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Darks and Lights

One photo assignment is to take a photo of something silhouetted against the sky at dusk. I usually love to take photos of the line of trees behind our house as the sun sets because it looks like the world beyond the trees is on fire or a magical ice world (scroll down a few photos). However, I took the camera with me as I ran the kids around this evening and got this one from the parking lot at the library.

Morning Light

One of the Picture Fall Assignments is to catch the morning light in your daily routine. The windows where we spend the majority of our time face southwest (the way I like it quite frankly because of the fiery sunsets we get to watch every night) and we don't get much morning light. Here's the best I could do. eh. Not so great.Housekeeping stuff: Giving away a book and 2 pendants here.I have more reviews and a book or 2 more to give away as soon as I get time to write up the reviews. Also, I should have the Best Little Bead Box in my hot little hands Wednesday. You will probably be able to hear me screaming when I get the box.

2010 Art Charm Exchange Sorted and Shipped and a Bonus Tutorial

Remember this post way back on July 31st? Everyone who participated should have their charms in their hot little hands by now. In fact, I have heard back from several that they were absolutely thrilled with the charms they received from everyone and how much fun it was to play along. I never showed my charms because I didn't actually finish them until the day I shipped them out. Yep. I'm the naughty one in all this. I just can't help but be a last minute kind of girl because I just don't function well when starting or finishing a project early.Without further ado, I present my charms. A lampwork bead using murrini from Lori and Kim (covered in a big ole blob-o-clear), crystals, jumprings and and silver wire. I will give a brief how-to below.

Glass Addictions charms

Because I waited until the last minute, I got to use the deck of the cabin in the middle of Brown County State Park overlooking the forest. It was peacful (except for the single bee that insisted on buzzing around me. Good thing I'm not scared of bees!) and beautiful.

As you can see, I used Chocolate Truffle and Lagoon as my primary colors for the challenge portion of making the charms. I did use a murrini that looked like Living Coral when it was cold, but...ummm...doesn't look very corally after being in the fire. So I kept the oddball one for myself.

Glass Addictions charms

My charms are super easy to make. For each charm you will need: 1 art bead, 3 jumprings, 4mm bicone Swarovski, and 20 ga. dead soft square sterling silver wire (or round or copper or brass or whatever you want to use!)Tools needed: wire cutter, chainnose pliers, flatnose pliers, and I personally like to use bentnose pliers in conjunction with the flatnose for opening and closing jumprings.

Tools and supplies used to make charms

Because I was taking my beading on the road, I didn't have every single thing from my stash available to me and noting I had looked all that great with the beads I made specifically for this exchange. And really, I don't own many spacer type beads or bead caps anyway and sometimes use 3 interlocking jump rings shaped into a rosette type thing as a spacer. I love the way they look and they are a super easy thing to do.
First you need to know how to properly open and close a jump ring. Here is a quickie 1 min. video how to do that. She uses chainnose pliers, but I prefer a flatnose and a bentnose when opening and closing lots of rings.
To make the rosette, you close one ring and open 2 of the same size. Thread the closed one onto one of the open rings and close the ring. Then you push the rings together so they almost look like one ring stacked on top of the other. Take the last ring and thread this stacked ring onto the open ring and close it. Then kind of twist the rings to make a stack of rings that looks a little like a rosette. You will stabilize the rosette shape when you string it onto the wire.
Here is a video if you need a visual of what I just wrote. This person uses 4 much larger rings to create the rosette shape.To assemble all the components, cut a 3" or so piece of wire. Then you will create a spiral on one end making sure that end of the wire is cut flush. Beaducation has great free online video tutorials including one on how to make a wire spiral if you don't know how. And, I just noticed they have a 20 minute video intro to chainmaille that teaches how to open and close jump rings, basic weaves, AND how to do the rosette I tried to describe....
After you have created a spiral you like, string the art bead onto the wire. Then, holding the jump ring rosette in the shape you like, string it onto the wire. Add the crystal to the top so it kind of nestles into the jump ring rosette (and also helps the rosette to keep it's shape if that's what you want, but the rosettes are cool when they are loosey goosey too).
Lastly all you need to do is create your wire wrapped loop. Voila! A simple art charm anybody can make.
I had so much fun hosting this exchange and getting all kinds of new and creative charms from other artists. I am ready to host another charm exchange, probably due to me by late January. Is there any interest? I am thinking something a bit different and having everyone create an extra charm to auction off for Beads of Courage. Please leave a comment if this is something you would participate in and if you have any ideas for a theme or challenge.
Here is a photo mid-sorting of the 100 charms into their respective bubble mailers:
Sorting charms into each envelope to ship

New Bead

I had designated today the day to write about the charm swap, but I am about to crash and burn. So I'll show the new bead fresh from the flame (plus a hot soak in the kiln and a cool cleansing bath) listed on etsy tonight

Tidal Pools and Pearls Lampwork Focal

And if anyone could tell me why I can't load Flickr photos on my blog any more without using html, and how to fix it so I can just grab the link, I would REALLY appreciate it.

