The Sun'll Come Out . . . and So It Did

Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers for my grandmother and Mother-in-law after my post yesterday. As the day wore on, the clouds (figuratively and literally) began to part and everything seemed a little brighter.
Mawmaw was able to get around the house some. As well, Pat and I were able to visit mom. She looked so much better than either of us expected. Wonderful!

In addition to all that good news, I was able to get my craft desk cleaned off and actually focus enough to get some work done.

While I know that I haven't put anything in the shop in a while, I assure you that I have been creating. I have a basket of items that just need pictures and descriptions. I even completed a few items this week amid all the other drama (shopping included.) Take a look at these three pieces.

As well, there are still a few works in progress on my desk that I plan on tackling just as soon as I get done here.
Since I've barely made a dent in my blog feed reader, I have no more Halloween links (though the absence of them is a little eerie isn't it, bwahahaha [that's supposed to be my evil laugh.]) ANYWAY. . .Instead, here are just a few other links that I've been saving up. Perhaps I can get back to a regular link posting schedule (whatever that is.) soon :
  • Parrot surfing, that's all I'm gonna say. You just have to see it for yourself!
  • Back to the Future was probably one of my favorite movies as a pre-teen. I had a SERIOUS crush on Michael J Fox. I love seeing him in this video doing so well, despite his Parkinsons. This is one of the best interviews I've seen of him in a while. Makes me happy.
  • Clear clutter with a station for transient items. 
  • And in the spirit of Halloween, check out this childhood fears photography set. WARNING, these are pretty freaky and disturbing. A few of them actually bother me a little. Please pay head if you do not like scary images. However, that being said, they are still wickedly awesome.
 Now to get to work on those other items and eventually take pictures and maybe even list some stuff in the Crafty Hope Etsy Shop. Anyway, one thing at a time.
I'll leave you with wishes for a
Happy Halloween
May all your Trick-or-treat bags be filled with chocolate and not toothbrushes!

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger (or so 'they' say)

Yesterday was rougher that I thought it was going to be. When I wrote the blogiversary post, I knew that my Mother-in-law was in the hospital for some tests and that my grandmother (mawmaw) had some pain in one of her feet so my mom had her at the doctor. Shortly after I finished the post, all hell broke loose. A blood clot was found in mawmaw's OTHER foot and it was expected that she was going to have to stay at the hospital for a few days. I headed to Mobile to help my step-father take care of my nieces (dinner, homework, etc.) Eventually, it was determined that mawmaw would NOT have to stay in the hospital and was back home getting nursed just in time for the dinner I had thrown together (Stouffers to the rescue!) Meanwhile, on my side of the bay, Pat's mom was getting prepped for BYPASS SURGERY for a blood clot right near her heart. I was torn about where I needed to be. I ended up staying in Mobile and learned that mom came through the surgery with flying colors. Pat, dad, and my siblings-in-law were able to go back and see her before they all headed home for the night. Shortly after that, I headed home myself. Of course, I was slowed and delayed by the torrential rainstorm Mobile was getting.

This morning, the sky reflects my mood. Or, perhaps (more likely) my mood is influenced by the gray, damp, misty day. Blah!
I am going to take the opportunity to be thankful for the blessings I do have: family, home, love. And, I am going to make the most of the day (dreary or not) by creating some jewelry.

First, I'll need to clear off the messy craft desk/work surface.

It'll make me feel better to have a clean surface to work on and it will 'go with' the other clean(er) areas of the craft room. Yesterday morning I tackled the craft cubes. They started off looking like this:

And before long, I had them looking like this:
While it's not a picture of perfection, the loss of chaos makes me breathe a little easier.

Before I go, here are the last bit of Halloween ideas and links I have to share. Of course, there's always the possibility I'll find more later (especially since I'm WAY BEHIND in my blog-reading.) For now, enjoy!
Alrighty, looks like I've delayed cleaning off that craft desk long enough. I better get to work.
As well, continued thoughts and prayers for both my families is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A Blogiversary! For ME?

Apparently, today is my three-year Blogiversary. . .

Some days it feels like I have been blogging for at least that long, and at other times it feels like I am still a newbie. I know I don't have many followers, I know I still have plenty to learn, I know I WILL keep trudging along.

