Friday, April 27, 2012

There Was An Old Woman...

Many of my projects tend to resemble the song "There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly".  They start out innocently enough, but before I've finished they have morphed into something else entirely.  Today's project is a most excellent case in point.

Last week I washed up several large pickle jars that I simply couldn't bring myself to throw away--because they might just be good for something--and stored my bulk dry pantry items like pasta in them.  I've had a mouse in the kitchen nibbling on my bags and, in general, making a mess in my cupboard.  So now all of my edibles are safely put away in nice, clean pickle jars...or so I thought.

Yesterday I went into the cupboard to get the hot chocolate mix and when I picked it up a rain of coffee beans fell out of the cupboard.  The mouse, deprived of its easily accessible food stuffs, had vindictively chewed holes in the bag of coffee beans.  The beans are now in a non-chewable coffee can...

Then, not being happy with the depredations already caused the mouse chewed up two dry packages of Ranch dressing.

Today's project started out as cleaning the cupboard from the ranch dressing powder that was all over...First I took out all the items in the cupboard and set them all over the counter.  Then I decided it was time to replace the contact paper on the shelf and removed that.  (You see how this is going?)  Next I swept the shelf with a small broom and deciding that was insufficient, I proceeded to vacuum the shelf...Since it was still sticky, I then scrubbed it with vinegar...

By this time the back of the cupboard was clearly visible and the '70's patterned pressboard with orange, yellow and lime green pattern was quite offensive.  So off I went in search of lime green paint to cover this atrocity.  Well, the green didn't go too well with the dark brown sides of the cupboard and so those were duly painted also...

Needless to say, the contact paper is not replaced, all the stuff is still all over the counter, the green has to be given another coat, and I had to leave for work!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All Attitude

 This is one of my fall projects.  Every November my husband's employer hosts a company dinner.  It's a time to get away and dress up a little. 

I have a wonderful blazer that I got as a birthday gift last year and it really needed jewelry.  It is NOT a demure blazer and needed something that was going to stand out. 

Then there was the fact that I was creating this piece in October.  October can be a difficult month for me because that is when fall really takes hold and usually gifts us with days of greyness.  I don't do grey well and I was also coming to grips with the financial strain of losing ten hours of work a week.  So my attitude was somewhat in need of adjustment...

I wanted something in black and I wanted it to be something that I could wear with a variety of different outfits.  I had found the butterfly at Hobby Lobby some weeks before and was wanting to use it.  I made the beads out of metallic black glass and just to mix it up a bit I included one plain black encased bead with a rainbow frit.  Since I tend to be very symmetrical, I was also pushing my boundaries a bit and experimenting with asymmetry.  Then I wanted a bit of sparkle, so I included crystal drops and spheres.  I was going more for edgy than sweet, so my chain is rather large and is gunmetal colored.

When I got this finished, I discovered that it is somewhat longer than I like and the butterfly likes to flip itself around, but on the whole I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  I may still eventually shorten this just a bit.

And then there are the earrings!  They are butterflies with rhinestone chain dangles that are pretty close to five inches long.  Completely impractical, but lots of fun for evening wear.

This whole design is based on a similar necklace in (I think) The Impatient Beader  by Margot Potter.  I may have the name wrong...I just know for sure who the author is.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A project from start to finish

I have actually remembered to take pictures of a project in progress.  So I will now show you this project from start to finish.  I was supposed to make an ankle bracelet for a friend.  I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, but I couldn't find what I wanted, or couldn't afford what I wanted, etc. etc.   Anyway, the creative imaginative process always takes me a LOT longer than the actual physical process. 

She wanted something sturdy in blue, pink, and green.  Here are the beads right after they came out of the kiln:

Next, I took the beads off and cleaned them .  (These are actually the beads before they were cleaned.)

Then I put them together with this gunmetal chain and this is the finished ankle bracelet.

I usually prefer to use a toggle clasp to finish my work, but I wasn't sure how it would work with an ankle bracelet.  This is something that I will experiment with for myself before I actually make one with a toggle for someone else.  Each of these beads is on a head pin and then attached with a wrapped loop to the chain.  I use wrapped loops because there isn't as much chance of losing your beads--and because I can't make my simple loops look nice.  More practise required.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Of Passports and Peacock Feathers

I have been wanting some peacock feathers to play with and integrate into jewelry somehow.  I keep thinking how lovely it would be if I had my own peacock, so I could just collect the feathers as they molt, but I simply haven't managed to convince my husband that a peacock is vital to my continued happiness--and since it really isn't, I'm not pushing the issue.  But a very wonderful Facebook friend sent me a package of peacock feathers in the mail.  So now I have all the feathers that my heart could desire--for a while anyway.

