Saturday, May 31, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 22

Week 22: In Bloom
Spring has really sprung now!
This week we are focusing on
what is in bloom!

Camera issues have plagued me this week and are still ongoing. I may have to get that new camera sooner than I wanted to. However, I do have a couple of photos of the Trilliums in bloom in the forest. These were captured on our recent camping weekend.

The White Trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario (where I live). It is not illegal to pick them, however, if the leaves as well as the flower are picked, the plant could die as it no longer has any means to produce the energy it needs to take it through the winter into another spring. Picking the flowers at any time is highly discouraged. Over-picking almost wiped the species out many years ago.

To see what is In Bloom where the other participants live, check out the links below...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 21

Week 21: Daily Patterns
This week we will focus on our day,
what we are doing or what's happening around us.
Take a moment and pay attention
to patterns of your day or the unexpected! 

I'm trying to make walking a regular part of my routine, even though it can be challenging for me. Short-term pain for long-term gain but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Very early in the morning last Saturday, while I was walking in the park with my camera, I started chatting with a young fellow who was also at the park taking photos.

His goal that day was to capture a duck or goose in motion and the sharp early morning reflections of the trees on the water. He had a pretty nice camera, much better than my little 'point and shoot' model, and I'm sure he was able to take some amazing photos.

He shared some of them with me and we briefly discussed how to properly frame a photo, as well as, the benefits of various cameras on the market. He emphasized the need to always be alert, conscious of what is happening around us and to keep your eyes open to everything.

I was walking back to my vehicle when he excitedly called me back to see something. I'm so glad that he did. I was able to capture a rainbow with my silly little camera. Now, that was unexpected!

You had to stand in one certain spot to see it. If you moved one step to the left or one step to the right, it was not visible to you anymore and the window of opportunity to capture this beautiful sight was no more than five minutes. The rainbow changed position as the sun rose higher in the sky, then finally it disappeared.

The aim of life is to live,
and to live means to be aware,
joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
~Henry Miller~

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

Thursday, May 22, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 21

My progress has stalled. I have a bit of a de-cluttering dilemma. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but 'I am a collector'. Perhaps I've given you some vague hints in the past that this is the case but you may not realize the full extent of my 'collection mania'.

It all started very innocently many years ago with a few porcelain dolls but has become a logistical nightmare over time. My house is not big enough to adequately display and enjoy all of my collections. And frankly, my interests have changed dramatically over the years. A lot of the stuff packed in boxes in the storage room and in cupboards all over the house are not things that have any appeal to me anymore.

So, here is the dilemma...I've 'invested' so much money in this stuff!! I don't even want to begin to calculate how much. Storing it, and moving it around, and thinking about it feels more like a burden, a heavy weight on my shoulders at this point. What do I do now?

The secondary market for these dolls, and Hallmark ornaments and the antique glassware is flat. I'd be lucky to get back what I originally paid for most of these items, that's if I could find a buyer at all.

Books can always be donated to a library, school or daycare centre. I can live with that, I guess. These institutions are grateful for any donations since their budgets often don't have room for many new books. I have a folder full of lovely thank you letters to show for my generosity. *smile*

Some of the collector Barbie dolls have been donated to charity auctions in the past couple of years and I do get a charitable donation receipt for tax purposes. That gives me a bit of a benefit at the end of the year, I suppose.

It just kills me to see it all go out the door for little or no return when my original outlay of money was so much!! *big sigh* Surely, I can't be the only person who has fallen into the 'collector trap'. I do admit to feeling very isolated and foolish though.

I know that have to stop wallowing in self-pity here and make some harsh decisions in the next few weeks and months. A lot of it has to go out the door, there's no denying that fact. It's not an easy task ahead of me though and not one that I'm looking forward to.

Wish me luck! I'm going to need it.

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 20

To see my Bead Soup Blog Hop post, click here.

Week 20: The View On The Ground
Change your perspective,
take a look down to see
what's happening on the ground.

I am going to apologize, in advance. This post is going to be a bit of personal rant. There are not a lot of things that make me really angry but this would be one of them.

