Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow this year has flown by. I cannot believe the holidays are already upon us. Everyone has always told me that once the kids start school the years start flying by so fast you can hardly catch your breath. They were right.

Yesterday was our first official school music program and it was the most delightful thing I have ever seen. My little kindergartner donned her paper pilgrim hat and belted out the sweetest songs with all the fun and adorable motions that go along with it. I totally remember putting on those programs when I was a kid. Oh what fun. It was a great day to be a mommy.

kindergarten pilgrims

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and black Friday following suit, the Christmas shopping madness is about to begin. I have been frantically trying to get ready for it by spending as much time in the studio as my schedule allows, and hope to have a bunch of fun new stuff ready to list soon.

If you've not already liked my facebook fan page you should do so now. I will be posting all new items on my facebook page as I list them in both my Etsy and eBay shops ... and potentially some super secret coupon codes exclusively for my facebook fans.

As we pause to give thanks tomorrow, I would like to thank my faithful customers for keeping my glass addiction alive. And my amazing family for encouraging me and always supporting me. I am thankful for friends and community that never get tired of my "show and tell". For good health and the physical ability to do all the things I love to do. And most of all I am thankful for a God who blesses me abundantly and never ceases to amaze me every single day.

And today I am particularly thankful for 64 degrees in Minnesota at the end of November. Bring on the sunshine!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Era

Today marked the changing of an era in my house. My eldest child started Kindergarten. I felt both old and young at the same time. Young, because watching her get on the bus and walking her into the school building brought forth a flood of memories -reminiscent of my own youth. It felt a bit like my first day of school. I had the sudden urge to pull up a chair and bust into a fresh box of crayons, but the teachers were all too quick to gently nudge us clingy parents out the door.

Old, because after I returned home the house felt suddenly quiet. Too quiet. My 3 year old was off playing peacefully with his cars and I didn't have the constant chattering of my best gal gnawing my ear off. It was my first taste of "empty nest" syndrome. And I did not like it. My life flashed forward 15 years and it left goosebumps and a cool chill down my back, which in turn made me go hunt down my 3 year old - who was playing so nicely by himself - and force him to snuggle with me for a good 10 minutes while I collected myself.

Picking her up at the end of the day made me all giddy like a school girl on a first date. I had perma-grin from the moment I saw her walk out the door. I could not wait to scoop her up and hear all about it - almost a bit like getting the latest piece of juicy gossip from your best girlfriend. I pretty much hung on her every word and my heart squealed with joy when the word she used to describe her day was simply: "awesome." Awesome.

Today she ate the school lunch because I needed to make sure she got the hang of it and knows the ropes for those inevitable days when I will be too busy (lazy) to pack her lunch and the novelty wears off. But tomorrow she will get her very first packed lunch in her fancy dancy princess lunch sack. If you know me at all, then you know I can get a little obsessive and compulsive about things. Lunch packing is no exception. It is an ART form and I have to say I am pretty proud of the healthy little lunch my girl will be dining on tomorrow. I even had to take a picture. Thank you to the obscene amount of lunch bloggers I have been following (stalking) to get ideas on what to pack in a lunch box.

My girl is so excited she gets to go back again that I could hardly get her to sleep tonight. "Mama can I go to my new school again tomorrow? Please mama?" I just hope that enthusiasm sticks around for the next 13 years. Awesome.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Broken Addictions

My son came out of the womb with an oral fixation like nothing I have ever seen. He needed something in his mouth 24/7. After 2 days of being permanently attached to me, I broke down and stuck a pacifier in his mouth. Little did I know what kind of a monster I was creating.

binki monster
I know most newborns are horrible sleepers, but I think my child might hold some kind of world record for sleeplessness. He was up every 45 minutes like clockwork for the first 2 months. I really don't remember those days as I was pretty much in a fog.

After 2 months I couldn't take it anymore. I broke all the rules in the book and put him on his tummy to sleep and something magical happened. He actually slept! For 2-3 hour increments. It was amazing. It was unbelievable.

