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I Can Create When I Need to!

A couple of weekends ago (yikes, is it 3 now???) was a major blast of creativity for me. A much needed one, I might add!

It was Bea’s birthday, and she requested a “bee” cake. This is not the first time she’s had a “bee” themed birthday, but last time she wanted a lavender bee cake.

This time she wanted a more traditional color theme.

Which reminded me that I had purchased a length of “bee” fabric to make her a dress a few years ago, and getting it made never got to the top of my to do list. I found it and ta-dah! Birthday dress. Since I bought it, she has grown quite a bit, so it needed a little extra length and I was able to find a coordinating fabric to make a ruffle. She also felt like she wanted it to cover up a little more than a sun dress does, so I got a white tee shirt and found some little coordinating bows to fancy it up, and added them to the dress as well to tie the look all together.

 

At the last minute I realized I hadn’t gotten her a card, so in Gaga fashion, I made one – a cute little tag using fabric from her dress to embellish it.

Now I’m pretty full of myself again, and in “need, need, need to create” mode.

Thank goodness I still have a bunch of cards I “need” to get made. Heeheehee!

 

So, About This NLWM

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Right now I am furiously trying to wrap up NLWM, otherwise known as National Letter Writing Month.

It used to be sponsored by the United States Post Office, but I don’t think they’re involved any more.

Ironically, they caused me a little stress over it this year. I’ll get to that story in a minute.

Anyway, I knew going into it I’d be gone for half the month, so I meticulously planned it out so I could play and still take my trip.

While we were in Maui I got cards made for all the 70+ participants. This year I decided to stick to a theme, and for me, that was tropical images. I found a luscious set of papers from Graphic 45 and went a little cray cray with a fancy design that called for a lot of cut and paste (my favorite.)

Then embellishing got a little out of hand, as well. You may remember that as I cut out components I posted vague photos building to the big finish. The rules of NLWM say we can’t post photos of finished work until after they are received so it will be a surprise to the recipient/s so I had to keep it to myself, as much as it distressed me to be a teaser.

 

And wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take a photo of the finished cards before I mailed them.

JUST KIDDING! I’m way to full of myself to let THAT happen!

Once we arrived home from Maui, I printed out a couple of my favorite photos to use as postcards for the group. All 70+ participants received the palm tree photo, and the 35+ “madness” participants got the “Maui Love.”

What is madness, you ask? Well, those are the crazy people who agree to write to everyone in the madness group and answer all mail received, from regular players who decide to send us a little treat, as well as all those in the group.

So here’s where the “ironic stress story” starts.

My executive assistant  (aka Mr. Tattered) has the task of letting the post office know that we’ll gone and request that they put a hold on our mail. There have been some issues in the past, so he took the notification to the post office, and backed it up with a second request in our mailbox.

Fast forward to our return home, and he went to the post office to pick up our mail, knowing that with my goofy project, there should be LOTS.

But, (and here’s where the ironic part comes in) the lady at the “service counter” said that not only was there no mail being held for us, there was no record that we ever requested a hold. I’m participating in a thing that benefits the post office (the math is a little tricky, but it doesn’t take a whiz to figure out that it is not cheap to fully participate, especially when you add in that some of the ladies are in foreign countries to the tune of a minimum of $1.40 a whack) and we have no mail. IMPOSSIBLE.

So, thinking they must have figured out a way to cram it all into our box (no way, no how!) he went all the way back home to check.

Empty, except for the back up card requesting the hold.

At this point, he turned mail retrieval over to me.

I went to the post office, stood in line (toddler in tow) and eventually came face to face with a clerk. Fortunately, not THE clerk, but one of her co-workers.

“Good morning,” I say (passive/aggressively, because it is definitely NOT a good morning at this point, as I fantasize about all my beautiful mail being lost out there in the universe,) “You are dealing with a pissed off customer. Would you like to handle it, or turn me over to a supervisor now?”

He says, “Well, tell me what the problem is, and I’ll see what I can do.”

So, I nicely launch into my story about what we did, my participation in NLWM, my beautiful cards (maybe 100 of them, I say) being unaccounted for, my husband’s earlier unsuccessful visit, and how upset I am. I show him the photo my husband texted me of the almost empty mailbox which included the notification card…

He looks at it carefully, says, “Okay, let me check…” and walks off, only to return a minute later with a big ol’ stack of mail, which obviously contained a LOT of very pretty envelopes. “Well, I don’t know what happened, but here it is, right where it was supposed to be. I’m sorry for the the inconvenience.”

