Friday, January 28, 2011

Art at Work ~ Lampwork Headpins

Have you ever seen headpins like these before? They are lampwork headpins, but don't they look like pretty little balloons? My glassy friend Mallory made them, and I think they are so much fun! In fact, I own the set pictured above. I bought them a few months ago. Each one is unique, just like lampwork beads. Until recently, I've used them as props for my bead pictures. But the other day I made a small bead set that just happened to match one of the headpins perfectly. So I strung them on and added some silver findings and some crystals, and voila:

Doesn't the headpin just make the piece? I haven't finished the wire-wrapping yet, but I'm thinking I'll just finish it off and it will be a long pendant. My 7-year-old daughter saw it on my work table and was saying how pretty it looked. So I held it up to about where I'd wear it and I asked her if she thought it would look nice on me. And she says "Yes, but not with that shirt."

This headpin set is called Poker Face. There are enough for five pairs of earrings.

I love this set of Freeform Leaves headpins. It would add something completely unique to your jewelry designs.

More of Mallory's headpin can be found in her shop, rosebud101, in the HEADPINS/SUPPLIES section.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!

I received an urgent email this morning from my husband informing me that today is National Chocolate Cake Day. He even provided a link, so I knew he wasn't making it up. That would be something he'd do. After dinner on most nights, he's been known to say "Where's the cake?" When I make a grocery list and leave it on the counter, he'll pencil in "cake" on it. One year on his mom's birthday, when we weren't even going to see her on the actual day, he decided we needed to celebrate it anyway and he went out and got a cake and had them put Happy Birthday Grandma on it. Then we had the kiddos sing Happy Birthday to grandma and blow out the candles, all while we video-taped so we could show grandma at a later date just how much we cared.

I think you now know how important cake is in our lives. So after I checked my sources and verified that today is indeed National Chocolate Cake Day, I set out to make a cake. I have a very easy and very delicious chocolate sheet cake recipe (that I'm sure lots of other people have - it's so good!). The only ingredient that might not be on-hand is sour cream, but lucky for us I had some. Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Sheet Cake
cream together:
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
melt together and add:
2 sticks butter or margarine
1 cup cold water
4 T. cocoa
Mix until smooth and pour into a greased and floured baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees, 25-30 minutes.

1 stick butter or margarine
4 T. cocoa
6 T. milk
1 pound powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
Melt the butter, cocoa and milk together, stirring with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar slowly until there are no lumps. Stir in vanilla. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add a tiny bit more milk.

Pour the icing over the hot cake and spread to the corners with a spatula. Let cool and eat!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Training

I know I didn't have a training post last week, and that was just pure laziness on my part. But I haven't been lazy when it comes to training. I've kept my runs at around 3 miles, and even had one 4-mile run last week. I felt pretty good during and after, so I think I'm progressing at a good pace. The key has been the rest days. I did my 4-mile run after a rest day, and I don't think I could (or should) have done it after another day of running. I also started lifting weights last week. I really need to tone up all over, so strength training is a must.

My son started his training last week, too. He's more of a natural runner than I am, so he's already doing 3-mile runs. Sheesh. So far so good for him.

This week I hope to continue to progress, and I'd like to make my long run at the end of the week a 5-miler. I can do it. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Murrini Monday

It may not surprise you that I have a collection of turtle butt images on my Facebook page. I like to pay close attention to detail in this particular area, so it was only natural that I placed a red and pink murrini heart on this Valentine turtle's backside.

Clive the pandora owl might look familiar if you saw my Fritty Friday post. His eyes are made from murrini I selected from Lori and Kim's Outback blend.

These mini beads are both sporting Sweetheart murrini from Lori and Kim.

Today and tomorrow, use coupon code BRRR2011 at checkout in my Etsy shop, and receive 15% OFF your entire order!

Happy Murrini Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fritty Friday

A new feature - Fritty Fridays! This won't be as regular as Murrini Mondays, but I do plan on having fun with frit every once in a while here - so look for it on Fridays.

I been using frit more and more on my beads. Frit is crushed or broken glass that you can apply to your beads for color and design. You can make your own by super heating your glass and then plunging it into cold water, causing it to break into pieces. Or you can can buy. I like option 2. Lately I like buying frit a lot.

