Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

Yes, today's my birthday.

Over the weekend, I was going through one of our photograph albums and found this tucked away. It's a birthday card I received for my 1st birthday from my godmother in England. I can't believe my mom saved it all these years!
It gave me a chuckle. I love the lipstick and the shoes on all the party goers. ButI don't think I ever read the birthday wishes on it before.

And I am certainly NOT planning to comment on that doll (at least I think it's a doll) above the piano!

(What the heck!?)

Monday, April 28, 2008

I don't know if you've noticed, but I have a survey in the upper right hand side of this blog and I would love if everyone would participate in it

I've been blogging away for a few months now, and I thought it was time to sit back and think about the purpose of this blog.

So many people say that blogs are great promotional tools. So last year I decided to start one, thinking that I should focus primarily on my jewelry and also feature other Etsy artists.

But as you've probably noticed, I haven't exactly followed my original plan. Yes, Contrariwise Ramblings does seem to be aptly named. It seems that I just can't help peppering my blog with stuff about my kids, my dog, and anything that amuses me. (Polish postcards, anyone?)

I've heard that the best blogs are ones that are focused. So maybe I've gotten a little off track.

Lately I've been wondering if I should go back and make this a jewelry/etsy -only blog or keep it as is. (All I know is, if Contrariwise Ramblings is going to be jewelry-only, then I'll definitely be channeling my weirder side to another blog.)

So take the survey, or leave a comment, and let me know!

MAY 1 UPDATE: The survey is over. I'll be posting the results in the near future.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Crafts, Tutorials...
Pop-up cards:

Rather than buying them at a store, my daughter always makes birthday cards for her friends. At 12, she realizes that a home-made card is so much more special than a store-bought one. Making the card a pop-up, is even more special! Here's an easy tutorial that covers the basics on simple pop-up cards.

Simple enough for a 1st grader to make! But you can easily get more elaborate.

If you do a quick google, you can find lots of sites that have pdf's that you can print out and create more elaborate pop-ups. A few that I found were this birthday card, and this carousel.

A variation on the pop-up card, is the pop-up photograph. An example, showing a desert scene is on the left. Before printers, these used to be a pain to make because you'd have to take your negatives to the local drugstore, make copies, etc. (Am I dating myself?)

I think anyone receiving a card like this would be really impressed. I know I would. (I'm not especially a fan of desert scenes, but I would love to see one of 6timesmomma's nature photos made into a card like this. An example of her work is on the right.Wouldn't that look great as a pop-up card!)

Precious Metal Clay Tips:

Cool Tools has everything you ever wanted to know about metal clay. There's an amazing How-To video library, a Project Central that includes downloadable instructions for the items you see on the right.

MangoTango is a jewelry artist who does amazing things with PMC. (See her earrings on the left. The PMC connector between the earwires and the dangle really make these earrings something extraordinary.) Everytime I see her stuff it makes me want to go out and buy some PMC and try it out myself. But I'm trying to restrain myself. Metalwork/wirework is expensive enough (silver is at $17+ an ounce) and addictive enough (just ask my husband). I'm afraid if I start with PMC, I won't be able to stop .

...and more!
(My favorite part of the Friday downloads!)

Outcomes from the strange Polish postcard prank.

This is absolutely Brilliant.

Brian Sack of Banterist offered his services on eBay a few months ago to 'Drive Someone Crazy' with a series of postcards from Poland. Sack promised that 'These postcards will be rant-ravingly insane, yet they will be peppered with unmistakable personal details about the addressee. Details you will provide me.' The postcards would be signed illegibly. The postcards were written and sent and received, and the joke finally revealed to the recipient. Sack shares the postcards now on his site:" Link

And here's my favorite from the series:
Frank Sinatra (!?) postcard

Coming just in time for Mother's Day!
Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a certified plastic surgeon, has written a children's book called "My Beautiful Mommy" that explains to kids about their mommy's new body parts. (Ha ha, adorable! )

In it, a perky mother explaining to her child why she's having cosmetic surgery (a nose job and tummy tuck). Naturally, it has a happy ending: mommy winds up "even more" beautiful than before, and her daughter is thrilled.