I was tempted to launch into a tirade about incompetence, and no wonder so many people hate the post office…but my pile of happy mail made me smile, and all was instantly forgiven. ALMOST. I still had a little whining left in me, but my mail was safe.

And that’s where I realized my planning hadn’t been so good. I neglected to make cards for those responses that were going to need to be sent out.

Truth is, I COULD have gone to the store and bought a gazillion thank you cards, but have you met me? That’s just not how I roll.

They HAVE to be hand made. HAVE to.

So, after opening all my treasures, and logging who I need to respond to (and how many times, so I’d know how many new designs I need to come up with!) I was ready to design new cards.

Yeah, I think I’ll tease you again…

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome To Crazytown!

I know, I disappeared again.

I have a FULL life.

And I mean really full! To the point where living it is cutting into the time I have to write about it! Heeheehee!

Since returning home from Maui, I’ve been chasing-my-tail busy.

I don’t know how I let this happen. Well, yes I do. I want it all, and I want it all NOW! And if I have to stuff 30 hours worth of time into a 24 hour period, and 10 days into a week, well, so be it.

I don’t seem to have any concept of the idea of scheduling downtime. It’s just run, run, run.

As I try to figure out what I can weed out, there just doesn’t seem to be anything. It’s not like I’m doing a bunch of things I don’t want or need to do. And unfortunately, society dictates that I need to shower every once in awhile, and if that has to happen at midnight, it has to happen at midnight. I can sleep when I’m dead. I find that it would be very useful if I could have 5 of me living my life, but I’m guessing that isn’t going to happen.

ANYWAY, back-to-back vacations probably weren’t a GREAT idea, but the timing was sort of beyond our control. So we came home from one trip, emptied our suitcases onto the floor and started repacking.

Hannah needed some “excursion” clothing for our trip to the Galapagos, so that took a little shopping, and since we had a 20% off coupon at REI, I decided getting a pair of good hiking boots to start breaking in for our hiking tour next spring was a good use of time – well, it WAS next spring. I think it’s getting shifted to the fall…

The rest? Well, I didn’t want to miss National Letter Writing Month, and that took a bit of preparation. Okay, more than a bit. I get a little carried away. But it’s only one month a year, and I really like it. I COULD have crossed it off the list, but no. Some things are worth stressing a little over.  I got the cards and envelopes made while we were in Maui, but then they needed to get written in…and mailed before we left.

To those I added 2 postcards made from photos I took in Maui that I really wanted to share with my writing buddies. I do put some of this stress on myself.

 

 

I committed to decorating a cake for Bea’s class at school for a celebration, and that turned out to be a bit more of a project than I bargained for, but again, it’s one of those things that’s worth a little stress. I have to keep up my Gaga creds, after all. The timing couldn’t have been worse, but again, out of my control. It had to happen.

Before I knew it, it was time to leave for the Galapagos (with a side trip to Universal Studios to roller coaster ourselves silly!) for an action-packed 2 weeks, and finally home. I slept for 12 hours the night we got home!

 

Waiting for me were about 100 (give or take) pieces of mail from NLWM that need to be answered, an Easter tree that needed to get taken down and changed over to just a spring tree (unless I get lazy and just shift right into 4th of July -nah, I don’t think I can let myself do that,) and a bunch of unpacking and putting away.

Now Hannah has a report she needs to do about her trip, and she’ll need a little help with that. And as if I wasn’t crazy enough, all these pictures need to be whittled down (we took them on 4 different cameras! Heeheehee!) and loaded onto the computer. What are the chances they’ll make it into a scrapbook? Jeez, I don’t even have the photos from CUBA sorted yet, let alone the blog posts I promised about THAT trip.

Then there’s finishing touches to be put on the Africa trip (we went to the doctor for our malaria meds today!) and trying to figure out what we’ll be doing for our fall trip next year – the Euro downturn has convinced us we probably need to schedule a European vacation for fall of 2018 and shift China to the 2019. Yeah, first world problems…

And those are just the BIG things – add in all the little stuff and day to day operations… I’m exhausting myself just thinking about it.

The bottom line is, I’m crazy nuts, and loving ALMOST every minute of it!

 

 

4th Time’s a Charm

Well, I got to bead a little today. Or pretend to bead. It wasn’t my most successful project to date.

I started off good. The earrings went quickly – no goof ups at all. And I love them.

