Garden and Property Progress

I've never had a green thumb nor have I ever enjoyed yard work. Yet, here I am on five acres, trying to do the whole "homestead-thing". I have to admit that having a pool really encourages my willingness to get out and work in the yard. We simply throw on our swimsuits and start on the latest outdoor project. When we get too hot to continue, a jump in the pool cools us down before we get back to work. It's a miracle, my aversion to yard work has been cured! (I just needed a little liquid therapy.)
Here you can see some of the progress we've made on the overgrowth. Pay no attention to the purple sky in the top photo, I had to get it from the video
When we bought the place, the property was overrun with jasmine, air potatoes, wisteria, and other invasive plants. You can definitely see that in my initial video tour of the pool and property.  Since we wanted to plant fruits and vegetables, we knew that getting rid of the overgrowth and vines was a priority.  After working to clear some areas, we finally started our raised bed garden in November. While the majority of the plants never really did much of anything, there was actually a little success with the salad mix. We're still waiting for the carrots, onions, and garlic to ripen.

Just about every weekend since it's gotten warm again, we've worked a little more on the property. The past several weekends have been particularly productive.

I knew there was some kind of vegetation in the compost pile, but didn't really pay much attention to it until it started blooming. At that point, we realized we had grape tomatoes growing. So, they were transplanted to the raised beds with the hope that they would make it. Five plants were moved, and they seem to be doing well after a few initial days of droop-age. In fact, one of them has several branches of tomatoes already popping out.
How about them tomatoes?

We also transplanted a few agave plants that were left here in plastic containers, dumped over. Fortunately, there were also several nice planters in the pool area.

AND, I discovered that the annoying grape vines growing all over the edges of the property will actually bear fruit! So, they can stay for the time being.
These are muscadine grapes and should ripen sometime in September.
After that, we decided to actually pick out and plant the food to we want to grow. So, off to the local feed-n-seed we went. It didn't take long to place what we chose in the dirt.
More tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, and jalapenos were put in the last raised bed.
Cucumbers, beans, and zucchini went in pots placed along the trellis.  
Two found (on property) concrete planters were used to plant an herb garden mix of plants and seeds. I believe I planted basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, and parsley. They're in alphabetical order naturally. I should probably make some plant markers for them before I forget what they are. 
I also planted sunflower and zinnia seeds in a few locations. You know, to attract the bees.

Finally, Pat cleared away another ground-covered area of jasmine and wisteria.
Yes, that whole brown area was just vines. It was maddening. 
Now, we can walk from the backyard to the barn without having to unnecessarily go around several buildings. Yay!

We've been plenty productive since we started. I'm happy that we're finally getting it to a more workable point. And, Pat picked up some plastic barrels yesterday so we can start on a rain catchment system to water the garden and the chickens. There's always a project in the works around these parts, but I don't think we'd want it any other way.

I've linked this up at the Homestead Blog Hop and Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Days 61-80 of The 100 Day Project (Plus Giveaway)

I've been playing along with #The100DayProject, and yesterday I made it to Day 80! The way it works is that each participant picks a creative activity to do for the 100 days and posts what they do each day on Instagram. As well, they are to use two hashtags: #The100DayProject and their own unique hashtag. The purpose of the project, beyond making something everyday, is to help the artists' creativity grow. I can sincerely say that this project has done just that for me. I've worked with materials I've only considered using before. I've picked up supplies and tools that had been gathering dust. I've uncovered forgotten findings and beads. All this in an attempt to make something different from what I made the previous days. If you're just now finding me through this post, you can check out what I did for Days 1-20, Days 21-40, and Days 41-60 in the blog posts highlighted or on the CraftyHope Instagram feed. Today I'm revealing Days 61-80. Oh, and my project is earrings with the hashtag #Make100Earrings.

As you can see from the banner above, as well as the title, I'll be giving away some of these earrings. So, pay attention to the ones you like so you can comment with your favorites. As well, I'm announcing the winner for the Days 41-60 giveaway. All of the details will be at the bottom of this post. Let's get to the earrings first!

