Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Christmas Ornaments Can Now Be Topped!

For quite a while now I've been almost obsessed with making Christmas ornaments. I have made them in the past, but they were fabric, crocheted, or made with beads or paper. Now I make them from glass. One of my goals in learning how to make lampwork beads was to also learn to make small vessels, like perfume bottles. I did learn how to make small bottle or urn shapes but somehow that still wasn't enough. I wasn't quite sure why until I started making blown glass Christmas ornaments. My first ornament was made almost exactly like the small vessels, except for not worrying about how to make it stand upright on its own, or adding handles so it could be hung from a chain. Now I make different shapes and sizes, and my most popular are the chili pepper ornaments.

Chili Pepper Ornament
One of the things I really don't like about my "traditional" ball-shaped blown glass ornaments is the cap I have been using to finish off the top. They are silver and gold stamped metal and are very much like the caps you will see on commercial mass-produced ornaments, but on my hand-made ornaments they look cheap. They are the only caps I could find when I started making ornaments, so I felt that I was limited to something not quite up-to-par. This has made me search for a way to top my ornaments that looks like it belongs on a handmade ornament. I have bought several styles of bead caps, but they are usually not large enough to cover the top of the ornament. Since I work with silver and copper I have tried making my own caps, and have not had much success until this week. Here are photos of the commercial bead and ornament caps, and of one I made for the ornament.

The cap is made from copper that I have enameled with many colors to compliment the ornament. I'm sure I will continue to refine my quest for the perfect cap for each ornament, but at least I have finally found something that I like.

 Chili Pepper, Grapes, and Pear Ornaments

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nurse Penny

No matter what our intensions, there are times when we have to drop everything and deal with whatever is happening RIGHT NOW. We had that situation a couple of days ago when our dogs began to act strange, barking and dancing like there was a new dog hiding under the house. I couldn't see anything with my feeble flashlight, so my brother crawled under the house to see what was there. Penny, one of our dogs, had been injured and was hiding from us and the other dogs, causing them all to be anxious. Even though it was after hours I called the vet  and he agreed to meet us at his office as soon as we could get there. Penny got to spend the night at the vet's, and I was able to pick her up the next day. 

We call her Nurse Penny because she is known for licking the wounds of the other dogs if they are injured, and generally tending to them when they are hurt. She is now recuperating on her bed in the living room, and hopefully she will be back to normal soon.

So, life can take twists and turns that put our dreams and plans on hold, but we should always keep those dreams and plans going in the background. Don't let the misfortunes of life derail your dreams.  

 Poor Sick Penny

Penny Is Feeling Better

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Setting Goals for 2013

If I'm going to talk about success in 2013, I must first define it. For some, success is defined by their bank account, or their advanced degrees, or how many friends they have on Facebook, or the awards holding down their mantle. For others, success is a feeling of satisfaction after a day's work, or when helping a friend move, or when making dinner for family and friends. Maybe for some, it's a combination of both. Actually, the only person who can define success for me is ME, and if I let others define it, then it really isn't my success goal, is it?

So, then, what is success for me? Actually, I have multiple goals in my business as well as personal life. One goal I have set is to contribute to my blog more often this year, and I will feel I have succeeded if I make at least two posts a week to my blog. Here are three of my 2013 goals:

Business: Post more of my jewelry and ornaments to my website (or another site), at least one item a week.

Writing: 1. Make at least two posts a week to my blog.

             2. Write more fiction. My goal is at least a chapter a month.

Personal: Organize, organize, and organize.

Using my three-step process outlined on January 1, I have thought about what I want to accomplish this year. Next, I'll start to plan for my goals, and since I am a list-maker I'll start a To-Do list for each of my goals. This will help me to stay on track and give me the satisfaction of being able to check off any steps I've accomplished towards reaching my goals.
You are welcome to follow me on my Goals for 2013 journey. Let me know if anything I have posted or suggested has helped you strive for "Success".

One of my recent glass ornaments.

