Saturday, October 22, 2011


Things have been popping over here in Creative Pursuits land!  On October 2nd I had a table at the Milwaukee Bead Show (sponsored by Knot Just Beads) where I sold tutorials and kits of my designs and sets of mini keys with some guidelines and patterns.

These mini keys are adorable - they're scrapbook embellishments from 7gypsies that have shapes that match their larger keys.  By mini I mean mini - 18mm (3/4") long.  Here's a picture of a set of keys that I've stitched beads around:

and here is a picture of them with a necklace I designed called "Tubed Key, or Not Tubed Key?":

I'm getting off topic again.  So sorry!

Suffice it to say that I was happy with how the show went.  My husband was an enormous help, and he was such a good salesman  He said that he just listened to what I was saying and parrot it back, but it sounded like he really knew what he was talking about!  Thanks, Steve!

The main reason for the Huzzah! is that one of my classes was accepted for the 2012 Bead&Button Show!  "Shadowed Diamonds" will be taught on Sunday, June 10, 2012 from 9 to noon.

Here are a few pictures of the bracelet in different colorways:

Online registration opens Tuesday, January 10th at noon (CST).  I'm hoping that my class will sell out right away, and they will add another class.  It could happen!

Also, I found out recently that my "Parenthetical Petals" bracelet will be in a future issue of BeadStyle magazine!  I haven't signed any paperwork or anything, but the editor said it's in!  She thinks it'll be in the March or May issue.  Here's what the bracelet looks like:

How cool is that?  I hope I didn't just jinx it by posting before I've signed paperwork.  I'll keep you updated!

For the rest of this year, I have a number of shows where I will be selling my jewelry, vinyl decals, magnets, and other things:

  • November 3-6:  Loominosity.  This is a show and sale that the Wisconsin Handweaver's guild and the Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee is putting on at the New Berlin Public Library in New Berlin, Wisconsin.  This is the second year LBS has joined with the Handweavers for their 61st annual exhibit and sale.  Come and see the amazing hand-woven items and the gorgeous jewelry!  The times vary, so please see the postcard on the Loominosity page.

  • November 12-13, 9:00-4:00: Jewelry in the Domes. While the Mitchell Domes Show Dome is between exhibits, Loose Bead Society members will sell their work.  Craft shows at the Domes have done very well, and this is their first all jewelry show, and it'll be all LBS members!  We're so excited about this show, and I'm sharing a table with a few friends because of scheduling conflicts not all of use can be there the full 2 days.

  • December 3, 9:00-2:00 (I think):  This craft show and cookie sale is at the St. John's United Church of Christ in Waukegan, Illinois.  I've done this show a number of times, and while it's usually slow, I always have a good time and enjoy the people (other vendors and the ladies from the church who run the show).  I'm really hoping for more traffic this year and have been discussing ways to get the word out with the show coordinator.  Perhaps an event on Facebook?  They have advertised in a number of different places in the past, but it hasn't really worked.  Anyone have any ideas?  Leave a comment or e-mail me directly.

  • December 4, 9:00-2:00:  Every year the St. Francis De Sales Church in Lake Geneva, WI has a well attended Advent Breakfast.  This year they're adding a craft/vendor fair, and my dad and I will both have tables.  Dad is a woodworker and has beautiful salt and pepper shakers and grinders, wine bottle openers, a chess board, and more!  I'm going to focus on my vinyl decals and magnets but will also have my jewelry for sale.

Yup, I'm gonna be a busy girl!  I will make sure to carve time out of all my preparations to post more blogs.  I have lots of things to show you!

Come to think of it - all that stuff should go on my website.  Off I go...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Holy Etsy, Batman!

This week I have been quite productive!  I started cleaning my studio and moved a table in.  This was no easy feat - I didn't really have room for it, but I stacked my paper holder cart things on top of each other and moved other things around.  I wanted a better Cricut station - where I had the machine before the cutting mat drooped down unless I held it, and with the weight of the magnets it fell out or moved enough to screw up the cuts.  Also, since I've been working with polymer clay more, I wanted a permanent place for my pasta machine.  My desk is too thick for the clamp, and I wouldn't have wanted it there anyway.  The room still needs lots of cleaning, but at least I have some open workspace on my desk and more space to spread out to if needed.

The other thing I've done is add many listings on Etsy.  Now, I'm not planning on "promoting" Etsy listings here (have I said that before?), but I did want to mention what I've been up to and to show you pictures of some of the new polymer clay pieces I've made since the Christi Friesen classes I took in August.  No, I'm not yet ready to show you what I scribbled about in my last blog post.  Not yet, but soon.