Days 61-64
Day 61: The tin shapes were already cut and ready, just needing sealing and accents. It took me some time to figure out what kind of beads I wanted to add. I finally settled on trying to match the colors in the tin with some seed beads and e-beads. As well, I used eye pins to create the ear wires. 
Day 62: After a long day outside, I was totally beat and refreshed at the same time. I grabbed cultured sea glass beads from, a stone bead, and a faux watch hand, simple but pretty. The aqua color totally reflected my chilled mood. 
Day 63: I woke up that morning knowing that I wanted to etch some metal. I was fortunate to find one small piece of copper in my stash that I snipped in half, cleaned, stamped, etched, hole punched, aged, and sanded. It ended up so gorgeous that I puzzled over whether to add anything else. The emerald green glass beads and copper spacers were just the right touch.
Day 64: Tassels are everywhere! After spotting some mass-produced tassel earrings, I was inspired to make my own. I started by stringing the seed beads on a needle and thread by hand before I remembered my bead spinner. Since it was the first time I had ever used it, it took some trial and error, but I finally got the beads strung. As well, I used Iced Enamels to alter the bead caps in which I hid all the "secret" workings.

Days 65-68
Day 65: I was away from home with my travel box when I made these. I simply dug through the box and picked out beads I like: Czech glass, carved bone, Chinese crystals from ZnetShows, and e-beads, and then stacked them all on a headpin. Easy-peasy!
Day 66: After etching the copper the other day, I figured "why not texture some washers?" Using a texture hammer, I banged marks onto the copper washers before patina-ing and buffing them. Rummaging through my beads, I unearthed these neat, teal plastic beads from a vintage necklace I had taken apart. Copper spacers were used on the bottom to finish off the earrings.
Day 67: I had been wanting to use strand separators as chandelier earring bases for a while. This gold tone pair was also salvaged from old jewelry. I accented them simply with black and clear glass beads and gold tone spacers.
Day 68: The chain fringe for this pair came from the scrapbook aisle. They were Tim Holtz accents that very quickly became earrings with the addition of blue beads and ear wires.

Days 69-72
Day 69: I'm not even sure what prompted these. As soon as I opened the orange bead drawer, I was drawn to the flower-shaped beads. Since the triangular tubes were the exact same shade, I grabbed them too. They were easy enough to knot together with blue waxed linen cord.
Day 70: I knew an untouched strand of dalmatian jasper beads were in my stash. It was time to dust them off. They're paired with a couple of acrylic (to keep them lightweight) black beads and copper findings.
Day 71: I woke with visions of grapevines in my head and thus wanted to try to make some with wire. I used sturdy sealed annealed steel wire to achieve my goal and topped them with teal Chinese crystals from Znetshows
Day 72: While sifting through a jar of random beads, I spotted the pair of handmade lampworked beads from SueBeads. They needed to be something other than bead soup fodder. The dangles are altered Vintaj blanks that I had on had. They were textured and colored with patinas in shades of green. I have to admit that they were incredibly hard to photograph and the green dangles are much more muted than seen here.

Days 73-76
Day 73: Something drew me to these Vintaj stampings and I was ready to play. I layered Vintaj patinas and mica powders to create a mottled design before sealing them with a UV resin. I LOVE how this turned out and hope to try the technique again. It's hard to see, but they ended up looking dichroic. 
Day 74: My last post on these Shrink Plastic Firefly earrings describes the whole process used to create these. If you've never tried shrink plastic, I definitely recommend it just for the fun factor. 
Day 75: The ceramic buttons in these earrings were bought for the Bead Peeps Swap N Hop but were never used. I have to admit that they were still sitting in a basket on top of my bead cabinet. The crackle on them is so great. They could have been fine alone, but I decided to add a simple, natural element with these wood beads.
Day 76: Sorting through my artist-made components, I pulled out my collection of lampwork spacers from Juli Cannon of StudioJuls. Since I had no direction, the white ones seemed the way to go. These cherry quartz-colored glass beads give them a soft, feminine feel.

