Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 23 - Creations

These are some of my new designs this week. My Etsy link is at the bottom of the page if you would like to see my entire collection.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How I Met My House

My friend Rebekah has a post by this title on her blog, and I thought it was a cute idea. She got the idea from "How I Met My House Party."

In 2007, I was living in Oxford, MS, while Chris was deployed to Iraq. We had a one bedroom, one bath apartment, and I knew before we actually got to live in the same location for long, we would need something bigger. Unfortunately, I didn't know how long it would be until we could actually live together. Chris was stationed in Germany, but the Army had no desire to let me move there when Chris got back unless he reenlisted. Neither of us had any desire for him to stay in and face more 15 month deployments and Army red tape. As it drew closer to time to renew my lease, I discovered the apartment was changing management and no longer did 6 month lease extensions. Lovely, I was going to be stuck with my apartment no matter what we figured out for when Chris got back from deployment.

One night we were chatting via Yahoo IM, and Chris mentioned he had been looking at some houses in both Kansas and Tennessee. I looked at the links he sent me for real estate sites, and thought it was pretty cool -- for later. I had a Christmas party to go to that night and friends calling and asking where I was, so I signed off from Yahoo, and left Chris to play on the computer alone. When I got back from the party, my email was filled with house pictures. One was a really cute old farmhouse near my family. Housing prices were considerably better in Tennessee than in Kansas, so that more or less settled where to buy IF we decided to do so. We could get all the things we wanted on a manageable budget, where in Kansas the best we could do was a run down fixer-upper.

My mother had a client who sold real estate, so when I mentioned to her that we had been talking about houses, next thing I knew I had an appointment to meet with Candy, the real estate agent, and talk about what kind of house we were interested in.

The farmhouse was no longer listed, but I gave Candy some requirements: 3 bedrooms, at least 2 baths, real trees around it, preferably somewhere with at least an acre of land. She gathered up some ideas, and the next day we hit the road. The first house we saw was this:

I thought it was adorable, but everybody says you can't buy the first house you see. But really! Three bedrooms, two baths, a bonus room upstairs, lots of closet space, Jacuzzi bathtub, stained glass pendant lights above the kitchen island, and a gorgeous carved fireplace! Plus it sat on about 2 acres!

We saw four more houses. Three were in the same subdivision, and all the houses there were pretty close together, with plans to build more behind them. One had a really nice formal dining room, but it also had a broken front door pane and black widow spiders! EEK!! The other two in that subdivision had weird layouts, and the last one was very cute and cozy (built in bookcases!) but the upstairs hallway was so narrow I could put my hands on my hips and touch both walls with my elbows, and outside there was some kind of leaky pipe. I just kept thinking about the first house.

I described the house to Chris when he called, and he told me to go for it. "But you haven't SEEN it!" I argued. "It will be perfect," he assured me. So I proceeded to buy a house my husband had never seen! We closed on it in January, one month after we started looking, and he came home on R&R about a week later. We spent most of his R&R moving in, and for a few nights we didn't even had a bed and slept on the floor in front of the fireplace. It was absolutely worth it!

Two years later, it is still home, even though Chris has only lived here about 6 months total. I'm very attached to our house, and I think he is, too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Validating My Theory About Ghosts

I was watching Ghost Adventures again. Why, oh, why do I keep watching? I think the investigators make up over half of what they claim to hear and see. Plus, they scare themselves silly. If a person wants to investigate ghosts, he shouldn't be freaked out to find something ghostlike. At least the Ghost Hunters don't scream and run every time they hear something strange.

Anyway, one of the paranormal "experts" has the same energy theory as I do. Today is the first time I've seen this episode, at the Houghton Mansion in Massachusetts, so I don't think I've ever heard someone express the energy theory. It's good to know I'm not alone.

On Sunday, I tried explaining my theory. No one but Chris seemed to get it. Even if I think that most of Ghost Adventures is contrived and akin to cheesey '90s horror movies like The Blair Witch Project, I appreciate my idea being validated.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Made It Mondays - Color Change Bracelet and Earrings

I'm trying something new today! Apparently while I was on my blogging break, Jules over at The Persimmon Perch ( invited me to join her for "Made It Mondays." I just found her invite last Thursday, so this will be my first submission!

