Monday, May 27, 2013

And the next crop of things....

Let's start off with the simplest one of the bunch: A repurposed tassel and chain, and a porcelain bead from a friend's destash:

Next, a wire wrapped bullet casing (shell?) with a cameo button.  This may not be done yet, and might need the cameo popped off and re-glued, as it looks off-center.  I'm not sure where I'm going with this yet, but I'm having fun.

Ok, these are absolutely lovely, and I'm proud of them.  Destashed brass stampings and pink plastic.  Light as feathers!  For reasons unknown, I watched "Pretty in Pink" the other night, and I was all "omg, I want to wear all that repurposed thrift store goodness that was carefully calculated by coldhearted executives, too!"

These are actually prettier than the accessories in the movie, tho ;)

And finally, the most demanding one, in terms of time.  I had to let this baby cure overnight.  There's a washer I picked up outside, driftwood and a shell from a recent beach visit, a brass "coin", and filigree from an old dollar store earring.  And scrap chain to finish it off. The thing's hanging on a brown grosgrain ribbon.

That's all I got for now, folks!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


The elusive Liz in her natural habitat.

Yeah, I'm still here, but it's been nuts lately.  These are the first things I've made in a couple months.  MONTHS, people.  Months.

I can't keep going without some creative outlet, even if it's "just" earrings.  I started by refurbishing a broken old pair:

These have seen some wear, so I think I'll keep them.  Next, I'm redrafting the earrings I wore on my wedding day.  I didn't put too much thought into them on the day, I was all "yay, bees!  that's auspicious for weddings!"  and on they went. But the cool bee dangles were not set off as well as they could have been. Now I shall fix that!

And these are in really really early stages of planning.  The blue and gold striped glass beads are too pretty not to use, but what to pair them with?  I have so little yellow in my bead stash. I might have to....go shopping.  Heavens forfend!

And yeah, that's about it.  Just sitting around on a rain sunday morning (for rainy it is where I am - all weekend).  Thinking now of some toast perhaps. Or tea.  Who knows what hedonism this morning will witness!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I needed a project...

In the course of setting up housekeeping, I found a still-boxed aerogarden in the living room.  I unpacked that baby and set it up this morning, right near my desk.  It's really Jetsons-looking, and I admit I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it.  Are you sure these pod things are going to grow plants?  This is like a Keurig machine for herbs!

Here's a pod with it's little "pudding cup" on top:

We'll see what chives result in a week or two!

After that, I got to beading and laid out a necklace I've been planning for a while,  The fleur-de-lis chain was a lucky clearance find!  I'm considering lace for the other side, since I've got a yen for fabric necklaces.

While I did that, all these earrings sprouted out!

That's always the way of the beadboard...where one project grows, more crop up like mushrooms.  Just as well this palette is pink and white and silvery, because I have a fairy ring of gems to make!

Yes, I'm full of caffiene and *everything* looks this sweet and syrupy :P

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Early springtime?

Some photos to show you what's been doin' around here :)

First, some snaps of the pretty backyard, courtesy of Nemo.  I feel bad for LI and Boston, but happy that NJ wasn't so badly hit.  We had about 5-6", and it was fast-melting.  Not too shabby as far as winter goes.

In fact, our snowdrops are already out.  These are so pretty, each one like a delicate little pearl...Yesterday I plucked a few to press, but one came out with a bulb attached, so I stuck it in some potting soil and it opened today!  Must learn more about snowdrops to see if they can be raised indoors, too.  A pot of these by my desk would be lovely, but we'll see what happens.

Yesterday saw a lot of nature walking around the back yard.  I gathered some tiny treasures to press.  The moss would be lovely dried and set in some resin for delicate earrings.

Once more I'm at my bead board!  I'm working on a new set called "Skully Cat", because I can! Some of my bits and bobbins are still in storage, but I've done remarkably well keeping track of all the beads and shinies.  Finally, this morning, something came together, and here it is:

Those colors are waking me up!  Every once in a while, I need to make something with a sense of humor.

The new workspace isn't nearly that bold, though.  I've been granted use of a sunporch, and I've made quite the little nest back there with the plants.  It's a narrow space, but that'll just force me to keep it cleaner :)

It does help my spirits to see familiar things again, like Mr. Cat Skull, and some beautiful abandoned wasp nests:

And our wedding cake toppers, from New Orleans, gifted by my maid of honor :)  The geode was our version of a unity candle.  Instead of lighting, we took turns smashing the thing.  The white color was a welcome surprise for a wedding!

I need a certain amount of clutter around to get anything done!