Days 77-80
Day 77: I wanted to use something out of my "naturals" bead drawer. At first, a baggie of shell beads called to me, but the odd shape of these wood ones overrode that. I accented them simply with little copper dangles.
Day 78: It had been a while since I touched any more tin. Rummaging in the craft closet, I found a "new" tin to cut apart. From there, I experimented with making texture on the tin. It worked out beautifully.
Day 79: While my soldering iron was out for another project, I added rings to the back of the rhinestone flowers. They were from old, broken jewelry and were screaming for new life. I gave it to them by dangling them from salvaged faux pearls sandwiched between bead caps.
Day 80:  I had no inspiration. Something about the bone beads drew my attention. They needed something small, but natural, to accent them. The tiny garnets were perfect along with oval brass beads. Once I decided on the brass, I stumbled across the little brass arrows. I had hoped that they would hang evenly balanced, but that wasn't the case. So, I added a few more of the garnets on either end of the arrows for a kinetic result. They are a little quirky, but I totally dig them.

That's where we are now. Eighty earrings down, twenty more to go. I'm not sure what comes next, but I know several days will be spent out of town. That means I'll be working from the travel box. We'll see how that goes. EEK! For now, I mentioned a giveaway didn't I? Let me start my announcing the winner of the 41-60 Earring giveaway. Here's who entered.

Aaaaaaaannnnnddddd. . . the random generator's pick:
Leslie Anne, that's you! I'll send you an e-mail about getting your earrings to you.

As for the giveaway for this batch, I want to start by mentioning that some of the above earrings are already spoken for and won't be available for giving away. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that your favorites aren't available. Please do let me know which ones are your favorites. How about your top 5? That sounds like a good, round number. Please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. Again, I'm limiting this to US residents. Comment by the end of the day on July 12, and I'll draw a winner the next day.

Good luck!

DIY Shrink Plastic Firefly Earrings (We're All Ears June Inspiration)

When Erin at Earrings Everyday posted that June's "We're All Ears" Inspiration was Fireflies, I knew I wanted to play along. I immediately recalled childhood summer evenings in an open field, my family, and a couple of jars. I knew what I wanted to make.

I took the inspiration almost literally. And, I even considered adding little LED lights. However, I just didn't have enough time to search out and get the lights. Instead I worked with materials I actually had on hand. I have to admit that I'm a kid when it comes to lightening bugs. When we moved into our house almost two years ago, I was such a big kid on the porch squealing with delight over the fireflies. As such, this project is a bit kid-like; perfect for crafters of all ages!

Start with Staz-on ink, a rubber stamp, colored pencils, and your shrink plastic. For this project, I'm using Prismacolor pencils as they work beautifully on shrink plastic. Also, please note that the plastic is Shrinky Dink's Frosted Rough-n-Ready. This type has a 'rough', sanded side that makes it easy to color with the pencils.

On the frosted (not shiny) side, stamp your image using the Staz-on ink.

Draw/color your image with the colored pencils.

Grab a pair of scissors and a hole punch.

Cut around the image. I cut slightly out from the stamped lines, but you can cut closer if you wish. Punch out a hole at the top of the image. I would have made a tab for the hole at the top, but stamped too close to the edge initially (oops!) Instead, I punched the hole inside the lid of the jar.

Prepare to shrink. Shrink Plastic can be shrunk in an oven/toaster oven or with a heat gun. For small projects like this, the heat tool works just fine. I like to work on a piece of tile and use a metal knitting needle to hold the plastic in place so it doesn't blow all over my desk. As well, keep a flat-bottomed glass on hand to press on the plastic as soon as it's done shrinking. This helps make sure it's good and flat, not wonky.

Once the plastic is shrunk down, it is much thicker.  This is why you want to make sure you cut and punch the holes before you shrink it. It's impossible once shrunk. Just as it started, the Rough n Ready plastic ends up with a matte side and a shiny side. I like the shiny side for this project as it makes the jars actually look like glass.

