiser or Mountain Dew. There is a lot of drinking that happens.

I used to think that this was little more than an excuse to push your limits and see how many hours you can stay up {the contest runs for 54 hours straight, from Friday at 6pm to Sunday at midnight} and goof off. There is quite a lot of that. But there is nothing trivial about this trivia contest. Love it or leave it, Trivia is what puts Stevens Point on the map.

Q: What is the name of the big winner from the television game show "Jeopardy" who came to Stevens Point to take in the contest?
A: Ken Jennings

Trivia is an integral part of who we are. People who played in college come back each year. I can remember playing with teams of my high school friends and my parents and their friends. And with the advent of streaming audio, there are players from all over the country - and world - tuning in.

It kicks off with an actual parade complete with floats and about half the teams participate.

Each hour has 8 questions. And each team has the length of two songs {some of the most obscure oldies songs you have ever heard! Although I was sort of dismayed to find that my favorites from the 80s are now old enough to be on Trivia!} to phone in an answer. Each question varies in difficulty from things that your child might know if they keep up with Disney or Nickelodeon, to so challenging that it is amazing that anyone can know something so trivial. But they always have one or two questions an hour that most teams can answer. And the points are awarded based on how many actually answer correctly {each question is worth a maximum 2000 points}.

There are music challenge questions where the entire team needs to call in and sing the words to a song, or a song snippet where 10+ songs are played and you need to correctly identify the artist and song. In the Trivia booklet there are obscure pictures. You never know exactly what you are expected to answer about them so you find out all that you can in the hopes that you might know the answer when it is called upon.

Each year there is a particular movie that is shown the weekend before with special questions culled from it. This year is was "Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." And then there is the Trivia Stone. All the teams are given a set of clues that take them on a tour of the area. If they follow them correctly they will find the hidden Trivia Stone and get the points.

Hundreds of volunteers help to make this happen. From those registering teams to the people who answer the phones and take the answers {there are always 18 phone operators answering, "Hello, Trivia. What's your answer?" even in the dead of night}, it takes an entire community to pull this off.

A documentary titled "Triviatown" was filmed during the year that I volunteered to answer the phones in 2004 which debuted in 2006. That film won best film at the Wisconsin Film Festival and the best documentary at the Westchester Film Festival in New York.

The names of the teams are so creative and sometimes a bit risque and questionable, but all in fun {like Far Q, Hold Still I'm Trying to Be Friendly, All the Horsemen Knew'er, The Rainbow-ners or Yoda's House of Polish Wisdom} . Some teams have the same name or some variation every year {classics like Lactation Nation, Slow Children Playing, Dyslexics of the World Untie! or Drain Bamage}. Other teams pick a new name, often based on contemporary events or the theme {such as Comfortably Dumb-Wish You Were Beer!, Endora: The Dark Side of the Broom, Wii Had A Slight Weapons Malfunction, or I Just Sham-wowed in my Snuggie}. Some of these teams have been together and playing for 20-30 years. That is dedication to all things trivial. And while the number of teams that is really serious about it is growing, there are plenty more that just play for the fun of it. It is a game after all.

Q: What is the name and artist of the last song played each year before the first trivia question is asked?
A: "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolfe

I don't play on a team, but it is hard to ignore that this is happening in my community. And it would be hard to find someone in this area who doesn't know someone on a team. There probably is not a bag of Frito-Lays or a case of Miller Lite available anywhere in the stores. And don't even think about trying to order a pizza. But I still listen to the question with my kids to see if we know the answers {they go to school with the kids of one of the contest writers and we can always answer a few}. Some of the best times comes when they read the list of teams and their point values from 0 to well over 10,000. Hearing the names read aloud by contest writer's Jim "The Oz" Oliva and John Eckendorf during those designated hours {it takes an entire hour to read them all} is sometimes the funniest part. Especially when they are sleep deprived and get the giggles while reading.