Some snowdrops still waiting to open:

And a pretty patch of moss from the front yard:

Breezes have knocked a few leaves loose, so I added this sprig to the pile of stuff to press and preserve.

And there we are!  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Boy to Man: Re-imagining a childhood bedroom

If you just landed here from, this post is about tips for updating our "new" bedroom.  My husband and I are now living with my mother in law to save for our own house.  It's an ongoing project to recalibrate everyone's boundaries and style in this space.  It's going pretty well, so I thought I'd find out what we are doing that makes this work and share it with you.  
Adult kids moving back home is nothing new, and in fact may be a sensible option as young folks like us try to save money during this recession.  It runs counter to the 20th century American ideal of becoming magically self sufficient at 18 and staying that way permanently, but that formula is actually an anomaly.  Many cultures do multigenerational households, and while this has unique challenges in the US, it can work well.  I was raised in one, myself, and I think it benefited the entire family to have to deal with not only childrearing but also eldercare.  
But before I go writing a totally seperate essay on that subject, let me deliver the goods I promised!  Here's what I discovered trying to ease our now-bedroom from baby room to adult space and still respect its history:
1 - Clear it out!
First, last, forever - I say get it OUT YA HOUSE!  Emptying the room entirely really helped us think of new possiblities for it.  Trash and recycling went where they were supposed to go. Items to store went to their various homes, and anything left over that didn't belong in there was installed in its proper spot, out of the boudoir.
I can't emphasize this enough.  Lightening the load in the the "new" old room made it physically easier to deal with (in terms of cleaning) and psychologically easier, too.  Mr. Liz and I symbolically put away the little boy days, and made room for the grown man he is today.  And room for me, too!
2 - Scrub it down, up, sideways
This goes hand in hand with #1, but it's so important I had to showcase it.  When we came back to the old room, it hadn't seen use in a while, and was a little dusty and musty.  This happens, so it's nothing to be ashamed of.  Just like our bodies feel a little stiff and ragged if we don't get some sort of exercise every day, rooms get stiff and neglected if they're not used.  So I've been giving that room a workout!  
With my allergies, dusting was my first priority.  That's a continuous chore, but a good core dust-off always helps to get you going.  The next item of business was taking down any cobwebs, windexing the windows, and scrubbing the sills.  The windowsills in this room are painted white, so when they're really sparkly, they brighten the entire space well.
Part of this is a safety check: are there splinters anywhere?  Any drafts?  Are all the outlets freely accessed and in good working order?  Checking on these basic things  saves so much time and energy later, and its easy to fold them into the cleaning routine.
3 - What can you change?
This one's necessary if anyone is living with family members, or renting.  Some things you can't do anything about, and will have to make your peace with - or find a workaround.  Find out what those non-negotiables are and keep them in mind.  Are you stuck with carpet?  Keep an eye out for area rugs you like better, which can cover it.  Are the walls a nasty color, and you can't paint or paper?  Get into the DIY mode and make lots of art to hang up.  Frames can be had cheaply at dollar and thrift stores, or craft stores if you watch for a good sale.  If you can't put a bunch of nail holes in the wall, lean large framed posters/prints/etc up against the wall.  If they won't hide the awful wall entirely, at least you've put your style on it, which can be a good compromise.
4 - If you can, do something with the walls and floor
Ok, if you're lucky ducks, you can do something about the room's cosmetics.  In our bedroom, there's some really dated wallpaper and a patch of "gently used" hardwood right at the entrance of the room.

I surfed blogs, pintrest, and even BlogHer for ideas, and I found solutions!  For our floor, we splurged on a pretty area rug from Uban Outfitters.  Yes, yes, we bought new, but Husbandpants was determined to treat me with something, so I couldn't turn that down!
For our walls, I wanted something I could do in a weekend to really change the look of the room.  I caught onto the idea of fabric covering.  Carefully placed, and tacked discreetly in the corners, I thought a nice neutral colored fabric would be great in there.  It'd make the space feel like ours right away, and it would temporarily solve the problem of wallpaper, and I could repurpose it after.  I have permission to take that old paper down, but that's a summer project.  I was all set to do broadcloth or something similar, but Bloghers, I discovered....The Burlap Wall.
Oh yes, burlap.  I have 26 yards on its way to me as we speak.  Both Husband and I gravitate towards earth tones and natural things (seashells, rocks, sticks, bones), so I said why not go with the crunchies of granola fabrics?  Burlap seems to be hot right now, thanks to my super sophisticated research on Google images and  Apparently I'm trendy.  What about that, huh?
 5 - If you can't change paint/floor/etc., decorate like mad (within reason)
I'd advise doing this even if you can change the walls and floor!  But that's just because I love this step so much.  When I started to pretty up the windows and dresser tops, I let myself go nuts within certain limits.  Since this is a pretty small room, I had to keep things simple.  We used to have 2 dressers and 2 bookcases to play with, which is a lot of surface area.  Now there's only 1 small bookcase in the bedroom, and our dressers.  And everything's closer together, so I wanted to avoid visual clutter (and dusting disasters).
For instance, I thought of what I used on my dresser top, and dedicated it to that: jewelry, perfume, coaster for coffee.  There are a "few" other baubles on there, things I truly love seeing each morning, but it's much more restrained than it used to be.  Tiny pretties and my other thrift store finds were stored to be rotated in at a later date.

