Prepping for the HumbleBeads Muffin Tin Jewelry Challenge

Heather Powers of HumbleBeads has issued another Muffin Tin Jewelry Challenge. The premise of this challenge is simple, fill a six or twelve cup muffin tin with the supplies to make 6-12 pieces of jewelry, make jewelry, take pictures, and reveal. I participated in the 2011 Muffin Tin Challenge also and really enjoyed it, so I thought this would be a fun project as the new year begins.

I also decided to jump on board with this challenge because it's been weeks since I've touched my beads and I needed a kick in the pants like this. Since I'm still smitten with my new video camera, I made a video of how I've prepped and gathered my beads. Let me warn you, this video is not the greatest - I just couldn't find my words at all. I decided to share anyway. If you'd rather not watch the video, no worries - I've got pictures of my prepped tins below the video.

Let me also mention that in the 2011 challenge, I used a single 12 cup muffin tin. I cannot locate that tin for this go-round. I think I might actually be using it for muffins. Go figure. Anyway, here are my tins. You should be able to click on them for a larger view.
Both tins, side by side
Muffin Tin #1 (Earring Tin)
Muffin Tin #2 (Bracelet and Necklaces Tin)
Now to get to work since the reveal is January 4th. I hope these turn out as well as many of the ones in the last challenge. Are you joining in this challenge or challenging yourself to start the year off with any certain projects?

Getting Back on Track with Meal Planning

It's been weeks since I last shared my menu. This has been due mostly to being sick, but the holidays made everything wonky too. I'm so relieved to be feeling better and am looking forward to welcoming in the new year with better health and a plan, at least a meal plan in any case!

Breakfasts: Waffles; cereal; Bacon w/eggs, toast, & fruit, Muffins, Omelets

Lunches: PB&J, Soup w/grilled cheese, Tuna noodles, Turkey sandwiches, Cheese quesidillas, Calzones, Bean burritoes

Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce w/mashed potatoes and broccoli
Ham steaks w/field peas & spinach salad
School soup (from freezer)

What's on your menu this week?

An Art Journal Video and Plea for Suggestions

So, Pat gave me a video camera for Christmas (yay!) I was able to play around with it some yesterday afternoon while I art journaled. Then I worked on learning how to edit, add music and text, and then upload the video. It was more of a process than I imagined, but I'm pleased as punch with myself. As such, I want to share the video with you. Here it is.

I do plan on doing more videos with a variety of topics: jewelry, art journaling, other crafty endeavors, and whatever comes to mind. However, I know I need to up my game with the whole process. So, if you've got any tips, tricks, suggestions, or even ideas of what you want me to share, please don't hesitate to let me know! This is uncharted territory and I'm pretty excited to explore!

Oh, and so that you can enlarge the photo, here's the finished product that you can click on for a larger image.
Please, please let me know what you think!

Surprise Pull-out Cards Gift Tin

I didn't mention it in my last post, but I want to apologize for my absence here lately. I ended up having my gallbladder removed and have been recovering and catching up on some Christmas to-dos.

In addition to surgery and recovery, I made a quick trip up to Atlanta: part of the reason I pushed to have the surgery ASAP. The trip was an early, surprise Christmas gift to my oldest niece from my mom, grandmother, and step-father. I was put in charge of figuring out how to spring the surprise on her. My mom made all the arrangements for us to do it at the school. She also arranged it with my niece's best friend's mom (so that she would also be surprised and go with us.) The gift was tickets to the Star 94 Jingle Jam where Lindsey Stirling was performing. Lindsey is an accomplished violinist and one of my niece's favorite performers. I want to show you what I made to surprise her. (At the end of the post is a video of the surprise!)
Start with some basic 4x6 index cards and spray the back (unlined) side with colors of your choosing. I used Dylusions inks in cut grass (green) and postbox red for a festive, Christmas-y feel.
Ink the edges of the card with Distress Ink in a contrasting color. Then, write your message with a permanent marker, outline with a white Uniball Signo pen, and accent the inside with a Gelly Roll Stardust glitter pen.
Flip the cards over and use double-sided tape to attach ribbon in a line down them. Make sure to leave a little room between the cards.
For the pull tab, punch a large, symmetrical shape from a blank card. Spray and distress the punched paper in the same manner as above. Fold the shape in half, making sure to write along the folded edge "PULL" with your marker. Outline and accent the letters in the same manner as above. Put double-sided tape on both sides of the inside of the folded paper and insert a short length (2-3 inches) of ribbon into the inside before pressing shut. Attach the other end of the ribbon to the backside of the top card.
To cover up the messy backsides of the cards, place more double-sided tape around the perimeter of the cards. Press another card, lined side down, to the backs.
Decorate the backs with stamps or any other way you wish (or leave them blank if the stark white doesn't bother you.)
Use a tin or other container that the cards will fit inside. I found this one at the Dollar Tree. It was a little too deep, so I just stuffed some paper into the bottom to make the cards sit at the top of the box. 
Make sure the top card is visible, then fold the other cards under it before placing them in the box. Ensure the pull tab is also front and center.
Once your cards are in the tin, it's all about the surprise.

