Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday!

It's my birthday today! My 31st, in fact. Not that I feel 31. I feel better than I did when I was 20. Of course, when I was 20 I smoked 2 packs a day of Marlboro 100s rather than eating and regulated my sleep and wake cycle with a combination of caffeine and cold medicine. Now I run almost daily, strength train, am a Certified Personal Trainer and eat ridiculously well 80% of the time. Go figure. But 31 I am and as a present to myself I bought CoverGirl lip stain. Oh, so pretty. I hate the way lipstick feels so I rarely wear it, but this literally stains your lips like berries do. The only weird thing is that because it looks so natural, it looks like I have naturally fuchsia lips. I love it anyway.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Temptation Thursday

I'm starting a new feature here called Temptation Thursday. I will be showcasing some special "splurge" items from artists on Etsy, ArtFire and any other handmade venues. If you want to be included in a later edition, please email me at wanderlustbling(at)! Now, let's get started!

From Etincelle Design:

This necklace is lovely! It looks substantial and so special. I love the different textures. This necklace can be found here.

Looking around her shop I was intrigued by all her jewelry - definitely some covet worthy pieces here!

Next up: Marina's Knittery

This can be worn so many ways. And I love the pop of color it would bring to a somber jacket. This cowl can be found here.Marina has tons of other fun items in her shop, and her models look so happy and cozy!

Thanks for looking! I know we're in the middle of that big R word, but I've always enjoyed splurges rather than letting my money slowly dribble away. Hope this gave you some ideas! Come back again next week to see more temptations.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

Hi all! I was going to just write a post about a new line of pendants I've been working on for quite awhile now, but first I want to point out the snazzy new box to the right. It's my ArtFire store with a check out built in! How amazingly cool is that! I have to say the ArtFire folks know how to make an online seller happy. Lots of fun features, quick turn around and a team interested in feedback leads to some great innovations. So feel free to browse my shop over there and check out in 28 seconds! 28 seconds!

Now that I have all the fan girl love out of my system, I'd like to show you what I've been working on! I'm so excited about it. In December, we went to Ovar, Portugal to visit Keath's family. We had a wonderful time there. The people were all so welcoming and kind, the scenery was beautiful and the ambience in the small town of Ovar was delightful.

The outsides of a large number of the houses in Ovar are covered in beautiful tiles. Ovar is known as a living museum of tile and it is a bit like walking around a museum. There's something wonderful to see on every house.The older ones are hand painted, some newer ones are prefab, but they're all lovely and they give the town such a unique look. My family was laughing at me because I would point out tiles I liked every few minutes as we walked to the markets or the cafes. Wandering the streets was made all the more fun by the prospect of coming across new tiles. On our last day in Ovar, I took the camera out and took photos of all the tiles that grabbed my attention. I had no specific plans for the photos at that time, but I just had to have them.

Once we got home, I decided to make pendants out of the pictures. I first attempted to laquer them onto tiles I made out of polymer clay, but that looked sloppy and I wasn't happy with the results. Baking polymer clay in our oven also set the smoke detector off a lot and filled the whole rig with odd fumes, so I nixed that idea.

The plan I finally settled on was to set the photos in resin. Shopping for the correct combination of paper cutters and resin molds was a bit overwhelming, but I finally wound up with a square cutter used for scrapbooking and a mold for making chocolate mints. I practiced resin skills with some random shapes from the mold sheet I bought, but I had to put them outside to cure for the first few hours and that led to some cloudiness. I was really happy with the fact that the cute little turtle I bought at Monument Valley was encased with his broken foot forever in resin and he didn't turn too cloudy. Cute, huh? Skills aquired, I set out to make my pendants.

