Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Review: There is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D. and Emily McDowell

Wow.  I only blogged three times last year, and one of those was to share our hummus recipe.  It was a rough year for many reasons, and I've been shaking it off little by little and getting back into doing the things I want to do, which includes writing blog posts.  I think I've picked a good topic to get me back into the groove.

Sometime before Christmas I saw a Facebook ad for Emily McDowell's "Everyday Bravery" pins, and I loved her style.  I headed over to her website and looked at just about everything.  Her items (especially her Empathy cards) are based in reality and are funny, blunt, and touching - sometimes all at once!  I placed an order for a few pins and a magnet (although I could have ordered tons more) and saw a notification about a book that was about to be released:

I read the description and was hooked.  Who among us doesn't feel lost when someone near us is experiencing loss, hardship, and pain?  What do we do?  What should we say?  Is "I'm sorry" okay?  I pre-ordered the book on Amazon and couldn't wait for it to arrive.

When the book came, I was impressed with the quality of it.  Not just the stuff inside - the actual book.  It's sturdy and will withstand many readings, and the pages... the pages are so thick that I always checked the page number to make sure I only turned one page!  The paper is a little glossy, so if you're going to make notes in the margins, you'll want to choose something that won't smudge.  Slick Writers are my go-to pens for slippery papers.

Now for the content.  It reads like you're sitting around the kitchen table (probably with a glass of wine) talking to two good friends who just happen to know an awful lot about empathy.  The authors, Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D. and Emily McDowell, have been through some really rough times, and they've used their experiences (and the experiences of many others) to come up with ways to help folks feel useful when their loved ones, friends, and acquaintances are going through their own rough times.  They discuss what empathy is (and how it differs from sympathy), how we can deal with some of our baggage before reaching out to someone else, how crucial listening is (and how to do it properly), what to say and not say, different methods of saying those things, and so much more.

One of the chapters is called "Small Gestures Make a Big Difference," and this concept touched me the most.  Did you know that we don't have to be everything for everyone all the time?  We can do little things here and there, and they might just be enough to help someone over a rough patch.  Recently a friend posted on my Facebook wall saying she was thinking about me because she knew that day would be difficult.  It was so sweet of her to do that, and her message really did help.  This book has loads of examples of things like that, which should get your mind going on how you can inject a little happiness and kindness into others' lives.

There are illustrations, bright colors, Emily's fun handwriting, and sample conversations to help drive the points home and to make the material not feel like a textbook.  It's interesting as well as being incredibly useful, and I plan on referring to it often as I work toward fixing my tendency to try to fix things.

If you'd like to get the book, click here for the item's Amazon page.  I hope you'll love it as much as I do and that it helps you as much as it's helping me.

Go forth and be kind!

I know my blog is supposed to be about jewelry making, knitting, and other crafty things.  I'll get back to that with my next post, hopefully next week.  I have lots of tools to review and new designs to show you!  If you'd like to know where I'll be when and what I'll be doing there, please check out my website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sabra-Similar Hummus Recipe

I hate those posts that give you a lot of background and photos before finally giving the recipe, so I'm going to do it my way because it's my blog.  :)   I will be putting lots of tips under the recipe, so please give them a read before making the hummus.  If you like it and come get the recipe again then you can skip all the stuff you've already read.

Oh - I'm a jewelry designer, not a chef, so you'll have to figure out serving size, number of servings, calories, and all that stuff yourself. So sorry!

Sabra-Similar Hummus
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained, reserving the juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp sour salt (citric acid)
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp tahini
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup reserved chickpea juice
Put everything in a food processor and run on high for 7 minutes or so.  If it's too thick, add a bit more reserved chickpea juice and run until blended.  Make a note of how much you used for next time.  Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate.

Eat with pita chips, raw vegetables, your fingers... whatever tickles your fancy.

In full disclosure, this recipe is a modification of the Copy Cat Sabra Classic Hummus recipe from the SparkRecipes website.  That one has white pepper, and since I hate pepper, I left it out.  I also modified it to be a double batch and to tweak some of the ingredients to fit what we like for taste and consistency.