Here are some hearts:

Chunky heart
Heart with flower

Twisty heart
A few flowers:

Purple flower

Blue flower

Yellow flower
What's interesting about the above flowers is that they're created with the same clay, but using different colors of PearlEx changes the look completely!

Here are a few more flowers:

Blue flower adjustable ring

Blue starflower
Finally, here's a pair of "California Roll" earrings.  I also have a ring up on Etsy, and other California Roll items will be added soon.  See the second picture for the details.

Post earrings

That's not all of it, but it gives you an idea of what I've been up to.  I guess I've been busier than I thought!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Today's experiment......

.....failed. (and it's only 4:30a!)

This was going to be a Facebook status update, but it's becoming too long, and I thought my readers would like to learn from my (copious) mistakes.

Steve and I were at our friends' house yesterday (Saturday) to play games, eat, chat, etc...  Cindy and Russ are our "couples friends", and we have a blast with them.  We played Scrabble (I won), Balderdash (which is a stupid game, but I somehow won anyway), Yahtzee (I think Cindy won that), and Shanghai Rummy (This is a GREAT game I wish I could play online.  You can find rules online, but not the actual game.  I think Cindy won this one, too).


Cindy, Steve, and I were talking about my influx of ideas while trying to sleep and that I could use a notebook next to my bed to write things down instead of getting up to do so and/or to experiment. Well, I didn't want to use the book light - I thought it would wake Steve up. I wrote copious notes, flipping pages all over the place as I'm flipping around in the bed trying to sleep.  On my left side... ooh!  I could try this... On my stomach... ooh!  I need to add this to the notes.  Flipped to my right side....  you get the idea.  With the Fibromyalgia, it's difficult for me to get comfortable, especially since I've had a number of nights where I've gotten up because I was over-hot or wanted to try something out (either with labeling my goods in a nicer, more professional way - that was my friend Judy's fault) or with making something).

Anyway.  Flip, write, flop, write, flip...

I got up for no reason you need to know about (I had a lot of water the first time I got up tonight), then wanted to add something to my notes...

Checked them in the bathroom night light.  Ack!  Things were written on top of each other because I flipped the notebook around (a few times), and other things are invisible because the pen didn't have a good angle on the paper.  So now I'm up, with the light on in my craft room, trying to decipher my notes, rubbing pencil over the invisible parts, and trying to remember what my ideas were.  Ack!

Here's a taste of what I ended up with:

Yes, it's something about a tree and clay.  I tell you NO MORE until I do my experimenting!

Needless to say, based on these results I'm less than convinced.  I'm going to use a pencil next time - a REGULAR one, not a mechanical one, and I'll have to tie a ribbon on the top of the spiral so I know which way is up.

On a side note, I've had a few sleep studies done this last month, and I seem to have moderate to severe sleep apnea, plus some restless leg/limb stuff thrown in for good measure.  It seems highly likely I'm going to have to use a CPAP machine (information about it can be found on Wikipedia here).  Although I slept well with it during my second sleep study, I still got up a number of times to use the bathroom.  Highly irritating.

One thing I'm concerned about, though, is if my sleep gets fixed, when will I come up with my ideas?

Wait.  I've been writing this blog instead of finishing my notes.  Oops.  Hope I remember everything!  Off I go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A study in opposites

Yeah, I blinked.  TWO months have passed since I last wrote.  How on earth did that happen?  Well, I've been extremely busy, that's how.  I submitted 6 classes for next year's Bead&Button Show, and I worked on some new products for my booth at Point's Fish Fry and a Flick.  I also made some minor changes in my website.  There's a calendar of events and a feed from my Facebook page.  The website design information is still there but off in a separate section available from the main menu.  More changes will be coming as I have time.

One big event that we did recently was the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 5th.  When I heard that a custom team banner would cost around $90, I said, "I can do it for much less than that!"  I also offered to create posterboards for the food we were selling.

I purchased a blank banner and some vinyl, and here's what I came up with for the team banner:

The width of the banner is 5 feet, and I think the height is around 3 feet.  Here's where the study in opposites comes in.  I put some of the beads I normally work with on the banner - not sewed on, just placed them on for picture taking.

Can't see them, can you?  Let's try this:

How about now?  No?

Ooh!  There they are!  The lighter ones are size 11/0 and the darker ones are 15/0.  Now look back at the first picture.  That gives you an idea of how different this project was than my usual work.

It was very awkward!  Steve helped me - he needed to.  Each word was far too long for me to work with on my own.  I am proud of how the banner turned out, and our team captain, my Aunt Nancy of the "Nancy's Angels", cried out, "Oh, Traci!"  She was pleased.  Yay!