I did twelve different photos in the twelve wells and carefully poured the resin in, squishing the photos down with a dowel to make sure all the air bubbles were out. Then it was off to the room with a vent to cure! After 72 hours, my little babies were ready for unmolding. Despite the warnings from Easy Cast about not using molds such as chocolate or soap, they came out quite easily. A little filing on the edges and they were lovely. The picture is intentionally bad here but you get the idea of them; I don't want this to turn up on some site to be messed with - this was a lot of work! ;-)

Next step is to attach those tags you see onto the back. I'm guessing some sanding will be necessary in order to get the glue to stick, so I'm going to wait for a day when it's not raining and I can do that outside. I don't want resin dust all over my house!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras!

Happy Mardi Gras, folks! It's time to celebrate like there's no tomorrow before the beginning of the holy season. Of course, if you're not going to be abstaining during the holy season, you just get to party on a school night and have a hangover on Wednesday. I realize that this is not always been the tradition, but from what I can see of bar ads, that is what it has become.

In honor of Mardi Gras, I'm having a secret sale (because Mardi Gras is nothing if not subtle.) If you write "Gimme some beads!" in the notes section during checkout and follow my blog, I'll refund 20% back to you via PayPal! This is valid at my ArtFire studio and my Etsy shop! This is only good for sales today, Tuesday February 24, so act fast!

In other news, check out this pretty necklace I made for Thursday Sweet Treat:
The theme this week was rain. We've certainly had plenty of that this past week, but now it's beautiful out and I can't wait to get outside. Last night the creek became a raging torrent so strong it brought three shopping carts with it and they got hung up on the bridge in the RV park. Unfortunately, they were gone by the time I went to take pictures. I should be faster next time!

Have a great day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Hi all! I took the day (sort of) off since I wasn't feeling great, but want to wish you all a great weekend. We're running one of the local races (we always do; so fun) and doing some kind of undetermined outdoors activity. I'm also going to check out the local flea market to see if I want to throw my hat into the ring, so to speak. I like to throw myself into things I'm unprepared for - otherwise I plan and never do!

So my question for you:
What are you doing this weekend?
Any insider tips for "live" selling?

Thanks, guys!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Post Office Love

This may seem silly, but yesterday the Post Office employees managed to lift my spirits from the basement. You see, in a rush, I had printed a lot of mailing labels (woohoo, sales!) and not changed the "sent from" zip code from my South Dakota address to my actual location where the packages would be mailed from. So I voided all the postage, then printed new postage, brought the packages to the RV park office to be mailed and went about my day. Until I realized that one of the packages went out with the voided label. Oh crap. I didn't even know what to do in this situation, so I got angry at myself, of course and was unable to think for awhile. I called the general USPS number, but that was just a big automated maze that compounded my frustration. So I just went to the post office where a real employee would hopefully take pity on me and tell me what to do.

The very nice woman at the counter seemed genuinely concerned for my plight, despite it being my own fault and reassured me that there are ways to get packages back once they've been handed to the carrier. Halleluja! I just had to wait a half hour until the secretaries got back from lunch and I'd be in business.

After a hurried lunch at the Safeway next door, I headed to the secret door off to the side of the counter at the Post Office and rang the bell. I was admitted to an office like any other office and greeted by a lovely woman named Caroline. She was just as concerned for my plight as the clerk and was very encouraging. Apparently, if you're going to screw up and have to recall a package, buying postage online with a tracking number and knowing the address where the carrier picked it up is the best thing you can do. Now you know. After a brief form and an assurance that she WOULD find my package, I went on my way. I totally trusted her, because she was a fellow lefty.

Sure enough, at around 5 o'clock I got the call that my package had been found. I picture Caroline ambushing the carrier as he walked in the back door and rooting through his mail bags, though that's probably not quite how it happened. Since it was after business hours, she told me to pick it up with Tina, a night supervisor and gave me instructions to get to the bulk mail acceptance door. This is not my first experience with bulk mail as I used to be in charge of a non-profit newsletter from start to finish, and this included bulk mailing it. But in Concord, NH, the bulk mail acceptance was not in the middle of everything. In Redding, it is.

