Friday, August 31, 2007

Wisconsin Dells.

We went to Wisconsin Dells Monday-Wednesday this week. For me, it was a bittersweet vacation. I wanted to take N. there because I knew he would have a great time--and Mark and I would have fun, too--but at the same time, Wisconsin Dells holds a lot of memories for me.

Growing up, this was a vacation we looked forward to each summer, not only for the water parks, but also because we stayed with my great-grandma. She lived practically right in the main strip and across from her house was a motel, which we thought was pretty cool. She always had cream cheese and Ritz crackers waiting for us when we arrived and usually there was a pie baking in the oven. After our snack and some visiting, we'd play carrom. Playing carrom with her is one of my favorite childhood memories; I still laugh when I think of how excited she was to play that game.

We drove by Great-Grandma's house and it looks pretty much the same. My mom also lived in this house as a young child before my grandparents moved to Illinois.

After my grandfather retired, they moved back to the Dells area. Mark and I used to visit them in the summer when we were home from college and first married.

And now for our trip. Here's a photo of a portion of the main strip, which is comprised of tourist shops. One thing the Dells is known for is fudge. We bought some at our favorite fudge shop. N. tried fudge for the first time on this trip and loved it.

Another thing you should do if you visit the Dells is ride on the Ducks. These are vehicles that can go on land and water and were used in two wars by the military.

First, you drive on trails through the forest. In one area, there are several of these cement sculptures that are from the Chicago Board of Trade building. Apparently, a wealthy woman in the area bought the architectural pieces for her lawn and they've made their way here. I would have liked to have stopped there and been able to walk around to see them up close.

Next you drive right into the Wisconsin River and look at all the beautiful landscape. The rock along the river is sandstone, which is very porous. That's why you see all the trees growing out of the rock. If I remember correctly, the tour guide said sandstone is only found in three places throughout the world.

This rock formation, called Hawk's Bill, was on the cover of TIME. If you look closely, you can see the eye, top of the beak, tongue, and bottom beak.

We spent the remainder of our time at the indoor water park of our hotel and at Noah's Ark. Sorry, no photos of me in my bathing suit.

N. spent part of the drive home pouring over a map of the Dells and dreaming of what he wants to do next time.

It was my first time to the Dells since the my grandma's funeral. It seemed odd to have to stay in a hotel instead of with my grandparents. I missed them a lot. But, it was nice to make new memories of the Dells with N.

All in all, a great trip.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hello.

I've returned from a very short vacation to Wisconsin Dells. I'll be back soon with some photos, but for now I wanted to show you where we ate yesterday morning: the coolest Denny's ever.



Elvis, the Blues Bros., and...who's that guy off on the far right...?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Once more with heart.

I was cutting up a watermelon for part of our dinner tonight and, after I sliced some of the melon away from the rind, look at what was waiting for me!

Sunshine and sunflowers.

I know I said you wouldn't hear from me until the end of the week, but it's nice and sunny here today and I felt like blogging before I leave.

In addition to tomatoes and peppers, N. also has large sunflowers growing in his tiny garden.

This morning I startled a bird (after some research, I think it's an American Goldfinch) as he was having his breakfast.

Someone else was also enjoying breakfast. I swear I could hear this grasshopper crunching on the leaf.

We are fortunate enough to live next to a forest preserve, so I think we're going to walk on some of the trails today and enjoy the sunshine. Before we leave for our walk, N. is planning to put on a play for us. We've already seen one play this morning entitled, "Turkeys." The play consisted of the farmer taking the turkeys into the barn and out of the barn...and into the barn and out of the barn...and into the barn and out of the barn...for about 10 minutes.

Right now he's setting up for a play entitled, "Turkeys vs. Lobsters." N. made the turkeys himself after seeing a picture in a craft book. Their bodies are made from brown paper lunch bags. He made the lobsters after making one in art class in kindergarten. I notice that he has my tendency of becoming a little obsessed with a project and feeling the need to make several before he can move on!

I'm not sure what part the library stool or construction cone will have in the play. I know the flags are there because the turkeys are American.

Fortunately it didn't rain here as predicted on Friday. So far none of our friends or family are flooded. The water is expected to crest on Monday, so water is still rising where my mom is, but she's far enough from the lake that she should be fine. Parts of her neighborhood are flooded.

And now I'm off to do some chores and enjoy the sunshine. I took some photos of bead projects this morning, so I'll have more beady stuff to share soon. See you later in the week!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Waterlogged.

