Thursday, September 29, 2011

For the Love of a Child

This has been on my heart for the past week or so. As a home school mom, I am with my kids pretty much 24/7. Sometimes that becomes a heavy burden, and I have to take a break. I was very guilt-ridden when I first realized this. I thought I was an awful mom to want to get away.  Then I realized that it was exactly what my children and I both needed. We needed to miss each other, so we would become more grateful for each other. So, in a weird way, for the love of my children, I take some time away from them. Not nearly as much as I should, but that's another story.  Here's the thing. What do you do for the love of a child? Do you give yourself credit for it? This post is really to get all of us, myself included, to recognize all the things we do for children, and all the things we can do as well.  I have become friends with some great people thru blogging, and recently the struggles of children have come to the front of conversations.

Christian, learning how to shoot a bow.

  Just today, on Tapping Flamingo's blog, she posted about giving to cancer foundations and hair for cancer patients. I called my children in to read it to them, to help them understand that there are many ways to help people, and they don't all have to involve money. I want my children to realize that the most precious gift you can give someone is your time. I want my children to be wealthy in the people they are surrounded with, not necessarily in finances. (Although I wouldn't object to that!) So, I work on me, to be a better person, so I can teach my children how to be better people. Funny how that works out!
Do I make sacrifices for them? You betcha! And, yes, sometimes I'm not gracious about it. But I try. And I think that's the most you can ask of anyone.
Young Marines Mud Run

I am taking a bible study through Community Bible Study. It is a wonderful program, designed to take you deeper into understanding of the Bible. This year the study is on the book of Luke. So, of course, we are studying about the miracle of Christ's birth, life, and death. When you truly understand the culture of the time, it gives a greater understanding of the sacrifices Mary made, for the love of the Ultimate Child. Oh, how grateful I am that she was such a courageous woman. If you don't have children, don't think that you're not making a difference in a child's life. Your kindness to the person serving you at your favorite restaurant can translate into them being a better parent to their children. Your willingness to make a bracelet for 7000 Bracelets for Hope gives encouragement to parents dealing with life...threatening their child.
Please take a moment and give yourself credit for all that you do....for the LOVE of a child.

Blessings, Shirley

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bead Soup Giveaways & What I Learned

Well, I have finished visiting all the awesome blogs for the Bead Soup Blog Party. I am truly humbled and thrilled to have participated with such a talented group of people. I have a whole pile of new blogs to follow, and my brain is still reeling from all the great ideas people have shared during their creative process.  I am truly grateful for the wonderful comments left on my soup. I have learned how inspirational artisan beads can be! Mallory's beads really helped me reach my goals in making my soup!
There were several blogs that I either couldn't leave comments on, got "mail delivery failure" on, or simply didn't have a post for the Party.
What did I learn from the Party? Glad you asked!

Fiber is big!!! I saw some gorgeous pieces using fiber, so I'm definitely going to try to learn to use it.

I learned how important photography is in the jewelry world. I learned that I really like close-up pics of details, but I also want a full on shot, so I can see the entire piece. I learned that one picture is not enough for me to absorb the effort and hard work of the artist.  Karen Williams @ Baublicious wrote a great post on taking good pictures.  Kerry Bogert has a new ebook that will give you even more in depth information on taking great pictures. Lori @StudioWaterstone has a weekly post called I Heart Macro where everyone links up their close-up photos for the week.
I have to say, it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, I really enjoyed reading about the creative process, rather than just a picture and a link. We all knew going in that it was going to be a long process to get thru 300+ blogs, so I enjoyed reading about what worked and what didn't.  I also appreciated those very together people who gave links to the supplies they used! Oh, yeah, I have a ton of new favorites on etsy now!!!
There were quite a few artists who have giveaways going on.  I tried to write them down as I was going thru, and I hope I haven't left anyone out. Just thought you might want to go visit them now, before the giveaways are over.

Souvenirs from Life
Crafty Hope
Treasures Found

I feel the same way I did last time I finished the Bead Soup Blog Party.
Thrilled I finished. Depressed I finished.
 So, what's a girl to do? Why, join another challenge, of course!
So, stay tuned for the reveal for the Fall Challenge hosted by Michelle Mach on Oct. 4th!
Blessings, Shirley

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bead Soup Reveal 2011!!!

Yah!! It's finally here! Lori Anderson has pulled off quite an accomplishment this time. We have over 350 participants in the Bead Soup Blog Party, from all around the world.  Lori spent hours and hours, carefully putting together the partners for this hop. I was just as fortunate this time as I was last time. My partner for this hop is the very skilled Mallory Hoffman, of For the Love of Beads.  Here are the reminder pics of what she sent to me to play with.
Beautiful spacers, chips, and pearls

 Rustic chain and balled headpins

Gorgeous copper clasp

Stunning heart focal

Lovely nuggets and another shot of the spacers and headpins.

I knew I wanted to make more than one piece, and that I wanted the clasp to take center place in it's piece.  So, for  the first time, I did make some notes on my ideas, put all the beads on a tray, and just moved them around til they told me who was going to what party.  I have to tell ya, those little spacers are quite the partyers. They just played with everybody!

A sweet little bracelet, with twisted herringbone tubes separated by the lovely spacer beads.

This is a pure joy to wear. 

