Free Bling Friday Number Nine!

Time for Free Bling Friday! selected Debbie T. of Jacksonville, FL, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Debbie!

Here's this week's entry. I just got these turquoise stones in the mail on Wednesday and had to do something with them immediately. They are so pretty! I thought the gold flecks in them screamed out for gold findings. I used 14K gold-filled wire to attach the triangular-shaped briolettes onto 14K gold-filled chain and posts, adding little lt. Colorado topaz Swarovski crystals in for extra sparkle. Turquoise is so pretty for summer! Click here for a second photo.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, July 5, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! New earrings listed on the website too. Check them out! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Behind the Camera: Hmmm.....

I've been going through some of my favorite pictures of the girls and thought I'd share a few with you over the next couple weeks (since I've been such a slacker and have no new jewelry to show you!). They were about two years old in this picture, and when my friend Melissa Randall saw it, she wrote the little ditty below. I loved it so much, I put it on our Christmas card that year.

Look at that grin, makes you wonder what's in
That cup that she clutches. Is it snacks that she munches?
Cheerios they have told me, but from that face you'd believe
Sarah had something stronger, making smiles last much longer.
Now the problem arises when Olivia surmises
That her cup's not as much fun as that bright orange one.
Sibling rivalry notwithstanding, there'll be no understanding
Of the mysterious reactions of a mere cereal impaction.

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You Stink!

So says Sandra from You Stink Soap. I found her shop on Etsy, and in addition to absolutely loving the name, I thought all the soaps looked so yummy I ordered a three-bar sampler pack. Got them in the mail late last week and they truly smell divine. I got the Night Peony, Cucumber Melon and Sun Ripened Raspberry. I also got a three pack of the lip balms, which feel absolutely wonderful on. I’m having a hard time keeping them away from Sarah and Livvie though, because they all taste wonderful as well! Check out You Stink Soap here and order some great smellies for yourself, because, hey! You Stink! :-)

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Free Bling Friday Number Eight!

Time for Free Bling Friday! selected Maurie H. of Jacksonville, FL, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Maurie!

Take a peek at this week's entry. These are truly beautiful and were a bit difficult to photograph, so I hope their true beauty comes through. I combined smokey quartz semiprecious faceted gemstone briolettes with AB crystal Swarovski crystals and laced them on sterling hoops. They have a lot of fun swing and movement to them. I liked them so much, I made several more in this style to add to the website!

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, June 28, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Sand Dollar, Starfish, Bear Man, and Roger Corn

You know, sometimes husbands just get things right. And I mean really right. For my first wedding anniversary, my DH gave me a gold charm bracelet with one charm on it, a sand dollar. Every anniversary since, he’s added a charm to it. Because we got married in Boca Grande on a Memorial Day Weekend and still go to Boca Grande every Memorial Day Weekend, most often that charm is purchased down there.

This year, I picked out a pretty little diamond-cut crab, my 12th charm. Previous years have included a golf cart, symbolizing all the fun we had running around in the golf cart with the girls last year; a conch shell, for all the conch shells we found on that sandbar we dubbed the “conch shell graveyard” in 2005; a mother and baby manatee, for the pod of manatees who greeted us first thing that Saturday morning, just 10 feet off the beach, in 2004…one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, especially since when I got in the water with them they didn’t swim away, just came up to me and checked me out; a ladybug for the birth of my two little ladybugs in 2003; and a dolphin for the pair of dolphins who kept jumping out of the water right next to our boat on our way to Cabbage Key in 2002. I can’t remember the order from there, but it holds a seahorse, starfish, clam shell, sting ray and a few others I can’t picture right now. Why? Because I lost it yesterday. I was heartbroken.

I realized it was gone about 7pm last night when I went to change out of my work clothes. DH and I searched everywhere I had been since I had gotten home but didn’t find it. Right after I got the girls out of the tub, I threw on a t-shirt and jeans and set out to retrace my steps for the day. I had a meeting on Downtown campus yesterday afternoon, so I started there with the help of a wonderful security guard who traced my steps with me and let me into the office suite and conference room in which my meeting took place. No luck. He wrote down my name, number and a description and said he’d ask everyone to keep an eye out for it. From there, I came back to my campus and retraced my steps there. I even went back to the Loop where I had gone for lunch. On the way back home, I stopped by the girls pre-school and looked around outside there, and then checked with the office there this morning. No luck anywhere. Nothing. DH knew my trip last night was in vain, but I had to give it a shot anyway. I sent out an all campus email to both campuses asking everyone to keep an eye out for it, and I’ve gotten some sweet notes back hoping that I’m able to find such a sentimental piece. I’ll keep hoping.