  • This makes a double batch.   I figure that if you're going to take the time to gather all the ingredients and run a noisy, messy appliance that freaks the cats out, you might as well make enough to last a while.  You could also share it with a friend or take some to a party.
  • If you have an Aldi or other discount grocery store near you, I recommend getting some of the ingredients there to save money.  If you're familiar with Aldi brands, you'll see that I got the chickpeas, olive oil, and minced garlic there.  The pita chips also came from there, saving me at least 70 cents a bag, and they taste better than other brands I've tried.
  • If you put the ingredients in the food processor in the order listed, you won't have to clean the measuring spoons between ingredients.  At the most, you may have to wipe the sour salt off of the teaspoon.  You're welcome.
  • You could probably substitute regular salt for the coarse sea salt, but I'd probably use a bit less.  We had the sea salt in the house already, so I decided to use it.
  • The ingredient that makes the hummus tangy is sour salt, which is also called citric acid.  Lemon juice alone won't do it.  I couldn't find it in our grocery store, so I ordered it from Amazon:

    There are a lot of other options on Amazon, but this one will last a very long time.  One teaspoon makes the hummus plenty tangy.  If you like it less tangy, use less sour salt.  Add more if you want your cheeks to pucker and your eyes to cross.  Either way, make a note of how much you used for next time.
  • You may have noticed in the above picture that I used purchased lemon juice instead of juicing my own lemon.

    I was using fresh lemons, but at 50-75 cents apiece, it was getting pricey.  I wasn't making hummus often enough to use all the juice, and it was going bad (or I was getting anxious that it had gone bad).  This little lemon was on sale for 99 cents, so I got that instead.  It seems to work just fine, and I don't feel too bad for cheating.

    If you are going to use the real thing, use a room-temperature lemon and roll it around on the counter, pushing down as you roll.  You'll get more juice.  There will be some oil released from the lemon, so do it on a paper towel.  If you're smarter than I am, you'll freeze the leftover juice in 2 teaspoon portions for use in future recipes.
  • Have a few paper towels handy and put one or two more down before you get started.  The tahini is very gloppy and gets all over everything.  Learn from my mistakes.  The first time I made hummus I was surprised I didn't get any tahini on the cats, that's how messy I was.
  • What's tahini, you ask?  It's a sesame paste.  You can find it in the Middle Eastern section of grocery stores, but I found this on Amazon that was cheaper per unit than my grocery store and will last for a number of batches:

  • Stir the tahini well before adding it to the food processor because it separates.  I use a non-measuring tablespoon for stirring and pushing the tahini off of the measuring tablespoon into the food processor.
  • Rinse things right after you're done using them, because the tahini and the hummus are rather sticky and will come off much more easily if rinsed immediately.  Use a sprayer if you have it.  While you're at it, you might as well wash them.  Get it over with.
  • For this batch I used about 1/4 cup of reserved juice.  It is a little thick, I think, but it tastes just fine.  I recommend using at least 1/3 cup, but 1/2 cup is probably the right amount.  The recipe I started with uses 1/2 cup per one can of chickpeas, but that makes it very thin.  Feel free to fiddle with the measurements to get the consistency you want.
  • The hummus will be warm after running the food processor.  Don't let that stop you from taste testing it with a pita chip or three.  You can evaluate the consistency and taste and make adjustments before washing the equipment.

  • To give you an idea of how much this makes, this container is supposedly five cups, and it seems to be more than half filled.  I'm going to estimate 3.5 cups.  Again, jewelry designer, not chef.  If anyone wants to be industrious and measure it, let me know what you find out, and I'll gladly update this post.

    Update: Since I'm making hummus a lot now, I decided to upgrade to a dedicated hummus bowl that looks a lot nicer than a ratty plastic container.  I got a 4 cup TrueSeal glass bowl from the Container Store (this link on their website is for all the sizes - the bowls are very nice), and the hummus fills it to the top, so this recipe makes 4 cups.  That, my dears, is how a jewelry designer does math, ignoring her math minor, computer major, and years as a programmer.  :D

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  If you try it, please leave me a comment on this post with what you think (good or bad - we can't all like the same things).  If you have any further tips, I'd love to hear those, too.

The next post will be back to my usual topics.  I'm working on a new bezel technique, and once I've perfected it, I'll post about it.  I also have plans to post instructions for a necklace made with all that political junk mail we get before elections.  I also have some new tools that need reviewing.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Book review: Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry

Three years ago, I reviewed Cathy Jakicic's book, Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider.  That link takes you to my review, which includes how to pronounce her last name.  :)  When Cathy approached me about reviewing her newest book, Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry, I jumped at the chance.  The projects in her last book were so cute and versatile, and I couldn't wait to see her new book!

