Saturday, July 31, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

While the recent passing of my beloved Xena is incredibly sad -- she was a HUGE part of my life -- I know that it's good for me to focus on the positive, happy things in my life.

Lucky for me, making jewelry still makes me happy.

Cooking good food and eating it always makes me happy.

Going to the movies makes me happy, even if I was confused as hell.


Dining out is a great pick-me-up too.  Nancy & I had lunch here yesterday.  I even brought home a lemon tart for Rick.  Aren't I a great wife?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Coppery Pearls

These earrings are brand new and feature freeform wire elements that look like smashed bird nests.  To me, anyway.  They started life as round beads that I bought in Tucson.  I didn't like the way they looked when suspended from a pair of earwires.  So what did I do?  I put them on my bench block and hit them with my hammer.  I like them much better now.  Actually, they are far more interesting and they look better as earring components.  Smashing stuff is fun.

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop

Thanks to all of you for your warm thoughts and condolences on the passing of my Xena.  It means a lot to me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Xena at the Inlet

My little Xena is not doing well at all.  Over the past couple of months we have had to make our morning walks shorter and shorter, but she still enjoys going to the inlet.  To make it easier for her, we drive down the street to the edge of the woods.  This way, she can still do the funnest part of the walk -- the woods and the inlet.

Here she is wading in a great big mud puddle.   Such fun for her.

Now she takes a rest and enjoys the scenery.

And the walkie wouldn't be complete without a few sips from the puddle.

Xena has not been eating very much and she still gets sick at least once a day.  We took her to a new vet who we liked very much, even though her prognosis was grim.  We are just trying to keep Xena comfortable and as happy as possible.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New in the Shop! Whiskey Quartz and Freshwater Pearls

Remember this post?  This new necklace is one that I did after I completed that post, but it is the same style.  I started with a large whiskey quartz briolette and used a combination of copper freshwater pearls and chain to complete the necklace.

I think it turned out beautiful and it was difficult to simply NOT keep it for myself!  I love these warm colors. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Warm Coleslaw

For many years now, my favorite coleslaw was a recipe from an old friend from my upstate New York days.  The other day, I was in the mood for something a little different.  I scoured my recipe file and found this one for a warm coleslaw that I had never tried before.  I modified it a bit -- left out the celery seed because I hate celery seed.  The original source escapes me.

Warm Coleslaw

2 cups shredded cabbage
1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 - 4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces (because everything is better with bacon)
1/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP white vinegar
1/8 tsp paprika

Cook the bacon in a deep skillet until crispy.  Remove the bacon and saute the onion is the bacon fat (yes, I know this is not good for me).  Add the sugar, vinegar, paprika and salt.  Heat until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over the cabbage.  Top with bacon and toss.  Serve warm.

This recipe could easily be doubled, but I don't think you would need to double all of the dressing ingredients, as I had plenty of  "juice" left in the bowl.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I've always had a thing for Crayola crayons.  The big 64 box.  Which my mother never let me have.  I bought one of those for myself right after I graduated college, just because I could.  I still have that box and that was a very, very long time ago.

The other day, while browsing around the thrift store, I spied a big plastic bag full of crayons and a mini-muffin tin.  Didn't I see a tutorial online for making your own crayons with bits of old, broken crayons?  I certainly did.  While this bag of crayons was full of in tact crayons instead of broken nubs, I decided I could sacrifice them for the sake of science.

And the finished product:

Next time, I think I'll keep similar colors together and leave out the darkest colors completely.  Wouldn't these be great for a kid's birthday party?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Matte Finish Chalcedony

I must admit that I don't really understand these beads, but I knew I had to have them as soon as I saw them.  They are honey colored chalcedony with a matte finish.  I have no idea how they do that and I didn't think to ask at the time of purchase.

While making these earrings, I was about to attach the drop to the earwire, when I thought "booooring".  Then I had a stroke of brilliance -- it happens so rarely.  I added that beautiful vermeil spacer to the mix.  Wow, I thought, that looks great!  It adds to the warmth of the chalcedony and golden pearl and provides a nice contrast to the oxidized silver.

Just when you think you've run out of new ideas ......

Monday, July 19, 2010

Necklace Storage

After reading my post about my earring storage, one of my online friends, Yazmin, asked me how I store finished necklaces.  My necklace storage is similar to my earring storage in that I use plastic boxes.  These particular boxes can be found in the sporting goods department of your favorite store.  I think they are intended for fishing gear.

What I love most about these boxes is the flexibility they provide.  There are dividers that allow me to alter the size of the compartments.  The chain necklaces in this box can just be lowered into the compartments and I don't have to worry about kinking.

Strung necklaces have different requirements and need more space.  As you can see here, I've removed lots of those dividers so that the necklaces can lay flat.

While I'm building inventory, each compartment (in both types of storage scenarios) may contain up to three necklaces.  As my busy season starts (with the State Fair in August), that will gradually change ... hopefully!  I have a total of 8 of these boxes.  Each box contains a different "line" of my necklace offerings.  Actually, some lines require two boxes, depending on what my best selling styles are.  This changes every season.

