Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sweet Saturday: Happy Halloween!

Since Arwen doesn't have a Halloween costume *yet*, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorite blogs and their dressed up animals. Please be sure to click on the links here to go and see more of these great blogs.

Here is Sadie from BeadedTail. She is dressed up as the KC Wolf mascot.
Always the proper kitty, here is Daisy from Daisy the Curly Cat, dressed up as a devil cat. I think she is too pretty to be a scary devil, but she sure is a fabulous model!
And here is Ellie from Sniffie and the Florida Furkids. She is dressed up as a lady with a skull and crossbones.

Well, I have certainly learned my lesson! Next year I will have Arwen dressed up in something. I have even purchased a pattern to make something for her...but what will it be? You'll have to visit next Halloween to find out!

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fabulous Friday Features: LiberTeas!

CORRECTION: The sale should have read FREE SHIPPING with purchase of $25 or more, and has now been corrected. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Welcome to this week's installment of Fabulous Friday Features, where I feature a different Etsy, ArtFire, or other online artist each week. Would you like to be featured, or know someone who should be? Leave me the shop name and web address in the comments below!

This week's artist is Eccentric Pastiche on Etsy, also known as LiberTeas on ArtFire. Anne makes wonderful, hand blended teas in a variety of types and flavors. I have ordered from her a few times now, and have found her teas to be just as, if not more, delicious than she describes. My favorites? Chocolate Rose Romance, Earl Grey Creme (it has a hint of vanilla - yum!) and Almond Mocha Mate, usually available in both of her stores. What is even better: a little goes a long way; it is easy with these loose leaf teas to get a second, and sometimes even a third brewing out of them, without losing their flavor! This makes her teas an even better value than they already seem (just go to any "designer tea shop - their prices are ridiculous and not nearly as fresh as Anne's). Read on for more info on this exciting artist!

How did you get started making your teas -- I started flavoring teas out of love for tea, one tea in particular. I had fallen in love with a chocolate tea blend that I purchased from a little antique store in Orange, CA (when I lived there several years ago) but they went out of business and took their tea blend with them! So, I scoured local tea shops, houses, and rooms to try to find a chocolate blend that could replace the one I missed. But none that I tried were as good as the chocolate blend from the Antique shop, so I thought "well, how hard could it be to flavor and blend teas on my own?" Ha ha was I in for a big surprise.

It took quite a while -- I even gave up after about a year of trying to duplicate the tea blend I craved, but, then I tried again, and eventually, after much trial and error (mostly error!) I created a chocolate blend that I think is even better than the tea blend I had fallen in love with from that antique shop.

What are your inspirations -- I'm inspired by so many things. Sometimes friends will give me an idea and I'll try to create the kind of tea they're looking for. My Breakfast in Bed blend is an example of this. My friend wanted a rose tea with vanilla, and maybe just a hint of cinnamon. She loves what I came up with.

I'm also inspired by other teas that I try. I am a regular reviewer on the Tea Review Blog ( and so I have the opportunity to try so many different teas. Sometimes, I'll try something and it will inspire me, not to duplicate the flavor, but to improve upon the flavor. My Sweet Caramel O'Mine is an example of this, I had tried a caramel tea at one point, and liked it, but, tried to think how I would improve upon it, and selected some choice teas for the blend and added a bit more caramel, and created an amazing Caramel tea.

What are your favorite teas -- My favorite tea changes pretty regularly. My overall favorite of all time would have to be my chocolate. It's one I can go back to time and again and enjoy... and it's better than any other chocolate tea that I've tried, and I've tried a lot!

Right now, my favorites would have to be my Meadow Nocturne blend, which is an herbal, I have been drinking it regularly about an hour or so before I head to bed, and it helps me get a very restful night's sleep. And it tastes delicious too! Another favorite would be my Potpourri Blend. I've been drinking more green tea lately, and this is definitely one that I've been drinking regularly.

Any Sales or Specials? I would like to promote my Fall is Coming Sale! FREE SHIPPING WITH $25 ORE MORE IN PURCHASES!.. This sale is primarily in my Artfire shop but I will honor those prices in my Etsy shop as well - just convo me and ask me to post a special listing and mention this blog article, and you will get the Shipping for free. Use the code "AUTUMN" during checkout.

Thank you Anne! Please do visit her shops to see her amazing selection of VERY well-priced teas. I know I will be :-)

That's all for now,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: Bracelet Update and More

Here is the fourth layer started on the bracelet. I am using an Amber colored glass seed bead for this layer, and as it is built up it will look more like amber and less green, since the blue beads underneath are trying to show through right now. I am currently working more amber beads in between the rows of these amber beads, to give a cross pattern effect. More to come next Tuesday!

