Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There is a Grand Catherdral in our Midst

If you have never been to the Grand, Gothic Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, now is the time. This is the second tallest center for learning in the world.
The grand hall makes you feel like you have been transported back hundreds of years to the pinnacle of Gothic architecture. The carvings, height and attention to detail is stunning.

The University offered "rooms" to different Nationalities during the construction of the Cathedral in order to help with the funding of the build. As a result, there are examples of classrooms from all over the world represented here. The University offers tours of these Nationality Rooms year-round, but it's best to go at Christmas, because they are all traditionally decorated.
The rooms are filled with stained glass, period furnishings, original paintings and tapestries. There are even examples of whole rooms that have been transported from whatever country they represent. The Greek room features marble columns, this marble was mined from the same quarry that was used to build the Parthenon. There are surprises everywhere, the kid's favorite was the Ukrainian room which allows access to a very small 3rd floor balcony.
And while you are crawling around the place, don't miss going as high as the elevator will take you. There are great windows up there and you can see for MILES!
Here's where you can get more information: www.pitt.edu/natrooms

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Chaos is Over...Time to Gain Control

Yes, The holiday craziness has come to an end. The endless shopping for food and gifts has finally come to a close. Amen, I'm all for some serenity!

Since most of us are grasping for some order about now, and getting organized for a stellar 2009, I thought I'd share a helpful tool.

If you would like to get your finances in order and: set up an easy budgeting tool, get charts and graphs on where you are spending, and get tips on how and where to save, read on. The best part is that there is NO Monthly Input required!

"In 5 minutes, see where you are spending it, understand how your investments are performing and set up realistic budgets." Go to http://www.mint.com/ .

Friday, December 26, 2008

And the Winner Is:

Everyone asks, Let's face it. "What was your favorite gift?" Well, this year, I have a clear winner: Who wouldn't love a book entitled: "Mom is Always Right. Words That Celebrate the World's Smartest Moms". And. Of course, it was given to me by my Mom!

Here are a few words of wisdom:

"Mothers have as powerful an influence over the welfare of future generations as all other earthly causes combined"- John Abbott

"Mother is far too clever to understand anything that she does not like"-Arnold Bennett

""Motherhood brings us as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own"-Margarite Kelly and Elia Parsans

I've enjoyed a quiet and peaceful day browsing through this book looking for the wisdom in like minds. Thanks Mom!

Friday, December 19, 2008

There is Hope and Joy This Holiday

O what fun we had! I was floored by the talent in the room! The creativity and bottomless enthusiasm is absolutely contagious.

I mean, a bowl made of a gourd with handmade soap and p.j. pants!, a kitchen chalkboard and a handmade apron made from a spare curtain!, an amazingly fun lighted snowman gourd and lovingly knit perfect green pair of mittens! ALL MADE BY HAND AND ALL UNDER $10!

It was a challenge and a lot of fun coming up with the Secret Santa. Certainly a highlight of my Christmas Season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Game To Play Your Life By

I am facinated by "Life Coaches"...People who have all of the answers to all of the big questions. I mean, we're here in the trenches, keeping track of all of the minutia, (do we have peanut butter?, did I wash the only socks my son will wear for hockey practice?, And, if so, where are they?, I can't believe I didn't send that sympathy card yet...I mean the poor guy died weeks ago... I obviously could go ON and ON). Life Coaches are so focused on what matters..the big stuff.

Here's something one of the Coaches I read suggested: Live your life as if it is a game of Hot and Cold. Hot is happy, Cold...well, not so much. Gravitate towards the warms, move toward them, emotionally and physically. Walk away from the cold and colders. If you do enough walking, your life will be filled with mostly "warms" and maybe even some "hots".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to WOW Kindergarten Kids and Teachers Alike

All you have to do is combine the kid's three favorite ingredients: Sugar, Butter and Sugar! I made these for my Kindergartener's class today and everyone really liked them...before I left, I was typing a copy of the recipe for the teachers.

