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!