In other news, a good friend of mine is in need of prayers and/or positive thoughts. She is a breast cancer survivor, and is now being looked at for ovarian cancer. She had "minor" surgery on Tuesday to do some tests and the results won't be back for a bit. I say "minor" because no matter how minor they say it is, it is still painful and a real inconvenience! Please keep her in your thoughts, and pray that it is nothing so serious as more cancer, but, if it is, please pray that it has been caught early and can be cured. Thank you.

That is all for now, see you tomorrow for a Fabulous Friday Feature!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arwendnesdays with Arwen the Wonder dog

Hello, it's me, Arwen the Wonder Dog, here for another installment of Arwendesdays with Arwen the Wonder Dog. Today's lesson is, "Oh, The Places You'll Sleep". Mommy was going through her photos and realized that she has many of me sleeping in various places around the house. I thought I should give you all pointers. The first photo is me sleeping on the bed. I always take daddy's pillow and make it comfy for me so that I can look out the window to watch for squirrels and birdies. I also sometimes bring my toys with me and put them on the pillow so that they can watch out the window as well. Mommy puts blankets down for me so I don't get my fur all over the bed, but if you look closely at the left side, you'll notice I've also arranged Mommy's new Healing quilt (see yesterday's post for details) so that it is touching me!
Here I am on my bed in Mommy's office. I don't usually like lying on the doggy bed, but Mommy is spending a lot of time in the office and wants me to be comfy, so she puts the bed in the corner beside her, near the bright faux flowers and encourages me to lie there to be more comfy off the floor. I have to say I like being next to her! I also have a little fleece blanket that I can use if I need extra comfort, though with my fur coat, I find it gets a bit too hot, so I usually paw it off.
As I mentioned before, the floor is a perfectly reasonable place to sleep, especially when you have a toy or two nearby! This ensures that when you wake up full of energy, you have a toy ready and waiting for you to play with. It is also a good place to get a bit of sun (it seems to like to move around in the sky, necessitating that you move with it), though here it is only on my nose and shoulders.
Couches are, of course, one of the better places to lie down as they are comfy, large, and when Mommy and Daddy are sleeping in their bed at night, I can come and stretch out full. I still like to sleep in bed with them (mommy says she feels like a chopstick because, between Daddy and me, she only gets a sliver of the bed!), but the couches are very nice as well. It is even better if a human is there, as the chances of you getting a snuggle or a scratch are greatly improved.
Naturally, if there are blankets around, take them! They are easily curled into a comfy nest and create a nice warm, snuggly area to sleep, preferably with a toy nearby.
I hope you have found this informative! Until next week,
and Arwen

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures: My Healing Quilt is Here!!

~Working in My Office With the Healing Quilt~

Back in the spring, my mom and I went to her Quilter's Guild's Quilt Show in Ottawa, Ontario. We had a great time, I was amazed by all of the art (my mom's included), and saw some really neat vendors. I found my mom's birthday presents of a really neat book on quilting landscapes and some special fabric paper she needed, and she found my birthday present of an 'Easy' quilt kit. I liked the fabrics, plus, I figured that as it said 'easy', it would be easier for my mom to fit it into her already busy quilting schedule. We were only about 6 months early for our birthdays, but it was great! Fast forward through the summer, and my mom found the quilt kit's instructions to be fairly backward, it didn't include the borders or backing, and despite the fact that my mom is an advanced quilter, it was making her life tough (sorry Monna!!).
~Cuddling on the Couch With the Healing Quilt~

However, it is now finished, and I LOVE it!! It was made with so much love and kindness and is sooo comfy and warm. It has come just at the right time as well - the heat is now on full time in our house, and we just got less than 1/2 tank of furnace oil....for $324!! Needless to say, with prices like that the heat will be a little lower in our house this winter, and I will be curled up under my healing quilt, nice and cozy, and happy that I am surrounded (quite literally) in love. I have now discovered that I need to bring it with me everywhere in the house, as nearly the second I put it down....
~Usurped! Arwen Takes the Quilt~

...Arwen or Brennan takes it!! Here I got up to get a glass of water, and, sure enough, Arwen (with the seal if you notice) has usurped the quilt. At least it is easy to get it away from her - when Brennan takes it, he can hold on to it!! Not that I blame them...something made with this much love is hard to ignore (my dad even helped draw the hearts that my mom quilted)!

Thank you Monna and Daddoo, I LOVE my healing quilt!

I hope you all have a great day, see you tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's Methods: Time to Get Wired!