Another good guideline for decorating (especially if you're starting out) is to try to stay in some sort of theme.  That way there's visual harmony, which makes the space look (of course) neater and more pulled together.  Also, this can make the room look more "masculine", which was a unique concern for me.  
Mr. Liz genuinely likes all my bits and baubles, and will often salvage or thrift with me for more (such a gem!  no, he doens't have a brother!)  However, a ton of tiny brass vases, or porcelain pigs, or gew gaws makes the place look more fussy.  I'm trying to keep this room more mature and neutral, to cut down on any freudian freakouts he might have, sleeping once more in his baby room.  So I cut the fuss, and I'm keeping it as simple as I can while respecting both our tastes.

So there you have it, some handy tips for those downsizing, moving, or simply looking to frugally update their spaces!  If you have any more, feel free to leave me some comment love, or send them off to  I think we're onto something here, so I'd like to revisit this topic another time.


Ok, now pictures of the dogs!!

Gobi, showing that we're still working on not clashing colors!  It's been so cold we've just put all the blankets on the bed, coordinating or not.

The backyard is big.  Really big.  

And Gypsy loves that! Both puppies go zooming around together every day.

We also get a *lot* of birds:

Mr. Cardinal being shy...

A puffed-up finch or sparrow?  I forget what kind of bird it is, but I love when they get all plumped up for cold weather.

A blurry something or other!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Move it over!

Just sparing a quickie moment over coffee to say that I've all but finished packing my craft room.  I was a bit sad that my stuff has to be boxed, but the clock is ticking, so all non-essentials need to go to the new house asap.

Sadly, craft items are "non essential", at least for now.  I decided to cease making stuff until either we get the new abode set up, or I tear thru the boxes, shaking until I find my pliers.  One or the other.  We'll see what happens first!

Other than this, I'm looking at the aftermath of my Reverse Birthday Party.  As I explained over on my BlogHer blog, I didn't want gifts for my day, just people to come over and have fun, and take stuff I didn't want or need anymore.

It was a BLAST!  Much wine and food made the rounds, and my load of stuff lightened a bit.  Awesomesauce/pants/emus/whatever.  I may do this again next year!  My MIL was intrigued by this phenomenon and wanted to know if I was going to do another.  I told her I'd have to delay, for the sake of our livers, but I'd consider it.

Technically, I should be selling every last item in the "free stuff" pile, since we need every penny we can get.  But I have to be realistic.  Not every item is ebay gold.  Not every item is yardsale gold, for that matter.  For most of this stuff, I originally paid (if I even bought it) a drastically discounted price, bought it used, repaired it, altered it, whatever.  Or just made it.  I have nothing that falls under the label of "treasure", except for sentimental value.

There's another wrinkle.  I've considered yardsaling the last of this birthday excess, which is mostly books and glasswares (cheap vases), baskets, etc.  I'm really torn, because I could probably make a couple of dollars.  But then I recall what happened last yard sale here (and my NEVER AGAIN! promise to myself)....People only bought really used, really worn items.  And I had lowballed every price, routinely offered discounts.  Nothing "nice" moved.  Something half used up, something musty smelling, something incomplete - sold!  Our neighbor and a friend bought most of the mugs, ashtrays, and vases I was looking to unload.

This fascinates me. Husband's grandmother noticed a similar thing at her last sale - a couple of people did actually try to buy her trash!  I don't get this coming from those "storage wars" shows?  Were people purposely buying the crappiest looking things hoping to find something worth serious money inside?  I could have assured them they would not have been so lucky!  If I was sitting on something like that, I'd know about it!  Either way, I'm not sure I want to sit in the January chill all day and not get rid of anything.

Looking around now, everything's too "pretty", too new looking.  None of this would sell.  Books didn't even go last time I tried.  Books!  Can't wrap my head around that!  I suppose we'll just have to freecycle a lot over the next week, because I am *not* carrying these things with me.  We have enough to do.

At least my local freecyclers take books and glasswares.  I'm counting on them to pull through for me here!