Green/Gray - Natural light/Incandescent

Pink - Fluorescent light

Last week I made the above bracelet and earring set from Swarovski color change crystals and glass pearls. Swarovski color change crystals are amazing because they appear a different color in every type of light. Incandescent light makes them appear green; fluorescent brings out a lovely pink/peach; and natural outdoor light, they're a grey green.

What I did is a relatively simple, loose beading pattern. All you need are the following:

1) a length of clear beading wire (cut to be the length you want AFTER it is doubled). Leave enough extra for knotting the end.
2) a box clasp
3) glass pearls
4) crystals -- I chose color change because of the dramatic way light effects it
5) metal butterfly beads or other "spacers" of your choice
6) earwires if you want to make earrings also
7) 1 small silver crimp bead for the bracelet, 2 additional ones for earrings
8) pair of small needle nose pliers

Thread your beading wire through one end of the box clasp. Making sure your wire is even, add beads: place one pearl on each end of the wire, bring wire together and add a single crystal, add two pearls, bring wire together and add a spacer bead. Repeat until bracelet is desired length (mine is 8.5").

This is a box clasp.

Once it will fit comfortably around your wrist, add a crimp bead. Thread your wire through the free end of the box clasp and bring it back through the crimp bead. Tighten your wire until there is no undesirable space between your beads. Flatten your crimp bead with the pliers until it is secure. Tie a knot or two in your wire close to the final bead and thread it back through a bead or two for extra security.

For earrings, use a piece of clear beading wire that is approximately 4 inches long. String one crystal, flank it with a pearl on either side, bring the wire together and thread your spacer (or butterfly) bead, and add your crimp bead. Bring ends of the wire through the loop of the earwire, and thread ends back through the crimp bead. Flatten the bead with your pliers, and thread wire through top spacer bead for security. Repeat for second earring.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Admitting There May Be Ghosts

I wrote my ghost blog on Friday. Today, Sunday, strange things have been occurring around my house. Last night I folded a quilt on top of my suitcase, which is standing on the far side of my room next to a window. I woke up this morning and the quilt was in its place. After a shower and some coffee, I went back to my bedroom to get ready for lunch; the quilt was laying in the middle of the room, like it had been dragged. I folded the quilt and put it back on the suitcase.

When I came home after lunch at my grandparents' house, the quilt was in place, but a table cloth was in the middle of the living room floor. Yes, the table cloth was supposed to be in the living room since I was using it for a backdrop to take pictures of my jewelry, but when I left, it was on a chair, not in the floor!

The cats could probably have something to do with the movable linens, but the quilt seems a little big and heavy for them to tackle. While I was having coffee, they were all in the living room with me. I've seen them move rugs, even pull the table cloth backdrop off the chair, but entire quilts? That seems a little much.

Less than a week after Chris and I moved into this house, our wedding quilt that my aunt had made for us vanished. We assume it was stolen along with a wine rack that was in our garage, but maybe I just have a ghost with an obsession with linens.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Echos of the Past: In Defense of the Pricklings of an Overactive Imagination

Ever since I can remember, I've been intrigued by ghosts. In elementary school my Scholastic book orders always had a ghost story: The Ghost Wore Gray, Ghost Cat, The Haunting of Frances Rain, just to name the ones immediately coming to mind. The first lengthy story I wrote was about about a ghost named Alfred who lived in a little boy's closet. I don't know what draws me. My Wednesday evenings center around Ghost Hunters or Ghost Hunters International, depending on the season, and right now Ghost Adventures on the Travel channel is playing in the background while I write.