Roller Coaster

perfectly describes my life right now. The good news is my sense of humor is still firmly intact because even though "roller coaster" seems to be the only way I can describe life right now, everytime I think of or say roller coaster, all I can think of is the Red Hot Chili Peppers version of the song that was done for the Beavis and Butthead movie. We saw it in the movie theater and that song is forever intertwined with Beavis and Butthead. Real mature, I know.

The kids are in more activities and outside homeschool related classes than ever before and I run run run all day everyday except Sunday. Although, even Sundays aren't completely activity free. I despise being in the car. Really really really despise it. We will be cutting back because I am quickly losing my grip on sanity and happiness.
About three weeks ago my husband went for his annual cardiology appointment. He was born with a bicuspid aortic valve but there are supposed to be 3 leaflets of the valve. It's something we knew would eventually have to be repaired, but they don't want to do it too early to decrease the number of times he will have to have the valve replaced and they don't want to wait too long because as the valve gets more and more stenotic, the heart has to work harder and gets enlarged.
Anyway, because he had been stable for so long, we believed he would be able to go another 5-10 years before needing the surgery. He called me on the way out to the parking lot from his appointment and dropped the bombshell...the doctor told him he needed his valve replaced before the end of 2010 due to rapid progression of stenosis. Plus, he had to have a cardiac cath beforehand to make sure the coronaries are clear and everything else looked fine.
So.....I am already stressed to the max with homeschooling, taxi services, trying to keep the household mess to a dull roar, being the household accountant and secretary....let's add an invasive test and open heart surgery for my best friend since I was 16, husband, lover, the only man who could ever put up with me and manages to make me laugh every single day.
Let that sink in for a minute. That's where I am. I went through about 2 or 3 days where I was totally freaked out. I used to scrub open heart and know more than I want to. Also, the cath lab where they perform cardiac caths? In surgery we referred to it as the "crash lab" because of the number of patients we would get emergently, a doctor or nurse straddling the patient, pumping on the chest as the patient is wheeled in for emergency open heart surgery. Fun times. And not a picture I like having permanently ingrained in my brain when my husband is about to have one of those things.
What does a freaked out spouse trying to keep it together do?
The freaked out crafting type of wife will decide it's imperative to knit a pair of luxurious socks made out of 100% alpaca yarn for the patient.
The freaked out homeschooling type of wife will immediately order a giant model heart that comes apart:
and an anatomy book that the kids will actually understand (we have lots of medical anatomy textbooks lying around here...but nothing that would actually be interesting). My favorite part of this book was in the Amazon description that there may be nude photos and that you must be 18 to order it. Ummm...duh? I mean, it's an anatomy book and since people are not generally born with clothes attached to them... The description is gone now. Bummer.
The homeschooling wife will also do an internet search about what is involved in a cardiac cath and find videos to go along with the description. If you're interested (it's not gross at all and they take you step by step), click here.
Homeschooling wife hasn't looked for valve replacement videos yet, but it's on the "to do" list.The freaked out frumpy feeling wife will get all her hair chopped off and make weird faces in the super filthy mirror (sorry folks, with the magic of photoshop, I edited out the flithy spots so it LOOKS like I clean. Probably should have edited out the suitcase sized bags under my eyes too)....
The freaked out wife goes on vacation with her family. I admit this one was actually scheduled two years ago...but it's a good segue for sharing vacation photos with you poor unsuspecting people without writing a separate post...
Every fall for 8 years we have stayed at Brown County State Park for a few days. Last week was the week. My husband thought it would be brilliant to schedule his cardiac cath for our last day there so we could just "squeeze it in" on our way home. Gotta love a multi-tasker!
Cabin 12. The cabins aren't posh...but they are cozy and comfortable with a wood burning stove, lots of space, a kitchen so we don't spend a fortune on food, and the cost is incredibly reasonable.
In the blog post here, I described and showed a photo of the dino jaws of Trail 6. We did that trail again this year and the kids were anticipating and talking about those dino teeth from the moment we stepped on the trail. Too bad it's about 3/4 of the way through and they had a difficult time enjoying the rest of the trail:
Same trail, photo of hubs and me.
How we get when too many pictures are taken...
After hitting the trails, we got some food at an overpriced restaurant. But I still managed a smile
Every single year for 8 years, we have done Trail 2:
We got lots of cute pictures on the North Tower Lookout (plus we enjoyed the view):
We finally remembered our tripod to take the family photo on the bridge. The best use for it was rooting around for the garter snake that disappeared under the fallen log.

At the end of our fun relaxing trip, we drove to Indy, squeezed in a cardiac cath, then drove the remaining 2 hours home. James did great, charmed all the nurses and played along and let me take a picture when one gave him a urinal with a straw to drink the water he requested.

