Anne Choi Bead Inspired Necklace

I love Anne Choi beads and have bought a few in the last year or two. However, I've never used one until now. This particular bead wanted to be a pendant and after getting some gorgeous hand-dyed silk ribbon from Heidi of Jamn Glass, I took a few of my orphan lampwork beads that I used beautiful high silver content glass that looks like mother of pearl at certain angles and 3 different colors of swarovski bicone crystals and made this necklace. I saw my friend Lisa Atchison of Touch of Glass Designs make a coiled clasp like this one and I loved the it so much I borrowed the idea. Because of that coil, the necklace is adjustable to just about any length and you don't have to tie and untie over and over. Then there are two coordinating beads on the each end of the ribbon for a little sassiness. I think those beads dangling in the back looks totally hot. I will defintely be making more of these!

New Tuff Enough listings and a story of a camping trip and why you should watch the Discovery Channel

This is the shock of the century! I managed to get 3 new listings up today. The first two are part of the Tuff Enough to Wear Pink Campaign. I will be donating 100% of the purchase price of these beads to the Susan Komen for the Cure:
The third listing today was another Nightmare Series bead. However, what's "special" about this one is its so called pedigree. This was the bead I had started when the photographer was here taking pictures for the newspaper article. I only started it while he was here and then finished it after he left. Anyway, this bead's baby picture was in the newspaper and online.
On a completely unrelated to anything else I've ever posted before, I want to make sure everyone tunes into the Discovery Channel Mini Series about the Iditarod. My DS has become obsessed with dog sledding since doing the Iditarod unit during the 2008 race in 4th grade. He has been a frustrated musher ever since. Living in a suburban neighborhood in Indiana is not particularly condusive to a budding musher who dreams of racing in the Junior Iditarod and then the Iditarod. I tell him he can do the Junior Iditarod if a miniature labradoodle and a Golden Retriever will be enough to pull the sled...
Anyway, about a month ago, Lance Mackey (the winner of the last 2 Iditarods and my son's hero) went to Mancelona, Michigan to the Last Chance Kennel as a guest speaker. My DS found out about this from Lance's website. So, like the dog sledding/Lance Mackey obsessed kid that he is, he nagged me about getting more info. The site only promoted a talk he was giving. But when I emailed for info from the folks hosting this event, they said it was actually a 4 day event and invited us to join. WOW!
The thing is, we would have to camp with no running water and my dear sweet husband was on call all that particular weekend. I hate camping. I hate using a port-a-potty. I'm far from a high maintenance glamour girl, but I do like my comforts. However, I have the sweetest, most gentle kid a mom could ask for. His hero isn't some NBA or NFL thug, and he had the chance to meet him, talk to him, and go camping. I signed us up for the one night camp.
So here was me who knows practically nothing about dog sledding, my frustrated wannabe musher and then a group of very dedicated mushers. I mean, I can barely get my dogs to pee outside let alone train them to pull a sled and listen to commands...I didn't really fit in so well. That didn't matter a bit because these were all very down to earth, generous people. They made us feel very comfortable and gave DS suggestions on how he can train to be a musher and participate in a limited way until he can fullfil his dreams.
When we got to Mancelona, I didn't know a single thing about Lance Mackey except he won a couple Iditarods and is missing a finger. Weird thing to know, but DS had mentioned it a few times. But after that weekend, I am a fan of Lance too. Not because I think dog sledding is cool, but because he is an incredible individual for what he has been through (cancer that he was not supposed to survive, let alone ever race again) and achieved and accomplished it with so much humility, determination, and love for his dogs. He is very down to earth, approachable, will answer any question asked (including trade secrets from what I, the non-musher person, can tell), and signs all autographs. His wife Tonya was also lots of fun to talk to and hear her perspective on things. The thing that struck me is they have no bathroom and so they all have to shower at the laundromat! It costs a whopping $5 for a 10 minute shower. YIKES!
I was going to post about this earlier, but time just slipped away and then it seemed irrelevant. But with this special on the Discovery Channel, it's fun to watch what we only heard about from Lance. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode last night. Knowing the Discovery Channel (it's our favorite channel), they will run each episode several times. Check your local listings and don't miss any of them.