Here's all you have to do to amaze young and old alike: Make your standard sugar cookie....use my recipe from a few months back...the tried and true, old stand by. Then, use a large cookie cutter and then a smaller one to make a hole in your cookie. Have the kids choose thier favorite flavor of Jolly Rancher and put it in the center "hole". Bake as normal. The candy will get all bubbly in there, just let it go...It will smooth out like glass as they cool. I find it's best to bake them on parchment paper, just because they slide off so easily. I've also thought of crushing some of the candies to make a stained glass effect, but haven't yet tried it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Calf

Over the weekend, the kids were excited to meet "Paintpot". He's the new calf at the farm. They raise black and red angus over at the farm, so the calves are usually red or black. My Dad usually names the red ones "Red" and the black ones are "Blackie". Every spring there are lots of "Red"s and "Blackies" running around. It's somewhat of a rarity to get a calf with this much white on it. He's really beautiful and soft. Winter calves have it tough..they've got to make it through all of the severe cold that is yet to come and the muddy, wet spring. More work for the farmer, but farmers are used to more work, in fact, I don't think the idea of "less work" has ever occurred to them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great Gift for Hard To Buy For Loved Ones

A friend of mine has recently sung the praises of Shutterfly, and it you haven't checked it out, Now is the time!

You can create a book of your photos..the site allows you to choose backgrounds, layouts, fonts, and book covers. I can't imagine a better gift for Grandma...a quick family history, or just a book showing all of the fun that the grandkids had this year. I recently got one for my Dad, detailing and cataloging our trip to Alaska. I even took pictures of our ticket stubs for the back cover. And, for a limited time only, the books are 30% off with free shipping! check it out at www.shutterfly.com

A Serious Addiction

Like all addicts, I was in complete denial that I had a problem. I mean, it's just a little thing, just a few, not expensive if you get them one at a time. I had a good source and it was close by, easily accessable.

And then I saw it all laid out one day and I realized that I had a problem: massive and ridiculous amounts of cookie cutters! I mean stars in 3 sizes, hearts in various sizes and with different trims, trains, leaves, acorns, angels, you name it, I have it. The bin runneth over.

I guess it's not the worst of addictions...the rewards are sweet.

Recycling and Upcycling

As near as I can tell, recycling is re-using and item by deconstructing it and re-using the raw materials. Upcycling is re-using an item by re-purposing it or adding to it to make it better. Here's a picture of the kid's UpCycled Gingerbread House!

Apparently we did not give enough Halloween candy to the troops!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I've Been Wanting To for Years...

I've been wanting to do this for years...And, thanks to the spiraling and unpredictable economy, I think this is the year to forgo the luxury and the over the top presentations.

This is definitely the year for "Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String"! I added a little color by making my own "From" tags. Let's face it, scrawling 6 names on the "From" section of those little cards was a little tedious, so I just made up my own and printed them on cardstock.

I tied a little greenery at the center for interest. I wanted them to look a little travelled and worn, I almost crumpled the paper before I wrapped them, but then I thought I was going a little far. I mean, some of the things in these boxes came from Amazon, but Not THE Amazon!

My kids completely hated the idea, I'll confess. They insist that any "kid" packages have to be wrapped brightly, festively and with lots of ribbon--not string. Oh well, you can't please all of the people all of the time!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Big News-- I'm Officially in a Gallery!

There's a new Gallery in Town, and they wanted to feature local artisans. The Bottlebrush Gallery has a wonderful open gallery space with really amazing artists. They plan on juried exhibits from artists from all over the country. They are currently featuring a photographer who also has a permanent exhibit at San Francisco's Museum of Art.
We designed a display and an item that we have never marketed before especially for the Gallery! We created a handmade glass bead pendant on a sterling silver venetian box chain with matching handmade and perfectly matched earrings on our most popular sterling leverbacks. They look terrific on their display case, and the tree display really fits in with the feel of the place.

If you are local, I'm hoping you'll stop in!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Swirl it Up Girlfriends!

I'm EXCITED to add this NEW option to my line of interchangeable jewelry. The Swirl! These little sterling dipped numbers are just the thing to add to your holiday wish list.
They look great alone or, I like to add any of my round dangles....shown here are Swarovski crystals in "Snowdrop" and "Gotta Have It Aqua". Try something new and swirl it up!

Friday, November 28, 2008


If you have to Mow AROUND the snowman.....

Great and Grateful Family

The "What I am Thankful For" game went over well...everyone had a great time trying to guess who was thankful for what...In the process I saw a lot of nodding heads in agreement over what everyone else said: Mission accomplished--I got everyone thinking about what really matters.

