Monday, September 26, 2011

A Blast from My Past…

This week we are going on a family camping trip to the North Georgia Mountains. I must admit that I love camping, but I get a little stressed when children join the adventure. I don’t have kids of my own, but I did acquire a whole collection of them when I got married. I’ve learned that kids can get in trouble quicker than…...well, quicker than I can keep up with them.

So, too ease my nerves and keep their attention focused on something other than getting in trouble, I’m putting together a camping bead craft kit. I may be dating myself, but I’m going to revive a skill that I haven’t used since the late 70s. We will be making friendship bracelets using macramé knotting techniques. Making friendship bracelets is a fun project for any age, and with so many patterns available, there is a design that is right for any skill level. Hopefully it will keep them amused and out of harms way. 

Did you ever give/receive any friendship bracelets? In the 70s you were suppose to wear it until it fell off as a sign of friendship with the gift giver. I wore one from a best friend for several years in High School.
Share this Blog Post :

Friday, September 23, 2011

One Key Piece...

Only 37 days until Halloween! I’m a diehard do-it-yourselfer when it comes to costumes, but this year I need a little inspiration. All I need is one good idea and I’ll be able to create unique Halloween costumes for myself and the grand kids. I turned to Etsy for motivation….

Sometimes a creative accessory can influence the entire Halloween costume. I’ve also found that my best costumes are often the simplest using bits and pieces I have on hand with the key element. Here are some great examples of costumes made using one key item and very simple clothing already in the closet....

The Halloween count down is on!

Share this Blog Post :

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trying something new....Beadweaving.

While visiting the blogs of the Bead Soup Blog Party participants (see pervious blog post for my Reveal), I found that I was captivated by the designers who used bead weaving techniques to complete their projects. I was so taken with their designs that I did a little research today to learn more about bead weaving….

Great Book by Ann Benson
The art of weaving in general is a process that I’ve been exposed to for many years. My Grandmother spent hours weaving cloth (to use as farmhouse rugs) by means of a huge loom, so I have a basic knowledge of how to weave. However, my research illustrated that many different weaving techniques and stitches incorporating beads have been used throughout history. I have a lot of catching-up to do…

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
From my research I’ve found the term “beadwork” seems to be misunderstood (I wasn’t using it correctly). Many people do not realize there is a difference between "beadwork," and "work done with beads."

“Work done with beads” is typically a group of beads strung together, as with a necklace. The stringing is simple and straightforward, we focus on the beads. The beads by themselves are interesting, and the placement on the string ideally enhances the beads. My lampwork bracelet below is considered “Work done with beads”.
“Beadwork”, it's just the opposite. The beads in beadwork (basically -- don't hold me to this rule in all instances) are plain and do not hold great interest by themselves. However, their placement pulls together the overall pattern; it’s viewed as one design, not individual beads. This technique demands precision, patience, consistency, and vision. Beadweaving is considered “beadwork”. Check out an example below....
I found that there are literally hundreds of stitches and variations of the different stitches allowing bead weavers to make jewelry, decorations, and even 3-D art with beads. Many free tutorials are available on the internet. The process seems time consuming, but in the end well worth the effort. Below are some examples of amazing beadwork I found on Etsy.
So...I’m ready to give it a go! I’ve found lots of information about the tools needed to get started. I’m off to the local craft store to purchase needles and string. I already have some larger seed beads that I will use to practice. I read that starting with large beads makes learning the technique a lot easier. Wish me luck!

Share this Blog Post :

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal - Fall 2011

Yippee! Today is the Bead Soup Blog Party reveal. Every Bead Soup participant was paired up with another jewelry designer and asked to send their partner the following:

~ A focal
~ A special clasp (not just a lobster claw)
~ Some coordinating spacers or beads

Using the focal and the clasp was mandatory, but we could use anything from our own stash to round out the project, and choose to use the coordinating beads or not.

This is the Bead Soup package I received from my partner Linda Landig:

Here’s what I made! 

Linda’s choice for the focal bead and generous amount of coordinating beads inspired me to create an opera length single strand necklace in warm fall tones. I love wire-wrapping so I grouped sets of three beads and natural gemstones to create the individual links for my necklace.

I also used some Vintage multicolor glass beads from my own stash that I’ve been dying to use, but I didn’t have enough for a full project.   

Linda sent wonderful ingredients and although I don’t generally work with gold tone wire, I enjoyed working out of my comfort zone and am extremely pleased with the result… how could a southern gal go wrong with a lovely dogwood blossom pendant in her soup?

Check out the link below for the list of other beaders participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party.  Thanks Lori for your long hours and hard work organizing this fun event!!!

Share this Blog Post :

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I love Halloween! I’ve always thought of it as my day to escape my “real Life”. While growing up, other holidays were stressful and sometimes unpleasant. Family feuds, divorced parents, and a host of other disappointing situations made traditional Holidays a bit disjointed in our family. But not Halloween!

Fall Front Door Decor
Halloween provided me a free pass one night a year to escape and become part of the world of fantasy and adventure. It was my chance to become something different, something exciting, something beautiful, or even someone who could fly. I could leave behind the pressure of family challenges and just enjoy my favorite day.