Here are the food posterboards I made:

I was very pleased with them, too!  I used the Cricut and my Gypsy for all of this, of course.  The pineapple and grapes were not in my shapes.  I created the pineapple by modifying both parts of the strawberry - elongating each piece and even flipping the berry part.  The grapes are a bunch of circles stacked on top of each other.  The vine is from a different shape, and the highlights were added by Steve's X-Acto knife later.  Yes, that is the correct spelling.  My geeky husband just informed me of this.  :)

Here are a few pictures from the event:

My Mom at the food table (I do have to say that our table looked much better than most of the others):

Steve high-fives my Aunt Nancy and Mom during the Survivors' walk:

And here is Steve starting his time on the track:

They had a number of activities throughout the evening.  Steve took place in a cupcake eating contest.  I thought for sure he would win, but see the girl to the left of the woman in green, the grass skirt, and the coconut boobs?  Well, she won while Steve was still chewing the first cupcake.  It was quite impressive!

Late at night, here's our team campsite:

I think that's about it!  Our team has raised just over $3200, and the Kenosha event has raised over $300,00!  Just a drop in the bucket, but every drop helps keep people alive!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'
Into the future

Steve Miller Band, "Fly Like an Eagle"

A man with one watch knows what time it is.
A man with two is never sure.

Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
Groucho Marx

People assume that time is a strict progression
of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear,
non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of 
wibbly wobbly... 
time-y wimey... 
 The Doctor in "Blink"

One guess what this blog post is about.  Yup, time.  My last post was at the beginning of May, and I swore that my next post would be soon after.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  This is not new to my regular readers.  The post previous to my Car Decor post was I'm so far behind! in which I bemoaned that I haven't been posting.

How does this happen?  I'm not sure, but it's something I contemplate every week as I blink and it becomes Thursday.  Hey, guess what?  It's Thursday.  And what have I done with my time since my last post?

  • I attended "Food for Life" classes with my friend Michele.  I now eat edamame, brown rice, and more salads.  We also try to eat ground turkey more often and have the occasional non-meat meal.
  • I worked on cleaning my studio (which lasted all of 2 days) and entering inventory into a jewelry designer database program during a week where I had NOTHING SCHEDULED ALL WEEK.  Yes, that's bold, all in caps, and underlined.  I was going to italicize it, too, but I thought that was a bit much.  No LBS board meetings or programs, no doctor's appointments for Mom or for me, nothing.  It was really nice, and I got a lot done.
  • I started going to a 5 session yoga class.  I cried during the first two but not during the third.  Yay!  I got the spins during the first class which freaked me out, and I was too sore during the second and got frustrated.  During the third (which was yesterday), I kept half my mind on yoga and the other half on projects I want to work on.  That helped.
  • I was all over the Bead&Button Show June 8-12.  I worked the LBS booth one night, I helped my friend Maggie teach three beading classes (not to mention all the pre-work beforehand so I felt comfortable with what we were teaching!), and I worked the Show floor for my friend Bronwen Heilman all day on Saturday.  Not to mention shopping, schmoozing, and reconnecting with people I met last year.  Oh - while I was working Bronwen's booth I also reconnected with the Maid of Honor from my first wedding!  Anita stopped by, and I squealed and hugged the stuffing out of her.
  • I did a little bit of scrapbooking.  I'm only a year and a half behind.  Eek!  I know lots of people are much farther behind, but I've been trying to keep up with current stuff and get back to older things.  I need to get moving!
  • Finally... I taught my first beading class at a local bead store.  The bracelet is called "Shadowed Diamonds" and is made with adorable and substantial peanut beads. 

    Here's a picture of it in one of the color schemes:
  • I also made funky instructions to go with the bracelet to try to stand out from what other designers do.  Ooh.  I just called myself a designer.  I guess I am!
Oh - one other thing that has been taking up a lot of my time... I've been exercising.  Like I've said, doctors keep telling me I need to exercise to help the Fibromyalgia, and my last Rheumatologist suggested the Wii Fit.  We bought it, and I've been using it every day (except once when I was sick and during the Bead&Button Show).  The best thing about this Wii Fit is that Steve has been exercising, too, and we've both become more active in general.  I've lost a little weight, but I haven't noticed too much in the soreness department.  I think I'm sleeping a little better most nights, but I still have days when I'm exhausted and can't seem to do anything but nap.

But, according to Mom, my mind is always swirling with ideas.  I got up a few nights ago because I just had to do a proof of concept.  Can one do french knots with beads?  Well, there's a reason that most links when you Google "Beaded french knots" recommend replacing french knots with beads.  French knots are hard in general until you get the hang of them, but adding beads just does not work well.  I had to try!  Then there was a cat up on my desk purring and wanting attention, so I did not get back to bed right away.

