Friday, November 12, 2010

Making Boxes

I have gotten myself some MDF (medium-density fiberboard for those not "in-the-know") and will be making myself some boxes. Yay. Note the utter lack of enthusiasm there. I hate sawing and gluing and nailing and all the basic skills it takes to make something out of wood. It is not my forte.

However, I will be making 2 boxes roughly 1 cubic foot each. They will have a mostly open front, and holes on both sides and the top. I will then paint the inside of one black and the other white. With some poster board or such I will make the back of the box seamless so it doesn't throw shadows, and the holes will be covered with white cloth to diffuse light.

That's right, I'm going to make myself some sturdy wooden light boxes. Mainly because I can't afford the fancy collapsible ones I really want. I'll have to get some mirror boards and a couple displays for picture taking, but I'm hoping my photos will be getting better with the addition of these large wooden boxes. The good thing is I have 2 linen closets near my work space with room in the bottom for these boxes. Eventually I will post progress pictures and maybe someone else who can't get the fancy ones will get some ideas.

The other reason they will be made of MDF instead of, say, PVC pipe frames wrapped in cloth is because I have a 2 year old daughter. She won't be able to arbitrarily grab the MDF boxes off the table and run off with them, or take them and loose them under the couch. I would love to have the collapsible ones, but I could just imagine her pulling the entire set up off the table and breaking some very expensive lamps. I will be on the hunt for the nice photography lamps with the reflectors and such, but when that hunt fails I will use some flood lights. I can always correct the yellowness.

Wish me luck, and when I can finally get the nice collapsible boxes these will most definitely be made into toy boxes or seating for my daughter. :) Multi-purpose at it's best.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I have opened an ArtFire account and am slowly bringing the items from my Etsy shop into it. Yes, I'm stopping my Etsy shop. I have no intention of deleting my whole account, I just won't be selling through them anymore. It is much more financially feasible for me to have a pro Artfire account than to pay out so much to keep my items at the tops of search results on Etsy.

For a little bit of celebrating this move, I have created a coupon to run from November 1 (today) to December 1 for $5 off the entire purchase price. This coupon is one use per customer, and is valid with other offers. If you have purchased from me before and I put a % off on the back of my business card, that is still valid. Just message me so I can adjust the price before you buy, or let me know when you purchase and I will refund the money off.

I have done one collection on ArtFire already, and if you would like to have your ArtFire shop featured on my blog, just contact me and I will be happy to blog about you. I can even put your shop in my ArtFire shop blog. My pieces on ArtFire are mostly chainmaille right now, but there will be other things soon enough.

My ArtFire Shop

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

100 Fans Giveaway!

My Facebook Fanpage...

Has now reached 100 fans! In appreciation for this milestone being reached I am holding a giveaway. I will draw two random fans from the group and one will win a custom OOAK bracelet and the other will win a custom OOAK pair of earrings. These winners will be announced Monday, when I will contact them for their addresses so I can send their gifts.

I will be doing the same thing with every 100 fans I get to the page. The gifts will be different each time, so stick with it and tell your friends to 'like' the page. The sooner I get to 200 fans, the sooner it will be for another chance to win free jewelry!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

All Moved... Even had a few Sales

We have moved completely into our house and are loving it. We signed the papers on the 15th, but were actually able to move in at the beginning of the month. No more apartment living! We have been lucky with furniture as well. Our apartment was not large enough for even a small dining table, so when we were presented with a house with an actual dining room and a large enough living room to add a kitchen table, we thought we would have a problem. But, family came through for us. My husband's grandmother gave us the dining table she had in her house, which she no longer had room for when she moved into the duplex. So we have heirloom family furniture in our dining room now, though the chairs need to be reupholstered. For our kitchen, my husband's dad and step mom gave us their kitchen table because they had gotten a new one. We need to get cushions for the seats, but that's where I've been doing most of my creating.

Since we've moved, I've also gotten into chainmaille. My projects have included full Persian bracelets in copper, a bronze turkish round bracelet, and aluminum half persian 4 in 1 bracelets. I also have a chunky copper keychain in the sandworm (B8FP) weave, which I absolutely love. I have also made my daughter a length of half persian 4 in 1 in large pink anodized aluminum rings to keep her occupied while I work on my latest project. My last order of rings from The Ring Lord came in with some exceptionally tiny rings in bright aluminum and turquoise anodized aluminum. They are 20g (AWG) 3/32" with an AR of 3. Yay for a teeny tiny Jens Pind. It's taking a while to finish this, but I really want it as a necklace chain for a gift for Christmas.

My next order of rings will be in a sufficient size to make a copper dragonscale bracelet. I've wanted to tackle dragonscale since the first time I saw it. It is literally the weave that gave me the chainmaille fever. I sincerely want to make a bracelet in sterling and gold-fill with the dragonscale weave, but I want to make one out of copper as practice.

Here is a picture of my Jens Pind project, with a penny for size reference:

I made it about twice the length it is in the picture and then held it up and discovered that I had messed up at about this point, and so had to take it apart back to this length. But that's the nature of learning. Make mistakes. I just bet I will hate this weave by the time this is necklace length, but I also bet it will be well worth all the headaches. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacation... With a Twist

My shop is on vacation mode until further notice. We are hoping to close on the house we just bought within the next week or so and with that and packing and moving and all the work we will have to do on the house, I have no time to maintain my shop right now. Don't worry, though. I will be back up and running in no time with new inventory.

The house was a foreclosure. It's in a small development on a golf course about half an hour from where we live now. The builders never finished it and then they went bankrupt so the bank now owns the houses and is trying like mad to get rid of them. It has never been lived in.

Now, by "unfinished" I mean it has no floors (they're bare concrete) and no appliances. The electrical is run, the plumbing is done, and it has light fixtures, faucets, and toilets already in it. So before we can move in, we have to put down floors and get the appliances. Not a big deal, we already have price quotes. Lowe's will be installing the floors and delivering the appliances for us to install. I'm cheap and am NOT paying $100/appliance for them to install. Nope. Not when I can damn well do it on my own.

Since this house was incomplete, we have that much more room to add our own personal touch to it. I have been sweating over paint chips for WEEKS now. I never thought picking out paint would be so difficult. I have three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and dining room to paint. I mean, wow. The open, high traffic areas need to coordinate together so they're cohesive. But my husband's dad's house is all "sand and sea," so it's very high to tans and teals. I have been forbidden to use those colors on our house. This cut my options from wide open to half throttle and threw a monkey wrench into my vision. It doesn't help that the outside of the house is minty-freshness green and blinding white. I think I got a concession on the guest room, though, since it will double as an office for me. I can't sit in a neutral room all the time. I need color and inspiration. However, I do have a fairly neutral color for the kitchen and living room, and a slightly different neutral for the dining room, and a dark red for an accent wall to pop in both areas.

On top of all this, we will have to replace the studs in one of the garage walls. The garage on this house is roughly 12 feet tall because of the slope of the land. On one wall, the builder made a 4 foot high concrete wall and put 8 foot studs on top of that. perfectly to code. However, on the other wall they put 4 foot studs and then a 2x4 and then 8 foot studs on top of that. NOT to code and so not cool. So we have to take down the drywall and replace these mismatched studs one at a time with 12 foot studs. This is the part I am not looking forward to. But once it's done, the dear husband knows how to hang drywall. I think after that he'll just put peg board over it for all his bigger tools. No need to paint, which saves me one more headache in that department. Maybe I should tell him to paint it green...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Two New Creations

Today was a day when I wished I had a light box for my pictures. The pictures for these two new pieces are so bad that I haven't listed them on Etsy yet because the pictures don't do them justice at all. The next time I have money I will be buying a neck form and a T-bar display for picture purposes and I am going to get the materials to make a lightbox.