What do you win in the World's Largest Trivia Contest? Why, bragging rights for the next year, a coveted trophy, and loads of memories. And if you are lucky, a day off from work on Monday to sleep in.

What sets your community apart?
Do you host a festival? Is your location known for something special? Is it home to famous movie stars or politicians?
Share what makes your hometown more than just a dot on a map.
Do tell!

Check It Out::Triviatown

Enjoy the day!

16 April 2010


"Make new friends
but keep the old,
One is silver
and the other gold."
~ old song sung at my Brownie meetings

When I was a child I would sneak into my grandmother's jewelry box and sort through all of the rhinestone earrings and pins. I thought that they were all real jewels and that my grandmother had quite a treasure chest.

As I grew older I used to go to vintage resale shops and pick up pretty clip on earrings and brooches. In the 80s I wore my favorite with a peach paisley jacket. For my Junior prom, my mother found a small round rhinestone pin. We attached it to a black velvet ribbon and I wore that as my only adornment with the raspberry and black striped prom dress {oh how I loved that dress! It was striking, since every other girl was dressed in bubble-gum pink or seafoam green. It was 1985 after all}.

And as I have grown up, I have kept my love of old things. I have amassed quite a collection, partly because people are always gifting me with these treasures from their own past.

I live to do custom jewelry orders. When I am asked to make something special for someone my whole process changes. It is not about just making pretty things, or thinking about what might catch the eye of a magazine editor. It is also not about making what I want to wear. It is all about telling the story of the client. Or in this case, telling the story of the client's niece who is preparing to get married this June, connected to the story of the great grandmother.

My client, Sharon, asked me to make something to give the bride-to-be on her shower this weekend. So we met at my favorite local coffee shop, Emy J's, my "office." We had coffee and smoothies, we talked about Sharon's adorable granddaughter. I take the time to be with my clients and get to know them, and find out more about who the person is who will wear this gift. I ask a lot of questions. Some of which are obvious {favorite color palette, necklace length, type of clasp preferred}. Some of them are more subtle {where does she spend her time, what are the things she loves the most, where do you see her wearing this}. I take the time because I am very serious about telling the story of the wearer. In the end it is not about me and my tastes or what is current on the scene. It is all about the person who will open that box, look inside, gasp and say that it is so very perfect.

Sharon gave me two pairs of rhinestone earrings that would be the bride's great grandmother's I believe. One was a bright blue in goldtone metal; the other was a light blue in a silvertone metal. She was okay with me taking them apart and mixing metals. Sharon asked for something fun but not casual, more elegant.

I call this "oldnewborrowedblue" as a perfect title for one about to be wed.

This is a convertible necklace. It is 16" long but is really made up of two separate 8" bracelets. You can wear it as bracelet {or two} or a necklace. I incorporated various goldtone and brass chains, bright blue freshwater pearls and two really stunning blue lampwork beads from FireLily. And I was able to use every single piece that she gave me. For this look, the color was key, and by finding pearls to match the exact hue of blue I was able to breathe new life into a tired look and honor the past while looking to the future.

So how about you? Have you given the Inspired by...Before & After challenge a try?

There is still time to enter the Inspired by...Before & After challenge. I know you all have access to some old costume jewelry, or some treasure from your own box from another decade, or cruise the clearance racks at your favorite stores looking for special components. You have until Friday, April 30th to upload your photos to the Flickr account (see the link in the sidebar). So far we only have one entry {thanks, PeacockFairy!} and it is pretty cool. The winner will have the choice of the prizes shown here.

What are you waiting for? Go and be inspired!

Enjoy the day!

15 April 2010

30 Words::Race

{Photo Credit: AnAlliteration on Etsy}

Droplets of water
dot the window,

marking their territory on the glass.

I cheer the ones racing

picking up friends along the way.

Go, tiny raindrop! Go!
Enjoy the day!