(See, I've already started by posting my ornament photo here!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Three Steps To Success

When I checked my email this morning I was greeted with an email from a person who has a motivational blog, telling me that things would be better in 2013 because I would believe that they were better. Oh, she went on to tell me that I needed to believe in myself and to do whatever it took to make that happen. Oh, and that even the smallest of things was an 'accomplishment' and worthy of accolades and rejoicing. I could make this New Year better by believing that it was. Well, I certainly want to know what she puts in her morning coffee! Am I cynical? You betcha! Will reading her blog and subscribing to her methods through reading her books and attending her seminars help ME? Well, only if I get off my butt and do something. Yup, that's the secret to success. Get off your butt and do something.

I'm not saying that you don't need to set goals and give yourself some much-needed praise for accomplishing those goals. It is always better to start with a plan and at least know what your first, second, and third steps are before you eventually reach any goal. But my goal to run a marathon or get an advanced degree in basket weaving won't happen by me sitting on my butt reading her blog. Unless it really, really, really does inspire me to make a change, to put on my running shoes and start running, or to enroll in my first-ever basket weaving class. Only then will my goals be accomplished.

So, how do we accomplish anything? Especially the important things in life like making a living, or helping others through volunteer work, or baking the perfect loaf of bread? It starts with an idea of what we'd like to be and do in our lives, then pursuing those ideas. I have broken it down into three very simple steps:

1. Think it.

2. Plan it.

3. Do it.

See, it really simple, isn't it? It's just that there are hundreds if not thousands of mini-steps between 1 and 3. And don't forget that LIFE is happening whether we follow the three steps or not. We can live our whole life without any planning at all, and while I think that would be a very boring and haphazard way of life, many people do that without even thinking about it. They just put it in drive and go. For me, I prefer at least a little bit of planning and design for my life, so I will follow my three-step program, even if it's just to decide what's for dinner. And for the big picture of what I want do be/do/accomplish in my life? Well, that's only three steps away!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Ideal Morning

Morning is my favorite time of the day. I love getting up to the sounds and smells of the morning. Today, on my morning walk, I thought about what would make an ideal morning for me.
First, I sleep late. Well, late for me, which is about seven o’clock. Then I get up, get dressed, and make my way into the kitchen for a cup of aromatic coffee, warm and rich, with just a bit of bite. The dogs lie at my feet and a cat jumps into my lap and settles down for a purr as I check my email and Facebook for the latest news.
After my cup-o-joe I get up and invite the dogs to join me for my morning walk, to let the chickens out of their coop and then get the paper. We walk up the driveway with the dogs chasing each other and running to nuzzle Anna as she guards the driveway from unseen intruders.
The chickens are moving around in the coop, watching me through the window. Crowlee is anxious to get out and lets me know by crowing over and over. I can hear Iris, the guinea hen, making her “ka-ka-ka-ka” call, also ready to be out of the coop. Tending to the chickens is next, adding feed to the feeders and giving them fresh water, then I can open the door to the coop and let the birds out to greet the morning. Crowlee literally jumps through the door and stands in the opening blocking the other birds from getting out, but they push past him, even running through his legs to do so.
Next I continue on up the driveway, calling the dogs and cats to join me on my trip to get the newspaper. We stop to look at the orchard and then start back towards the house via the path around the pond. The dogs take a short swim in the pond, and chase each other through the woods, running back to join me on the last leg of our morning stroll.
Our last stop is back at the house where I fill the dog’s water bucket and water the plants before I step back into the house and settle in with another cup of coffee and another check of my email.
Yes, this would be my ideal morning….
But wait. I have just described this morning.
I couldn’t ask for more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On “The Farm” Life Is Certainly Entertaining

This morning was one of those mornings that held a delightful surprise for me. It wasn’t yet dawn when I crawled out of bed, got dressed and started my morning farm chores. The morning was rainy and damp and I didn’t relish the thought of getting out in it and experiencing the ambiance of a cold, wet day. Morning farm chores. Sounds positively dreadful, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain…

My mom started calling the acreage I bought “The Farm” from almost the first day she heard about it. The name stuck, even though, in fact, it was not a real farm. We have always had dogs and cats but up until this year we had no livestock. Three hens, a rooster, and three guinea fowl are now my livestock. Livestock!