Vintage Halloween Costume Patterns
Even as a very young girl, I spent days working on my costume; as a teenager I learned to sew just so I could create fabulous outfits. Being extremely tall for my age, (I still am), I could never wear the commercial costumes available at the local Woolworth's, so I had to sew my own.
Today, I still enjoy everything Halloween and decorate the house for the holiday. I’ve made a few items for my Etsy Shop for my favorite day. No pressure, no guilt, just pure enjoyment…cheers!

Halloween items in my Etsy shop.

Share this Blog Post :

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Bead Box Ready to Travel Again!

Heather of Humblebeads started this wonderful traveling box filled to the brim with beads! The idea is to take what you love from the box and replace the items you removed with items of equal or greater value and send it on to the next winner. I have entered my name into the hat to win a visit from the Traveling Bead Box.

The box is currently with Janet of Singingwoods. She is looking to send it on to one lucky person! So, check out her blog to get all the details:
Cheers! and good luck!

Share this Blog Post :

Monday, September 12, 2011

Take a Deep Breath...

This weekend I received an emergency call from a good friend and fellow Etsy seller. She told me that she had received a message from a very unhappy buyer. The buyer was unhappy with the size of the earrings they had received. My friend makes lovely items with quality materials; I was surprised to hear the news.

The buyer had complained that the size in the pictures did not match the actual item. Oh no…this is a common problem jewelry sellers have when using the Macro camera setting to get sharp close-up details. I told my friend the only solution I know to solve the dilemma; place a common item (like a coin or your hand) in at least one of the photos too to give the buyer a sense of scale. Here is a great example of establishing scale in your photos:

“This will help in the future, but what about my angry customer?” she asked with a sigh. Here’s the advice I gave her……

1. Take a deep breath - it’s not the end of the world. Step away from the computer for 30 minutes and think about how to handle this situation rationally. Try not to answer the complaint emotionally, write your email response cautiously and thoughtfully. If you don’t consider how it will sound to your customer, you could be doing damage control later. Email can be tricky! Tone and inflection are not present in email. Your written response may be misinterpreted as combative or unhelpful if you are not careful with your reply.

2. Realize that you both want the same thing. Buyer and seller want the same end result; a happy, pleasant, and speedy transaction. Usually an unhappy buyer simply wants to feel like you are willing to work with them. So extend the olive branch and let them know that you truly want to help them and are willing to work toward a solution.

3. Put the ball in their court- Ask the customer what they would like for you to do to resolve the situation. Chances are, they have already have an idea of what they think is a fair solution. If there is anything you can do to make sure the customer walks away satisfied, do it. I’m not telling you to give away your shop, just try to come to a fair agreement.

4. Don’t beat your customer over the head with your return policy – Upset customers don’t want to listen to you quoting back your policy to justify why you can’t help them. Let them know your personal guidelines so they know what to expect from here on out. Sure, it’s important to have policies in place, but you can’t view every single situation in black-and-white terms. Be reasonable, and be flexible.

5. Know that you can’t please everyone. You may run into a “difficult to deal with” person. It happens to all of us, there’s no reason to beat yourself up about it. Just do the best you can, keep your cool, think things through, and offer them a fair deal. Hold your head up knowing that you did the best you could to resolve the issue.

I remember reading a phrase that said "Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude". Apart from these tips above, you need the right attitude and frame of mind for handling tricky situations. Don't run away from them; just try to handle them with care. Here’s hoping that you will never need to use these tips. Cheers!
Share this Blog Post :

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Yellow Daisy Craft Festival

#8 Logging My Favorites

This is the eigth installment of a ongoing log of my favorite things. Once a month I will post a favorite. It might be a person, or a place, or even an event. Hopefully it will help you get to know me a little better. I'd love your comments and I hope to make some connections through our mutual enjoyment of these treasures.

Have I mentioned yet that I’m a craft festival, flea market, farmer’s market, and antique market type of gal? More than anything I love supporting handmade and homemade artists. This weekend is one of my favorite events, the Yellow Daisy Festival.

Despite its growth from a small arts & crafts show to the four day event that it has become today, the Yellow Daisy Festival continues to be a big show (over 400 crafters) with a small-town feel. Multi-generations of mothers, daughters and grandmothers will be roaming the wooded trails together in search of the perfect item. Just look at the map, the festival is huge and it’s jam-packed full of artistic vendors and shoppers.

I’ve found that there is no apparent rhyme or reason to the location of the vendors throughout the massive festival area, although I must say that the setup works. A supposedly one-way path is often walked the wrong way by newbie’s, but nobody seems to care because most shoppers are really only interested in getting to the next booth. The paths are shaded by huge native hardwoods making the day more enjoyable; our weather here in Atlanta can still be a bit warm in September.

Whatever your passion, you will find fun items to purchase at this festival. I’ve also found that the festival is a great place to go and get new inspiration. So many wonderful artists all in one place! Shoppers and crafters alike enjoy the atmosphere of the event. There is live music, fabulous festival food and crafter demonstrations all day.