Here's the cover:

Ooh!  Just these few projects are so cute, and I can already imagine experimenting with the components.

Here is how Cathy described her book:
In a nut shell, there are 20+ bite-sized stitching projects of components that can be worked into simple — or more involved — jewelry.  Also, I’m making all the projects and instructions copyright free so someone can sell what they make or teach a project with my blessing.

The audience includes stitching novices, more advanced stitchers looking for a quick project idea — or something they can sell at a lower price point because it didn’t take them an age to make.
Wait... what did she say about selling?  Everyone knows that selling pieces made from another designer is verboten, but Cathy is giving you carte blanche on everything in this book.  You can tell how impressed I am because I sprinkled German and French in that last sentence.  Das ist wunderbar!  C'est magnifique!  That's wonderful!

Why would Cathy do this?  Again I turn to her words, this time from the book's introduction:
And while I would never support teaching or selling someone else's designs without their permission - everything in this book is yours.  I don't sell my jewelry or teach very often, so you're not threatening my livelihood.  These designs were designed for sharing.  Enjoy!
There's even a royalty-free statement on the copyright page.  Personally, I would still tell people where I got the ideas from if asked.  Give credit where credit is due and all that.

Now let's talk about the projects!  Each one has loads of possibilities.  Just those on the cover spark a bunch of ideas in my mind.

The top picture shows a snippet of a necklace, but that could easily be a bracelet.  The project's instructions explain how to make the beaded bead using pinch beads (Can you say "pinch bead beaded bead" ten times fast?) then how to create a chain necklace with bi-colored beaded beads as dangles along with matching earrings.  There's also a discussion of color choices and instructions on how to make the necklace shown on the cover.

What would I do with those beaded beads?  The first thing that pops to mind is a long chain necklace interspersed every few inches with sections of crystals and beaded beads on headpins with loops on either end.  I'd probably make two or three of those necklaces in different lengths and probably with different colors of beaded beads so they could be worn separately or together for a more dramatic look.

The other pictures on the cover show three different stitches.  The earrings are brick stitch over metal rings, and the instructions show a necklace and a bracelet as well as the earrings.  The bracelet has a number of square stitch components in different colors, and the instructions have charts for the different color combinations as well as charts for another multi-colored square stitch project.  The pendant is a peyote banner, and there's a chart for flower/vine placement as well as a chart for a thin banner that looks really cute in triplicate on a simple chain necklace.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, every project has at least one variation, with many of them having two or more.  Here is an excerpt of the book Cathy said I could share:

The page on the left is the variation for "Circular logic," a cute project using two-holed beads.  I love how the end components have two thin chains coming off of them!  I'm definitely going to keep that in mind!  The page on the right is the beginning of the next project using peyote tubes as dangles on a chain necklace.  The variations for this project are a bracelet with lots of multi-colored dangles and simple pair of earrings..

If you're a beginner stitcher, this book is perfect for sampling a large number of different stitches and techniques.  Along with the ones I've already listed, there's right angle weave, cubic right angle weave, simple bead embroidery, adding stitching to a strung piece or around a larger bead, herringbone, adding fringe, working with two-holed beads, mixing chain and/or metal with beads, and more.  Wow - I nearly got out of breath there!

When you're learning a stitch or technique, it can be daunting to look at a full bracelet or necklace with nothing but that technique.  What if I don't get it?  What if I get halfway through and hate the stitch or the colors I chose?  What if I lay it down and don't pick it up again for months - will I remember how to finish it?  There's none of that in Cathy's book.  As it says right on the cover, these projects are quick and easy.  They're meant to ease you in so you learn something new, complete it in a flash, and have confidence to experiment.

For example, many people have told me that they're scared to try right angle weave (RAW).  The "Bicone Bands" project simplifies RAW - you make a strip, which is the simplest RAW to do.  There are charts to help you along the way.  Once the strip is done, you join the ends to form a little band (made with bicones, hence "Bicone Bands"), and slide them over large dagger beads.  You could do just two to get your feet wet and make earrings (see the variation!), or you could make the necklace as shown.  Then, once you're comfortable, you could take on a more complex RAW project like the "Dagger Snuggie" necklace variation:

There are charts for this as well, with numbered beads, helpful arrows, thread paths, and changes in color so you know which beads you've already worked with and which ones are new to this step.

