Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Random Thoughts, Knitting and a New Lightbox

As of Christmas morning, I am a proud new owner of a lightbox and 2 studio lights, compliments of my darling husband. Since this is the last day of 2008, I was thinking that this time last year I had no idea what a lightbox was! I have learned a lot about taking good pictures of very small objects since I started selling my jewelry online. The important things you need are a good camera with macro zoom (already had that, also compliments of my husband), good lighting and a lightbox which eliminates nasty shadows and glare.

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, where there isn't a lot of sunshine, I have taken my photography outdoors and have had great results. The cloudy days here are perfect for giving just enough light without a lot of glare, and editing is kept to a minimum. However, we do get a lot of rain here and I really would like to take pictures anytime of the day and not have to wait for the rain to stop! A couple of weeks ago, I was even outside taking pictures in the snow during our bout with cold weather in temperatures of 20 degrees F. Brrrr....

Here's a few pictures I thought I'd share of my first experiments with it. Granted I shouldn't be taking pictures in a red dining room (I've since moved it)! Here's some beautiful yarn, I bought at our local yarn shop, and a sweater I'm knitting. Oh, how I love knitting but haven't found the time since I really should be making more jewelry. Look at this gorgeous sweater, from Nora Gaughan Collection Vol. 3 in Berocco yarn. I bought the pattern book last August and now I finally got around to getting the yarn. But I digress!

The last photo shows a comparison of two necklaces, the left is a photo I took outside (in the cold) and on the right, a picture I took last night in the lightbox with the lights. I think I'm pretty satisfied, but I'll try taking some more in the daylight where I'll have just a little more natural light to add.

I also wanted to say, thanks for reading my blog this year. My goal is to post more often next year. It has been fulfilling, challenging and discouraging all at the same time to try to think up things that people will actually want to read. Your comments make it all worthwhile and I'm excited when I discover that a new one is added. I am so flattered by all of you who are following and that have signed up for email updates, thank you.

So with that I think I'll go back to my knitting and wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. Take care everyone!


Sunday, December 28, 2008


I've been very negligent in making treasuries on Etsy for quite some time. It was great fun to pick out some shops that have been extra kind to me since I opened my shop last April and include their items in this treasury. Many of these folks I've met have included me in their treasuries, have been some of my very first customers or have just sent me a kind word or two.

I love this community and although I've begun to look at some other venues to sell my "wares" there is a spirit here among creative people that is very special!

If you click on this picture it will take you right to the treasury room!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our "HOLE IN THE WALL" House Project

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that we recently moved into a home in the Pacific Northwest and have been busy with a few renovations. After living in this house for 3 days I got a fantastic idea that we should open up a wall between the formal living room and the family room that sits in the back of the house. My argument was that this front room was extremely isolated from the rest of the house and that the family room did not get much natural light as it backs right up to the woods. After much convincing and a great sell job to my husband, I got my wish. Work began in late October.

First,we had a contractor come in to knock out the wall and build the new trim, then hardwood floor experts filled in the missing wood slats and refinished, some extra electrical wiring had to be done and then finally it was painted by a professional painter. This whole process, as well as some other extensive trim work upstairs took about 7 weeks. It was finished about 10 days before Christmas so we were rushing around trying to get our holiday decorating done. You'll see our Christmas tree in the photos and some furniture out of its usual place, but you'll get the idea of what a radical change for the better this made to our environment.

Here are some of the photos:

Above, is the family room with the tape placed where I wanted the cut-out to be.

This is the formal living room, on the other side, again with the tape placed. Much thought had to be put into figuring out where this went!

Above: This is just a picture of what everything looked like during construction.

Above: The family living room AFTER.

Above: The formal living room AFTER.

Above: Another angle of the two rooms together from the formal living room.

Now my husband thinks that it was a pretty fantastic idea after all!
The moral of this story is this: If there is something in your home that you can change to make it more beautiful and flow better (and you can afford it) don't put it off. Contractors are really looking for work right now. You can get some fantastic deals as well as maybe helping someone stay in business!