It was the blasted binki. Apparently a nice little side-effect of sleeping on your tummy is that your pacifier is propped up by the mattress and cannot fall out of your mouth as easily. Brilliant. At that point I didn't even care. I was actually getting more than 30 minute increments of sleep and was beginning to feel like a human being again.

Once he turned 3 we started restricting his usage in an effort to someday, hopefully get him to stop. But just like a true addict, he would find all the secret hiding places we had and sneak off into a corner to take a few hits off the binki and put it back before we would notice. He wasn't super stealthy though. I always caught him.

After battling the binki for 3 years, 6 months, and 22 days he decided to finally give it up. Just like that. 5 days ago I was pretty certain that he would be taking it off to college with him and hiding it in a pocket at his wedding someday. But he surprised me. He told me it was broken and no good anymore (apparently there was a small hole where he had chewed through) and that it needed to go in the garbage. I actually gasped as I watched him throw it away and nearly went dumpster diving to retrieve it thinking surely my night was going to be torturous and bring me back to the newborn days.

But no. He did it. He went to sleep without it. And managed to stay asleep all night long. The next day he asked me for it. He said he wanted it back and that he needed it again. But I just kept re-assuring him that he was a big boy and he could do it. And reminding him that HE was the one who threw it away. Not me. It's been 5 days. I think we have finally broken the addiction.

NO MORE BINKIES!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Scraptastic

I have come to the conclusion that I produce better art when I am not really trying. Apparently my anal retentive, ocd, detail-oriented, control-freak qualities are absolutely perfect for my day job, but not necessarily conducive to the creation of expressive art.

Thank goodness I am also an extremist - which comes in quite handy for the creative part of me that does produce art. Because if I can't make it perfect, I just "throw it together" and call it a day. It is from those experimental endeavors that I give you my new line of pendants: Scraptastic

My scraptastic series was actually born from my compulsive need to clean the clutter around my studio. It was beginning to overtake my space and cramp my creative style. When I get in these moods I tend to fill bags and bags worth of stuff to purge. The garbage man dislikes those days. The folks at Goodwill love those days.

The scrap bin of leftover glass rods and stringers was full to the brink. So I decided to grab a handful from here, and a handful from there and throw them all together in the kiln and fire it up. Of course that whole left brain had to take over, and as much as I would like to say they were really just "thrown together", there was a fair amount of strategic placement involved ;)

These have been really fun to make and are going to now be a staple line for me. I am always producing scrap glass and this is the perfect way to turn that scrap into some fantastic one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art that I hope you enjoy.

These pieces will all be available in my Etsy shop. Check back often as I never know when the urge to de-clutter will strike again.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Alive!

... famous quote from Dr. Frankenstein himself - appropriate considering this latest project of mine did turn out to be quite the monster. It is finished. And we are LIVE with the new and improved website. Click around, check it out and let me know what you think.

I still have a lot of photo uploading to do to my Flickr galleries, but that should go quick now that the hard part is out of the way. It also means I should have more time to focus on the really fun stuff - like making beads and jewelry.

I have a new series I'll be posting about tomorrow that I think is going to be fun. But here is my latest offering listed on eBay:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It Is Coming!

I have been feverishly working on my new web site. Goodness knows I am ridiculously terrible at keeping the current one up-to-date. I got so far behind that I just plain gave up. The new site is going to be really cool, with all sorts of hip trendy techno buzz like RSS feeds and stuff like that.

So my blog posts, flickr galleries, Etsy shop and eBay auctions will all be centralized and feed directly into my website so I don't have to upload my pictures and content to 4 different places. Cool eh? It really is brilliant for lazy people like me who can't seem to manage so many different sites at once.

The bonus is that if I decide to switch up my e-commerce venue (aka quit Etsy and list at a different handmade retailer) then I can just change up the feed and it will all just work automagically.

