BTW: Putting out, not just taking in

After scoring a bunch of antique store crafty treasures as well as having my pick of items from the Bead Swap USA Box #7 last week, the supply of STUFF in my craft room has definitely increased. My lack of creative motivation has been waning to an abysmal point. There's just a lot more coming into the craft room than going out. And, it won't happen either until I start transforming my hoarded treasures into wonderful works of wearable art.

With that in mind, I took a good hard look at the miscellanea on my craft desk and decided it's about time I actually made something with my baggies of goodies.
This was how I packed a bunch of my beads for vacation a few weeks ago and here they sit unpacked. It was time to do something about it.

In actuality, I started this process yesterday. Using the loose beads that were in two little bowls, I made these earrings.
I may re-work the skull ones on the bottom right. I think gunmetal may work better than the brass.

Then today I started on the bags. I picked the ones closest to me and dumped them out. They were also the two SMALLEST baggies. I didn't want to overwhelm myself.
All that goodness was just packed away.
After sorting through the above beads and moving them around on my desk, I've come up with about six different design ideas. Granted I'm still working on the first of them, but it's a move in the right direction I think.

So, what's crowding your Bead Table today?
 Join in the Bead Table Wednesday fun in the Flickr Group.

Thrifting Treasure Found at an Antique Store

I got a chance to be on my own at the end of last week and over the weekend as the hubby ventured out of town without me. It was. . .weird. I realized just how much Pat is my anchor. Without him tying me to the house, I felt like I was free-falling. Other than the need to feed the cats and fish, I felt like I didn't have any reason to be in my own home. Like I said, it was a weird feeling.

As I was floating about during those four days without my anchor, I did take the opportunity to hit up a local antique store. I thought I'd show you the treasures I found.
1. Flat-back chandelier crystal 2. Keyhole (most likely not vintage) 3. Glass pearl beads 4. Tiny glass buttons
The above are some of the smaller items I found. I was pretty stoked when I found a little section in the back of the store that had bins labeled "buttons", "button cards", "jewelry pieces", etc. Can't you just see me standing back there rummaging through those bins? Both the pearls and the buttons came from there. The crystal and the keyhole were off a hardware-type table with a variety of items.
Rhinestone buttons
These buttons were my absolute favorite find in the little bins in the back. And, I paid more than I probably should have. . .but LOOK AT THEM!!
Jewelry bits
The above rhinestone encrusted jewelry bits were also buried in the bins. Cool huh?

Miscellaneous old jewelry
 As I rounded a corner of the shop, a sandwich baggie called out to me and I was thrust toward it. No wonder, as it turned out to be a plethora of old and broken jewelry bits all for five bucks. Not too shabby! The above is what I picked out of it to keep and try to work with.
More old jewelry
Here (above) are the pieces that I decided just couldn't be bothered with. . .However, as I look at it now I see some possibilities. I guess I need to re-think this batch before I toss it in the donate bin.

All in all, it was a successful little venture of my own. I'm plenty glad Pat's back at home and that we both had a good time. Though, to be honest I know his trip was a bit more fun than my time spent here in town.

Anyway, what do you do when you have time on your hands and the freedom to go exploring on your own?

Menu Plan Monday: Getting back on the wagon

Between one out of town trip for me and two for Pat and then extended illness for both of us, we've totally gotten off track on our healthy eating. I just returned from trips to both the grocery store and the farmer's market and hope that the busting-at-the-seams fridge of healthier foods will help us get back on the wagon and keep from eating out as much. At least, that's the plan.

Breakfasts: Eggs w/toast and bananas, Juice, Cereal w/fruit, Smoothies, Cinnamon sugar twists w/fruit

Lunches: Cheese quesidillas w/spinach salad, Soft black bean tostadas (omitting the chicken), Juice, Soup w/grilled cheese, PB&J

Stuffed portobello mushrooms w/broccoli and potatoes
Lasagna roll-ups (sub soy crumbles for beef) w/salad
Szechuan-style tofu with peanuts (over jasmine rice)
Cilantro lime shrimp w/bread and salad
Mexican casserole w/corn

Focusing on Life week 8: Monochromatic

This week's prompt for Sally Russick's Focusing on Life series had me learning another feature of my camera. I haven't really messed with the features since the first week when I tried out the self timer, so I was grateful for this prompt Sally. We were to set our camera on the Monochromatic setting and click away.