The bracelet is another story.

A sad story.

I’d found a worn piece of coral on the beach that was very much the same shape and size as the wide-holed barrel beads I use to make my beaded bracelets (5 strands of beads running through the barrel bead to keep them together.) I’ve made several, and I really like the style.

Anyway. So, today’s project was to use the coral to make a bracelet.

Everything started off good. I cut the elastic string, anchored a bead on one end so the beads wouldn’t come off and got started. It looked so pretty! Then as I was starting to tie it off, (you can imagine what is coming!) I dropped the end WITHOUT the anchor and the beads poured off and into the carpet. Shag carpet, of course. So, not only did I not have the finished bracelet strand, but I got to pick all the beads out of the carpet and restring the beads (although the 2nd time, it was shorter so I know there are still beads hiding in the carpet – but not to worry, I have plenty of extras.) So, I finish the second strand, tie it off, go to put it over my wrist, and the knot comes undone. AGAIN, beads go flying, but this time I’m sitting at the table and the beads are there instead of in the carpet.

Strand 3 – This time I got out a youtube video on beading elastic bracelets to see what I did wrong. Oh, yeah. I used a regular knot instead of a surgeon’s knot and THEN a regular knot, and this gal did a second surgeon’s knot and another regular knot, then a dab of bead glue, just to be sure. Sounded like a plan to me.

So I faithfully followed the instructions, but I forgot to run the strand through the coral bead first, so I cut it apart and started on strand #4.

By now I’m getting just a little pissy, but I power through. I’m not going to let a SIMPLE beaded bracelet get the better of me!

I tie on an anchor bead. I string all the beads. I tie another anchor bead at the other end (just to be sure the little suckers don’t run away again!) I run the strand through the coral bead, and tie it off just like in the video, including the dab of glue. Success! The 4th time was the charm!

Now I just have 4 more strands to go (I thought, but after the 2nd – or 5th depending on how you’re counting) it became obvious the hole would only be able to accommodate 3 strands if I was lucky.

Strand 2 went off without a hitch, and with a little ingenuity (using tiny seed beads on the last inch) I was able to make third 3rd strand fit through the hole. Barely.

It isn’t as full as I normally like them to be, but the coral is special, so the trade-off works for me. I’ll always remember that I made it on Maui, with coral I found on the beach.

We only have 3 more days left on the island, and we’re going to do a little running around tomorrow and Sunday, and I really need to start organizing all my treasures for the trip home, so I don’t know if I’ll get to do any more beading. It figures, just as I get on a roll. Oh, well. I’ll wait and put this stuff away last. Maybe I can squeeze in another piece. Or two.

Ocean Hearts

We’ve been coming to Hawaii for over 20 years, nearly every year. And, yes, I appreciate just how very spoiled we are. Maui is our favorite island, and the one we come back to every year.

Part of the ritual is walking on the beach and looking for sea treasures. Hawaii has very little in the way of shells, but loads and loads of coral washes up. The types and shapes never cease to amaze me.

My favorites are the “hearts,” bits of coral that have broken off and been tumbled into heart shapes.

Sometimes you have to look for quite awhile to find any.

Some have tails that make them look more like “Ys.”

Other don’t have the tail, but really look more like “Vs.”

And some you have to use your imagination a bit to see the heart shape.

 

 

Most years I only find a very few that are no doubt about it “take-home-quality” hearts.  This year I don’t know if I’ve just spent more time walking the beach, or have developed a better eye, but I’ve found so many I’m going to either take home a bunch, or figure out how to whittle them down to a more manageable number.

The problem is, they each have their charms.

 

 

And then there is my very, very favorite, which can’t come home with me because it’s too big…

 

I do love my ocean hearts. And I love the name Ocean Hearts. It would make a cute name for a shop, don’t you think? Oh, Lord. I’m losing my mind. But there is an empty commercial building just down the street…

Where Did The Day Go?

I woke up this morning, and before I knew it, it’s almost time to go to bed.

Where did the day go?

I was actually quite productive, and that’s probably why it flew by!

I started the day trying to decide between what I NEEDED to do – work on my cards for National Letter writing Month, and what I WANTED to do – work on my beading.

Well, I was a responsible girl and worked on my cards.

Over the last week I have been working on the components – making tags, cutting backgrounds, popping out circles. Today I finished the prep work.