Brown County State Park Photos

Do you know one of those people who have parties so that they have a captive audience to view a slideshow of their vacation photos? I could potentially be one of those people if I had a projector or a really big computer monitor.We got our first digital camera six years ago (back in the dinosaur age for digital cameras) and I never looked back to the old way of taking pictures. It's almost to the point of obsessive compulsive behavior. I *must* take about 15 shots of the exact same thing to make sure I got at least one decent shot. Gone are the days of paying for film and processing that used to hold me back from taking approximately 5 billion photos a year. Now the only thing holding me back is the size of my hard drive. I recently upgraded, so I should be good to go for at least another year.
It should come as little shock that I took approximately 350 pictures during our 3 days at Brown County State Park. The shocking part is I pared down the number of photos to share to 7. I try not to bore people with too many details. However, if you beg enough, I might be able to find a couple more to share. LOL!
The first photo is just a generic shot of one of the several scenic overlooks in the park. This one is located behind the Nature Center. Just beyond that little deck is a fairly steep drop off. I took this photo just before we went on a hike guided by a park employee. It was the first time we went on a guided hike in the six years we've been taking our annual autumn trip. I figured doing it was educational and we could count it as a field trip and therefore a school day. The guided tour was so much more than I could have hoped for. We learned a tremendous amount about identifying trees and plants and about the history of the park. It was defintely worth every second of our time.
When we got back from the guided tour, the kids needed to use the facilities. As I sat waiting for them, I noticed the wedding party at this same scenic overlook getting photos taken. I thought "oh, how sweet!" and snapped a couple pictures:
Then, to my amazement (mostly at his stupidity...I mean daring), the photographer gets up on the railing of the deck overlooking the steep drop-off and starts pointing, and giving directions and taking photos. It was definitely a highlight of the trip. I took several pictures of him (and if I knew the people getting married, I would send them copies):
After the guided hike and watching the crazy photographer, the kids and I went for a 2 mile hike on a trail we've never taken. It had some really neat topography and in one section the trees were completely different than the rest of the park. DD (who is 7) mostly whined, complained, and gave me lots of grumpy faces (which I love to photograph-just wait until she has kids...Bwahahaha)
However, I happened to notice these most unusual tree roots. They reminded me of dino jaws. It was almost like the soil and rock was eroding away to show a portion of a T-Rex jaw. Miracle of all miracles, it was a big hit and there were smiles all around while we discussed renaming the trail from Trail 6 to something more clever like...Dinosaur Jaws. LOL!
The next day we did our annual 2 mile hike on Trail 2. There are certain things we do every single year. We cannot veer off course, or there will be major rebellion on our hands. Hiking Trail 2 is one of those things. The other traditions include going into Nashville for a few hours to buy an ornament from the Holly Shop. We always get something that somehow signifies a theme for that particular year. When we get home, we write Brown County and the year we got it.
Once we get our ornament, we get lunch at HobNob Corner Restaurant , then walk down the block and get some fudge. Occassionally we will walk around and look at galleries, but usually not. We go to Brown County every year for the park, family togetherness, and the traditions we've created, not to go shopping in Nashville the entire time. However, this year we skipped lunch and fudge. That went over like a bunch of lead balloons, but we got an ornament and hiked trail 2. Mission almost accomplished.
This photo is part of the tradition of Trail 2. Called the North Lookout Tower, Trail 2 goes right past it. We always climb the 100 or so stairs (or maybe it just feels like 100 after hiking for a mile or so?) to get to the tower and "lookout" over the view. The kids and DH always sit on the stone wall of the lower level of the tower and I always take their picture. I try to avoid getting my picture taken.
The most important part of our Trail 2 experience is getting the family photo sitting on this particular stone bridge. We've done it every single year. You would think that this being our 6th year I would remember to take a tripod. But nooooooo....I guess trying to hang the camera at the correct angle from a tree, setting the timer and then DH running back to get in the picture just in time is part of the tradition. However, after about the 5th time of doing this, a couple came up to us on the trail and (thankfully) offered to take our picture. It is the best one yet. They even took two of them in case one didn't turn out so good. It's not quite up to my standard of 15, but it turned out great. This is us. We aren't glamorous (I wasn't even wearing make-up!), but that's the way I like it. I'm even wearing a Beads of Courage t-shirt!
This is just a fun picture I took of a Timber Rattlesnake in the Nature Center. These are endangered in the state of Indiana. If you see one in Indiana, let the state or county park system closest to its location know where you saw it.

Jewelry Goes Green?

Unless you are living under a rock, you will notice that "going green" is the trendy thing to do and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the buzzwords heard daily and even hourly on occassions.Jewelry is no exception. Jewelery artists are finding all kinds of neat ways to reuse and recycle normal everyday items into fun, funky, and one of a kind art jewelry. Do a search on for "jewelry and recycled" and up pops over 13,000 listings!We've all heard the term recycle, but how many have heard of upcycle? Not me! I just learned this term a few days ago.Wikipedia defines upcycling as a component of sustainability in which the use of waste materials to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.In other words, rather than the complicated, expensive, messy affair of processing waste into something else, the waste product is used in its original form. In jewelry, the waste product may be gears from an old wristwatch, a Scrabble tile, short stubby pencils with chew marks, or old Barbie doll heads.Susan Lenart Kazmer is one of my favorite jewelry artists employing"trash" and turning it into her gorgeous talisman series pieces. Go spend some time on her site. It inspires me to save all kinds of things that normally would go straight to the dump!In my own attempt at "upcycling", I've been making a few lampwork beads on antique keys. I would love to be able to say I came up with the idea on my own, but somebody else deserves the credit for thinking of it first. I just don't know who.To prep for the bead, the keys are dipped in bead release. Once dry, it is put directly into the flame where I make the bead on the key. Because the key was dipped in bead release, I am able to "release" the bead from the key, clean the release off the key, and the bead is free to slide and turn and be played with by the wearer. I like to leave the patina of old age on the key and just polish it with a little wax.Honestly the keys are beautiful enough to wear on their own, but having that colorful glass bead just add that extra little something. AND I get to use the word upcycling when referring to them. If only I was always that hip about everything....The next blog will cover another hot trend in artisan created jewelry fashion. Stay tuned...

