A Pictorial Tutorial!

Awesome idea for earrings! The possibilities are endless.

Fresh Baked Designs

(If you are looking for the Pearls, Pearls, Pearls Blog Hop, go HERE.)

I’ve been asked to get a tutorial up for these fun and colorful Boho-style earrings.

Simple and, hopefully, comprehensible !

So here goes…

With this advisory…be sure to count and recount the beads

on your wire to check your pattern BEFORE you finish

the  final wrapping!

A very painful lesson learned…

I like to mix matte colored seed beads with some shiny

or iridescent ones for visual contrast/interest.

The variations are endless!

Boho earrings

STEP ONE   Gather materials…

Step 1

Step 2

STEP TWO

step 4

STEP THREE

step 5

STEP FOUR

step 6

STEP FIVE

Step 7

Now grab your favorite summer maxi dress or jeans and a t-shirt

and go make yourself a pair…or two or three !

Or you can drop a comment on this post for a chance

to win a ready-made pair for yourself!

Giveaway closes on Tuesday, July 8th.

Winner’s choice of one of these pairs !

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A Creative List: Quality Time for Two

This list is inspired by my wonderful partner and lover.  Because of him, I am learning how to live my life to the fullest.  I don’t have to be rolling around in a bunch of money to know that deep down in my heart, I have everything.  I am…indeed…the richest girl in the world.  I love you, Peter.

Let’s face it.  Even the most vibrant and healthy of relationships can get into a rut.  Perhaps there are family issues going on.  Work can be off the chain.  You’re still trying to finish up that degree part time.  Or maybe “things” happen.

Whatever the case, it’s important to always take some time out for you and your partner.  Even if it’s just something small, it’s a chance to share a special moment and perhaps learn something new about each other.  By taking some time for just the two of you, new memories will be created and laughter will be shared.  Most importantly, you will remember why you two are so insanely in love in the first place.

Here’s a great list of different things you can do with your partner, all ranging from $0 – $$$$.  These are activities that could be done in just a few hours to an extended period of time.  Some of them are obvious, some not so much.  Because I am from the Upstate New York, I am going to give some examples in that area.  For those of us living in this area, are we not so VERY fortunate to have so much culture in our area?  I’ve lived here all my life and I still find this amazing and unbelievable.

1) Go to a concert

I don’t know why, but a lot of main stream concerts seem to getting more and more expensive.  Like off the chain expensive.  To offset the cost of this, you can always check out some local bands instead.  Of course, if you look hard enough, you can find outdoor concerts for free.

2) Go to a play

Again, tickets to a decent play can get pretty expensive.  Sometimes you can find a deal with some coupons or if you are part of an “inner circle” of sorts.  However, don’t knock the idea of community theatre.  Here are some local places to check out:

Proctors – http://www.proctors.org/
Capital Rep – http://www.capitalrep.org/
The Park Playhouse – http://www.parkplayhouse.com/

3) Go to a sporting event

I recently got tickets to a NFL football game for my boyfriend and myself to attend.  My friend sold them to me for a discounted price, but those ticket prices were still off the chain.  You can check out local, college and high school events to hit up a cheap, live sporting event.

4) Attend a Cooking Class together

5) Go to a museum

This should not be too hard to find, and reasonably affordable.  Here are some local ones in my area:

The State Museum –  and hit the observation deck in the Corning Tower
Albany Institute of History and Art

6) Take a dance class together

“I started Ballroom here for about a year ago. Its a weekly activity we do as a family every week. Something I strongly suggest for all couples who are looking for a great bonding experience.”bit a. – REVIEW FROM YELP about Lorraine Michael’s Dance Center.

There is a Salsa Club in the Albany area that includes lessons.

7) Visit the local game farm or zoo.  An aquarium is also a really exciting place to visit.

8) Play cards or a board game.  Write down what you want/need/desire from your partner if you win.

9) Go to the Planetarium

10) Build something with some Legos.  This was my boyfriend’s idea.

11) Take a fitness class together

If you don’t belong to a gym, you can usually get guest passes.  Try something fun, yet easy like a body sculpting class or water aerobics.

12) Check out some deals on Living Social

13) Park at the airport.

Bring a thermos of something hot to drink.  Snuggle under a blanket and enjoy the night and lights.  Bonus if you notice drama in the other cars around you.

14) Take a walking tour together

My boyfriend and I did a haunted walking tour in downtown Albany.  An interesting way to get a little activity while exploring the history in the area.  We would do it again in a second.

15) Go for a drive somewhere

You don’t even need a destination.  Make sure you have gas, AAA and a charged phone with service.  Pack a picnic basket with food and drink.  Now, just go.

