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.


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!

Industrial Chic Reader Challenge

First, before I blah blah blah about the challenge, I want to thank everyone for stopping by and commenting on my Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal. I know I was #84, the last on the list for day 7. It is time consuming (but totally worth it!) to visit every single blog. There is still another day of soup reveals, so please go to the master list and hit everyone on the list starting at #85. If you haven't looked at any before #85, go back and look!Also, if you haven't commented on my bead soup reveal post yet, I am giving away a pair of earrings I made with leftover components for the necklace. You just have to follow my blog and leave a comment. That's it! No tweeting or facebooking, etc...unless, of course, you WANT to ;o)I am anyone else having issues with Flickr and getting photos onto Blogger? I have been struggling for a couple weeks now and it's very frustrating to say the least! They don't show up or are itty bitty barely able to be seen photos. Ugh!The Objects and Elements blog held a Reader Challenge. All you had to do was use one or more components of the Industrial Chic line by Susan Lenart Kazmer in a piece of jewelry. In case you've been living under a rock (OK, I am totally kidding! I would never tell me wonderful readers they live under rocks. That's just rude!) Michaels craft store is carrying this Industrial Chic line developed by Susan Lenart Kazmer. Every "package" is priced at $5.99 whether it has one thing or 20.Anyway, I saw the challenge, wanted to play with some of the components anyway and BONUS(!) they happened to be on sale. When the sales clerk rang me up, he said they had just gotten the Industrial Chic line in and on display the night before. So, I was probably the first customer to buy Industrial Chic at "my" Michaels. Because I am cool like that (bwahahaha!).Ok, so back to the challenge. One of my main goals when I create jewelry is to somehow use some of my glasswork. After all, that's my true passion and is how I chose the name of my business. If I don't use my glasswork in every single piece, I feel like I am cheating somehow and it makes design more challenging at times. Trust me on this one.I loved everything I picked up from Michaels. It all seems very well made, heavy duty like it can take abuse. I admit I am concerned about the materials used in the components. Nowhere does it say what anything is made of (lead free pewter? aluminum? who knows for sure?).Anyway, I played with the various components, arranged them, tried to come up with a "theme" but was at a loss. So I just picked up the bracelet blank, wrapped some chain around it, got copper wire and started wiring stuff on. After a few things, a theme came to mind...Davy Jones' Locker.If a sailor were lost at sea, what might he have on his person? Talismans? Objects from the ship? Things settling on him after he's been in the ocean a while? Who knows for sure.On this side: a game piece (surely they play board games during a long voyage at sea?), a captain's wheel looking charm, skulls (bone carved), ammonites or nautilus, pearls, a cage looking thing (I kind of thought of it as a "locker" but my dad says it could be a lobster cage), a lampwork disc bead made of Terra, one of my favorite glass colors of all time.

Davy Jones' Locker

On this side you have a compass, more pearls, ammonites (nautilus shells), another wheel looking charm, a lampwork shell bead.

Davy Jones' Locker

And on this side, you see an octopus, more shells and pearls, a mermaid from Green Girl Studios, and the book pendant represents a captain's log to me.

Davy Jones' Locker

I had a LOT of fun putting this together and it made me think outside the box (something I seem to be doing a lot of lately). What do you think of it?

Bead Soup Blog Party Big Reveal Day!

Today is the day! My partner (and also the organizer of the event) is Lori Anderson. It's been nearly a month since I shared what she sent me, so here is a reminder photo:
This is going to sound so cliche, but this exchange was a huge challenge for me. I don't work with orange, I don't definitely don't do orange and black together. I also don't generally do hearts or ginormous focals (unless it's lampwork we're talking about).
I started with the giant silver heart first. I couldn't get past how big, how many rings, how silver, and how shiny it was and knew it had to be altered in some way for me to be able to use it. At first I was thinking alchohol inks, but decided against it. I noticed the holes in the design and decided something needed to be attached to one or more holes to break up the silver. Then I used liver of sulfer to antique the silver.
The other issue...all those rings. I decided on chain and dangly bits and went for a Victorian, glam, steampunk kind of look. I cut off 2 of the rings because no matter what I did with them, I hated how it looked.
Are you ready to see it?
This really needs to be seen on a model to be appreciated, but I am not that model. It is really sexy on and where it hits the cleavage would be perfect for a low cut blouse or little black dress. But it wouldn't HAVE to be worn with a low cut outfit. It could be worn on top of a t-shirt or whatever.
So far I've only used the silver focal and most of the onyx beads from the bead soup. I've started on a piece using the carved orange beads using the inspiration word "juicy" but I'm getting tired and I know I won't get to it today. So, I will have to show it later.
Want these earrings? Leave a comment and make sure you're following this blog by clicking the follow button to the right-------->
That's it! That's all you have to do and I will draw a winner using the random number generator on Wednesday June 30th. Please make sure you check back to see if you've won.

Don't miss the amazing talent participating in this week-long blog party. It started Saturday June 19th and the last group goes tomorrow June 26th. Lori has the comprehensive list with all the links to the blogs located here. If you haven't already, you need to go look at all the goodies. It's so fun to see how each designer took the ingredients they were given and utilized them. Most of the time it is probably completely different than the person sending the bead soup imagined it. That is part of what makes this such a cool thing to do.

I Love the Man in Brown

Because he brought me the goodies I ordered for enameling on copper. isn't all just for enameling. But if I wanted enamel discs larger than 1/2" diameter, I needed a larger disc cutter. If I wanted to be able to dap larger shapes cut with a saw, I needed larger dapping tools. It really is never ending! But now I'm set up for a little while at least.The reason I "needed" all this stuff? Because I want to continue making cool stuff like this necklace I made in the Susan Lenart Kazmer class.

Lampwork Beaded Jewelry fit for Aliens

I did not forget I promised to show the completed projects from the class I took with Sara Sally LaGrand at Bead and Button. Here they are. Day 1 we made the beads. Day 2 we assembled a corsage brooch of sorts (it makes me think of a corsage an alien might wear) Flickr doesn't cooperate with me very well any more, so try clicking the image to be taken to a larger picture. Or click here to be taken to my Bead and Button photo album.
After we completed the brooch, we started on a neckpiece. We created an armature and wove a thin wire to create that really neat pattern and texture and added in the elements as we wove the wire.
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