Since I am now an official farmer I have official farm chores, which include letting the birds out of their coop in the morning, giving them feed and water, and closing them up in the coop at night. These chores are not something I shirk or try to avoid. I know from owning dogs and cats that they need daily attention to not just live, but to thrive, and I happily try to give them what they need to be happy dogs and cats. And now I do the same for my chickens and guineas.

In fact, I enjoy working with the birds, especially the chickens. Each time I approach their covered yard they run to the gate to greet me. I’m sure they are expecting a treat but I prefer to think they are happy to see me. As I work in their yard, giving them feed and water, they follow me around and two of the hens come up close and watch me. I pet them frequently, thinking that they will be used to human contact when it comes time to clip their wings and then remove the netting from the yard so the guineas can roam freely, eating the dreaded ticks that plague the other animals on The Farm.

This morning it had started to rain so I decided to open the coop up early in case the rain got harder and I wouldn’t have to go out in a downpour later on. I figured that the birds weren’t even awake yet since I hadn’t heard Crowlee (our rooster) crowing. I grabbed my raincoat but didn’t grab my camera because it was too dark to take pictures anyway. The dogs and I made our way to the yard and I opened the door to the coop. The chickens weren’t too anxious to get out of their cozy coop and into the rain, and I was ready to get back into the house. Then it happened. Crowlee crowing. What’s special about a rooster crowing? This time it wasn’t an ordinary crow, the one he crows regularly. No this was Crowlee making his trilling crow. He was still in the coop, but he was crowing and trilling. I wasn’t sure if he would still be crow-trilling if I went back to the house to get the camera to record it, but I decided to try anyway. When I got back to the chicken yard with the camera he was nice enough to crow for me a time or two. Thank heavens I was able to catch it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Tag Team Alarm Clock

Do you need an alarm clock to wake up every morning? I certainly don’t! At times I daydream about the high pitched rhythmic “beep, beep, beep” of my old alarm, wishing that it could awaken me out of my dreamy slumber like it used to. But alas, my alarm clock has become worthless. Useless. Not at all necessary. Yes, my alarm clock went the way of the Dodo bird.

And why is my alarm clock extinct? Well, you see, I have cats. Not just any cats. Special cats. Cats who have a built-in alarm system all their own. And they are nice enough to share.

It usually starts with Mini walking up the length of the bed stopping near my pillow where she sits and waits for me to wake up enough to get up to feed her. Instead I move her away, then roll over and try to snuggle back into the covers for another few minutes of sleep. Again she walks back up beside me and tries the “slap at the light switch” and the “climb the lampshade” maneuvers. I move her away from the lamp and try something different by rolling over, scooping her into my arms and trying to hold her down, hoping she will settle in and decide to sleep with me a while longer. Since her efforts have not resulted in their morning feeding her brothers Bart and Yowlee step in and take their turns. One of the two will jump up on the bed and attack my feet while the other lies down on the floor and uses his claws to pull him along the perimeter of the box springs. Now I snap my fingers, which at some remote time in the past worked to stop the cats from their bad behaviors, but not this time. No, the clawing at the box springs continues, sounding like the plucking of a guitar string below the bridge. Plunk, plink, plooopk. Noises guaranteed to get me out of bed and reach for the spray bottle of water I keep next to the bed to discipline the cats. I step around the end of the bed and aim the spray nozzle at the cats but they are not there. They have skittered down the hall and are now waiting in the kitchen for their expected breakfast.

No, I don’t need an alarm clock any more, and if you’d like one of mine I would certainly consider sharing.

I wonder. . . would I miss my purring foot warmers?

The cats enjoying their breakfast after getting me up.