Okay now, go and think up some great ideas for your space!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


May you consider taking a few moments today to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. And... enjoy all the treats, gifts, and time with family and friends too!
Luke 2:11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


If you are snowed in today like us, then why not whip up a delicious batch of sugar cookies complete with your own homemade icing? The kids will thank you, I promise! My family makes a special request every Christmas for me to bring these along. It's a basic recipe, but there are a few tips that I'll tell you about so they turn out extra yummy!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour

1. Beat together softened butter and margarine in a large bowl.
TIP #1:
I like to use butter AND margarine. The butter gives the cookies a rich flavor and the margarine makes the dough more manageable and less dry.
2. Beat in sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Beat in vanilla and then the egg.
4. Mix together flour and baking powder in a medium size bowl.
5. Use a mixer to add the flour mixture gradually, beating between additions.
TIP #2:
If it becomes too stiff you can add a little milk.
6. Gather the dough into a ball, cover with wax paper,place in a ziploc bag and refrigerate a few hours.
7. Roll the dough to a scant 1/4" thickness, with a marble (preferable) rolling pin, between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper or parchment.
TIP #3:
If you roll too thin the cookies have a tendency to burn when cooking or break when transfering to the cookie sheet.
8. Cut with desired cookie cutter shapes.
9. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets.
10. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

This is a wonderful icing that is rich and very tasty. I like the fact that when it dries it has a hardened surface that doesn't "smush" when other cookies are placed on top. Not like the stuff you buy at the store!

1/4 cup butter
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar
3 to 4 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Cream butter in a medium size mixing bowl.
2. Add vanilla and beat.
TIP # 1:
If you want extra white icing use Wilton's Clear Vanilla Extract. You can buy it at Michaels.
3. Gradually beat in icing sugar, adding a tablespoon of milk each time to make the mixture more manageable.
4. Ice cookies and sprinkle with crystallized sugar or non-pareils.
TIP #2 and tremendous time saver:
I put my icing in a disposable plastic icing bag, I use a round #4 Wilton tip to quickly spread the icing over the cookies. It uses a little less icing so it's a lighter on the calories as well.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning with about 4 inches of snow and more on its way! Schools were cancelled, so it looks like we'll be housebound today. These photos were taken in our backyard which is a greenbelt of huge cedars and pine trees. Just beautiful and majestic with their covering of white!

Our little town of Anacortes, WA doesn't have any snow equipment, so life pretty much comes to a screeching halt when we get a winter storm. We already have ice packed roads from unusually low temperatures and snow from earlier this week, so road conditions are particularly treacherous.

I thought we had left all of this weather behind when we left Kansas! Oh, well, it's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Oh, I know it may not seem like much to some but after being on Etsy for about 8 months, I just had my 50th sale today! I knew I was getting close a couple of weeks ago, but with the economy being the way it is I wasn't holding my breath to get there, but I was still hopeful. I had free shipping sales, sent out a holiday email to previous buyers, handed out my business cards, promoted in the forums and it looks like it paid off!

She doesn't know it yet, but my customer will be receiving an extra pair of earrings with her order as a way to say thanks.

In fact, I am going to celebrate some more by having a special promotion. Everything in my shop ships for just $.50 until Dec. 15th, 2008! I figure that most items can get anywhere in the USA by Christmas even by that date.

Here are a few of my latest listings:

Very Merry...Gorgeous AA Quality Garnet Marquis Briolette Gold Fill Earrings $40

Green Garland... Organic Hoops with Emerald Green Faceted Aventurine Rondelles $18

Foliage...Fine Silver Handcrafted Leaf Pendant and Jasper Necklace $48

And...I'll let you know when I hit 100!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Sorry, no turkeys here, just my cat Ace doing what he does best!
Such is the life of a cat.

I know our lives are nothing like our pets whose greatest worry
is that that may fall off the sofa during their nap! But hopefully today you'll take a few moments to think about your blessings. Today I'm thanking the Lord for my wonderful family, my health,
my husband's job, our church family and friends, and a roof over our heads, oh and my kitty too!
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Recently a friend of mine invited me to a business group in town and asked me to bring all of my jewelry from my Etsy shop Beadin' By the Sea . Since I'd never had to display my earrings before, I had to come up with a quick way to show them off that was portable, compact and pretty. I made this display in about an hour the day before the meeting. I simply leaned them against a wall at the meeting but you could easily support them with a metal easel because they are very lightweight. I happened to have all of the materials on hand including some beautiful black rayon velvet that I'd been hanging onto for years.