Here are a few of my favorite responses:

-That I've made it to this age.
-That the Presidential election is over.
-I never hit a deer while driving.
-How smart my kids are.
-Extra pillows.
-Green Grass.
-A wife that doesn't complain too much.
-Even though my car is not new, it starts every time.
-My family has taught me that there are lots of ways to be rich.
-I am free and there's no one in the house.

Maybe you are thankful for some of the same things? It's a great reminder.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

If You Are Coming To My House Today....

It occurred to me that my kids can churn out the "craft", so I directed them to create this useful napkin ring.
Here's the centerpiece for the kids table...a few cranberries, a nectarine (hollowed out) with a battery operated tea lite tucked inside. I always cover the kids table with butcher paper and provide crayon cups so that they can color and draw while the adults are cooking and talking.

This is the prize that I'm offering for....

The pie game that we are playing! Here's how it works: Everyone is given a slip of paper that says: "3 Surprizing Things That I am Thankful For"--Signed Annonymous. (I'm hoping to eliminate the "health and family" replies.) The slips will be tucked inside the "pie" that we made out of construction paper weavings and with a crust of aluminum foil. After dinner, I plan on reading them and giving everyone a list so that they can guess who wrote each one. The person who has the most correct guesses wins the prize--a set of cute dessert plates!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dawn of a New Era

Last week, I casually read an article for and against teaching cursive in schools. I found it interesting...in fact, it had never occured to me NOT to teach it, but the argument was that it takes up too much time and the kids "today" really don't use it. The proponents held that cursive is important because there are certain situations where it is considered approprite to use it (personal notes, signatures). Apparently the debate rages on. Here's the window to my world: I have been trying to get my #4 Darling to write. His skill level is shown above. I'd say fine motor skills are a concern. He can write exactly zero letters, but knows and recognizes them all from A-Z. He can spell 20 or so words, but only verbally.

I was helping him on Noggin.com today, and all of a sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks! The boy knows the QWERTY as well as I do! He has no problem typing anything!

How strange...maybe someday we'll be debating whether to teach the hand written word at all.

Ok, Somehow This Guy Gets a Pass

Call it a "get out of Jail Free" card or whatever. There is this house "in town" and I just had to take a picture. Usually the pre-Thanksgiving decoration grates on me, but this house is so decorated that I can't give them a hard time for wanting to get it done while the weather was warm. Plus, it is done out of pure Joy and celebration....there is no commercialism here. I wish you could hear it...there is a constant Christmas soundtrack as well. It's a good thing that 7-11 is their neighbor (it may even be a draw for 7-11!).

My only question is: Where do they keep all of this stuff 10 months out of the year??

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving is a week away..

I'd like to celebrate the holidays one at a time. Being grateful for the things that we have and the people that we choose to spend time with.

Am I the only one? Does it make anyone else gag that on ABC, they are counting down TO the 25 days of Christmas countdown? As in: "13 days until The 25 Days of Christmas!" It made me laugh when I first saw it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Invitation to Woot

Here's fair warning: There is a Woot-Off today. I've mentioned this before, but Woot is a one day/one deal web site with really good deals on that ONE thing. Today, there's a "Woot-Off" which means that once they sell out of the "one-thing" they move on to the next. (The flashing yellow lights indicate a Woot-Off).

Check it out www.woot.com . Then you, too can use phrases like: "I wooted it", "I got caught up in the Woot", "Holy Woot!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Fish Out of Water

I was at Joann's yet again today. (Ok, I was there twice, but who's counting...I've got craft).

I saw this huge burly, bearded man in Carhardt overalls and a flannel shirt with an canvas insulated vest covered with grime standing in the midst of the quilting fabrics today. He seemed so pensive and out of place. I had to make a comment..... help maybe. He stood there and explained how he was looking for a really warm fabric to make hoods out of because he and his crew are often outdoors and also work in mines where it's cold. They needed hats to wear under their hardhats.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop...you know..."my wife/mother said she'd make them if I picked up the fabric" sort of thing. Then he launched into how the Navy taught him how to do lots of things and the guys make fun of him and then I finally GOT IT! He sews! He showed me his vest, that he made....I'm tell'in ya ladies, I have never seen such quality. The vest was a heavy canvas, lined with a heavy quilt, the collar was courduroy...double stitched for strength, zippers, pockets, the whole thing. Wow.

