Tuesday, May 27, 2008


When you need to smile you don't usually have to look much further than watching the latest antics of your household pet do you? I wanted to share these great pictures I took of my 9 month old cat Ace. He's still technically a kitten even though he's grown to a whopping 13 lbs. We recently discovered he had a newfound talent for jumping onto high places when we heard our 3 legged antique parlor table topple over with the lamp still on it! Chalk it up to natural instincts I guess! Today he couldn't resist checking out my laptop as it sat on the counter. Now if only I could get him to do some work!

This is just a reminder to look for opportunities that can make you smile in your busy day. They're out there if you just look for them!


Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
~Mother Teresa

Smile - sunshine is good for your teeth.
~Author Unknown

What do you think he's thinking in the picture? Do you have a suggestion?

Feel free to leave one in your comment section below.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Wonderful World of Etsy

Ever since becoming a seller on Etsy about 2 months ago I have been amazed at the talent to be found there. All my life, people have told me how creative I am, but after seeing the things that people make on Etsy my whole perspective has changed.

Today, I'm featuring a seller that I met on the Etsy forums named Julie who has a beautiful shop made of handpainted items in a Prim or Whimsical Folk Art Style. She also has some vintage items that fit in with her country theme. You can check out her shop Oak Leaf Hollow by clicking here.

You will want to check out her website for a more extensive selection of items:

And her blog:

If you like to "buy handmade"make sure you visit Etsy too to see all the talent and originality just waiting to be discovered!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


When I first took up PMC or Precious Metal Clay I was excited to be able to make my own original links and components for my beaded jewelry. Recently I went one step further and made my first toggle clasp. It was a little time consuming because I'd never done it before but hopefully if I can give you a few tips it will be much easier for you. I wish I had taken pictures of the steps but ,oh well, I didn't know I'd be writing about it. It is really quite easy and the photo of the finished result is probably better than words anyway!

I read a survey once where most people prefer a toggle on a bracelet because they are much easier to fasten. We've all been there I'm sure, wasting precious time trying to swing the bracelet around and magically catching the end ring in your lobster clasp!

A toggle clasp needs to have 2 sections - a ring on one end and a bar on the other that slides into it. I haven't always been a fan of toggles because a lot of them seem to just plain slide out and you run the risk of losing your favorite piece of jewelry! There is a technique to this to make sure this doesn't happen.

The ring side of the clasp was super easy. I just rolled out my PMC and made it a little thicker than normal, about 6 cards thick (yes, real playing cards) because I was texturing both sides. I cut it into a circle about 5/8' diameter with a center hole. I left a wider amount on the ring so it would be strong.

The bar was also easy - just a rectangle rolled the same thickness (6 cards), textured and cut. I made sure that the bar was a little longer (at least 1/8") than the ring outside diameter. This is the secret to not having it slide out! The little circle on the bar was the tricky part but now that I know what I'm doing it should be very easy the next time. I love to learn by trial and error, don't you?

I tried to roll a rope to make the little ring first and it just kept cracking because it was so small. So instead, I rolled a little piece of clay about 4 cards thick, and cut a tiny, tiny circle about 3/16" diameter and put a little hole in the middle. After it dried, I filed down one side so it was flat to give more surface area for adhering to the bar. (You'll notice this on the picture) Using thick slip and brushing with water I attached the ring to the bar after both the bar and the tiny ring were completely dry.

I let both pieces of my clasp dry thoroughly on my little coffee cup warmer. After some more filing and finishing I fired both pieces with my torch. I make sure that I get a red glow for at least 2 minutes for extra strength for PMC3. And voila, here is my finished toggle. The final perfect touch for my bracelet! Click here to see it and the rest of my jewelry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I don't know if I'll ever get used to these thunderstorms we experience in the Midwest! Around 4:00 this morning I awoke to constant flashes of light streaming through my windows and what sounded like bowling balls being thrown on the roof. As I tossed and turned and jumped (if that's possible while lying in bed!) I couldn't help thinking that it would never stop!

What this storm did bring (other than lack of sleep) was a feeling of fresh clean air this morning. Rain just seems to saturate the color of everything growing doesn't it? As I walked to the mailbox to mail a package (jewelry I just sold on my Etsy shop!) I noticed how rich the colors were all around me! And then I saw a bunny rabbit in the neighbor's yard just sitting there like a statue! A grey squirrel quickly darted behind the mailboxes. I went back to the house to grab my camera, surprised and delighted to see the rabbit still there but of course the squirrel was long gone! See his picture above. On my way back I snapped pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers growing in our garden.
Oh, I guess I don't mind the storms too much! Not when I see how the rain makes all these beautiful flowers grow for us to enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Webster's Dictionary defines patience as "the capacity of bearing trials without complaint, and calmness, steadfastness, perseverance". Here's my spin on it! Patience is "emotion you feel when you have all the time in the world to do the things you love to do!" It's much easier to be patient when you're not in a hurry! Here's an example. How much patience do you have with the airport ticket person when you have an hour until your plane leaves compared with "Last call for all passengers on Flight XXX? Hopefully you get the picture now of my definition!

I always thought I had a lot of patience. I do all kinds of crafts and people tell me, "You must have so much patience to do all that!" There have been times when that was very true. I have a great husband who provides very well for our family which has allowed me to be a stay-at-home Mom raising one child who is intelligent, loving, and easy going, but not perfect by any means. It's amazing how much patience you have when you have blessings like that!

It's lately I've been less patient and I think it's because of two things. One is lack of time because I've been much busier with my new Etsy jewelry shop. The second and biggest reason is worry. To me patience and worry go hand in hand. Our family is in a state of big change right now for our move back to Washington State. We are trying to sell our house in one of the worst housing markets in US history and it's only natural to worry about how things will work out. Impatience rears it's ugly head because I don't have all the time in the world! Back to my original example - when the plane is boarding you are worried you will miss it!

