Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday's Methods: The Office is Almost Done!

It's Here! It's Finally Here! I got my workbench on Friday and though it isn't exactly as advertised (and don't you worry, I am still good an annoyed at that), it is together and holding my jewelry making supplies. It was advertised as a "steel workbench" and the photo showed it with a stainless steel top, but when I got it, surprise, the item number was the same, but no stainless steel worktop! However, Brennan says we can get a sheet of steel and screw it down onto the top.
Here is the worktop with my supplies on it (you can barely see the anvil and vise on the top shelf). Even better: there is a light on the underside of the shelf so that I have my workspace lit up! There is even a power bar on one side so that I can plug things into it when I get my torch, kiln and other power tools up here. I still have to get the proper extension cord to plug the power bar into the wall, but that is not essential at this point.
Here are the two giant drawers that I managed to fit most of my regularly-used tools and supplies into. One side is for tools, the other for wire, stringing materials and so forth.
Here is the bottom shelf, where I have room for my polymer clay oven, paper shredder and empty storage boxes. When I get my last set of shelves, the empty boxes will go on them so that I have my feet free to rest on the shelf when I sit to work at the bench.
Here is my office now - I have my desk and workbench snug against each other so that I can work on one side and still see (and more importantly, reach) the other. Now I can work on jewelry and my laptop at the same time, Hallelujah!

Until tomorrow, we got our first dusting of snow this morning, I'm off to try and ignore it (with many a "Humbug!", lol).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Soulful Sunday: A Whole Lotta Food!

I hope all of my American friends had a great Thanksgiving, full of joy, laughter, and of course, good food! I thought the cat above was appropriate. Image is from
I'm off to clean the house a bit, do some groceries...and play with my new workbench! It finally arrived - a little different than the photo online - and is now just begging to be used :)
Have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fabulous Friday: Special Deals for This Weekend Only!

This Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, join me in my Etsy store for great deals on your holiday shopping:
Buy 2 items - get 20% off
buy 3 items - get 30% off
buy 4 items - get 40% off

The more you buy, the more you save! As always, all purchases are gift wrapped and come with a free blank gift card. Purchases over $10 get a FREE surprise gift!
Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Happy Turkey Day!

On this very Thoughtful Thursday I wanted to wish all of my American friends a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving!! I am very thankful for all of my blogland friends, all of my family, and everyone on Plurk, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook who has followed or fanned or chatted with me.

Arwen also wants to let you know how thankful she is for all of your wonderful compliments and comments that are directed to her. She sees every one and wags her tail as she receives them.

What are you thankful for? We wish you a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Arwednesdays with Arwen the Wonder Dog

Wow! Mommy and her shop are featured on Indie Smiles! There is a whole article there by Linda of LindaGJ. In it there is talk about fibromyalgia as well as her beautiful jewelry.
High-5 Mommy! We hope you all have a great Wednesday.

Mommy also wants to thank everyone who came out to the Gluten free Baking Exchange cooking class last night. It was so much fun and there were so many awesome baked goods for everyone to take home. Can't wait for next week!
and Arwen

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Treasures: Getting in the Baking Mode

So I had wanted to take a photo to show you all how they turned out, but apparently I have gremlins in the house! With the holidays fast approaching, one of my favorite things to do, and gifts to give, is baking. These are simple, delicious and so pretty that I had to share with you! Put on some holiday music, grab your bowl and spoon, and get ready for one delicious recipe.

Meg and Mel's Holiday Balls

1 Cup Butter
2 tbsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Brandy

2-1/4 Cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (see the link for the flour recipe)
1/2 Cup Gluten Free Icing Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt

3/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts OR Chocolate Chips OR Dried Cranberries OR a combination of them

Granulated Sugar for Sprinkling (Optional)

Cream the butter and agave nectar. Add in the brandy.
Evenly sprinkle the flour, icing sugar and salt over the top and mix until just combined.
Mix in the walnuts/cranberries/chocolate chips and blend.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until cold.
Preheat oven to 350Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using your fingers, make small, teaspoon-sized balls and roll them in the sugar, if using.
Shake the excess sugar off the cookies and place them about 1-2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, until they are golden around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