This first one is a necklace, obviously. The middle bit is 11 inches of sterling silver viking knit, capped off with sterling bead cones and 6mm malachite rounds. The pendant is a hand-carved malachite pendant, carved by Matheson Gem Works on Etsy. The bail is handmade from sterling silver wire with spirals for interest. The necklace is finished off with more malachite beads and a simple sterling silver chain and a large lobster clasp. It has a 1" extender with a malachite dangle. This will be priced at about $120, I haven't done all the math on the price yet, so that's a rough figure.

These next earrings are made with larimar and sterling silver. Larimar is a rare stone found only in the Dominican Republic that ranges in color from white, to light blue, green-blue, and dark blue. While the pectolite it is formed of is fairly common, the light blue coloration caused by the substitution of cobalt for calcium in the mineral makeup of the stone. These are on hand-wrapped sterling silver headpins and sterling silver French earwires. They will be priced at about $25-$28. Due to the rarity and price of larimar, any earrings made of the real thing will be more expensive.

These have not yet been listed on Etsy since I have yet to get good pictures of either piece.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Save the Coast

As most of you know, BP oil has been fiddling around with their thumbs up their asses over this major oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. This leak is effecting thousands of people along the coast and devastating the wildlife.

A great artist on Etsy, jojosart, is doing something to help the situation.

This print is only $18.00, of which $10 will be donated to the Audubon Society to help save the wildlife on the Gulf Coast that is being effected by this oil leak. Any help is very much welcome and will keep our coast lines full of thriving life for generations to come. For more information, visit jojosart's Etsy shop.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Just... Wrong

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel as though you can't do anything right? I'm having one of those days. I have officially holed myself in my room upstairs so I don't inadvertently fuck something else up. It's early in the day, I don't need the headache all day, so I am being unsociable.

Laundry is going to get done, I'm going to clean the bathroom. Maybe the house will be presentable but I will still feel like shit at the end of the day. I can probably talk the husband into taking the miniature human out and about for a daddy-baby day out and next weekend or something we can actually have people over because everything will be CLEAN. I know this rant isn't specific, I'm just having one of those days isn't an excuse to bitch, but I don't like getting overly personal.

By the way, the Hospice sale ends tonight at midnight. Read my previous blog "Little Sale With a Big Heart" for more information on this sale.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blunders of the Photographic Variety

Everyone says you need great photos in order to sell anything online. I have, however, seen my share of horrific photos in shops that seem to have sales out the wahoo. It is because of this observation that I have not yet made a light box for my photos yet. However, after today, I'm beginning to think maybe I should invest in the fabric and staples it would require...

We keep our apartment at roughly 70-72 degrees F. This is nice and comfy all year so we don't change it much. However, when you take a camera that has been in the 70-72 degree F temperatures outside into 95 degree F temperature, you get a moody camera. My lens fogged up and I got this atrocious image of some gorgeous malachite. Don't worry, fog makes everything look ugly.

Now, a while back I said I would post pictures of what viking knit looks like before you see the finished product in my shop. I'm warning you, it could have used a fogged lens to make it look a little better. Here is a picture of the same viking knit used on the malachite piece above, before it was drawn down into that lusciously flexible and dense chain.

This is only about 2 inches of the chain. Please excuse the lighting as I was sitting on my front porch holding it up. Appealing, eh? When weaving viking knit chain the resulting tube (pictured) is very stiff. You can't really move it much without digging the wire into your hand. I weave mine around a clickable Sharpie marker so it's easily removed and put back on. In order to make this ugly mess into something pretty and wearable, I must first finish the weave and pull it through a draw plate. I don't have pictures of me pulling it down yet, so maybe next time.

Several hours and some elbow grease later, you get this next picture.

The finished chain is approximately 11.25 inches long, including the beads on the end. So, it's not long enough for a necklace. This means I still have not made a solid viking knit necklace yet. I will. Don't worry. This 11.25 inch section took approximately 35 feet of wire. A full necklace piece will probably take about 70-80 feet of wire. But I digress.

The finished necklace will have three strands of malachite, onyx, and sterling silver beads to finish the length and make the necklace more substantial. One strand makes it look very plain and small, and I wanted this to have some weight to it and really make the malachite shine.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guerrilla Advertising

I know I need to make fliers and leave them in places that allow me to. I also need to hurry up and get business cards and leave them in random places, too. However, I don't have the money to get business cards right now and I have no idea how people are getting these free business cards all over the place. If you know the secret, let me in on it.

This is not, however, the guerrilla advertising I am referring to. I went to BestBuy today and had an idea. It was a total *bing* moment when that little light came on over my head. We were at BestBuy looking at appliances and I suddenly realized that, "Hey! BestBuy has COMPUTERS!" So I wandered over and lo and behold, they had 4 iPads. I've never played with the iPad before. Ever. I'm not really interested in them all that much, though I would love to have the iPhone. I don't like the hype about them and that they're the "next big thing." But that's just me.

Anyway, I digress. They had 4 of these buggers all lined up in a row. I got on one and checked my Etsy shop and answered a conversation. Then it hit me - I could leave them all to where when someone got online on them, they would automatically be looking at my Etsy and Zibbet shops. This, my friends, is guerrilla advertising. Someone would be going to that iPad and looking and the moment they got online with it they would be looking at my shop. I did leave them to where they would be looking at my more popular items, and I did this with almost no prior planning. If I happen to actually get a sale through this, all the better, though I have no clue how I would even tell if I got a sale directly from doing this.

I am that person that goes from computer to computer in BestBuy and changes things on the computer or just plays with them. I have been known to go from one to the other and change the wallpapers on them to something more appealing than the stock images they use on the display units. I've even had one of the clerks follow me around because apparently what I was doing was suspicious. Ha! Who, me? This may be a frowned upon way to advertise, but hey, I've gotten on those computers and had to sign out of someone else's Facebook or something like that.

Well, that's it for now. I hope, at the very least, that you got a decent chuckle out of this post. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recipe #1

Yeah, I don't know if this casserole has an official name, but here it is. We call it hamburger cornbread casserole because those are the main components. It's very easy to make, and doesn't take very long.

Hamburger meat - we use 2-2.5 lbs ground 80/20 hamburger, but we eat a lot.
1 can Rotel, whichever one you like best, we use original.
Worcestershire sauce - I just dump some in, no need to measure.
Chili powder - I sprinkle some on, doesn't have to be a lot.
Shredded cheese
Cornbread - your favorite mix or whatever you use, a bigger pan will need two mix packages.

How to make it:
Brown the hamburger meat. While it's cooking, sprinkle on salt, pepper, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce. Just eyeball it. You're going to be the one eating it, so season to your taste. Once the meat is browned, drain it. Open the can of Rotel and dump it in with the meat and stir it so it's well mixed. Dump this whole lot into a baking pan (I use a Pyrex 9x13x2) and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. If you like cheese, use a lot. If not, don't use a lot. It's up to you. Mix your cornbread according to the package and double for the larger pan (I have to double the cornbread). Mix it well so you don't have lumps. Pour the cornbread over the meat and spread it out as even as you can get it. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it might not look too pretty right now. Bake the dish according to the cornbread directions.

You can also sprinkle cheese over the top of the cornbread before you bake it, but in my experience it turns brown... Tastes good, but if your kids go off appearances they may not eat that. If you like a spicier dish, add some chopped chiles to the mix, or a chopped jalapeno. If you like sweet cornbread, that works well with this dish. I bet jalapeno cornbread would be wonderful.

To serve, just cut it out like you would a normal casserole and enjoy it as is or make a pot of beans with it. Pinto beans go real well with this dish. It's simple and easy and delicious. Instead of a big meal with so many separate dishes, this one has everything all in one bowl. If you make beans with it, you don't even need a separate bowl to eat them with. Down home cooking at it's most comforting.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Little Sale With a Big Heart

A little over four years ago, I became my grandmother's primary caregiver because our family could not afford 24-hour live-in care for her. I volunteered for this service because it was my grandma and she needed the help.

