Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Don't forget, if you order my books online, I'll send you a signed book plate as a thank-you.
OK, I'm done bragging today. I need to get back to work. Thanks to all for so much support.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
If you'd like an even more passive approach to blog following, become a subscriber. All you need to do is click on the nifty widget on the right side of this blog that says "Follow this Blog." You'll get e-mail alerts notifying you of every fascinating posting I make!
As a blog writer, I love Google Analytics. It lets me know all kinds of interesting things about all of you. So even though you don't comment very often, I know you're out there and reading my blog!
Have you noticed my Like it, love it, try harder buttons? For those of you who don't care to comment, you can still let me know what you think by rating my posts. Don't worry, I'll never know who voted, but the results will help me shape my content.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Ten Tips for getting past your creative dead end
1. Pick a project from a magazine, or buy a kit, and make the project according to the directions as they are written – no short cuts. This will force you to think like another designer, and a slightly different approach to a project can teach you a few things.
2. Take a walk, ride your exercise bike, or even do a sink-load of dishes by hand. The repetitive motion of the mindless task will let your mind wander, and you may just stumble onto your path out of your road block.
3. Try a small project in a new hobby – if you bead, sew something. If you paint, try polymer clay. Working in a similar, but new-to-you medium may help you look at the same-old-same-old (color blending, for example) in a new way.
4. Make a gift: choose colors for your friend, not for you. Think of your friend as you work. Consider her colors, her size, her preferences. Your gift will come from the heart, and you may find that thinking away from your own style will re-open your creativity.
5. Accept a commission. Kind of like #4, making something to someone else’s specifications will make you consider new materials, new combinations, new approaches.
6. Look through pictures of your old work (you do take pictures of your masterpieces before you release them, don’t you??). When I’m on a jewelry-making roll, something kind of takes over, and I make things I really had no prior plans for. Call it my muse. When I look back at old work, sometimes I think, “Wow. That was really good, and I hardly remember making it.”
7. Get thee to a city. For me, it’s Milwaukee’s Third Ward, or preferably, Chicago. I love my country life, but more than a few times a year I need to see the crowds, check out what people are really wearing, see what’s in the stores. I’m instantly refreshed, and ready to get going.
8. If you’re a city-dweller, come on out to the country. The rolling landscape, even in winter, can be quite inspiring. I see more than seven shades of brown (an a whole lotta white) outside my window right now.
9. If you can’t get to the city or the country, go ahead and watch some TV. Now, I’m not a big fan of TV, and I went several years without seeing an episode of everyone’s favorite Sunday-night drama. However, when I finally turned it on, I smacked my forehead. What a great source for fashion and jewelry inspiration! The same can be said for lots of sitcoms and even the nightly news.
10. Just do it. Jump in, get going, bite off more than you can chew. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t get started. Even if you have to un-do everything you’ve done, doing something is much better than doing nothing.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
While you're online, check out the Sweet Potato Queen's Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner. It's been a few years since I read this one, but you might as well go ahead and make a batch of Pig Candy as a pre-holiday treat. I had no idea that people atually made this stuff, let alone ate it, but it's amazing. In fact, it's so adicting that I've never made it again just to save myself and my family.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you have little ones at home and you'd like to make these ghosts, here's how:
1. Use a product called "stiffy" a liquid fabric stiffener found in craft stores, or dilute some Elmer's glue with water.
2. Use cheesecloth, re-cycled sheets, or paper towels. Soak the fabric in the stiffener and wring dry.
3. Drape the fabric over a TP tube (or trimmed paper towel tube) and let dry.
4. Add detail with a black Sharpie marker. (One of my daughters was going through a bride obsession at age 4, so the ghost in the back left is wearing a veil.)
These ghosts (and the pumpkin) have lasted for at least 12 Halloweens.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Here's hoping you have an artfully crafted weekend!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
- I’ll be there at 8:00 and I’ll be there at 8-ish. You’ve instantly gained at least 20 minutes of cushion, so you don’t really have to have your act together to leave on time, after all. Or, more realistically, I’ll be home at 11 or I’ll be home at 11-ish. Who’s now in charge of the curfew? The non-able-to-commit teen!
- I’m hungry (Let’s get lunch, now!) and I’m hungry-ish (I could eat, unless you’d rather not, and in that case, I can totally skip lunch and do what you want to do.)
- He’s hot (he’s the one for me) and He’s hot-ish (I think he’s cute, but if you think he isn’t I can easily back out of my opinion).