I'm hoping to launch by the end of the month so watch for it. In the meantime, you should head on over and like my facebook fan page because it is my birthday month so I have decided to run a promo for all my facebook fans!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Color Theory

Color is everywhere. It is in everything. Even black & white has color. Have you ever tried to match a black shirt and a black pair of pants? Or picked out paint swatches for "white" ceilings? The underlying colors just come out. They can't help themselves.

I love color. Lots of color. It makes me happy. My 5 year old shares my love for all things colorful. The other morning she came out of her room dressed in purple socks, orange leggings, a hot pink skirt and a turquoise shirt. She's quite the little fashionista.

Admittedly a lot of my color inspiration comes from my daughter's closet. I so wish they would make some of those outfits in grown-up sizes - not that I could get away with actually wearing any of it. But the color palettes are always so much fun!

In the summer my inspiration comes from my backyard. Stare at a beautiful garden for a few minutes to be flooded with color ideas. Scrapbook paper is also an addictive resource for great color combinations. My husband has banned me from the local scrapbook store as I just can't seem to control myself there ... oooh pretty paper. must have it.

When my surroundings fail to inspire me, I can always count on my favorite color blog to spark the creative juices. Design Seeds is a fantastic resource. Be careful though, you can get lost for hours browsing through all her amazing color palettes. I pin a lot of her entries to my Pinterest board if you want to browse some of my personal favorites.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reality Check

It's really too bad that vacation cannot last forever. Of course some people actually live in paradise whereas others (fools like me) choose to live in the frozen tundra (aka Minnesota). I always question that decision every single time we come back from our annual family vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.


It snowed today. Not a lot. In fact not even enough to really justify shoveling. But when you spent yesterday morning waking up to the crashing of the ocean waves against the beach and the sun in your face, it just makes it that much more depressing. Ah well. Back to reality.

The kids had a blast swimming in the pool and playing on the beach. I actually rather enjoyed being disconnected from the world for just a bit and doing some relaxing. But alas, it must come to an end and reality sets in once again.


The bags are unpacked. The laundry is cleaned. The fridge has been re-stocked. Now it is time to get back into the studio and crank out some glass. I have custom orders to fill and tons of ideas running through my head. Watch for some fun, new, bright and sunshiny designs in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reichenbach Aqua

I am not a paid color tester for any glass companies, not that I would ever turn down the opportunity if such a thing existed. Nor am I a professed expert on anything glass related - color, viscosity, compatibility or otherwise. I am just a beadmaker trying to get a handle on the ridiculous bundles of unorganized and uncategorized glass in my studio.

If I am ever to get my act together and determine which colors I absolutely must have in my collection, I need to start taking notes. Since I am taking notes for myself, I thought I might as well share them with everyone else just in case you might find my ramblings interesting or useful. So here is my first color review: Reichenbach Aqua [RL-4015].

In rod form this glass is a very pretty pale aqua with a slightly more greenish tint than Effetre pale aqua. There are really no surprises when melting it and it stays true to color in bead form. I didn't bother to do any reactive testing with silver, sulfured glasses and the like because I was really most interested in the how the glass itself works up, although I bet it would be gorgeous with some fine silver.

It is stiff. Very stiff. I sometimes like to use Effetre pale aqua as an encasing glass, but I would not do the same with the Reichenbach. It took too long to melt and never got nice and buttery, which is a quality I like for encasing. It took a fair amount of heat to get it malleable enough to press. Admittedly, it took me three attempts to get enough heat in the bead to squish it cleanly - which is a tricky balancing act when pairing it with heat sensitive pinks and purple like I did.

The color is sharp and crystal clear like most of the transparent Reichenbach glass I have worked with. It did not bubble or scum for me at all and retained is beautiful clarity though all the tormenting I gave it. It is a very pretty color, but at nearly 3 times the price of its Effetre counterpart, I cannot justify making it a staple in my palette. Perhaps if it was a little more dense and not so pale and worked up a bit softer I would reconsider.