One other thing I did was to slap a train magnet on the back of Steve's car during a day when he was carpooling with a coworker:

While I think it's cute, Steve was not thrilled (it's too large for his tastes), so I'm going to make a smaller one and put it off to the side, which is what he said he would have agreed to if I'd asked him before doing it.  I said, "It's removable."  He said, "Just because it's removable that doesn't mean I can remove it."  Wise husband is wise, but I will compromise.

Once I have the time.

In the immortal words of Doctor Who:  "Don't blink."  If I do, another week will have passed.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Car Decor

When I was a teenager my uncle owned a store called "Wal-Decor".  They sold paint, wallpaper, and all kinds of things to decor your walls.  My aunt and my mother worked there, and that is where Mom met John.  He worked as a painter/paper hanger with my uncle.  You'd think that some of that knowledge would have seeped into me, but I'm a very sucky painter, and I would never think of attempting to wallpaper anything.  However, I am good at putting other decorating touches onto things, as I've discussed in blog posts about stamping, my tool box, and our "new" kitchen.

When I got my new car a few weeks ago, I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to find it in the parking lot.  I've had Saturns for years and years, and I was worried I wouldn't know to look for a differently-shaped, differently-colored car.  Besides, the body of the car is metal, and after years and years of having plastic-bodied cars, I was itching to throw a magnet on it.

This is what I came up with:

Here I am with the car at Easter:

I love the look, even if my husband isn't too crazy about it, and my friends think the flowers are cute, too!  I have added the flowers to my Etsy shop so others can "Flower Power" their own cars.  Don't worry - this blog won't turn into Etsy-advertisement-central.  I just wanted to show off my new car and my cute flowers!

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm so far behind!

Hi, all!  It has been far too long since I last posted.  I wanted to.  I really did.  I even opened up my blog in my browser several times to remind myself to do it.  But things always get in the way, or my energy level is very low, or I'm on the phone for hours about something.

But today is the day!  I'm awake before Steve comes home from work (that's been rare lately), and I don't have to get ready to go anywhere, so here I am!

Here's a brief update on what's been going on:
  • Mom's done with chemo and doesn't have to go back to the doctor until June!  She feels much better and is even working part time.
  • Mom and John bought me a car.  My old one has almost 108,000 miles on it and is making rattly sounds.  They know we can't afford it, and they want me to be safe.  I got a Titanium (fancy word for dark gray) Kia Forte 5 door (fancy word for hatchback).  Thanks, Mom and John!
  • I've opened a store on Etsy.  I'll have a link to it on the right side of my blog and eventually on my website, which needs to be changed because my business is not just web design anymore.  I'm expanding it to include my jewelry and other "Creative Pursuits".
  • I've been struggling with my health.  I went to a new Rheumatologist (I didn't like my first one), and she said that she doesn't think anything serious is going on, but I do have Fibromyalgia which is affecting my whole body, not just the standard Fibro areas.  The blood work hasn't come back yet, though.  I've been starting to exercise, which is what I'm supposed to help me feel better.  We'll see.
  • Steve has been more supportive than ever, and I'm so glad to have him!

And now for something completely different.

When I last posted on February 2nd - Goodness! - I posted about having a winner for the Happy Things contest.  I made Kathy a bracelet using a technique I came up with that I'm calling "Parentheses" based on how the outer beads curve around the inner one.  Here's a picture of the bracelet on my new hand display in a picture-taking box-thing that my husband made for me:

I usually make this kind of bracelet with bigger beads, but I didn't have any in Kathy's color palette in my stash!  This turned out nice, though.  Very delicate and supple.

A number of you told me that you were "so close" to finishing your lists, but apart from my mother who came up with 90 items, no one sent me a list.  That's okay - it's more important that you all started thinking about things that make you happy.

I won't post my Mom's whole list here, but here are a few highlights with my comments underneath like last time:

  1. John
    (Her husband - did I mention spouses always seem to end up first?)
  2. Traci
    (Awww... Thanks, Mom!)
  3. Steve
    (I'm glad he made the list, but to be so high up is great!)
  4. Being alive
  5. Traci taking me to Chemo and Doctor appts
    (That's what I'm here for!)
  6. Morning sun glistening on the fence
  7. Watching Traci being so kind and helpful to the people around us
    (Now you're making me tear up, Mom!)
  8. Smell of lilacs
  9. Magic Chute in bathroom (it produces clean clothes)
    (Funny, I have one of those, too)
  10. Being done with this list

I also completed my list, and I made it to 100 items.  I was all set to do a "word cloud" of my items (you can see examples and create your own here), but I couldn't find a way to do phrases - just words.  If I could boil my list down to single words, I think a word cloud would be a great way to display the list.  I may have to think more on that.