16) Check out a Butterfly Conservatory

There is something very romantic and enchanting about being in a conservatory with a bunch of beautiful butterflies who pay no mind to humans being around.  Guys with beards, beware.  These winged beasts like to land on the beard.

Joseph L Popp, Jr. Conservatory
Magic Wings

17) “25 Things to do this weekend”

From time to time, our local Times Union will publish an article telling you about all the great things happening in the area for the weekend.  It would be helpful if they posted something up that said “things to do NEXT weekend” as well.

18) Visit a Winery

In Upstate New York, we are very fortunate to have many wineries.  There is some great wine in New York!

19) Check out a new restaurant

Don’t cheat.  For real this time – try a new place to eat that you both have not tried before.  Even better, try a totally different cuisine that you have never tried.  Bonus points if you find a coupon.

21) Better yet, take the dining experience to the next level

How about adding some flair to your dining experience and really make it something wonderful to remember.  Here are some suggestions (again, in the Upstate New York Area or beyond):

Dine in a real castle at Beardslee
The Melting Pot
Take a drive to Medieval Times.  Spend the night and make a weekend of it.
Hibachi!
Dinner and a Movie

22) A luxurious and sensual night in

I know, I know…this sounds SOOO typical.  But sometimes you have to spell out the obvious, so read on:

Get some takeout from your favorite place and dine in by candlelight.  Turn everything off: no TV, no smart phones, no tablets, no nothing.  What’s the matter??  Don’t have anything to talk about?  Play a game of “what’s your favorite???” or something similar.  Do some research on Google beforehand if you have to.  Don’t be ashamed.  I’ve done it…it’s even handy for those long car rides together.

After you are done eating and the minimal cleanup, trade some massages with each other.  Finish it off with a nice long shower or bubble bath together.  Dry each other off and hit the sheets.  This works excellent when you are getting out of the bathroom some moments before bed time.  A little mattress mambo is the best medicine for some solid sleep!

23) Build something together

My boyfriend and I built a little end table together.  We needed a little corner table that was  a little high, where we can throw our keys and stuff on when we walked in the door.  We got the materials.  He cut the wood and put it together.  I filled in the cracks, sanded it and painted it.  When I look at that piece of furniture, I feel such pride that we made this beautiful piece of furniture together.

24) Explore the wonders of your world

Take a day/weekend/extended weekend trip to explore what else is out there.  I can think of a few in New York State:

Niagara Falls
The Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes
Herkimer Diamond Mines
Adirondack Park (the biggest national park in the country)
New York City (the biggest city in the world)

25) Write a love letter

There is nothing more powerful than the written word.  Take a moment to express how you feel to your lover.  Any format works: chances are that your partner will be totally surprised and deeply moved by your notion of thoughtfulness.  If there is one thing that you can do today and right now to share with your lover how much they mean to you – express it to them in the form of the written word.  This way, they have a tangible piece of your heart that they can read and indulge in over and over again.

No matter what you have going on, it’s so important to remember to stop and savor life with your partner.  Sharing new experiences together is a wonderful way to keep your bond strong and your relationship fresh.  My partner and I are so important to each other.  I will do anything to make sure it stays that way.

Stay warm!  ::C

Beads on the Rise: Hiring Help

I'm always working hard

Things have been looking really good these days for my small and blossoming business.  Sales have been doing fairly well, especially with the holidays coming up.  There are so many opportunities to market and sell my beads, and of course I would love to do them all.

I’m even hosting a trunk party at my house.  I’m partnering up with a friend of a friend who is a Monet (formerly Maddison) bag dealer.  Together we will sell bags and jewelry at my house while hosting a party that is about women, fashion, fun and local artists.  I’m very, very excited about this.

There are even other opportunities that I really want to consider, especially after the holidays have settled down.  For example, I would really love to participate at Craft Shows.  I even found someone that is interested in partnering up with me, so we can share the booth costs, etc.  I have a friend who’s mom owns her own tailoring business that does really well.  He told me that his mother could sell my bracelets at her shop.  I’m even considering joining a co-op of other artist and have a presence in a store which happens to be in one of the most popular malls in the area.  Can you imagine?  My own presence in a boutique!

If you count my jewelry business, I have three jobs.  That’s right – three.  I work full time in government, part time (4 nights and 1 weekend) at my local YMCA and now this.  I have all these great assets – support, creativity, drive and so many jewelry supplies to the point where I am thinking about adding them on to the homeowner’s insurance.

Needless to say, the one asset that I do not have is time.  I really enjoy and finding time for my beads and making jewelry.  Because time is so precious, I find that I get frustrated when a project has failed.  Instead, I should be appreciating the learning experience, but my first impulse is “wow what a waste of time that was”.  That’s bad.