We've seen a lot of rain in the Midwest during this past two weeks and yesterday's storms in the Chicago area were pretty bad. Mark works in one of the northwest suburbs and had to go in the basement of his office building twice because of tornado sirens. His drive home took almost two hours because of downed trees, power outages, and flooded streets. We live far enough north that we didn't experience the high winds, but the lightning was wicked!

My brother and his family live in Chicago, but fortunately they did not experience any damage to their home. There are a lot of trees down and fallen limbs on their street. The lightning started a fire in one of the alleys near their house, but it was put out without any further damage.

The lakes and rivers in our area are flooding surrounding homes. Fortunately, we do not live in an area that is being flooded, but are concerned for friends and family who live near the Fox and Des Plaines Rivers and the many lakes in the area. We're on sandbag alert!

The skies are heavy and grey here today, so I'm choosing a photo of a ring basket that I took at the beginning of summer - one with a little bit of sunshine! This is the first one that I experimented with making a little larger than the pattern called for.


I hope this finds you all nice and dry! I'll be away from my blog until the end of next week. See you then!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jewelry.

A few more Etsy purchases to share...

In keeping with my recent bird affinity, I got this pendant from The Broken Plate. As you may have guessed from the name of her shop, Juliet breaks plates and makes jewelry from them. I really love this bird pendant.

I asked Nicole of Metal Garden Factory if she would make a custom pendant to go with my Strawberry Patch earrings.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In my hall.

Today I thought I'd share some pictures that are in my first floor hallway.

I love The Black Apple Etsy shop and Emily's blog as well. I originally bought this print to put in my office at work, but I loved it so much that I had to keep it at home. The frame was originally a sickly pale green color, but I bought it because I liked the scroll work around it. I antiqued it and...voila!...a lovely frame. I'd love to have one of Emily's original paintings.

One funny thing about this print is that my friend Andrea was very excited to show me the latest Black Apple prints she'd purchased and this one was among them! Great minds...

This print is by Joy Wallace. I bought it in honor of N. when he was about one or so and had it custom framed. I love her illustrative style.

The saying on the bottom is:

You asked my favorite color...
"Blue," I replied.
"The blue of a robin's egg?"
"The blue of the skies?"
"No, my child,
the blue of
your eyes."

What mother wouldn't love that?

I just saw her work at the art fair in Lake Geneva a few weekends ago. She's added others to the collection as well. There's a boy with brown eyes on her site. I saw a girl with curly hair and girls as princesses with similar sayings in her art booth, though I don't see them on her site after a quick look around.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Springtime in Paris.

I've been sort of busy on Etsy lately. I was looking for a fabric purse and came across this pretty Springtime in Paris handbag from Bliss by Heather. I received it yesterday and it's even better in person. So cute!Today, summer in Illinois is looking something like this.

The tree in foreground is a river birch that we (and by that I mean Mark) planted in our front yard over the weekend. Previously there was an evergreen in that spot, but it died because the area is near the sump pump and is very wet. Hopefully the river birch will be happy there.

And now I think an iced orange mocha is in order. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cube.

This is one of the first cubes I made. It's made with vintage 10mm Saturn rivolis. The cube design is by Laura McCabe. I could have left two of the corners open so it could be strung on a necklace, but that's not really my style.

I gave this one to my mom and have more of the rivolis to make one for me...someday.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bug art.

I'll post something beaded next time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The bug farm.

Last weekend while I was off having a fun day of art fair shopping in Lake Geneva, WI with my friend Rachel, Mark and N. made this bug farm.

When Mark makes anything out of wood it is sturdy. N. can barely carry this thing around! N. did all the decorating himself. It was a really fun father-son project for them.

Tonight as I was cooking dinner, N. asked me to come and look at a really big bug. I wasn't crazy about that idea, but I looked anyway. It turned out to be a katydid. Of course, N. wanted it for his bug farm and guess who had to catch it? It was way out of N.'s reach. I could barely reach it with the bug catcher, but I managed somehow.

The katydid will experience a nice bug farm accommodation for a short while before being released back into nature. I hope he enjoys his stay.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sheep ring basket.

I wasn't kidding when I said I went through a period where I was obsessed with making ring baskets. There are still more to show. I made this one for my friend Rachel, who loves sheep. I really wanted to keep it!

My friend Jennifer over at The Art of Curiosity honored me with the Nice Matters Award! How very nice!
This award symbolizes friendship and is for those bloggers who are nice people, good blog friends, and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. It gets passed on to five people and another five and another five...you get the idea.

