Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oh for the Love of Birds...

I love birdhouses! I find that watching the birds in the garden is very relaxing and enjoyable.  I think I inherited my love of birdhouses from my father.  His property in Indiana is a mini ecosystem not far from the city of Chicago. His property attracts all kinds of wild life. The back deck of the house, overlooking the wetlands, is a perfect place to sit and watch the many birds that visit his property. He has a wonderful collection of birdhouses and feeders on every tree and post.

 I love the idea of re-purposing!  Re-purposing is taking an object and using it for something entirely different than its original purpose. You probably already have some re-purposed items around your home without even realizing it. The mug on your desk used to hold pencils, the old water pitcher used to hold cut flowers, or the red wagon used as a garden cart now that the kids have grown. All good examples of re-purposed items.

 So, combining birdhouses and re-purposing is just about perfect in my book. Let me show you a few examples of re-purposed birdhouses from around the blogosphere ....

Upcycled Birdhouse
This birdhouse was created by incorporating a re-purposed 80+ year old wooden bobbin from the Pendleton woolen mills. The Pendleton Bobbin Birdhouse is a unique blend of previously used wood, metal and glass utility pole insulators. 

Upcycled Birdhouse
 I loved Charles Chips as a kid; they came in a large metal canister that sat on the counter.  Once a week the Charles Chips delivery truck would pull up to refill our canister, I couldn’t wait for that delivery day!  This bird house is made out of one of the chip canisters. Love it!

Upcycled Birdhouse
This little birdhouse is completely made with re-purposed items from the kitchen. Cute! This website has many interesting birdhouses and feeders.

Upcycled Birdhouse
The re-purposed yellow pitcher birdhouse as described by the designer:  “It's just a little bit of sunshine”.  I’m sure the birds at my dad’s place would love this!

Upcycled Birdhouse
The Brambleberry Cottage really went "sky-high" on this one-of-a-kind re-purposed birdhouse. They’ve got a barn full of found items and decided to put something together for the birds. I adore the perch which is made out of an old coffee grinder handle and the chicken feeder top that became part of the post decoration.

So you’re ready to give it a try and you’re wondering where to scavenge for materials? Stop at construction sites to ask for whatever scraps and leftover materials they won't be using. Check out the local flea market or farm sale. If a building is being torn down, ask if you can scavenge old hinges or discarded bits and bobs.  And without plundering protected wildernesses, consider nature: use a particularly gorgeous stone as a decoration, or make a birdhouse hanger by sanding down a sturdy branch and nailing a few (scavenged/found) hooks into it.  Take a walk on the wild side and have fun!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer love....

Summer in Atlanta is hot and sticky, but the high humidity is perfect for growing hydrangeas.  I'm in love with hydrangeas; they are one of the most beautiful summer blooming plants in the south. I can remember when I moved to Atlanta being drawn to the cool shaded area on the north side of the my house where a huge bush of blue hydrangeas was planted. The giant blooms were as big as a plate and such a clear, deep blue they seemed to belong in a hot house rather than casually hanging about the garden. 

Every year just a few weeks before the daily temps soar, we get to enjoy these gorgeous blooming flowers in a range of bold colors.  Below are some of my jewelry designs reminiscent of the hydrangeas in the garden... 

Jewelry inspired by nature; Hydrangeas


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

But it doesn't have pockets.....

Yesterday I noticed that my purse is starting to look shabby, not just a little shabby, it is way past what could be called “shabby chic”. The straps are fraying, the seams are coming loose, the leather is worn, and one zipper refuses to zip.

To me there is not a more excruciating chore than having to switch my purse, and I really can’t comprehend how some gals do it every day. I literally spend hours shopping for just the right purse. It can’t be flimsy, floppy, or refuse to stand solidly. It must have pockets, and dividers, and compartments, and zippers, and... you get the picture. For me, successfully using a purse involves close supervision of its contents. I tend to forget where I’ve put things so compartmentalizing is the key to my sanity. I work hard to be organized, but even then the multi-pocket idea is not fool-proof. I have to remember which pocket I put stuff in. Maybe voice-activated software would be useful—I could open my purse, say “chapstick”, and the correct pocket will vibrate, blink, or talk back to me.