I rang the doorbell as instructed and was buzzed in to a warehouse filled with activity. People were unloading mail trucks, carrying mail to and fro and the noise was incredible. A man noticed me by the door and came and buzzed me through a second gate after I told him I was there to see Tina. He led me to an even bigger room filled with all the sorting machines. It was awesome! I've never seen what happens to the mail once it goes into a box, but it's amazing everything doesn't get lost. Redding is a town of 90,000 and the quantities of mail were immense. Boxes and boxes and huge sorting conveyor belts and machines I had no hope of identifying.

The man who opened the door for me had developed a very loud voice and managed to shout to a woman who was so far away she was practically a speck and let her know what I needed. She interrupted whatever she was doing to bring me my package and was sweet and nice, making small talk while she checked my ID and I signed the paperwork.

So there you have it; a two fold lesson about why you shouldn't rush (that's how I screwed up in the first place) and also that even when you're having a terrible day, there are people willing to help you. If I did this every day, maybe not so much, but they were incredibly helpful. I was very careful to not let my anger at myself seep over to my interactions with them, which probably didn't hurt their desire to help me. Because, really, who wants to help a grouch? No one.

I realize this may be the most boring post ever, but I was just so thankful I had to give a shout out to these folks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bead Store Review

This is the first review of a bead store I've done, but certainly not the first bead store I've been to. Now this type of store is tricky to run, no doubt about it. A staggering number of tiny items to organize and price, a wide array of packaging (strings, loose, vials...) and the needs of customers are all daunting challenges. For me the most important thing as a shopper is that the method of selection is easy and intelligent. It is also one of the first places that many shops fall short. How many bead stores have you been in where you feel like you must pass some sort of test in order to begin your shopping? Some beads can be removed by customers, others can't, beads must be marked on sheets, or put in bags with tiny slips of paper, strings of beads are out of reach and can't even be seen properly. Sadly, I could go on forever.

Mana Beads in Nevada City, CA takes care of that with and ingeniously has muffin tins with little paper cups in each reservoir. Now the truly great part; each reservoir is marked with a price so you can simply stroll along and plop each bead into the appropriate cup in the reservoir. Beautiful! When you get the counter, they take the cup out and pour your beads into bags. The great many beads are all clearly marked and very reasonably priced. I was so impressed with their prices that I went absolutely kibby and rang up quite a bill. But it was a lot for my money.

A large selection of strung beads hangs on the walls behind the loose beads and all are clearly marked with both the price and the number of beads per strand. All are easily accessible by the customer and neatly arranged by color family, as are the loose beads. When you find a strand you want, you simply unhook it and bring it to the counter to cut off the hook. Easy and the same for all strands, whether semi precious or glass.

Which brings me to selection. They shine in this category. They have a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and finishes. Their selection of findings, wire and chains is quite good as well. They have most any metal you could want, allowing for greater creativity. I bought gunmetal, silver and copper findings, all at very reasonable prices. Even with this great assortment, the shop is not overwhelming. It's cozy and inviting.

The owners are inviting as well. A class was beginning in the back while we were there and I could overhear the students being offered tea and other refreshments. We were made to feel at home and welcome to browse, which is refreshing.

Nevada City is a wonderful place for a weekend getaway and popular with Sacramentoans for just that. Crisp mountain air, a cute town that hasn't let its character erode and great B&Bs make it a fun place to visit, but if you're nowhere nearby, Mana Beads has a very respectable website as well. I highly recommend them!

Give Away Today - Today!

Emilly at Give Away Today is featuring Wanderlust Bling today! Check it out at Give Away Today and enter to win your choice of item in my Etsy shop. You need not be a resident of the US to win, though resident of the earth does help! You can enter three times.

And come back later for a review of Mana Beads - a great store in Nevada City, CA (they have a good web presence as well.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Home Again!

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! We took a trip to Nevada City to see one of our favorite bands, and had a great time. I also spent a lot of time at a great bead store, Mana Beads. I'll be writing a review of it tomorrow for those of you who adore all things beads!