Left Back: Plastic Coated Practice Wires, Right back: Copper Wires, Left front: Gold Filled Wires, Right Front: Sterling Silver Wires.

In this installment of Monday's Methods, we'll be talking about wire. Wire comes in many forms, colors and types, but we'll be dealing with pretty standard fare here.
First, wire comes in different shapes (when looking at it from a cross-section). You can get round (like a circle), half-round (like a half circle), or square (obvious). You can get it straight or twisted to give it a diamond-like look. Here we'll be dealing with round wire for several reasons:
1. I find it useful for almost every type of wire working,
2. It is usually the least expensive, especially compared to square,
3. It is the most easily available, from bead suppliers to wholesalers, to tiny country bead shops, you can find round wire pretty much everywhere.
Different Wire Gauges, From top: 18 ga., 20ga., 22ga., 24ga. (copper), 26ga., 28ga. (gold filled)

You can also get wires in different hardnesses: full-hard, half-hard and dead-soft. For most wire working, full-hard is pretty much useless - any more than one bend and it snaps. Half hard is the wire I use most, as it is flexible and bendy, but will hold its shape. It doesn't snap easily (unless you REALLY bend it back and forth in the same place for a while), and, again, is the most readily available wire. Dead-soft is very useful for intensive wire wrapping applications and I really only use it for that, as it bends like butter on a hot day.
Wire comes in different gauges (ga. for short). For beginners, I recommend getting wire in sizes 18, 20, 22, and either 24, or 26. I use a range from 12 gauge, all the way to 28 in almost all of my wires: practice, sterling, copper and 14karat gold filled. I also have a range of sizes in non tarnish silver plate wire for making things like key chains and zipper pulls.
But wait, what kind of wire should you get first? When first starting out, or when trying new designs, go for the 'practice wire'. Just about every supplier will carry what they call practice wire. It will usually be copper core (or nickel, so be careful when wearing it or giving it to potentially allergic people), and will usually have a colored plastic coating. These are the least expensive, and usually are somewhere between the half-hard and dead-soft range in hardness. Plus, they are CHEAP. You can often buy a few spools of practice wire for the same price as one spool of sterling silver wire. Once you are comfortable with the practice wire, move on the the copper and plated wires, and then up to the sterling silver and 14karat gold filled wire (don't use pure gold wire for wire work, as it is WAY too it is about $8 per INCH).
Wire in a Bag: Always Use Resealable Bags with Anti Tarnish Paper for Uncoated Metal Wires

Of course, as you move up the quality scale, you'll be moving up the price scale as well. When shopping for precious metal wires, search out the best deal. Many stores will have quantity discounts (for when you know you really want to do this more than just once). Most precious metal wire is sold by the Troy Ounce. Some sell it by the half Troy Ounce (usually for gold filled as it is so expensive). Look around, and you'll see some astonishing differences in price. Just keep in mind, there may be shipping on top of that price as well so I always try to find the best shipping rates as well, especially if they don't have free shipping with minimum order amounts.
Organized and Tarnish Free: Stackable, Clear, Resealable Containers Are the Best Way to Store Your Wires

Once you have brought your wire home, you need to think about how to store it. Some stores give you a piece of wire and send you on your way (I HATE that, and try not to buy from them if I can avoid it). Some stores give you wire all coiled up in a resealable bag (the most common). And some will give you your wire on a spool (the most efficient and practical), which is then put in a resealable bag. Regardless of how I get my wire, I always put it in a resealable bag with a small piece of anti tarnish paper. You only need about a 1/4" square per bag to keep everything nice and shiny. You don't need it with coated wires, obviously, and you may not need it with gold wire, but hey, I paid good money for this stuff, I want it looking perfect for as long as I can possibly have it looking that way! It may seem expensive when you first buy it, but anti tarnish paper is going to save you hours of elbow grease, trying to get stubborn tarnish off of your wires.
Once I've got the wire in its own bag, I label it with the size, supplier, and price per foot and then put it in a resealable container with other wire of its kind (sterling with sterling, gold with gold, etc) so that every thing is organized and ready to go. I usually use containers that have been taken of kitchen duty due to a small crack or other nuisance and patch them up with clear duct tape to keep them airtight. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and my wires are all organized!

I hope you have found this useful, until next week, happy experimenting!