The charts really are very nice.  They're a lot larger than you typically see in books, and they're very easy to read.  You don't have to take just my word for it, though.  My friend Angela, who is relatively new to beading, was over a week or so ago, and she wanted to look through my vast array of books for inspiration.  I chose a few that I thought were appropriate for her level, including Quick & Easy Stitched Jewelry.  I had an ulterior motive, of course, and asked her to give me her thoughts.  She really liked the projects, but right away she remarked that the charts were great and would be easy for her to follow.  Thanks, Angela!

Also, because Cathy's a Beading Insider, there are tips sprinkled throughout the book.  A few tips are on how to get "solid and stiff" beaded beads and components.  Another is on how to turn a component into a link.  A few are about choosing thread colors and when you might want to condition your thread.  A few of them are geared towards helping beginners make sense of what they're doing. And ...

I could go on and on because the more I flip through the book the more I find to write about.  Just know that there's lots more in the book for you to discover and enjoy.  You can find the book in beading or craft stores, or you can order from Amazon here.

If you'd like to keep up with Cathy, check out her BeadingInsider Facebook page.  If you're reading this from 7/29/2016 through 8/5/2016, you can see Cathy's Beads Baubles & Jewels episode (#2403) online here, and this season of BB&J will air on CREATE TV starting August 7, 2016.

Have I forgotten anything?  YES!!  Goodness, there's a lot to tell you!  The August 2016 issue of Bead&Button Magazine has a book excerpt!  They have printed the full instructions for the pinch bead beaded bead main project, "Beader's Dozen"!  You can see if what I said about the charts was true, learn how to make the beaded beads, and complete the chain necklace and earrings.  They've even included the tip on how to make your beaded beads stiff.  So check it out then get the book for all the rest of the projects!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas card wall art

When I moved out on my own, I planned on sending out Christmas cards.  Every year I said, "This is the year!"  I even made a bunch of cards once.  But the season slipped by, year after year, and in 20+ years, I have yet to send out a single card.  I know... I suck.

Fortunately, though, other people do not suck.  We get cards from Steve's coworkers and from some family members and friends.  I feel awful that we don't reciprocate.  Maybe one of these years.  :)

I do save all of the cards with our Christmas decorations so we can look at them again years down the road.  We're amassing quite a stack!

While all the cards are pretty and festive, every once in a great while we get one that I absolutely love.  This year we got one that I didn't want to keep hidden away with the other cards, so I decided to turn it into a piece of art.

This is how the little wall in our entryway usually looks:

For Christmas, I removed two of these pictures and replaced them with seasonal art - a card that I framed ages ago and a framed poinsettia cross-stitch that Steve's mother found at a second-hand shop.

Steve and I went to the dollar store today and got a frame that would go great with our peach-colored wall.  In case I couldn't remember what size the card was (my memory is really flaky lately), I took a quick picture of it with my phone with two rulers measuring two sides:

This picture really doesn't do this card justice.  I don't know if any of them will.

Since it's an odd-sized card (5.5" x 8"), we bought an 8" x 10" frame, and I cut a piece of taupe cardstock to that size.  I adhered the card on it and wrote on the inside some basic information - the full names of who the card is from, who it was given to (our full names), and the year.  That way when it ends up at a second-hand store decades from now and someone decides to take it apart, there will be a little bit of history there.  Call me sentimental.

Here's the finished result:

No, it really doesn't look as good in pictures.  The birds and the ornaments on the trees are metallic and really pop.  You'll just have to come see it in person.

And here's how that wall looks now:

You can see the peach a little better in this picture.  I had to close the dining room curtains and turn on the entryway light because there was quite a glare in all three pictures.

Now that that's all done, I took everything down and put the frames in a bin.  I should have framed the card sooner so I could have enjoyed it longer, but there's always next year.

I have one more picture to replace.  That can wait until next Christmas, I think.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Minion pumpkins

I know I owe you a RAW: Merge recap, but I haven't had the time to dedicate to putting it together.  Soon, I hope!  It was a really fun night, and I met some very nice people.

My husband, Steve, likes to do our pumpkins for Halloween.  He usually carves something, but this year he wanted to do something different.  He had seen posts on Facebook showing pumpkins painted to look like the Minions.  We love the Despicable Me and Minions movies, so I said that was a great idea.