In the same mail that brought my peacock feathers I also received my passport...And here is the rest of the story that I didn't tell before...I was born in Canada.  My father is a US citizen and my mother was Canadian.  We moved to the US when I was three.  When I was fourteen, we moved back to Canada and I went to eighth grade and all of high school in Canada.  After that I returned to the US for college and never left.

When I was getting ready to go to college we went through all the rigamarole of establishing proof of US citizenship and I got my first US passport.  I only needed it to enter the US and it wasn't really a very big deal.  Especially after I had gotten my Social Security card and my driver's license.  Well, then 9/11 occurred and all of a sudden a passport was a very big deal.

In the meantime, since I travelled so little, I had let my passport lapse.  I had made one trip to Canada in 1998 and then neglected to put my passport somewhere safe.  So here I was running around with not just my ID, but everyone else's stashed in a pocket in my purse.  Never again!  Some time after this Canada trip, my entire purse was stolen.  We went through all the hassle of getting the social security cards, birth certificates and driver's licenses replaced, but the passport replacement was a little pricy for the time, so I didn't worry too much about getting a new one. 

Then it became mandatory to show a birth certificate when you renewed your license and I was pretty sure that my Canadian birth certificate just wasn't going to be the thing.  My driver's license is good for a few more years yet, but I didn't want to get stuck with not being able to renew it because I didn't have appropriate ID.

Not wanting to do anything too quickly, I didn't really do anything about this situation.  I am a highly qualified procrastinator...And then after eight years, I get a phone call  from a gentleman who had found my purse hidden between his garage and his fence--a mere block from where it had been stolen.  All the ID was--although very damaged--still intact.

I finally decided this spring that I had procrastinated enough and I started the process of reapplying for my passport.  The whole thing that concerned me was all the rumors I was hearing about proving citizenship etc. for getting a new one.  Finally, I decided that we had already established citizenship and I had two former passports to prove that this had been done, so I went about the whole process with an attitude of expectation.

About two weeks after the application had been sent in, I received a letter from the State Dept.  My heart just sank...I was fairly sure that it had to do with proving citizenship and that something more was going to be required before I was going to be able to have my passport.

Imagine my relief when I discovered that my citizenship was NOT being questioned at all.  The question that was asked was HOW had my passport come to be in such a sorry state?  Well, I was able to answer that question with the greatest of ease and proceeded to do so.  I now have my shiny, new passport and it is NOT in my purse!

Friday, April 13, 2012

More Practise

This is the view from my kitchen window.  Obviously, it changes with the seasons and I never get tired of looking out my window.  I'm so sorry I didn't run around and remove random junk before I took the picture, buy hey, nothing is exactly perfect...

This is Riley.  She is our latest rescue puppy.  We have had her for a little more than a year.  My youngest son scooped her up out of the road and brought her home.  She does get bathed, but usually runs outside and finds the dirtiest and smelliest things to roll in by way of protest, so she is not bathed as frequently as she should be.

Lucy, here, is the result of an ill-advised trip to the humane society with a family member.  They chose the "wrong" dog and, so, Lucy came to live with us.  We have had her since 1999.  As you can tell, she is extremely thrilled to be photographed.  The general attitude on all the dogs' parts was "I can't believe you're really going to take my picture with that thing!"

This is Polar.  Again, with the "Go away and let me be."  She is a white German Shepherd.  She had difficulty adjusting to the chihuahuas at her former home, and we had just lost a German Shepherd (to extreme old age), so she came to us.  As you can tell, furniture at our house is for dogs--literally...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photography Practice

So here we go--some pictures from my getting acquainted session.  The only daffodil that the frost didn't get and it still was none too happy.
The oregano that spills out the bed and onto the walkway.  It will be time to cut and dry it soon.

The rosemary--notice the tiny understated flowers.
And the chives.  They are just right and aren't quite ready to bloom.  I planted a row of these in the garden and this year I have three rows and I'm sharing it with anyone that wants some.