I'm constantly over-analyzing why I want to have and write a blog, what I want it to be about, and what my voice for it should be. But, after three years, I think it's too late. It is what it is. I don't want to start another blog with another focus. I tried that and had way too hard of a time focusing on the two. One is plenty. Sure, it's part journal, part craft, part link sharing, part meal-planning and recipes, and all the other randomness I throw in the mix; but it's ALL ME!! I'm all-over-the-place just like this blog is. So, on my third blogiversary, I'm just going to embrace this blog (figuratively of course) for what it is. . .an extension of me. I hope you like us and keep coming back for more. Of course, the blog will continue to evolve and grow just like I try to do.

It goes without saying that you, as a reader of this blog, may have some input or insight or desire to see something ELSE or something MORE here. I welcome your ideas! Seriously!! I want to know what you come here to see/read. I can't promise that you'll see more of that. But, I can promise that I will take it into consideration. So let me know: do you want to see more of my jewelry, more tutorials, more crazy links, more recipes and meal plans, more pictures of the area, more on how I organize the craft room, or some other topic that I've taken off on a tangent before. Please let me know.

Otherwise, I'm just going to keep rambling on and on!! Thanks for coming back, no matter what the reason is! I appreciate you!

Oh - and if you want proof that it's been THREE WHOLE YEARS, here's a link to my very first post. I think I've gotten a little better at this blogging thing. . . maybe.

I've Got a Passion for Fashion

Let me start by saying that I had a whole post planned in my head that I was going to entitle "Waking Up." It was going to be all about how I want to live my life now that I'm in my MID-THIRTIES!! Of course, my 'resolutions' are all the same old, same old ones: wake up on time, lose weight, eat healthy, keep the house clean, blah, blah, blahhhhh. But, since I started off the first two days of thirty-five with a big ole FAIL on those goals, I'll bypass that whole post for you. . . .you're welcome!
Instead, let's discuss what I did instead. Obviously, I slept late and let the housework pile up. But, I also got to enjoy my birthDAY with my family followed by some bead shopping. Then, I spent all of yesterday buying much needed NEW CLOTHES.
If you know me at all, you know my clothes. I tend to wear the same things OVER and OVER. Everything I own is a version of something else I own. Of course, each item has it's own special stains and tears and holes and such. As such, my dear, sweet husband gave me just what I asked for, a big fat check to cash at the bank and spend at the stores. So, I spent ALL DAY at the local outlet stores and at Target stocking up on some new clothes.
My favorite purchase? These!!

Overall, I'm trying to branch out of my style rut of a t-shirt and some basic bottom (jeans or a cotton skirt). Instead, I want to add layers and texture to my wardrobe. I hope I've done that with the new pieces. We'll see if I fall back on my old ways, but I really want to push myself to dress in a manner that's more the way I feel and the way I want to be perceived, not just the way people expect.

However, before I went shopping I wanted to have some idea of what I wanted to buy. So, I browsed through Wardrobe ReMix on Flickr for fashion inspiration. I think it worked, because I don't seem to have any buyer's remorse today like I thought I would. I'm just hoping that the new clothes and my old standbys will work well together. So far, so good though! Do you have any sites you turn to for fashion/style ideas? I'd LOVE to know!!

As you can tell, with all the birthday shopping fun I also didn't get a meal plan made. I will be making a condensed one for the remainder of the week, but that'll just be for me. Sorry!

So, I think I've droned on about myself long enough. Let me share some more Halloween links (it's almost here!!)
That's it. But, I am serious that I would love to know what sites, places, magazine you turn to for fashion ideas. I understand that this is a weird question coming from a jewelry designer, but I would really like to know.

Looking for Inspiration, It's Not Under That Cluttered Stack

Today's been one of those lack-of-inspiration days. It could be because I stayed out late at my mom's (helping the nieces make these uber cool Halloween cakes for a contest at school today). It could be because I'm looking forward to hanging out tonight with at least one of my best friends for my birthday. It could be because my craft room is again a disaster.
I decided to go with the last one and tackle the chaos that is the side table.

Just look at the piles and havoc that are reigning one little corner.
 Now it's SO MUCH better.
However, I'm still not feeling a total inspiration groove. So I'm asking, What do you do to find inspiration? Please leave me some suggestions in the comments.

Now for a few Halloween ideas:
OH, and here's the other side of the pendant from the top of the post.

Have a great weekend, I know I'm going to try to do the same!