14 April 2010

RAW::Pass It On

Random Act of Wisdom brought to you by Splenda. Enjoy the day!
P.S. Reminder that you have just half the month of April left to enter the latest Inspired by...Before & After challenge. Go check out the guidelines here! And check out the winner's choice of prizes here!

12 April 2010

Would You Do It All Over?

{Photo Credit: CoffeeStencil on Etsy - isn't this the coolest thing?}

"Looking back you realize that a very special person passed briefly through your life - and it was you. It is not too late to find that person again.”
~Robert Brault

I discovered a new blog love. Her name is Suzy Hayze. She is a writer who has been gifted with a way of communicating a feeling or a place. She is a lover of all things dark and lovely. That in an of itself is reason to like her.

I am not quite sure how I stumbled on her blog, except that I know it was the name of her blog that intrigued me enough to find out more. Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness. Doesn't that sound interesting?

Suzy wrote a post today about how she had the most awful year ever as a 2nd grader. She remembers everything about that year. Particularly that she got to repeat 2nd grade at a kinder, gentler school.

As a former teacher, I am amazed at stories like this. At such a tender age, to be so blatantly shut out of the joy that should come from learning really pains me. Luckily for Miss Suzy her family was able to recognize the bad experience and turn it into a good one in a new school that seemed more suited to fostering the beauty that was to come from her. Imagine if that was the defining moment of her young educational life. She most certainly wouldn't have ended up where she is today.

At the end of her enlightening and heart-wrenching post, Miss Suzy asks this question:
Would you go back and change the bad parts?
Or do they help you to better understand the good?

Obviously, I had a lot to say in response {which to those of you who know me from my conversations with you via your blogs and emails, is fairly typical}. So much so that I decided that I should post about it and see what you might have to say in response.

Miss Suzy's experience and her question made me think of my own early schooling experiences in particular {although that question could certainly apply to any time of life}. Here is what I wrote without thinking...

Fifth grade was awfully hard for me.

Actually, it started with the end of 4th grade.

My father had grown up in Stevens Point, WI and my parents met at college there. But I spent my early years in Crystal, MN. My father got a new job that brought them back to Stevens Point when I was just shy of 2 months left in the my fourth grade school year. Being the new kid is hard. Being the new kid in the last two months of school seems impossible.

I remember feeling so sad to leave Crystal, MN and my friends. I remember being so in crush with a boy named Paul Heisler who lived down the street {and with whom I concocted all sorts of scenarios of our future imaginary life together}. I remember feeling that it would be the end of the world to leave my best friend Tamara Graf {the one who nearly died in a tragic drunk driver car accident the day after my 9th birthday}. I remember thinking that the only good thing was that my sister would escape having the old bat of a 4th grade teacher that I had. She probably wasn't a bad teacher, but she was strict and she was old, so my feeling was that it was best for my sister to avoid that fate.

I remember meeting Mrs. Van Dreel, my new 4th grade teacher and thinking that she wore a lot of eye make-up and had big hair. I remember being confused that they had milk breaks with pouches and straws {exactly like juice packs now - how ahead of the game they were!}. I had never heard of such a thing. Where I came from we had fruit and vegetable breaks. {I do remember that I had a weird kid in my first 4th grade class that used to eat green peppers and onions as if they were apples, crunching right on through. That was a bit strange. And smelly.} And everyone here called the water fountain a "bubbler" and a soft drink a "soda"{I call them both that now too, but it was a strange thing to get used to}.

I do remember the only saving grace for me. In 4th grade every kid in Wisconsin has to study the state. They were writing reports and making projects. I got to do mine on Minnesota. Which was good becuase that meant that I had the "M" encyclopedia all to myself unlike the rest of the class fighting over the "W".