I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of making an earring display like this but a quick search on Google didn't provide me with any links so I thought I'd share with you how you can make your own.

This is a great display for your jewelry especially if you make your own earring cards that are simply cards folded in half with holes punched in them.


Here's what you will need:
1. Foam board cut to 12" X 18" (you can make 2 from a 20" X 30" piece of foam board)
2. Thin cotton batting or polyester batting (I used thin cotton quilt batting)
3. Black velvet fabric or your choice of fabric
4. Black satin ribbon 1/4" wide
5. Light duty staple gun
6. Scissors
7. Right angle ruler
8. Black poster board or thick construction paper for backing
9. Cutting blade/knife
10. Cutting mat

STEP 1: CUT Layers to make a sandwich

Using a sharp blade cut the foam board to 12" X 18" or your desired size. Round the corners a little to make it easier to turn the corners when covering. It's not necessary to use the square ruler when cutting the fabrics. Just cut the velvet about 1 1/2" larger than the foam board and the batting about 1/4" larger than the foam board. Round the corners of the fabrics also.

3. STAPLE fabric to the board:

Starting in the center of the longer side gently tug on the layers of fabric and staple a good 1/8" in from the edge of the fabric. Take extra care on the corners by gathering up the fabric with your fingers and putting in a few extra staples. It also helps to trim the batting a little shorter here so it isn't so bulky underneath. Continue tugging and stapling about 1" - 2" apart until you've gone all the way around and you have no puckers on the sides.


I attached 4 rows of ribbon trim across the shorter width of the board. The center of the first row of ribbon is 1" from the top of the board and each following row (center of the ribbon) is 5" apart. Pull the ribbon fairly tight so when you hang your cards they don't droop from the weight. You may have to experiment with this a little. My first board is a little looser than the first one! Secure the ribbon on the back with one or two staples, crosswise and lengthwise for extra hold.


Cut your poster board (for backing) about a half inch narrower on all sides from your finished board size. Round the corners as you did the foam board and simply staple every 2-3" apart. You can choose to skip this step but why not make it look really professional and cover all uglies on the back!


Admire your handiwork and hang the top fold of your earring cards around the ribbon. They can easily be removed and rearranged because they simply hang on the ribbon.
Now you have a great looking display, that was easy to make, light on the pocket book and will show off your designs beautifully!

If you have any comments or questions please leave one below and I'll try to help you out!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Now that we live with the back of our house to the "woods" we see all kinds of critters running about in our backyard. I didn't realize that with this house we would inherit our own "natural zoo".

Yesterday this friendly little squirrel was kind enough to pose for me as he sat perched on my porch rail munching away on a morsel of food.

You can see his friend in the background of the second picture.

The third photo is a raccoon that sat staring at us from a huge maple tree last August. We've heard they are pretty onery critters; we tried to scare him off but he wouldn't budge until he decided it was time to leave.

As you can see, my surroundings are just a little different from the golf course neighborhood I left behind in Kansas City, Kansas!

Have a great day everyone, and try to look for the little things in life that make us glad to be where we are for the moment!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Just a quick post today. I took this picture of my cat Ace a couple of days ago as he was camped out beside me on the sofa. I do a lot of work on my laptop sitting here and he always comes up next to me to snuggle.

This morning which happens to be my birthday, I woke up to realize that he wasn't around the house. That's when I realized I had the patio door open last night for about 20 minutes (I was using some nasty smelling solvent to clean paint off a closet shelf !) and he must have slipped out into the night. He is an inside cat and has never ventured very far outside especially at night. What is worse is that we live right up next to a greenbelt where all kinds of critters live including coyotes.