I would also like to thank everyone for their kind words. Brennan is very proud of himself for keeping the secret for over 6 weeks while it was made, and we are both very happy :)

Have a great day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Methods: Great Photos with Lightboxes

Last week I showed you my nearly done office makeover and during that I showed you my new light box (above, with grey background). I wanted to do a whole tutorial on it, but really, I thought I would direct you to the blog that I got it from originally, the Sellers Assisting Sellers Blog. They are a group of full time Etsy sellers who give great advice on everything Etsy and online-selling related. I have found some VERY important info there and I hope you do too. The tutorial for the light box is HERE.
There are many well known bloggers on this site, including Ana from the House of Mouse, a favorite of mine, and a very successful seller herself. I really recommend bookmarking the Sellers blog if you are currently selling online, or are planning to in the future.

Have a great day!

P.S. If you are wondering at my absence over the weekend, it was Brennan's and my 8 year anniversary (yay us!). He got me my engagement ring, and um, we were a little busy on Saturday getting it resized. I am also busy planning for new cooking classes with my partner in crime, Melody. That takes quite a bit of time also :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fabulous Friday Feature: M2bC

Today's Fabulous Friday Feature is M2bC, or, Meant to Be Cherished - Casual Artisan Jewelry.

Do you want to be featured? Leave me a comment with a way to contact you!
M2bC makes all kinds of beautiful jewelry, but focuses on chainmail, strining and Kuhimono, a special type of Japanese braiding.
With pieces ranging from about $8 to $88, there is something for almost everyone on your gift list :)
Please do check out her Artfire shop and see all of the amazing things she has to offer. She also has a blog - why not stop by and say hello??

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That Was Fun...Part 3

Well here is the last installment of my office redo until I get my new workbench and last set of shelves. At that point I'll move our giant laser printer onto the shelves and transfer my jewelry making supplies to the new workbench, move my cork board above my reading area (see below), and then relax! Here are my shelves, totally organized! I was able to fit all of my jewelry books and magazines, business books, painting inspiration photos, frames, sewing machine, general office supplies and junk, board games and some of my favorite Etsy artists' artwork.
Here is my beautiful new desk! I got it from Ikea and it is fabulous! I was able to fit one of my filing cabinets right under the desk, with room for a storage box full of old computer stuff behind it (old hard drives, etc.). It is wide and deep enough to hold my laptop, stereo, water glass, to-do binder, scrap paper binder (I told you I'm into the 3 R's, lol), my pen pots (recycled from old tea-leaf cans covered in scrapbook paper), and my "freebie box" - all of my materials that go into making freebies for you when you order more than $10 from my shops. I like to keep it in front of me so that if I have a little extra time I can fill it by making gifties for you! Even better is that my desk is in front of my window so that I can see outside when it is light and be inspired by my forest. The desk is also over my heating vent, which has turned out to be quite handy in keeping my perennially cold toes nice and toasty!
Here is my temporary work desk. It is clean! I have my tools in the storage drawers to the left, with my vice and anvil in front. Then I have my 2 bead and finding storage drawer sets (they are overflowing, so the next time Canadian Tire has a sale on these "Parts Drawers", I'll be getting ANOTHER one, LOL! I also have room to work, which is great, as well as being able to store my various-sized plastic baggies (in the white boxes next to the bead storage) and my photography light is on top of a box to better light up my light box, which I now have room for! See the last photo for my new light box.
Here is what will be my reading corner. I have Arwen's bed so that we can be near each other, I have my tall bookshelves with some books, and many pieces of Etsy Artisans' art - from Epic Farms, Crazy Bliss, Art By Marilyn, Visual Smiles Gallery, Bunnies and Hares by Dragon House of Yuen (not pictured, but I now have them on my small bookshelf), and more! I'm going to put more of my books on the smaller shelf and eventually find a comfy armchair/reading chair to put right beside it that I can curl up in to read a good book for hours on end. I also had room for one of my yoga mats and light hand weights, so that I am able to get in a few good vinyasas or arm curls when waiting for things to load :)
Here is my fabulous light box! Constructed from a standard cardboard filing box, I lined it with plain white paper to bounce the light around in it. I have a white background for dark pieces, and for lighter pieces I have this grey background (it looks brown here, but that is from all of the different light sources hitting it in the photo). This allows me to have more even lighting and get more consistent photos of my jewelry. I finally have room for it, and room to store it when not in use, so I am very excited about this!