Tune in tomorrow for a great Tuesday's Treasures.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soulful Sunday: A Little Bit of LOL

Okay, I admit it, I love plays on words. I also love cats. And sheep. So yeah, it works. Image is from

Have a great Sunday, full of laughter, love and happiness.

and Arwen

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sweet Saturday: A Few New Things

Copper Snowball Ring

I have been trying to redo my jewelry photos and lo and behold! I've found some things that weren't listed! They should be up and on the Etsy site sure to keep checking back to see the new goodies...
Lindsay's Caribbean Blue Ring

Mostly I have just found rings, like the one of a kind Lindsay's Caribbean Blue ring, made with a beautiful lamp work glass bead, inlaid with gold foil.
However, I do have some new earrings that I want to show you as well...
Carnelian Arrow Leaf Earrings

And here they are! Carnelian stones are hung from graceful Arrow Leaf shaped ear wires, hand forged from 14karat gold filled wire. Gold plate daisy beads hug the carnelian for a pair of beautiful earrings, perfect to go from day to night! I'll also have these available in sterling silver.
Copper Persuasion Pearl Ring

And back to rings! The Copper Persuasion ring is one of a kind. It is amazing how many rings you can have in a little bag and not realize it!
Copper Midnight Ring

The piece de resistance! The ring above is made with a gem grade cubic zirconium in midnight black to contrast nicely with the copper wire. It is one of a kind.

Have a great Saturday, I'm waiting for my camera battery to recharge so I can take more photos :-)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fabulous Friday Features: Aunti Franni!

In this installment of Fabulous Friday Features, I thought I would introduce you to a great artist named Fran. She makes wonderful embroidered items...and before you go thinking of your great-granny's towels, take a look at all of the COOL stuff she has - many are perfect stocking stuffers and very well priced. I know I have quite a few of her items on my gift-giving list! You can find her on Etsy at: SunnyDaysEmbroidery or on ArtFire at: AuntiFranni'sSunnyDaysEmbroidery Or you can go to either site and search under sellers for "AuntiFranni".
~Really, Need I Say More??~

What makes Fran more amazing is that she does all of this work herself (on a machine of course) with a serious lung disease. Talk about a fighter herself!
~The Perfect Stocking Stuffer For Any Water Drinker~

She also does custom orders, all you have to do is ask! She can use different colors of thread, different patterns, different colors of fabric, you name it, she can probably do it!

Fran also makes great patches to sew on bags, and incredibly cute candy cane holding ornaments for your tree.
~Great Items for Kids and Kids at Heart~

She is taking orders now, so get yours in before the holiday rush really starts and relax knowing you have unique handmade gifts at affordable prices!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Cooking Class Success and Award

I am happy to say that my first ever cooking class was a terrific success! Partnered with RHN Melody Busuttil, in conjunction with Nature's Way Select Foods in Kemptville, and hosted at the Kemptville college, we had over 12 students and a fabulous time.

This past class was all about Quinoa (keen-wah) and many delicious and gluten free recipes were made (and eaten!). More classes are on the way, thank you to everyone who came out, I hope you will come to the next ones!
Also, Audrey from Audrey's Country Crafts gave me this award! This award focuses on friendship, and Audrey certainly deserves it as well. Please check out her blog to see her shop, as well as all of the fabulous artists she features each week.
I am passing this on to anyone who reads this blog - you all deserve it! Also, I don't want to single people out, as I give out awards to many people and don't want to over do it :-)

Arwen wishes me to thank everyone for their overwhelming responses to yesterday's post - she would blush if she could from all of your praise, and I certainly did over your liking the bracelet I am working on. Thank you!

Until tomorrow,
and Arwen

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures and Arwednesday with Arwen

Well, oops! I was so busy yesterday getting ready for my first ever cooking class that I didn't have time to post the update on my latest project. Sorry about that, but here it is! You can see that I have started adding beads in a cross-weave-type motion to add stability, weight and strength (though you may have to click on the photo to enlarge it). I am now done this layer and will be starting the next layer today. I am very excited, though it does mean it is almost finished, and that makes me sort of sad - I love making these bracelets even though they are very labor intensive.
Here is the view from the top - you can see that I have filled in the whole of the second layer, giving it a more solid, filled-in appearance.
I took this photo this morning, as I am in one of my insomniac bouts right now and 4AM seems to be when my body just cannot stay in bed any longer (despite being awake until at least 1AM, lol). Arwen is, of course, very happy about this as it means that I spend even more time with her. Here she is "Smeyezing", which means smiling with her eyes. If you enlarge the photo, you will see that her eyes are not closed, but making that very happy look with them scrunched up. I thought it was adorable :-)

Tune in tomorrow for the run down on a great cooking class that I did last night with good friend Melody, in conjunction with Nature's Way Select Foods.