We bought three pumpkins roughly shaped like the three main characters from the latest movie.  Steve cut off the bottoms of pop cans (sorry - here in Wisconsin they're called "soda" cans), inserted them into the pumpkins, and started painting.

Here he is in process:

Before painting, Steve had first sketched what he wanted to do.  He used a ball point pen, which turned out to be a bad idea:

Can you see the lines above and below the black?  Those are pen marks after two coats of acrylic paint.  Oh, well.  Unless you scrutinize the Minions, you won't be able to tell.  Just learn from our mistake and use pencil if you're going to draw on a pumpkin before painting.

Here are the finished Minions:

From left to right: Bob is laughing at the funny costumes the kids will be wearing, Kevin reacts to the scary costumes, and Stuart is waving to everyone walking by.

It's a really crappy day today - cold and rainy.  We wanted the pumpkins to be seen from the sidewalk and road, so I suggested we put our patio table and umbrella out so they will be visible and remain dry.

There have been few trick-or-treaters so far (one hour left!), but they've all loved the pumpkins.  Good job, honey!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Updated: I am RAW (and need your help to stay that way!)

Back in May I received an interesting message on Etsy.  It was from Josh, the Assistant Director of Milwaukee showcases for RAW: Natural Born Artists, an indie arts organization for artists, by artists.  He went on to compliment me on my jewelry (which is always nice!) and told me a bit about their showcases, which take place in over 60 locations all over the world.  I'm going to use his words here - much better than trying to paraphrase:
We focus on spotlighting underground and emerging talent to the public. Every other month we hand-select and showcase 40 local artists in film, fashion, music, visual art, photography, accessories, performing art, hair & makeup as well as DJs etc.
Our showcases typically are attended by 500-800 people, and we always invite press and media, art galleries, and other art industry professionals to give artists optimum opportunity to expand your client base, sell your work, and get your name out there, as well as network with like minded, passionate artists.
RAW's mission is to provide artists with tools, resources and exposure. We exist to give independent artists a platform and voice!

There was more to the message, but this is the gist of what RAW is and does.  The showcases always have a fashion show, bands, and more.  To say the least, I was very curious.  Anyone who tries to make a living in the arts knows how hard it is to find the right venue, and this one sounded different than anything else I've seen before.

I responded to Josh, and we discussed some particulars about the shows themselves and the next one they were planning in June.  Unfortunately, it was right after the Bead&Button Show, and I knew I would be in no shape to be in that showcase or even to attend it.  (I'm always wiped out for a few weeks after B&B!)

At some point my discussions shifted to Sarah Raeke, the Showcase Director for Boston and Milwaukee.  She answered my very plentiful questions with long and involved answers.  I truly got the feeling that she cares for artists, whether or not they commit to doing a showcase.

I looked at the pictures they posted on flickr for Milwaukee's June showcase.  They all looked so young.  I'm firmly in my mid-40s and possibly getting a little stodgy.  I didn't know if I'd belong.  I expressed this concern to Sarah, and she knocked it down.  I shouldn't worry about it, she said.  They include artists of all ages.

Another hesitation I had is that I would have to sell tickets to the showcase, since it's an event more than an art fair - there's the fashion show I mentioned, music, and other entertainment.  I'm more willing to plunk down my own money than others' money, especially on something I've never been to before.

Sarah came to the rescue again.  She said she'd put my name down on the guest list for August, and I could see it for myself.  August turned out to be almost as busy as June, but I went anyway.

The Milwaukee showcases are held at The Rave Hall, where concerts and other events are held.  It was a little dark, a bit loud, a lot hot, and... FUN.  The atmosphere was kind of electric - art and artists everywhere you look.  If you're interested in seeing pictures of this event, here's the album on flickr, but I'm going to link to a few specific pictures. Up on a stage was a "bird woman" (I hope that term doesn't offend her) in a large birdcage, and on the floor to the right were paintings of her (cage included).  Some near-naked woman was up there, too, getting painted.  It might have been this one, but I'm not sure.  The booths (which you can see starting at this page) had jewelry, art, photography, bags, clothes, and more (like this).

I chatted with a few jewelry vendors and one artist to see what they thought about the show.  The first jewelry vendor was Moonchild Designs (check out her Facebook page).  She was very enthusiastic about the show and told me this was her last one before moving to Colorado.  Her pieces were beautiful, and so was her display.  The second jewelry vendor was Maria of MWstyle (check out her Etsy shop), and she had more than just very pretty jewelry!  I liked her hand-painted bags!  She told me she was doing very well, and I could see that she kept busy.

