Friday 29 May 2015

Women and Wellness Expo Sunday!

I'm so looking forward to participating in the Women and Wellness Expo on Sunday, 10:00 to 3:00, in Thornhill.

Attendance is free though if you register in advance you will be entered in a draw to win free shopping money and will receive a free swag bag. Cool!
There will be free mini facials and massages, lots of demos and try it opportunities. Check out the participating vendors and demonstrations here
The very popular Dr Joey Shulman will also be giving a talk. You can register online or at the door for tickets to her session.

Monday 25 May 2015

My Weekend’s Work

On typical weekends I would spend some portion of each day working on new jewellery, reading blogs (I have become addicted), visiting with friends, and so on. That’s not the case for the last few weekends. It’s been gardening season around our place.

All the garden beds need attention. I handle the flower beds and leave the vegetable garden and lawn to my husband. We have a very large property for being in town and the flower beds are huge. Almost every year I shrink them down a bit, making the front and back lawns larger. To be fair though, he does have a riding tractor mower for the back yard and our daughter does the front yard.

One space I did make bigger was the shade garden. You can just see the hosta plants coming up between the ivy. (Those are weeds in the bottom left that I still need to pull, just ran out of energy before getting to them)

We used to have an old beat up tiny little shed, maybe 5 feet tall, that we stored the bikes in. When I say tiny, I mean really tiny, and beat up to the point the door would not even swing shut anymore. I guess the previous owners had built it as a play house. It was right beside a freeform sandbox which was overgrown and full of roots when we bought the house.

Anyhow, we took both the tiny shed and the sandbox out last year. The space is so shaded it was hopeless to try to turn the area into lawn so I started to expand the shade garden, by moving some of the hosta that had overgrown their location and adding a bleeding heart and ferns. This year I did a major clean up of the weeds trying to creep in, planted more shade loving plants, and added a permanent resident.

This cute little hare reminded me of the hares that many bead artisans have been making lately.  When I saw him at Lowes I couldn’t resist. My daughter, who is a huge furry baby fan, was with me and helped to make that purchase happen by putting him in our buggy. The grounds isn’t quite level so I stuck a flat rock under the one edge for now. As plants fill in and get added he’ll be in his own little forest. I am already planning more sculptural additions so there will be some sort of company too.

The big project this spring is a brick patio that I’m building around our (still) in progress deck. The idea is for my husband to be able to drive the tractor wheel onto the brick when cutting the grass. No whipper snipping will be required, a task we all hate. The bricks are finally all set, though I’m still fussing about the final shape. And boy do those steps need a good cleaning from all the sand and dirt being tracked in. They’re supposed to be stained black, not all mottled and white looking.

Of course I forgot to put the edging in place before starting. I did find a no dig edge fastener though that will be going in this week / weekend. I’ll just have to lift the outside row of bricks, put the edging down, add a little more week block fabric and put the bricks back again and redo the grass. That’s nothing compared to the effort so far. It has taken almost 2 springs off and on to get this far. Less time than the progression of the deck. (Hint hint honey) 

Thursday 21 May 2015

Thoughts on my Journey through the Art of Awareness Blog Hop

On Saturday a whole host of bloggers joined the blog hop hosted by Lori Andersen and Heather Millican. They posted their creation made with the word bean purchased from Heather and told the story of that special bean or beans. I was one of the bloggers who participated. You can read my story here.

It took me several days to make it through the list of bloggers. So many stories told, so many creations shared. There were times I was in tears reading the stories, other times I was cheering or comiserating. There are so many courageous, generous bloggers out there. In my journey I tried to leave a comment with each blogger, to thank them, to encourage, to cheer, to celebrate. Unfortunately some sites just didn’t seem to want to save my comments; frustrating.

Other bloggers had not added their posts yet, or, in the end found it too difficult to recount their individual stories. No one can be faulted for that! This was a journey in self-discovery, in opening up, in telling a story that may never have been told otherwise, and in doing all of this to an audience with many participants who will never be known personally. In the end it can be overwhelming. Take comfort from the fact you were willing to give it a try.