I insert at least one 3M anti tarnish strip into each box.  I find that these are a tremendous help in keeping the non-oxidized silver bright and shiny.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

technology was leaving me in the dust

How could this have happened?  I mean, I have an engineering degree and I worked for IBM for 10 years!  Yet here I was, not even able to comprehend some of the things that my 20-something nieces talk about regularly.  It sounded like a foreign language to me.

So I did something about it.

First, I upgraded my internet service.  When DSL first became available in my area, I signed up for the fastest service they provided ... 512 k.  Well, that was probably 6 or 7 years ago.  If any of you have that internet speed, you know that it is torture to watch a youtube video.  The endless pausing was trying my patience and I rarely watched a video all the way through.  Now we have 2 M service and I can comfortably watch videos of all sorts.  Honestly, I don't really notice any other difference.  Maybe I should call my ISP ... and whine a bit.

The next thing I did was get a new cell phone.  Yup, I bought an iphone -- the older 3G one.  That was such a huge leap from the phone I had, which did not even have a camera or texting ability.   Yes, the guy at the iphone store laughed when I showed it to him.  Can I say that I LOVE this phone?  For me, it's like magic.  The other day, a moose ran across the road in front of the car.  I quickly snapped a picture of it and sent it to my brother.  Amazing!  Yes, Rick was driving at the time.  I know better than to drive and text at the same time.

These may not seem like major steps to you, but for me, this is huge.  The ironic part is that truly, I rarely leave the house, and hardly ever use my cell phone, what with working at home and all.  I don't think I've ever used more than 100 cell phone minutes in any given month.  So why did I do this?  So I could understand what the fuss was all about and to be able to talk intelligently about this stuff.  And, I didn't want to fall any further behind.

Now, I must send a text to my darling niece in Las Vegas!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cubes or Geometry I Can Understand

Actually, I was always good at math in school and geometry was one of my favorites.  Maybe that's why these gemstone cubes really appeal to me.

The bottom one is London blue topaz.  That is followed by amethyst and garnet.  These sophisticated yet playful earrings are for sale in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sometimes I Dream ....

.... about wearing shoes like these, or even needing shoes like these.

But my lifestyle is such that I do not need shoes like those.  Ever.  Instead, I wear shoes like these.  And that's for my dress-up days.
Working at home, I usually wear shoes like these around the house.  They're super comfy, almost slipper-like.

This time of year, my time outdoors requires these exact shoes.  Yup, XtraTufs.  This short version is affectionaly called the Alaskan Sneaker.  Sexy, huh?

Such is my life in the rainy Alaskan summer.  Maybe someday I will need shoes like these

A girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In the Studio

I woke up with a new-ish idea for some necklaces.  What if I used some of my larger gemstone briolettes as  pendants and then instead of suspending them from chain like I usually do, did a little pearl linking, then finishing with chain?  While I recognize that this isn't an earth shatteringly new design idea, it is an interesting variation on two existing lines of mine.  I gave it a try today.

From left to right: labradorite with silvery and peacock pearls, green hydro quartz with pale pink pearls, pink opal with rose colored pearls.  The chain is beautiful oval rolo chain.  I got a smoking deal on that in Tucson.

I have not yet priced these necklaces, but I think they will be quite reasonable.

I have plans for a few more like these, with large briolettes.  Then I think I may do a few with smaller pink tourmaline briolettes with small white pearls.  That one will be very elegant!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

First of all, let me confess that I do not have a photo of these cookies.  I made them last week and forgot to take photos.  Now they're all gone :)

Theresa's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 3/4 cup butter (the original recipe called for shortening, but I think butter makes them better)
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder

Mix everything together -- the order does not seem to matter.  Just be sure to add the raisins last.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto non-stick cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

I usually make only half of this recipe because it simply makes too many cookies!  These are cake-like cookies, not crisp ones.  Rick only likes cakey cookies, so these are great for him.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bi-color Quartz

At first, I thought these briolettes were too long for earrings, so I only used them for necklaces.  But now I feel differently.  They're not  huge,  they aren't real heavy and they have so much sparkle.

The colors are pale lavender and pale blue, so of course I teamed them with tiny periwinkle colored tanzanite rondelles.  You may have noticed that I've been using my tanzanite rondelles a lot lately.  That's because I recently re-found them.  Yup, they got lost underneath some larger beads.  Poor things.

If you click the photo, you will go directly to the listing.  When you do, you will see that the photos with the white background show the bi-color-ness of these stones much better.  Thanks for looking!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Making Some New Components

I recently discovered that one of my local bead stores (the one in Eagle River, even more local than the ones in Anchorage!) has started to carry Vintaj brass components for jewelry making.  While this will make it easy for me to obtain a missing component in a hurry, it also makes it too very easy for my local competition to find the same components.

With that in mind, I decided to try out some new ideas for my line of brass, copper and mixed media necklaces. 

These enameled dragonflies are just gorgeous.  My photographs do not do them justice.  The enamel was just too shiny and I was not in the mood to mess with a fancy photographic set-up!