On Tuesday February 17, Wanderlust Bling will be featured at Give Away Today! You will have the opportunity to win anything in my Etsy Shop - anything! Head over every day to check out all the great handmade goodies you can enter to win, and be sure to enter on Tuesday to score yourself (or someone you love) some bling!

Have a great day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Finally Friday

I'm very excited about this new blog I found. Natasha of Thursday Sweet Treat provides artists with a theme. The idea is to let your mind run wild and create a piece of art based on the theme. The rules are simple: you're not allowed to create with your "audience" in mind. It's a little like free writing. You create simply to create and see what you come up with. I tend to always follow my own inspiration when I'm making jewelry, rather than what is trendy or what I think people will want, simply because if you don't love your work no one else will. I learned that when I was writing fiction and it's held true for jewelry as well. But it will still be fun to have carte blanche to run wild with my creations.

Oh, and the theme? Dreaming in Color. Fun! For a former goth who wore only black, I have a strange lust for color now. Pay no attention to the fact that I'm wearing all black at the moment...

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Running Wild

I had to drag myself out for my run today. The only thing that got me out into the cold, damp weather was the certainty born of experience that I would feel much better after. But it was still a struggle. When I was getting dressed, I put on my cutest, brightest running clothes in an attempt to cheer myself up and make up for the fact that I was leaving my beads for my fitness. (I'm a Certified Personal Trainer and it's hard for me to exercise when it's cold - don't you feel better about your reticence now?) The clothes helped a lot. The skirt just makes me happy. Large floral print - how can you not be happy?! AND it goes so well with my thrift store find - a wicking Nike hoodie for $3.50.

It's funny that when I'm hanging out at home, I pretty much wear yoga pants and t-shirts, and when I go run errands, I wear jeans and t-shirts, but when I go running, I want to look pretty and feminine. Why? No clue, I just find it motivating. Many people look at me funny for wearing a skirt while running, but they are the ones who don't understand the horror of your shorts riding up until it looks like you're wearing bikini briefs. Neither attractive or comfy. Men and women with thin legs are immune to this problem. I am neither. Hence, skirts! This one is from Skirt Sports. The owner is a crazy accomplished athlete and I wear the Spankies as underwear, they're that comfortable. Shhhhhh, don't tell.

And, yes, the run did make me feel better and I was super productive when I got back. Check out one of my favorite creations from today: I love, love, love it, and I hope you do too!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Product Review and bit of Sisters of Mercy

Lately I've had some pain in my hands and wrists, and yesterday my hands were so weak I could barely grip anything. I kept dropping stuff and generally feeling clumsy. I realized that the wear and tear of using two pairs of pliers for a good part of the day, stringing beads and gripping little tiny objects, combined with typing and using the mouse was giving me carpal tunnel. In my years as a secretary I never got carpal tunnel, but now I am!

By chance I had seen some crafter's gloves made by F.A. Edmunds at Michael's when I was buying crack, uh, I mean embroidery floss. So many colors... drool... sorry, where was I? Oh, right, my gloves. Today I went back and bought a pair. I was bit put out by the price ($9.99, for one glove!) but I tried one on and my pain went away. Whoa! Totally worth it! $8.50 online, if you're so inclined, but it was buy them now or have another unproductive day of pain. Hmmm....

I got home and suited up, and I'm so happy with them. They're like support hose material. There are four finger holes; one for the thumb, one for index, one for ring and middle and one for pinky. They're comfortably tight and they really help my hands. I don't feel like I'm doing permanent damage now. I do feel a teed bit silly in them, since they're basically wristlets but frumpy looking. Along the lines of orthapedic platform goth boots. What's really great is that I also have a pair of black fishnet goth wristlets. Which do you think I should wear to the Sisters of Mercy show?
Bottom line: they let me get my work done in an almost miraculous fashion. I was cranking out jewelry with mad abandon this afternoon. Yes!!