So, today I started my search for a new handbag on Etsy. I always try to support small businesses and my fellow Etsy handmade artists, but I just wasn’t finding what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, there were beautiful handbags in every color, texture, and shape, but I couldn’t find the perfect fit for me.

Then I stumbled upon these…..problem solved!

Organizer by Divide and Conquer
A purse organizer insert with pockets galore and stand-up sides so it doesn't go all flimsy inside the purse.

Organizer by Divide and Conquer
It has pockets inside and out and some have dividers and zippers too!

Organizer by Divide and Conquer
The organizers come in many different colors and styles; with or without handles.

Example Photos by PurseSitter.com
Just look how everything fits neatly inside this purse!

Organizer by: It's All in the Bag
There's even a mini organizer for your formal clutch bag.

Keeping my purse organized just got a whole lot easier! No more digging around in the dark corners of my purse for cell phone, keys, check book, etc. Best of all, if I do decide to swap my handbag to match an outfit, I can simply lift the Organizer out of my everyday purse and the entire contents can be easily transferred to a cute trendy bag with NO pockets. It will be simple, quick and easy, no need to unload all the pockets to change bags. Yippeee!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1000 Gifts – Part Two

This is part two of my own journey to list my 1000 gifts; blessings to be thankful for every day.

It really does make a difference in my outlook when I realize how much splendor surrounds me on a daily basis. Whether it's a morning walk in the woods, the sound of my sweetie arriving, or the flowers blooming in our yard, there are so many things to be thankful for…all the little things that make me smile.

My mission is based on a book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I plan to complete this journey by June 3o, 2013. Should you also feel inspired to remind yourself of all the things you have been blessed with (things that make you smile every day), please join me. Add a comment to this post and let me know you’re onboard; I'd love to read about your gifts too.
And so my 1000 Gifts journey continues...
One Thousand gifts I have been blessed with Part Two:

19.  My Sweetie stopping on the way home from work to get me a chicken pot pie
20.  Receiving the catalog order before the anticipated arrival date
21.  Opening a new bar of oatmeal and honey soap
22.  Sunday Brunch at my favorite spot: Local Three
23.  Braised Short Ribs that slice like butter
24.  Whipped potatoes so scrumptious you go for seconds AND thirds
25.  Fresh cut flowers on the counter in the kitchen
26.  A hand written thank you note in the mail
27.  A new keypad lock so I can’t lock myself out of the house
28.  Hitting the long stop light just right so I can dig around in my purse for lost treasures
29.  Finding money in the pocket of the jeans that I haven’t worn recently
30.  Being trusted by family to research cruise ship vacations to Alaska
31.  Watching “The Bachelorette” (guilty pleasure) from a DVR so I can skip commercials
32. Ear plugs at bedtime
33. An extra purple pen to replace the one that dried-up in the middle of a conference call
34. Reminiscing with a friend about “the old days” and experiences we shared at work
35. Knowing that I’m loved when I’m having a bad day
36. An express elevator trip from the 19th floor to the lobby with zero stops (very rare)
37. Pictures of Puppies Playing
38. Time to read favorite blogs today
Too be continued….

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party...Ten stress-free steps...

  The next Bead Soup Blog Party is just around the corner.  I’ve been thinking about how I want to approach the upcoming event.  In the past I’ve completed designs that I was comfortable with, but that isn't the point of this ‘Party’.  It is meant to challenge creative limitations and help you try something new.  So in preparation for the next Bead Soup event, I have outlined 10 ways (listed below) to improve my experience and grow as a designer. If you are interesting in reading about the Bead Soup Blog Party, check out Lori Anderson’s blog “Pretty Things”.

My Past Bead Soup Blog Party Designs

My New Design Process for the Bead Soup Blog Party…
  1. You need to keep in mind what’s interesting to you as a designer, not what’s easy to do as a jewelry maker. They can be very different.