Well, that is all for now, I'll keep you updated on the new workbench and shelves as they become available. I'm also starting to (slowly) purchase metalsmithing equipment to expand my jewelry knowledge and techniques, so I will be sure to show you the new tools as I get them :)

For those interested, the heavy duty shelving units (Spacemaker Brand) are from Canadian Tire and cost $45.99 each. They are 36inches wide, 70inches tall and 16inches deep. The desk is from Ikea and is Mikael model in beech/white and was $69.99. It is approximately 55inches wide, 29inches deep and 29inches high. The filing cabinets were fromZellers, on sale for $39.99 each (I got 2) and are for standard, letter sized documents. The black storage boxes were also from Ikea and were the Kassett series, both the CD boxes and Magazine boxes. They came in sets of 2 per kind and were $6.99-$17.99. The parts drawers and storage drawers on my work desk are from Canadian Tire and ranged from $13.99-$29.99 at regular price, but I waited until they were on super-sale. The workbench (still to come) is a stainless steel-topped workbench from Canadian Tire and is regularly $199.99 but I got it on sale for $89.99. The total office overhaul (7 years overdue), cost about $550. Prices are in Canadian Dollars, not including taxes.

Have a great day, I am off to enjoy my nearly finished, and SO much better, art space!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That Was Fun, Let's Never Do That Again, Part 2

Putting Shelves Together
Continuing from yesterday's post, here are some more photos from my office refurbishing. Here I am putting together the shelves, which are great, but take a million tiny screws that need to be mainly hand tightened before being tightened with a screwdriver. The result is that I have beautiful shelves, and torn up fingers. They have healed on the outside, I don't know that I've healed on the inside. Well, actually, I have...
Starting to Get Organized
Just look at this! I LOVE my new shelves! All injuries are forgotten in my new joy at seeing my office finally start to get organized. On the right side on the floor is a Bateman Print (Limited edition, "Twilight Siberian Tiger") that I have to hang up, but until I do, it is staying safe right there :)
Assembling Storage Boxes
We got to Ikea on Friday (can I just tell you how in love I am with that store??) and I got some great storage boxes and a NEW desk! The storage boxes are cardboard, but also need screws to be put together. It was worth the work though, they look fabulous and hold all of my small, messy-looking items easily!
Interim Office From Door
Here is my office in the interim, until I get my workbench and one more set of shelves. I am so happy with how it is turning out, it is so easy to use my laptop on one desk and do my jewelry making on the other. I now have room for each and that is such a blessing. I am also able to now have a light box, which I made last night and will show you tomorrow, when I show you part 3 of this series. Of course, part 4 is waiting on the last bit of furniture, but we'll have that whenever it it comes in. While I am not fond of buying new furniture where old will suffice, I have been using the old furniture for about 8 years, and it was used when I got it! The old furniture is also going to its new home when friend takes my old desk and my parents take the old bookshelves, so no garbage dumps were added to in this redecoration. Reduce, reuse, recycle is my motto, I just needed specific items to make my workspace more efficient and workable for my business :)
Stay tuned, you don't want to miss the transformation :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