The frit I used for this turtle is from Lori and Kim, my murrini dealers. That's right, if you didn't already know, they've expanded into the frit industry. This blend (this is why I love to buy frit - the artists who make it create the coolest blends!) is called Sweetheart, and Lori and Kim made it to match their Sweetheart murrini. For this turtle, I took a light blue bead and heated it up, then rolled it in the frit blend and melted it in. Then I encased the whole thing in clear for a somewhat magnifying effect. I love this blend! The colors are right up my alley.

Here is the same blend on a pink heart balloon bead. This bead is not encased, so the frit is right up on the surface. Doesn't the green look like textured paint?

This fritty kitty doesn't really look fritty now, does she? I rolled this white kitty in one of my most recent fabulous fritty purchases - glow frit. It's from GlowJoe, and it's actually pink. I bought the small size - which refers to the size of the frit. I like my frit pieces fairly small because my beads are also small. GlowJoe offers three sizes - it's good to have choices.

And here is the best part about glow frit - Fritty Kitty glows in the dark! I am thrilled with how this bead turned out, and I especially love the picture (my husband took) because you can see the silhouette of the kitty glowing in the dark. If you haven't tried glow frit yet, I highly recommend it! You can add a whole different dimension and appeal to your beads by sprinkling a little bit of this glowing fairy dust on them. Super fun!

This owl bead is wearing raku frit feathers. Raku frit was one of the first frits I bought. I love it for owl beads - it has so many different colors swirling around in it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Murrini Monday - Love & Kisses

There is no end to my love of murrini. I'm spreading the love with hearts and kissy lips for all my little critter beads.

Panda Bear Love has a super sweet pink and blue Sweetheart murrini belly.

Nothing says Valentine's Day like a pug in a red heart sweater.

Metallic Kitty Cat is sporting her own Sweetheart murrini.

This little pug is keeping warm with pink murrini earmuffs.

The pugs have found homes, but the rest of the beads are in my Etsy shop. Murrini for this edition of Murrini Monday is brought to you by Lori and Kim.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beads of Courage, Glow Frit & a Torch Giveaway - Oh My!

I've written about Beads of Courage before, but I've been meaning to share a video about it for some time. Jean Baruch, a pediatric oncology nurse and founder of Beads of Courage, was recently on the CBS Morning Show. Her moving interview and interviews with children in the program can be seen here. After you watch it, you will know why this program is near and dear to so many lampworkers' hearts.

I recently ordered my first batch of Glow Frit. Frit is crushed up glass that can be used on beads for decoration. Glow Frit actually glows in the dark! And here's the connection to Beads of Courage - GlowJoe , the artist who makes the Glow Frit, includes an extra packet of frit with all orders, with one stipulation: use some of this frit to make beads for Beads of Courage. Ok, Joe, you twisted my arm. :)

These little glow critters will be in my next shipment to Beads of Courage. Each one is made with GlowJoe's Netty Confetti Glow Frit. I have a couple more glowing turtles to send, too.

These critters aren't scared of the dark one bit. What a super idea - glow beads for kids! Thank you, Joe!

I highly recommend this seller. Try the Glow Frit and add something unique to your beads ~ plus help out with Beads of Courage - it's a win-win!

But wait - there's even more good news when it comes to Beads of Courage! One of my bead idols (yes, there is such a thing), Marcy of StudioMarcy, is giving away a torch. That's right. She won another torch (ho hum), and because she already has one that is practically identical to this GTT Cricket Torch, she wants to give it away. But there is a catch. A good one. Marcy will put your name into her torch raffle for every 25 beads, or $25, you donate to Beads of Courage. The more beads or money you donate, the higher your chances are of winning. But the big winner will be Beads of Courage, because a torch is excellent incentive for lampworkers and non-lampworkers alike to make more beads, as well as go through their bead stashes, to donate to the program. For all the details on Marcy's giveaway, head to this blog she set up specifically for this event.

I don't know about you, but I sure could use a torch upgrade. So let's all start making and gathering up more beads for Beads of Courage!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fire Divas Bead Challenge ~ True Love

It's time to show your love for another Fire Divas Bead Challenge! This month the theme is True Love, so check out the entries below or at the True Love Challenge on the Fire Divas blog. After you fall in love with your favorite, don't forget to vote on the right side of the Fire Diva's blog!

Entry 1

Entry 2

Entry 3

Entry 4

Entry 5

Thanks for voting! Results will be posted in one week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recipe Time ~ Biscotti

I never thought I liked biscotti. I always assumed it was dry, and I'm not a cookie dunker, so I wasn't really interested. But one of my cookbooks, called One Smart Cookie, by Julie Van Rosendaal, has a biscotti recipe that I decided to give a try. This cookbook, I should point out, is "All your favorite cookies, squares, brownies and biscotti . . . With Less Fat!" And I have to say, we enjoy everything I've made from this book, but the biscotti is probably my favorite.