Then he asked me how many machines I had...I wasn't sure if he meant hand held mixers or what. Then he said he's got 6! Six sewing machines!

Now who's the fish out of water!

I would have taken a picture except for the obvious...see my previous blog :(.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Off Kilter

So I'm feeling a little out-of-sorts. I've pieced together that the last time I knew where my camera was, was last thursday. I remeber I posted here, and the kids came home from school and the pandemonium started to swirl.

Friday at school I realized that I didn't have it in my bag (as I usually do). It's OK, I thought, I just left it at home on the counter.

It's not on the counter.

I've been waiting for it to show up all weekend. I run the same "route" through my days, so I was thinking it should be there somewhere, right on top of a pile of camoflaging clutter.

I actually started to look in earnest last night. To no avail. Now, I'm at a complete loss. It must be right next to my address book, because I can't find that either.

I'm just not allowing myself a sense of panic and loss. It HAS to be here someplace. I have pretty much figured out that it is in some very random place, like behind the green beans in the pantry, I just hope I didn't leave it on top of the garbage can.

Ok, gotta go check....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forcing Some Paper-Whites Just in Time for Christmas

A great-grand uncle to my Mom (or something like that) stopped by recently with a big bag full of narcissus bulbs. He simply had too many and thought I'd enjoy some. Well, of course! Me and my girlfriends would ALL like some.

So I gathered up all of the big wide mouthed vases that clutter my life and stopped at the Home Depot for a $2.00 fifty pound bag of pea gravel. Some re-purposed wired ribbon from the attic was the final touch.

We had a fantastic day doing makeovers (thanks to Marzipan Mom and her recent Mary Kay connection.) We pulled names for the Secret Santa that we are planning ( I swear, I'm more excited about this $10 maximum-make-it-yourself from stuff you find around the house project than any other Christmas gift I have planned.) And, we all put together a vase of paper-whites.

Things were a little rushed as usual....we decided we need to start writing some of the things we think about down, so that we make plans to DO them!

Here are the directions for forcing some Narcissus bulbs just in time for the Holidays:

1.) Fill a dish or wide vase with a layer of pea gravel.

2.) Cover the rocks with water.

3.) Place the bulbs in the dish, flat side down, nestling the bottoms into the stones.

4.) Place the vase in a well-lighted indoor location. Keep the stones constantly wet.

Paper Whites (Narcissus) will bloom in about 6 weeks!

They are a great fragrant gift and a refreshing bloom to have in your home when the outdoors gets dreary and cold.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Christmas Items

Here are some new items that we have recently put together for Christmas! These are the most detailed fused glass. The Christmas stocking is on a black adjustable leather cord and is hung perfectly on and angle so that it hangs just right.
I just LOVE these new Santa rings that we are making! They are on an adjustable sterling dipped silver band. Just add a red or green sweater and you are festive!

Available at: www.joybeadworks.etsy.com

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Green Before His Time

My Dad was recently recounting how he secured the building materials that he used to build his own house. It occurred to me that he was and always has been "green". Let's just say that he never throws anything away unless it's absolute junk. For all of the questionable stuff, he keeps it "just in case" and for the really good stuff, like a coffee can, that's just an opportunity waiting to present itself!

Here's how he built his own house with little or no money: Lots of sweat and effort.

Before my parents were even married, he paid $100 for a barn that was soon to be sunk (literally). The barn was on property that has since become Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. He and my Mom would go out to the barn on Sundays and dismantle the slate roof, beams and siding. He later used some of the beams and siding in the barn at the farm, he used the slate to put a nice roof on his house.

The beams in the house came from Olbum's Furniture Store in the North Side. Apparently Olbum's was being torn down to be replaced by better things (not) and Big Mike was contracted to do the demolition. Dad just can't stand to see perfectly good building materials wasted, so he paid Mike $3 a 3X14 floor joist. He bought most of the 3rd floor. It was all he and his friend could do to get those beams down to the second floor and then lower them out of the window and onto their truck. The windows in his house are 1/4in. plate glass that used to be the display windows from the store.