The artist I talked to was Jo of Joywise Arts (check out her website).  While I loved her art (and bought a card of her Olbrich Spring Blooms print!), I will admit that my primary reason for talking to her was because she was older.  It seemed that everyone was young, and, again, I was nervous I wouldn't fit in.  She assured me that I would.

One of the other things that happens at a RAW showcase is that head shots of the artists are taken.  They're posted on flickr, and the artists can use them in their own promotional materials and such going forward.  Remember the whole old and stodgy thing I mentioned above?  Well, I think I'm even more nervous about the head shots than selling tickets.  Sarah said I could opt out, but when I confessed to Jo that I wasn't keen on getting my picture taken, she assured me that the photographer was excellent and knew just how to pose a person for a good picture.  Considering how her picture turned out, I think I might be okay.  One of the head shots in the flickr album just took my breath away.  Check this one out.  It is just stunning.  I know I won't take as good a picture as that one, but I won't shy away from the photographer.

Sarah said I should look her up during the showcase, but I had no idea what she looked like.  The "ticket taker" in the front gave me a description: colorful dress, long sandy-brown hair, about 5'7"... I said, "Um, okay..." and while she was checking a few people in I took a look around.  "Is that her?" I pointed to someone who matched that description, and she said it was.  Whew!  Fortunately I didn't have to wander around the place staring at all the women until I found her.

I introduced myself, and she gave me her undivided attention for as long as I needed her.  She laughed at my jokes ("Everyone is young and hip, and I'm old and need a new hip." - the arthritis has been really bad lately!), and she answered still more questions I had.  We talked about how hot it was, and I said that I thought colder was better than hot, "because you can always put on clothes but can't really strip ... wait a minute... I did see a naked woman getting painted a little while ago.  Never mind!"  We both said we hoped that it would be cooler in the venue in October.

Sarah was friendly, kind, and warm (and not just because of the temperature).  Now, I'm not just saying all this because I'm sending her a link to the blog.  I'm saying this because it was Sarah who (unknowingly) pushed me off of the fence.  If I hadn't have talked with her, I'd probably still be dithering.

When I apologized for interrupting her conversation when I walked up, she said it was okay, as her artists were the most important thing for her.  For some reason, that made me feel like I belonged.  I don't really see myself as an artist - it seems that most of my time is spent marketing and doing all the business aspects of having a business.  But after grappling with it a few days, I decided I am an artist.  I've flirted with that thought before, but now it has firmly taken hold because I have been handpicked to be among other handpicked artists, and I will showcase my art at the "Merge" showcase on October 15th.

I am RAW

Updated with new start time!

Just writing about my experiences has me excited and ready to go.  I can't wait to see what other artists will be there and what the energy will be like.  I can't wait to meet people (artists and attendees) and perhaps collaborate with them in the future (as it is, I've been staring at the card I bought from Jo, trying to figure out how I could make jewelry to evoke the same feel as her piece).  I just can't wait.  I've been thinking about my space and what I can do with it, especially with the petrified wood chunks I posted about a while ago.  I'm planning what pieces I will bring and what I might want to make beforehand.

Here's where the second part of the blog title comes in.  You were waiting for it, weren't you?

I need your help to meet my commitment of selling 20 tickets at $15 each.  Yes, I know the event is on a Thursday night and starts at 7:00p.  (Moved up from the original time of 8:00p.)  If you're in the Milwaukee area at all, I'd like to encourage you to come, even if it's for just an hour.  If you want to stay longer, well, you should have enough notice to take the next day off of work and have a three-day weekend!  MERGE is sure to be as interesting and exciting as the August showcase, with the extra added benefit of me being there!  What more do you need?  :)

Wait, you may not know me at all, so my being there isn't going to be much of an incentive, is it?  I'm going to be flinging this post far and wide, and I'm hoping that there will be a lot of you who don't know me.  Please check out my RAW artist page to read about me and to see some of my jewelry.  I can't control the picture collage on that page - it does what it wants every time the page is loaded.  You can click on a picture to see the whole image and scroll through the rest of them.

Or... you could visit my webpage and its gallery.  That should give you an idea of what I do and what I might bring.  The home page of my website has a calendar of my events, so you can follow me around like I was the Grateful Dead.  I do finished piece shows, like this RAW showcase, but I also do bead shows where I sell kits and tutorials of my designs.  If you make jewelry, please check me out at those shows, too!  More will be added soon - my calendar is filling up!