In February of '06, after many tests and blood transfusions you could set your watch by, they finally discovered that my grandmother had colon cancer and that a rather large tumor was blocking her intestinal tract. They did surgery to remove the tumor, but by this point the cancer had spread to other organs. She was given 6 months to live, and chemo wasn't recommended since the cancer was terminal and the chemo would only make her dying days worse. In August, after my grandma suffered a bad fall and couldn't get up until my uncle got there in the morning to check on her and take the trash out, I moved in to help her out. Mind, this is the 6 month point the doctor told us about and my grandmother was still walking around. I moved in just in case she fell and needed help in the night.

Over the next couple months I watched my grandmother go from walking on her own, to using a walker, eventually to needing a wheelchair, and in the last three days she was bedridden. Hospice came in three times a week to check her vitals and to help her bathe. I spent many a sleepless night wondering if she was going to have to get up in the middle of the night. I'm a heavy sleeper, or was at the time, and didn't want to not wake up if she called me. It took a week of this and then I borrowed a child monitor from my cousin who had just stopped using it with her youngest. This helped immensely but I still stayed up most of the night. For me, this was one of the hardest times of my life. I had just been discharged from the Navy and had to come back home and swallow a lot of pride to move back in with my parents. That was nothing compared to watching my grandmother die painfully.

In that short three months that I took care of my grandma, I learned that Hospice used to be able to provide much more equipment to their patients. We had to buy the adult diapers and the pads to protect the bed. A few years before we needed the services of Hospice, they had been able to provide everything the patient would need. They can no longer afford to do this. They were able to provide an older model hospital style bed and the bedside toilet, but that was about it. We bought a chair for her shower and donated it to Hospice when she passed away.

Hospice is a great service. These people get paid a pittance to drive all over to care for their patients. They never see a patient go into remission. For a heartache and a few bucks they care for the patients even the hospitals won't care for for long. They need all the help and donations we can give them. That is why I am doing this sale:

Until Sunday June 13th, which is two weeks from today, I am having a 25% off sale in my Etsy shop. If you buy anything, make sure to put "Hospice Blog" in the notes to seller to get in on this great deal. All the proceeds from the purchase of earrings will be donated to Hospice, and $10 from all necklaces and bracelets will be donated. Every little bit helps, and I have been donating to Hospice whenever possible for the past 4 and a half years. This is your chance to do your small part.

Remember, go to my Etsy shop and when you go through the checkout procedure enter "Hospice Blog" in the notes to seller. The 25% will be donated via PayPal.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Full Product Review - Absinthe Sugar Body Polish - Wicked Soaps

Earlier I did a short feature on the Absinthe Body Polish by Wicked Soaps of Etsy. I mentioned how good the liquor smells and how absolutely disgusting it tastes.
Well, I am happy to say I was finally able to order myself this amazing soap. I must admit, Texas summer heat is not conducive to receiving this kind of product. My package arrived just fine but I picked it up from the office on the way to my mother's, which is 30-45 minutes away. The soap melted in transit. I know this because I could not wait to fill my nose with the aroma of anise and juniper and had to open it when I got to my mothers. It was liquefied but smelled amazing. I cannot describe this scent to you if you have never smelled Absinthe, so I recommend you go out and smell yourself some Absinthe.

When I got home, finally, after leaving my monster child with her Nana, I stuck the lovely concoction in the fridge. At this point, me and a friend went out to get ready for our night out, but that's a whole different story. We got home and she went up to shower and get ready and I took the now solid soap out of the fridge and went at it with a fork. When it was the frothy blueness that you see in the picture, I left it alone and put it on the kitchen counter for later deliberation.

Well, after a series of spectacularly unfortunate events I got to use this soap (just for the heck of it) before I even took a shower. My friend had to be carried into the apartment by my husband and myself and in the process I wound up with vomit on my hand and partway down my arm. Oh, yeah. I needed soap. In my drunken state, I took off my ring for my husband to rinse off while I took my shirt off so it didn't get dirtier than it already was. He dropped it down the disposal, so I got to dig it out. At this point I am thoroughly dirty so I reach for this wonderful soap. It's thick, it smells heavenly, and I swear it made the headache a little better just by smelling it.

This soap made my hands so soft and they smelled so good, that it made the 4 hours of sleep that I got before I got up to go pick up my daughter heavenly. I got my daughter and then I got to try the soap for the real deal. If it could make my hands that soft, what would it do to me if I put it on while I was nekkid? It did everything it had done to my hands, and more. This soap is seriously amazing, and the light scent lasted most of the day in our horrendous heat. The sugar acts as a great exfoliator and then melts into the overall mix of the soap. It rinses squeaky clean and doesn't make the floor of the shower slippery. As it turns out, however, due to a very unfortunate splash I discovered that this soap tastes just as disgusting as the liquor it's named after.

With all the joking and funny stuff aside, I seriously and highly recommend this soap to all of you. If you don't care for this scent, I'm reasonably positive that all of her other scents are just as tantalizing. This is a shop that will be in my favorites forever, or until the Earth disintegrates, whichever comes first.

Again, this cane be found at Wicked Soaps on Etsy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lovin' It

I ordered a brocade drawstring bag from Lucy Moon Glow that is black with silver and gold accents. It came in a couple days after I bought it and it is exactly what I wanted. It's satiny and gorgeous and I plan to use it on a multi-strand pearl necklace I have planned. Since pearls are delicate, the satiny fabric of this bag will be the perfect as a free gift for the customer to store their necklace in. She let me know she would send it on Monday, and I got it on Monday because she was able to get to the post office earlier than she thought she would. So it was a nice surprise and very fast shipping. The bag arrived flat and wrapped in tissue paper with a nice thank you note. You gotta love great service like that and the person who takes to time to write thank you. I would recommend this shop to anyone in the market for a handmade drawstring bag.


I also ordered a clasp, link, and two slider beads to finish my leather bracelet. The bracelet in question is the leather and moss agate one in my shop. Since the moss agate is a very understated stone, I did not want to overpower it with an ostentatious clasp and hardware. I bought the clasp from Cathy Dailey and it is perfect. It arrived very quickly, same time as the bag I ordered, and was very well packaged to prevent the silver from possibly being dented or bent. A flat clasp would not have been a good thing, especially since when I ordered their caster was on vacation which would have made any problems on my end just that much worse. It did come with two packing peanuts to help fill out the envelope a bit that my daughter promptly tore into itty bitty pieces, but it wasn't anything my vacuum didn't fix. The service was great, too, since before I bought the pieces I had some questions and their answers were very quick. Great customer service is always a draw. If you need rustic looking jewelry supplies that are cast silver, this is definitely the place to go.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Stuff I Like

Ok. So I'm not off my soap box yet, but I promise it's slowing down. This first one is just too cute to pass up, though, so here we go.

All That Glitters by KML on Etsy makes these adorable little soaps. I have them hearted for later consumption... er... use. A friend of mine, when I sent her the link to the shop, said she would buy some just to see how many people tried to eat them in the bathroom. I told her that wouldn't work because she would be tired one day and forget, and eat it herself. She laughed, and good times were had all around. But for those of us that love to soak in the tub with a good bath bomb, this is just the treat for us.