My story is long, complex and still ongoing. After my daughter and I had another of our many chats today, I am more confident we will make it. A bumpy road is still in front of us but that’s okay.

I came back to my own blog today and read all the comments. Cheering, words of encouragement, and of sympathy, were left for me. I had not expected to have such a deeply grateful reaction to everyone’s comments. I have learned a lot on this blog hop journey. Thank you all.

I thought I would give you the full list of participants again, for one more look around. Thank you Lori Anderson and Heather Millican.

Millican (hostess) (bead artist)
Laurie Vyselaar
JeanWellsJean A. Wells
Mallory Hoffman
Evie and BethMcCord
Charlene (Me)
JanineLucasEsfera Jewelry
LoriBowring MichaudArtfully Ornamental
B.R.KuhlmanMixed Mayhem Studios
LupeMeterGems PC Corner
StephaniePerryMustard Seed by Stephanie Perry
ElisabethAuldBeads for Busy Gals
HeatherPowersHumblebeads Blog

KepiRasmussenA Little of This, A Little of That
Gail Vanderster-ZwangAngel Moose Enterprises
ElizabethHodgesThe Whispering Seas

Saturday 16 May 2015

Art of Awareness Blog Hop

Awareness jewellery. Awareness ribbons. Awareness stickers. Awareness scarves. Everyone has something they want to bring awareness to. Sometimes it’s just for themselves, sometimes it’s to make others think, and sometimes it’s just to support a cause.

Lori Anderson and Heather Millican teamed up to host the Art of Awareness blog hop. The concept was for everyone to purchase a word bean, a polymer clay bead, in the colour of their choice and with a word of their choosing on it.

I have many things that are important to me and that I want to remember, so I bought 3 beans. Remember these?

Well, here’s the final word revealed:

My first plan had been to make a necklace with the 3 beans strung in a Y layout. When the beans arrived I was surprised at how large they were. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was definitely tinier. Not a problem, resilience is the order of the day.

I decided to make 2 separate key chains instead.  Here’s the first one and its story:

The orange colour was chosen to bring awareness to Attention Deficit Disorder. The word butterfly is part of our personal family history.

When our son was a little boy we noticed very early on that he was easily distracted, losing his concentration, almost running from activity to interest and back. Through his first few years of school his teachers kept commenting, almost complaining, that he did not pay attention, was not learning, and even could not understand. He was enrolled in a French Immersion school, an enrichment program in Ontario. This meant he was not entitled to additional enrichment support, like counselors or evaluations. The teachers and the school wanted us to move him to a regular school and non-enrichment program. Even then it would still be a year before he would be eligible for further evaluation.

Well we knew our son. We knew he was very intelligent! It was something he showed every day. In the parent teacher session where we were first told he did not have the capacity to continue in French Immersion, my husband and I did not allow the teachers, yes there were 2 of them there, to push us into moving him. We asked question after question, about his behaviour, about what was being taught, about what happened on quizzes and tests, about whether they had ever tried to ask him “surprise” questions when they thought he wasn’t paying attention, about his responses to those surprise questions. With every answer it became so very clear to the teachers, he was learning, he did understand, he did participate in his own way. They admitted that “yes”, they knew he was capable but they just couldn’t help him.

At that point my husband and I stated that we would pay for the evaluation and counselling required. The teachers and the school were totally shocked that we would do this. Apparently no parent had pushed their commitment to keeping their child in French Immersion the way we did.

To make a long story short(er) our son was evaluated and was diagnosed with ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. Many years of counselling followed, many strategies tried, many tools used. We did not rush to medicate him. Finally, after 2 years we sat down with his then current teacher, a woman with incredible patience and love for her job and her students.

She told a story about our son’s school day. The analogy that struck a chord was about an event that had happened a couple of days previous. They were studying dinosaurs, like any typical little boy a favourite subject of his. He was fully engaged, participating and asking and answering questions. Then out of the blue a butterfly floated past the window near him, and that was it. His attention was out the window with the butterfly, and he was oblivious to the rest of the learning session.