This is what I saw on the ground in the park while out for an evening stroll this week.

Yes, that is a discarded fast food wrapper and a used facial tissue on the ground! Right beside a garbage can that was almost empty!

Why can't people make the effort to actually drop their garbage into the can instead of on the ground beside it? Is it that difficult? I don't think so. I imagine even a child could do it.

While walking further along the path, I came across a lot more discarded trash. Can I suggest that if there is not a garbage can nearby that you stuff it in your pocket or hold it in your hand until you get to one?

It is totally inappropriate to litter our public parks and shared spaces, a thoughtless act conducted by thoughtless people!

*Stepping down off my soapbox*

In case you are wondering, yes, I did pick up the trash that I encountered and put it into the garbage bin on my way back to my car.

To see The View On The Ground of the other participants, check out the links below...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 20

To see my Bead Soup Blog Hop post, click here.

Our first vending event of the season is coming up this weekend. It's a three day, medieval themed, camping event, so the last few days have been spent organizing product to sell and packing everything I will need to take. It doesn't seem to matter how many lists of reminders that I write for myself though, I always seem to leave something behind.

Kaleidoscope Gathering, 2013
I've been selling at shows, mostly outdoor venues in the nicer weather, for several years now. Unfortunately, it has not turned out to be the 'money maker' I'd hoped it would be. And with my deteriorating physical condition, it's getting more difficult all the time to manage. The lion share of the heavy work falls onto my partner and I feel bad that I am not able to help much.

After this year, I believe it will be time to re-think the strategy for my company, Jasper Moon. I'm spending way too much time and effort for little or no financial reward. This was supposed to be a viable source of extra income but it hasn't turned out that way. It's gotten to the point where, for the most part, it's not even fun anymore.

Most of the fun events that I want to go to, with the people I'd like to spend time with, conducting interesting workshops and having fabulous concerts are not big money makers. We've traded out those events for ones we hope to make some money at.

This weekend is one of the few fun events we still attend. My partner is teaching beginner and intermediate chain mail classes, and I will be attending some interesting workshops too.

I love these Rubbermaid bins for packing and transporting my stock to and from events. They stack together nicely and the smaller ones are not too heavy for me to carry and move about. I like to feel a little bit useful when I can. *smile*

I also use these bins at home to store a lot of my larger craft tools and supplies. I need to get myself a good label maker to properly mark what each one contains. Labeling them on more than one side, so I can tell from any angle what's inside, seems to make the most sense to me.

A label maker would come in handy for a lot of other organizing purposes too. Can anyone recommend a good one? I'm willing to pay for a better one that will last but I don't want to have to sell my first born to get it. At least not today *smile*

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Challenge of Public Speaking

To see my Bead Soup Blog Hop post, click here.

Public speaking has always been uncomfortable for me. Even in grade school, I remember stressing for weeks prior to having to give a speech in class. Being the first to present was awful but being the last was even worse. Either way, I would brutally compare myself to the other kids in my class. They all seemed to be so much better than me.

I admire people who are able to stand up in front of a room full of people and speak. A friend of mine is quite good at it and he has a variety of topics he can talk intelligently about...personal growth, financial security, real estate, metalworking, medieval armour and more. And he enjoys doing it.

It got me to thinking. IF I wanted to speak in public, what could I talk about that people would be interested in?

My mind goes blank.

I know a little bit about a lot of things, having been around for so long, but do I really know enough about anything to speak about it?

An audience perceives the speaker as an 'expert' in the topic they are speaking about. Whether or not that is true, the people want to be engaged and entertained, and to learn or understand something that they did not know at the same time. A speaker must be able to keep them interested and intrigued from beginning to end.

Could I do that?

I don't know if I could. What personal experience or knowledge of value is stored in my head waiting to come out and share with others? I facilitated a gratitude workshop a couple of years ago, and even though I was well prepared, it all fell apart when I got in front of people. I stammered and stumbled, had to keep referring to my notes, and otherwise felt inadequate.

Maybe I'm just under-estimating myself again. Some of my friends will tell you that I do that a lot. The people who attended the workshop all told me that they got value out of it. Perhaps I would simply have to speak in public more often to get comfortable and better at it.