So I got stringing experience in this bracelet, as the herringbone strand was too thick for the spacers to slide onto, so I made 3 tubes in orange, red, and silver seed beads to complement the colors in the lampwork beads.

Here's my real stringing challenge! I started off with some lovely soft grey pearls between the tigereye beads. However, upon inspecting them more closely, I realized they were plastic, not glass. Bummer. I really liked that color combo, but had no luck trying to find anything similar. So, I used some galvanized size 6 seed beads between the tigereye rounds, and some metallic between the pearls. I was proud of myself on this one, since it's strung, asymmetrical, and doesn't have any beadweaving in it! It is long enough to just slip over my head, so I can showcase that beautiful clasp in the front. Oh, and I mixed metals in it too!!

See, there's our little spacers, hanging out with the tigereye and pearls this time.

This was a perfect piece for those pretty nuggets and chips.

This was actually the first piece I started on, and designing it took forever, even though it looks the most simple. I just wanted it to show off that focal, and not draw your eye away from it. I used one of the headpins to string it, and did a messy loop at the top. I took the chain apart and used pieces of it everywhere. I bought the chain with the big circles, and it matched the color of Mallory's chain perfectly. Then I used individual links to put them all together, adding some of the spacers (see how they get around?) to the smaller circles near the focal. 

 I don't think it has a finished look to it, like some of the pieces I see so many talented artist selling, but I have to be proud of myself for jumping so far outside my realm of comfort. 
And, finally, the one that almost wasn't. I literally finished it Friday at 4:00 p.m.  I made the tubes thinking they would work with the focal bead, then decided it didn't work. I wanted to use them, I just couldn't work out the design. Then, inspiration hit late Thursday night.
 Memory wire!! It helped the tubes keep their shape nicely.

 Yep, there are those little spacers, partying again! Gosh, I love those guys.

 I had planned on putting little dangles on the ends, which is why I just looped them. However, the way it hangs on my arm, I think it would just tickle! :)

Hope you enjoyed my endeavors, and are fortified for the rest of the hop with lots of coffee and chocolate!
Here is the link to the rest of the group: Blessings, Shirley

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blessed beyond belief!

I am really and truly overwhelmed. A few weeks ago, I received an email from Michelle Mach, telling me I had won a Fall Challenge kit. When the package came, I was extremely intrigued by the contents. Nothing that I normally use, but I do so love a challenge, so I told her I'd be thrilled to enter the challenge.

Look at this great mix of stuff! Some lovely Vintaj pieces.

A very unusual vintage lucite piece. I hope you can see the clear spot in the upper right corner of it. It's truly unusual.

The big spiral button is the other vintage piece. Don't you just love that orange oval?? I am curious as to what I'll come up with! :)

That was not the end of the surprises, however.  I also got a beautiful package from Karen over at Baublicious. Check this package!
 Can you believe the handmade paper and box??

Look at those stunning freeform earrings!  And if that wasn't wonderful enough, she also included those lovely pendant pieces. The one on the  left has a Canadian penny in it. The one on the right has that great tree shape on this side,

and this soft mix of color on this side. Can you see the cloth in the background? Yep, she did that too! Karen, I just can't thank you enough for this box of color.

And, one last thing, but certainly not the least.  I was notified that I was the winner of a torch from Beaducation!!! Oh, I'm so gonna need ya'lls help on that one! Never have I held flame in my excited little hands. And the first thing I want to find out is if it will make me some of those yummy enamel beads from Barbara Lewis over at Painting with Fire!
I feel wonderfully blessed and thankful. Now I need to go watch the safety tips for this baby!
Blessings, Shirley

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bread Class 101

Last week I had the pleasure of teaching some wonderful ladies the basics of whole wheat bread baking. It was one crazy setup, since they were all homeschool moms. What does that have to do with it, you ask? Well, it means that our kids are attached at the hip 24/7. Thankfully, mine are at the age when I can say, "I'm working. Go have fun with your friends, and don't come into my area of work."  And then I can dismiss them from my frontal lobe. Some of the moms didn't have that luxury, so it was a bit haphazard!  Oh, and throw in my dog, and the hostess' two mini dachshunds. But a fun time was had by all, I think. None of them had ever seen a grain mill, or a dough mixer. (The dough mixer is not a necessary component, just seriously cool). I explained to them that they just needed a cheap bread machine to start out with. Then, if they really got into it, they could think about the dough mixer. The grain mill is a must, but there are several options out there, including one you can attach to your KitchenAid mixer.
That's the dough mixer on the floor, and 3 bread machines on the counter.

I quickly put everyone to work! You can see a shot of my grain mill on the corner of the counter, the white and green machine.
Obviously not at work! Her daughter in the background was puppy sitting quite well!
My girlfriend insisted I wear the apron. Great for wiping hands off, but stinkin' hot!

Let's make sure we have all the ingredients, K?

A conference in progress....
My daughter(s) long-haired one, and my hairy one!! :)

I know that dog was around here somewhere....
Piles of boys....

Piles of kids....

Kids everywhere you look!!

The fruits of our labor.

That's a fantastic jar of peach preserves on the table. And it was made in a bread machine!!
Sorry I didn't get any photos of the completed breads. You can see some pumpkin and Ezekiel bread on the platter. We also had Parmesan-Oregano bread, Pizza pinwheels, cinnamon rolls, and garlic knots.  Quite a successful day. I look forward to more like it.
Blessings, Shirley