Wednesday, April 29, 2009


***Do Not Do This***

Monday, April 27, 2009

...unabashedly show photos of your new puppy.







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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Groundhog in my pool

Continued from
The man from animal control came over our house with a trap and a plan to capture the groundhog living in our pool cover mechanism. Once he got him, he was going to take him far far away to a field with plenty of tasty dandelions for him to munch on.

So he went and unscrewed the metal plate from over our pool cover and found.....
....absolutely nothing. No trace of the groundhog. No nest. No nothing.

He thought the groundhog had probably just be resting and trying to stay warm

So the above picture above is NOT my groundhog. It's just a picture I found on the internet. My groundhog is somewhere in the woods behind my house, frolicking amongst the ferns.

The man from animal control left empty handed (or empty crated). But not before charging us $130 for about 20 minutes of work.

It was a very expensive groundhog.





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Dendritic Quartz Ring

Just a quick post to show you one of the things I was working on this weekend.

I bought the stone at a recent Bead and Gemshow. It was in a box marked "tourmalated quartz", but it didn't look like any of the other stones. (That's probably why it caught my eye.)

I really wanted to make sure I had the stone correctly identified so I took it to a local lapidary shop and the owner identified it as dendritic quartz. The dendrites are crystals formed in cracks and can sometimes even be mistaken for fossils. In the stone above, the crystal "dendrites" run up the middle of the quartz and form what look like ferns within the stone.

I oxidized the silver to bring out come contrast. Since the stone is mostly black and white, I think it complements it.

Luckily I made it in a size too large for my fingers, otherwise I might have been tempted to keep it myself! I just listed it in my Etsy shop.

Also, look at this moss agate ring:

I had tons of fun making it. The final design was quite different than I had intended. While the first ring just seemed to come together easily, this one took a long time to get right.

I think the patterns on the agate resemble continents. And it's encircled by a saturn-like ring with solid silver "satellites" that seem to orbit it.

(OK, maybe I'm letting my imagination get the better of me.)





Tomorrow, more about the woodchuck living in my swimming pool.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

The weather has been gorgeous. It's the type of weather that inspires you to go outside and start working on the garden.

And as I was looking over my backyard, I realized it's certainly time to start cleaning up. The old dried vegetation from last fall needs to be pulled or trimmed. New bushes and flowers need to be planted. Perennials needs to be split.

And the ducks taking over our swimming pool are telling me that it's time to think about draining that pool cover.

The water is deep enough for them to go deep sea diving for god-knows-what that's been growing in the pool cover since last October. (And I'm sure that the ducks have been contributing to the flora and fauna by....well... you know what they do.)

Yes, the ducks look happy and they're probably investigating potential nesting areas near this wonderful new habitat they've discovered.

As I'm watching them, all of a sudden I see a face looking up at me from under the pool cover!

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT!

I've never seen anything like that before! It looks like it might be the size of a rottweiler! And how long has it been there??!!! And why is it looking at the ducks with possible evil intensions??!!

As quickly as I spied it, it quickly hid out of sight. And over the next several hours I kept a lookout, trying to see it again.

Finally it peered out a bit more and I got a better shot of it:

What the.....???

Then, it ventured all the way out:

This has got to be a....groundhog???!!! And it's FREAKIN' ENORMOUS!!! Probably about the size of a baby hippopotamus.

I'm guessing the groundhog's been hibernating here all winter! After it got scared by it's shadow on February 2nd, it went back under my pool cover and didn't come out till the weather turned warmer. Which is now.

Grrrrr. I'm taking this as personally as the grounds' keeper in Caddy Shack. It's definitely going to be me against the groundhog.

I go and get a screwdriver to unscrew the metal covering around the pool and see what foul things have been happening underneath over the winter.

Just as I go to open the cover, it suddenly dawns on me that the groundhog might have a nest and THERE MAY BE BABY GROUNDHOGS!

I might be brave enough to try to chase an animal the size of a Hummer H2 out of my pool, but I'm certainly not brave enough to face a mom and her babies.

It's time to call in the pros.

Animal control is coming tomorrow to trap the little varmint and take him or her far, far away.

I'll give you an update on what happens.






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Saturday, April 18, 2009

I posted the story behind this ring recently. I would like to thank everyone for their comments. You guys are great. A few thought that the lead photo didn't seem to show off the tourmalated quartz stone very well. And I absolutely agree with them.

Since then, I bet I've taken at least 200 photos of this ring and none of them really do it justice.

I think this is probably the best I've been able to get:


Still not great, but at least you can see the tourmaline fibers a little better.

When I reach the point when the photography and editing take almost as much time as making the ring, it's time to quit. I think I've reached that moment.

In the meantime, I've made a couple more rings! Expect to be seeing them posted really soon. (I've just got to get those photos to look better. Sigh.)