I recently attended a paid Webinar on how to handle your jewelry business during the holidays.  This was especially helpful for people with a strong and established customer base.  Or for folks who’s businesses are blowing up so much that they do it full time.  One of the things that was mentioned during this Webinar is the consideration to hire help.  Wow.  I couldn’t imagine.

I thought about it.  How can someone help me?  Would I even fathom the thought of taking MY hard earned dollars and throwing them at someone else to play with MY beads?

And then I started noticing some other things.  I’m having troubles keep track of my inventory.  I’m spending left and right and I have no idea how much I have invested in this business so far.  Well over four figures probably.  I’m also having problems finding the time to display my jewelry nicely so that it can be photographed.  Then cleaned up in Photoshop.  Then listing these items on my ETSY site.  All that stuff is not hard…it just takes time.  It took me 1.5 hours last night photographing and Photoshop’ing 8 new jewelry pieces.  Some of them not new, I just haven’t gotten around to PG and PS them.  I haven’t even listed all of them on my ETSY site yet.

Another big thing that really bugs me that I’m struggling to keep up with is this social media thing.  I have this WordPress blog that I paid money for a domain name.  I have a nice FB page, a Google+ presence, a Twitter account and something with Instagram.  How often do I post on these?  Hardly once a week.  And it’s a bummer, because these resources could really be strong points in driving my marketing.  It could really totally change the game.  Again – not hard…just very time consuming.  I know I am making a name for myself.  However, it’s slow.  I think if I were on top of the social media more, that progress would be more progressive.

So, I actually reconsidered the thought of hiring people some more.  If I could, I would hire TWO people:

The first person I would absolutely hire is someone to assist me with my social media.  Writing blog entries, posting on all the Social Media platforms, tracking down people to like me, friend me, follow me…anything.  This is someone that can do this at home.  They don’t need to be at my house to do this.  However, I would expect results every day.  I would want to see some kind of activity with the social stuff daily.

The next person that I would hire would be a professional cataloguer.  They would handle my inventory and finished products.  Photograph my inventory and my jewelry.  Digitally organize what I actually have in finished jewelry.  Organize all this stuff in a database somehow.  Post my finished work on ETSY for me.  Handle my online orders and requests.

I wonder how much I would pay someone to do these kinds of tasks.  Well, off to google for that one.  Again, something that I don’t have a lot of time for…research.

Creative Preparation: Vehicle Edition

About 4 years ago, there was a terrible snow storm that closed down a section of a major highway in my state that left motorists stranded, cold and without food and water for more than 24 hours:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/03/new.york.snow/

That Christmas, I decided to make “vehicle emergency kits” for my mother, my sister and my grandmother.  These emergency kits were no joke.  I bought huge storage tubs and included the following:

  • A blanket
  • Lighters
  • Big bag of trail mix
  • Jerky
  • Bottled water
  • Granola bars
  • A Life Hammer
  • Fire starter kit
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Glow Sticks
  • Flashlight w/ extra batteries
  • Crank powered radio
  • Gloves and scarves
  • First Aid kit
  • A small shovel

There was more, but this is all I could remember that I included in this kit.  Each kit contained items totaling over $150 each.  My family will never be without aid if stranded in their vehicle.

Now, I did something a little more advanced for myself.  Keep my background in mind:  I’m a Red Cross Certified Professional Rescuer, a Fire Marshall at my day job and I am all about self-defense and preparing yourself.  This last note could be an entire blog entry on its own.

So what do I keep in my vehicle?  Well, not only is it important to know what you have in your vehicle, but where you keep it.  Here it goes:

There are the items that are all within reach in my mid-sized SUV, without me exiting my vehicle (front and back seats):

  • Fire starter kit
  • Mini and huge mag light w/ extra batteries
  • Life Hammer
  • Crank powered radio
  • Lighter & matches
  • Retractable baton
  • Disposable panties
  • Paper towels & plastic bags
  • Razor blade
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Whistle

There are the items that I keep in my trunk:

  •  Fire Extinguisher (not a little wimpy one)
  • 2 jackets and a hoodie
  • Scarf and a pull over ski mask
  • A machete
  • A hunting knife
  • Rope
  • Flares (I want to get a flare gun) and glow sticks
  • Car stuff – jumper cables, tire changing, AAA, washer fluid, etc.
  • Advanced First Aid Kit (more like a trauma kit)
  • Reflective vest
  • Hand warmers
  • Bottled Water
  • A pair of sneakers
  • Extra fitness equipment
  • Towels
  • An emergency blanket

I should keep a real blanket, my extra combat boots (and socks), non-perishable food, baby wipes and toilet paper in my truck.  It’s probably a good idea.  With the exception of an EMP, my vehicle is all set for a bug out if the need ever came up.  I even have plans on where to go.  Where to get gas and food first and then various locations.  Again, another blog entry.

