Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Finished Pieces

I finished some pieces from the beautiful Chrysocolla beads I wrote about in my last post. These are all currently available in my etsy store.


The photo above is a gorgeous necklace with a pendant that’s reversible – the back side has the letters “ G R O W.” Earrings

The photo to the right shows the matching earrings on .925 sterling silver ear wires. I also made a bracelet, but you get the idea!

For more images of either piece, just click on the photo. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just a Peek

Here is a peek at what I hope to work on next.


I found these Chrysocolla beads on a rare visit with my old college roommate in Wisconsin. She took me to this wonderful little bead “store” that turned out to be the spare bedroom of an older couple that made their living travelling from show to show, and selling out of their house to those “in the know.” Who would have thought I’d travel 1,000 miles and end up in the back room of an old Victorian house combing through strands of beads!

I fell in love with the colors of these beads and knew they were worth buying. Chrysocolla shows off captivating blue and green patterns in shades similar to turquoise and lapis lazuli. I decided the best way to use them would be a simple necklace (and maybe bracelet and earrings?) with ornate silver beads. Did I mention I’m in LOVE with these beads? I’ll be sure to post the results when I get the pieces finished. A special thanks goes out to my friend, Kim, for bringing me to this exclusive bead “store” that only the locals know!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Header Image!

Hey guys, check out my new header image! I can't believe I found this free online and it perfectly matches my blog template! I really thought my header needed a little pizazz and style, and now it has it. This is almost as much fun as getting a new pair of shoes!

Oh, I found it through the sources on the web page below. Please let me know if it's not displaying correctly for any of you since I've only viewed it on one computer so far.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blog Tools – Windows Live Writer

As a new blogger I quickly became frustrated when my published posts would come up with strange formatting for no apparent reason. One paragraph would be single spaced while all the rest were properly double spaced. Or there would be a huge gap between my photo and my text. I would edit my posts three or four times trying to get them to look right. I was even going in to edit the html in order to add hyperlinks to text or photos. Within a week , I was looking for a third party blog editor. The only one I found was Windows Live Writer, and so far I’m happy with it.

Windows Live Writer is a free download for Windows users (click here for the download page). My favorite features are:

WYSIWYG – it downloads your blog formatting and you create your post exactly how it will appear on your blog. And it automatically spell checks in real time!

Enhanced Photos – It’s easy to insert a photo, link that photo to a web page, and apply a range of formatting options like drop shadow, tilt, “polaroid”, borders and watermark.

drop shadow, tilt reflection instant photo, tilt

Easy Hyperlinks – Just click and you can insert a hyperlink or assign a link to your photo. You can even program a permanent link for specific text. Writer knows to link to my shop whenever I type the words my etsy store. How cool is that?

Plug-Ins – You can add all sorts of third party applications to get even more functions like video, tag generators, screen captures and much more! I haven’t checked many of these out yet, but they’re out there!

I had to download updates for Windows before I could install the application, which took a while, but it was worth it in the end. If you’re looking to expand your blogging abilities, you might want to give it a try, after all, it’s free!

Writer will work with Windows XP (with Service Pack 2), Windows Vista (32-bit or 64-bit editions), Windows 7 Beta (32-bit or 64-bit editions), or Windows Server 2008. Visit the their website for more information, and happy blogging!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm now on Flikr!!

Well, I did it! I signed up for Flikr! I have a public set of jewelry photos and a private set of family photos so far. I joined a bunch of Etsy groups and added the Flikr gadget to my blog. So far so good! Here is my Flikr address. I don't have any friends yet!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Newest Creation

pearl earrings

I actually made several new pieces today, but these pearl earrings are my favorite! I love the way the pale gray pearls look with the wire-wrapping. I just listed them in my etsy store along with a matching three-strand bracelet. I don’t know why, but for some reason these earrings bring ancient Greece to mind, as if the pearls were plucked right out of the ocean then made into earrings. I actually kind of hope they sell right away just so I can make another pair!

I admit, I normally don’t use pearls because I still associate them with women “of a certain age” (think Barbara Bush). When I do use pearls, I prefer those that are not perfectly round. They just seem more natural to me and more beautiful due to their irregularities. I’m glad I bought these pearls and look forward to finding more ways to use them that are decidedly NOT old fashioned!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pottery Bracelet

pottery bracelet

I love pottery, so I was excited when I found these glazed ceramic beads in such great earthy colors! They have that handmade look and feel that happens when you’re never quite certain how the glaze will come out. I’m also proud that this is the one item in my shop that has made it to the front page of Etsy! It was back in November, but since I didn’t have my blog then, I’ll celebrate it now!