The hearth used to be a curb stone from the streets of Evans City. Apparently he happened by when road workers were removing some of the curb, and was fortunate enough to have them put in the back of his truck.

So, he's "green", or resourceful or just plain grew up having to figure out creative ways to accoplish goals. I give him a lot of credit, and hope that I could do as well, if I ever need to.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I am Determined to Get Done Early This Year

I am determined to get my Christmas shopping done early this year. Every year I resolve, but this time I'm serious. I think everyone is on more of a budget this year, more so than in years past, and I'm also committing to sticking to that. I've even given myself a deadline of November 30th. Wouldn't it be nice to relax and enjoy the festive weeks before Christmas, enjoying what the season is truly about: a celebration, family, gratefulness and appreciating those that you love? This year I resolve to banish frantic mad-dash running.

The catalogs have begun to arrive at my door in earnest, and my kids have started to gather all of the toy catalogs and circle with sharpie everything that they want. Let's just say the Lego catalog is nearly one big black circle.

I love to avoid even going to the stores, so here's the plan: Order from catalogs! Couldn't be simpler, selected items arrive at your door, generously packaged in concealed brown boxes (so that they can go right to the "hiding place" without even being opened!) The only thing that cranks me off is paying for the shipping. Then I found this site: www.freeshipping.org . It gives free shipping codes for more than 800 web sites!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Wise Woman Once Said:

It would be wonderful to realize that the time, money, and effort we spend on people when they are children, to point them in the right direction, will be much less than the time, money and effort we spend on trying to fix adults.--Amy Hoxie

I agree Amy, I'd also like to add that I'd like to see kids earning more and given less (mine included).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We're All Knee Deep

No Fair! My friend over at Hope Studios beat me to my laundry story!

I had to laugh yesterday at my pile of laundry....it's huge. This is only the kid's clothes....neatly folded in 4 piles, one for each of them. I have to admit, it still isn't put away. Somehow I end up thinking that I'll just do the last load, and then I'll put it away. Well, by the time I get the "last load" washed and dried, There's another load.

I had another friend remark that she did laundry all day yesterday, too. I think it's funny that we all got caught up in the halloween party/last minute costume/field trip swirl last week!

Monday, November 3, 2008


We were back at McConnel's Mill yesterday. It was such and amazingly beautiful and warm day for early November. I just made sense to take advantage of the weather and go out for a walk. (By the way, I'm not sure when a walk becomes a hike, but maybe it's when you walk in the woods??)

The McConnel's mill terrain was formed when the glaciers that were moving across North America stopped at this point, dumping all of the rocky debris. The place has always been fascinating. Horses and buggies made their way to the mill to grind their wheat, and through the ages, people have left their mark. Whether it be initials carved in trees or dates carved in the stone.

I came across my favorite yesterday: How about the script?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mental Note for Next Year...Bring Tractor

It was the usual Trick or Treat mayhem around here....You know cramming down dinner at 5:30, looking for the missing parts to the costume from 5:34-5:42, looking for suitable candy bags for all from 5:42-5:48, looking for a flashlight from 5:48-5:49, one with batteries...OH, forget it.... so that at 5:59, the kids were all standing at the door for the imaginary whistle to blow at 6pm: To OFFICIALLY begin Trick-or-Treat.

We live on the edge of a somewhat rural area, and one enterprising farmer hooked up his wagon to his tractor, strung some lights, and loaded up the kids...ALL of the adults in our party were so jealous...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a seat, an cold beverage, relax and take in all of the kid's excitement from the heights of a haybale?

We're pooling our resources for next year...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ready to Roll

I consider baking an arts and craft activity at my house....sort of a Go-To when the TV's been on too long. My little guy and I whipped these up yesterday. They are the greatest sugar cookies, mostly because they are ready to roll out right after they are mixed...no refrigeration. And, they are incredibly consistent and easy to make. The taste is pretty good, and as long as you are junking them up with lots of sugar and icing, they're great.

Let's face it, when it comes to kid's food, it's more about how it looks...bright neon colors are the best. The kids love to cut them out with the cookie cutters and decorate them. I make them for every occasion...did I mention how easy they are??