It was hard, but I got to choose which school I would attend in the fall {we were living in temporary housing}. My father sat me down and said to choose wisely, because whatever I chose would be where my sister ended up, too. That is a lot to ask of a 9 year old. Ultimately, I chose the Catholic schools because I had one cousin there named Jane, it was the only school that I had visited before we moved, and I thought it was better to know one person than to know none. {And I think my dad was secretly happy since he attended the Catholic schools and that would mean we would graduate from his alma mater, Pacelli High School.}

It was still hard to fit in, and I was not instantly accepted. I remember the sting of different people pretending to be my friend so that they could come over and swim in the channel of McDill pond in my new backyard and then realizing that they really didn't want to know me at all. My childhood nemesis, B.C., who was a 'golden boy' once put a chocolate peanut butter bar on my seat so that when I stood up it had melted and looked like I poo'd myself. {True story, and the start of years of teasing}. As a result of the stress of leaving the life I knew for the life I now lived, I developed eating habits as a coping response to my situation that led me to experience weight and self-esteem issues {likely just accelerating what would probably have naturally happened given my particular set of genes} that I still struggle with to this day.

But it was at Saint Stephen Elementary that I met my best friend Lynn(a) {whom I still consider my oldest and best friend after 33 years}. She was my saving grace in a year that could have spiraled out of control. Luckily, we still live in the same town and our kids now attend the same Catholic schools together. We have a shared history that makes it imperative to remain friends. We know too much about each other not to be.

And my husband? He ended up living 2 blocks away from my new home, and we were both the new kids in 5th grade in Sister Lorraine's classroom. If I had chosen differently, there might be no way that I would have met Paul {he is also a Paul H. and in 5th grade I got teased that he was the one that I was crushing on, not some dubious Paul H. from MN. If he existed at all. A fact that I decried boisterously.} And when we were 17 he may not have gathered the courage to tell me that he wanted to get to know me better in my yearbook. And I might have missed out on the single greatest person in my life.

Did I still get mercilessly teased by B.C.? Yes {all through the next 8 years, and who knows? Maybe still today}. Did I ever really find where I fit in in the world? No {I am still trying to find my place}. Did I find two of my best friends ever? A resounding yes.

I may not have liked some of the bad parts, but I think that I would have missed so much and become a completely different person had different choices been made. And I am glad that I can look back now and see that it really was all good.

So. There you have it. Now it is your turn.

If you could go back in time, would you go back and change the bad parts?
Or do they help you to better understand the good?

Do tell!

Check It Out::Suzy Hayze

Enjoy the day!

09 April 2010

Color Quiz

{Photo Credit: zeebree on Etsy - wouldn't these be the coolest to spell out a child's name, or party favors, or stocking stuffers?}

Welcome to the crayon box! What color are you?

One of my goals this year is to get over my fear of color. I tend to work in an earthy and dark palette. I love mixing coppers and steel grays. I have oodles of cranberry pearls and bronzite in every shape imaginable.

It is not that I can't design in color. I do. My clients demand it. The seasons dictate it. But when left to my own devices I tend to reach for the Burnt Sienna and Crimson and Midnight Blue instead of the Spring Green and Magenta and Dandelion.

So this year I have decided that I need to check my color baggage at the door and let the whole Crayola® box come spilling forth.

I actually have a lot of bright colored art beads in my stash. I buy them, then they sit there because I am perplexed as to where to take them. But I should just let them lead me and I will follow.

Colors evoke moods {like how sexy I used to feel in my candy apple red Fiero circa 1987} and feelings {like the emerald green envy I feel when I visit my sister's perfectly ordered and spotless home - of course, she doesn't have a full time job and a 9p-midnight passion} and states of mind {as in the tornado of gray that swirls around my head when I can't find something that I need RIGHT NOW!}. Colors transport you to a place {like the color of the Pacific at sunset on a cliff in San Francisco} and recall memories {like the vibrant red-white-blue plaid of my polyester Easter dress handmade for me by my beloved Aunt Char in 1976}.

I came across a time waster today, but a fun one! True Value Paint has a little quiz to pinpoint exactly what color you are.