I don't know about the rest of you girls out there, but I am constantly looking for that next great bed set for my bedroom. Since I live in an apartment right now, curtains and bedclothes are really the only ways for me to express my style in the place. If we paint, it has to be a shade light enough that they can cover it with a light coat of off-white when we move. That is not at all conducive to the artistic side of me, so we have left them blank. This next item is a handmade duvet cover that I think would make an awesome edition to that adult hide-away-at-home. Design Your Home's shop on Etsy is loaded with amazing handmade duvet covers. Read the announcement, descriptions, and shop policies for info on how to get the whole set. Their prices are actually much more reasonable than big box stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They use 100% cotton, and I wold love to have a removable duvet cover that I could wash easily. I've melted the batting in enough of the store bought comforters in my dryer to know that a zipper would make it that much easier. Considering I have a Cali king size bed (my hubs is a giant) finding quality bedding that is affordable is a GODSEND.

This last bit is for those other jewelers out there. I don't use a lot of lampwork beads in my designs. I honestly don't have many ideas when I see the beads. However, when I did a search for lampwork sellers on Etsy and saw these babies, I had to post them here. I absolutely love hibiscus flowers. My husband has no say in it, but when we finally get into a house there will be at least two hibiscus trees in the front. I love them that much, and Texas weather is surprisingly conducive since our winters are mild. Kyoto Studio Lampwork Beads on Etsy has an amazing selection of beads, but these caught my eye real quick.

Check out all these great shops on Etsy! :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don't Mess With Texas

I love my home state. I have not gone to any other state where the people that live there love being there as much as being in Texas. I have, however, met people that came to Texas and didn't like it. It does take a certain personality, I guess. Depending on where you live it also takes a certain quirk of style. I'm talking we're heavy on leather and turquoise. Not all of us, mind, but it is a definite majority.

Another major thing here is the rodeo. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is the largest in the states. It started in 1854, and became the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in 1950, held in the recently opened Freeman Colliseum. Now, the rodeo isn't in the Freeman anymore, it's in the AT&T Center (previously the SBC Center) which is right next to the Freeman. Maybe it's an inbred Texas thing, but I love the rodeo. I never loved it more than when I was 17 and showed my yearling stallion there. That's where this first photo comes in. We had been doing the small local APHA/PtHA shows and had just been using regular leads and harnesses. When we went to the SA Rodeo, however, we needed to step it up but couldn't really afford to. So we borrowed our gear from our vet (she was awesome). Now, I showed a yearling stallion. They are notoriously mean and high strung. Not my boy, though. Nope, he was unusually calm and content to stand there and let people look at him. It was almost as though he knew he was pretty. He was a sorrel and white sabino patterned Overo paint and looked just like his sire. Before the rodeo, I had never used a chain lead or leather halter on him. I had never had to. We got there and the harness for him fit just fine, but the end of the lead was too large to fit through under his chin. So he didn't have to feel the chain on him. He did great and while the other colts were rearing and basically giving their handlers hell, I had my hands full trying to keep mine AWAKE. This gorgeous leather lead line would have made me proud had I had it when I was showing horses. It is made by 23horses on Etsy and well worth the price. Why go to a tack store when you can get quality handmade tack right here?

All horse business aside, I also like the western style home decor. I especially like it if it is Texas theme. I have stars all over my home, and this next item would be right at home above my front door. Made by PalmerFalls on Etsy, it is more true than most people think. I mean, they wrote a song about how "God Blessed Texas" and this sign is just perfect.

When I walk into almost any store, I see big, bold jewelry all over the place. Most of the time in western stores, it's turquoise and silver (or poor imitations of both) with ostentatious prices. I flat out refuse to pay turquoise and silver prices for dyed howlite and silver plate. However, when that piece is described with the right materials, I will happily pay the price. Especially for a carefully handcrafted piece of wearable art such as this magnesite and copper necklace by WillowCreekJewelry on Etsy. Magnesite is naturally white, and in this necklace it has been dyed a wonderful blue-green shade and paired with oxidized copper. I would be happy to buy it as a gift for my mother in law who loves unique jewelry. I also love that in the mess of faux turquoise jewelry on Etsy, WillowCreek actually told the truth and didn't try to pass this off. Honesty is always the best policy and in this case the honesty is a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Thinking of a New Venture

Don't worry, I won't stop making jewelry. That's just too much fun for me. However, I have a nice harness for my dog. It is reversible and heavy duty and does NOT strangle him when I pull on his leash. I made it with our last Sheltie (RIP Hatchet) and it has survived until now. It is made with parachute-type material that I got on sale somewhere and heavy duty nylon webbing. I used velcro, and it's awesome.

I was thinking that Etsy doesn't have many useful dog items. I'm not going to make beds or anything, so that's out of the question. But I sure can make some more of those harnesses in many sizes and colors/patterns for those of us that love to dress our fuzzy friends up but don't want to look like a fool doing it. I'm looking at you, Paris. Dressing your dog up. Pffft. I also used a large D ring for the leash connect, which is awesome because Chaos outgrew his collar so all his tags are on the harness. Not bad since even off leash they're still on there, but he doesn't jingle when he's walking through the house or running up and down the stairs.

Here's our guy. He's 3 years old, full-bred registered Sheltie that everyone thinks is a girl. He's a big pansy, but great with the baby.

I'll have to get shots of him in his harness and talk to the hubs about getting supplies and "borrowing" my moms sewing machine. Of course, I will then have to figure out how to USE the sewing machine. Can't be too hard, right? Heh.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reviewing My Own Stuff

Hmmm... I never thought I would be writing a review of my own product. I mean, isn't someone else supposed to do this? Well, maybe they are, but not this time. If I sold a product to be used in a review, or gave it on a rare occasion, it would not have been this bracelet. Why? I love it too much. This is my bracelet. Sorry folks, y'all will get the one with the rustic looking sterling silver clasp, I'm keepin' the one you have to tie. I just like it that much.

This bracelet wraps around my wrist twice and depending on how tight I tie it, it doesn't move much. I wore it all day today and it was comfortable, even with the leather tails sticking out. Which reminds me, I need to cut those so they're not so long. There are 58 6mm moss agate beads strung onto the leather. Since I didn't use thread to string the beads, they do move a bit, but it's not uncomfortable. Even though I have to tie it, this bracelet is not difficult to secure. Not including the "tails," this bracelet is 15 inches long. The beads have a kind of waxy feel to them, not the glassy feel of some of the agates with more quartz inclusions in them. You can get moss agate like that, but this isn't that kind. Since this is mine, I have no desire to put any silver on it.

I've seen these bracelets, or similar ones, made with thread instead of thin leather. These do tend to be more uniform in the way the beads face because the thread passes through each one at least twice. On this bracelet, the 0.5mm leather passes through each bead once. I did glue the knots. I'm not ashamed to say it. Yes, there are ends out there that have prongs that bite into the leather, but I am of the mind that even those will fail. Leather is flesh, and flesh tears. Simple. Even if I one day use these sharp ends on my leather, I will still use glue just in case. On this particular bracelet, you have to be looking to see the glue. Most people don't look that close. I will be attempting to hide the knots as good as I can on the second one that will have the clasp. There will be pictures. I know the clasp left Orlando today, but so far I don't know where it is on it's way to me. Could be in Timbuktu for all I know, though I hope not since that's a bit out of the way.

I'm really hoping this clasp is as great as I think it will be. It is hand cast silver from an Etsy shop, as is the ring it will hook onto and the slider bead I will be using the secure the ends around the loop. If it is, I will most likely be going to that shop again. It's the best clasp I've found for this since I don't particularly care for the button clasp.

When this bracelet sells, or if there is a demand for it, I will most likely have several of them up with different stones and different colors of leather. I do want to do one with turquoise and maybe some charms and silver beads, but with the price of turquoise that will be one pricey bracelet. It would only be a single wrap bracelet, though, unless custom. I also think malachite and amethyst would be great candidates for this kind of thing. As would onyx, but I would need turquoise or metallic leather for the onyx. It wouldn't go well with the brown, I don't think.

Anyway, after wearing this all day and sweating on it (I'm in south Texas, if you don't sweat down here, something's wrong) I have decided I like it too much to give it up. So if you like it, but don't like the stone, just make a request. I can and will do custom orders happily and as speedily as possible.

