Monday, December 30, 2013

Grow Your Blog, 2014

This year I will be participating in the "GROW YOUR BLOG" event that is designed to bring more readers and followers to your blog. Our hostess is Vicki Boster whose blog is called 2 Bags Full.

This is the second year she has been organizing/co-ordinating this event. Those who took part last time all rave about how their readership increased as a result.

You can find out all the details on the official sign up page. The post is long but please make sure you read it all. You must leave a comment, with the requested information, on this post if you want to be included in this event.

Deadline to sign up is January 15th. Go here to register. No latecomers will be accepted, so don't delay.

To see a complete list of last years' participants, click here.

This sounds like an excellent (and free) way to boost your number of followers. My readership has remained the same for quite some time, no matter what I've tried to promote my blog. Hopefully, this event will get me over the hump. *smile*

Looking forward to checking out some new blogs and meeting new people on January 25th. See you then!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 52

Saying Goodbye
Well, we are here at the end of our year long journey.
It is time to say goodbye.
This week, for one last time in 2013, I ask you to focus on how you would like to say farewell then capture it in a photo(s).

Focusing on Life, 2013...what an incredible journey it has been! I have thoroughly enjoyed the process, met some wonderful people and learned a bit about myself along the way. I want to thank Sally for all her efforts in organizing and implementing this year long challenge.

And while many good things have come out of this project for me, I am not sure if I will be participating in Focusing on Life, 2014. Best of luck to all those who will be continuing down this path and those who join in for the first time. Maybe I will see you there.

Edit: Since writing this post a few days ago, I did decide to sign up for Focus on Life, 2014. Not being able to get out and about very much or very well will limit the scope of my photos but I hope my exploration and execution of the prompts will be beneficial to all of us.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Let's De-Clutter in 2014

I don’t know about you but, over the years, I have accumulated so much stuff that all my drawers and closets and storage bins are over-flowing. It is time clear out some of the items that I’m no longer using or enjoying, haven’t seen for years, and are obsolete or broken. They are simply clogging up my life and causing me undue stress.

Every week, I will choose an area to work on. Then, I will post about what I’ve found that was lost and forgotten about. I’ll tell you what I’ve done with those things and how I decided whether to keep, toss or donate the items. Moral support through this process would be much appreciated.

So that it doesn’t seem too overwhelming, I’m going to stick to one small section to go through each week. Otherwise, it could get very discouraging, very quickly. That’s what has happened to me in the past when I tried to de-clutter and organize my place.

Let me know if you would like to join me in this year long de-cluttering project. I will post links to your blogs every week too. We can keep each other motivated. *smile* Somehow, tasks like this always go smoother and easier with a friend.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 51

A look, a touch, a smile, a few words
or something that feels familiar.
A small act that brings us in,
lifts our spirits, and brings us together.

This week focus on wrapping yourself
in the warmth of togetherness.

Togetherness is the blessing of spending the holidays with friends and family. It is a gift that we often do not appreciate as much as we should. Take a moment to breathe in the joy of the season with those you love.

To see the 'togetherness' photos of the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 50

Red is such a striking colour.
Pops of red grab your attention and
add interest to a photo.

This week, focus on your surroundings and keep
an eye out for pops of red.

At this time of year, both red and green deck our halls to herald in the holiday season. Even the dolls in my house have pulled out their Christmas outfits, and apparently while I was at work, were making gingerbread cookies in my kitchen. *smile*

I'm just glad they cleaned up the mess before I got home. To see more red, check out the links below...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Love Clay Blog Hop - Reveal Day

I Love Clay Blog Hop

I'll be honest...when I first opened my package from Lisa with the lovely polymer clay connector bead for this design challenge, I had NO idea what to create with it. 

The oval, highly textured connector is made by Heather Powers of HumbleBeads. It is dark turquoise (or teal?), with white and brown accents, and a matte finish. The detail on it is amazing!