Counting My Blessings and Thrfty Thursday is Back

This week's been really hard for me and I can't quite put my finger on why that is.
Mostly, I think it's because of my upcoming birthday. While I LOVE birthdays (attention, presents, etc), I don't really like getting older. It reminds me of all the unfinished pieces of my life, all the unmet goals, the lack of having my own children, the loss I've experienced over the years, yada yada yada. However, while I could be happy-ER, I'm currently the happiest I've ever been. So, as I approach another significant birthday (35!! oh my!), I'm going to keep reminding myself of how lucky I really AM; what I DO HAVE and NOT what I lack.
Sorry for the whine-fest, but I needed to get that out. OKAY!

Next up. . .

It's a Thursday, and you may remember my weekly Thrifty Thursday posts. I have been saving a few items to share with you and I think I'll start with my most favorite, most USED piece.

When I found this swivel-caddy-thing for TWO BUCKS at the thrift store I snatched it up (throwing the kitchen utensils that were in it ALL OVER the display table in the process) I don't know what it's original purpose was, but I knew EXACTLY what I was going to make it.
Fortunately, I still had some black spray paint at the house; so it was easy enough to unscrew the whole thing and hose it down with paint in the back yard.

Once it dried, I piled all my pliers and scissors in the holes (if you can believe it I've now got even MORE stuff in it.) It sits on the craft desk and receives regular attention from me.

It was one of the best thrift-store-scores I've ever made.

Speaking of re-purposed items, here are the newest items listed in my shop- they used to just be plain old hardware store washers.
Purple Power Earrings

I've also got a few Thrifty Thursday links to share:

And, FINALLY, some Halloween goodness (it's sneaking up on us isn't it?)
That about does me in for today. I've got to get back to the craft table. There are a few collages waiting to be soldered. Man, I love melting metal!!

Meal Plan Oct 18 and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

~First, if you are here to see my creation for Lorelei's Reader Challenge, click to go to my Jewelry Challenge Reveal page. ~

Let me admit that NONE of last week's menu was accomplished. Me being sick = no grocery shopping = no groceries = no cooking = not following the meal plan. I promise to try to do better this week. However, I'm not being overly adventurous with the plan. My man's now sick, and I want to fill him with comfort food.

I got a hankering for some homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on Saturday and finally broke down and and made them. Per a few Facebook requests, I've included the recipe for them at the end of this post.

But first, the menu. Remember to head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for other Menu Plan Monday ideas!

B: Eggs, bacon, toast
L: Leftovers
D: Grilled Chicken, mixed veggies (frozen), mac-n-cheese

B: Cereal
L: Chicken salad rollups, apple
D: Spaghetti, green salad

B: Muffins
L: Cheese quesidillas, salsa, fruit
D: Hope w/nieces (Pat on own)

B: Cereal
L: PB&J, crackers, fruit
D: Pork loin, green beans, long grain and wild rice

B: Pumpkin bread
L: Chicken tenders, tator tots
D: Mexican and/or going away party for friends

B: Omelets
L: Hot dogs, fruit
D: Crockpot Ham, yellow rice, peas

SUNDAY - I refuse to do any cooking, it's my birthday!

And with that, I'll leave you with my FAVORITE cookie recipe

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C Shortening
1 C Brown sugar
1 C White sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/4 C Flour
1 t Baking soda
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t vanilla
3 C Oats
6 oz Chocolate Chips (optional)
(optional - coconut [about 1/4 C]) - I use this just to make the cookies a little more chewy, I like chewy

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine shortening, both sugars, and eggs; beat until creamy
2. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix thoroughly
3. Stir in vanilla, oats, chocolate chips, and coconut
4. Drop dough onto cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until done
5. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies. Try not to consume them all in one day!

Another Fall Weekend Slipped Through Our Fingers

**If you're here to see what I made for Lorelei's Reader's Challenge, scroll down**

Wouldn't you know it. . . just as I'm starting to feel better, Pat catches it. Darn germs!!
Hopefully it works its way through his system faster than mine. I hate for him to be sick more than I hate for myself to be, I think. . .
Even though he just started feeling it Sunday morning, we still had a pretty laid back weekend - he played in the band on Friday, we football-ed it most of Saturday, and then a lazy day at the house on Sunday (especially since his symptoms really started to kick in.)
It's a shame that we secluded ourselves inside all weekend when the weather outside was pretty close to perfect. I'm going to push myself to try to spend some time with nature this week (even if it's just out on the sun porch.) And that sounds so weird for some of you I'm sure since my next topic is All Hallow's Eve!!