Easy Sugar Cookies

1c. butter Consistency is the Key..leave it on the counter for a few hours
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour

Preheat oven to 400. in large bowl, cream butter & sugar. then add vanilla and egg. Mix flour and baking powder separately then combine with butter mixture. On floured surface, roll out. If the dough is too stiff, you can add a little water, a drop at a time, until the consistency is right. Bake 6-7 min.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Lost Art

My daughter has been missing some of her old friends lately. So, she talked me into a sleep over with a few of her 10 yr. old friends. Let's just say I'm awful without sleep...What was I thinking?

Well, the big squeal-fest is happening this weekend. We've started to put together a few things for her guests. I thought I'd be nice to give them each an address book and a custom made set of notecards, so that they can keep in touch.

I remember having a pen pal when I was a kid. I was always so excited to get a letter in the mail, addressed to me. It made me feel so important. Do you think my kids will feel the same way? OK, maybe I need to settle for a small portion of the excitement that I once felt.

Custom Stamps

Here's the latest...Custom Photo Stamps. I have some beautiful pictures of my Joy Beadworks ring, and I just uploaded and and ordered. So easy. A great marketing tool, and stamps are something you're buying anyway. I'm sure my customers will notice when they receive their packages. If you'd like to receive a package with a custom stamp, you can order something at: www.joybeadworks.etsy.com !

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Spreading the Love

A good friend of mine recently supported me in my business by purchasing one of my new beads. These beads have sterling silver collars and interchange with her Joy Beadworks ring. The green is a beautiful lime.
The green that she paid me with had this message on it: " Whitney Rolle, I love you, if this reaches you, you know who I am." I just thought I'd speed the process over the world wide web.. maybe Whitney occasionally googles her name??? Like I said, I'm just spreading the love...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What a Feeling: To Walk into a Room and Be Immediately Understood

My crafty sisters and I are at it again....This time with 2 versions of pumpkins. We made some gold and copper leaf versions for those who wanted to give it a try, and another friend had us making easy fabric pumpkins .
I think they are beautiful all piled and smooshed. The perfect autumn colors, and just the right amount of sheen, like the angled bright autumn sun.
I sewed together a bunch of my sewing scraps into a sort of quilt to make my pumpkin. I am very happy it turned out so well....Sewing the scraps together took a lot more time than I expected....let's just say I gained a new appreciation for quilters.

We all enjoyed the brief 2 hours of banter, latest news, stories & updates on sagas. Sure, the craft is fun, but I think the best part is that you "come as you are" in all states, physically and emotionally. Judgment is left at the door, and you walk into one cozy and strong support system.

The "system" makes some pretty darn good carrot cake and lemon cupcakes, too!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cleaning Day

First, let me say that I was inspired by my friend the treat girl, who blogged about window washing yesterday.

It's a sad state of affairs when cleaning day starts with cleaning the cleaning bucket! What is all of the stuff? I am the marketing professionals dream when it comes to cleaning, if you say it works, then I'll try it. Well, No more, I'm convinced that very few cleaning products actually do anything, so I pared down my bucket to just the basics: windex, toilet bowl cleaner, bleach scrub, and my good friend, Mr. Clean.

I have many Cleaning Day Routines/Tips/Tricks which I will share here:

1.) Pick a day of the week to clean and commit to it. Do it all in one day. Otherwise, You'll do a bathroom here and there, and it never really looks like you did anything. Plus, it's never done if you clean here and there. My rule is, it gets done once a week. Then, I'm done. The cleaning supplies will not be brought out again this week unless there is an oatmeal spill on the couch or a pitcher of lemonade dumped on the floor.

2.) Wear something that you really don't care about. Even if you are ever so careful, a small spot of bleach will ruin a perfectly good t-shirt.

3.) If you are really strapped for time and can only do a very small portion of the chore, Start in the bathroom...the one guests would use. This is the only place that a guest will be alone in your house, with time to scrutinize the dusty baseboards.

4.) I once read a book (yes, about cleaning) that pleaded: Don't get it wet unless you have to. Think about it: Water acts as cement when mixed with dust and seeps into the seams of your baseboards. Dry cleans first and always, this means: sweeping and dusting.

5.) Gather all of the miscellaneous clutter and re-distribute. I always pile the stuff that's going upstairs on the steps, so that when I go upstairs to clean, I just have to grab it all and distribute it upstairs.
Here's a picture of today's pile-O-Stuff.