It sat on my work table for weeks...looking at me. I'd keep picking it up, feeling it and trying to imagine it in a unique design.

And as the date for the blog hop was getting closer and closer, I started to panic! I still had no ideas, no inspiration, no clue what I would do. The final week was upon me and time was running out. What the heck am I going to do?

I pulled beads and components from every corner but nothing in my stash seemed to 'work' with it. Hold on a minute, I thought, maybe I'm going at this the wrong way. The connector is so elaborate and beautiful on it's own, why not try the minimalist approach?

I've started to play around with chain mail recently and have been incorporating it into some of my designs. So, why not? I pulled out the bronze rings that I've been using and my two pairs of pliers and got to work.

The modified mobius pattern of the chain and simple hand-made clasp let this fabulous connector bead shine as the prominent feature of this bracelet.

Sometimes less is more, and that seems to be exactly what this situation called for.

To see the clay creations of the other participants, check out the links below...

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes
Kathy Zeigler Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Eleanor Burian Moore, The Charmed Life
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It's a Beadiful Creation
Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyns Creations
Bonnie Coursolle, Jasper's Gems
Dolores Raml, Crafty D's Creations
Therese Frank, Therese's Treasures
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Mowse Doyle, Mowse Made This 
Janine Lucas, Esfera Travel Blog
Karin Grosset Grange, Ginkgo et Coquelicot
Kelli Nelson, Zenith Jade Creations
Ann Schroeder, Bead Love
Jasvanti Patel, Jewelry by Jasvanti
Candida Castleberry, Sugar Spun Beadworks
Robin Reed, Artistry HCBD
Katrina Taylor, I Wanna Go Out

Focusing on Life - Week 49

Add a Little Sparkle
As the light of day disappears earlier and earlier in the evenings, to keep things cheery we sometimes have to add our own dash of sparkle to brighten our inner glow.

The dancing flames of candles add sparkle to any space, brighten the darkest night. Candles will set a soothing atmosphere to meditate, to pray and to share quiet time with your Higher Power.

To see what sparkles for the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 48

Giving Thanks
What are you thankful for?

It was suggested that this week's prompt would work great for a collage of photos. Yes, I suppose it would be if you only had a few things to be thankful for.

But there is no way I could take enough photos in a week and create a grouping of photos that would do justice to all the things that I am thankful for.

So, in lieu of that, I will share a photo of one of the things that I'm thankful for today. I'm grateful that I'm not too old to play dress-up and pretend with my friends.

We were merchants at an SCA (medieval re-enactment) event, all decked out in our medieval garb watching the fencing and heavy combat and partaking in period dishes for dinner. A delightful day was had by all.

For that, I am thankful.

To see what the other participants are thankful for, please check out the links below...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 47

This week, focus on what is the 'centrepiece', the central, most important feature of your day, week, life! It makes you comfortable, gives you joy, brings you peace of mind, or simply a place of comfort.

It has always been my belief that 'everything is better with a cuppa tea'.

You are a bit under the weather? Have a tea and you will feel better.

You're feeling sad or depressed? Have a tea and the world will look a little brighter.

You need to unwind after a long, hard day? Have a tea and you will feel yourself relax with each sip.

And, for me, the whole experience is much nicer when drinking that tea from one of my colourful Fiesta teacups. This is only a sampling of the colours that I have.

While preparing for the start of the day, taking a much needed break during the course of it or chilling out before bedtime, my moments with my cuppa tea are the most comfortable.

To check out the 'centrepiece' of the other participants, click on the links below...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bulk Orders - An Unexpected Bonus

When I asked my pewter guy to design an Inukshuk pendant, I thought they would be quite popular at events we attend. I was certain of it. Just like I was certain that the Treasure Necklace concept and the Prophets Pebbles would be big sellers too. That goes to show you what I know...nothing.

Products that I expected to fly off the shelves have sat idle, gathering dust, for years. Things that I was almost positive no one would like, sell as quickly as I stock up again. There is no way to predict what people will like or not like, not even from event to event, year to year. There is seemingly no rhyme, or reason to it most of the time.