In any case, since Halloween is less than two weeks away, I've marked down the related items in my shop. YES! Halloween Jewelry in the CratyHope Shop is 25% off!! Here are the items that are currently still available.
Pumpkin Perch Bracelet - Now $11.25
Drop By This Halloween Necklace - Now $18.75
Scaredy Cat Halloween Necklace - Now $22.50
Don't let these deals pass you by!! ;)

Now, with Halloween on the brain, let me go ahead and share some more fun Halloween ideas and links with you:
That's all for now, but keep in mind that my Monday Meal Plan will be up later today with a requested recipe, so stay tuned!!

Jewelry Challenge Reveal Day

Last week I mentioned the Jewelry Challenge that the talented and lovely Lorelei posed to her blog readers. As I mentioned, I signed myself up for the challenge and today is the reveal of our necklaces.

Once I found all the sets of beads (only having to substitute the black cinnabar for the brown she chose), I laid out the strands and let my creativity go to work. I even slept on it, knowing that some of my best inspiration comes in that period between sleep and wake (I'm weird, I know.)

While the beads seemed to flow together easily, the challenge for me was to work the white chain into my design. As part of the rules, we could use any two other types of beads, any clasp, and any focal.
I ended up only using one other bead type, white freshwater pearls. The clasp is a flower/leaf toggle. For the focal, I decided to do what I do best and made a soldered collage pendant to compliment the colors of the beads Lorelei chose.
And this is what I produced.

Now that you've seen mine, below is a complete list of links to the other designers who played along with this challenge. Hop on over to their blogs and see how our designs differ with the same materials. I know I can't wait to see them all!

As well, please visit Lorelei's blog to see pictures of what she and some other designers (without blogs) also created. How fun is this!!??

Mary Harding
Hilary of Fryestyle
For My Sweet Daughter
My Life Under the Bus
Kristie of DreamSomeDesigns
Linda's Bead Blog & Meanderings
Copper Diem

Andrew Thornton
Raida of HavanaBeads
Erin of Treasuresfound
Molly of BeautifullyBrokenMe
Beading by Malin de Koning

Deborah M Purdy
Spirited Earth

Erin Siegel Jewelry
beads by breul
Beads for Busy Gals
Cynths Blog
Nayas Organized Chaos
Crafty Hope
2 catch a hummingbird

Rosebud For the Love of Beads
Jamberry Song
Peacock Fairy
Elysian Studio Art
Designs by Debi
sweet girl design

Silver Rose Designs
Tropic Beads
Imaginative Jewelry
Magnolia Attic
I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to Lorelei for hosting this challenge and blog hop. I really had a lot of fun using materials I didn't pick out to fuel my creativity. Thanks so much, now get your booty over to those other blogs!

Catching Up

First and foremost, some of you may have seen a partial post yesterday. I do apologize for any confusion.
These are the beautiful roses my dear husband sent me for our anniversary. It was a surprise and a wonderful one at that (I do love surprises!)

I'm so behind in everything right now I'm a little amazed that I'm even posting right now. My head is starting to clear, the coughing has lessened, and I'm pretty sure my motivation has picked back up. Hopefully, the crud is starting to dissipate!! Of course, I need to take youngest niece to the dentist today to have some teeth removed. That'll be loads of fun! I'm just glad I'm feeling better in order to do it.

Of course, I have gotten a few things done since I've been ill

I listed a new item in the shop:
Buttons in Black Necklace

I made a spooky floating ghost for my foyer

I finished all the current books in the House of Night series (yes, it's another collection of teen vampire novels.) The series itself is alright. I did get a little peeved with the writing and editing throughout the books. However, the story is pretty good, that's why I trudged through and read all of them.

Since I am feeling better, I really do have a lot to get done today (my house is in desperate need of some attention) before I go get littlest miss from school.
I'll leave you with some more Halloween crafts:

OH!! And, here's a picture of my foyer Halloween display (sorry the picture's so bad, there's no natural light in there)

Like Links in a Chain, So are the Days of Our Lives (or something like that anyway)

So, I apologize for the sappiness of the last post. But, it HAD to be done. Of course, as soon as I put it up, I RAN into the other room to beg that my dear, sweet husband not be upset that I not only posted ABOUT HIM, but that I included pictures OF HIM!!!  He's kinda private and shy like that.
He did go read the post and even seemed to appreciate it (wink, wink.)
So, I think I'm forgiven.