And since I was on a roll, I decide to start constructing them. I really, really, really want to show you the finished card (I’m kinda impressed with myself!) but we’re not supposed to show the finished work until they are received by the participants.

I got 50 of my 75 cards completed (only because I ran out of base cards) and was STILL on a roll, so I started the envelopes as well, and completed 50 of them. With those, I got a little cray cray. I wasn’t coming up with a group of three shapes I liked ready-made, so I actually drew out a little starfish, and hand cut 75 of the little suckers out. Heeheehee!

 

I spent hours and hours working on them, barely coming up to breathe or eat (but I DID get my 10K steps in!) and I guess that’s why the day disappeared so fast!

Tomorrow I’ll go across island (again!) and pick up the last 25 bases I need to continue, so until then, I may be able to get a little beading done (before I forget how to do it!)

 

Remember That Trip To Aloha Bead Co.?

By now you know, that with me, there’s always a story.

And here’s the latest.

So, last week I went to Aloha Bead Co. in Paia and fell in lust. Big time. I’ve been dreaming about those garden bracelets I told you about. Day and night. Night and day.

 

I got on line looking for their web-site (there isn’t one) and stumbled upon their Etsy store. The owner literally has everything you need to make the bracelets, as well as kits, available on-line. So the pressure was off. I could think about it, mull it over, and if the urge was still there months from now, I could always order it and have it shipped.

Have you met me?????

That’s just not how I roll. I spent way too much time scrolling through all of Sarah’s offerings (Yes, Sarah. We’re on a first name basis now.)

I ended up messaging her through Etsy to tell her what I was looking for, and she said she could make up kits for me in whatever color combination I was interested in and ship them within a few days. I told her the color I was interested in, and mentioned I was on the island. She suggested that I come in and she’d show me how to get started.

And then she went to her studio and MADE some lamp work beads she thought I would like for the project. OMG. How can you not instantly LOVE this woman? Of course, I didn’t know this in advance.

Wednesday just couldn’t get here quickly enough. I was beside myself excited.

So I walk in and she’s got “our” project laid out on her table, including the newly made beads I ADORE, and we set to work. Well, she started to work. I never dreamed she’d do the set up for me.

She very patiently explained the process as she went along along with the whys. I watched her every move.

You start with the basic set-up on wire…

…measuring along the way to get it the right length.

Then she started sewing on the beads with thread, one little set at a time.

When she had to stop to wait on a customer, I summoned the courage to try myself, and from there, she just coached. Here’s my very first bead! There, that little bell-shaped one. I did that!!!

I was very slow, and made a lot of mistakes, which I caught and fixed, but every second of it was fun. As it got more and more beautiful, my excitement grew. And with each little set, I got a little more confident, and a little faster.

All my fears of not completing the project flew out the window.

By the time I left, I’d completed half of the first phase.

Once I get the second half done, I’ll go back over it and add a few larger accent beads. We decided the pendant heart I purchased would match these beads quite well if we introduce just a touch of pink. So I’m going for a bracelet, a pair of earrings, and then the pendant on a simpler beaded necklace. We tossed around a few ideas, and she included enough extra beads for me to play with.

I have to confess, I purchased more beads for more projects, but…

…at least until it’s time to blog about it, so you’ll have to wait to see just how naughty I was.

Now, I have to tell you, had she not shown me how to do it, we would probably be looking at a very different outcome. I am a visual learner, and I’m not sure reading directions would have been enough. But watching, then doing under supervision, I’m sure I can do it, and I love it so much, I’m convinced I will follow through! Thanks, Sarah, from the bottom of my heart. As you would say, “much aloha!”

 

Now, you may not be able to get to Maui to meet Sarah in person, but she has an Etsy shop that contains everything you need to make these wonderful bracelets, as well as kits if you’re afraid to just dig in and try them on your own.  But even if you don’t like the bracelets, her beads are really quite amazing, and she is even open to custom designing lamp work beads for you!

You haven’t heard the last about Miss Sarah on these pages. I’ll be sharing with you my treasure trove of purchases along with my finished pieces in the days and weeks, and hopefully months, to come, and I’ll be giving credit where credit is due.

And before I close, I need to give props to Mr. Tattered. The plan was, I’d go play with beads for a couple of hours, then pick up a flat bread pizza to bring home for dinner. Well. I called to check in mid-afternoon, and it was pretty obvious I was having a blast, so he suggested I stay longer and we’d do pizza another time – he’d figure out dinner for himself. I think I’ll keep him.

 

 

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