What do you keep in your vehicle?  Do you ever think about what you would need in the event of an emergency?

A Good Find: Memory Wire

Finally. I found the medium that I’ve been looking for to create stacked wire beaded bracelets. Memory Wire. This stuff is great! It’s so tough that it won’t bend. Repeat: Will not bend. It took some serious elbow grease to actually bend a couple of closer hooks on the end. But not bad, I’ll tell ya, not bad at all.

I stumbled across this when I was waiting to get my name changed at the Federal Building in downtown Albany. I got all my paper work filled out, all my divorce documents, and all my ID. I was ready to go! Except there was a wait. I decided to take this waiting time and browse on my phone on jewelry making.

Exacly what kind of wire is that used to make these lovely stackable looking wire bracelets? All the other wire that I have bought can bend so easily. It didn’t matter how hard I got the wire, or how thick. They all could bend by hand. Well, that wouldn’t do. So, upon my research, I ran across a site that showed me where I could buy some.

And then an unusual event happened – I didn’t buy it online right there on the spot. I waited. I waited in that hot crowded room and waited to finish my business at Social Security. Then I took myself, my latte and my agenda to A.C. Moore. After all, not only did I have a couple of coupons and I knew they were having a sale…but I also already got the entire morning off from my day job. Away I go.

And there is was. It wasn’t what I expected it to be. It’s much smaller than I thought. Oh well, I’ll give it a try. Hey, if I can drop some serious coin on other random wire that I now have no idea what I am going to do with…I can certainly buy this. Besides, I had a coupon.

I had to finish my entire day before I can play with my memory wire. This is how my day proceeded after my purchase (in this order):

  • Shopping
  • Weight Watchers
  • Report to duty at my office
  • Teaching water aerobics
  • Chinese food

I picked up some chunky larger seed-like glass beads a while ago. These beads are a very good quality. They were perfect with the memory wire. I decided to make a few cuff-like bracelets. I think they turned out lovely. I cannot wait to make more.

Adjustable Memory Wire Beaded Bracelets for Sale!

Memory Wire Beaded Bracelets
Memory Wire Beaded Bracelets on a Saucer!

Claudia’s Wire Works

I’ve been spending a lot of time making bracelets. Lots and lots of bracelets. The same, stretchy bracelets. I’ve got so many of them. At first, creating these kinds of bracelets was extremely challenging for me. But then, I really got the hang of it and then it became fun. Now, it’s just too easy to whip these guys out.

It reminds me of when I played the game SKYRIM. When I first started encountering dragons in the game, it was very difficult. I had limited resources, very little skill and I was apprehensive to try anything spunky. After a while, it got easier and easier. It then got to the point where I could kill a dragon with three strikes of my enchanted two-handed sword. I even started taking on two dragons at the same time. That’s when it wasn’t fun anymore. The challenge was no longer the there. And that’s when I decided to end the game.

The beading game is absolutely not done. There is so much more for me to do. I’ve tried doing threading work with beads. What a chore! I’m sure after with some practice that I will be very good at it, just like I am with creating elastic bracelets. So I decided to take on a new medium: Wire Working.

The past month I have been doing a lot of wire work. At first, it seemed really difficult. But with some practice, I’ve really have gotten it down. And it shows – I have created some really beautiful pieces. I’m not going to lie – Wire Working is very tedious and you have to put your “perfections” aside. Like making beaded stretchy bracelets, you need to learn how to correct your mistakes. You figure out how to fix what you break. There is trial and error, and you always take away something from each project.

Wire working is something that I really enjoy very much. It’s always rewarding to finish a beautiful piece of jewelry…something that I made from hand with tools and materials that I chosen myself. Wire pieces you can really open up. You can be very creative with designs that you make, with the way you place your beads…the possibilities are endless.

I’ve picked up some new virtues in wire working. Patience is key, as well as always looking out for the bigger picture. Of course, my analogy to SKYRIM really hits home. Practice and a little guts is key.

I’ve started to develop a new type of product in my wire working. Sort of a “new line” of jewelry that I am offering. I am offering necklaces that can be worn in different ways. They will include expanders and accessories, and you can add on other pieces if you wish to. Everyone loves to make the most of what they got, so why should jewelry be any exception?

Here is some fun that I have been having with my Wire Working:

Hand wiring up some beads for I have no idea what!
Beads on some glass…
Try out new things…one bead at a time…and one wire wrap at a time.
My work friend Moreen really loved the necklace I made for her! <3
My work friend Moreen really loved the necklace I made for her! ❤

And here are some of my listings that I am offering on ETSY:

Pearl Shell Necklace and Earrings
Two in One Amethyst Necklace. Matching earrings and bracelet are available.
Two in One Onyx Necklace.

Enjoy and Happy Beading! 🙂