When I was driving home last night, I started thinking about other special things I had lost over the years. I thought of my 4th grade elementary school yearbook I must have lost in a move. Why was it so important? Because it contained the scratched out school picture of one Roger Corn. You see, Roger was my first “real” boyfriend, if you can have those in 4th grade. He sent me the official “Do you like me? Check Yes or No” note on the bus on the way home from school one day. I remember riding my bike to his baseball games, without my parents’ knowledge because I wasn’t allowed to ride that far. Here’s my confession, Dad. In 4th grade, I used to ride my bike all the way to Roger Corn’s baseball games. There, now you know. Apparently, Roger and I must have had quite a 4th grade falling out since I scribbled him away with black ink. To this day, I can’t remember what caused our demise.

And I often think about Bear Man. Bear Man was the most wonderful yellow lab. He was very tall for a lab, and we could never keep him in the yard because he’d always jump the fence. When we moved to our current home, I always worried about losing him to our very busy street, but he was very street smart. He’d walk down to the bridge to visit the fisherman, or swim down the river a bit to catch up with a friend farther down the island. Everyone on the island knew him. He’d gotten so old, and I knew his shoulders hurt him badly. Yet even though we often had to help him up the stairs and knew we needed to have him put to sleep, we just couldn’t do it. Then, on the day I came home from the hospital after delivering the girls, he was gone. Just gone. Lost. Nowhere to be found. I’ve often heard that animals will go off on their own when they know they are going to die. I believe Bear had just been hanging on as long as he could for us, and he somehow knew that now that we had two little ones to take care of, he could go on his way across that Rainbow Bridge. We never found him. To this day, four years later, I still instinctively scan the river and marsh for him every time I cross the Brown’s Creek Bridge.

After thinking about all that on a rainy Tuesday night, I was definitely not in the happiest of spirits. When I got home, I went upstairs to kiss the girls goodnight, then climbed in bed with DH, and being the weather junkie that I am, turned on the Weather Channel’s Evening Edition. Alexandra and Paul were reporting the latest updates on the flash flooding in Texas. When I heard the news that the bodies of the missing two-year-old, her five-year-old sister and their grandmother had been found, losing my bracelet just didn’t matter anymore. My heart went out to that family and their entire community, and I cried myself to sleep thinking about them.

Being a parent, I now fully understand that there is nothing worse in this world than losing a child. A charm bracelet really can be replaced; it may not be exactly the same, but it can be replaced. An elementary school yearbook may hold wonderful memories and probably is irreplaceable, but when it comes down to it, it was still just a bunch of paper bound together with a purple faux leather cover stamped Northwest Christian Academy 1974. And yes, dogs are man’s best friends and truly become part of our families and our hearts, but we all know they don’t live forever and we must enjoy their unconditional love as long as they are with us. But a two-year-old child….a five-year-old child…and their grandmother desperately trying to keep them safe. That is something that can never be recovered. Nor replaced. Nor forgotten. Please remember them, these families, all families who have suffered the loss of a child, in your prayers. And cherish yours for the miracles they are.

Update: Read this post. :-)

Virtual Graffiti--Too Much Fun!

Always interesting where a few clicks of the mouse will take you. I was checking out one of my favorite blogs, Modish, when I clicked on a Poppytalk ad, and discovered this Wet Paint Please Touch program. Very cool! You can create your own graffiti art through the various tools sitting on the sidewalk, and then share your creation for others to add to or simply admire. Pictured here is my creation, done in about 3 minutes, so you can imagine what you can do with a little more time! You can add to my art here, or start your own creation here! Have fun, but I'll warn you, it's addicting!

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Great Free Clip Art from Dover

I can't remember how I stumbled across this little treasure, but it's been a great find! Dover Publications has some really fun clip (or 'click') art books, useful for a variety of applications from making cards to collages to just plain fun graphics to look at; and yes, I can even think of a few ways to use these in unique jewelry designs! Best yet, you can sign up for a free weekly email sampler of their products here. This French poster from the 1890's came from this week's sampler.