So, what about those who do know me but who can't attend the event?  Why would you want to purchase a ticket or three?  You know I have an answer for that.  :)  I need your support.  Keeping a small business afloat is tough.  I am expanding (I'm going to have a table in the Artisan Pavilion at the Bead&Button Show next year!), and I need to earn money so I can pay for table costs, make jewelry and kits, and keep designing (so I can make more jewelry and kits).  The opportunities available through the RAW organization are too good to pass up, and I'm hoping they will lead to more opportunities down the road.

But, near or far, purchasing a ticket will not be one-sided.  To show my appreciation, I would like to give you something for supporting me.  If you buy one ticket, I'll send (or give if you come to the showcase) one of my "SDN15 - Dino-spine" pendants (which goes with the bracelet shown above):

It is double-sided (the other side of this one is purple), so you have options!  I love jewelry with options.  It'll come on a simple chain, around 18-20", depending on what I have available.  If you have a particular hankering for a color, let me know, and I'll see what I have in stock.  Otherwise, please let me choose for you.  It'll be more fun that way!

If you buy two tickets, I'll also send you a pair of earrings to match one of the pendant's sides.  They'll look something like this:

Purchase three tickets, and I'll send along another pair of earrings to match the other side of the pendant.

If I'm mailing your items to you, it may need to wait until after the showcase.  I have another show just four days before this one, and I'm going to be pretty busy getting ready for both shows!

Exciting alternative!  If you'd prefer to make my designs yourself, for each ticket you purchase, I'll e-mail you PDFs of designs you choose that add up to $20 from my Tutorials and Kits shop pages.  Yes, that's right - you'll get more than your money's worth in PDF tutorials for each ticket you buy.  For example, you could learn how to make every piece of jewelry shown in this blog post (bracelet, pendant, and earrings) and still have credit left over for another design or two (see my SDN15 page - the "SDN15 - Basics" PDF tutorial is $6, and the "SDN15 - Dino-spine bracelet and pendant" PDF tutorial is $7.  You could get the "SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids" PDF tutorial, too!).  On top of all that, you can still attend the showcase!  Do not order through my website - just send me your list after you buy a ticket, and I'll e-mail them to you.

Now that you're interested, how can you buy tickets?  There are a number of ways: through my RAW artist page, through Paypal's Send money to friends and family page, by sending me a check, or by handing me cash.  There is a charge for using a credit card through Paypal on the RAW website, but I believe that there is no charge for using a debit card through that "Send money" link above.

Any of the above ways will get you on the attendees list for the showcase.  If you do it through the RAW website, please forward your receipt to traci@creative-pursuits.biz (after you delete any financial details) so I can add you to my gift list as well.  No matter which method you prefer, include a note about which perk you'd like - jewelry or PDFs (and your list of PDFs).

I've created an event on my Creative Pursuits Facebook page, so if you're going, please join the event here.  If there are any changes or updates to the event, I'll be posting them there.

I need to sell at least 20 tickets at $15 apiece by October 8th.  Well, 18 tickets.  My mom has promised to buy two, and that was even before I said I'd be giving jewelry away.  So... 18 tickets.  That's very doable, isn't it?  Update:  My mother and stepfather bought four tickets, so now I only need to sell 16.  Thanks, Mom and John!  Second update:  I now have sold seven tickets.  That means I need to sell 13 more.  Now that the show is opening an hour earlier (at 7:00p instead of 8:00p), I'm hoping that means that more of you can come.

Thank you all for getting down this far.  I know this has been rather long.  I've been working on it all afternoon, so I feel your pain.  :)  I'd also like to thank you in advance for your support.  If you've read this far, then I hope to be receiving your ticket order soon.  Don't delay so I can sleep well at night!  (No comments from the peanut gallery - I know I don't sleep well, but this might help.  We won't know unless you help me out!  Who knows?  This could be my cure for insomnia!)

Again, thank you.  And for those of you still reading.  I have an extra special treat for you:

A rare picture of Pixel and Clinchfield cuddling, taken by my husband while I was slaving away on this blog post.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More neat finds

I was all set to do another "non-blog" like I did last week because I have been busy again with more being added all the time.  In between the activities I've been resting, because Fibromyalgia hates nothing more than an active schedule.  I was going to appease you by giving you lots of pictures of our new kitten, Clinchfield.  But then I realized that I do have a blog topic!  And there was much rejoicing.  (Yay.)