The matching necklace has already sold, but I know this bracelet is bound for a very special home. Whoever ends up buying it will own a piece that really reflects my own personal style. Now I’d better go pay some attention to those grey pearls that have been pouting over my neglect for the last two weeks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

44 Americans


Today two million people stood together in the cold to witness the swearing in of our 44th president, Barak Obama. Two million people, and countless more across the world, turned their eyes to this one man as he stepped into the most powerful position in the world. A position that only 43 Americans have held before. While this is an astounding achievement for any man or woman, for an African American it’s nearly unimaginable. When I think that 40 years ago fire hoses were being turned on young black people in the streets, I’m proud that our country has changed. I’m proud that our country has elected a leader based on his intelligence, his ideas and his conviction our country can change for the better. And I’m proud to show the world the best example of our democracy in action.

I hope that this shining moment can carry our citizens and our politicians forward in a new spirit of cooperation and optimism. I hope, I hope, I hope. Because we need it. Obama comes to power in a difficult time with many challenges. It’s time for the hard work to begin. And even though my blog will not touch on politics again, I’ll be watching, President Obama. We all will.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote for Monday

Quote from the TV show Two and a Half Men.

Uncle: "Alcohol is poison."
Nephew: "Then why do you drink it?"
Uncle: "Because I have things inside of me that I need to kill."

I wrote this down because the way he said it was hilarious, but underneath it's a pretty black truth, isn't it? Make of it what you will.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And the winner is...

Congratulations to LEAH, the winner of my earring giveaway! Stop by her great blog, Moxie Photo and Design, to congratulate her!

I had a lot of fun visiting the blogs of the wonderful people who entered this giveaway. I'm sure I'll do it again sometime!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Giveaway Ends Tonight!

This is the last night to enter the giveaway for a pair of earrings! Scroll down to my January 8th post and make a comment to enter! I love these earrings and I hope you do too!

Enter by Midnight tonight (Pacific Time). Winner will be announced on Sunday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Postcard from the Plains

The old barn still stands, though its paint is fading, it’s roof is sagging and the old weathervane has finally fallen. It stands in silent memory of the prize Herefords that once filled its stalls. The chicken coop, 20 feet away, has collapsed to little more than a roof lying on the ground. And the sod house, the first home to the young pioneering family that came to tame the land, humbly sits in its original spot, marking the years.

Later, a new farmhouse was built to accommodate the growing family. The children grew along with the garden behind the house, and eventually left to start families of their own. After the youngest son married, his widowed mother moved to town. And the ranch has been empty ever since. She rarely visits anymore. At 82, the abandoned homestead only brings her pain. Pain for the life that it once held. A time when the family worked together to keep the farm running. A time when her sons tinkered on cars and her daughter sewed dresses to wear to school. A time before the bats took over her family’s home.

And the old barn still stands, keeping watch, waiting on an uncertain future. Or perhaps it’s a certain one. No man-made thing dares to defy the relentless weather of the plains forever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Story Behind It

I may make this a semi-regular feature on my blog. Today I will tell you the story behind one of the pieces in my Etsy shop. You see, by the time I finish a piece of jewelry, it already has certain memories and associations attached to it. Today's story is about this Zebra Stone bracelet, which represents friendship to me:
This bracelet brings to mind a wonderful trip I made to visit my high school best friend in Sacramento. I love visiting her because she welcomes me with open arms and encourages me to remember all the silly things from our childhood. We also get to do girly things, like get pedicures and go to bead shops!

In the downtown bead shop she took me to, I found a kind of shangi la. Three tables full of loose bead strands on sale! I sorted through every single strand and my friend didn't complain (she's not a beader). I walked out with 13 strands, including the ones I used in this bracelet. It's a good thing beads are small and lightweight since I was flying home!

I have such warm memories from that visit and spending the day with my friend. She's known me longer than anyone but my siblings, and I know she'll always be there. She just celebrated a birthday, so Happy Birthday, friend!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by New York Memos! She's an Etsy seller and has a terrific blog at http://newyorkmemos.blogspot.com/. Check out these pendants available at her store, DayJeweler

Here are the rules for getting tagged!
~ Link to the person who tagged you
~ Post the rules on your blog
~ Write six random things about yourself
~ Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
~ Let each person know they've been tagged

Six Random Things About Me:
1. I collect vintage cameras and other photographic items.
2. In 1st grade I won a city-wide art contest (small town!). Sadly, that talent has left me!
3. I can't stand Asparagus or Yams - yuck!
4. My favorite drinks are Diet Coke or red wine.
5. If I didn't have to work, I'd stay up to 1 a.m. every night!
6. I've never been to Europe.

