Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lisandro Pena's Amazing Renderings

Isn't this a beautiful little tabby? He seems to want to jump right out of the photo. Now can you believe this isn't a photograph at all? Yes, believe it or not, this is a print of a pencil drawing by artist Lisandro Pena. He draws incredible pencil renderings of animals from photographs. They are truly amazing. Take a look at his Etsy shop here or his website here.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Free Bling Friday Number 22!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Last week's winner is Leigh H.F. from Jacksonville, FL. Congratulations, Leigh! Here's this week's entry. I've combined yummy crazy lace agate rectangles with creamy freshwater pearls and hung them all from sterling lever backs. They hang approximately 1 1/2" total in length.

To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, October 4, 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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mincing Mockingbird

I'll admit I probably have a warped sense of humor, but when I came across these bird art magnets by Mincing Mockingbird, I was laughing out load at just about every magnet on his site. Here's the description for the work pictured here: "I know you're trying to get a positive identification on me to write in your little notebook, but dude, I just did three gigs this morning, and my throat's feeling a little blown out. If you have a Zinc Lozenge in your pocket, maybe I can get a few bars out, but if not, humming's what you're getting." Take a look at all his offerings here. Bear in mind, a few of his pieces are for mature audiences and are marked as such.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

CAADD Finally Recognized!

I came across this in an email and was thrilled to know that my condition has a name: Child Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. Read on to see how it manifests!

I decide to do the laundry. As I start toward the stairs, I notice that there are Cheerios all over the floor, and my car keys are in the cereal bowl. I decide to pick up the cheerios before I do the laundry. I lay my car keys down on the counter, put the Cheerios in the trash can under the counter, and notice that the trash can is full. So, I decide to take out the trash. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the trash, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my checkbook off the table and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the office, so I go to my desk where I find a sippy cup full of juice. I' m going to look for my checks, but first I decide I should put the sippy cup in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the sippy cup, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered. I set the sippy cup on the counter, and I discover the baby wipes that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back in the bathroom, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the wipes back down, fill a container with water, and suddenly I spot the TV remote; one of the kids left it on the kitchen table. I realize that after school when they go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote as they fight over who lost it, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I splash some water on the flowers, but most of it spills on the floor, so I set the remote back down, get some paper towels and wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: the laundry isn't washed, the bills aren't paid, there is a warm cup of juice sitting on the counter, the flowers aren't watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can't find the remote, I can't find the wipes, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys. Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail. Do me a favor, will you? Forward this message, because I don't remember to whom it has been sent. Don't laugh--if this isn't you yet, your day is coming… So true!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jim McVay Photography

We went out in the boat early this morning, and it was one of those mornings when I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. We went to Fort George inlet to play around on the sandbars, and a gorgeous cloud-speckled morning sky was reflected in all the tide pools on the sandbar. Not even any other boats to mar the scenery. Next time I will have my camera! Though doubtful we'll luck into a sky like that again. So since I didn't have my camera, here's a gorgeous shot titled "End of a Florida Beach Day" by Jim McVay. He does some beautiful landscape and nature photography. Check out more of his photos here.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Under the Sea

I've been working on lots on new pieces here lately and finally managed to take pictures of a few. Here's my most recent favorite. I met Sherrie Venghaus, the lampwork artist who made this center focal, at the St. Augustine show I did back in March. She was one of the few bright spots! I bought several beads from her and am just now getting around to doing something with them. I wore this piece the other day and got loads of compliments. It was pretty hard to photograph, so it's even prettier in person! Initially I had planned to use these beads in my Showstopper style pieces, but this bead is so magnificient on its own, I decided to keep it a little more simple by accenting it with just a few aqua quartz briolettes, a Swarovski crystal starfish and some Swarovski crystal rondelles. I love the way it came out! I'll have it listed on the website sometime this week.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Free Bling Friday Number 21!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Last week's winner is Allison B. from Jacksonville, FL. Congratulations, Allison! Since Fall is officially upon us (though you can't tell by the temperatures in Florida) I decided to give you one last summer fling for this week's entry. Literally! This fun pair does have lots of fling and swing. Fun dotted lampwork drops paired with lt. amethyst Swarovski crystals and sterling silver rings. These hang approximately 2" total on sterling french wires.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, September 27, 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!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Living in the Moment

This print just made me smile. To me, it speaks of just utterly abandoning all bad thoughts and embracing a moment of pure, simple enjoyment. It's by artist Olga Cuttell of oladesigns. Olga was born in Russia, spent time studying in England before returning to Russia, and has now landed in British Columbia. Beautiful handpainted ceramics seem to be her main focus, but she has a few of these lovely prints on her site as well. Visit her Etsy store here, and her website here.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Speaking of Building Cathedrals....

My little cathedrals continue to amaze me. I had a two sweet surprises yesterday. First, as you can see here, Livvie was awarded "Best Girl of the Week" in her VPK class! I have no idea what one must do to earn this prestigious award, but I'm very proud of her just the same! She's very even tempered and very rarely misbehaves (yes, I realize I have just cursed myself), so I guess that was the reason for her award.

As for Sarah, she did quite a number on "my room" yesterday afternoon. Since DH can literally rock the roof with his snoring, I usually sleep upstairs in the guest room. When I went up last night, I had to come back down to ask DH who had been up there! He told me Sarah was playing in there while I was at my guitar lesson, and he thought he heard her jumping on the bed. What I found was a very well made up bed (the best effort a four-year-old could do anyway), with nearly every pillow in the room nicely stacked on the bed, same amount on each side. Nearby in my antique cradle, Abiner Smoothie--a teddy bear I've had since middle school--was sleeping peacefully on a big fluffy towel (okay, so it was the towel I keep in the window seat for the cats to sleep on, but big and fluffy none-the-less), and Abiner was covered with Sarah's favorite quilt. I was impressed. Not just that she made up the bed as well as she did (I guess that's a clue that I didn't make up the bed in the morning) but that she was so thoughtful to think of doing that to begin with. I am blessed with two very sweet little girls.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

To the Invisible Mothers of the World...