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Friday, April 17, 2009

Tourmalated Quartz Ring

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that I recently had a wonderful time spending lots of money at a local Bead and Gemshow. (I only wish there were more shows. The next one isn't until October! I don't know how I'm going to be able to stand it.) Amongst my purchases were some tourmalated quartz stones. I set the first one today:


This particular stone is unusually dark because it's just so amazingly full of tourmaline fibres running through it! Sitting on a counter, it almost looks like ebony - although it picks up little diamond glints when you turn it. But, best of all, when you hold it up to the light, you can see the crystalline fibers.

Look at all those fibres! Isn't it amazing!

I cut the back of the setting out, so that light could stream in and let the character of the stone shine through.

I loved the triangular shape of this stone which cried out for a contemporary setting.

I was torn between making this into a pendant or a ring.

I thought it would look great as a pendant with the point hanging down. But at the last moment, I changed my mind and you can see the result.

(Oh, and please ignore my fingers. Just look at the ring. I spent the entire day soldering and my skin is so dry. This is when the "soften" filter on photoshop comes in so handy.)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My son's girlfriend's birthday is coming up and I wanted to get her something. So I asked my son what she might like. He immediately suggested that I should make her some earrings.

Now, you have to realize that I was quite flattered. My son actually thinks my jewelry is nice enough to be given as a gift to someone he cares about!

This is the way I feel about it. Strangers and acquaintances might say that they like your jewelry, but they might just be trying to be nice. But I know that own family wouldn't think twice about telling me what they really feel!

Amethyst is one of her favorites. So I proposed that I would simply bezel-set some cabochons that I have. How could one go wrong with that?!

I set out to make the earrings this past weekend. But something happened.

When I made the bezels, the earrings just seemed to be asking for more.

It wasn't my fault. They seemed to make themselves - my jewelry seems to have a way of doing that.

So in stead of simply-set amethysts, this is what I made:
I've never made anything like this before, and I never even sketched out the design. It just happened.

I guess next weekend I'll try to make the amethyst earrings I originally set out to make. Maybe this time I'll get them done right.



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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A few weeks ago I had a great time at a local Bead and Gem Show and since then have been working on making new jewelry from all the treasures I got. It takes me a while because, with my full-time job, the only time I have available to solder is on weekends. Just this past weekend, I finished these Sleeping Beauty turquoise earrings.

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23663161

The dealer I bought these cabochons from must have had hundreds of Sleeping Beauty cabs rattling around in a box and my daughter spent a long time sorting through them to find matching pairs for me.

Sleeping Beauty turquoise is one of the most highly-prized turquoise in the world today. I think you can see why. It's an intense, medium blue with moderate black matrix.

These particular stones were amongst the largest I bought. They measure about 12 x 7 mm. You can get an idea of how big they are in the photo on the right.

As accents, I added little balls of solid sterling to the sides. That's how I recycle my little bits of leftover silver - by melting them down to add as accents to my jewelry! (Or, punish my silver pieces that misbehaved and didn't turn out how I wanted them to.)

I decided to give up buying posts and have started making my own. Somehow, they seem more sturdy to me than the bought ones. I'm also getting better at soldering them onto the backs of the earrings. In fact, it's almost fun now!



Oh, and I'm sure I'll be making more turquoise earrings. I still have a few matching pairs left:

Just to tease you a bit, I'll let you know that I will be posting some new amethyst cabochon earrings later this week.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

This treat is not only delicious, but it's healthy as well!

Things You'll Need

  • 6 oz of milk or dark Chocolate
  • Chocolate Mini Eggs or malted milk eggs or Jelly Beans
  • 5 Large Shredded Wheat Bars

Steps

  1. Pull apart the shredded wheat with your fingers


  2. Pour chocolate chips into a microwave-proof container and zap them till they melt


  3. Pour the melted chocolate over the shredded wheat and mix

  4. Form into bird nest shapes. (Oops. Forgot to take a pic. We were too excited about getting to the next step. So instead, here's a picture of our dog cleaning up the results of our nest-forming activities.)

  5. Decorate chocolate nests with careful placement of candy eggs.

  6. Decorate some more


  7. Enjoy. The shredded wheat is healthy but remember there's a lot of chocolate too.


    So watch out for that post-sugar rush crash!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I have so many pieces of unfinished jewelry that they're crowding my desk drawers and filling up little storage containers. Some are unfinished because I'm not sure I like the direction they're going. Others are unfinished because my ADD took my attention elsewhere.

(Look! A butterfly!)

A few months ago, thinking that I should look ahead to spring, I bought some light colored cabochons from a friend of mine. I planned to set them and have them listed in my Etsy shop for the season. I think I made bezels for most of them, but only a few stones got set. This was one of them.

Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of blue lace agate, but I loved the waves in this stone as well as its pale blue color. I can see it going with so many outfits.

I had a lot of fun cutting out the back of the pendant. Rather than cutting an oval to match the shape of the stone, I wanted to add a little whimsy. And I only broke 3 saw blades cutting it out. (Hey, I'm getting better!)