After panicking and looking around for about a half hour, I did find him hunkered down underneath our back porch. Poor thing was probably sitting there all night scared to death. I managed to "snake crawl" the distance of about 10 feet to grab him.
So far, he's seems none the worse for wear! I'm so thankful and glad to have my cuddly companion back next to me. I would have had a hard time living with the fact that I lost my cat on my birthday. Thank goodness for happy endings and pets that we can love just like family!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Oh my, it's been a whole month since my last post! It is true that moving is a huge distraction. I know I have too many things going on in my brain when my husband states "You have too many projects!"

Since the two months that we've been in our new (to us) home, I have unpacked, painted 4 rooms (one of which is rag painted), had a kitchen backsplash installed, picked out new appliances and 3 light fixtures and made 2 pairs of pinch pleated drapes for my dining room! I've also marked off with masking tape an opening in a wall between our family room and formal living room that is going to be knocked out by a carpenter in less than 2 weeks.

Needless to say, I've been busy. My blog has been ignored and sadly my Etsy shop. Oh sure, I've added a few new jewelry designs and sold a few things but I haven't had nearly the amount of time to dedicate to it. But alas, I will not blog with guilt! This too shall pass, along with the dust from cut sheetrock that is coming.

Just to show you I haven't been sitting around eating bonbons here's some before/after pictures:

White appliances, no backsplash.

I chose black appliances and had a backsplash installed.

The dining room was a very nice light gray/blue (just not my colors), the tiny chandelier had to go and the windows needed some window coverings.

After much browsing through hundreds of light fixtures available on the web , I finally decided on this chandelier, made some lined pinch pleat curtains and rag painted the walls a brick red (took me about 12 hours to just rag over the rose color!).

I usually don't like to post pictures of me but here I am in the middle of painting the top layer of red over the rose basecoat. Messy stuff!
Stay tuned for more pictures of the renovations. I'm excited to open up the main floor with a pass through opening between the formal living room and the family room. I'll make sure to take some before and after pictures to share.
In the meantime, this house is really beginning to feel like home!

Thursday, September 11, 2008



I can't believe that I've been in Anacortes Washington for a month today! With all the unpacking and painting I've been doing on our new home, not to mention the fact that I was without internet for almost 3 weeks, it's been difficult to keep up on my blog.

I thought I'd share a few pictures of our trip half way across the country from our home in the rolling hills of Eastern Kansas (Kansas City), to the flat prairie of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado, through Montana and Idaho and finally into the Cascade Mountains and West Coast of Washington State. In all, we drove about 2100 miles in four days, sometimes being in the Jeep for about 10 hours ! Ace, our cat, was a real trooper and did very well staying in his carrier the whole time while in the car. Fast food was the only option for lunch as we didn't want to leave him in the car with temperatures in the 90's and no shade!

Here are the pictures. Not the best since most of them were taken through the windshield of a vehicle, but it will give you an idea of the changing terrain.

Windmills generating electricity on the Kansas Prairie

Ace looking pretty wide eyed wondering why his life is being turned upside down!

A bright end to a rainstorm in Colorado

Somewhere in Idaho, coming out of the Rocky Mountains (I think!)

Not such a shabby place to be stopped for road construction and a quick picture - going into the Cascades of Western Washington State.

Home in Anacortes, WA- A typical view while driving around town (on a not so typical sunny day when you can see Mount Baker!)

Hopefully this will give you an idea of how far our family traveled in such a short period of time. We're enjoying being back where we can see the mountains and the water everywhere we go, being closer to my side of the family and dear friends, while enjoying the slower pace of life in our special little town. Naturally there have been a few adjustments, like getting used to the cooler temperatures, missing the summer Kansas sunshine, colorful birds and butterflies, being closer to my husband's side of the family, and the awesome shopping of a big city, but I think we're all very glad to be home!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Making a PMC Button Pendant

This isn't as much a tutorial as just a way to share my latest discovery in working with PMC or Precious Metal Clay. A few months ago I bought some silicone molding compound called "Amazing Mold Putty but had never really found a way to put it to good use. Recently when I was sorting through some things in my sewing room (actually packing for my big move) I came across this beautiful old button. I don't even remember why I bought it or what garment I must have used its mates on... or maybe it was a button that belonged to my mother. I really don't know, but immediately I thought that it would make a great mold for a PMC pendant.