New Give Away!

If you like to enter give aways and win new and interesting things, check this one out:
You get your choice of a Charm Factory charm bracelet. Just read through the post and follow the directions to enter. :) I've participated (as a giver) in one of her give aways and they truly are awesome.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Works in Progress

Yep. I tried posting this about the viking knit. I always call my viking knit ugly, and if you see it right after it comes off the mandrel (I use a clicky Sharpie) before I draw it down, you would understand. It's kind of like making a real buttercream icing. It gets ugly before it gets beautiful (and delicious!).

Anyway, I digress. I have not made any icing lately, and if I had I would not share. It's MY icing! :) Nope, I made two bracelets. On the viking knit, I need to go to the shop, again, to get a clasp. I seem to always make stuff and forget you have to be able to secure the piece in order to wear it. So I forget the clasps all the time. Sue me.

This first bracelet is made using 3mm red-brown leather cord, wrapped with 0.5mm red-brown leather cord and creamy moss agate rounds (6mm). I'm actually waiting for the clasp to this one to come in the mail. The clasp will be a hammered sterling hook clasp that will go through a sterling loop. I will secure the leather ends with a slider bead that will be attached to the leather via a bit of glue. I know, there are fasteners and ends out there that bite into the leather and forgo the need for glue. I don't like those. If you stick a knife into a piece of leather and rub that leather for a long time, eventually the knife is going to rip through the leather from sheer stress. The glue helps make sure nothing will be coming off. I will be doing this to 2 bracelets and wearing one so I can make sure I'm right and that it won't fall apart. This bracelet will be listed for $40. I got the agate on sale (40% off) and can pass those savings on to you, the buyer. However, the sterling ain't cheap and this bugger took an hour and a half to make. It wraps around my wrist twice.

This second bracelet is a bit less rustic, and a bit more costly. It is a viking knit bracelet, done in the double weave so it is deliciously dense but still very flexible. I made it with 26 gauge sterling wire, and it has not been oxidized, so it's bright and vibrant right now. As it is worn by whoever buys it, it will tarnish and get that dark look going on. The end caps are aged sterling, oxidized and polished to bring out the shine on the high points and give a dark relief to the low points for contrast. Eventually, the whole bracelet will look this way. A quick swipe with a polishing cloth will help the high points stay bright while the oxidation sets into all the nooks and crannies. This will eventually (by the end of this weekend I'm hoping) have a sterling silver toggle or S-hook clasp on it. I have a personal hatred of all things lobster clasped, so you will probably never see those used on my jewelry. I am most likely going to add a Seraphinite dangle to this bracelet. If it is not long enough, I may just add a few bead links to it with the seraphinite. The next one of these I do will be paired with turquoise. This bracelet will be priced at $80. It took a little over 3 hours to make.

Since neither of these are fully finished, I can customize them if you would like. The prices are set for the completed product, not for what is pictured. On either one I can add charms or a beaded dangle if you would like. Want the leather bracelet but your kids birthstones aren't even remotely related to agate? I can add dangles at the clasp with their birthstones. Want the silver bracelet but don't care for Seraphinite? I can change the stone since the bracelet is not yet finished. This is an especially good thing if you need a certain size. Maybe they are too small, so you'd need a bigger size, I can do that to either one. If you want any Pandora style (big-hole lampwork beads) added to the viking knit, let me know. I can get some (or you can send me the ones you want added, if you prefer) and put them on. However, please be aware that those beads cannot come off the bracelet once they are on there without some serious wire cutting.

Yet Another Creator Feature.

I've featured soap and various other crafted items on this blog and it's time for something new. No, this doesn't mean I'm off my soap box. Not yet. Maybe not ever. It's an addiction, and, I have to go to, like, meetings and shit... but I digress. Today I'm going to share with you the fine art of glass. It's not all blown glass, so I can't say it's glass blowing. :)

This first photo is a set of blown glass pitcher plants. These little buggers in real life catch water and produce a sap that is just irresistible to little bugs everywhere. This sap is also a digestive fluid and slicks up the side of the plant something awful. The little bug goes in, but the little bug does not come out. They struggle and struggle, but inexorably they slide down the inside of the plant to be digested. Yep, a carnivorous plant. Have no fear, though, there is no chance outside of a controlled situation where these guys could get big enough to eat you. These beauties can be found at the shop of Wolf Art Glass. The picture itself links to the actual listing. You also don't have to worry about these babies eating any bugs in your house. Unless you have spiders. Spiders might like to reside in them and eat the bugs, making it seem as though your newly acquired sculpture is indeed alive and eating bugs. I could, however, see these on my bar in my apartment, holding irises and orchids or some other exotic flower. They are that beautiful, and are truly inspired by nature.

Clearly, I like glass in many bold colors. First, the pitcher plants in bright green and brown, and now this amazing vase in red, purple, and white. If you have the immaculate house I dream of with that empty niche in the wall right by the front door that is just begging to be filled, this may just be that focal piece you're after. Handblown by Glass Happy Studios this is sure to be the eye catcher in any collection. Again, the photo links back to the Etsy item listing.

And now, I know I have been a bit verbose at times in this post. I get that way. It's a character flaw, I just know it. Sometimes I wonder, though, what blogs would have been like a couple hundred years ago. I think Glasmagie figured it out. We would have been writing on papyrus or leather hide with this gorgeous glass pen dipped in an ink well. My journals would have been messy, no doubt. Full of ink splotches to rival Rorschach.

Please understand that making glass is not perfect. Don't get mad if you order a glass piece and there's a bubble in it. I don't know how to work with glass, but I'm pretty sure it's hard to get rid of a bubble or two without scrapping the whole project. Also remember some bubbles are intentional and add to the uniqueness of the piece. It is my humble advice that if you order a glass piece made, pay the extra cost for the best shipping available. It will be well worth it when your new addition arrives in pristine condition and not just as fragments in the bottom of the box.

Until next time...

If you would like to be featured in my blog, just let me know. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just When I Meant To...

I made yet another Viking Knit bracelet today. I *meant* to take pictures of the process, or at least take pictures of what the weave looks like before and after being drawn. Did I do it? Of course not. You must forgive me, I was watching a movie at the same time...

Anywho, the bracelet is not quite finished yet. I went to the shop today and got end caps for it, and walked out without a clasp. Yet again, I cannot finish a piece because of lack of something I would obviously need for it. Not to worry, though. I will go back to the shop tomorrow and get a clasp for it. The bracelet is about 7"-8" in length, I haven't measured it yet. It started out as 15 feet of 26 gauge sterling silver wire, and I wove it in the double weave so it's lusciously dense but still flexible.

The bracelet is unsupported. What does that mean, you ask? A supported viking knit bracelet has a heavy gauge piece of wire in the middle of it to help it hold its shape. You don't see the wire unless you look close, so it doesn't do anything to the aesthetics of the piece. An unsupported piece of viking knit does not have this extra wire in the middle. I may be turning out a set of bangles that will have this wire through the middle, probably in 12 gauge. That way I can finish them off with some end caps and maybe a couple bead dangles on the end, and that's it. The 12 gauge wire will be heavy and stiff enough to hold the bent shape of a bangle.

Another set I plan to come out with will be heavy gauge wire (again, probably 12 gauge) and will be wire wrapped with different beads. Give me some sales, and you'll probably start seeing more turquoise and malachite in my shop. *shamelessly begs for sales* That aside, I have many plans for things to be sold in my shop. Multi-strand necklaces and viking knit necklaces among them. Now I just need to find a silversmith to make me some Mobius strip links to incorporate into my jewelry and I will be a happy camper. Until I take classes or lessons I will not be able to make them myself.