These first four are the friends who have left encouraging comments and ideas since the start of my blog. I love that all of you sew-ers have taken the time to give this bead girl your time and been so inspiring to me! I almost wanted to start sewing - that's big inspiration! Thanks - you guys are wonderful!!
And number five goes to a person who provides me with lots of bead inspiration.
It's amazing how small blogs can make the world seem. I'm so glad we've met!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time to start shopping.

Christmas is just around the corner. Well, maybe not yet, but the way time has been flying for me this year it will be before I know it. I officially bought my first gifts a few weeks ago, but I cannot show them to you because some of the recipients read this blog!

But, I can show you this purchase I made bright and early this morning from SudsMuffin. These photos are from the Etsy listings I purchased.

I found this Etsy shop in a roundabout way: first I read Yazmin's blog where she talked about being featured on Anodyne Design, then I checked out Anodyne Design and read a few posts until I came across the entitled, "Lip Balm: Everlasting Love or Addiction?" and then found SudsMuffin. Isn't it fun to come upon a treasure after following a path through blogs? And, they're having a contest to win lip balm!

The lip balm pictured is for my adopted niece Nicky. She loves tiramisu like no one else I've ever met. I thought I loved it, but she has me beat. I would have bought two of the tiramisu, but only one was available in the shop, so instead I decided to try another flavor.

Their photos of lip balm are so pretty!

In other exciting news, Katrin honored me with a blog award!

That made my day! Read more about it on Katrin's Beads, beads, beads... blog. I'll use Katrin's desciption: "The idea is that female bloggers would have a chance to support and give some recognition to each other, every Rockin' Girl Blogger would tag five and so on."

Now I can bestow this award on five girl bloggers who rock! Hard choice - I love so many of you!
  1. Yazmin

  2. Annie

  3. Jenn

  4. LeeAnn

  5. Ginny
My mom loved how her copper-colored Antonia's Adornment bracelet turned out. And I found out she's making me one in black. How great is that?! Bracelet love all around!

As if all this weren't enough, I received another award yesterday. I'll tell you about that one in my next post!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Antonia's Adornment.

This piece is from Cynthia Rutledge's latest workshop, which she calls Antonia's Adornment. She gives a little history about the inspiration behind the piece as well:
The year was 1770. The Archduchess of Austria, Maria Antonia, stepped off of the royal barge to begin her new life in France. Her new name from this day forward will be Marie Antoinette.

Most people today remember Marie Antoinette’s demise, but otherwise know very little about her. For instance, she never said, “If they have no bread, then let them eat cake”. That remark was by another Queen of France, the wife of Louis XIV, not Louis XVI. A 100-year difference in time!

Known to family and friends as “Antonia”, she was renowned at court for her marvelous taste in clothing, adornments and decorating. She raised the bar of style to a new level, from jewel-encrusted garments, to beautiful garden designs. In a time when the Nobility and Gentry of Europe vied with each other for every luxury and extravagance, the Court Jewelers and Embroiderer’s were kept busy with the desires of the wealthy.

Antonia’s Adornment is reminiscent of the glorious gem encrusted trims that were handmade to adorn men’s waistcoats, frock coats and ladies gowns.
Most of the time I purchase kits from Cynthia because we have similar tastes in color palettes. I think the colors in this particular kit are perfect for the time period.

It was great fun to work on. I'm trying to decide if I want to do another one in my own colors. The kit was just for the bracelet, but I had enough materials left over to create a pair of earrings.

My mom and my cousin Amy both made this also. I'll try to get photos of theirs to share. They both have different colors than mine. My mom also bought a kit in other colors and I'm working on that one right now for her.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Coming up daisies.

I love daisies. They're so fresh and summery.

I found these wonderful earrings in the Clementine shop on Etsy and snatched them right up. I really like the combination of sterling with a copper flower in these.

In that same vein, a while ago I bought a pair of earrings from Metal Garden Factory that also have a combination of sterling and copper.

Both of these artists were so nice and very talented. Check out their shops when you have some time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Amulet bag.

This is a piece from my mom's collection. My cousin Amy beaded this piece from a pattern. Sorry, I don't know who the artist is behind the design. I can probably find out if you would like to know (Mom, if you know, please leave a comment.).

The piece is done in peyote stitch. The two panels were sewn together to create an amulet bag. As you can see, Amy also did a fair amount of work on the strap.

Each panel is about the size of the My Sweet Rose piece I showed you earlier.