Problem... because PMC shrinks by 10-15% I knew it would be too small after firing, so instead of using the mold I cut around the circle to make a "stamp" instead. After impressing my stamp in the wet clay I added small strokes to create a "pie crust edge" to give it a larger diameter. The picture above shows my stamp (mold) ,the original button, and my pendant before firing. The original button measured 5/8" and my pendant ended up being 5/8" with the added edge to give you an idea of the shrinkage factor.


The picture above is a great example of how the oxidizing process really brings out the details in your silver piece. You'll notice in the after picture there is so much more depth to the floral design, plus as an added bonus it looks much more "vintage" like my button!

The last picture shows my new addition to my Etsy shop, Beadin'ByTheSea called "Button Box Treasure".

Now, of course I've looked through some of my clothes and I've discovered one more "pendant worthy" button! I have a feeling you'll be seeing a few more of these designs in my shop. Stay tuned. Of course I have to move first. Yikes in 5 days!

See you later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I really should be packing but I promised that I would write about the "Christmas in July" sale that is happening throughout Etsy. Many shops are having sales on their entire shops or stocking up with Christmas Items. You can check it out here. In the search bar, make sure you type in "christmasinjuly" and you'll find all kinds of neat stuff, I guarantee you! It runs from July 21- 31, 2008 so get going and have your Christmas shopping done early this year.

With my big move coming up I haven't been able to do too much but here's what I have for my Christmas in July Sale for my shop Beadin By The Sea. I made some of these Christmas trees last year for gifts but found it very difficult to find all the "parts" especially in late Fall as many places were out of stock. I ordered early this year so I would be better prepared. I thought they looked so pretty all hanging together in the different colors. And here they are on my new "model".

And... Merry Christmas in July!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I'm in the mood to "muse" this morning. Would you like to "take a walk" with me and my thoughts?

Do you ever stop to think about what you were doing the same time last year? Or two years ago? I think we tend to do this more when we've had significant changes in our lives. As a family, our lives have gone through a few twists and turns the last few years!

It occurred to me yesterday as I was making a new necklace to add to my Etsy shop. Someone suggested to me on the forums that I name it "Hawaiian Sunset" because of the tropical flower pendant I had made, combined with the colors of pink, peach and tangerine orange. I realized that this very day last year we were on our way to the beautiful island of Kauai for a much needed vacation. But that's not all! Last year at this time we had just lost our beloved little kitty named Cleo. We had moved from Washington State to Kansas in March and were just settling into a new house. Well where does that lead to now?

...A total turnaround! It sounds crazy, but we have sold our house and are moving again in a few weeks. Yikes! Talk about twists and turns! There are a lot of things we love about Kansas, but we miss our little town in Northwest Washington more. I will miss the Midwest thunderstorms, the fabulous shopping in Kansas City, the bright sunshine, the many varieties of colorful birds, wide open spaces, the beautiful manicured golf course neighborhood I live in, and mostly being a little closer to my husbands side of the family! I have to say I will not miss the summer heat and humidity, the thunderstorms (I know I said I like them too), the gigantic bugs, the busy traffic, freezing cold winters and a few other things I won't mention, but all in all it has been a great experience for me. I have always lived on the West Coast, either in British Columbia or Washington.

Take a moment and think about where you've been, where you are now and where you'd like to be a year from now. A whole lot can happen in a year. Just ask me, I really, really know!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Wishing everyone a safe and fun, Fourth of July! I am a Canadian living in the USA but I can still celebrate the birthday of this wonderful country (yes, I know it has its flaws!). These photos were taken at a fireworks display in our little town of Anacortes, Washington in 2006. For a little town of about 15,000 people they put on quite the display. We would go down to the water with our hot chocolate and popcorn (and blankets!) and see the show.

This year I'll still be in Kansas, but we have reason to celebrate this week because we finally sold our house last Monday after being on the market for 5 months. If all goes well, we'll be back in our beloved little seaside town by August and I'll be down by the bay watching the fireworks in 2009!

As a way of celebrating in my Etsy shop Beadin By The Sea, I have made some "Celebration Earrings". Check it out, you might just find something you can't live without! These earrings are free with a purchase from my shop but only until midnight tonight.