The girls were giddy all the way to Atlanta. The video doesn't so their excitement justice. The reality of what was happening didn't quite sink in initially. Here they are at the show, all smiles.

And, here's my niece with the string of cards - wearing her new Lindsey Stirling t-shirt.

I hope you enjoyed this little surprise and that your Christmas and holiday season are full of smiles, fun, and lots of surprises too!

Southern Bloggers Jubilee Met at the Grand Hotel

Almost two weeks ago I had another fun Southern Bloggers Jubilee meeting with a group of fabulous ladies. Our meeting location this month was at the beautiful Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. I just had to snap a ton of pictures to share how lovely this location is, especially during Christmas.
Gorgeous stained glass and wood doors greet you as you enter the lobby.
The entrance and check-in area was decorated to the nines.
Up a few stairs, you enter a cozy, lodge-like great room with lots of seating.
There, I also marveled over the grand Christmas tree just next to the warmth of the fireplace.
As well, there was a corner set up and waiting for Santa's arrival.
The other bloggers and I met in Bucky's Birdcage Lounge with a view of Mobile Bay.
While the other ladies were able to linger for lunch, I wasn't able to stay for what I heard was a delicious meal. I did take a peek in the dining room to check out their gingerbread replica of the Grand Hotel's grounds, complete with a working train. (Mind you there is no train that I know of at the hotel, the train just seemed to complete the gingerbread scene.)
I did take my time strolling back to my car and taking in the scenery.
I took another peek at the Bay,
enjoyed the dappled December sunlight on this ivy-lined path,
and couldn't help but marvel at the great oaks even in the parking lot.
Everywhere I went on my visit to the Grand Hotel, I was greeted in a genuinely warm manner. Every staff person I encountered had a smile and kind words. There was a true and welcoming feeling of Southern Hospitality throughout the resort. It really helped me find a little more of the Christmas spirit I needed.

Thanks to the Grand Hotel Point Clear for hosting our meeting.

Make sure to check out the sites of my fellow members in attendance at December's Southen Bloggers Jubilee:

Happy Holidays y'all!

Whoops Blog Hop

For the last issue of ZnetShows' Creative Spark magazine, Cynthia Machata (Of Antiquity Travelers) picked out some beautiful gray pearls from ZnetShows' huge Glass Pearl selection. (Huge is a key word here. . .) Cynthia openly admits that she has trouble with measurements so when the 16mm pearls arrived and were so large, she was surprised. Whoops!
After creating her design for the magazine, Cynthia realized that she was challenged by the size and would likely not use up both strands of the beads on her own. Instead of just shelving the beads, she e-mailed several bead bloggy friends and asked if they would be interested in working with her "Whoops" beads. I was included in that list. I'll admit that the size of the beads and my limited time had me hesitant to join the challenge. However since I do love a good challenge, I decided to play along.

The beads are definitely larger than what I'm used to working with too, but that didn't stop me from coming up with design ideas. Actually, I had my own "Whoops" as I initially envisioned using one of these big, beautiful beads as the focal for a statement ring. It definitely would have been gorgeous too, if I had ANY skill at making rings with wire. Alas, it didn't turn out at all as I had envisioned and was soon cut apart for my next idea.