So, when I received the first bulk order for Inukshuk pendants on Etsy, I was pleasantly surprised. The lady ordering wanted 20 of them, 10 with red gems and 10 with clear gems to use as souvenir gifts from Canada to give to family members when they went to visit them in Europe this month. She was even local enough to me to get personal delivery of them.

Lo and behold, not three weeks later, I got another request for a bulk order of Inukshuk pendants. The order was for 13 of them this time with light blue gems. This lady, in western Canada, wants to give them to family members as Christmas ornaments in memory of her mother who passed away in January of this year. The Inukshuk was her personal totem of strength during a valiant battle with cancer.

Two weeks after that, I was contacted by a woman in Ottawa requesting 20 Inukshuk pendants with aquamarine gems for an international children’s choir coming to Canada for a series of concerts in December. She wants each of them to have a special momento of the trip.

It just goes to show you that it pays to market products to different audiences through a combination of in-person venues and online marketplaces. This Inukshuk pendant, that has garnered no interest at events, has been a hot commodity in multiple numbers on Etsy. Who knew? Not me, that's for sure.

As with any wholesale order to a brick and mortar shop, I offer a quantity discount price to online customers when purchasing 12 or more of a single product. Everybody wins that way.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lampwork and Clay Blog Hop - Reveal Day

You may recall my post last month about the Lampwork and Clay Blog Hop that I signed up for. At that time, I showed you the beads by SheriBeads that I received to design with.


I immediately pulled out a lovely goddess bead made by my friend, Louise, of FireSeed to go along with the others.


I set a lofty goal for create a piece in the style of Phaedra Torres that she refers to as 'unwearable jewelry'. See an example of her work below...

Designed By Phaedra Torres

She works in mixed media, utilizing found objects and a free-form design style that appeals to me.

Well, I'm not sure if I failed or succeeded in my attempt. My finished piece is almost so unwearable that I might actually wear it...or maybe not. I haven't quite decided yet. What do you think?

To check out the creations of the other participants, click on the links below...

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist

Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes
Kathy Zeigler Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Laurie Vyselaar, Lefthand Jewelry
Annette Rivers, MamaOwl's Mess
Shaiha Williams,   Shaiha's Ramblings
Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreationz
Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
Lori Jean Poppe, Lorillijean Creative Corner
Eleanor Burian Moore, The Charmed Life
Leah Mifflin Tees, My Beady Little Eyes
Terri Wlaschin, Dances in Fog
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson, Sharyl's Jewelry
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It's a Beadiful Creation
Veralynne Malone, Designed by Vera
Linda Aspenson Bergstrom, TBD
Toltec  Jewels, Jewel School Friends
Judy Turner, Silver Rains
Gloria Allen, Gloria Allen Designs
Kathleen Douglas, Washoe Kat's
Connie Tipton, TBD
Christie Searle Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry
Andrea Glick-Zenith, ZenithJade Creations
Michele Dotson, Star Jewels
Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware
Jennifer Clifford, TBD
Kathleen Breeding, 99 Bottles of Beads on the Wall
Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyns Creations
Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
Bonnie Coursolle, Jasper's Gems
Alice Craddick, Alice's Beads and Baubles

Friday, November 15, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 46

The start of the holiday season is coming up quickly whether we are ready or not. So before jumping in to all the hustle and bustle, let's take a moment to slow down and reflect on all the joy, peace, happiness and love we already have in our life.

My question is, why don't we do that EVERY day of the year? We should be living our lives with an attitude of gratitude all the time, shouldn't we? 

The benefits of a daily gratitude practice can be life-altering. Gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and, in general, makes you happier. Gratitude will help you realize what you have and can lessen your need for wanting more.

There are three components to a gratitude practice...
1. Recognize what you are grateful for
2. Acknowledge it
3. Appreciate it

My favourite gratitude practice is to take time at the end of the day to write down, in a special journal, all the things that I am grateful for. It's important to include at least five things each day but I can generally find more, even on a bad day.