Until next time, happy crafting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ok... So I'm Still on a Soap Box

Not literally... This isn't going to be a rant. However, I did want to bring more soaps to the table. And not the mushy, really-bad-acting variety of soaps, either. I used to watch those with my grandmother and some of the characters STILL haven't died. Sheesh. But I digress.

I love soap, in case you couldn't tell. But until lately, I have been the grocery-store liquid-body-wash-and-plastic-loofa girl. That's right, but I hadn't discovered Etsy yet so it should be forgivable. I never tried homemade soap because all the ones I ever found seemed boring. I'm not kidding. They smelled like ass and there was no way I was going to wash myself with something that smelled like ass. Don't judge.

The first soap I bring you is from theDirty Sanchez Etsy shop. With a slogan like "Clean That Shit Off!" you must know I would find it eventually, and like it immensely. For $6.50 a bar, or $24 for 4 bars, you get some serious kick-ass cleaning power. This first soap (to the right) is called Stain. If you are easily offended by "colorful" language and whatnot, refrain from reading her descriptions. However, if you are in desperate need of a laugh, read them all like I did. Stain stood out in my mind the best, and I totally intend to buy some.

The second soap is not a bar, but a scrub. It is from Wicked Soaps' Sinful Bath and Body Shop. Who doesn't like absinthe? If you raised your hand, stop reading. The first bottle of Absinthe that I ever bought was the DAY it became legal in the United States. I am still the only person who has ever bought it from that little liquor store. It cost me $65 for the bottle, and it has been well worth it. He threw in a slotted sugar spoon with the purchase, but I had to go elsewhere for the sugar cubes. As I watched that intense green liquid sit in the bottom of the glass as I slowly dripped ice cold water onto the sugar cube and into it, I knew I was in heaven. I promptly plummeted my ass back to Earth with the first sip of that nasty concoction and vowed never to drink it again. Luckily, my husband loves the licorice tasting booze from hell so the $65 bottle wasn't a total waste. However much I hate the taste of the liquid, I ADORED how it smelled. I haven't tried this scrub yet, but if it smells anything like the real deal, it will be sinfully wicked and probably make your bathroom smell nice for a week. Visit this shop and check out their entire line of soaps. I have hearted this one for myself when I have the cash to buy some. Or maybe when I don't... I need to get jewelry supplies, but I may pass them up for this soap. For $12.00, it may just be worth it.

When I think of strawberries, I think of that song "Strawberry Wine". It is still my all time favorite slow dance song. Strawberries also make me think of this great scent of open fields full of ripe strawberries just waiting to be picked. Why not put all that in my bath and enjoy the hell out of it? Well, Crafty Moon Crab did just that. They made a bath salt that will make you want to run through an open field with a bottle of wine singing at the top of your lungs. Or maybe that's just me... Oh, wait... I've done that before. Anyway, for $2.00 you get your own little baggy of 2oz bath salty goodness. Sprinkle this in your bath and your significant other will think of good times. Just make sure the kids are with a sitter or grandparent. :)

Summer is Officially Here

OK... maybe it's not here according to the weather man that can never seem to get anything right (I mean, light cold front? Who's he kidding? It was 88F!). But according to me, summer starts when the watermelons become available. That's right, as soon as those large, green, stripey balls of juicy goodness are available at my local grocery store, it is summer. I don't care what anyone says.

My dad would always come home from work on the weekends with a huge watermelon or two. And when I say huge, I don't mean that little 8 pound melon your kid grew in the backyard. I'm talking almost 20 pounds of the sweetest, juiciest watermelon you've ever laid lips... er... eyes on.

If we had been especially good that week, he would go out of his way to get the sought after and coveted black diamond watermelon. You have not tasted watermelon until you sink chompers into this bad boy. It was a special treat, seen in our house less than the yellow meat watermelon. Dad would always cut it in half long ways and then in quarters, that way we would all get a chunk of the heart of this wonderful fruit. I bet you've never seen three kids devour a watermelon so fast as we did, all the way down to the nasty white stuff. It took less than an hour for that watermelon to meet its demise at our hands.

But what if you don't live in an area where watermelon is as common as dirt? You go to that farmer's market or world market and you see this odd looking melon and wonder, how do I even know if it's good? Well, you knock on it, of course! Not hard, you don't want to bust it open. You want to knock just hard enough to know the elves that live inside have vacated. Just kidding. The elves never leave. Knock and see if it sounds hollow. Does it? Then it's ripe. The rind should also be firm and not squishy. If it shows any sign that it might be going bad (discolored skin, brown or dark spots, it smells nasty in that big box they put it in at the store...) don't buy it. It will just lead to disappointment. It should not be light when you pick it up. Even the small ones meant to serve one person should have some heft to it. They are, after all, full of water. Water has weight to it. A large melon that is not heavier than it looks probably didn't get enough water and won't taste good. Same with a small melon. The weight should be disproportionate to the size, just like any other melon. Once you have picked out your melon (found one like the one in the picture? Oh, boy! You're in for a treat!)

Now, unless it's marked otherwise, you probably have a red watermelon on your hands. However, if you get home and you crack that sucker open and it's yellow (OMG! WTF?!) don't worry. This is perfectly normal and it is just a yellow meat watermelon. They tend to be a bit sweeter than the red ones, but are just as delicious. Enjoy it the same way you would the red one.

Now, for those adults out there looking for a jolly good time, take a thin, sharp knife and cut a plug out of the side of your watermelon. Then take your vodka of choice, open the bottle, and stuff the open end down into the melon. Make sure you have plenty of room in the fridge, though, because this bad boy takes up a lot of room. Put it in the fridge until you are ready to serve. The vodka will soak into the melon, making it an awesome way to spend the 4th of July! But wait! Make sure the kiddies don't eat this! When serving this, cut it in half long ways and put them melon side up so the vodka doesn't leak all over the ground. Cut the melon for the kids any way you want, but make sure they don't touch the good one. :)


No is where I show you a great little thing for your business. It's called a business card holder and is located in SuziMoose's Etsy Shop. She has plenty more than just that one, and takes custom orders. Check her out! She will most likely be in another later blog with a fuller blurb, but this was a blog about watermelons... and that's what's on her business card holder. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why my daughter will hate me in a couple hours...

When you have a child, you MUST take them to the doctor and let the nurses inflict major pain on them in your presence. Why this archaic ritual still continues is beyond me. They need to make it the obligation of babysitters and nannies to be the ones in the room when they shove that needle in your child's leg.

My first encounter with this was my daughter's PKU test. They made me hold my sweet one-week-old baby girl while they poked the bottom of her feet for the blood sample. It was the most horrible experience in my life. She screamed and screamed and I wanted to cry with her. The next time was her first vaccinations at the pediatricians office. Thankfully, the nurse made me sign the paper while she did the shots real quick. I didn't have to hold her for this. But, when she administered the shots and my baby started crying, I signed the wrong line on the paper... Jumpy, who, me? It is the worst feeling in the world to know that you have willingly inflicted this pain on your child. However, she won't be getting sick and the pain is short lived.

Last month would have been my daughter's 15 month checkup and vaccines. However, I was forced to cancel and reschedule the appointment for later because my car had a flat tire and we didn't have time to get it fixed. So, in fifteen minutes, I will be taking her in for those shots, a full month late. Since she's older and more squirmy, I get to hold her for these shots. This is not a fun experience for either party. The nurses hate doing it because then the kids hate the nurses, and the mothers hate it for obvious reasons. I don't like needles. Holding my daughter down while she has to get a shot is uncomfortable for me in many ways.

At least this time it isn't raining. Last time, it was raining so hard, and I was in my husbands car, that the road to the office was flooded. Some of the larger trucks and SUVs were making it through the low water crossing just fine, but my little car was not going to make it without a ferry. Luckily, the cars behind me stopped and let me turn around and go the wrong way for the couple yards it took to get back to the crossover on the street. I was able to make my way back to the light and thankfully get to the doctors office via the next block which was on a hill so the water wasn't high on the road. But it is an experience I don't wish to repeat.