And frankly, I'm not even sure what got me thinking about this topic in the first place. No one has asked me to speak anywhere and I have not contemplated doing another workshop in the near future.

Random musings, that's all.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 19

To see my Bead Soup Blog Hop Reveal post, click here.

Week 19: Good Things Inside
"This is a good prompt to think outside the box!"

Today was Doors Open day in my town, an opportunity to explore the heritage, arts, architecture and culture it has to offer. There were 20 different sites featured this year celebrating the past, present and future.

I went on two separate walking tours of the historic homes in the town core. There was a very interesting discussion on the various periods and styles. Little bits of local history that I did not know were brought to my attention and it has prompted me to learn more.

Next, I drove out to another historic farmhouse that was built in 1875 on the outskirts of town.

Here are some of the good things that I found inside this building...

There was an exhibit of works created by students of a local high school arts program. There is some fabulous young talent out there!

To see the Good Things Inside of the other participants, please check out the links below...

Bead Soup Blog Hop - The Reveal

In spite of the late start, I've managed to create two pieces from some of the fabulous components sent to me by my partner, Janet, of JayBee Jewelry Designs. To the right, you can see the original mix of elements that she sent to me. I wish that I had the time to design and create something with all of them but the flood clean up had to be done before anything else.

For the first design, I used copper rings to make a chain mail base. I added the enameled clasp and gorgeous copper focal pendant that Janet made for me. My intent was to use some of the sari silk to weave in between the links but there would not have been enough left for the other design I wanted to try. So, I used organza ribbon instead. If I try this technique again, I will not use a sheer ribbon but something that will make a bolder statement.

Enameled Clasp

Hand-made copper pendant focal

For my second piece, I started with the sari silk as a base. I loosely braided and randomly wire wrapped it with 24 gauge copper wire. Next came the beaded fringe pendant, inspired by a tutorial I found on the Art Jewelry Elements blog. I did not have enough of the lime green nylon cord, so I alternated it with some dark green nylon cord that I had on hand for the fringe. In retrospect, I can see that there are way too many dangles but that's hindsight for you. *smile* And I remember why I don't work with seed beads often too.

Both designs had me thinking 'outside of the box' that I normally work in but that is the point of the bead soup blog hop, right? To challenge us to try new techniques, work with components we may not have used before and to learn from our 'mistakes' along the way.

Last minute edit: I completed a third piece this morning. I made paper beads and strung them with glass beads from my stash and the lovely radiant orchid beads from Janet. The magazine pages that I used to make the paper beads had more of the radiant orchid colour on them than the final beads would suggest.

I can't wait to see the creations of all the other participants. Hop over to Lori's site to see the full list. You won't be able to visit them all in one day. Over 500 people signed up this time!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

De-Clutter Project: Week 19

It's getting ridiculous here! I HAVE to find a better way to organize and store my stash/hoard of beads and other components. The means and methods that I'm currently using are NOT working for me. I can never find what I'm looking for when I'm looking for it and, in truth, I don't even really know what all I have.

There must be a storage system that will work for beads and/or small craft supplies. There has to be, right? Somebody, PLEASE help me find it!

My fear is that such a fabulous storage and organization system will not be cheap. And, unfortunately, the family budget has no room for something that is not inexpensive.

I am open to any creative and economical ways to get this job done. I'm sure that I'd be more likely, and able, to finish a greater number of projects if I was not spending half my time looking for something that I know I have 'somewhere'.

As you can see, I currently have beads stored in a variety of ways with very little 'organization'. They are on shelves, in drawers and closets, boxes and bins...all over the place. I really don't know where to start.

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Focus on Life: Week Week 18

Week 18: In Your Hands

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents
and all generations of your ancestors.
All of them are alive in this moment.
Each is present in your body.
You are the continuation of each of these people.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

I had no idea what to do with this weeks' photo prompt. I did like the quote that I found while searching for inspiration (see above) and added the old family photos to represent all the generations that have gone before us and are clearly visible In Your Hands. Honour and remember them, for they are a part of each of us.

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