I received this from my twins group via email and it really touched me. I hope you enjoy it.

I'm invisible. It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going - she's going - she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription. "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: (1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. (2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. (3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. (4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gems are Coming...

I use semi-precious gemstones in my work fairly regularly, but I've been wanting to do some things with precious gems here lately, so I bit the bullet and bought a few strands of gems from a gem seller on Etsy. This is a strand of faceted lemon topaz briolettes. Aren't these gorgeous? I can't wait until they arrive at my post office (insured, of course)! I'm picturing some pretty cluster earrings for some of these and a few pendants with some of the more sizeable pieces. I'll share them with you soon! Stay tuned!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Free Bling Friday Number 20!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Whoo hoo! Number 20! Last week's winner is Shayne G. from Atlanta, GA. Congratulations, Shayne!

This week's entry pairs a double drop of Botswana agate briolettes and crystal copper Swarovski crystals, all brought together with sparkling sterling silver. These hang approximately 2" from sterling french wires and have a lot of fun movement to them, plus those yummy fall colors.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, September 20, 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!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fly with Patina's Wings

I've dabbled a little bit in precious metal clay....very cool medium that starts out in clay form and then, when you're all said and done, leaves you with .999% pure silver. I stumbled across Patina's Wings and was captured by designer Kathy St. Martin's mission, several missions really. First, she teaches children to make PMC jewelry to raise funds for their own charitable causes. Second, she's trying to raise funds to visit her ailing mother who's currently in a nursing home 11 hours away and is trying to raise awareness of the plight of the elderly in some of these nursing homes. I watched my Nana waste away in a nursing home that was understaffed with underpaid aides, so I've seen some of that myself. Third, when I read her profile, I saw where the name Patina came from, and of course being the animal lover I am and having lost three dogs to the very busy road in front of my house, I knew I had to share her work here.

In this necklace, she combined PMC Silver with a layer of 22K gold, making a beautiful mixed metal pendant. It's really a beautiful piece! Check out more of Kathy's work and read more about her and her causes here!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Check out Sophie Ann Handbags


I told you a little bit about Sophie Ann Handbags back in April, but I wanted to put in another plug today. This past weekend, I participated in the 6th Annual Christmas in September Shopping Soiree, hosted by my friend Patty Bodney, of Padi Custom Ceramics. Patty, Jen Eccleston of Sophie Ann, and Mary Beth Johnston, a Pampered Chef consultant, all gathered at Patty's for an open house to share and sell our latest offerings. Being that there was a Pampered Chef consultant involved, we did a LOT of eating. Between our strawberry shots, featuring a lime yogurt topping--Yum!--Patty's awesome artichoke dip, and Jen's basil, buffalo mozzarella and tomato concoction, I'm fairly certain I gained five pounds this weekend! Sales were a little slow, but we really had a great time.

The reason I wanted to feature Jen here again is because of her mission. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a little girl from China, and since Jen is a stay-at-home mom, she wanted to find a way to contribute financially to their adoption. Thus, Sophie Ann was born. Jen's Italian grandfather was a master tailor, and Jen definitely inherited his skills. The craftsmanship on her bags is truly top-notch. I sew, so I do know a very well made bag when I see one, and hers really are the best made I've seen. So, Christmas is coming! I'm sure you can think of someone on your list that would love one of Jen's bags. Visit her website here to see all her fabrics and read a little more about the mission of Sophie Ann.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Free Bling Friday Number 19!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Last week's winner is Anne W. from Charlotte, NC! Congratulations, Anne! This week's entry includes ruby crazy lace agate marquis shaped stones highlighted by light rose Swarovski crystals, all hanging on sterling hoops. They hang approximately 1 1/2" total in length.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, September 13, 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!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Noah Orr Photography

One last gorgeous photo this week... So have you detected a theme, here? I'm definitely an outdoor girl, and I'm particularly drawn to the beach. This photo of the Malaekahana campground in Laie, Hawaii, was taken by Noah Orr, who specializes in inspirational images of Hawaii and the world. Noah's profile says he is just beginning in his photography career, but by the looks of this shot, I'd say he has a bright future ahead of him. See more of his work here. Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bogac Erguvenc Contemporary Photography

Continuing to feature gorgeous photography this week.... isn't this breathtaking? It's by Turkish photographer Bogac Erguvenc (say that name fast three times....). He's a landscape and commercial photographer, and it's his landscapes like these that I really like. See more of his work here. PG warning: he does have some nudes, though I have to admit some of their titles are pretty entertaining.

Random notes: Speaking of the sea, I did a couple new jewelry pieces this weekend that are totally sea-inspired awesome! I hope to break out the camera tonight and show you soon.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pretty Petal Studio

Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. We had family in town and enjoyed some time out in the boat; cloudly skies, but at least that kept the temperatures a little more comfortable! This week I'm going to feature some of the absolutely gorgeous photography I've come across recently. Susan O'Conner of Pretty Petal Studio takes some truly mesmerising images, many concentraing on florals. "Orange Bloom" really caught my attention, and I love the quote she included with it: "In shades the orange bright, Like golden lamps in a green night."~Marvell. See more of Susan's work here at Pretty Petal Studio.

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