There is only a small amount of butter, so it's really pared down already. But I've experimented and replaced half the sugar with Splenda, as well as whole wheat flour for part of the flour. It turns out crunchy and delicious every time!

Basic Biscotti
2 T. butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanila
2 cups flower
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
Anything else you'd like to mix in - we love butterscotch chips!*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
~In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture, along with any additions you may have, to the egg mixture. Stir just until combined. If it seems dry, use your hands to complete the mixing as the dough comes together.
~Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide in half and shape each piece into an 8" long log. Place the logs 2-3" apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray, and flatten each into a rectangle that is about 3" wide.
~Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm and starting to crack on top. Transfer logs to wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temp. to 275 degrees.
~Place logs on a cutting board, trim the ends and cut each log diagonally into 1/2"-3/4" slices with a sharp serrated knife. Place biscotti cut side down on the cookie sheet.
~Return them to the oven for 15 minutes, then flip the cookies over and bake for another 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*You can get very creative with your "biscotti additions," or you can keep it simple and just thrown in some butterscotch chips (highly recommended!). But I've also tried adding the zest of one lemon, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and some chopped dried cranberries. That's a good combo, too! Another idea in the book is to add slivered almonds, almond extract instead of vanilla, and chocolate chips.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Training

Is it Tuesday already? So, this week was a decent training week. I just finished up a short run (2 miles). I had planned on a longer one today, but I haven't taken a rest day in about 5 days, so I realized partway through that I'd have to make it short. I plan to take tomorrow off and hopefully I'll do a long run on Thursday. And by long run, I mean 4-5 miles.

I still have not signed up for the half-marathon. I "like" it on Facebook (does that count for anything?) and I keep getting updates about sign-up. I hesitate for a couple reasons. First, I'm still not sure I can do this. I'll be training on my treadmill for most of the time, and that's a lot different than running outside. Second - there is a cost involved. It's $50, which isn't enormous, but I don't want to sign up and then have to drop out for whatever reason and lose my payment. Plus there would be a hotel stay, at least one night, probably two. And back to those updates I get on Facebook - the pictures that accompany them are obviously of college kids running last year's race. These are young, fit athletes. Let's face it, it's intimidating.

I also know I'd be a much better runner if I dropped a few pounds so I'm really trying to put better food into my body. I've upped the fruits and veggies and am seeking out recipes with lean protein. I'm feeling good, but not completely confident. I'm not trying to talk myself out of this - these are just some of the things going through my head lately.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Murrini Monday - watch it walk away

Kiss My Pug Butt - Lips murrini by loriandkim. Mwah!

I'm having way too much fun with murrini lately! I realized this week that most of the murrini I used on the backside of my beads. So let's just sit back and watch it walk away.

This pug Valentine is sweet from the front.

And sweet from the back. xoxo.

This black pandora kitty cat needed a pop of color. So I added a pink and red heart murrini. Meow.

Two pandora turtles covered in pink and purple murrini.

And last but definitely not least, my very first glow murrini turtle! Murrini for this bead is by JanelDudleyBeads - so be sure to check out her shop for her amazing glow beads!

Ooooh, it really glows!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Look Ma, No Holes!

I've had requests for beads without holes (not exactly a bead, then, now is it?) before, and I've always said I can't do that. I really wasn't sure how that works. Besides, beads are made on mandrels, which are rods that the glass is wrapped around, and that creates a hole. So how on earth could I make one without a hole?

Well, a couple weeks ago I got that request again - for a turtle without the hole. But this time, instead of automatically saying nope, I decided to figure it out. Turtles are one of my very favorite beads to make, and they are also fairly basic. The shell is a round bead - not a lot of sculpting to do there. So it seemed like a good bead to try out sans hole. The only way I could see doing this little sculpture would be on the very tip of the mandrel, so there would be a little dent under the shell (but who really looks there, anyway?).

So I wrapped the glass around just at the tip and closed off what would have been a hole. This left a nice big space on the top of the shell for decoration, so for the first one I rolled it around in some pretty frit. Nice. Then I put the face, feet and tail on it and voila! It was a mini turtle sculpture!