  2. Simplify. Focus. Define your color pallet. Which beads will you use from your soup ingredients? You may feel like you’re losing valuable stuff, but it sets you free.

  3. Visualize jewelry designs you love. What you love about them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

  4. Think about what you are good at, comfortable with. Now what is the polar opposite of that? Challenge yourself.

  5. Discount the 1st design that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

  6. Visualize or draw a finished piece before you figure out how to create it. Seriously. New design direction is hard; get your design well-defined up front.

  7. No effort is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

  8. Recognize your skill: the difference between doing your best & fretting. Design is about trying, not worrying.

  9. If you were wearing this piece, how would you feel? Use that feeling to describe your work.

  10. Finish and post your design, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both (finished on time and perfection), but even if you don’t have both, know that you embraced the challenge and created something from your heart.
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

WOOHOO! Things are back to normal…

I’ve been a bit slack in my regular blog posts lately. My husband and I were quite busy working on our daughters’ wedding during the month of May. Anyone who’s planned a big wedding can probably understand that life was a bit hectic prior to the big walk down the aisle. The wedding was a success and it’s behind us now, so life is back to normal and I’m working on new items for my Etsy shop.

I’ve been wire wrapping like crazy so I can list some new pearl cluster bracelets. Each dangle must be individually wrapped so this design is fairly labor intensive. The design has been one of the top sellers, so I hope to breathe some new life into my inactive shop. Below you will see an example of the pink bracelet I’m working on. I’m also working on a purple one at the same time. I’ve found that working on the bracelets with an assembly line approach makes the task a little less time consuming. I will be posting the finished products in my shop this weekend.

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1000 Gifts

One Thousand Gifts
   This morning while visiting some of the blogs that I enjoy reading, I was intrigued by an older post by Sarah, the author of “fairytales are true”. The post was titled – “1000 gifts”. Sarah was inspired by a book written by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She made the decision to list her own 1000 gifts on her blog. After reading Sarah's blog post and additional lists, I’ve decided to join several charismatic bloggers and embark on my own journey to list “1000 gifts”…
   I too believe that being thankful and appreciative is one of life's greatest challenges and joys. As Sarah put it, “happy people are grateful and grateful people are happy” It really does make a difference when I realize how much splendor surrounds me on a daily basis. Whether it's a morning walk in the woods, the sound of my sweetie arriving, or the flowers blooming in our yard, there are so many things to be thankful for every day. All the little things that make me smile.

   I plan to complete this journey by June 3o, 2013. Should you also feel inspired to remind yourself of all the things you have been blessed with (things that make you smile every day), please join me. Add a comment to this post and let me know you’re onboard; I'd love to read about your gifts too. Also, Sarah tracks and follows the blogs of people who are participating in this journey; send her a note and she’ll add you to her list.

And so my 1000 Gifts journey begins...

One Thousand gifts I have been blessed with:

1. The deep purple hydrangea bush blooming next to our house.
2. The woodpecker tapping out his version of Morse Code on the hardwood tree
3. Seeing the spider before I accidentally walked through his web
4. Watching the grade school students in their matching uniforms walk to school
5. Help moving the heavy boxes from the tenth floor to the ground floor
6. Having a Nook in my purse so I can read at lunch
7. The fabric flowers in a pot on my desk that remind me of Laguna Beach, CA
8. The location of my cube so I can see out the window and have natural light at work.
9. The email with a picture of kittens that my Dad sent
10. Shoes that don’t pinch, rub, or squish my feet
11. Time to think while waiting in the long line of cars exiting the parking garage
12. The air conditioner is working in my car (I live in the deep south)
13. The “song of the trains” down the street from our house
14. Our cat Beau greeting me at the door (he’s elderly and doesn’t do this very often)
15. A friendly greeting from the coffee stand barista
16. A bakery fresh “Everything” bagel
17. Seeing the V formation of geese gliding down to a smooth landing on lawn
18. The elevator doors opening before I push the button

Too be continued….

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