I also don't see the point in there being parking fees at a doctors office. Seriously, now. They suck enough money out of us anyway. Yeah, it only costs $2-$3 for the whole visit time, but still. I don't see the point. It costs my husband $36 to park at the hospital when I gave birth. I was there for 4 days. I find it ridiculous. But it's a price we pay for living in a city. The little community hospital in the area we lived in before moving to San Antonio didn't have paid parking, no matter how long you were there.

And that is my rant for today, I now have to start getting ready. We'll be leaving in about 10 minutes for an appointment at 230pm. Why leave so early? Because people in this city do not understand the concept of driving and the traffic is going to suck balls.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Undiscovered on Etsy

It takes a lot of bravery to put your items on Etsy, or EBay, or in a craft show to sell. While craft shows are always so much fun, even the bad ones, it is my opinion that it is harder to sell online than in person. After all, at a craft show or in a shop the customer and see and touch the product being offered. That is not possible online, and I am beginning to understand the importance of stellar photos.

Anyway, I love the Pounce feature of Etsy. It allows you to see artists that have either just sold an item, or artists that have not sold an item. I like looking through the undiscovered artists, and today I found some great ones.

First, this quilt is from Quilted Arts by MJARE. I've always remembered having the big quilts on my bed that my granmothers made. I actually still have the quilt my mother made for me before I was born. At the time my parents weren't exactly wealthy so she made a patchwork out of washcloths. All those textures and colors, it is still my favorite quilt. So many people don't understand the hard work and sheer amount of time that goes into making a quilt of any size. I picked this quilt because it is one I would love to have for my daughter. I don't have nearly enough patience to make a quilt, so I would happily buy this from someone. Quilts are a work of art that need to be cherished and an artform that is all too often forgotten.

Another craft that takes a lot of time is the art of raising bonsai trees. For those of us not qualified or just lacking the time to grow a proper bonsai, we can go to a handful of specialized shops that make them out of various materials. Sure, you can get the one with plastic components that looks very close to being a real tree, or you can go to AksaBeading and get this exquisitely beaded bonsai.

However, if you have a young child or are about to welcome that little bundle of joy into your life, a decorative bonsai may not be the thing for you. Not unless you have some high shelves. When I had my daughter I wanted padded walls in my house and clouds for the floor so she wouldn't hurt herself. We can't all bring the sky down to pad our floors, so if you're not a Greek deity you can visit on Etsy and have a fit over this baby bedding. I know I did. It's a bit pricey, but look at all the cushioning! My husband insisted we have a bumper in the baby's crib. When he was a baby he almost died because his head was pushed up against the slats of his bed. As much as my baby girls moves at night, I am very glad I agreed to have a bumper. One moment she's at one side of the bed and a couple minutes later she's at the other end. It's kept us from taking the rails off her bed. I'm so scared she'll fall off in the middle of the night and get hurt. You won't have to worry about your baby getting hurt in the crib with this bedding. This is the Rolls Royce of handmade baby bedding, and I will definitely be visiting her shop when I have my next baby.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother's Day Giveaway

This time the prize is nothing made by me. Instead, it's being held by TheEveryDayDiva from Etsy. She is holding the giveaway on her blog, just click the link to read about everything in the gift basket prize and how to enter to win.

With my latest obsession for homemade soaps, I found TheEveryDayDiva and her soaps look absolutely gorgeous. However, due to the lack of fundulation, I still am not able to give in to this obsession. She is in my favorites, though, for later indulgence.

She also tells a craft show horror story in the blog post, and I think we can all relate to that at some point, either as a buyer or a seller.

Again, her Etsy shop is here.
The contest rules are here.

Cake in the Mail?

Every once in a while I see that one thing and I think to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" This is one of those times.

On the front page of Etsy, I rarely actually see something that piques my interest. Lately, though, I have seen several things and added several new shops to my favorites list.

One of those new favorites is this totally AWESOME keyboard from WoodGuy32 on Etsy. He handmakes these himself, and if the pictures are any indication they are worth the price if your office is in this style and you need that extra something.

Another item I found to be extremely awesome was this Cake Mail from TangBaby. I would buy these just to see the look on the post master's face when I tried sending it through the mail.
The description on this item is priceless and made me laugh and share it with my husband. I plan on buying one for my mother in law for her birthday later in the year.

The last item today is some soap. Now, I'm a liquid soap from the grocery store kind of girl, but when I saw this soap I decided I may be a handmade convert. The folks at DECAcandle have ingeniously named this particular soap "Butt Naked". It is a multi-color block of clean goodness and is said to smell like banana and berries. I have not tried it yet since I'm broke, but I fully intend to buy some in the near future. They also have a raspberry jasmine spice soap called "Lick Me All Over." I must admit, I hearted this soap for the name alone and then fell in love with the description.

I do fully intend to purchase some of these items, such as the soap or the postcard cake, and post a more in depth review of them. For now, though, this is just some of the finds I stumbled across on Etsy. The Cake Mail and keyboard were both on the front page in the last few days, and the soap I found by going to a shop from the forums.

Bad Weather

Apparently, I jinxed my trip home by posting about it. The Bad Weather Gods decided to take out the drain plug in their bathtub this weekend, and since home is down river I would probably be pushing my luck by going. May Feast is fun for those of us who like to sit around a BBQ pit and bullshit all day, but it is not worth getting there and risking the rivers flooding so I'm stranded.

Yep, good ol' Nordheim, TX is the highest point above sea level between Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus. It is also close enough to the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers to make flooding interesting. While the Guadalupe is miles away, looping around Cuero, the San Antonio is closer by a few miles just outside of Runge. Yeah, Nordheim will never flood unless the water level reaches 300+ feet above sea level. But that doesn't mean the surrounding areas don't get inundated and cut that little slice of heaven off from the rest of the civilized world. And this is just the rivers; I'm not even talking about the various creeks in the area that feed those rivers.

Yesterday it started raining at about 9 am and it didn't stop until almost 2 pm. It slowed down every once in a while, but it never fully stopped raining. All that water has to go somewhere. From here, it goes into the San Antonio river. North of us in Gruene and New Braunfels it all goes to the Guadalupe.

When the Guadalupe floods, Cuero makes headline news. Oh, the poor people that live there don't know what to do when it floods. They should be used to it. The founders of the town thought it was a novel idea to situate the town in the bend of the river. For the most part she stays within her banks and meanders around the town. When we get heavy rains up here, though, the Guadalupe likes to jump her banks and go THROUGH Cuero, obliterating some of it. I still marvel at the fact that people move there to live and don't expect to get flooded at least once every other year. In a bad year, the Guadalupe will jump her banks a couple times. Water has gotten as high as 17 feet in some parts, the waterline marked by the dirty line across the tops of the taller buildings. Living there is like living on top of the San Andreas fault and expecting never to experience an earthquake.

On the other side of Runge away from Nordheim, the San Antonio river runs in deep banks and for the most part a shallow valley. While Cuero is IN the shallow valley of the Guadalupe, Runge is not so close to the San Antonio. However, you do have to cross it at least once to get out of Runge going toward any other major sign of life on the highway. When it rains - like it did yesterday - enough in San Antonio, the river named after the city of the Alamo floods. The town of Runge does not flood, but there is no way to get to Kenedy, Goliad, or Floresville without crossing that river. The only place you can go from Runge when the San Antonio floods is Nordheim, or Yorktown. But past Yorktown is Cuero, and between Yorktown and Goliad is the Guadalupe... again. These little towns are totally blockaded in flood season.