That Was Fun, Let's Never Do That Again, Part 1

Office Starting Point, View 1
I am not dead, though I am sorry I have been away for so long! I have, as I stated on Friday, been redoing my office and though I am still alive, I am wondering how that is, as I have been run over by tables, leaned against by heavy bookshelves, nicked by screws and just generally beaten up by stuff over the last few days. I did get out to see the new "A Christmas Carol" in IMAX 3D on Saturday, which was AMAZING! and so restful, but that will be a story for another day...
Office Starting Point, View 2
Although it looks okay in photos, my office did not have the storage or versatility I need to run my business effectively. Aside from the amount of dust collected in various nooks and crannies, the bookshelves were just that: bookshelves, and not meant to hold heavy amounts of books or equipment without bowing to their weight. It was also too cluttered and messy-looking - not conducive to my creativity at ALL!
Office Starting Point, View 3
Here, though roomy, the table was really just wasted space, and ended up holding junk. I needed a place to do photography, but it was too low to stand and take photos, and too high to sit and take them also. Frustrating! I also needed better organized storage, a better work surface for making jewelry and a surface just for my laptop and general paperwork.
Making Room
After 6 months of planning, whining, and general malcontent, I finally saw that the workbench I wanted was going on sale for 60% off and jumped. Of course, I jumped too late and by the time I got there (the day after the sale started) they were sold out and I now have a rain check for them to call me "Whenever it comes in", as the sales lady so helpfully told me. I did, however, get 2 sets of shelves, which I am very happy about. These are heavy duty shelves, and they are supposed to hold up to 200 lbs per shelf. Now, while I doubt they would hold that much, they are much stronger than my bookshelves and they have better depth. My only regret is that I only got 2 sets...I thought they would come in a huge box, being that they are 6 feet high, but no, the shelves bolt together and the uprights are 3 feet each, being bolted together in the middle to make a very strong join, and the total box only 3 feet long also. I am going to go and get 1 more set of those shelves. Here I am making room for them, with my ever-helpful snoopervisor, Arwen...
And I'll get more shelves...right after I finish dealing with my disaster! It doesn't look like this now, but I still shudder at the memory. With much-appreciated help from Brennan, I did manage to get the two massive old bookshelves downstairs (my parents are taking them in the spring when the weather is better and they have the insurance back on the truck), and I've moved some things around (many things, actually).
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fabulous Friday Features: 2 Blog Mentions!

Today's Fabulous Friday Feature is a bit of a surprise...I'm mentioned on 2 blogs! I even have a feature on Eccentric Pastiche's blog! For those of you that don't know Eccentric Pastiche, I did a feature on Anne a while back, and she makes the most amazing teas. Please stop by to see my feature and see her great blog!!
I also got a pleasant surprise when I found that my Jeweled Celtic Spiral Ring is on Beaded Tail's Friday Features Blog! Every Friday Sharla and her amazing animals feature great artists and I am so tickled to be among them this week! Please stop by and check out the other amazing artists on the blog.

That is all for now, tune in tomorrow for a few photos of the disaster I am calling my office...I'm currently refurnishing and reorganizing and it looks like a crafter exploded!
See you tomorrow, if I survive :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: New Project Update!

Here are a few interim photos of the new project I'm working on. This is a modified version of a project from my new chain mail book. In this bracelet, I am making my own rings (yup, all 200 of them), and then weaving them into a loose Byzantine chain mail weave...
In between the Byzantine weave units, I am attaching bead units that are actually a part of the chain weave. These are Czech glass fire polish beads in Crystal AB that are strung on small pieces of wire with their ends hammered flat. Then I take the other end and twist it into a double ring and attach it into the weave of the chain. After 3 hours of ring making, filing and chain making, I have about 6 inches or so done. I should be able to get the rest done today.

Tell me, what do you think (honestly)? Would you like it in silver plate or sterling silver, or 14karat gold filled? With different colored beads? Let me know, I value your opinion!

That's all for now, tune in tomorrow for a Fabulous Friday Feature.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arwendnesdays with Arwen the Wonder Dog: Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance day and I, Arwen the Wonder dog, wanted to honor all of the troops, past, present and future with a post about their heroism. One thing we often forget, however, is that animals also played roles in earlier wars. Horses, and dogs helped our troops quite often. Here is a true story, taken from the Dogs In Canada website, written by Amanda Kelly, about a Canadian dog named Gander. He was a Newfoundland breed of dog and turned out to be quite a hero. Please read on:

Big, hairy and goofy, ‘Gander’ was a typical Newfoundland Dog – and an unlikely Canadian war hero. Nevertheless, this gentle giant was destined to carve out a spot in history and in the hearts of Canadian veterans of the Battle of Hong Kong.