One of the almost-last-minute activities was a trip to Illinois for lunch with my mother and my cousin Dawn.  Dawn had an appointment after lunch but went back to Mom's for a while after, so Mom and I hung out and "helped" my stepfather, John, while he was working on cleaning out the shed.  We found some neat things in there that have come home with me, and they are my topic for the day.

Almost three years ago I posted about the hidden treasure I found in my garage - a wooden box with dividers.  If you missed that or want a refresher, click here.

I know I posted about two more wooden boxes I found in Mom's basement, but I wasn't able to find the post.  I use those boxes when I do bead shows.  Kits fit in them nicely, and they add a nice rustic look to my table.  I've had to keep an eye on the boxes, though, because various friends of mine have expressed interest in them and have "joked" about them walking away.

Well, yesterday in the shed we found more wood boxes and a tin!  I found another box in the garage, and John cleaned them up for me and put them in my trunk.  Here's the haul:

I may have to start sharing them.  I love that one of the boxes was for prunes (the one under the orange tin).  The small box in the front has a bunch of door hardware that I'm either going to put on eBay and/or make something artsy with.

This wasn't the whole haul, though.  Sitting on top of a work table in the shed were four pieces of petrified wood and a quartz fragment:

The quartz is being soaked because it was pretty filthy.

If you're thinking that doesn't look like you thought petrified wood would look like, check out this site.  If you scan down the article, the second picture in the left column looks a lot like the pieces here and ones John found in other parts of their house.  (It's a treasure trove in there.)

Oops!  It's 2:30.  I have to run to today's last-minute activity, getting my teeth cleaned.  I was going to do it tomorrow, but something unexpected-but-necessary popped up for tomorrow.  I'll wrap this up when I get back.

Home again!  Where was I?  (Um, you were at the dentist.  What did they put in that fluoride polish besides fluoride?)  No, no, where was I in the blog?  Oh, yes.  Petrified wood.

I used other pieces for photographing a few pieces of my jewelry.  You may have seen them before:

I've been telling my husband that it's a pity to keep all the petrified wood in a box.  We should put it on a shelf or something.  But when I brought the new pieces home I had a thought.  Dare I say it was an epiphany?  Why don't I use the petrified wood, the quartz that's soaking, and anything else I have like that for displays at my shows instead of just for photo shoots?

So for the purposes of this blog I set up a quick little display:

I've been using a white tablecloth lately, but this purple napkin was handy.  I'd space them out more and have a few of them up on risers or something, but this should give you a good idea of what it would look like.

In case you're curious about the designs, the pieces are (top to bottom, left to right): Shadowed Diamonds, Double Decker Daisy, SDN15 - Dino-spine, StarLite Mini Flowers, Cobblestone Path, and SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids.

Here are a few of the displays close up:

I like it!  It shows the pieces at different angles and gives you an idea of the drape.  I'll try it at my next few shows and let you know how it goes.

But who cares what I think?  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

For those of you looking forward to pictures of Clinchfield, I will not disappoint.

Here he is last Tuesday after the whole water-splashing escapade:

Turns out he had a bit of a buzz from the pain meds (instead of getting sleepy) and was quite the crazy cat the rest of the afternoon.  I could not keep him out of the sink until I forced some quiet alone time on him in his crate.

Even though he's calmed down from that, he's still a kitten.  One of his favorite activities is making a mess out of the shelf above my desk:

You see him there at the bottom right?

All the destruction wore him out, the poor baby, but he still had enough energy to reach for the Darth Vader Pez dispenser he had sent flying towards my head.

Guess what he's doing right now?  Yup!  Back on the shelf:

While shelf-destruction ranks high on his daily to do list, his absolute favorite activity is pestering Pixel.  Clinch jumps on Pixel or lies underneath him batting at his head, and Pixel whines and grumbles and bats back.  Then Pixel swishes his tail back and forth in irritation, which Clinch thinks is strictly for his benefit:

Let's look at that from a different angle, shall we?

It's most fun when Pixel is on a level higher than Clinch.  Most fun for Clinch, that is.  Pixel just gets more and more annoyed.  We usually just yoink the kitten and try to distract him from Pixel for a little while.  They'll get it figured out eventually.