It only takes five minutes and you will be amazed at how good it makes you feel. It will change your whole outlook on life. Try it. I promise you'll like it.

'We don't need more to be thankful for, we just need to be more thankful.'

To see the reflections of the other participants, check out the links below...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 45

Industrial Photography
Most industrial landscapes are not designed to be cute, fashionable or charming but entirely functional.

Such is the case with my place of employment, a shipping supplies company. We sell bubble wrap, tape and boxes, as well as, janitorial products and more. Nothing glamorous or exciting but certainly all these things are important for the day to day operation of many other businesses. We provide a vital service to our customers.

All looks quiet and peaceful after the warehouse staff have gone home for the day and the main lights are turned off. They keep the place well maintained and tidy, don't they? It's the neatest warehouse I've ever seen and I've been in a few over the years.

To see the industrial photographs of the other participants, you can check out the links below...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fiesta® Dinnerware Comes to Canada!!

A dear friend of mine, bless her heart, got me interested in Fiesta® dinnerware. I wasn't going to let it happen but all those beautiful bright colours captured me.

I started slow, with teacups and saucers only. I'm a tea drinker so I was able to justify it in my head like that. I'd enjoy using them myself, right?

But then, you can't have tea without a proper teapot, can you? And you certainly require a sugar and cream set for when company calls.

Whenever I visit my friend all I see is Fiesta®, in every room, including the bathroom. She serves dinner and snacks on Fiesta® plates and bowls, serves tea in Fiesta® mugs, and stores teabags in a Fiesta® canister. There are shelves full of Fiesta® in the living room and a dining room buffet is packed as well. All of her kitchen cupboards are overflowing with Fiesta®.

The old white Corelle® dishes in my cupboards, the ones that I've been using for years, are not so appealing to me anymore. My goodness, have I really had them over 30 years? I'm sure that I have. In fact, they are the same dishes my mother had before that.

It is definitely time for a change! Those cheery colours have been calling out to me long enough. What finally tipped me over the proverbial edge was a conversation with my friend a couple of weeks ago. It's all her fault.

She was placing an order with a major department store in the U.S. for, you guessed it, Fiesta®. There was a good sale, a 20% coupon and a free shipping offer. I decided to add a couple of items to her order.

Here's what we got. Only one bowl broke in transit and the replacement has already been shipped to us. I can hardly wait to get down to her place and bring my pieces home! Such pretty colours.

What got me looking online again for a retail outlet in Canada was my friend planning her NEXT order from the U.S. department store! Yes, that's right, the first order has barely landed on her doorstep and she is planning her next one. I prefer to order locally if I can to avoid the exchange rate and duty fees.

Well, guess what? Bed Bath & Beyond in Canada have JUST started carrying some Fiesta®. And there is a store right in the town where I live. How amazing and convenient is that?

The prices look comparable with the pricing in the U.S. and when you sign up for their e-mail newsletter, they send you a 20% coupon on one item. I went to the store today to get a Lemongrass place setting.

Unfortunately, only display pieces were available, their full stock compliment has not yet arrived. I was, however, able to order my place setting. They are shipping directly to me via UPS. Estimated timeline for arrival to me is 12-14 days. And because I ordered in the store, the shipping fee was waived and I got to use my 20% off coupon.

Not all of the Bed Bath & Beyond stores will be carrying Fiesta®, and those that do will not carry every piece in every colour that you see on their website. But if go into the store to order, the shipping fee will be waived and it will be sent to you by UPS.

I'm thinking that it's not going to take long for me to brighten up my kitchen now. And I don't know whether I should blame my friend or thank her for spiking my interest in Fiesta®. *smile* What do you think?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Focusing on Life - Week 44

'Whether trick or treating,
celebrating the spirits and souls of loved ones that have passed,
or having a scream from a scare, 
this week take a moment to capture a spirit,
spider or other spectacle of the season.'