Just Give Campaign

Hi everyone! We just got home from a 6 day trip to Florida. I wouldn't normally choose Florida as a first choice summer destination. However, we have family down there and a couple of my husband's aunts organized a lovely anniversary party for his grandparents. I adore his family (no I'm not saying that because they might be really is true!) and we had such a nice visit with everyone.Unfortunately we took the crappy camera with us because it's lightweight. What a mistake! This is the only picture that turned out from the anniversary party. It's a self portrait of DH and me. He gets a kick out of doing self portraits...even if there is somebody sitting right there asking "Do you want me to take the picture?" I am wearing a necklace I created using my lampwork beads.You can see a picture of this exact necklace on my website gallery: the top row, left and right photos ( I seem to have no control over where the photos in the gallery end up on the page-a VERY frustrating thing!)We stayed in a condo close to the family for a couple days, then we headed to Orlando for a few days.In Orlando, we got a condo in the Disney Resort called Saratoga Springs. It was very nice. We like to have a kitchen so that we eat healthier and spend less money doing it. Hot dogs, burgers and pizza get really old after a day or two. Not to mention, it costs us about $40 per meal to eat that junk. We spent about $80 on groceries and laundry detergent for 3 days and carried water with us to the park. The only food purchases made at the park was ice cream. After all, you have to get ice cream if you are at an amusment park...right?So we went to Disney Hollywood Studios the first full day (formerly MGM Studios). Things started out OK. Here is everyone smiling (well, almost everyone...) right after we entered the park:

Here is an example of the looks we were getting soon after though:

DD whined and complained most of the day and didn't want to ride anything. Everything was too scary. DS wanted to ride Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster all day long. However, his parents (me) wanted to see more of the park AND he had to listen to his little sister carry on about how scary everything was.

Soooooo...instead of doing Magic Kingdom on day 2 like originally planned, we slept in and went to Typhoon Lagoon. It was fun for a water park (not my favorite thing to do). But again, DD was too scared to go on the slides. The wave in the wave pool was HUGE! It was fun except that the concrete was sharp and we all got scraped up from the strength of the waves pushing us against the concrete. The lazy river was more DD's speed and we spent lots of time there. My favorite part was the mini donuts we got on the way out. They were fresh, warm, and had just sugar sprinkled on them. YUM!!!!

So, now that we are back, it's time for me to announce the Just Give Campaign I am participating in with the LEST Etsy Team. For the entire month of August your purchase of specially marked items from my shop or any other participating LEST team member shops will go towards the charity of choice of that team member.

My chosen charity is Community Harvest: Their mission is to provide free and immediate food assistance to those in northeast Indiana. During the month of August, 100% of the purchase price of specially marked items will be donated to Community Harvest. Shop HERE

In addition to getting artisan crafted beads and jewelry, and helping feed the hungry, every customer that purchases an item marked for the Just Give Promotion will be entered in a drawing for a free bead of my choice. I will hold the drawing on September 1st or 2nd (the 1st is Labor Day and I might be busy that day) and announce the winner of the free bead as well as how much was raised for Community Harvest and the hungry here in northeast Indiana.

Check back often for updates to the Promotional items. I will be adding more beads to the campaign on a daily basis. To see additional "Just Give" LEST team member participants, go to and click on the August Just Give tab.

Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to the right of this blog because I will be having a special "invitation only" sale early fall. It is a double opt in mailing list so you will have to confirm by email that you want to be on the list.

Have a great weekend!

Do you Dare read today's blog????

I am feeling rather chatty tonight and have lots of stuff to show and tell. So, you might want to grab a quick potty break before continuing. The good news...there's lots of pictures. The bad news...there are no bead pictures.My friend Lisa Atchison (the one hiding in the back row behind Jim) of Touch of Glass Designs emailed this class photo from the Jim Smircich lampworking class hosted by ISLAGA the weekend of June 28-29. I am on the left in the yellow. I absolutely adore my ISLAGA peeps!

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