Here is what my answers decided:

Black is your color

Nothing can stand between you and your demand for a calm environment. To be free of conflict and disagreement is the only way to live. In fact, it’s this philosophy that probably allows you to be comfortable in conditions that would normally bother others. Your ability to focus is undisputed, and while you enjoy attention, you still have problems understanding how to handle it. No other color lives by the golden rule as much as you do.

So much for my attempt to live in color.

How could it know that black really is my favorite color? {And I have six pairs of pants, 12 tops, four dresses and more shoes than I can count in black. What? It goes with everything!}

What is your favorite color?
Take the test and come back and tell me if you think that it picked the right one for you.

Check It Out::Dewey Color System

Enjoy the day!

08 April 2010

30 Words::No Joke

{Buy this print from 6timemomma on Etsy}

On Easter it was sunny and 70.
Ate ham and bunny cookies on the deck.
Sport-o said it was snowing.
I laughed at his joke.
He wasn't April fooling.
Enjoy the day!

06 April 2010

Creative Vision... and Before & After Prize Selections

"Creation begins with vision." ~ Henri Matisse

I agree with Henri. I never get very far if I can't see where I am going. Since creation begins with vision, I want to give you something to think about. Today I want to share with you the choice of prizes for the Inspired by...Before & After challenge on now through the end of April. Go to this post here to read the nitty gritty. Perhaps this will get your creative vision a kick in the pants.

If you know me at all then you know that I consider variety the spice. I try to get as much of it as I can in my life. So in that spirit, I want to allow the winner to select the pieces that will be the best fit.

Up first, some really great chain from the clearance rack {there's treasure there, you know!}. The winner can choose either the brass chain with the leaves and colorful beads or the brass chain with the white pearls. {Note: there are multiple necklaces shown here. You will get one necklace of your choice.}

Second, I want to give the option of art beads. Or fiber. Because of late I am all about the art beads. And the fiber. So, I have selected two different choices.

EITHERYour choice of any two of these lampwork beads by Amy Houston
{two of the same color or two different - again, your choice!}

A whole yard of this outrageously vibrant Fair Trade recycled silk sari ribbon from NorthcottWilson

And I truly hope that whoever wins the random drawing for April will create something fabulous and then share it with us all! Because I could use a little creative vision{and a kick in the pants} right about now.

Do you like to have choices, or are you overwhelmed by too many choices?
Which of these materials would you choose?
What would you do with these things? Use them together or separately?
What sorts of treasures have you found as raw materials for your April challenge piece?
Where is your creative vision taking you?
Do you need a kick in the proverbial creative pants?
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

05 April 2010

Blessed Bucks Winner(s)!

"Everyone has inside himself a piece of good news! The good news is that you really don't know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is!" ~Anne Frank

{Photo Credit: Bird on a Mustard Plant: Pratik Gupte}

Do you remember back at the start of Lent over 40 days ago, that I challenged you to find places to hide your Blessed Bucks? I know that I didn't succeed in hiding 40, but I came pretty close. How about you? I found some new hiding places, and your suggestions gave me some great ideas for next year. Like library books, or taped to the back of a pack of diapers.

I promised that when Lent was over I would choose a winner of a custom Seeds of Inspiration™ charm. Since Easter was yesterday, it is time to choose a winner. I decided that since we had so many who were participating that I would choose two winners!


Diana Frey
I love your idea of being a living prayer and the blessed bucks challenge. Your post really has me thinking about what acts of kindness I can foster. Thank you so much for sharing and the loving, giving expression you are to others.


I would hide them in:

popular library books
OR books/magazines at the local bookstore

I would also leave them on my co-worker's desks when they weren't there


You both win a custom Seeds of Inspiration™ charm.

I will be in contact with you to get your power word or phrase and a favorite color. Then I will create a resin charm with that direction including a tine mustard seed {hence, the seed in the Seeds of Inspiration™}. And when I create them I will share them with you...

