Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jet Learns to Swim

A few weeks ago, we went for a hike in Eagle River -- along the North Fork.  This is part of Chugach State Park, which has countless trails and facilities.  The hike is an easy one (thank goodness!) and it was new territory for Jet.  He was so excited when we reached the river.

At first, he simply waded in, but quickly got bored with that.  Against my advice, Rick let him off the leash and Jet made a mad leap into the water.  To the surprise of all of us, it was way deeper than it looked and Jet immediately sunk!  How was he to know what the water would be like?  I thought he was a goner, but he quickly surfaced and started paddling like crazy, making his way to the shore.  Once I regained my composure, I hugged and kissed the wet monster, so happy that he was still alive.

All he wanted to do was dive in again, but I forbade it.  Enough was enough and parts of the river were moving swiftly.  I was afraid he would carried away by the current.  It's been known to happen and I wasn't taking any more chances.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Picasso Petunias

It's that time of year again ... time for flowers!  While I'm not much of a gardener ...

don't judge me for not liking dirt under my fingernails, please 

... I do love to have lots of flowers around all summer long.  There are many wonderful nurseries where we live, but I tend to shop at two specific ones:  P&M Gardens in Eagle River and Perennial Gardens, right in my neighborhood!  I like to hang a healthy looking (ie - ready made) basket by the front door.  This year, these Picasso Petunias really caught my eye.

The challenge will be for me to keep this planter looking this good for the next 3 months!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Miniature Jeweler's Bench

I received my new jeweler's bench and Rick helped me set it up a couple of weeks ago.  He also had me compile a list of things I needed.  He gathered up what he could from his stash of extra stuff, minimizing the amount of money I needed to spend on new stuff -- yay Rick!

While I have a hand held dremel, I do not have a flex shaft and really did not want to spend that much money right now.  My dremel can do most of what a flex shaft will do, but drilling has always caused me great problems.

(think drilled hole through finger and a quick trip to the emergency clinic for a tetanus shot)

So I decided to order a mini drill press from Rio Grande.  Like the jeweler's bench, it is heavy and costs more to ship than it costs to purchase.  I placed the order for the drill press yesterday and was thrilled to discover that it was out of stock!  Why, you ask?  Because Rio has that great policy that all backorders are shipped for free.  I have to wait a week (what's a week?) for it, but it will ship for FREE!  I can't stop thinking about what a great deal that is.

Of course, when the customer service rep told me that it was out of stock, I immediately asked if they were out of stock on any other heavy things that I needed.  She actually laughed at my cleverness :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Graham Cracker Bars

I must have made this recipe a dozen times or more.  It's that good.  And different enough to keep your tasters guessing.

Graham Cracker Bars

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter (I use 1/2 cup and it's fine)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
9 (or so) graham crackers
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, beating well.  Add milk/vanilla combo alternately with mixture of flour, salt & soda.  Blend thoroughly after each addition.

Place 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl.  Add the melted chocolate and the walnuts.  Spread in a greased 9 x 11 baking pan.

* This will seem impossible -- you will think you don't have enough batter to cover the bottom of this size  pan.  Just do the best you can and don't obsess about spreading it evenly.

Arrange (about) 9 graham crackers over the batter.  (Sometimes I can fit 9, sometimes I can't.  Have no idea why).

To the remaining 2/3 of the batter, add the chocolate chips, stirring well.  Drop by spoonfuls over the graham crackers and spread to cover.  Again, this will seem impossible.  Just do it.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.  When cool, cut into bars.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Picture This!

Picture This -- that's the name of the gift shop/art gallery in Eagle River that has been carrying my jewelry for about two years now.  I recently called to see if they needed more stock --

note to self: next year, call before Mother's Day

-- the always unexpected, but always welcome response was YES!

I brought my awkward load of stuff fine jewelry into the store on Tuesday morning.  I carry it in this bag that I purchased from this etsy shop.  My cases fit so nicely!

Michelle, the store manager had already warned me that the purchase would probably be limited.  To make a long story short, she had a hard time deciding which earrings not to purchase, that she ended up making quite a large purchase:  68 pairs of earrings and 11 necklaces.  

While that did not wipe me out, it did put a serious dent in my earring inventory.  On the way home, while I stewed about selling so much at wholesale, I tried to focus on the positives:

-- I did not have to use 79 gift boxes
-- I did not have to use 79 pieces of tissue paper 
-- I did not have to use 79 business cards
-- I did not have to pack & ship 79 pieces of jewelry

Wholesale?  Hell yes!  The only other time I get to sell in such large quantities is at a show, when I still need to use the boxes, tissue paper, business cards, merchandise bags, etc.  Plus, I have to be pleasant and all smiley-faced for hours on end.  This wholesale meeting took about 1/2 hour.  I can be pleasant and friendly for that short time period with ease!

As a side note, I gave a pair of earrings to Michelle as a gift.  Have to keep her happy, don't I??

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jewelry Making Tip :: Front and Back

After stacking beads on a headpin for creating a pair of earrings, we most often make a wrapped loop in order to attach the drops to earwires. I make 2 types of wrapped loops: neat and messy. But that's a topic for another post. This post is about the neat type of wrapped loop. Chances are, you have a favorite method of creating said wrapped loop. Take a close look at the last pair of earrings you made. You will notice that they do not look the same when viewed from the front as they do when viewed from the back.

This first photo shows one drop facing one way and the other drop facing the other way. Can you see the difference in the wrap? This may seem like a minor point, but in a simple pair of earrings, if each one is not suspended from the earwire in the same direction, it can really stick out like a sore thumb.

I won't try to tell you which way is right and which way is wrong, I only suggest that you assemble both earrings the same way. I always hang my drops as seen below, because I see this side of the wrap as "the front". You may see it the other way. Just be consistent!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lots of New Earrings in My Etsy Shop

I have been on an earring-making freight train since late February.  I needed some for wholesale, some for consignment and some for my etsy shop.  Here are a few that I recently listed.

There are more, but this was getting to be a boring sort of post.  Click on any of the photos to go directly to the listing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Tragedy is Now a Success!

Hey, remember this post, about the chipped ruby in zoisite briolette? I finally made time to try my idea of building up the chip with modeling paste.  What I had on hand was molding paste, often used with stencils.

I sculpted a bit of it onto the broken area, with a piece of wire in the hole.  Then I removed the wire and let the paste dry for about 2 hours.  I proceeded to wrap the stone with sterling silver wire as I normally would and viola!

If you can't tell, the one on the right was the broken one.  The molding paste was white and a bit of it was showing, so I used a black sharpie to cover it up.  I am pretty pleased with these results.