These beads currently up for sale on eBay if interested.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vegan Crockpot Chili

No. This is not a foodie blog. Or a recipe blog. So don't have any expectations that you will find your next gourmet dinner posted somewhere on this site. Actually this blog isn't really about anything in particular, but rather a hodge-podge eclectic mix of random musings and ramblings by yours truly.

Today, however it is a recipe blog because I thought it time I shared my famous vegan chili recipe with the rest of the free world. And I wanted to pin it to my pinterest board. Today I am making this dish by request of my 5 year old. It is her absolute favorite and I like to make my girl smile. Besides, who can argue with a 5 year old wanting to eat something so ridiculously healthy?

Admittedly, I am a cook by sight/taste/feel kinda gal and rarely take exact measurements. But for all you anal compulsive measurers out there I decided to write down some "ballpark" estimates for you. By all means tweak and modify to your hearts content to get it just right for you.

1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1 green pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup frozen corn
1 small can sliced black olives - drained
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 can of each black, pinto, kidney and great northern beans - drained and rinsed
1 serving of homemade chili seasoning

Wash, chop, drain and rinse everything and throw it all together in the crock pot. Stir it all up and cook on low 8-10 or high 4-6 hours. I usually serve this with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar (and a nice huge handful of nacho chips) which makes it not vegan anymore, but still most definitely vegetarian and quite possibly the healthiest thing you can put in your mouth.

As a bonus, today only, you get 2 for the price of 1! Yes. Two recipes in one blog post. It's probably the most blogging you'll get out of me for the next 3 months so don't get too excited.

After that little health challenge I took last year I have become a compulsive label reader (yes, even more so than I was before). Since I didn't understand half the ingredients in my old stand-by cheater chili seasoning packet I decided it was time to make my own. This is mostly borrowed from a recipe I found on allrecipes with just a few minor tweaks.

3 Tbsp flour
4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper (adjust to your desired heat level)
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
mix together and store in an airtight container.

This makes about 2 servings for my crockpot chili (5-6 quarts). I usually mix up a fresh batch when I make chili and store half in a recycled spice jar for the next time.

Please note I feed this to my Minnesota born, Norwegian heritage children so it is most definitely not spicy. If you like your chili to have a little heat I suggest increasing the amount of crushed red pepper to the spice mix and tossing in a can of green chilies and/or a diced jalapeno to the chili to give it some more zing.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prodigy

Not every bead I make comes out looking beautiful. Shocking. Sad. But true. In fact I actually have 3 different levels of unsatisfactory bead buckets. We have the pee cup - which houses all the cracked, broken and completely unusable beads. I have no idea why I save them. I guess I just don't have the heart to throw them in the trash. Somewhere, somehow they will come in useful for something. I just know it. No I do not have a hoarding problem. Really. I don't.

Then there is the banker box - which contains a multitude of fuglies. These are mostly from my newbie days but the box does seem to be getting fuller, and I am pretty sure that beads cannot reproduce themselves through osmosis so I must be continuing to make them.

Lastly we have the orphan dish. This is home to the beads that are not outright horrid looking, but lack enough enthusiasm for me to attempt to replicate them or even make them a matching brother or sister. These unexciting and unwanted beads go into the dish with all the other abandon orphan beads hoping someday, someone, will take pity on them and give them a real home.

My 4 year old daughter is quite assuredly my biggest fan. I can always count on her to make me feel like the best bead maker in the entire world. I just love the enthusiasm that girl has for all things colorful. The last few weeks she has been requesting to "make beads" with me. She's a tad young to put behind the torch so I thought we'd do the next best thing - string them up! So I went to Michael's and picked up some stretchy cord, pulled out the orphan dish and the banker box and let her have fun.

She picked out all the beads she wanted to put in her bracelet and laid them out on the table. Then she strung them one by one - studying them intently before committing them to the cord. When she was finished she handed it to me to tie the final knot.

I couldn't believe my eyes. My discarded beads suddenly had new life given to them by my 4 year old prodigy. This girl has talent! Time to put her to work on all my bracelet designs. Gotta love free labor. I am so proud.