I hear that the book comes with a companion pamphlet, "Don't Hug Daddy Too Hard While His Penile Implant Is Healing".

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Million Blog List

Recently I've been hearing about the Million Blog list. This is an experiment to see how long it will take to get 1,000,000 blogs to list themselves.

They started on April 10th and currently only about 1000 blogs have registered. (Based on this, at the rate that blog addresses are being added, it will take 50 years to get to a million!)

I added myself yesterday and I'm number 973!

It is a little confusing on how to post your blog with a number, so you might want to follow these instructions.

Go to the Million Blog List.

The blog listings are in groups of 100.

Go to the section with the last entry. Click on the word "edit" click on the top of the section and it will take you to a screen that shows HTML code.

You will need to use html code to fill in the next line with your info.

To help you with filling the info in, I took a screenshot of my entry circled in red, below.

Here's exactly what I typed in:
You just need use the same html code to type in your information:

  • the next number in the queue
  • your wesite address
  • the name of your site,
  • and what it's about

Then you add their widget to your blog stating what number you are on the list!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I was surfing on the internet yesterday and happened to find a site with quotes about dogs. After reading them, it made me want to rush home and give my dog a hug.

Here's a few of my favorites:

  • The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue. -Anonymous

  • There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. -Ben Williams

  • A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. -Josh Billings

  • We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made. -M. Acklam

  • I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. -Rita Rudner

  • The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. -Andrew A. Rooney

  • He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. -Unknown

  • Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies. -Gene Hill

  • "The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. . . .He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. . . .When all other friends desert, he remains." - George G Vest
  • The greatest love is a mother's; then a dog's; then a sweetheart's. - Polish Proverb

  • No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich. -Louis Sabin

  • Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. - Roger Caras
  • If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them. -Phil Pastoret

  • My little dog -- a heartbeat at my feet. -Edith Wharton

  • A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. -Robert Benchley

  • If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man. - Mark Twain

  • Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog. -Franklin P. Jones
  • If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise. -Unknown

  • My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money. -Joe Weinstein

  • Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative." - Mordecai Siegal

  • Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul — chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth! -Anne Tyler

  • Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea. -Robert A. Heinlein

  • Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

  • If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man. -Mark Twain

  • Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. -Roger Caras

  • My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am. -Toby & Eileen Green


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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've been playing with Google Maps recently. Did you know there are hundreds of websites are dedicated to creating “mashups,” which mix Google Maps, with other kinds of data to create websites that are sometimes informative, sometimes entertaining, sometimes ridiculous, and always interesting. For example,

  • you can use the New York On Tap bar and subway map (newyorkontap.com/Subways.asp) to find great hotspots in the City That Never Sleeps. (And then, since you’ll be in no condition to drive, the map also shows you the nearest subway station.)
  • Are you a runner? Or do you want to know how long your hike was the other day? You can use the Gmaps Pedometer (gmap-pedometer.com)
    to digitally retrace your steps.
  • And saving you from a potentially embarrassing situation, there’s Urinal.net (urinal.net/google_map.html), which will help you find a place to do your business anywhere in the United States.
  • For more, here's 100 Fun things to do with Google Map Mash Ups

So, I thought, what can I use Google Maps for?

I started by mapping my sales. In the past 7 months, this is where my jewelry has been mailed to: Photobucket As expected, most of my 174 sales have been shipped to customers in the US. But I've had a fair number of shipments globally. (And I found vast, untapped areas in the world that have been deprived of my jewelry! I need to increase my marketing efforts in South America, Africa, and Asia! LOL)

I also thought it would be cool to creat a google map for my friends. Just click on Contrariwise Friends, below. It'll bring up an interactive map. I'd love it if you 'd add yourself to this map and write a comment!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

A few months ago I read on a forum that Bead Trends Magazine, a publication I had never heard of, was accepting submissions for a future issue.

What the heck, I said to myself, why not go for it. So I started the process of submitting some photos.

Finding Bead Trends on the internet was a little difficult. Their first publication was not yet available on magazine stands, so even googling them didn't bring up much information. I finally found a link in someone's blog that led me to a site with information on how to submit.