I have critter pictures, too.  But I neglected to rename the files, and I don't know how to look at them without closing my blog...just when I think I'm becoming technologically they will wait for another post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More progress

I was fairly certain that the next step in my progress--after starting a blog and a business Facebook page--was to get a new digital camera that could take really good pictures.  I was also completely certain that this was going to have to wait for a while due to financial factors. 

We recently received in the mail one of those store flyers and I wasn't even going to look at it because, well, if I don't look then I don't see all these really lovely things that I "need".  While waiting for supper to cook one evening I just idly paged through the flyer to see just exactly was on sale right now.

I happened to end up in the electronics section and there was a fairly decent camera that claimed to have a super macro feature available.  And the camera was on sale for almost 50% off.  I looked at that and thought it would be a lovely next step and then promptly forgot about it because I was totally focused on the vet bill. 

As it turned out I ended up needing to go to Walla Walla Thursday.  (I am trying to limit my trips to Walla Walla to one a week.  For one, it saves me quite a bit on fuel not to drive around so much. And, two, if I'm not going into stores, I'm not spending money on things I don't need.)  Since we were already in town, I decided to run by the store that had the camera on special--mostly because I needed a new pair of flip-flops--and have a look at the camera.  It does have a lovely macro feature and I did end up getting it. 

I am now in the process of getting acquainted with my new camera.  Of course, they no longer come with SD cards, so I needed to pick up one of those also.  I ended up with a 16G memory card.  It just boggles my mind that I can get this little tiny memory card that has more memory on it than my entire antiquated computer.  Anyway, there will be pictures soon--of a variety of things...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Perception is Everything

 Perception really is everything!  Think about this--think about how long you think it takes to clean your house.  Now, how long does it actually take?  EVERYONE knows that housework is never-ending and takes FOREVER.  Well,  I've discovered it really doesn't.  I go home for lunch (shameful waste of gas, I know, but I need that break) and in the time it takes for my lunch to heat in the microwave I can have the dishwasher emptied.  Today while my lunch was baking--having blown up the microwave earlier this week--I swept the kitchen floor.  After lunch while waiting for my daughter to be ready to leave I swept the living room and put a load of laundry in the dryer. Actual time spent--probably less than ten minutes.

One of the reasons that I try not to worry is that it is extremely bad for my creative processes.  After I stopped worrying about having to decide if the cat should be put down, how we were going to pay the ensuing vet bill, and if we were going to be able to eat and pay the bills, I put together this pair of earrings.  They are called "Flights of Fancy".  I have had the butterflies for a while and the idea for some time.  These are mostly a prototype.  I'm checking them for wearability--marginal--they like to hang up on my clothes (wearing them with a hoodie might not be the best idea--a sleek little top would be better).  I'm trying to decide if I want to add more chains and maybe add some crystals.  I don't want them too heavy as they are very light right now.  Brightly colored feathers are another idea that I'm thinking about.  Of course, I want feathers from molting birds and not birds that are murdered for their feathers!

I also have to keep perception and perspective in mind when I design and make jewelry.  I have a tendency to constantly overestimate the time needed to complete a project.  One of the things I am going to do for myself is to start keeping a log of how much time I actually spent making a project.  This way the next time that I'm tempted to think a project takes too long or is too much work, I can look and see that oh, no, actually that entire project only took an hour...or two...or however many it actually took.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Fool's

I have to say that the weekend finished up in a not-so-wonderful fashion.  I had great plans for getting a two week menu planned, so I could get groceries on payday.  I was also going to make cookies and do a little glass melting.  Instead I "wasted" my entire Sunday afternoon and my week's allotment of gas taking a cat to a vet that was not our usual vet.  One of the kitties had played tag with a car and gotten hit.  It looks like he will recover, but he has a broken leg and his pelvis was broken in three places.  I shudder to think of the final vet bill.  We've already paid almost $600 for this cat (yeah, yeah, I KNOW a bullet is cheaper!).

This brings me to a topic that I have long thought about.  I am an extremely talented worrier.  I can and do worry about all sorts of things, at all sorts of inconvenient times--like 3:00 a.m...For those of you whose faith is other than Christian, I apologize in advance, because I am looking at this subject from a strictly Christian slant.  I know that worrying is not good.  In Jesus' sermon in Matthew (Matthew 6:  25-34) He addresses the issue of worry.  He says that we are not to worry about ANYTHING.  But He doesn't leave it there:  not only are we not to worry, but we are to seek the kingdom of God first.

This is the question that I ponder almost constantly:  How does one go about seeking the kingdom of God first and how does one stop worrying??