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! 🙂

Easy DIY Layered Chain Necklace

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a layered chain necklace (or bracelet) myself. Check out the fabulous instructions here to get started!

Beauty by Caitlin

DIY layered chain necklace1

Hello Lovelies! Today I have a super fun and easy DIY project for you! I made this cute layered chain necklace over the weekend and it only took me about 15 minutes. I want to apologize right off the bat though. When I went to Michael’s to get the chains I wasn’t thinking about taking pictures. I figured I would make a silver one because I already have a gunmetal and gold one. Unfortunately silver wouldn’t photograph well at all no matter what color background I was working on. I used the pictures from the black background, because you couldn’t see anything on the white background, but not all of them turned out usable. I’m going to be as detailed as humanly possible to try and make up for the missing pictures, but this is really really easy. This was my first attempt and I’m pretty happy with the way…

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Colors for Fall: Orange is the new Black

Funny, I’ve been picking up a bunch of different orange beads over the last couple of weeks.  I don’t know why.  I think one of the reasons why I have been doing this is because I am so drawn to cooler colors (think purple, blue, green).  Orange seemed like a dramatic, yet safe shift for me with my bead smithing.

While I was on my most recent routine run at a local craft shop, I decided to picked up the latest copy of Bead Design Studio magazine.  And there it is, smack right on the cover: “Orange: The color of the season!”  I’m glad to see that I’m not losing my clairvoyant touch.

IMG_20140905_152838_986

While this bums me out just a little, I can understand that such a strong, warm color would be “in” for fall.  Here is the skinny on what colors are in for fall (from Bead Design Studio):

  • Warm Tones: Golden, canary, watermelon, cherry, red-orange, tangerine, crimson, and garnet
  • Cool Tones: Lemon-lime, lime, aqua-fresh, emerald, olive, navy, electric blue, and cerulean (also seen in the font of the cover of BDS)
  • Neutral Tones: Khaki, honey, cocoa, rust, dove gray, gray

Some of these colors sound a foreign to me, so I did some researching online so you can see them for yourselves.  These are some very beautiful colors!

Here are some of my recent creations in orange:

IMG_20140904_221808_802

Bottom Left: Orange Crackled Glass with Orange Pearls

Top Left: Fire Orange Agate with Orange Glass

Top Right: Fire Brown Agate with Peach Glass

Bottom Right: Orange Sodalite with Lapis Lazuli (not yet listed)

These are all really great designs and colors.  However, loud and crisp-looking jewelry is like a fresh bottle of nail polish.  It looks absolutely gorgeous in the bottle, but when you go to put it on, it’s a totally different story.  As much as I find all these colors lovely, I don’t think I could pull every single one of them off.  You’ll probably see me mostly in the neutral isle for the most part this fall.

Do you change your fashion colors season by season?  Do you try to follow the latest trends?  Or do you still do your own thing?

Extreme Bead Shopping and Makeovers

Date: 09/01/2014
Time: 09:00 HOURS EST
Location: Dining room and kitchen

Him: “We need to go to the pet store today”
Me: “I know. Do you know where else there is a Pet Smart besides our neighborhood?”
Him: “…where?”
Me: “Crossgates Commons”

A little pause goes by…

Him: “You mean to tell me that you want to go to three different craft shops in three days??”
I just look at him wide eyed and flutter my lashes.
Him: “That’s craziness. You can’t do it – it’s never been done before.”
I’m still looking at him wide eyed.

He walks away mumbling “hooo my gaaad…”

~*~*~*~

Labor day is a pretty sad time of the year for me. It marks the end of my favorite season: summer. No more water parks. No more hanging out at the lake. People’s pools start to close. Amusement parks close down for the season. Ice cream places close down. It’s also a reminder that the season of death is going to be approaching soon. Which means that I will have to drive in crappy weather, shovel and scrape ice off my truck. What a bummer.

However, there is a sunny side to Labor Day weekend: the sales. Everyone and anyone is having a sale of some sort, and the local craft stores are no exception. My extreme beading has taken a very aggressive turn. My shipmment from BRC came in on Friday. We went to Joanne’s on Saturday night (where I saved about half of what I bought). We hit AC Moore on Sunday (again saved half). And today we will just see what Micheal’s has.

From my previous article, you can imagine that I manage to save as much money as I possibly can when I shop local. I even have my boyfriend buy stuff with the “one coupon per customer” promotions. Even with all that, they can be pretty expensive compared to what you can buy online. I currently have two favorite online stores that I will continue to shop at:

BRC Beads
Fire Mountain Gems

BRC beads actually had my shipment to me within a week, and it was free. Very impressive. Fire Mountain Gems will give you more discounts with the more you buy (naturally). However, the search features on this site are incredible and it’s worth the visit.

With all my different shopping, I craft items with beads that I have gotten from multiple sources. The agate from BRC and the glass from Joanne’s, along with those cute little spacers from Amazon. The different turquiose I got from AC Moore with some charms from that shop that I picked up when I was at Cape Cod. It’s makes it interesting, because every piece has it’s own interesting story. My peices are not just “made out for the masses”. They are all made with careful consideration and have a story on where they came from.

We also hit up home depot and bought some shelves to add to my studio. Now it looks really nice and I have lots of space. Nothing like a makeover in your creative area.

My Crafting Studio

Happy Beading! ::C

Meet the Creative Author

:: This post was inspired by my new friend Grumpy Kitty. Be sure to stop by her blog, as she has some good stuff.