Add jump rings and ear wires to the holes to turn your shrunk images into earrings. And that's it: trapped fireflies for your ear lobes.

Of course, you don't have to make jarred lightening bugs. The Shrink Plastic is so versatile. You can use any stamp or even draw your own image to make charms with the plastic.

Make sure to check out the Lightening Bugs Reveal at Earrings Everyday to see how the other participants interpreted the inspiration.

Have you ever worked with Shrink Plastic? It really is so fun, easy, and versatile!

I've linked this diy on Show and Share at Coastal Charm, the Saturday Sparks Link Party at Pieced Pastimes, Saturday Sharefest at The SITS GirlsDare to Share at Pam's Party and Practical Tips, and the DIY Craft Link up at Pleasures of the Northwest.

Jewelry-Making for Beginners Part 3: Findings

One of the hurdles in learning to make your own jewelry can be as simple as figuring out all the supplies that are out there and what the basics are to get started. My aim with this jewelry-making series is to help get you past those hurdles and on your way.

I've already covered Tools and Materials as well as had a guest poster go over cords, ribbons, and laces. In this part of the series, I'm covering jewelry findings.
Let me start by explaining that jewelry findings are the pieces used to help join together your components and finish your design. They are the backbone to your jewelry-making. I'm only covering the basics in this post as it is intended for beginners. There are many, many more findings out there that you will discover as you learn more. Please note that though I've shown these findings all in a silvertone or antiqued brass, findings can be found in an array of other metal types: gold, copper, gunmetal, etc. Check you local bead store or craft store and you'll see what I mean. As with my other two posts, I made a video to show you the findings in more detail, but this blog post has more concise information.

Though it's a bit out of order, this post follows along with the order of findings I shared in the video.
Clasps: Used most often with necklaces and bracelets, clasps help close and finish your pieces. The more commonly used and recognized clasps are springs clasps, lobster clasps, toggle clasps, and hook & eye clasps. The photo above shows these types along with several others that can be found fairly easily. However, clasps are not limited to the ones pictured. They are also not limited to metal.

Earring Findings - Earring findings are generally limited to use in earrings. Though, I have seen clip-on earrings interchanged with shoe clips in a few instances. 

Fish Hook or French Hook: These earring findings are generally shaped like a hook with a loop at the bottom. Usually, the easiest to find ones have a small bead and a coil of wire on them like the one pictured above. Some people do not like to wear this type of earring as they are known to come out of ear holes. A small rubber/plastic "back" will help prevent this from happening. These backs have to purchased separately.

Lever Back: With a lever that closes the ear wire, this type of earring finding is more secure than the fish hook. However, they are a little harder to find and a tad more expensive.

Clip-on: This type of earring finding is typically for those without pierced ears. However, individuals who don't want to fiddle with getting the wires into their holes will sometimes wear them as well. They work much like the levered back ear wires but without the wire. These have become less popular as more and more people have pierced ears. As such, they can sometimes be hard to find. While the one shown has a flat surface for gluing items, other shapes exist - including ones with loops for hanging components.

Post: Anyone with pierced ears is familiar with the post earring. It is the most basic as it is simply a stick coming off the back of the earring. Post earrings should always be worn with an earring back.  The backs usually come with this type of finding. The example pictured above has a flat surface for gluing. However, there are other shapes, including types that have loops for hanging items.

Basic Findings - These pieces are used in making most any type of jewelry. They are definitely what you want to start with in your learning process.

Head pins: "A stick with a stopper on the end" is probably the easiest way to describe a head pin. Most likely, you'll find head pins with a small flat surface on the end. However, ball-end head pins (one is pictured above) will have a balled end. The ball is usually metal, but sometimes you can find glass or rhinestone ones as well. Of course, you could call those glass-end or rhinestone headpins too. In addition, a headpin that's completely flattened on the end is usually called a "paddle" head pin. No matter what the shape of your head pin, they are usually for stringing beads on to create dangles and are finished by creating a simple or wrapped loop.