So, we are not making our trek to Nordheim's May Feast this year. I do not want to get there, have the rivers swell up, and have no way of getting home until they recede. Damn the luck.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


That's right!

I'm having a sale. This sale is only good through Sunday the 16th at 6pm CST (I think that's GMT -5). This discount is taken off before shipping, but my shipping is fairly cheap anyway. It applies to the total purchase price, not just one item. I will have single item coupons up in the following months, but this isn't one of them. :) You must cite this blog in the notes to seller or in a convo (on Etsy), message (on facebook) or in an email.

Going Home to a Ghost Town

Down old highway 72 is the small town of Nordheim, TX. The population has been 300 or less as long as I lived there and now that I'm gone it's got one less person to count. The "city hall" is located behind the fire department which still has $5 BBQ plates some Sundays, and for a while my uncle was actually mayor. He got tired of the politics of dealing with the antiquated county commissioner and moved out of the city limits in order to avoid being re-elected.

On Broadway - the main drag through the town - is a tiny restaurant and bar that has been closed down for several years now. My brothers and I used to go there when our mother was at the bar across the street and the owner would let us in the back to make burgers. She made the best burgers according to any of us because she let us stand on chairs and help her cook them. Several years ago some men got into a fight and she tried breaking them up when she was struck in the head with the thick end of a pool cue. She was hospitalized and slipped into a coma and never came out. I think about her every time I pass her bar, which is sadly getting less and less often.

The town always had the three bars while I was growing up, and when I was 5 one of the two restaurants shut down. I remember getting a burger, fries, and a drink for less than $3 at that restaurant with my grandfather. The Cactus - the second restaurant - was only good to eat at when a certain cook was there, but no matter who was working they had the best battered fries in the area. They're closed now, too. I go home now and the old general store is still open, one bar has changed management yet again, and the other one is getting more and more new things because the owners struck it rich when oil was found - and drilled - on their land. A building that has never known air conditioning now does, but the big plate glass windows still have the original paint on them. Me and my cousins went in one of the back storerooms there once with a Ouija board and found out there is a ghost named Dan haunting the place.

Down the street across from the school is the park with its huge gazeebo and merry-go-round that my grandpa used to oil all the time. They used to plan town-wide Easter egg hunts in that park, and each store in town would put in prizes. One of the bars also rented movies, so they'd throw in a free rental. The feed lot would throw in a free candy, and the general store would put in a free ice cream. I once won free tacos from the Cactus. It was an explosion of plastic Easter eggs and kids in their church clothes running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I don't even know if they still do that anymore.

At the end of Broadway is the town dance hall. All these old towns have dance halls and most of them are easier to find than almost anything else in the town. Take Garfield, TX for example. I've never actually seen the town of Garfield but I have volunteered for many years at the sausage dinners. You have to drive through Nordheim - if you can find the town - in order to get to their dance hall.

May Feast used to be a huge thing in the town. It was our only source of fun for the year. The seniors would have a dunking booth, the church always had homemade ice cream, and the softball teams would play. There were also always craft booths, too. They stopped the Dunking Booth several years ago and everyone who remembers it misses it. The seniors do still do the sno-cones to raise money for their class, and the church still does the ice cream. The softball teams still play through the weekend, and they still have polka all through Sunday. But it's not the same. Last year, they had 1 craft booth. They used to have a popular live band play for the dances on Friday and Saturday, now it's a not-so-popular new band on Friday and a local DJ on Saturday. They are putting an effort into attracting more craft booths - it's free to set up a booth this year and it was free last year, just please donate for the upkeep of the hall. Now, though, the only draw of May Feast is the cook-off, and it's not as big as it used to be.

I'll be at May Feast this weekend visiting family and I hope they have a May Feast next year. It's a tradition I want my daughter to be able to participate in. If they have one next year, I do plan on having enough stock to have a booth. But you should really try to support your local small towns. There are memories there that most cities don't come close to.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Arrivals

I must say, when I stumble across a new online supplier I'm a bit dubious. I've had my fair share of bad experiences - take the ten 16-inch strands of sodalite chips from Fire Mountain Gems. Most of them are all but unusable. They're either too small, or the hole is drilled so close to the side of the bead that it will (and has on a couple pieces) without doubt break with even the slightest pressure put on it by other beads. I'm not bad mouthing Fire Mountain Gems. They are a large supplier and have many, many loyal followers and customers. However, for me, their stone quality leaves a lot to be desired. I do still order my tigertail and other stringing materials from them, so it just depends on what you order. Now, I pretty much check with my local supplier to see if she has had any luck with a big online supplier or if anyone in the shop at the time has bought from them. So far as I know, Rio Grande is a reputable dealer of supplies. My local supplier buys all her silver from them. I have yet to order from them, but that's only because I have yet to have enough money to get everything I want. :)

Needless to say, though, I was a bit dubious ordering from a new supplier. Would the product be of good quality, or was I in for an unpleasant surprise as I was with the sodalite? How long would their shipping take? Would the package arrive unmolested or would it look as though my 15 month old had wrapped it and shipped it?

But, I was in the market for leather for future projects so I did a Google search for leather cord. Many, many, many search results came up, which I expected. I also did some research on different types of leather cord since it had been a while since I had not used leather for anything other than horsemanship. I found that Indian leathers tend to be unevenly dyed and the diameter of the cord itself may vary along the entire length. Greek leather, on the other hand, tends to be much more even in terms of dye and overall cord diameter. Good to know.

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I clicked on the top Google search result. As I do with any new site, I looked around and tested the checkout process as far as I could without actually buying something. I then waited a while and mulled it over. What would I be making with this leather? Would I get tired of it before I was done with the spool? Would I make enough pieces with it - and sell them - to warrant buying more in the future?

The site I found was Leather Cord USA. While I don't have any pictures of my product to put up yet, I am very happy with my purchase. I ordered the 10-meter length of round leather in the 3mm size in red-brown, and the same amount in the same color in 0.5mm. I ordered them on Monday and today is Wednesday, and they came in already. I paid for the cheap shipping because let's face it, I'm cheap. Or maybe I'm frugal. I think I prefer frugal. Anyway, I was surprised that the shipping took such a short amount of time.

The leather arrived in a small box - maybe a 5" cube. I opened it up and on top was the invoice complete with actual check marks where someone had made sure my order was correct before it was shipped. That was a nice touch. The cord is on plastic spools, neatly wound, in its own plastic baggy with a silicone gel pack. There was a piece of packing paper wadded on top to keep the spools from moving in the box, but otherwise it was very simple. I must say this is the best packaging from a large (I guess they're large) company that I have received.

I very highly recommend them if you are ordering leather cord. Again, check them out at: Leather Cord USA.

My Pretties

I am participating in a give away hosted by Burning Moon Products. For more specific drawing information, read this blog. My contribution are the following 3 pairs of earrings, copies of which are available in my Etsy shop.

These fluorite and Swarovski crystal dangles are so light that I had to take the picture flat because they were blowing in the wind, blurring the image. I used purple, blue, green, and clear fluorite to make these earrings really fun and colorful. Because of the nature of the stone, the colors and shades vary between each. The Swarovski crystals catch the light wonderfully, making these the perfect fun addition to any outfit.

Black and white is a classic, and classy, color combination. You can almost never go wrong with it. In these dangle earrings, I paired black onyx with white freshwater pearls for a twist on the timeless combo. I used sterling silver lever back earrings so they will stay secure in your ear and you don't have to worry about losing them. The earrings have a nice flourish detail on the front for extra appeal.

For a touch of simplicity in an otherwise complicated world, put these sweet posts in and let them do all the talking. Sterling post earrings with a half-ball on top showcase deep purple amethyst dangles. These will light up even the cloudiest of days.

I have more jewelry I will be posting here pretty soon. I also plan on doing showcases of my finds on Etsy from different shops. :)