Oh, and since I didn't have MTV when I was younger, and YouTube didn't exist, I had never seen their videos. I still love them (okay, him, Andrew Eldritch) but, wow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two For Tuesday

I now have two, count them, two, shops! I just opened my ArtFire account and so far I'm impressed. They do the Google Base updating, which means I don't have to muck about with xml. Yes! You can see some of my items over there on the right. They're different than what's in my Etsy shop, and it's not nearly as full, but it will get there, I promise. I'm having a ton of fun with this whole online selling thing and just couldn't resist doing it again! Yay, ArtFire!

Here's the link, should you wish to check out my studio

And now I have to take the rest of the afternoon off, because I'm suffering from severe pain in both of my wrists. Since all of the activities related to my shops (typing or using a mouse, twisting metal, beading, etc.) all involves small wrist movements, I'm going to sit on my butt and read. Maybe I'll run if it gets a tad bit warmer, but my mood's not in it, I gotta tell you.

Have a good day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Mayhem

So much to report, I don't know where to begin! On the jewelry front, there are some fun things going on here at Wanderlust Bling. My jewelry will be featured on Give Away Today on February 18th. The lucky winner will get to choose anything of their desire out of my shop! How exciting is that? Also, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, I will begin participating in the Virtual Craft Show at Cafe Handmade starting today. I'll post the link to my booth when I get it. I'm also working on a new resin line and also a birthstone line of jewelry. There are a few amethyst pieces in the shop now, like these lovely earrings, and I'm gearing up for aquamarine jewelry for March.

This weekend the DH and I went camping for the first time in a year. When unpacking the tent, K asked me when we had gotten sand on the tent. Took awhile for us to remember our last camping excursion in Texas Hill Country. On Saturday we hiked the Crags Trail in Castle Crags State Park. It was unbelievably beautiful. The trail is wide enough for two people to walk side by side until the very end and is clear of debris. The views of the crags, Mt. Shasta and the valley below look like an ad for California. We truly enjoyed ourselves and the weather was perfect for hiking - sunny without being hot.

We camped overnight at the Antlers Campground in the Shasta Trinity National Forest. It's a lovely campground and, other than the camp host, we had the place to ourselves. There was a nearly full moon, so the fact that we had forgotten to pack a flashlight wasn't such an issue. We even slept well thanks to our big beefy Endura inflatable mattress. Ah, comfort. The original intent had been to kayak in the morning, but the water level in Lake Shasta is so low that the boat ramp was closed and it was a bit too chilly to sit in a kayak full of water (we need a spray skirt.) We did go for another lovely hike, though, this time on the Bailey Cove trail. It's pretty much completely flat and has some nice views of the lake. The man who runs the Frosty Fun Runs we've been participating in runs a race on this trail in the summer. That would be fun, though your place would be pretty much decided by the order you get into the woods, since passing might be dicey. Speaking of the Fun Runs, I ran 4 miles at under a 10 minute mile, which made me pretty happy. I can sprint like a demon, but I'm quite slow over any real distance. Yet another collage (I'm Picasa obsessed), this one of the camping trip and the Bailey Cove Trail.

While we hiked the Bailey Cove trail, our hobbies started to intersect. K took photos of the landscapes using different camera settings for use in a photo merging project he's working on, and I kept slapping on the macro lenses to take close up photos of the flora for some as yet unidentified jewelry making project. Despite the cold, clammy day, we had a great time!

That's about it for now. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Quick note

Hi everyone. Hope you've all had a great weekend. I have a larger post with photos planned for tomorrow, but I have a quick update. I'm participating in the Virtual Craft Show starting tomorrow. The Craft Show is hosted by Cafe Handmade, a great site featuring a lot of talented artists, giveaways and other fun things. Take a moment to check it out!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Picture pages, picture pages

I'm not feeling terribly verbal today, so I thought I'd share some photos of my recent activity.

Gift bags for my nieces in GA: I made them little bracelets. I hope they're big enough! I wasn't sure of the size, but they do stretch a lot. I love the bags. I think they're so cute.