The sampler usually includes 3-4 samples from their clip art collections, as well as samples from their children's books, game books, how to draw books, etc. Pretty fun stuff. Check out their entire website here, but what I like the most is all the CD-Rom clip art selections here. I just ordered some sea-themed clip art for some new ideas I've been dreaming up. Stay tuned!

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Free Bling Friday Number Seven!

Time for Free Bling Friday! selected Lorie S. of Bohemia, New York, as last week's winner. Lorie found me on Ebay a couple years ago. Congratulations, Lorie! Take a peek at this week's entry. I combined dime-sized light amethyst faceted Czech crystal briolettes (phew!) with tanzanite Swarovski crystals and gold-filled accents. This pair hangs approximately 2" total in length on gold-filled french wires. Click here for a second photo. If you are the winner and prefer sterling silver, I have these available in sterling as well. Just let me know. And, of course, all Free Bling offerings can be converted to clip if need be.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, June 21, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Fun Cool T's for Summer

I'm heading out a town for a couple days this week for a conference, so I wanted to give you something to shop for while I'm gone! If you haven't checked out Etsy for all things handmade yet, you really truly should. Just make sure you have some time because it's really easy to get sucked in. :-)

My girls love peacocks, so this t-shirt jumped out at me. This artist has quite a few cool handscreened t-shirt designs great for summer. I can't tell you which one is my favorite because then you all will check it out, fall in love with it too, and then there won't be one left for me! Find our own favorite here!

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Dear Lord, Please Forgive Me...

Dear Lord, please forgive me. You see, the Rings-n-Things Road Show came through town this week, and, well, um, I went. I’m sorry, Lord. I just couldn’t resist. Yes, yes, I know I have enough beads to open my own bead store. What’s that? Well, yes Sir, I guess You’re right; I probably do have enough beads to open up two bead stores. But they just have so many beautiful gemstones, Lord! All Your beautiful creations! I tried to have a little more self control, really I did. I even made myself walk through the entire show and look at every table before I put a single strand in my tray. Yes, I know Sir, You’re right. I really should have just turned around and walked away when I saw all that luscious aquamarine. Sir? Yes, You’re right again, of course, I already have seven trays of crystals and gemstones in the blue/green family. I do. But you know how I love that color family, Lord.

I truly envied those shoppers who seemed to be exhibiting a little more self control than I, Lord. Oh, yes Sir, I know envy is one of those seven deadly sins. You see, that’s why I just dropped the whole envy act and went ahead and loaded up my tray, Lord. I got those beautiful aquamarine puffed rectangles and Russian crazy lace agates (1); gorgeous crazy lace agate and purple rainbow agate large coins (2); yummy black onyx rondelles and smoky quartz rondelles, briolettes and puffed disks (3); and even some awesome Russian lace agate, silver needle agate and purple rainbow agate extra large ovals and trillions (4). How could I resist those prices, Lord?! It was 50% off retail, and then another 15% off that! I know, I know, I really do need to get busy now.

What’s that? Oh, yes Sir! I definitely made sure I had the girls’ pre-school tuition covered before I bought anything! Really I did! And it will do our constitution good to live on Ramen noodles for a few weeks, don’t You think? Sarah really prefers peanut-butter-and-jelly anyways, and we’re stocked up on that. And You know Livvie, Lord. She’ll eat anything I put in front of her anyway. Sir? Yes, I will try harder to control myself next time. Thankfully, Lord, the Road Show only comes to town once a year. Sir? Oh yes, I know about that St. Augustine bead show coming up in August…..I’ll try to stay away….but I’m sure I’ll need some silver by then…

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Free Bling Friday Number Six!

Time for Free Bling Friday! picked Nery D. as last week's winner. Nery is the past president of our Jacksonville Parents of Twins and Triplets group, and as the mom of elementary school-age triplets, she definitely deserves some Free Bling. Congrats, Nery!

For this week's entry, I got such a big response to my first Pink Ladies entry a few weeks ago, I thought I'd give you a shot at a second pair from that series (yeah, that, and okay, so I haven't had the energy to get down to the workshop and make anything new this week!). Click here and here for additional photos of these.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, June 14, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Behind the Camera: I Must Share!