Humble beginnings

Gander began his life as ‘Pal,’ the beloved pet of Ron Hayden, manager of Shell Oil at the Gander Airport in the early 1940s. Pal was a frequent visitor to the airport, where he often assisted Hayden in refueling aircraft by towing a sled carrying the 45-gallon drum of fuel. When not working, Pal kept himself busy visiting with the soldiers assigned to Gander’s busy airbase and serving as a popular playmate for the town’s children.

During one particularly exuberant playtime, Pal accidentally scratched young Joan Chafe on the face, leaving scrapes requiring a doctor’s attention. Upset, his owners discussed the possibility of having Pal euthanized, but no one, least of all the children, wanted to see this happen. Instead, Pal was gifted to members of the first Battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada stationed in Gander at the time. Renamed in honour of the town, Gander became the unit’s mascot.

Gander goes to Hong Kong

Hoping to deter hostile action by Japan, Britain began reinforcing its out-post in Hong Kong in October 1941. Canada sent a force of 1,975 troops, consisting primarily of two battalions – the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. As a newly minted member of the Royal Rifles family, Gander sailed from Vancouver with his new companions on October 27, 1941.

Upon arriving on November 16, the Canadian units were assigned the task of defending Hong Kong’s beaches. On December 8, the Japanese attacked Hong Kong. What ensued were 17-1/2 days of intense fighting known as the Battle of Hong Kong.

A hero is born

Poorly equipped and outnumbered, defences on mainland Hong Kong were quickly defeated and the Japanese army turned its attention to the island of Hong Kong, where Canadian forces bravely stood their ground. After two demands for surrender were summarily rejected, Japanese forces invaded the island under the cover of darkness on December 18.

Gander is reported to have engaged the enemy on no fewer than three separate occasions during fighting around the Lye Mun Barracks. The first came when a wave of attackers landed on the beach and Gander rushed at them, barking furiously and charging at their legs. Not long after, he again charged and barked, snapping at advancing Japanese troops and forcing them to alter their course – effectively diverting them away from a group of injured Royal Rifles trapped only a few feet beyond him, and saving them from death or capture.

It is for his final act of bravery that Gander is most remembered. Pinned down under intense fire, a group of injured soldiers watched in horror as a live grenade rolled into their midst. Acting quickly, Gander grabbed the grenade in his mouth and ran. Though killed in the subsequent explosion, Gander’s last heroic act saved the lives of several of his human friends.

Honouring Canadian heroes

Fifty-nine years later, Gander’s sacrifice was finally recognized. For the first time since 1949, the Dickin Medal was presented for an act “of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in wartime.” Gander is the only Canadian dog to have received the medal. Accepting on his behalf was Fred Kelly of Campbellton, N.B. – one of Gander’s primary handlers and caretakers during his time with the Royal Rifles.

Known as the “Animals’ Victoria Cross,” the Dickin Medal was established in 1943 by Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), an English veterinary charity. The bronze medal honouring the work of animals in war was awarded by the PDSA 54 times between 1943 and 1949. Gander’s posthumous induction in 2000 marked a revival and since then the number of Dickin recipients has increased to 62. Other honourees include 32 pigeons, 25 dogs, three horses and one cat.

Those who gathered in Ottawa in 2000 remembered the sacrifices of all who fought in Hong Kong, a defence made at great human cost. When Allied forces were overrun on Christmas Day 1941, approximately 290 Canadian soldiers were killed in battle. Survivors endured nearly four years of captivity in prisoner-of-war and Japanese work camps where 267 more would perish. For those counting, that is a total of 557 dead Canadian heroes. Gander made it 558.

Lest we forget.

Gander’s memory lives on today in the hearts and minds of Canadian children from coast to coast, thanks to innovative educational material developed by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Recognizing that teaching young children about war can be difficult, the department uses cartoon relatives of real-life Dickin Medal winners to introduce concepts of remembrance on a level even the youngest reader can understand.

Lest we forget. Please thank a veteran for their service today. We wouldn't be the same without them.
and Arwen


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