Hey People! My name is Claudia. I live in Upstate New York. I live my wonderful boyfriend who is amazing beyond words. We have a kitty cat name Carlos. I’ve been doing creative things as long as I can remember. I strongly focused on the arts when I was in high school and some college. I even had some of my work displayed in galleries. I remember participating in competitions and coming out on top. It was a great ride, but that came to a halt when I got a little older.

Although life has taken me on many different paths, I have always managed to keep creativity in my life. I always kept drawing, painting, writing, cooking, doing collages in all kinds of mediums…you get the idea.

I’m very fortunate to have two wonderful careers. My primary career is in Information Technology. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years (wow, I feel old). In this career I have done many things. Wed development and design, system and database administration, help desk and training are just the highlights. Currently, I serve in a role where I specialize in Information Security. In this role I am a software engineer and also perform system administration duties. It feels great to work really hard for something that helps people.

My second career is in fitness and aquatics at the YMCA. This is probably the longest time that I have held on to a part time job (almost 10 years). Working at the Y changed my life. I currently teach Aqua Fitness (boot camp style classes), and group cycling classes (think Spinning). I also sub other class when I can (kickboxing, step aerobics, body sculpting, etc). I really love working at the Y.

Aqua Boot Camp
Aqua Boot Camp
Pool Pals
Pool Pals
Group Cycling
Group Cycling
M&M Award
Mission and Membership Award

So, I guess that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, so I decided to start a new hobby: making jewelry. Now, I’m not going to say that I’m an expert by any means. However, my very strong creative background has really given me an edge. Bead smithing has given me something very positive to focus on and keep me occupied. I currently am only crafting bracelets (because I love them so much), but soon I will be moving to different peices such as necklaces and earrings. We’ll see what happens from there.

I have created so many bracelets, and everyone has been raving about them. So, I decided to start an ETSY shop to sell some of my work. If you would, please take a moment to check out my shop.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog! And don’t forget to check out my girl Grumpy Kitty as well. Grumpy Kitty…that makes me laugh.

Enjoy and Happy Beading! ::C

Beads on the Go

:: Big ups to my terrific boyfriend for giving me this catchy idea on this blog.  I love you, Peter.

A lot of people don’t have a “space” to do crafting work.  So considering going mobile.  Pick up a milk crate of some sort (you can get colored ones pretty cheaply), and use some of my clever ideas to store all your supplies.  You can move it to the kitchen, the dining room, or even in the living room with a tray table.  If you need more space, get another milk crate.  If it starts to get heavy, consider purchasing a compact folding cart to move your gear around.  Now that you are mobile, you can even take your stuff out of your home.  You can go to a friend’s, your grandmother’s, or even a non-crowded spot like a coffee shop or the library.

This is where Beads on the Go comes in.  There are a lot of options for “traveling” kits that you can pick up.  Not only are these kits compact, but they are also very handy and resourceful.  For example, this travel tool kit has really sturdy tools, and I only paid about 12 bucks for it.  It’s very lightweight and could fit in a nice coach bag comfortable with your other things:  wallet, coupon clutch, makeup bag, 9mm, phone, water bottle, etc.
tools

I also have this mini measuring kit that has a little basin in the middle.  This kit completely closes up, so you can throw some beads in there to work with, along with a small pair of scissors, some thread and a needle.  I use this kit when I want to hang out in the living room with my boyfriend while I am crafting my jewelry.  It’s nice and small, and you can take it anywhere (like the office).
beads_to_go

Of course, this article would not be complete without something “DIY” or “Upcycled”.  So I present the Empty Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge Container – Upcycled:
lc 

This is perfect because you can store a small amount of beads and minimal supplies.  You can use the round shape of the container as a measuring tool.  Of course, when you open this container up, you can divide up your beads and work very easily.  And don’t forget to never underestimate the power of the paper plate.

Beads on the Go!
beadsonthego

Happy Beading!  ::C

The Fish

During my beading and jewelry making adventures, I notice certain things.  I notice the colors that people are wearing.  I notice how much accessories could make up ones outfits.  I’m also starting to notice charms and other iconic-type tokens that people are into these days.  One of them being is The Fish.

Now, I love Fish.  These beasts are not only pretty tasty, but they are just cool animals in general.  They get to live in the water, they are social, and they are all different patterns.  Perhaps doing their own fashion Fish thing.  There is another reason why I love Fish: because it’s part of my real name.

So before people give their reasons why they love the whole Fish concept, I have a pretty valid and strong reason.  My sister always had “The Fish hook” when she played basketball…her and her 6’2″ self playing center.  We always had to do everything Fish when it came to the kitchen.  Fish shaped dishes, potholders, anything Fish.

So that’s when I decided to create a “signature” type of bracelet.  Nothing too fancy or off the chain.  Just a few of my pieces has one thing that stands out.  Just a simple silver Fish.  That is my trademark.

Check out how I made The Fish work on some of my pieces:

The Fish on Gray Lavendar
The Fish on some gray-lavender like beads
The Fish on Rustic Gray
The Fish on some rustic gray beads
The Fish on Indigo
The Fish with some indigo sparkly beads

I’m sure there are lots of folks out there who have one icon, one symbol that means a lot to them. Perhaps you have several. You ever wonder why? Does this entity make you happy? Inspired? Feeling safe? That’s pretty much how I feel about The Fish. So stay tuned if you want to see more about this beast in action. Now that he’s on bracelets, The Fish really is in action.