After I made one, I had to try again. So for the next one I added a nice piece of murrini (from rosebud101) to the top of the shell, and then a blob of clear to magnify the murrini. It was looking good! But then I ran into a little problem. My little sculpture was coming loose from the mandrel. Every time I added something - the head, a foot - the glass would move around. This can happen when you're making a bead, but the glass is at least wrapped around the mandrel, so it likely won't fall off. But working up at the tippy top of the mandrel, I knew that this turtle could take a nose dive at any second. So I finished up quickly and probably in the nick of time. The turtle turned out just fine.

Not the clearest picture, but here are the turtles perched atop their mandrels.

Order up! Three turtles with the works - but hold the holes, please.

The fritty turtle is on its way to Canada, to my customer who inspired me to finally make these little guys. Two of the other turtles have moved into my son's fish tank. They are a little hard to see, but one is perched on the dinosaur skull and one is near the teeth on the gravel. Burrito Man, his lone fish, is happy for the company.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time for a Mini Rant

Today I pulled myself away from my torch long enough to run some errands. We were out of milk, I needed more gas for my torch and my cat bit through another headphone cord (I kept this one in a drawer, so he is pretty remarkable) - so I had a few things to get at several different stores. At three of the five stores I went to, I ran into the same problem: the stores had been switched all around. You know what I'm talking about. The electronic department used to be right here, I know it! But now it's a grocery section with fresh produce. Where on earth are the earphones? That was at Target. You've heard of the book Who Moved My Cheese? Well at Home Depot, I wanted to know who moved my gas. One. Aisle. Over. But for the life of me I couldn't find it. And Sam's Club, too, had rearranged everything. Why??? It's all the same stuff, just in different places. I don't get it. And I probably wasted a good hour wandering around these stores. Ug!

This is a small problem in the grand scheme of things - I realize that. Just had to get it out. Happy Wednesday. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Training

I'm late in posting this week's training results. I'm still a bit of a slacker due to the holidays. But I did manage to get in one 4-mile run last Tuesday. Wow - it wiped me out! I did a couple miles on Jan. 1 (you have to work out on Jan. 1!), then 3+ miles the last three days. So since New Year's Day, I've logged 12.1 miles. Not even a half-marathon in four days. But I'm still plugging away. I'm drinking a TON of water so I don't have those dehydration issues. My knee bothers me a little, but it doesn't hurt, more of a discomfort. I'm thinking that I need a new pair of running shoes. Now that's an understatement. Mine are a couple years old and they have obviously had it. Plus, I bought them on my own and wasn't properly fitted, so who knows if they are the right shoe for me. I will definitely have to splurge on new, quality running shoes if I'm going to run a half-marathon in 3 months. Then I will stop saying if and start saying when.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Murrini Monday

This week, on Murrini Monday, I've got some results from the striking murrini I talked about a couple weeks ago here. I'm also excited to share my very first glow-in-the-dark murrini owl. And if you haven't checked out Lori and Kim lately, what are you waiting for? They have a new product to pair with your murrini, and it's fantastic!

So let's get to the murrrini . . .

This pup was my very first attempt at using the striking murrini from Lori and Kim. I was so happy with the results! I'm still not sure how I did it, but I will definitely try it again. The colors are just amazing!

This was my second attempt, and it obviously didn't go as well as my first. I just couldn't get the color out of the murrini. I don't know if it has something to do with the kind of glass I put it on (it was metallic black), but it just wasn't happening. I'm not giving up on you, striking murrini!

Here is a sweet blue owl with a very nice slice of murrini on his belly. He looks innocent enough.

And here he is in the dark! This murrini is so cool! My glassy friend Janel, of JanelDudleyBeads, made this glowing murrini. She uses it a lot on her beads, and they are stunning! I highly recommend checking out her shop.

And here is one of my new favorite murrini pieces, from Lori and Kim's First Kiss blend. I was lucky to get this slightly before they went on sale, and I've already ordered more. And if you don't like it, you can just kiss my turtle butt. :)

Happy Murrini Monday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

This picture has nothing to do with New Year's Eve. I just like it.

I haven't been much for making resolutions in recent years. It's not that I think I won't keep them, but I just didn't have a whole lot more to resolve to do that work out more and eat healthy and get more sleep. These are on my mental list every year, I just don't make a big pronouncement or anything.

But this year a couple things happened that have me thinking more about health and mortality and setting a good example for my children.