To make things worse, “ish” is often employed after a slight delay and searching-for-approval glance. It’s even able to stand alone, away from the verb it modifies. For example:
Teen: “I’m done with my homework.” (scans Mom’s face to see if she believes)
Mom: raises eyebrow and gives a stern look.
Teen: “ish.” (turns off the Gilmore Girls episode she has seen at least 15 times and slinks back to the books).
My concern with “ish” is that it goes against one of my core principles – say what you mean and mean what you say. One could see that it’s quite handy but I’m afraid that it’s making us somewhat lazy and selfish, and also more concerned with other’s opinions than our own.
Will I be banning ish from my girls’ vocabulary? Probably not. But, I will be on ish-alert, and I’ll be sure to challenge them to say what they really mean the first time, and be confident in their own opinions regardless of how they may be received.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Seeing the bluebirds instantly brightened my mood. It got me thinking of the other way we use this word -- a bluebird is an unexpected and pleasant surprise. So, happy Friday, and may the bluebirds come your way.
P.S. If you enjoy birds, please check out my friend Monette's watercolors! And, don't forget to keep your feeders full this winter.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Before I started, I took a picture of the original necklace. I wanted to be sure I could restring it if I changed my mind.
If you're at a creative impasse, turn to your old jewelry for inspiration. Why have you stopped wearing a piece? Is it the fit? A bad clasp? What did you like about the piece to begin with? The colors? A specific bead or two? Then figure out what you can make using the best of what's there.
If you're still stuck, check out this new book by Brenda Schweder called Vintage Redux. I was the editor for this book and it'll finally be available at the end of this month. I'm sure you'll love all the creative ways Brenda has taken vintage finds (and some that may have remained lost if a less-creative eye was searching the second-hand shops) and made truly fabulous modern jewelry. My favorites are the class-ring-as-toggle bracelet (I wonder if my dad is ready to part with his?) and the charming bangle bracelets (attach a few charms and your plain-jane bands will have a modern look).
Let me know if you've ever been moved to "redux," and what happened when you did.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Before the book signing, I escaped for a walk along the Ft. Meyers beach. I forgot how beautiful the sand is (it’s been about 10 years since I visited the Gulf Coast). I was pleased to see many of the shells I remember from my childhood – cat’s paws, cockle shells, scallops, mussels, and even broken bits of sand dollars and sea urchins. I know the shelling is not the same as it once was, but it wasn’t as sparse as I expected. I couldn't help but stoop and collect a precious few.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My friend Karen brilliantly executed this philosophy with a house she staged for selling. With the furniture moved out, the views dominate each room. She did a fabulous job with new paint colors in all the rooms to bring the outside colors in.
I guess this has been on my mind a lot, since I know the long, bleak Wisconsin winter is just around the corner. Hopefully we'll be working on the living room, so I'm looking at colors now, but will also look at them against the winter scape.
PS Do you watch Top Design? Wednesday is my Bravo night!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
First the pearls, from left to right. 5mm potato, 7x10mm rice, 8-9mm round, 6mm rice, 8mm rondell, 3mm Mother of Pearl, and cream and champagne keishi. This will really fill in my depleted stash!
Then, I bought some fun stuff: 16 mm red shell pearls, like the one’s I used for Nicki’s earrings, 14mm lava rocks, 14mm carved new jade, more lava rocks in 6mm, 8mm lizardite (?! Not a gemstone that makes the regular list, but I loved the green laced with black), and 8x10mm black stone.
Here's a close up of the carved new jade:
Finally, my splurge of the day was a strand of faceted slab-cut Peruvian opals. I also stocked up on some findings, two spools of suede cord for Meredith, and some funky pendants for her to experiment with. Check out their web site for a schedule of their tour – they may be coming to your city, soon. If not, go ahead and look through the online listing. I’ve always had a great experience with ordering from Rings & Things.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Now, some people take it a little to far and select pets to go with their furniture (we have been accused of that more than once). For the record, our dog was rescued and we chose him because he matched us, not our decor.
My other stating-the-obvious gardening tip is shop now for discount perennials. You have good planting weather through at least October, and you can save more than 50% of the in-season retail price. The way I look at it, the risk is worth the potential gain, especially if your taste exceeds your budget, the way mine always seems to do.
Monday, September 8, 2008
So, does anyone know why the turkeys crossed the road?
...to get to the other side, of course!