Do you know the story of the mustard seed?

"God's kingdom could be compared to a tiny mustard seed," explained Jesus one day.

"It looks so small and unimportant, but inside this little seed is the power to grow into a great, big plant. If you plant this tiny seed along with other vegetable seeds you will be amazed at how quickly this one will grow into a large bushy plant. And before long, it will become the biggest plant in the whole garden. And birds will come and build their nests in it!"

From such a lowly seed, hardly bigger than a grain of sand, comes the largest plant. It reminds me that there is limitless power within us. We may need to have the right conditions, but if our talents are nurtured and we believe that we are born to greatness, imagine how we can grow! That is the feeling that I like to evoke with my Seeds of Inspiration™ line, the awesome potential that is within each soul.

"The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world. " ~Roger Williams

How did you do on the Blessed Bucks challenge?
What creative places did you find to hide them?
How did it make you feel?
Would you like to do something like that again?
What potential is lying dormant within you, waiting for just the right soil, sun and love to awaken?
Do tell!

Check It Out::A Beautiful Ripple Effect

Enjoy the day!

03 April 2010

Inspired by...Before and After

"You don't get creative by staying in the same place." ~ Andy Law

Gold branch link from a Target clearance find paired with cranberry pearls and garnets

Every single piece of jewelry that I make is one of a kind. You cannot buy it in a department store, at a home party or through a catalog. But that hasn't stopped numerous people I have encountered to decry that they have seen that exact piece of jewelry at Kohl's or Target or in Lia Sophia. I have nothing against jewelry from department stores, home parties or catalogs. I own jewelry from all three. But what I don't care for is when my creative vision is confused with what could be purchased en masse at a large retailer.

Wood discs from a necklace found at Goodwill

I remember when I was one of the first people in my area to have a home jewelry party. But then I started seeing the exact same pieces on other women in the check out line, at church or just walking down the street. That was when I stopped wearing them. But I had invested a lot of money into them. So I decided to take them apart and make something new.

I knew I was on to something when a friend who bought the exact same home party piece recognized a bead or link from hers in my revamped masterpiece. She realized that what I was doing was setting myself apart. And she wanted me to make something from her jewelry box treasures so that her adornments set her apart.

Before...her grandma's lapis lazuli necklace and earrings

After (in progress)..."Being of Beauty" for Bridget's 21st birthday with sari silk ribbon, swirly yellow Jangles disks, orange-y wings from Earthenwoods and my own resin 2-sided "Seeds of Inspiration" pendant

There is treasure in your own jewelry box. I tell people to never overlook what they already have. And updating a look, revamping a style is not only great for your individuality but is great for the environment. By looking at your past jewelry (or that found on the clearance rack at your favorite retailer) with a critical eye, you can see the individual parts as more important than the whole, and that is when you can kick your creativity into overdrive and create something new and better from those same pieces. And you are keeping it out of a landfill someplace.

Vintage Swarovski crystals, pearls, smoky quartz and an antique pressed glass button

I have a very good client who has strands of vintage Swarovski crystals in shapes that have not been made in over 50 years. Some of the individual beads they have go for $2-5 dollars each at respectable vintage bead dealers. But they are outdated as strands and in some cases missing clasps or using string that has disintegrated over the years. I have made these treasures into countless bracelets, necklaces and earrings for her and her family. It preserves a piece of history for her and makes it something more current that she is excited to share with the next generation.

Clearance rack necklaces...I like the mysterious nature of these. That black silk and the chain mixed with an ivory glass link from Cindy Gimbrone perhaps?

Some of the most surprisingly consistent source of customers for me has been in revamping a dated look of theirs. I always tell my clients and friends that they should not throw out the treasure in their jewelry boxes. If you are like me, you might be a hoarder. I have my grandmother's jewelry and trendy pieces from 80s and 90s and antique pieces that I have acquired over the years. I have friends who have gifted me with the contents of their jewelry boxes or grandmas or Aunt Tillie's and you wouldn't believe the treasures that were within. But I also like to take apart my Lia Sophia purchases, or I might be attracted by one link on a clearance rack piece to inspire a whole new direction.