I pass by the cemetery every day on my way to work. Never a time do I miss reflecting on the lives of those family members whose final resting place is there.

My father...has it really been 22 years that he's been gone? It's so hard believe. He was the same age that I am now when he passed away. He was taken from us too soon. I never appreciated him enough when he was alive or properly thanked him for all the help he provided me while I was raising two boys on my own. I didn't tell him I loved him as much as I should have. if only I could turn back the hands of time.

My I wish I'd spent more time with them in their declining years. There are so many questions I should have asked, so much wisdom that I could have benefited from. Now, that I am researching our family history, there is a lot of information they could have provided had I taken the time to inquire...had I made it a priority. And in light of my own struggles with osteoarthritis, I can better empathize with the challenges my grandmother faced each day.

My great-grandparents...they were gone many years before I was born. How I would have loved the opportunity to know them. The old family photographs show a loving couple dedicated to each other throughout their lives. They passed away within months of each other, the one left behind not able to go on without the other by their side. The house they lived in, close to the cemetery, is still there. I can only stand back from a distance and gaze upon it. It belongs to someone else now.

On All Hallow's Eve, after the trick or treaters had all gone home, a few candies eaten and my witch costume was hung in the closet, I lit a candle in memory of those special people no longer with us. And I felt gratitude to them for the part they played in making me the person I am today. For without them, I would not be here. Without their hard work and dedication the world would be a different place than it is. The legacy they left behind should not be forgotten.

To see the reflections, thoughts and photos of the other participants, please check out the links below...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Favourite - Halloween Jewelry

In keeping with the theme of the day, I thought that I would share a few of the fun Halloween jewelry designs that I found on Etsy this week.

I was surprised that not many of the offerings really intrigued me. I guess I was looking for truly handmade and unique but found a lot of the 'same old thing'. I had to search through many pages to find the examples below but well worth the time spent, as you will see.

This Halloween bracelet, made by Dana (pawsintime) uses upcycled Scrabble© tiles with vintage Halloween images adhered to them. The pictures are covered with epoxy resin and there are glass beads between each tile. The letters inside the bracelet spell 'BOO TO YOU'.

These adorable Halloween cupcake earrings were made by Indelible Jewelry. They were sculpted and embellished by hand from polymer clay. They have been accented the with pale orange swarovski crystals and attached to closed-back surgical steel ear wires. So cute!

This necklace is made by Cathy (TempletonTreasures) from a vintage art reprint held between two pieces of crystal clear glass. The glass is joined with lead-free solder using a technique developed by Tiffany and Company to create their lovely stained glass lamps.

Designed by Kris (LaughingVixenLounge), this necklace would be fun to wear on Halloween. I love the glass ghost bead. This former hairstylist now spends all her time creating a collection of Retro Kitsch, Rockabilly Chic, Vintage Horror and Pop Culture Obsession jewelry to sell on Etsy.

Have fun and stay safe today. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jewelry Through the Ages - Ancient Sumer

Beads are one of the most common artifacts found in excavations of prehistoric villages in Western Asia. Presumably, they were used for the same range of decorative purposes as they are today; for jewelry and for sewing onto clothing.

The examples below were found in a royal grave in the Sumerian city of Ur, the southern region of modern Iraq, and date around 2500 BC.

The main materials used for Sumerian jewelry were gold, silver, lapis lazuli and carnelian. These elements were imported from other places, most likely Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, as none of them were available locally.

The Sumerians took great care to alternate and balance the different colours of stone and metal in their designs. The jewelry worn by the women of privilege would have included head-dresses of golden flowers and foliage, large crescent shaped earrings, chokers around the neck, and long loose necklaces, as well as, dress pins to fasten their clothing.

Sumerian necklaces and headgear discovered in the royal graves,
showing the way they may have been worn,
on display at the British Museum

Many of the motifs they used are quite popular today: spirals, flowers and leaves. As with fashion clothing designs, old is new again.