I'm tagging these blogs!
What I Made Today
365 Letters
The 13th Gypsy
Crafty Equine
Audrey's Favorite Recipes
Gecko Jewelry
Happy reading! And if you haven't entered my earring giveaway, scroll down and read that post for instructions!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Something to Aspire To

"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart."
- Maya Angelou

Thursday, January 8, 2009



For the official launch of my blog, I'm giving away these gorgeous earrings! They're made of 14mm glass flower beads in a natural green with light brown etching. The small beads underneath are 5mm Agates. The total length of these earrings is about 57mm (2 1/4 inches). Thanks goes to my sister for letting me drag her to a bead shop when I was visiting over the holidays!


1. To enter, just leave a comment on this post about the earrings or any item in my Etsy shop! I hope you'll choose to follow my blog, but it's not required. Be sure I can contact you through your blog, Etsy store, or leave your email.

2. For a BONUS entry, post about this giveaway on your blog, then come back and leave another comment with the link to your post. No more than two entries allowed, even if you get comment crazy!

3. Open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Winner will not be eligible to win another giveaway for six months, to give everyone a fair shot.

The deadline to enter is Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 12:00 midnight Pacific Standard Time. The winner will be chosen by random number and posted on Sunday, January 18th sometime between Noon and 2:00 pm MST. In the mean time, thank you for looking!

My email is bmails@comcast.net in case you have trouble with Comments.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Feline Friends

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece." --Leonardo da Vinci

I share my life with two very different cats. Theodore is an impressive Orange Tabby with a sweet disposition. It's hard to believe this 16-plus pound cat was once a little ball of fur and paws that fit in just one hand!

Cleo is a dainty Tortoiseshell and is half the size of Theodore. Even though she's older, Cleo is like a kitten always wanting to play. When the two of them get into tussels, Cleo always ends up on the bottom! Don't ask me to decide which one is more beautiful - I can't. But I do think their colors compliment each other perfectly!

For those who don't understand cats, let me just say this. Cats are quiet affection. Cats are independence within a loving relationship. Cats teach us to live in the moment. If you're tired, sleep. If you're bored, play. If you're curious, explore. And above all, if you're happy, purrrr.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Birth of the Boutique

My sister-in-law originally taught me to make beaded jewelry, and before long the necklaces and bracelets started stacking up. What to to? I decided to throw a jewelry party for my co-workers in my home and it was a huge success! It felt so good to see my jewelry bringing pleasure to others instead of sitting in my spare room.

The idea of selling online began to appeal to me so I'd have a permanent way of displaying and selling my jewelry. My motive is not profit - I'm happy just to make back the cost of new supplies and listing fees. I enjoy seeing others take pleasure in what I create.

I started my Etsy store almost a year ago and it's been a lot of fun! I love seeing what the other Etsians are creating. Handmade items display a level of craftsmanship, artistry, creativity and fun I never knew existed in the world of retail! And that, in the end, is the real payoff of being part of the Etsy community.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Comments not working

I have heard that my Comments function is not working. I'll try and find out why and fix it!

A New Week Begins

In the wee, wee hours of the morning my alarm goes off and I know, somewhere in the sleeping recesses of my foggy mind, that this is Monday. You see, I have a “day job,” and this is the first full week back after the holidays. Whoever invented this 5-day 40-hour work week deserves a swift kick in the head. I hit snooze over and over in answer to nature’s cry of “Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!” Finally, against all that is good and right and natural, I pull myself out of bed in the near darkness and manage to find the shower.

A new week begins.
My days will be spent toiling away for the company that pays my bills and provides my health insurance. My nights will be spent mostly in front of the TV with my laptop open while I do my own special version of multi-tasking. Some things will have to be put off until the weekend – making those pearl earrings for my manager – processing the photos I took at Christmas. Already, time is putting its foot down, and it’s only January 5th! Who will be the master this year? Me or Time?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 and a brand new blog!

Don't you love that new blog smell? I'm looking forward to sharing my jewelry creations with my readers and helping promote some of the other great Etsy artists out there. I'll most likely be playing with the format over the next week or two, so I hope you'll come back. I'm also planning a give-away to officially launch this blog with style! So once again, please come back soon!