In working toward my next design idea, I was happy to discover that I had a stockpile of 4mm pearls in the same gray color and some 6mm glass pearls in dark gray, both from I planned to pair the pearls with silvertone chain. However, while picking out the silvertone chain, I was drawn to a length of gunmetal chain and couldn't resist taking it home too. Once home, it was obvious that the gunmetal chain was the way to go. Vintaj 24g Arte Metal wire was then used to connect the pearls to each other and the chain. Here are my results.
I used all the pearls from Cynthia in this necklace. I know it's also a little simple for my usual style. While I wanted to incorporate something a little more.  . . upcycled  (like the pieces Christine sent me), these pearls really make their own statement so I left them alone.

I'm glad that I jumped on board with this challenge because the end product turned out so beautifully. I'm anxious to see what the other participants did with their large pearls. You can check it out too by following these links.

Thank you Cynthia for including me. It was that perfect balance of a challenge and inspiration.
I hope all of you like what I made, but would love to hear what you think either way.

Short Blog Break

While y'all probably haven't even noticed my absence, I feel compelled to pop in tell you I'm not feeling well. I don't think it's anything too serious, just bothersome right now. As such, every task I have on my to do list feels like the weight of the world for some reason. In addition, we lost a dear family member this week, my great-uncle. So my world seems turned upside down in so many respects. As such, I think I'm taking a wee bit-o-bloggy-break while I try to wrap my head around everything.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to take care of myself, my family, and my to do list (hopefully). Please take a minute to stop by on Sunday and I'll be revealing what I've made as part of a Whoops! Blog Hop. (I'll explain on Sunday)
Thanks y'all.

Jewelry for Upcycling and True Generosity

On Friday I stepped out the front door to find a big, heavy box on the front porch with my name on it. At first I was confused because I knew I hadn't ordered anything, and it was too heavy to be journaling 'happy mail'. It all became clear when I saw whose name was on the return label, my friend, Christine of One Kiss Creations!

She had mentioned a while back that she was gathering up some items for me. I didn't think much of it really, other than "How sweet of her!" However, the weight of the box told me it was much more than I had imagined.

Jeez Louise!! Look at all that bounty and beauty. I've got lots of pictures of what Christine shared with me so I'll try to keep my words to a minimum (TRY is the key word here, because it's hard for me not to exclaim and gush over all this awesomeness.) Oh, and clicking on the pictures should open a larger image for you.

There were TEN baggies jammed into the box
Here are the first two baggies I opened
A little closer look at some of the goodies
Baggies three and four held whole necklaces and loose beads with a few pendants
Baggie five contained several seed beads necklaces, while baggie six was full of loose beads
These little. . .gnomes/trolls/pixies caught my attention for sure. They are each clasping a quartz crystal
Baggie seven was full of chain in various forms
This glass pearl and rhinestone bracelet made me gasp at its beauty!
The eighth bag held various necklaces and an envelope of plastic pearls (love the ephemera)
In the ninth bag, I found a variety of jewelry and beads.
I purposely saved this bag for last as I knew it would be my favorite.
It was full of misc. jewelry findings, earrings, and pendants.
Almost all of it is something I know I can find a use for.
Look at all the sparkle and shine. How Christine parted with these, I'll never know.
Christine let me know in a sweet note (involving a dream she had about me) that I could do anything I wanted with her gift: use it, pass it on, donate it, toss it (WHAT!?). So, I've since gone though the baggies a second time to sort out what I know I won't use from what I could possibly use.

I swear, just sifting through these pretties was a rockin' good time. I've made a few piles of what to keep, not keep, and pass to a friend. Next will be dissembling and sorting by type. Oh, what fun you've blessed me with, Christine.

I don't even know how I'll ever say thank you enough for this truly generous gift. Christine makes some beautiful creations using seed beads and bead weaving, a skill I just don't have. I do recommend that you go check out Christine's blog, One Kiss Creations; follow One Kiss Creations on Pinterest;  and become a fan of the One Kiss Creations Facebook Page!

Thank you Christine for your generosity, kindness, and friendship. I feel truly blessed.

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...