I've been wrapped up in other fun Valentine's Day activities. Keath and I are going to Nevada City to see Blue Turtle Seduction on Valentine's Day at the Miner's Foundry and they're having a dress up event. So I've been trying to decide what to wear to that. There will be hippie dancing galore, so I don't want anything too short, formal, uncomfortable, etc. Here's everything out:
I haven't actually made a decision yet though. I don't think I'll be buying anything new, but I have been looking around vintage and thrift shops to see if I find anything fun. At least I know I can always make some fun jewelry to go with whatever I decide on!

Last night we went to B&N to plan our trip to Alaska, because when we try to do it at home we end up getting distracted. I usually end up editing photos to post online and Keath gets sucked into an online game or something. Our intentions are good, but our wills are weak! Tonight we're going to check out the local coffee shop, YAKS, instead of the B&N, though. We just didn't know where to go last night.
I don't know if you can see it from this, but we're using the Rough Guide. Rough guides are the best guides for travel, I think. There are a few that are for a different type of traveler than us. A few focus on shopping and five star hotels we can't afford, and another few are written in a tone that is so jaded that they take the fun out of everything. Rough Guides strike a nice balance. They're interestingly written, and you can almost read them like a novel, but they don't make you feel like a jerk if you don't want to go paracamping into the wilderness or something. They also include info for a variety of budgets.

I just noticed for a nonverbal day, I'm fairly chatty! Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I thought I'd make my second post to this shiny new blog about my evolution as a jewelry maker and Etsian. I started making jewelry when I was 8 or 9, with giant plastic beads bought for a dollar a bag and a needle and thread. The knots were often visible and my lack of clasps meant everything had to be long enough to fit over one's head. The patterns were simple; alternating colors, or if I was feeling really creative, two of one color, followed by one of another color. Repeat until head clearing length is reached.

Several years ago, when I was still employed, I started making jewelry again, and I even sold a few pieces to my co-workers. They really liked them, and I enjoyed making them, but then we sold our house, bought a van and became vagabonds. There was no longer any room for my crafting shenanigans.

Present day. For whatever reason, I had this great idea that I could braid embroidery floss and string beads on it. A new love for design was born. But this time, my interest didn't fade. It seems that every day I think of some fun new technique, or I learn of something I'd never heard of. Now I'm not just beading. I'm buying silver and twisting it. I've contemplated hammering things. I've wished I had room for a kiln, I've puttered with pottery and I've even looked into resin molds. I can't go very long at another task before I mutter "I wonder..." and start maniacally putting things together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always fun.

Now, I have no photos of my really early slip on jewelry, but I do have some photos of my early jewelry from my present day obsession. I warn you; it ain't pretty.

See, I warned you. It somehow manages to look sad and dumpy and trashy at the same time. And the photography is less than stellar. I use my husband's awesome Nikon with macro lenses, but since I refused to listen to him about apertures and F-stops, the camera could not compensate for my badness. Note also the "mannequin." It's a jug of non-dairy creamer with a sarong thrown over it. Professional, I know. This particular piece I could never bring myself to list, though there are several pieces of jewelry on Etsy that are photographed on my makeshift model.

After struggle with a light box made from pieces of poster board, I just decided to use outdoor light for my photographs. It may be a rationalization, but it occurred to me one day while I was getting some great shots that very few people spend their entire day in a light box anyway, and isn't it nice to show them jewelry the way it will actually look? I think so, which is why I do it that way.

Okay, I'm tired of thinking about me. Anyone else have any stories of their own (hopefully continuing) evolution?


A new business, a new blog! I have another blog, over at that other blog hosting site, but I've begun to feel badly about hijacking it for jewelry making and other such things, when the loyal readers of Keath and Ceridwen really want to read about our traveling and gnash their teeth in frustration and jealousy about our really cool lifestyle. That would be full time RVing. So here it is: the official blog of Wanderlust Bling. While you're waiting, please check out my jewelry at Wanderlust Bling; The Store (not to be confused with Wanderlust Bling; The Blog.)