Eye-pins: Much like a head pin, eye pins differ in that they have a loop (an eye) on the end. This loop makes it so that the pin can be connected to other findings or components in the design. Like head pins, they are for stringing on beads and are finished with another loop.

Jump rings: A loop of sturdy wire with a small opening is all there is to a jump ring. The ones pictured above are circular in shape, but jump rings can also be found in other shapes (ovals, squares, triangles, etc.) As you can see, they come in a variety of sizes. This gives you options for each of your projects. The purpose of jump rings is to connect one component to another. Though, they can also be used as design elements or in chainmaille designs. Jump rings can be found in almost any jewelry project.

Crimps and Accessories - The above findings are used with a variety of specific materials (beading wire, cord, leather, etc.) and help finish off their ends.

Crimp tubes and Crimp beads: These two are interchangeable. They are used specifically with beading wire (though can also be used on other thin materials like thread and fishing line) to loop off the ends of the wire and keep beads from falling off. Crimp beads and tubes work by sliding onto the wire, the wire is looped back through it, and the crimp is flattened to seal the hole. Crimping pliers are often used to crimp and flatten the beads/tubes, but are not necessary.

Crimp Covers: Crimps themselves are not the most attractive, and some feel that they detract from the beauty of a design. Crimp covers help remedy this problem. They are basically open, hollow beads that slip over flattened crimp beads and tubes. Smashing them closed seals them over the crimps and makes them look like little beads in the design.

Wire Guards: These U-shaped findings are also used wth beading wire. They go on at the ends of a piece where the wire is looped back through (especially at a crimp bead/tube). The open ends of the U are pushed together where the wire comes together. Wire Guards help protect beading wire from wear and becoming frayed. They protect the wire but are not necessary.

Fold Over and Spring Coil Crimps: These are two other examples of crimp types. They are most often used with cord, fiber, and leather. The material is fitted into the crimp and then it is smashed. In the fold over ones, the raised tabs are tightly folded over the material. For the spring coil ones, the end of the coil is squeezed down to secure the material. In both cases, glue can also be used to further secure the material in the crimp.

Again, there are tons more basic findings out there: bails, bezels, other clasps and earring findings, connectors, crimp types, bangles, blanks, and more. My aim is simply to cover some of the most-used items and break them down for you so that you aren't overwhelmed. I trust that as you get more involved in jewelry-making, you'll learn about these other jewelry findings.

To those out there who do make jewelry, let me know if you feel I've omitted or mis-represented any findings. Please ask me any questions you have about findings and I'll do my best to answer them. We'll get to working with these jewelry findings very soon!

The 100 Day Project - Earrings 41-60 (GIVEAWAY and winner)

Yesterday was Day 60 of The 100 Day Project. This project takes place on Instagram with the intent of creating something everyday for a hundred days. Its purpose is to open you up to creativity. Each participant picks a project, chooses their own original hashtag, creates everyday, and shares what they've created for the 100 days. My hashtag is #Make100Earrings but you can see some of the other creativity with #The100DayProject. I've already shared Earrings 1-20 and Earrings 21-40 here on the blog. Today, I want to show you earrings 41-60.

I absolutely feel like this endeavor has helped me become more creative. I'm using materials I haven't touched in a while and others that I've just been collecting for ages. Take a look.

Days 41-44
41: Created on Mother's Day, I needed earrings to go with the dress I was wearing over to my mom's house. They are quite simple with glass pearls, silvertone spacer beads, and Czech glass beads.
42: Playing with tin once again, I cut out these two heart shapes, distressed and aged them, punched holes, and hung them from two pieces of chain.
43: Tin ruled my desk. Two of the triangles and the circle were just sitting there. I cut out a few more triangles, punched holes, and riveted them together. These were a lot of fun to make!
44: I was away from home and working from the travel box. The altered blanks spoke for themselves. I only added rhinestone spacers and chain. 