Stripping Down

Any ideas what this is? The photo was better in theory than in practice...Part of the assignment was to remove color and then play with the tones. I perfer this one in color. But here it is in black and white with some blue removed.

Preparations

Part of the Picture Fall class. My kitchen is dark and it is difficult to get good natural light shots...especially because I usually start dinner after dark. Sunday I decided to make homemade "kitchen sink" soup. The kids call it chicken noodle. I call it kitchen sink because I throw whatever veggies, seasonings, or whatever I can find that sounds like it might be good into the pot.I also baked some Tastefully Simple Beer Bread (uh, can you say AWESOME! and the only delicious way to have a can of beer...) and some Apple Crisp. It was the perfect autumn meal.

What Remains

I am trying to participate in the Picture Fall class with Tracey Clark. There are no camera requirements, just a different topic photo each day with a few tips included. Although it started October 1st, I haven't been keeping up very well. When I have time, I will share a few here.
A couple flowers still clinging to summer:

Just Another Day

Last week I got a another birthday closer to 40. It doesn't bother me. Yet. I don't think it ever will, but who really knows for sure? To me it's just a number and I really don't feel like I thought being close to 40 would feel. Anyway, I'm past the point of having a birthday bash. And honestly, I don't think I could deal with having parties because my birthday falls on the heels of having our annual huge (and getting bigger every year) 4th of July Fireworks bash, my husband's birthday mid July and my daughter's 6 days after his. By the time I have gotten through the ordeal of her parties (because you know she has to have a slumber party AND a family cookout!), I don't want anybody coming over for at least a month (just kidding, Mom!)
My favorite birthday ever was 1999 (sounds like a Prince song...). We were a family of 3 and our son was a 15 month old toddler. We were living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with no family close by and our only friends were work friends that we didn't hang out with much outside of work. We decided to go to one of our favorite area restaurants called The Village Tavern. They sat us on the patio and soon after a live band started playing some great music. There was a wonderful breeze, the food was excellent, and my toddler son ate an entire kids' menu prime rib(!) We followed that up by going across the street to Barnes and Noble and wandering around. I bought a Thesaurus. Then we went home. That's it. But it's the birthday that holds the sweetest memory for me.
In my mind, it's another reason to keep things as simple as possible. This year, my 9 year old daughter made breakfast for me and brought it in on a tray. We hung out. My husband came home mid afternoon with flowers and put them in the crystal vase he bought me at Waterford in Ireland last year:
and a card:
A year ago, if he had bought me this card, I probably would have been really ticked off. However, we've been doing P90X and a couple workouts have this particular pose (except with arms straight up). It's a B*$@&. Actually, I feel that way about most of the workouts. However, yoga is my least favorite and makes me really really really CRANKY. So, when I saw the card, I just cracked up laughing. I love it.
The kids and I went to Borders so they could have their cocoa trios (the drink in the front) and I could have a Tazo tea and browse every craft magazine I could get my hands on.
We went to dinner at Casa Grille at 9pm and practically had the place to ourselves. The four of us laughed so much, tears were freely flowing. We headed home, took a walk, gathered camera stuff and headed out to the country to watch the Perseid Meteor Showers. We spread a couple sleeping bags on the road, and the kids and I lay down to watch. My husband set up the tripod and took photos of the sky. While he didn't catch any meteorites, he did get a decent photo of Jupiter (that really bright "star" in the center):and this really cool photo of all the stars we could see out there.
We didn't get home until after 2:30am and everyone was really tired. However, I think this one ranks very high on my favorite birthdays list.
Hope you are all having a wonderful and creative weekend.

The Start of Summer

A blogger, I don't remember which one, asked the question "when do you know it's summer?" My first thought went to fireflies because we had taken a walk that evening and it was the first we had seen of them.However, I think I need to revise my answer. Summer is so many things. But you know for sure it is summer when you see this:
The last time I was at the mall (a place I avoid as much as possible!), I noticed there was an actual elephant ear place. There. In the mall. How weird is that? Who goes to the mall to buy an elephant ear? Elephant Ears are like pumpkins. They have a "season" and that season is summer outdoor events only. Who can resist fried dough, slathered in butter, cinnamon, and sugar? Not I! However, you will NOT see me making elephant ear runs to the mall. It would be like buying a pumpkin at the mall in March. Just plain wrong, I tell ya!
Where were we that we had the opportunity to buy the first elephant ears of the season? At a fireworks display of course. If we don't watch at least 15 displays leading up to Independence Day, then summer is probably ruined (for my husband).
Today felt like what summer is supposed to be. Shopping at an outdoor art fair, having a cook out with family, firefly catching, fireworks and elephant ears, coming home from a full day smelling like sunblock and bug spray.I hope you are all having a great weekend!
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