Now in the Bible, (of which I am a believer) the Lord tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 not to worry. I'll give you just a couple of the verses but I recommend reading the whole passage. Verse 27:"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" and Verse 34:"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." What great words of wisdom! It's just natural for us to doubt; to toss and turn in anguish. So that's what I've been praying for lately. That God will give me more patience so I don't worry about selling our house! He will bring us the right buyer at the right time! He knows what I'm worried about so I need to put it in His capable hands.

Is this making any sense to you? Are you worried about something right now? Accept the fact that worrying about it won't change a thing. It is such a waste of energy isn't it? You may not believe in God's word but I'm clinging to it with all my might right now. Each day has enough turmoil in it already without me adding to it with something I have no control over!

Did I answer my question then? Does worry lead to impatience? Well, if patience is calmness, in times of trial then I think the answer is a resounding yes! What do you think? How do you deal with worry. I'd like to hear your comments!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


When you just want to bury yourself and hide? A toad that visited our house yesterday certainly did. I was alerted to his presence outside our basement window by our cat Ace who was carrying on about something. I looked outside and there was a big toad crawling around, apparently stuck in the 5 foot drop below ground on some rocks. The toad must have been happily leaping along (or whatever toads do) and gone for a very steep dive down into this window well. Being such a "girly girl" that I am I wasn't about to mess with a toad! And anyway I was rushing around trying to get my house ready for a showing as we are in the middle of selling it. So when I got back from my errands, there was the toad, hunkered down in the rocks, probably waiting patiently to die.

I couldn't believe how easily he gave up. Was it just lack of determination on his part or was it actual intelligence knowing that he did not have the power to leap over 5 feet to freedom? Was he conserving his energy in the shade to try again later? Since my husband was coming home soon, I thought that a "Toad Rescue" would be the perfect job for him once he arrived! My toad rescuer climbed down the wooden ladder bucket in hand and coaxed our new four legged friend into it. He gently set him down on the grass. Oh my, what a beautiful toad he was! He did look a little grumpy and seemed to be saying "What took you so long!" I must say I've never had the privilege of a visiting toad in my yard. Of course, in my year in Kansas, we have had seen some very interesting critters and some who look like they're on steroids. But I digress, that could be used for another post!

So back to my original question. Have you ever had one of those days? Do you easily give up like our friend, Mr. Toad? I know sometimes I feel like I want to. Perhaps you may just want to conserve your energy and wait it out? Is that so bad? And then other times you just need a helping hand or a little nudge to get you started merrily on your way.

This little amphibian made me think about a lot of things. Funny how a silly toad can make you sit up and take stock and really wonder how much fight there is in you? Many of us have someone in our lives that is willing to help us out if we get up the nerve to ask! Thankfully we have the ability to do that, not just sit there like a toad to wait it out and possibly succumb to our circumstances!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Today is Mother's Day and it's always a little difficult for me since I lost my mother after her 9 month battle with lung cancer almost 19 years ago. She was always trying new things and I have to credit her for encouraging all of my creative endeavours and passing on that curiousity to try something new. She was always buying me craft kits of various mediums like macrame, paint by numbers, plaster models, coloring books, you name it! She also taught me everything I know about knitting and crocheting and helped me develop a love of sewing which I eventually turned into a Fashion Design Degree when I got older.

I love this picture because her favorite color was red and she loved to work in her garden tending to her peonies and roses. This photo was taken in 1987 at Peace Arch Park in the "No Man's Land" area between Canada and the US border crossing from British Columbia into Washington State.

I encourage all of you that still have your mother around to give her an extra hug today (for me) or a phone call and tell her how much you love and appreciate her because you just don't know how long you'll have her here!

Here's to you Mom, I love you and miss you very much!

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's Teacher Appreciation Week May 5-9

If you have a child in school you are probably well aware that it is Teacher Appreciation Week and whether you love your kid's teacher (or not) you may be asked to help your child write a personal note about how much they appreciate them. Well, Sunday night at 10:00 pm (of course at the last minute) my 11 year old son had to write such a note and we needed a quick, creative solution! I'm sure this has never happened to you! I put on my creative thinking cap and came up with an idea that I think was totally cool and I wanted to share it with you! Well, I'm sure it's been done before but I can take some credit can't I?

Do you have any of your child's awesome artwork laying about and you're not sure what to do with it? Well, my suggestion is that you turn it into notecards! These could even be printed up and given to grandmother on Mother's Day! How's that for original thinking!

Here's are some general directions (specifics depend on your photo-editing software ):
1. Take a photo of the artwork or if it's small enough scan it.
This is the hardest part especially the picture taking. Make sure you lay it on a flat surface with plenty of natural light. Don't use a flash! If you have a text setting on your camera this will make sure it is sharp.

2. Fix the photo in a photo editing program so it's perfect and then crop around the artwork. (I use Adobe Photoshop Elements and it works wonders). Change the image size to approx. 5" X 4". The 5 inches is more important than the height, just keep the proportions right.

3. Create a document the size of a card 5.5" X 8.5" which is half a piece of cardstock (also called statement for printer paper settings). Copy and paste your image onto the document.
4. Cut your cardstock sheet in half to be 5.5" X 8.5". Print the card: It is very important to set your printer to cardstock paper and high quality.

5. Have your child write a small note, attach a school picture and you're done!

Voila! Their teacher will be so impressed! You could also make a variety of cards to give grandparents to use as thank you cards. They will be so proud to show off her grandchildren's talents for sure!