We recognized we could not help him without going to the next step and finding the most appropriate medication. It was a long road, the counselling continued throughout, the type and strength of medication changed many times to meet the needs of that time. Now here we are, 20 years later, and he is a fully trained computer science major, working at a job he loves. All the medication stopped 2 years ago when he and his doctor (our family doctor who was on the journey the whole way with us) agreed that it was not making any difference for him anymore. In June we go to Waterloo to celebrate at his commencement ceremony where he will receive his bachelor of mathematics, computer science.

It was worth every step.

And now the story of the other 2 beans.

This is my daughter’s story and it’s not over yet. The green colour is for Mental Health, and the teal for Anxiety Disorders.

Our daughter also has ADD, diagnosed when she was a teenager. All through school she did not have a great social life, bullied, ostracized, ignored. She would cry many days after getting home, until eventually she found some friends. She also learned to put on a tough outer shell, ignoring the cruelty, refusing to stoop to their level but refusing to let them continue.

Even so, it was always apparent to my husband and me that she was not as happy or confident as she should be. She’s a December baby and did also exhibit the younger maturity sometimes seen. We convinced her to stay an extra year in high school, do the grade 13 that the Ontario government took away a few years previously. The thought was it would give her a chance to grow a little more, gain more confidence, and be ready to go away to school.

Our daughter has always idolized her brother and wanted to follow the same career path. The year she applied there was an overload of submissions and she did not get her first choice, instead was offered an alternate program with the potential to transfer. So off she went, away to school. If we had known then…we would have tried to convince her to…do what? I don’t even know.

All I know is her calls became less and less frequent, she was often studying when we called, was down and unhappy when she came home for a visit. At Christmas we almost didn’t let her go back. By mid January I was over there almost every weekend, taking her out, getting supplies, bringing her home for a few days.

By the end of January she wasn’t going to classes anymore, would hardly leave her room or talk to anyone. (Her beloved brother was away on an 8 month work term. She felt there was no one there for her.)

We finally convinced her to see a school psychologist. Preliminary diagnosis? Mental anxiety disorder, potential clinical depression. Within the next 2 weeks, with the help of the counsellor, we supported her through the steps to officially withdraw from school and brought her home. It’s been 16 months of counselling, suicide prevention steps, medication, and doctor’s visits. For the longest time there were no sharp instruments to be found anywhere in our house.

This story has taken long enough so I won’t go into all the details of those 16 months. I will tell you though that as a mother there is very little worse than knowing your child doesn’t want to live anymore and not having the ability to just make everything better. I was lucky! My child is still here. She is doing better and is preparing to go to college in September, in a different course that fits with her love or art and animation. Is she better? No, not yet. I am confident though that she will be.

Oh, and the words? Be Free. Be free of the anxiety, be free of the fears, be free to explore her dreams and grow her own butterfly wings.

Thank you for having the patience to stay with me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to write both stories. Doing so has been cathartic and I am grateful to Lori and Heather for making this possible. I am keeping both of these key chains to continue to remind myself to be aware. I hope you find your reason for awareness, your cause, and it works out for you.

Please see Lori’s site to read the stories from all the other bloggers who are participating

Friday 15 May 2015

We’re All Ears May Inspiration Challenge

The inspiration photos for the May Earrings Everyday challenge was a troupe of dancers known as Pilobolus. The tango theme represented in these photos was the musical inspiration, while the saturated colours were the visual inspiration.

The lighter blue colours in the second photo of the right column and the frilly orange skirt in the third photo on the left caught my attention and I went with it, combining 2 types and colours of frilly flower beads. I topped everything off with a bead of a matching colour.

Tango Earrings (Sold)

These earrings are cute, maybe a little Christmas Tree..ish looking with the shape, but still fun.

Please check what everyone else made here.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Office Cleanup - New Old Storage Cabinet

On Mother’s Day my husband and daughter treated me to a trip to the Aberfoyle Antique Market, near Guelph, Ontario. I love antiquing and am always willing to go out, looking for that special something. It’s about an hour’s drive to the market from home in Newmarket so it’s extra special when they’re willing to indulge me. Usually I go out by myself so I don’t go that far away.