I was a bit taken aback with this. Though I am a great admirer of black and white photos, I do like me lots of bright color and try to surround myself with it. Pushing that aside, I found myself just snapping pictures randomly around the house.
Asia was my first unsuspecting victim. You can tell she wasn't very amused.

With an overcast day outside and wet floors inside (I had just finished mopping) I stuck to the craft room for the rest of my attempts.
This rainbow-hued pinwheel with the button jar landscape behind it was hard to resist.

And, a bowlful of mother of pearl buttons sitting nearby may have been my favorite subject in this image quest.

But, after the buttons I thought that one of my other collections might also make a great subject in monochrome. I'm pretty sure I was right about it.

What is it about black and white that makes photos more professional looking? I'm sure to play with this setting again and again. Thanks for the push in this direction Sally!

You can see more Monochromatic images over at Sally's blog, The Studio Sublime.

Year of Jewelry Week 8: Multiples (Earrings Galore)

For this week's theme of "Multiples", I didn't have to think too hard as I already had a project in the works. A friend of mine (MUCH younger friend of mine) celebrated her 17th birthday this week. She got her ears pierced last month and had asked me to make her some earrings. So, I went on an earring-making tangent and ended up with one pair of earrings for every year of her life and one pair for good luck. I'll let her decide which ones are the lucky ones.
See. . .MULTIPLE pairs of earrings!

Since I was in a rush to get the earrings to her on her actual birthday, the above picture is the only one I got of all those earrings, but I used Photoshop to zoom in and crop that picture a little so you can see the details somewhat better.
Top left corner
Top right corner
Bottom left corner
Bottom right corner

I tried to make sure I covered the gamut of what she might want/need: a variety of colors, some dressy, some classic, school colors, variety of metals, etc. And, I assured her that if she found that she needed some other kind of earrings I would totally hop on making it for her. What do you think? Did I leave anything out?

What I received and sent for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party

Today's the day I show off the beads I received from my Bead Soup Blog Party partner, Cheryl Foiles of Get Your Bead On. As well, I'll reveal what I sent to her.

First, what she sent me. . .
Look at that awesome array of enameled treasures!! Cheryl made each of those pieces JUST FOR ME!! The colors she chose are just perfect as they offer both a bit of comfort with the blue and green as well as a challenge with the yellow. She definitely strove to make it fun for me. Now to find my muse and pin her down so I can make something that will do this outstanding soup justice.

If you want to see more of Cheryl and her fantastic talent, please go check her out here
Facebook Page:  Get Your Bead On

Now, for what I sent Cheryl. . .
Though the picture isn't great (dang glare), this is the focal and clasp that I sent to Cheryl. According to my friend at the bead store, the focal is made of a tagua nut. It's really lightweight and I just loved the spiral to it. {I even got one for myself.} The clasp is an antiqued brass toggle clasp.

I also sent  a plethora of corresponding beads including a bunch of Czech glass, brass spacers and filigree beads, wood beads, ceramic beads, glass beads, and various stone beads. In my mind, I saw them going with the focal and/or clasp in some way. I hope Cheryl sees it too.

The beads seemed to also go well with a pendant I had previously made, so I sent that along to Cheryl for good measure.

I do hope she can work with what I sent. I think that's the fun of the Bead Soup Blog Party; working with beads and findings that you might not have chosen for yourself.

Time to get my creative engine running, though it shouldn't be hard with the inspiration that is Cheryl's soup!
Check back on April 6th (the second reveal date) to see what Cheryl and I have each created.