The pendant's been finished for a couple of months. After it was done, I purchased a ball chain because I thought the chain would accent the silver balls that are part of the design. But while I waited for mail to delver the chain, I lost interest and basically forgot about this piece.

But it was a lovely spring day today and the light from the outdoors was wonderful. I suddenly remembered the pendant and thought - why not see if I could get a good photo of it.

By the way, I don't know if you noticed it, but I've been using a different background in my photos. Can you guess what the background is? It's a black leather barstool! I think it really brings out my silver jewelry.

Oh, and to the right is just a small portion of my unfinished bezels that I mentioned.



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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My daughter, Emma, is 13. She's been doing gymnastics for about 5 yrs and has been competing for the past 4. At this point, she practises about 21 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 the rails onto her mattress!

It was really jaw-dropping.

This year she qualified to compete at our state gymnastics tournament, which was last weekend.

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 blisters on top of her blisters, 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 weekend she won a gold medal for her beam routine, placed in all events, and came in 5th in her age group!

Now her proud mom has to share. Here's a short video of Emma doing her beam and floor routine from the meet:

Isn't she wonderful!

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Friday, April 3, 2009


Today I have the last of my purchases from the past weekend: tourmalated quartz. Tourmalated Quartz is clear or milky Quartz with black Tourmaline needles. Basically, it's a black and white stone.

Color is great and I would love to wear more of it. I love all shades of green and I adore turquoise and coral red. But I seem to be drawn to black and white. My wardrobe is mostly composed of these basic colors and I just love the contrast. So when I saw these tourmalated quartz stones, I fell in love with them.

The stone on the upper right seems to have little brown fern fronds set in it. The one on the left almost looks like it has fossilized leaves set in it for eternity. Both are so organic yet so icy!

Then the triangular stone below seems solid black at first, but when you see it close up, you can see hundreds of tiny black needles in it. (Click on the photo for a close up.)

Just imagine all of them set against silver.!

I had a great time at the bead and gem show and can't wait for the next one. (OH! Six more months to wait!) In the mean time, I've got to work with all my purchases!

So far from my purchases, I've finished earrings from Red Creek Quartz and a ring from turquoise. I should be posting them in the very near future.






Now that I'm done showing you what I bought, I guess I'm going to have to start posting what I've made from it!

Stay tuned!





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Thursday, April 2, 2009

I think many of you can appreciate how a beautiful gemstone can make you feel. It makes you want to look at it, hold it, and imagine what you might create. That's what I felt when I saw these Rainforest Jasper at a local gemshow last weekend.
They were mined in Australia. Look at all the colors! Reds, greens, yellows, blues, and more. The blues are actually translucent and look like opal. These cabochons are a perfect size for pendants.

I also bought a couple pieces of picture jasper. I've never bought this rock before, but I've always loved the way that they can remind you of landscapes - they almost look like they're painted rather than real stone. The large stone on the right reminds me of a Japanese watercolor of mountains, with a rainstorm pouring down from the heavens. The other, which is smaller, looks more like a desert landscape.

Now I have to tell you a story about the dealer who sold me these jasper cabochons . Apparently, when I bought them from him, he forgot to put one of them in my bag. He actually called me that evening (he had my phone number from the credit card receipt), apologized, and said that he would mail it to me!

Yes, there are still nice people in this world and he helped to affirm that.

What's in store for tomorrow? I haven't decided. It'll either be the tourmalated quartz I purchased, or the new earrings I made from the Red Creek Jasper. (I tried a new technique setting them and I'm quite excited about the results.)


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do I really need to say anything about this cabochon?

I stopped and stared when I saw amazingly intense blue and iridescent labradorites at one of the dealers at the gem show I visited this past weekend. At first I couldn't believe that they were real. Most labradorites are grey or yellowish-green with some flash. But not these. I actually asked the dealer if they were dyed! (No they're not.) They came from Madagascar and the dealer bought every piece available.

The above is an unedited photo. I didn't change the color, contrast, or anything. This is exactly what the stone looks like. At a hefty 1 by 2 inches, it is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

And next, how about this little demure rock below. Imagine the possibilities with this 2 1/2 inch lovely. The shape of this stone is so versatile. It can stand out alone in the simplest of settings, yet it would be wonderful paired with a complimentary piece. (Hmmm, perhaps some moonstone?)
Not only are the front views of these labradorite breathtaking, but the backs of these stones are equally wonderful. When I set them as cabochons, I'll definately cut out the silver backing to display them.

Unfortunately, my budget forced me to stop at this point. But I did get one additional stone. It came from another mine and is not as blue, but it has an impressive shimmer. At about an inch in length, it'll be perfect for a ring:



I still have lots of stones I bought to show you. I think tomorrow it'll be some more jasper. I have some Rainforest Jasper from Australia and some Picture Jasper from Arizona. I fell in love with them and I think you might too.




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