I’ve been looking for better storage for my bead hoard supplies for awhile. They are stored in an Ikea storage cabinet right now and, even with the dividers I made, aren’t well organized. There aren’t enough drawers to keep the stash inventory neatly stored.

I was very lucky to come across this storage unit at almost the very first vendor we stopped at.

It has 14 shallow drawers, some with wood dividers still in them and some with old cardboard dividers handmade by a previous owner. 

The cabinet stands about 4 feet tall. There’s a very handmade look to the unit, and 2 of the drawer knobs have been replaced. The drawers were repainted without removing the knobs and the paint is peeling off most of them. The unit itself is still the original dark brown stained colour. There’s a real 2 toned colour going on. It’s grungy, has no feet and lots of nicks and dings but I love it.

The unit needs feet or a platform to it raise off the floor. I might replace the knobs too. For now I need to move things around and make space to move it from the garage and into the studio .

Monday 11 May 2015

Women and Wellness Expo, May 31st

Join me at the 2nd Annual Women and Wellness Expo, May 31st at the Lebovic Campus, 9600 Bathurst Street, Vaughan. It will be a fun and exciting day.

It will be a fun, exciting day. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and getting a chance to display my latest designs.

Thursday 7 May 2015

Sneak Peak, Art of Awareness Blog Hop

I’m participating in the Art of Awareness Blog Hop on May 16th and I thought I would give you a sneak peak at the awareness beads I’m using.

I’ve picked 3 colours and 3 different words, each with their own special meaning for me. You’ll have to come back on May 16th to find out what it’s all about.

Check here and the link below to find out what the blog hop is all about.

Monday 4 May 2015

Removable Covers for my Necklace Displays

For the last 3 – 4 years I’ve used white leatherette necklace displays in my booth. Although I don’t do a lot of craft shows they have been showing signs of wear and tear. Along with being stuffed into storage bins they’ve been through a few rainstorms with z leaky tent. (I have a new, much better tent now.)

A few of them now look like this, or worse. Rather than get new stands I decided to make removable covers for the ones I already had.

Here’s a little tour of my process.

Start by laying the form down over the fabric. Wrap fabric lightly around the form and measure the length and width.

Mark out and cut a rectangle of fabric to the size determined in the previous step.

Double check the measurement and cut out the rectangle

Lay the fabric over the form again and use chalk or a fabric pen to mark the outline of the form. You can see from the photo below that I also decided to cover the footstand. The dark fabric and white foot just did not work for me.

I ended up using pins to mark inside the edge of my necklace form, then traced the chalk outside that. This is a very stretchy fabric and my intent was to sew elastic to the edge so that it will stretch around the back of the form.

Using the pins was a decision I regretted because the stretch cover ended up being too big. I had to cut off the first elastic and attach new elastic to a much smaller fabric shape. Now, if my fabric had not been stretchy I would have needed extra fabric to get the elastic wrapped around to the back.

Before sewing the elastic I made a pattern from the cut piece of fabric, so that more form covers are easier to cut out. (I also had to reduce the pattern to fit.)

Attach the elastic with a zigzag stitch. Use the widest stitch that will still hold the elastic in place. If you need to rip out some of the zigzag for any reason you don’t want to be trying to take out those tiny stitches your machine can make.

I didn’t worry about finishing the edge of this fabric because it is a knit that doesn’t unravel. If there’s any chance of your fabric unraveling, finish the edge before attaching the elastic.

Test fit the cover over the necklace form. Check to see if adjustments are needed. I had trouble getting the fabric to fit properly in the transition from the bust to the foot, so I decided to make another cover without the foot. I wanted to see if that would work better.

It did fit better but I still didn’t like the look of the white foot and dark form. Little foot covers ended up being sewn up.

I went back to my footed version and played with the transition area until I figured it out. I found I had to treat the area like a fitted sheet corner, cutting out some of the fabric and sewing the 2 cut sides together.

Here are my finished covers. I made some for the taller forms too but they aren’t fitting quite as well. There’s still some fiddling needed to figure out how to get them to fit better.