6.) Make sure that you dust and clean the TV and the cabinet/surface that it's on. Your husband will not notice that the house is clean...He'll notice that the TV is pristine, and therefore the whole house must be.

7.) The female version of this analogy is: If the window above the kitchen sink is clean, then the whole house must be spotless!

8.) Use cleaning supplies that smell nice. It's a bonus for you, and it smells like you've accomplished something when you walk into a sweet smelling bathroom.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Golden Pumpkin

A friend invited me over for what she thought was an overwhelming craft project..let's just say she's a little craft challenged. It was the easiest thing in the world...

A faux pumpkin, some acrylic paint, some modge podge and some gold leaf (or copper or silver), stick the leaf to the sticky surface...brush off the excess and spray with sealer. Easy as can be. The best part is that you really can't mess it up. If it looks messed up, you have reached perfection...there's the beauty.

I think I bought some expensive gold leaf pears once, too bad I didn't know how easy it was!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hey Bidda Bidda

I love a good farm auction. Here's how it sounds: (on very loud crackly speakers) Hey bidda bidda...who'll give me 20? This is good stuff, Craftsman,2 lots, your choice, who'll give me 20? hummina, hummina,You can make a livin' outa this box boys... start me with ten..ahh,10, now 11, now 12, are you in? now 15, you gotta beat 15, hummina 16,16 last call 16, SOLD to bidder number 47. Do you wantem both for 16? No? Let's sell the other one then....who'll give me ten?
You can people watch at the Mall or at Disney...I'll take the auction anytime. So much flannel it'll make your eyes hurt. The big names in fashion here are Cat, Dickey and Carhardt. These are people who have all lived weathered lives that I'd like to hear about.

If you're going: Terms you need to know, or you'll look like the rookie, and irritate the crowd..and you don't want to irritate this crowd.

By the Hand: They're selling by the handful..whatever they're holding up, you are buying ONE handful.

Choice: For example, if you are bidding on 5 extension cords, the 1st bidder gets choice of which one you want..you can buy one..of your choice...or all at the money that you are bidding up to. So if you get the extension cords for $5, and there are 5 of them, and you want them all, it's $25. If you only want 2, for $10, say so, and they'll sell the rest.

By Lot: It's the whole pile that you're bidding on. So, the 3 extension cords that are left are sold for one money.

Bidding...make sure you have a number. You can get one at the trailer/office. You don't necessarily have to show your number when you're bidding..that seems to be a personal preference. You just have to know it. Bidding isn't a big showy thing either. A hand wag, a head bob is good enough as long as you've made your first bid clear, you're in the running.

It's fun to go and see what things sell for. A box of nuts and bolts goes for $3. If you need one nut in that box, in a pinch, it would save the day. A live trap for $25, a truck, 5K miles, with a custom aluminum bed for $20,000 (a steal if you needed a good truck), chicken feeders for $5, a broadcast seeder for $7. The jumbled array and lackluster presentation never ceases to entertain me.

I often wonder if the seller is happy, why they're selling out. Usually there's a sad reason, like the owner died, or got sick and couldn't run the farm anymore.

The auction itself is always jovial, it's a big meeting place for farmers and those with like minds. I know some that go just for the social aspects, never intending on buying anything, but they get a number anyway...just in case....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, I like Her Already

I am a parent at a NEW school this fall, and I'm still stumbling around trying to get to know the other parents and connect the dots with which kids are theirs.

One of the Moms was gracious enough to invite the Kindergarten parents to her home recently for a little get-together/meet and greet.

She served the most wonderful quiche...("from the French place...he has great food, but he's a little rude"). And an assortment of other great food. I saw the napkins that she used, and I knew INSTANTLY that I liked her.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Hear A Very Distant...Ho, Ho, Ho....

In preparation for the upcoming Holiday Season, I am introducing Joy Beadworks Starter Sets.
These cute tins are wrapped in a sweet holiday ribbon, they have a lift-off lid and contain a set of my best-selling sterling silver leverback earrings as a base, and a pair of Swarovski crystal dangles.

This set serves as an introduction to the Joy Beadworks line of Interchangeable Earrings. I now have 3 different earring "bases"(more info. later) and a whole collection of dangles for you to choose from. Check my Etsy shop for ideas!