The deadline for publication for a future issue was only 2 days away, so I quickly chose a few photos of my jewelry and and e-mailed them to the magazine. I was absolutely shocked when I got the following response from the editor 2 days later:

Thank you so much for submitting your creation to Bead Trends Idea Book Series! We appreciate your submission and would like to use your project(s) for our upcoming March/April 2008 issue. The creation(s) that we are interested in are:

* Early Morning Rain Earrings
* Golden Opalescence Necklace
* Raspberry Drops Earrings

Whoo hoo! I was so excited to get that form letter accepting me into their fold, that I literally could not sleep that entire night! I was going to be published! So what if I'd never seen that magazine before in my entire life. I was going to be in it!

(Note to self: try to keep the number of exclamation points in a single paragraph down to just one.)

As I said before, I was so excited that I couldn't sleep that night. But thing that crossed my mind was the quote

"I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member".

Hey, if Bead Trends accepted me, they must just accept anyone! But what the heck. Who was I to question them. I was going to be published!

The magazine requested that I mail the jewelry to them to be professionally photographed. Each piece had to be sent individually by Priority or Express Mail and would be returned to me upon publication. They also wanted me to include step-by-step instructions on how to make the jewelry, a complete list of products used, and where I bought them.

I had three days to do this to meet their deadline.

It took a while to put it all together. I wanted to make sure the instructions were clear. But the worst was providing sources/addresses for my supplies - I get my jewelry components at some pretty esoteric locations. (Street vendors in Athens, anyone?)

I sent them everything they asked for. Then came the wait.

I kept looking for Bead Trends Magazine in all my local bookstores and craftstores. When-oh-when would the March/April issue be out? What would my jewelry look like?

Then one day, a HUGE box was delivered to my door. In it was my returned jewelry, along with six issues of Bead Trends Magazine, and a $60 gift certificate for Aunties Beads.

Oh, and I guess the box also contained the first enty in my personal resume as an established (yes- I know, I'm stretching this but let me bask in the moment) jewelry-maker.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

You all remember this pic taken of Dick Cheney while fly fising, right?
People have wondered about the reflection in the glasses. Is it really a naked lady? If not, what the heck is it?

Finally the truth comes out. Click on the above photo pic for the link and use the zoom-in tool for a close up.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yes, we had an aftershock.

I was at work, sitting in my regulation-size cubicle, typing on my company-issue computer, when my ergonomically correct chair started rocking! Then I noticed my computer screen started swaying, which scared me because I thought this had to be non-compliant with company policies.

No one else in the office felt this earthquake because they were all standing around the a.a.'s desk chatting about how the earth moved for them earlier this morning.

I checked the internet and, yes indeed, it was a 4.6 on the scale.

Crafts, tutorials...
Yes it's Friday again! Whoo hoo! The weekend is just about to start (and I had a LONG week) and I get to post my collection of links I found this week. Lets begin with...

How to make paper from junk mail
Do you get a TON of junk mail and don't know what to do with it. You might just want to try this GREEN tutorial and use that un-wanted mail to make new paper!

You'll end up with sheets that have some dark and light bits of paper, rough edges and bumps and creases - perfect for paper arts, scrapbook projects, collage and other fun stuff !

But if you don't really have the ambition to make your own, you can still help the environment because Kimm Supplies offers this paper in her Etsy shop.

Some other papers that you can recycle:

Unprinted computer paper
Newspaper (usually printed with soy inks-will cause grayish color) Magazines (avoid high-gloss)
Egg Cartons
Toilet Paper (preferably unused
Tissue Paper (ditto)
Paper Bags
Non Waxed Boxes (require pre-soaking in water)
Office Paper
Construction Paper
Old Greeting Cards
Phone Book Pages

How about recycled paper sculptures?
BTW, Rachael DiRenna does amazing things with recycled paper.Visit her website and her online shop for some inspiration.

Sewing Supplies Bag

Not only is this bag functional, but it's so cute! I love the fabric that's used.

Even though the tutorial says that the bag is meant for sewing supplies, I think that it could be used for lots of other things.