Don't we all think we each have the most beautiful children in the whole wide world? Of course, we do! I just downloaded some of my Boca Grande pictures and wanted to share a couple. I took a new camera down there and didn't quite know what the heck I was doing half the time, so it was pure serendipity (don't you just love that word?) that I got some of these shots. More to come!

Livvie looks like the perfect little synchronized swimmer here! She really took to the water this year, no fear whatsoever, which is not always a good thing! There were certainly a few times when she attempted to venture out in the Gulf a bit farther than she should. And we spent one afternoon shelling on various sandbars and she was the first to jump out of the boat every time. “Swim, Mommy? Sure I can swim! Just watch me!” as she goes under just in time for the DH or I to catch her. It’s definitely back to the Y in a couple weeks for lessons.

Sarah had just thrown a ball to her Uncle Rob here. This was the one day we were actually able to use the porch, due to the lovebug adventures I told you about below. One afternoon, the wind shifted and the bugs just disappeared. We all did a happy little lovebug dance. So I vacuumed a gazillion and 37 lovebug carcasses off the porch, literally blowing out the motor in the vacuum cleaner in the process (apparently, it was not feeling the love), and we hung out on the porch that afternoon. But alas, by 8pm or so that night, the winds had shifted back and the little orange-headed blind flyers returned.

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Inspiration for the Week...

I received this little story from a friend via email and immediately thought of my Great Aunt Livy, pictured here with my girls. Aunt Livy will be 86 this August and is still going strong....we made her sit in the wheelchair that afternoon simply because we had been walking all over downtown Chattanooga and she was ornery enough to keep saying she didn't need that "darned old contraption on wheels". But given that we still had a couple hours of playing to do, we convinced her of it by saying the girls could sit in her lap! I hope this story inspires you!

...A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who, though legally blind, is fully dressed with his hair fashionably combed and face shaved perfectly each morning by eight o'clock, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. "Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait." "That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.

He continued, "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life. You see, old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! And thank you, young lady, for your part in filling my memory bank because I am still depositing," he said.

With that, I leave you with the five simple rules to being happy: Free your heart from hatred, free your mind from worries, live simply, give more, and expect less.

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For All Things Creative...

Unfortunately, we are rained in today with rains from Tropical Storm Barry. And I tell you what, rained in on a Saturday after a week at the beach is very traumatic for twin nearly 4-year-olds! Since they still get up by 6:30am no matter what, we've now been through Sponge Bob Square Pants, Little Einsteins, the Mickey Mouse Club House and are now back to Sponge Bob (and it's only 10:04am). This came after Livvie wanted to watch the Little Mermaid for the 68th time this week, with Sarah responding, "She ALWAYS wants to watch Little Mermaid!" So Sarah suggested, "We haven't watched Sponge Bob in a while, Mom! Can we watch Sponge Bob?" And yes, we've already colored and destroyed our room playing and reading our books.

In between trying to keep them entertained, I've been trying to catch up on my emails and got a newsletter from one of my favorite sites. Are you the creative type? Think you aren't but would like to be? I'll let you in on a little secret. There is a wonderful company out there that provides tons of creative inspiration, including some of mine, through beautifully detailed books, magazines and supplies. I first discovered Stampington through the beautiful magazine Belle Armoire: Art to Wear. It was by far the most beautifully written and illustrated magazine I'd ever seen. I've kept every volume since and have become a huge Stampington fan. In addition to several periodicals, they have an incredible library of beautifully detailed arts and crafts books. From paper crafting to rubber stamping to collage to journaling and more. You can spend hours on their website just browsing these beautiful books. They also sell unique arts and crafts supplies as well as finished art projects. Check them out here!

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Free Bling Friday Number Five!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Congratulations to last week's winner, Jennie P. from Jacksonville, Florida! Here's this week's entry.....beautiful ocean colors for Summer. I've combined blue and aqua lampwork beads torched by Darleen Michael Baker with Swarovski crystals and sterling silver accents. They hang approximately 1 1/2" on sterling silver french wires.

To be eligible to win this pair, email me with the subject line FREE BLING by midnight Thursday, June 7, and include where you are from. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!