Focusing on Life Week 7: Beauty of Flowers

I was trying my darndest NOT to take pictures of the roses in my front yard for this week's Focusing on Life prompt.

But, with overcast skies and a stuffy head, I didn't get too far from the house. Plus, when the clouds finally parted yesterday afternoon, it cast this gorgeous light on my front yard that I knew was perfect for picture-taking.
I was right wasn't I?

Now, I still find it hard to believe that I have pink roses in my front yard. I've never been a huge fan of the color pink and roses just always seem to be over-done. However, our landscapers put these in almost two years ago and there is not yet a season that they don't bloom. I LOVE that. . .seriously. I'm smitten with the fact that there are constantly flowers blooming in my yard. It's fantastic. I can overlook the fact that they're pink and that they're roses because there are FLOWERS.BLOOMING.HERE!!!
And there are lots of them!

What is it about flowers that women love so much? For me, I think it's that burst of color and the gentleness to them.
Yeah, I think Sally got it right. . .there's just something about the Beauty of Flowers.
Head over to The Studio Sublime to see what other beauties were captured on camera this week.

Year of Jewelry Week 7: Off the Cuff

There's plenty I should be saying and catching up on today, but sinus issues had me working in slow motion all week. That worked perfectly with this week's Year of Jewelry Project topic, "Off the Cuff." Initially I figured I would do a bracelet, playing off the 'cuff' of the topic. However, as the end of the week began to loom upon me, I realized that I didn't have the time or energy to learn a new skill. It works out though since the definition of Off the Cuff is "to ad-lib with little or no preparation or forethought." HA!

As this was the case, I grabbed my bowl of miscellaneous beads (leftovers from other projects), picked out some beads that seemed to blend well together, and threw this bracelet together.

It makes me happy to know I got SOMETHING accomplished this week.

This Year of Jewelry thing is really helping me push myself to get at least one item made each week and that's great. You can see more of the projects for this week's topic in the Off the Cuff facebook album.

Mardi Gras and a Menu

Y'all, tomorrow is Mardi Gras. In your neck of the woods that might not mean much, but here in South Alabama it means schools are closed, banks are closed, and lots of people are off work for the revelry that is Fat Tuesday.
"Dean", just one of the three dragons in the Mystics of Time Parade
I'm supposed to head downtown with my mom and nieces tomorrow, but I feel AWFUL right now. It's probably because I already partook in some of the revelry this past week and exposed myself to sickness of some kind while catching the loot thrown from the floats.
A sample of the haul we got the other night at the Mystic Stripers' parade
I'm trying to take today slow and steady in hopes that I'll feel up to the city-wide party in the morning. Until then it's business as usual for me. That's means it's time to share my menu for the week.

Breakfasts: Cereal, Juice, Raspberry parfaits, Oatmeal/cheese grits, Sausage w/eggs, toast & fruit, Cheese omelets

Lunches: Black bean and corn quesidillas, Juice, Grilled cheese & salad, PB&J, Turkey sandwiches

Spaghetti w/salad
Steak w/sweet potatoes & broccoli

So that's the plan. . .I think. It's a little more meat than we've been consuming, but I think we'll be okay for one week. Now, you go see what everyone else has planned for this upcoming first week of Lent over at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

I hope you enjoy your Mardi Gras tomorrow and party like a Champion.
Big Al float at the Mystic Stripers parade. Their theme was "Mascots, Southern Style"

Sorry, I  had to work in this most awesome float picture somehow!

Focusing on Life Week 6: Feel the Love

As you can probably tell from the above title, this week's prompt for Sally's Focusing on Life series was "Feel the Love." I thought about it all week and then was struck with an idea on Thursday. It's a bit of a narrative (not too, too long though.) You've got to get a feel for the back story. Stick with me.

Meet my baby kitty, Asia. (She's not really the baby of the family, but you can't tell her that.) She is my shadow.

Her second favorite place in the world is my lap.

Now meet Rosalena, our other kitty (she's actually my niece's cat but lives with Pat and me. . .details, whatev.)