It's a large piece and a lot of work went into it. It's very lovely and I was sad to give it back to my mom when I was finished taking pictures of it.

Don't you think she should let me keep it?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sometimes my husband is crazy.

Mark is a marathon runner, which is fantastic. He's in shape and loves to run and I am so proud of him. But sometimes, he signs himself up for things that are a little...er, extreme. Like doing adventure races that involve finding his way around in a forest preserve at night (this one worries me because sometimes he can't find his car in a parking lot during the day!) or signing up for the Muddy Buddy.

The Muddy Buddy is an obstacle course type of race that takes place on a huge farm and involves lots and lots of mud. This year's race was this past Sunday. After the thunderstorm we had Saturday night, it was even muddier than planned.

One of the reasons my nephew spent the night on Saturday was because N. and J. were supposed to run in the kid's Muddy Buddy race. Unfortunately, by the time we had everything sorted out, the race was full.

I thought I'd share a few pictures of N. in last year's Muddy Buddy race so you can see what it's like. This is the very end of the course; a huge mud pit.

The small kids are allowed to stand and lift up the ropes, but when the adults finish their race in this mud pit they have to lay down on their stomachs and wriggle under the ropes. I've heard stories of onlookers throwing handfuls of mud at participants who didn't get on their stomachs in the mud pit. That's worrisome.

Racing for the finish line. Notice how muddy the track is.

Proud of his medal. Daddy looked pretty proud, too. I know he was disappointed that N. couldn't run in it this year.

This year Mark again did the race with his friend Michael. I think I forgot to mention that the race is done by a two-person team.

Mark is on the right. I don't know who that fella in the middle is.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Another sort of cupcake.

Baking cupcakes this weekend reminded me of my Kim Miles cupcake bead/charm/pendant. The photo below is Kim's photo that was on her website when I purchased it.

She makes all sorts of fun, charming cupcake beads. I liked that this one was sort of plain with a bit of sparkle. Check out her site for her latest work; she's making some really fabulous heart beads and Troll Bracelet beads lately. I believe her next bead sale day is tomorrow, Tuesday.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Weekend fun.

This weekend my nephew J. stayed overnight. J. and N. are the same age and have a great time when they're together.

It was hot out, so they spent most of Saturday outside.

They made projects with Floam. It was squishy and weird feeling. It dries hard, so you can cover things with or just make pictures. The two of them asked me to videotape them working on their projects and they pretended they were doing a craft television show.

They did a lot of "underwater swimming."

And generally acting silly.

As for me, I feel like all I did was cook and bake! They asked for chocolate cupcakes and I went all out and made them from scratch. I think I did it because Andrea told me about her homemade cupcakes she made for her daughter's birthday party and they sounded so good I had to make some!

I made the recipe that was on the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa can. I made the Grand Fudge Cake recipe into cupcakes. Oh, was that batter ever delicious! I also used the frosting recipe on the can. The cupcakes were fantastic.

This morning we caught some frogs and found a painted turtle in our front yard that we brought over to the wetlands. I wish I would have thought to take a picture of the turtle! I picked him up to show the boys and he was not happy. He hissed when Mark picked him up to walk him over to the pond! I didn't know turtles could hiss.

Later when Mark, N., and I were on our way to dinner, we saw a snapping turtle in the grassy area on the side of the road! It was fairly large. We turned around and drove a little closer to get a better look, but this time I opted not to pick the turtle up (we all stayed in the car). I like having all my fingers.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Beaded button.

This is from a Cynthia Rutledge class I took a year or two ago. The class was for making beaded buttons. I bought one of her kits and there were several buttons in it. This is the only one I've made!

I like how you can see the iridescent colors of the glass button in this photo. I have no idea what to do with this button, so for now it's just a decoration in my house. I had grand plans of making all sorts of beaded buttons. That hasn't exactly worked out. I think there are still four or five in the kit waiting to be made.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A few more things from Minnesota.

One of the stores I really wanted to visit was Art & Architecture, an architectural antique store. It was fun to poke around in there. I found this awesome lampshade that is flat on top...

... so I can flip it over and display it as a bowl.

I found this felt toadstool at Danish Bohemia by Lisbet Franca, a very cute store in St. Paul. The toadstool itself is by √Čn Gry & Sif.

Sort of goes along with my ceramic toadstools from Serendipity Farm in Waterford, WI that I have outside my front door.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis. Luckily my friend Andrea and her family were all safe and sound at home when it happened.