A couple months ago I had a routine mammogram. A couple days after that I got that phone call you just don't want to get. The technician had seen something, and could I please come back for some more pictures. Don't worry, it could be nothing. I took their next available appointment. I had a second mammogram, and then an ultrasound. I watched, somewhat anxiously, as the tech highlighted things on the screen and made notes. At one point I asked about the highlighted portion - I said something like "Is that the spot you're concerned about?" And the technician said, "There are two spots." That's when it really hit me that this could be something. I lay there thinking about my family and all the things I still wanted to do. It felt surreal. The technician called in a doctor, and they continued to look and discuss what was on the screen. By this point I was ready for bad news. Whatever it was, I was going to accept it and move on, and do whatever it took to get past it. And the news was good. The doctor and the technician had determined that what they were seeing were just lymph nodes - healthy lymph nodes. Big sigh of relief. But now I'm taking this moment to remind you to get your annual mammogram. It doesn't have to be a resolution, just an appointment on your calendar. But be sure to schedule it.

The other near miss happened just last weekend. And this was much more of a physical near-miss. I was coming home from a musical with my kids. We had just met my mom at a local theater to see The Music Man (front row seats, so we could see the spit and everything!), and my mom drove home and we were on our way home. Almost there, actually. We had just started singing our own rendition of 76 Trombones when the red light we were sitting at changed to green. I started out into the intersection and within seconds there was a car speeding toward us on my side. Another surreal moment. The other driver was going really fast (the speed limit on the street he was on is 45 mph), and I barely had a second to react. I slammed on the breaks, but we were hit quickly and hard. My kids were screaming, and I'm pretty sure I was screaming. We came to a stop facing traffic. My girls were crying. They were buckled up - one in a booster seat, and both were fine. My son was next to me - he was fine. We were all just shaken up. But we were, physically, fine. I had never been in an accident like that. There was no time to react. Those few seconds while my mini van was out of my control seemed to last forever. But I could not have asked for a better outcome. My van was hit in front of the driver door, and the other car took off my bumper, as well as a lot of other parts. But we were fine. The other driver was fine, too. And here is the part I will remember, and I will make sure my kids will remember, too: the woman in the car behind us pulled over and came over to our car. She calmed me down while I called the police. She checked on my kids. She asked for a pen and paper to get the other driver's information, just in case he took off (he couldn't take off because our cars were pretty much attached at this point). She stayed with us while we waited for the police. She spoke to the police as a witness, and then she left. My kids got to see firsthand how to act in a situation like that. This woman was wonderful, and her example is exactly what I would want my kids to learn from. I asked the police for the woman's name, and it turns out she lives in our neighborhood. I've been without a car for a few days, but yesterday the other driver's insurance set me up with a rental car (no one will recognize me in a Ford Flex!), so today I'm headed to the store for a thank-you card for this amazing woman. So for a personal resolution, I'd like to be more like her in 2011.

On a lighter note, here are my other goals for 2011:
1. Buy firewood and use it before the winter is over.
2. Plan on and go on a vacation for more than 3 days (a week would be great!).

For my work lampwork, I have a few things I'd like to do in 2011.

1. Get my beads or jewelry into a shop or gallery. I had the perfect art shop picked out and I just found out it's closing. It was called The Wandering Turtle and it was in Bloomington, IN (yes, where I went to college). From what I saw online, it looked like a great fit for my glass turtles. But obviously I have to fully research where I would like to be represented because I don't want the shop to close while my beads are being sold there, just in case there are issues getting them back. So I've been looking for a fun, eclectic place where my beads can hang.

2. Find some different ways to advertise. I'm starting off 2011 with a new advertising venture. I follow a blog called The Curious Pug, and last month Alycia, the blogger, put out a call for advertisers. This blog has nearly 1,000 followers! It's a tremendous blog - lots of crafty posts and plenty of personal ones, too. So I made a couple new pug beads, photographed them, and my husband turned them into a small button ad for her blog. I'm curious to see how much traffic this brings to my shop. I'm as curious as the curious pug.

3. Speaking of blogs, I'd sure love to increase the traffic to my blog. I would love to hit 200 followers by the year's end - which would be 37 more followers. I don't think I'm going to participate in the One World One Heart blog event this year, but I will definitely do the dog version called GABE. That's how I gained some new doggie blog followers last year, and I really enjoy those bloggers and the comments they leave.

4. Relax and have fun. Sometimes the business part of what I do can really get to me. But making beads is fun! I want to continue to enjoy what I do.

Happy 2011 to you!!!