Asia DOES NOT like Rosalena. In fact, she is very suspicious of her and sworn her to be her mortal enemy.

However, Asia's first favorite place in the world is a spot of sunshine.

She LOVES the sunshine so much that she would brave this situation to get a sliver.
Yup! Can you "Feel the Love"? (for the sunshine that is).

So, that's my submission for this week's Focusing on Life. Hop over to Sally's blog, The Studio Sublime, to check out how others interpreted the challenge.

Year of Jewelry Week 6 and BSBP Sneaky Peek

This week has totally been a 'cram it all in' kind of week and I fear that it's taking its toll. I just want to lay down for a while or play some video games. Wouldn't it be cool to play a video game while taking a nap? Yeah, see. . .I'm totally off-kilter right now. I may share some of this week's excitement later, but for now let me just catch up a little.

First, is my completed project for the Year of Jewelry Week 6. This week's prompt was Embrace. As soon as I read the prompt, I couldn't help but think of a hug. Seriously, a hug. I know. . .I'm 12. Anyway, it became apparent that to see this vision through, I would have to WRAP something somehow. After scrounging through my supplies, I came across a filigree butterfly and a flat-backed teal flower. Well. . .we all know how much butterflies love flowers, so this one is hugging a pretty, pretty flower.
I added some Vintaj brass chain and some teal czech glass flowers for a match made in heaven.

I think think necklace is as simple, comforting, and uncomplicated as a warm hug.

It works for me!
Check out the amazing work made by the other artists in the Year of Jewelry Facebook group for this prompt.

Also, I received my partner for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party. This time around, my partner is none other than the awesome Cheryl Foiles from Get Your Bead On. Check out her Facebook Page, Etsy Store, and Blog. I'm so very excited. I was able to get her bead soup sent out to her this morning so I thought I'd share a little peek at what she's getting. (I hope I've distorted it enough to not give away the surprise.)
I've already gotten my post scheduled for tomorrow's Focusing on Life reveal. I hope you'll be back to check it out.

January 2013 Goal Review

I guess since it's already the fifth of Februry, I should review my goals from January. Sheesh. It's like I have no respect for the calendar or something. If you are just interested in the list of goals, here's my post from last month (it includes my goal review for Decemeber, so it's kinda lengthy). This post might actually work better for you. Goals with an asterisk (*) are new goals (for this year).

Before I get started, the photos included in this post were all taken over the course of the month. Most have been edited in Instagram and re-sized in Photoshop.
This would have been a perfect picture for Sally's Focusing on Life prompt this past week, "Capture Our Hearts". Oops!