One of my favorite stops each year is the antique grain grinding machine (below) from Logan Turnpike Mill. It spurts, sputters, shutters and occasionally backfires as it grinds the most superb stone ground grits. I’m not a native southerner, but I do love good grits!

Here is the link to the festival website if you are interested in getting more information. Hope to see you there!

Share this Blog Post :

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 Fall Jewelry Trends on Etsy

Over the past few years jewelry has propelled its way to the forefront of fashion becoming bigger and bolder with each passing season. 2011 is no exception and the rising trends are shaping up to be the most extravagant yet! Large statement pieces are still all the rage, huge cocktail rings, long dangling earrings and layered necklaces are stealing the spotlight with their bold shapes and eye-catching colors. Here’s just a few of my favorite jewelry trends for Fall 2011.

Antique Brass
Cool - Classic Appeal - Vintage Vibe
Gold gets a vintage vibe this season with an antique brass finish. Traditional looks now have major contemporary appeal especially when paired with surprising designs and exciting pops of color. 

Mixed Metals
 Modern - Endless Combos - Versatile
Talk about flexibility! Coordinating outfits and Jewelry couldn’t be easier – everything goes. With numerous combos from European Romance to Edgy Influenced, mixed metals are a must-have for endless style options. 

Romantic * Feminine * Elegant

Lace fashions are all the rage from skirts to blouses and now to jewelry. Lace-like patterns offer more than vintage frills – with mixed metal, antique brass or jet finishes pieces can go from sweet to edgy based on the look you want. 
Share this Blog Post :

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Take a peek at my Bead Soup package!

Look at what I received from Linda Landig, my partner for the fall 2011 Bead Soup Blog Party.  Linda has been designing jewelry for nearly 30 years! Her work is lovely; designs feature distinct and colorful semiprecious gemstones, art beads and vintage beads.  Based on her eclectic style and vast collection of materials, I was excited to see what she would send.  I was thrilled when I opened the package, so many wonderful beads to play with!  I’ve had them spread out on my bead bench for about a week so I can think about how I will use them in my Bead Soup design.

My beads came in a metal tin with a great hand written note embellished with a pretty handmade origami bird.  Just look at all my treasure!

 I removed the individual packing bags to reveal the materials I will be using for the Bead Soup challenge.  I will design a jewelry piece using the beads selected by my partner.  Linda's selection for me included fabulous textures and autumn colors:

 I just love the filigree clasp form Israel, here's a closer look...

Check back on September 17 when the finished design will be revealed.  Then, hop around to the other participating blogs and see what they have created using their Blog Soup Beads.  Cheers!

Share this Blog Post :

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who invited the ants?

Summer is coming to an end so it’s time for a last celebration before the relaxing days of summer are gone. Almost everyone can look back at their childhood and remember the fun summer activities that produced lasting memories. Picnicking is probably on that list of memories – one of my fondest memories is the annual end of summer family picnic under the huge oak tree at my grandparent’s farm. Everyone let go of the daily grind and relaxed. We ate until the ants moved in, then we played lawn darts, badminton, and horse shoes.

The family picnics are only a memory now, but I still believe a picnic is the ideal way to reconnect, have some fun, and make new memories. SO, we are getting together with our best friends to celebrate the end of summer picnicking at Lake Lanier in central GA. I’m very excited about the event, I went ‘window’ shopping on Etsy for picnic items, take a look at some of my favorites…..

Top Row:
Bottom Row:

Below is my favorite "bring something to share" recipe for Dark Fudgy Brownies. Enjoy!

Dark Fudgy Brownies Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, American-style or Dutch-process
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (50-72% cacao), coarsely chopped, plus 2 1/2 ounces chopped into mini chip-size pieces, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup, blended with 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts, (see Tip), optional


1.Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil, letting it overhang on two opposing sides. Coat with cooking spray.

2.Sift flour, confectioners’ sugar and cocoa together into a small bowl. Combine the 3 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate and oil in a heavy medium saucepan; place over the lowest heat, stirring, until just melted and smooth, being very careful the chocolate does not overheat. Remove from the heat and stir in granulated sugar, corn syrup mixture, vanilla and salt until the sugar dissolves. Vigorously stir in egg until smoothly incorporated. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts (if using) and the remaining 2 1/2 ounces chopped chocolate just until well blended. Turn out the batter into the pan, spreading evenly.

3.Bake the brownies until almost firm in the center and a toothpick inserted comes out with some moist batter clinging to it, 20 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 1/2 hours.

4.Using the overhanging foil as handles, carefully lift the brownie slab from the pan. Peel the foil from the bottom; set the slab right-side up on a cutting board. Using a large, sharp knife, trim off any dry edges. Mark and then cut the slab crosswise into fifths and lengthwise into fourths. Wipe the blade with a damp cloth between cuts.

Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Store Brownies in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: To toast chopped nuts: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

NutritionPer brownie: 86 calories; 3 g fat ( 1 g sat , 1 g mono ); 11 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 0 g fiber; 19 mg sodium; 25 mg potassium.

Share this Blog Post :