When I travel, I have to go on the ghost tours. I've seen curtains move in the Juliet Gordon Lowe house in Savannah, Ga. In Boston, I wandered graveyards by lantern light. When I went to Oxford, England, for Honors Students Association study abroad, my CD player turned on in the middle of the night, playing the music from the sinking in Titanic, and I don't have a complete explanation for why. I could have hit the on button when I put it under my bed, but it seems like I would have heard it before my roommate and I were almost asleep. The next time I went to England for study abroad, the fire alarm in our hotel went off. It could have been a malfunction, but after my Oxford "Titanic Ghost," I have suspicions that maybe my ghost was making its presence known.

Do I believe in ghosts? I don't know. I just know I don't not believe.

I've been thinking more about ghosts lately. Ever since I started my research, the idea has been floating around in my mind that perhaps ghosts are not entirely supernatural. Humans possess energy in addition to their body and spirit. If my memory of elementary science is correct, energy is neither created nor destroyed; it merely changes form. Maybe after the body is gone and the spirit has moved on, the energy remains; maybe if somebody is looking hard enough for it, they can pick up on the energy, like a recording of the past. Ghost Hunters would call that a residual haunting.

Are there echos of the past? I'm so intent on solving the mysteries that my family tree has raised, I keep looking for echos. Anything that leads me a little further. Every once in awhile, I get a prickling in the back of my mind, a tiny itch that keeps me going. It could be my curiosity or my intuition that I'm closer than it seems, or maybe those little residual energies are stirring, ready to be uncovered. I don't think that my relatives are hanging around waiting to be released for earth. I'm sure they've already moved on to their after life, but if the energy of their human form remains, maybe my research has stirred it up.

It's exciting to uncover things that have been forgotten for a century or more. I'm sure part of the prickling in my mind is just excitement, the enthusiasm of a historian brushing back a layer of the past. But maybe, just maybe, there is more than meets the eye. What else explains all the ghost stories, programs (Most Haunted just came on), books, and even experiences that have been written, recorded, and reported over the course of the centuries? I certainly don't think that Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted, and all the rest are entirely true, but I think the theory behind the ghost should not be discredited. Those prickles, flickers, and goosebumps may not be entirely flights of fancy for the overactive imagination.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mouse Liberation Day, or How I Reinvented the Mouse

It's nearly 3 a.m. I know I should go to sleep, but I feel like I want to write. Write what I don't know.

Spike is curled up against my leg purring, and Stryker is playing mouse. All of the kids love those little colorful, furry mice that come in packs of 10. They used to each have one, a different color for each kid, but they get lost so easily. Christabelle usually picks out a pink mouse, Stryker gets orange because it matches him, Spike likes blue or green, and Snowbird plays with whatever is left over -- but she likes shiny things the best. (I guess she takes after me.)

We have an infestation of colorful little mice in our house. Like most mice, they are typically all hiding, but one pops out every now and then and brings hours of amusement to my family. Stryker's primary goal is to capture General Mouse and his entire army. When we lived in Oxford, Stryker jumped up on his back legs, raised his front paw in a salute and commenced a fiery assault on half a dozen toys, vanquishing each one systematically under the stove. Thus beginning the epic battle between cat and furry mice.

When the toy mouse population has been marched into hiding, I begin the search for survivors. Armed with a yard stick, I crawl from stove to refrigerator to china cabinet, poking my stick beneath each one and batting out the stragglers. The journey takes me from room to room, looking under dressers and cabinets, in closets, and behind pianos and bookcases. I usually find one or two fewer mice than we started with, but Mouse Liberation Day brings joy to my furry kids. They think it's Christmas all over again.

I love entertaining my furry kids like that, but sometimes we just run out of mice. No amount of mouse liberating turns up enough of the right mice to make everybody happy. (Too many of the wrong color toy means somebody isn't going to want to play.) Or worse, the mouse is wedged somewhere behind a stove leg in a mousey prison, and we have to wait for Daddy to come home and lift the stove so I can jab the mouse with my yard stick and send it back out into the fray. If only General Mouse could be imprisoned somewhere easier to liberate -- like under the bed or next to the stairs.

