Monday, August 18, 2014

Face lift

Sometimes all you need is a quick fix to spruce things up a bit. I've always loved the mailbox that came with this house, but it was beginning to rust:
Here's the "after":
Not bad!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Serious Side of Joy

 It’s true that a joyful person is adored—anyone would rather be around an optimist than an Eeyore. Joy is like glitter. No matter how hard you try to keep it contained, it spreads and spreads, even to the most unlikely places. Joy’s been on my mind because it’s been missing from my life for a few years now. I know I’m in charge of my own happiness. But, how exactly do I do that, when I feel like my world has ended? How do I grab joy and rise out of the darkness, instead of sinking further in?

I’m not one to skip through public places like Will Ferrell in Elf. Even at my happiest, I’m a “dancing on the inside” kind of girl. But what I am trying to do each day as I navigate these  unknown waters is to take a moment of private time, find joy within myself, and then hold on dearly. It’s a spiritual feeling that takes a physical presence—if I think about it, I can actually feel it, like a tiny glowing coal deep in my gut. When I find it and greet it before I transition from private to public, it beams out and bounces back, all day long.

This is my second single-mother Christmas. My divorce after a 25-year relationship was swift, unexpected, and complete. My then-husband got up, walked out, and never looked back. During the first year, joy was the furthest thing from my mind. Slowly but surely the fog began to lift. I’m not sure I chose joy as much as I chose not sadness and not pity. By seeking the opposite of what I didn’t want, I found my way to living with joy.

The deck is stacked a bit given that it’s December. But no matter the form—a song lyric, a decoration, a card, a gift bag—universe-whispers of JOY are crossing my path on a near-daily basis. And the more I see it, the more I feel it, and the firmer my grasp becomes.

This month is the first month in ages I’ve had laugh-out-loud moments with my daughters. I can’t remember the triggers but I’ll never forget the feeling. Bonding over an agreed-upon ridiculous moment makes us realize “We get each other. We think alike. We’re happy together.”

I have delightful vistas from my country home: gem-filled night skies that take my breath away and rosy pink early winter mornings when the silhouette of a barn and some bare trees against the rising sun provides an instantaneous, simultaneous feeling of peace and awe. And instead of rushing by, dwelling on my misfortune, I stop, look, and feel, even if it’s just for a minute.

My daughter insists on playing the 24-hour Christmas radio station in the car, something I’ve always scoffed at. You know what? It brings joy. Whether it’s Bruce’s gravely rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or a sentimentally sweet take on White Christmas, hearing these songs as I drive lightens my mood and removes the grind from the daily routine. I was prompted to revive some abandoned Christmas rituals: I baked cookies. I decked my halls. We trimmed a tree. I wrote and sent cards to the people I cared about the most. Joy is seeping in.

Choosing joy in a conscious way means it becomes your companion, your compass, and your center of gravity. Choosing joy is the best way to keep the hurt, anger, and pain from becoming overwhelming. Choosing joy is the way I want to live, every day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunrise from the Living Room

I've taken you on many tours of my property in all seasons, but this morning, I'd like to share the view from my living room. I love the early morning light nearly as much as I love the winter landscape out here in the country. So here's the view, from inside out:


A little closer

Morning Coffee View

Sunrise on the porch swing

Looking North

There's something about curly willows I love

The smokehouse

Northwestern view

From the kitchen window

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ready for the weekend

I know it's been forever since I've posted. I've been busier than I can imagine! Part of that has been getting ready for a local sale this weekend. Here's a sneak peek of my newest jewerly:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Scenes

Do you remember just a few short months ago when I braved the single digit temps and took you on a winter walkabout? Well, now that we're approaching the triple digits, I thought I'd take some photos of the same scenes in their summer light.

Day Lillies glow

You know what they say about the early bird

Daisy Shadow

I always knew I had a guardian angel. I just never knew he looked like an Easter Island statue!

Perfect spot for sunset watching and wine sipping.

Winter winds took down the pump house door, revealing this view of my house

And on the other side of the door -- lots of farmer's math. Wonder what he was calculating?

When in doubt, head West.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fall Class Preview

I just finished my samples for fall classes at Ben Franklin Crafts, my local shop. The challenge was to design interesting projects with a good teaching value, but keep the overall materials cost reasonable and to use products available in the store. Here's what I came up with. What do you think?
Early Frost necklace

Early Frost Bracelet

A Little Loopy necklace

A Little Loopy earrings

Monday, July 4, 2011

Garden of Weedin'

I have been overwhelmed with yard work this year, but in the spirit of "when life gives you lemons..." I decided to take pleasure in the entire garden today, not just the pretty flowers that I want to be there. I mean, who are we to judge, anyway? What makes one plant beautiful, and one a common weed? Here's a tour of the less cultivated parts of my garden:

This used to be my vegetable garden!

A single sunflower among the stinging nettles. Not going to pick this one!

The fire pit isn't getting much use this summer, except by the daisies.

A "volunteer" shrub in the middle of my field


Thursday, June 23, 2011


Her friends say she has a smile that lights up a room, so I knew my donation for the silent auction for Lynne's Legacy of Hope would be all about color and Swarovski crystals. Here's my bracelet, called Joy.

Here's more about Lynne and the event:
Lynne Sater, wife of WISN-TV news anchor Terry Sater and mother of 3 beautiful girls, Savannah, Autumn, and Sierra, has been battling Stage IV Bile Duct Cancer. She was diagnosed in December of 2009. As she has been valiantly fighting this terrible disease, medical expenses have mounted. Lynne's Legacy of Hope is a fun way for you to show your support for the Sater Family! So mark your calendars and join us on July 24th, 2011, at Lapham Peak State Park for an unforgettable day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stash Busting

Every now and then, you need to take a hard look at your stash and try to use up some of the beads that have been hanging around for a while, or might be lonely leftovers from a larger, long-ago completed project. That’s what I did this weekend. I tried to make pretty, unique projects without buying anything new. Here are my results:

Lampworked glass and sterling silver beads

Charm necklace with labradorite briolette, Czech glass, and silver

Quartz, fluorite, and India glass

Is it spring yet?
Working with what you have can be challenging, but it can be freeing as well. I love these bead combinations, but I never would have "planned" these designs in advance. What do you think?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Artbeads Winter Enchantment Project

My backyard in January
For this season's blogger project, we were asked to design jewelry based on winter. Here in Wisconsin, winter is a long season. Our first cold snap comes in October and we're usually not seeing daffodils until late April. The season is long, but it isn't bleak. We have wonderful white snow, beautiful bare brown branches, and brilliant blue skies peeking through whenever we can. For this project, I wanted to explore working with some new-to-me materials. While I often use glass beads in my designs, I haven't worked with artisan-made lampworked beads before.  I was immediately drawn to these lampworked art beads when I started planning my winter-white necklace. Brass accents and just a hint of blue completed the palette, and I had this design together in no time.

Winter White necklace


Beaded links connected by large jump rings
This necklace and earrings set came together very nicely. My original intention was to string the necklace, but I wanted the lampworked beads to be visible from all sides. Making beaded links instead set the beads off. I rummaged through my supplies for brass jump rings, thinking 5 or 6 mm would be the perfect size. I only found these super-sized rings, though, so I decided to try it out. I like the look even better. It's more open and airy. 

Do you design by purpose, by "happy accident," or a little of each?

Disclaimer: The lampworked beads, brass beadcaps, and brass findings  used in this project were provided to me free of charge by Artbeads. My review is my opinion and I have not been paid for my endorsement.