That's all for now, have a great "smeyezing" day!
and Arwen

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Methods: A Few More Tools of the Trade

On this installment of Monday's Methods, we're going to look at the rest of the tools I use most frequently in my jewelry making. The first photo is of a hammer and anvil. These are VERY useful in my jewelry making! When wanting to flatten, harden, or just plain "texturize" my work, these two tools come in very handy. Now let me be clear here: these are NOT "jewelry maker" anvil and hammer - I got them at (*GASP*) my hardware store! You can too, you just need to have a few goals in mind:
1. the anvil needs to be clean and flat - mine came with a layer of grease to protect it from rust, so I had a heck of a job cleaning it to get it ready. I still need to polish the metals after I hammer them on it, but as a plus, it is large (the flat area is about 5"x2-1/2" and the round area is about 4 inches, tapering down from wide to narrow), it is heavy (10 pounds) and it only cost me $10 (as opposed to $25-$30 for one 1/4 the size that says "for jewelry making" on the box)! I do recommend putting a flat cloth or heavy cardboard under it when hammering so that you don't mark the surface the anvil rests on.
2. Your hammer should be comfortable to hold and clean and flat on the hammering end. You can use a ball-paean hammer with a rounded hammering surface, but you'll get pock marks on your metals. While this can be useful for some applications, in general, you want it flat and even and clean of scratches and dents that come from hammering nails into things. I hunted for a while at the hardware store to find this one on sale for $5! It isn't too big and heavy, which means that for really flat wire I have to hammer more, but it also means that I can do more delicate hammering with a lighter touch and don't have to worry about a giant hammer coming down on a tiny piece of metal.
Now, certainly, if you have the money and want to get the jewelry making-specific tools, go ahead, but I have found these to be perfectly workable and VERY affordable - score!
Here we have a vise. This is great when you have finicky projects that require more than 2 hands. I don't know about you, but I only have 2 and when they are full, I can't do much of anything else but deal with what is currently in my hands. I now make my braided wire bracelets on this and I can't tell you how much easier it is to braid 9 strands of wire with a vise holding them together, than with just my own two hands. I found this one at my hardware store for $15, and again, I had to clean it, but it is great. I should also mention that the actual vise part that grips the metal has a bumpy surface, which is not at all desirable as it can really mar the jewelry. The solution: I simply put a small piece of plastic or folded up paper on the insides to protect my wire and voila! No more marks on my wire!
Here are some really dead-useful items. The small ring on the left is actually a jump ring opener and is incredibly handy when opening large numbers of jump rings (little rings for connecting jewelry pieces, or making chain mail). You simply slip this on whatever finger it fits on, slide part of the ring into the slot that fits the ring (there are different sized slots for different sized rings on this one), twist the jump ring slightly, and there you have it; the jump ring is opened properly and took less than a second!
The red handled items are step mandrels. These are useful for creating rings, or even just bends and curls in wire. What is great about these is that they are stepped- meaning each one starts out wide at the handle, and then reduces in measured increments (like steps) to another, smaller increment. These go from (on the left) 1.5mm to 5mm in 5 steps, to (on the right) 6 mm to 10 mm in 5 steps.
The next 2 items are ring mandrels. The first is a heavy, mountable, metal mandrel that is suitable for hammering on. It has all the rings sizes engraved on it so you can see the size of the ring you are making, and it is great for measuring finished rings on as well. The furthest right is a plastic mandrel, used for measuring rings with stones. It has the ring sizes engraved on the side not shown, but what is neat about this one is that it has a channel in it (shown) to measure rings with large stones. This is NOT made to be hammered on as it is breakable.
Finally we have plastic ring sizers which are (obviously) used to measure your fingers to see what size you are. Interesting to note is that these are not always 100% accurate: they are accurate if the ring band is the same width as the sizers, but rings with wide bands may actually need to be upped by 1/4 or even 1/2 of a ring size to accommodate for the width having to fit over knuckles. Just keep in mind that these are always approximate, though more accurate than not :-)
And last, but certainly not least is a jig. This is a most wonderful tool as you can make patterns in wire, as well as useful findings like ear wires. This one is a WigJig (tm) and is made of clear airplane window-grade acrylic. It is see-through, unlike most jigs, which means that if you draw a pattern, you can place it under the jig and see the pattern while you follow it with your wire. Also useful are the many different sized pegs that are sold separately, to give you different sized circles with your wire. This brand of jig is slightly more expensive than the non clear metal ones, but I really find it worth the price. Besides, I saved enough on the vise, anvil and hammer to pay for this jig!

That is all for today, tune in tomorrow for an update on the bracelet I'm (still) making!

Happy creating,


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