A few weeks ago, I found some cashmere socks that had shrunk in the dryer. They had long been my favorite warm, comfy, snuggly socks, but they no longer covered my feet. Instead of throwing them away, I made mice for my kids. I cut out mouse shapes, stuffed each one with scrap material and catnip, sewed them up, and embroidered faces and ears. The kids love them! I love them! They're adorable in that lopsided ear, piggy-faced way of first tries. Okay, only the first mouse looks like a pig, the second has lopsided ears, and the third is a great and wonderful example of true mousiness. (That's the third mouse pictured above.) And the great thing is, they're too big to fit under the stove!

I think my next project will be dog toys and perfecting the mouse. I'm sure they will be demanding different colors soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who's Afraid of Ithamer Humphrey?

About a week ago I asked Chris if he minded a slight deviation from the potential baby names we came up with on our honeymoon. Less than a week after we got married, we compiled a list of six full baby names for our future children, and after almost three years we still like them very much. It's hard to go wrong with names like William, David, Molly, and Cate. However, who can resist Mehitable Drucilla and Ithamer Humphrey?

I figured it would be a hard sell to get him to agree, but if we changed Ithamer's middle name to Argyle, Chris said he would be happy. "Oh, and don't you think Drucilla is a better first name?" he asked. "Drucilla Mehitable. That sounds better."

"It sounds like an advertisement for vampiric child abuse," I said. "Drucilla looks too much like Dracula, and Mehitable sounds like me-hit-able. Just hit me now, please, Dracula."

And of course, no one on either side of our family would take issue with those names. I'm sure our parents and grandparents would love sweet little Drucilla and Ithamer just as much as baby Molly and William. They are, after all, good ancestral names.

A few days before my revelation to Chris, I signed up for a free trial subscription to I've been told that tracing my grandmother's family is a complicated ordeal, and I can't let a puzzle go unsolved. So with a free trial and an itch for a good mystery, I found myself engrossed in centuries of ancestors long lost to the annals of time. The people I discovered may not have been thought of in decades or even centuries, but with the help of internet records and databases, I have found where Drucilla, Mehitable, Ithamer, and Humphrey belong in my family's past. Granted, we probably won't be naming our future children after any of them, but I know they existed, and that substantiates that I exist because of them.

So far, my research on has proved true and accurate so far as we can gather. My grandfather has spent years delving into his family tree, and when he looked over my printouts on Sunday, he said they seem precisely like his. Isn't it amazing how a week of computer searches can gather almost as many facts as decades pouring over files by hand? So much work compiled right at our fingertips, but the names are flat without their stories. Perhaps I can piece a bit of their lives, my family's past, back together and find not just who they were but WHO they were.

What I've Been Doing

These are a few of my Etsy listings. I've made them over the course of the past month. I love sparklies; I can't help it. If it's shiny and pretty, I'm compelled to make something out of it.

Indian Summer



Ocean Waters

Pretty Pink


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm Baaaack!

I didn't mean to abandon my blog for so long, but I just got busy. I didn't even make jewelry for about four months! I'm not sure what happened.

Thanks to the prompting of some good friends and family, I started an Etsy site: I made my first sale last night after eleven listings and being a member less than a month. I'm really excited to finally be getting my jewelry seen by the public. If somebody in New York state wants to buy a watch from a little jewelry-maker in Tennessee, then things are moving in the right direction! Maybe I'll have enough inventory to do a craft fair this fall. Two of my friends asked if I'd be interested in doing a few fairs last year, but I was so far behind with crafting there was no way to create enough pieces.

When I wasn't blogging, I even bookmarked a few sites I wanted to write about. I'll have to go back and see if any are still relavent. Perhaps it was my brief stint as a substitute teacher that zapped my brain. Getting up at 6 a.m. and waiting for the phone to ring isn't the greatest way to start the day. If I know I have to be somewhere, I'm up and ready to go, but if there's a 50/50 chance that I'm wasting wonderful sleeping time, I'm not happy. I'm afraid I didn't answer the phone with a smile on my face, and the "school board lady" and I tended to butt heads. I liked most of the kids, and I liked the teachers I worked with, but subbing isn't my forte. I'll stick to making jewelry thank you very much.