Since I'm still battling a bit of this change-of-the-seasons crud cold and really want to try to accomplish something in the craft room, something has to give. As such, today you get links (and no pictures, sorry!!)
First, some random I-found-this-on-the-internet-and-want-to-share links
  • Geocities-izer: makes ANY website look like it was made in 1996 or so. It reminds me of the good OLD days of the internet when everything had to have movement and too much color and sound. So it stands to reason that they all came with the added plus of vertigo . . .
  • Crayons carved into the 12 Chinese zodiac symbols. If you've been around much, you know how much I love crayons, so this kicks butt!
  • Your next read recommends what book you should read next. I'm constantly looking for a tool like this as I'm always on the lookout for a good book.
Next, some crafty links . . .and Halloween Crafty Links at that!!
That's it. That's all I got in me today. Check back tomorrow for more, hopefully much more, from me.

We Met in a Bar, He Was in the Band

It sounds like a cliche, but there's so much more to it than that.
The "band" was actually some of my friends from high school whose shows I always tried to make it to, and HE was the new guitar player.
During the break, I went over to him and introduced myself, "Hi! My name's Hope. I'm friends with Chris and Andy, and I think you're awesome."  (yup, I was a big-ol-dork!)
At the time, I just thought he was an awesome guitar player. Over several months I would learn that he was a generally AWESOME GUY!
I was oblivious to the hints that he wanted to date me. And, I saw him just about every weekend playing in the band. Finally, after eight months of knowing him, I realized I wanted to get to know him better.
That was twelve years ago, and today. . .Today we celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary!!
Pat, I'm so very glad I finally 'clued in.' You ARE the man of my dreams, the love of my life, my soul mate. I'm looking forward to the rest of our lives together baby.

Meal Plan Oct 11 and Easy, Microwave Scalloped Potato Recipe

Last week's menu was a success, at least the dinners were. The Parmesan sage pork chops went over quite well as did the mac-n-cheese with Conecuh sausage. What also went over well were the potatoes I made to go with the pork chops. For those, I went with was easy, microwaved scalloped potatoes, a recipe my grandmother shared with me may years ago. Below this week's menu you'll find my instructions for these potatoes.

As far as this week's menu, we are repeating a bunch of the lunches from last week since we didn't get to them. Instead, we ate leftovers (we really did love the menu last week), and then I got sick (causing the menu to get left in the dust.) Since I am still sickly, the menu for this week is rather lazy as well. I do apologize!!

You can find other menus over at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for this week!
Here's mine:
B: Cereal
L: Bean burritos
D: Ham and Potato Soup

B: Muffins
L: Turkey Sandwiches
D: Our anniversary (out to eat)

B: Cereal
L: Tuna Noodles
D: Hamburger Helper, green beans

B: Omelets
L: Ham and Cheese quesidillas
D:  Hope in Mobile

B: Cereal
L: Soup and grilled cheese
D: Pat has a gig

B: Pumpkin bread
L: Pizza
D: Rotisserie Chicken, Mashed potatoes, peas

B: Eggs, bacon, toast
L: Chicken salad roll-up
D: Spaghetti

Now for the instruction on those yummy potatoes
Easy, Microwave Scalloped Potatoes
Potatoes (any kind, I like red ones myself)
Salt & Pepper
Granulated Garlic

1. Wash potatoes, then slice them and the onions as thin as possible
2. Place one layer of potatoes in bottom of microwave safe casserole dish
3. Top the layer with slices of onions, pats of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic.
4. Repeat layers of potatoes and onions/spices until you reach the top of the dish. Before adding the onions/spices to the top layer; pour about 1/4 cup of milk over the whole thing.
5. Place dish in the microwave and heat for about 10 minutes (less if you are using a small casserole dish.) If potatoes are not done at ten minutes, continue to heat and check in one minute increments until done.

*Cheese and other spices can easily be added to this dish to make it to your own taste

So that's it for today. I'm going to get back to nursing my cold and trying to get back up to speed. Here's hoping!

Winding down the 100DayProject

I awoke the other day with many thoughts about the 100 Day project and decided to jot them down here to share with you. Some of the bits I g...