This tutorial is courtesy of Mackville Road. She has a great blog. To quote her:

Thanks for coming over! Mackville Road is here as proof that I have accomplished something at the end of the day, be it some sewing, some knitting, some unschooling with the children... anything besides the dishes. Although sometimes I have no choice but to write about the dishes, too. Your comments are welcome here, I love to read them.
Check out her online shop, Lulu & Bea, for some great classic children's clothes in wonderful fabrics.

How to make a cork trivet

Usually handmade trivets from recycled wine corks require you to cut corks in half and then glue them to a backing with a wooden frame. I never liked the way they look. And, even though we have a lot of old stray corks in the back of one of our kitchen drawers (you know, we all have one of those catch-all drawers in the kitchen), I've never been inspired to make a trivet from them.

Until now.

This trivot is different. I like the industrial and utilitarian look.

To make the it, all you need are corks, an adjustable metal pipe clamp and a screwdriver. Check out the tutorial.

And more...

Kitty Cupcakes
These can be very sweet and children are especially fond of them. I know you would love them. But sorry, I can't devulge the secret recipe. But I can tell you that it does contain this essential ingrediant:
Essential ingediant for Kitty Cupcakes

Healthful living
One day, I saw a wonderful old gal sitting on her front step, so I walked up to her and said, 'I couldn't help noticing how happy you look. What is your secret for such a long, happy life?

'I smoke ten stogies a day,' she said. 'Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. All my life, I've eaten only junk food, and I put away at least a fifth of Jack Daniels every week. On weekends, I pop pills, and never do any exercise at all.'

'Absolutely amazing,' I thought, and asked, 'How old are you?'

'Thirty-one,' she replied.

Edible Flying spaghetti monster

Edible Flying Spaghetti Monster
This is for all you Pastafarians out there. How to make your own edible Flying Spaghetti Monster, now with edible working googly eyes!!!

(Courtesy of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.)


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...And wakes me up!

I woke up to the feel of my bed shaking, the windows, rattling, and the house creaking. At first I thought someone was playing a joke and trying to wake me up. Then I realized no one else was in the room and I thought to myself...EARTHQUAKE!!!

The clock said 5:39. It only lasted for about 15 seconds. I stayed in bed a bit to see if there was going to be more.

I ran around the house to see if anyone else heard it. My husband was downstairs and he said that the doors in the house had been moving back and forth about 6 inches. It woke my older daughter up my younger daughter was still asleep.

I turned on the TV and and immediately saw "Breaking NEWS" accross the bottom. or anything about the incident.

Then we got the info:

A 5.4 earthquake centered in West Salem, IL shook the area early Friday morning. The quake happened at 4:37 a.m.

Reports of feeling the quake are coming far east Illinois and far west and southern Missouri.

It was definitely felt here in Indiana.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A beautiful day! The bushes in the woods are always the first plants to show their green buds. And every year I look forward to that first time when I spy them budding. I've been watching them for weeks, hoping. And they finally did it!

Now the woods have taken on a slight green haze. And when we got home today, we noticed that daffodils had sprung next to the birdhouse that's been sitting on our front porch all winter. As if to welcome some winged visitors!
spring is finally here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My daughter, Emma, is 12. She's been doing gymnastics for about 4 yrs and has been competing for the past 3. At this point, she practises about 18 hours a week.

We should have known that she had a talent for gymnastics right from the start . When she was still a toddler, Emma used to like to sneak out of her crib and play in her room when she should have been sleeping. I remember trying to catch her out of her bed. I would tiptoe into her room trying to sneak up on her, but she she would always hear me and make a run for her crib, grab the rails, and do a flip over them onto her mattress!

It was really jaw-dropping.

Just the other weekend, she competed at the State gymnastics tournament.

In gymnastics competitions, there are 4 events. And everyone has a favorite.

  1. Vault. (If your daughters like running full force at a stationary object, this is the event for her.)

  2. Bars. (If she likes peeling off pieces of skin from blisters the size of quarters off her hands, and getting rips on her rips, then this is the event for her.)

  3. Beam. (If she likes falling off a 4 inch wide piece of wood - or worse, onto it - while doing flips and jumps, then this has got to be the event for her.)