Eat right/better: I did okay overall, but most days had an "except that I ate ____" included in my record keeping. I definitely need to watch those late night cravings a little more. 
Read more books: I need to buck up and book up!! I finished one book and started two more that I'm still working on. Not quite what I had imagined. I just didn’t seem to work in enough reading time this month. 
Make a real effort to keep the house clean: My house was pretty clean overall this month. There were a couple of days where I slacked and let it get out of control, but I busted my butt to get in back in order later. I'd say it was fairly clean most of the time. YAY!!
A bike ride on the Backwoods Trail at the Greater Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.
Take better care of my face and skin: I started the month off hot and heavy with the face washing at least once a day, but that's gradually starting to drop off again. I definitely need to work on it as I'm having a pretty bad breakout right now.
Make a real effort with my blog: By my account, there were only seven days this whole past month that I didn't blog something. I'd say that's pretty darn good. It didn't feel like I posted that much as I did schedule several of my weekend posts while I was busy with other things. It really worked out for me. I should TOTALLY do that more often. However, there are several other blog-related tasks that I need to take care of (header and sidebar issues) which got no attention. So, there's work still to be done.
Be Grateful/Thankful: Blarg, I attempted several methods to work on this goal. I started by writing down at least 1-3 items in my calendar daily, but the original calendar was messed up so I had to get my new one. From there, I downloaded and app called Gratitude! to help me since I'm a bit of an app freak. I used the darn thing TWICE. This needs OH so much work!
An obligatory beach picture.
Declutter/organize at least one drawer/cabinet/area a week: I did pretty good on this and only missed one week. I'm running out of places to de-clutter though. . .except for the Craft room. I need some SERIOUS help in there. For now, I should just be happy that the rest of the house is looking pretty good. Thinking about the craft room's chaos just stresses me out.
Include more tutorials on the blog:
I kinda did one tutorial with my calendar pretty-up. But I'm hoping to get a few more in eventually. Maybe.
Continue to get published (if not published then at least submit to a few publications): I did not work much on getting published in January but found out that an item I submitted in December was accepted for Jewelry Stringing Summer 2013!! So. . .that's something. 
Some brass pieces I etched this month
Think outside of the box: I attempted a few things that were a little more 'out of the box' but not exceptional. This could use some work.
Learn to operate my nice camera better *: Other than learning how to use the self timer option on my camera, I really didn't accomplish much on this goal. The days fly by and I've got them filled with so much that I'm not sure how soon I can get to this goal. I'm hoping that Sally's Focusing on Life series does help me focus in on this goal a bit more.
I accidentally grew this onion sprout. I tried to keep it, but it didn't last the month.
Craft other items than jewelry (make 2 non-jewelry items a month) *: I got my calendar organized with just some ribbon and paper clips as well as made some backers for my jewelry. However, I really want to dive into some larger, different projects like doing some embroidering, sewing, paper crafting, etc. Again, I'm already filling my days with so much it's finding the time that's hard.
Use analytics more efficiently *:
I found a tutorial on creating goals (shared here on the blog earlier in the month) as well as played around with looking at what searches/keywords brought visitors to my blog. Somehow I need to combine those two and learn quite a bit more. 
Grow some plants inside and out: I bought a primrose at the farmer's market to replace the succulents that were there. I also had an onion sprout in my pantry that lived up there for a little while. However, that's about the extent of our plants at the moment. We've already begun discussions of what to plant in the next month or two as it warms up though.

My kitchen window a few weeks ago.
Make my visions of my dream house and this house co-exist: I've thinking more and more about getting some more stuff up on the walls, but other than getting the kitchen window looking pretty (above) at one point in the month, not much has happened on this front.
Go to the doctor/dentist: This really needs to be made a priority, I know. Yet somehow it just falls by the wayside. sigh.
Explore other venue options for selling my jewelry (in the community): I had dinner with some old friends and we talked about options/venues for me to explore. They really helped me realize that I need to get out there more. I did start looking up local craft fairs but need to do more research.
Find some confidence and exert it: There's nothing new here. I just can't seem to find it. . .yet.
This gorgeous field of dandelions was in a ditch outside a gas station/package store.
Learn to sew *: There's a place up the street that I think offers sewing lessons and I just haven't made that call. It's on the list, I look at it every day.
Learn use photoshop better *: I did make a few attempts to try some new things in the program, but just made a bigger mess. I need a tutorial I think. I know where I can find one too, but if you have any tips, feel free to share!
Start buying Christmas presents earlier in the year *: This goal is really intended for all gifts. . birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I didn't do so well with mama's birthday and Valentine's day is fast approaching also. I really need to get other "gift days of interest" entered into the infamous calendar along with reminders about the actual gifts.
Support my local bead shops and other etsy sellers more *: I have been to both Hobby Lobby and Michael's over the month but I also made purchases from Miss Fickle Media and Gaea online as well as went to Knot Just Beads in Mobile for some items. So, it had its ups and downs. In all honesty though, I did buy more online than I usually do.

I should note that the Red means I didn't do so well, Purple means needs improvement, and Blue means doing well, keep it up. There's a bit more red up there than I'd like to see, but this is just the first month for several of these. I can't work miracles in a month.
I saw this is a local establishment and laughed out loud when I spotted it!

Overall, I'm pleased with what I have done and am looking forward to this new month.
How are you doing on your goals, resolutions, and words for the year?

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...