Days 45-48
45: I was prepping for the New Kids on the Block concert and wanted some fun, funky earrings. The pieces from Petra of Scorched Earth on Etsy spoke to me. I added labradorite beads, Chinese crystals from, rhinestone spacers, and seed beads as dangles to complete this pair. 
46: The morning of the concert, I simply wanted earrings to go with what I was wearing on the ride to New Orleans. The button and glass bead earrings worked well with the blue shirt with black polka dots.
47: After a walk through the French Quarter, a brewery tour at Lazy Magnolia, and dinner in Mississippi; I arrived home fairly late. Something drew me to the copper drawer of my bead cabinet, and I threw these together.
48: Feeling rather inspired after the few days out of town, I grabbed a different tin from my stash and cut it apart. These earrings emerged. I had to be fairly inventive with seed beads and wire to hang them once I punched the two holes in each. Though, I think I may have distressed them too much as the images on them are fairly faint. 

Days 49-52
49: I wasn't feeling very inspired but still wanted to use something a little different. Pulling out a little piece of filigree, I cut it in half, snipped away some of the sharp edges, and hung tiny pearls. The chain was minuscule and fidgety so I didn't get the middle jump ring through it like I wanted. As such, these move around a little more than I had hoped.  Maybe I can fix that when my patience isn't frayed. 
50: At the halfway point, I jumped on the Earrings Everyday challenge and made these beer can earrings
51: After making such involved earrings the day before, I simply stacked a few beads. The top ones in these are enameled ones I received from Cheryl Foiles as part of the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party.
52: I worked on taking apart old jewelry that hadn't sold and/or I no longer liked. The faux peals had a spacer of garnets and amethysts that I remember being pretty hard to make. I couldn't bear to take them apart. So, with some crystals that had been in the same necklace, I made these earrings.

Days 53-56
53: These were practically thrown together in a rush with the matte beads and bead caps from and some other faceted glass beads.
54: We had a bunch of people over to our house for a party and the day almost got away from me. At the last minute, I rushed into the craft room and connected these mother of pearl buttons with antiqued copper jump rings.
55: Wanting to use some of my collected old jewelry, I grabbed a single clip-on earring. These were a cluster of little flowers. I clipped off two of the flowers and looped the backs. They were hung from a couple of crystals from an old rosary. Unfortunately, the flowers don't hang quite right when dangling. I'll have to fix that later.
56: I had been wanting to play with shrink plastic for days but the long weekend and visitors made it difficult to be in the craft room for long. My original idea was a bit different, but these came together eventually. It was fun to experiment and play.

Days 57-60
I first have to say that this last bunch just scream of summer to me!
57: After some Pinterest inspiration, I used thick gauge copper wire to make a frame and thinner gauge wire to wrap on bright-colored seed beads. These make me smile!
58: When taking apart jewelry the other day, I threw some of the pairs into my travel box. Both of the bead types for these earrings had just been added. They're both from While the blue hues aren't the exact same, they definitely work well together. 
59: I wasn't sure what to do on this day. Rummaging through the bead cabinet, I happened upon these Arte metal daisy charms from Vintaj. I colored them with Vintaj Patinas to look even more like daisies. From there, white and yellow beads were added. 
60: Using some altered paper on my desk and UV resin, I made charms. These hang simply from black faux pearls.

So that's the latest 20. Now for the giveaway from the last reveal.
The entries:

And, the random number selected
Congratulations Pezz!!!!
I'll get with you about getting your prize to you.

Now for the next GIVEAWAY. . .
If you'd like to enter win some earrings from this current group, leave me a comment letting me know which 2 or more of the earrings in this post are your favorites. Make sure to leave me your e-mail address. Also, I'm asking that you live in the US to enter the giveaway. You have until the end of the day on June 22nd to enter, and I'll pick a winner on June 23rd. Even if you can't enter, I'd love to know where you're from and what your favorites are. I'm curious.

Bead Box 18 - Reveal

 Hey y'all! I'm popping in to share the completed jewelry pieces that came out of Bead Box 18 . I've actually already stocked an...