  4. Floor. (If she likes to parade around in a leotard getting wedgies, doing dorky choreography, and falling on her butt, face, and pride, then this is definitely the event for her!!! )

Emma likes them all. And the past weekendk she won gold medal for her floor routine, and silver for her beam. Best of all, she got gold for All Around!

Now mom has to share. Here's a short video of Emma from the meet:

(A big thank you to my husband for the photography and editing.)

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

A few days ago I wrote about the baubles I got at a recent bead show and the jewelry that they inspired. One of these was a yet unfinished necklace with a kyanite pendant flanked by sterling. (You can see how it started out,on the right.)

I couldn't decide how I would finish it off. I knew that I wanted to do something different. Rather than continuing the chain, I thought that it would be interesting to add some kind of gemstones. Perhaps labradorite or pearls. Nothing looks quite right in the glow of the light bulbs that evening, so I stopped working on it. I really needed to see the necklace in the light of day.
So the next day, I held the centerpiece up to the different bead strands and found that, indeed, the labradorite complemented the kyanite nicely. The blue flashes of the labradorite really matched the overall blue of the pendant.
Here's a couple pictures of the finished necklace.

WhenI list a necklace in my online shop, I always want to have a photo using a real live model. Why not use my daughter!

Now begins a recurring issue. How to get my 17-yr old daughter, Katie, to model my necklace. Katie is lovely and anything she models looks beautiful. (Using me as a model would NOT help sell it. My photo would probably drive customers away!) But she doessn't want to do it! I have to beg, coerse, shame, and even BRIBE her to model. (Yes, I have stooped that low.)
Her excuse?

"I feel so used. It's like I'm not a real human being, I'm just a neck."

This time, she didn't even flinch when I asked her. She smiles sweeting and said, "Sure, just let me put on a nicer shirt."

I knew something was up. What would elicit this type of response?

Of course, she wanted something.

Her prom is in 2 weeks and she needs a dress. No way was she going to antagonize me.

Yes, she modeled for me.

Yes, we went shopping.

And, yes, she bought a dress that cost WAY TOO MUCH.

It's just too bad this was the only jewelry I had for her to model. I really should have gotten my money's worth. I'm going to have to sell TEN of these necklaces to pay for prom!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Crafts, tutorials...

Bezel setting stones
I recently learned how to bezel set and had been thinking about setting some sea glass that I've been saving for this very purpose- but I'm not very experienced yet. So when I found this amazing tutorial that Barb Macy from Accent Yourself Handcrafted Jewelry had created, I was so greatful. It shows you step-by-step how to bezel-set a piece of sea glass.

(BTW, Accent Yourself has sea glass and other wonderful jewelry in her Etsy shop.

This has got to be one of the best and most complete tutorials I've ever seen. I can't believe the details and the photos that she used to create it.

Now all I've got to do is convince my husband that I can be trusted with a propane torch!


If you've ever wanted to learn how to make a wire-wrapped ring, here's a great tutorial with good photos.

Impress your friends! When people ask where you got it, you can say, "I made it!" and everyone will gasp in amazement!

The most important think you will need is a ring-making mandrel. Most online suppliers carry them. I got mine at Thunderbird supply. That's what I used to make these rings you see here. (I suggest you get a metal mandrel rather than the cheaper plastic model. Its more durable and will let you use a mallet when necessary.

...and more!

Breakfast cereals that would disturb today's youth

In the golden age of breakfast cereal, manufacturers weren't wasting their time promoting health benefits or movie-marketing tie-ins.

Back then, it was all about combining sugar, grain, fructose syrup, and corn, and topping it all with a little powdered sugar. Basically, breakfast cereal was the most delicious mini-meth lab you could find in a cardboard box.

Add a few psychedelic monsters on the front with some purple marshmallows inside, and you had the recipe for a sweet breakfast addiction. I have fond memories of some of these cereals... At least the memories that weren't lost in the glucose haze.

Click here for the top 20 craziest cereals.

(And, yes, you're not imagining it. Mr Wonderful's cereal balls do have a creamy filling. )

Cuteness overload

Warning: three minutes of almost unbearable cuteness. (And make sure you havet the volume on to hear the rumble of this little kitty's purring.)

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