However, what I have right now is a spreadsheet.  At some point I want to make a double layout scrapbook page of it, but I'm so far behind in my scrapping that it will have to wait.  I think I'm up to Valentine's Day 2010.  Eek!

Until I can get it into a nicer form, here are a few highlights from my own list which was finished before I got my new car:

  1. Steve and everything he does for me
    (This can fill up 3 lists or more on its own!)
  2. Our house
  3. Living in Milwaukee
  4. Mom being healthy (this is a future thing!)
    (This is future no longer... she's done with chemo!!)
    (Before you ask, Mom, numbers 4-9 are Katy, Simoon, Pixel, Fe, Cappuccino, and Caegal.)
  5. John taking such good care of Mom.
  6. The generosity of my in-laws
  7. The Wheel of Time series
    (The last book in the series is almost out!  Thanks, Brandon Sanderson!)
  8. The Loose Bead Society of Greater Milwaukee
  9. Running into new friends when I'm out and about
  10. Making Steve laugh
  11. People reading my blog
  12. Going somewhere without my GPS (I always get lost in Milwaukee!)
  13. Simoon following (or leading) me to the bathroom
  14. Fe greeting me with a meow when I come into the room
  15. Pixel and his Papa together
  16. Katy hanging out with me on the couch
  17. How nice everyone in Mom's Oncology office is
  18. Speaking in LOLspeak

Whew!  Well, what I lack in number of posts I make up for in length!

        Wednesday, February 2, 2011

        We have a winner!!!

        After extending the deadline 3 or 4 times on my "Happy Things" contest from JULY (wow, has it been that long?!?), I decided that no matter what I was going to end the contest on February 1st.

        I was hoping that I'd be able to get my own list and page done, but it hasn't happened.  My mother had some complications from one of her chemo treatments, and my own health has been challenging.  I seem to have Fibromyalgia, and I'm frequently sore and exhausted.  I don't sleep well, so I never seem to be able to recover well enough to get everything done I need to get done.  I still plan on finishing my list and making my scrap layout done, but I just don't know when.

        Mom started her own list, but she stopped adding to it when she got sick.  I'm hoping that she will finish it up once she feels better.

        Other people have mentioned that they were going to make their own lists, but it seems that life has intruded on everyone.

        Everyone but my friend Kathy!  I had no idea she even read my blog, but I got this e-mail from her:

        Hi Traci,

        I'm not entering your contest, because I don't scrap. However, I did make a list. I thought you might get a kick out of reading it, even though it is not a collage.


        Now the contest stated:  "Scrapbook layouts (or something that just looks kinda nice for my non-scrappers) of 50-100 things that make you happy."  Kathy sent me a beautiful list of 100 things that make her happy.  There are three columns, and everything's lined up so nicely, because Kathy is as OCD about stuff like that as I am.

        While I won't share her whole list, here are a few of the items I really liked (with my comments):

        1. Tim
          (Her husband.  I'm thinking #1 should always be the spouse!)
        2. Haiku
          (How cool Kathy is
          To list my favorite style
          Of little poems)
        3. Basil
          (I've been all about the basil lately - fresh basil, pesto... yummy!)
        4. Tote bags
          (What woman doesn't love tote bags?)
        5. Playing games (card, board, party, etc)
          (We're going to have to invite Kathy and Tim over for a game night!)
        6. Organizing
          (I love that, too!  We should plan a field trip to The Container Store.  Wish there was one in Milwaukee!)
        7. Owning a clock made from the wood of my great-great-grandparents farmhouse
          (How cool is that?!)
        8. Fireflly (the series)
          (This is one of my favorite series!  Drama, comedy, hints of romance, science fiction, a western feel, lots of action... AND there's Nathan Fillion.  What's not to love?)

        I was so happy to read Kathy's list.  Not only because I had a list to read, but because this list helped me get to know Kathy better.  So, even though she didn't want to enter the contest, she wins!  I just called her to make sure she was okay with me posting some items from her list, and she was incredulous that she's the winner.  She thinks there are bunches of you with lists 3/4 of the way done.  Is that true?  If so, finish those lists up and send them to me, and I'll work on my own list (which is only 33 right now - I need to do some thinking).

        Thank you, Kathy!  I am not sure what I'm going to make you, because your sister scraps and can make layouts if you need them, and you're a much better beader than I am.  I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, though, and some beads in your preferred color palette.  Hopefully you'll like what I come up with!