Clearance rack bracelets...I am picturing these with some turquoise nuggets and a focal pendant from Every Heart Crafts. I am thinking fun and fresh, how about you?

I have found that people want a connection to the past, with a look to the future. They want to wear the treasures that they have in their boxes, and they want it to be unique and speak to their personality and taste.

Clearance rack necklaces and earrings...These beachy tones make me think of the subtle beauty of Jade Scott's pendants and some of Kelley's glass beads. What do you see?

And I find it a challenge to turn to something that has a past and upcycle it into something with new life.
Clearance rack necklaces...I love the deep blood red color here. And the chain. I am swooning! I see this paired with some of Lynn Davis' gorgeous rustic pewter pieces. Can you see it, too?

So now it is your turn...are you up to the challenge? The April Inspired by...Before and After challenge is on...what raw materials are waiting for you to be creatively remastered? You can go to the department store, like I did and raid the clearance rack, or go through your own jewelry box for those things that have seen better days, or perhaps a neighbor or friend or family member would like an update to her style.

You don't have to use the entire piece in your revamp. Maybe it is just the focal that you like, or the shape of the chain, or the clasp. And how much greater will these pieces look when combined with a Jade Scott pendant, an Every Heart Crafts focal, a Lynn Davis fauxtique or a lampworked ring from Cindy Gimbrone!

How it works:
  • Create a piece of jewelry (earrings, necklace or bracelet) using the inspiration of the Revamped jewelry {it can be something you own, or pick up on a clearance rack, or something that you get from a friend...just be sure to show us a BEFORE picture!}
  • Post your pictures to the Flickr account here.
  • If you are so inspired {and I hope you will be!}, feel free to create as many pieces as you like for challenge and post to the Flickr account, but your name will only be entered once. (For extra BONUS ENTRY opportunities, see below). You have until 11:59 pm CST on Friday, April 3oth to post to the Flickr account.
In the description of your picture be sure to add the following:
  • Title of the piece
  • Short description of your inspiration {be sure to include what part is revamped!}
  • Your Name
  • Your email address
  • Your blog or website

  • If you use an art bead in your piece {art bead is defined as a bead or component created by yourself or another artisan}, be sure to point that out in your description {with a link to the appropriate artisan’s website, shop or blog} and you will have THREE extra entries.

  • If you blog, Facebook, Twitter, sky write or take out a billboard to publicize each week’s challenge, be sure to let me know {leave a comment on that week's challenge} and your name will be in for ONE extra entry.

  • That's a total of FIVE ENTRIES!
Go forth and get inspired!

Enjoy the day!

01 April 2010

Oh the Thinks You Can Think!

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ~Dr. Seuss

And what Thinks you thought up too!

There was a veritable buffet of green eggs and ham, quick trick block stacks, McElligot's pool, red fish and blue, too. There was a healthy dose of just what the Dr ordered....COLOR! Great big blocks of brights and dancing patterns and no-holds-barred hues. Love it! Even slices of the book and wire work evoking the fanciful line drawings was revealed. And so many wonderful art beads. I was completely blown away by the unbridled enthusiasm with which you jumped in for this challenge. That gives me the encouragement to keep on challenging you!

Since I am decidedly untechie, I wrote all your names on slips of paper (including all the extra entries everyone got for so graciously spreading the word and using art beads), put them in a box and drew out one name as the winner of the book charm from Esther in France.


Email me at enjoytheday{at}tesoritrovati{dot}com with your address so I can ship out your loot!

These Things Are Fun and Fun is Good by mariedodd
Go here to read her blog.
Go her to here to check out her wares on Etsy.

And stay tuned... I will reveal the April Inspired By... challenge this week!

Enjoy the day!


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