I also found some blanks for resin in my stash. (where and when did I get those?)  I don't really want to get in 
on the resin craze, so I did a little collage inside the disk and squirted in some Diamond Glaze - 2 coats.  I think this piece came out pretty nice too.

My favorite pieces however, will be these cool pocket watches, which I purchased several years ago for some long forgotten reason.  I've only completed one of these, but I think I'll enjoy this tiny collage work very much.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


No, I did not set up the marbling table outside as I've been planning to do for the past two years.  I will get around to it this summer ... I think.  But I digress.  Yesterday, while perusing the etsy forums, I found this charming new shop selling digitally marbled notecards and other lovely little items.

Modern Marbling offers a digital download of marbled designs that are the perfect size for ATCs.  I purchased those yesterday and couldn't be more pleased!

Here's a look at one of Michelle's gorgeous notecards:

And this 6-pack of marbled journals is an awesome deal:

You can click on either of those photos to go directly to the listings.  But be sure to visit her entire shop.  I see that she has relisted the digital download sheet that I purchased yesterday too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


My begonias are finally big enough to deserve a photograph.  They do well in the shade of my eaves, so I always use them in my hanging baskets.  This year, we were fortunate enough to get 7 different colors of begonias, so each basket has a different color.

These pink ones on the far end are my favorites.  I think the actual name of the color was Go-Go Pink, or something equally ridiculous.

I'm too short to get a better photo and I'm too lazy to get the ladder.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Deepest Red Garnets

And they're large too!  These garnet briolettes were so spectacular, I bought 3 strands of them.  I don't often do that, but I had never seen such large garnets.

The color is so hard to capture in a photograph.  Trust me, they're gorgeous!

Monday, July 5, 2010

About those 2 wholesale orders last week ...

I may have mentioned that I had 2 wholesale orders last week.  The funny part is that both stores are located on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage -- just 1 block away from each other.  How do I feel about that?  About having 2 stores so close to one another carrying my merchandise?  I feel fine about it.  Wanna know why?  I'll tell you anyway.

One store (Grizzly's Gifts) is kitschy and geared primarily towards the tourist traffic.  What do they order from me, you ask?  They are only interested in my ivory and sterling silver jewelry and order from my wholesale catalog.  This photo is a sampling of what I offer there:

The fossilized mammoth ivory is elegant and neutral and sells well in these types of stores.  Grizzly's has a selection of ivory jewelry from artists all over the state.  I'm glad to be represented there.  And they pay in a timely manner -- always a big plus!

The second store is Cabin Fever.  I've known the owner, Jana, for many years.  She's a terrific supporter of local artists.  She buys only my one-of-a-kind pieces, much like what you find in my etsy shop.  It really moves in her shop because she displays it well and is a master marketer.  Oh, and she pays in a timely manner as well.  Gotta love that.

These 2 retail stores are different and they sell completely different product lines of mine.  Most customers wouldn't even realize that those 2 product lines are produced by the same artist.  And that's fine with me.  I admit that I'm not in this business to "make a statement" with my art.  I'm here because I need to make a living and I truly enjoy what I do.  But I'm no purist.  Most of the time, business objectives trump artistic freedom. 

That's just the way it is ... for me.  Please tell me how you feel about this.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wild Currants

Some of you may remember my posts last summer regarding the red currants growing here & there around our property.  This year, it's a sad state of affairs.  The berries are coming along nicely, but some nasty caterpillars have destroyed the leaves.  I suspect these bushes may not be around next summer.

On a brighter note, the wild flowers at the inlet are at the height of bloom.  The shooting stars are a brilliant pinkish-purple.  I've transplanted some to my own yard with much success.

These chocolate lilies on the other hand, have me stumped.  I transplanted 3 plants 2 summers ago.  They bloomed beautifully last summer, but this year, they did not even make an appearance!  It's too bad because even though they only bloom for a week or so, they are gorgeous and a bit mysterious with that deep brown coloration.

Friday, July 2, 2010

And Another Eclectic Color Combination!

Ripe eggplants.  That's what these earrings remind me of. 

I was down to my last 2 smooth amethyst briolettes (that actually make a pair) and thought, "what should I do with these?"  "I know!", I exclaimed, in my head.  "I'll mix them with some beautiful peridot rondelles!"  I love purple and green together ... all different shades of each.

These 2 stones work beautifully together.  Neither one overwhelms the other.  Harmony.  Ahhh ....

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fun Photography!

I recently purchased this amazingly clever set of alphabet photos from alfabetfotos.  They are so intriguing. The artist finds things -- either natural or man made -- that resemble letters, like this "D".

and this "C".

I bought a set of 26.  One has to look at one's environment with a new set of eyes to see these letters in their natural state.  I admire that.  It's a lesson we can all learn from.

Of course, I have no specific plans for these letters, but I think it would be cool to have a space on my wall where I could hang some letters to make words and change them whenever I feel like it.  Sheesh -- I can't even make my name unless I get another set!