Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ashley!

My baby turned 14 years old this year and it's hitting me like a ton of bricks that she's no longer my "little girl," but is now a "young woman" with a strong mind and heart of her own. She celebrated first by inviting a few friends to watch the new Transformers movie on her actual birthday date, then we threw a fun party with more of her friends at our lake that weekend. Her big gift this year was to finally get texting capabilities and a new cell phone (well, it was actually mine, but I traded with her since mine has all sorts of fancy features I never used). She is over the moon with joy and has been texting her friends what seems to be at least 1,000 messages a day (yikes!). Hopefully, the texting honeymoon will ease off by the time school starts, or else we may have a few problems?! LOL

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Surprise

Kraig is such a hard guy to get presents for, since he's a man of few wants and doesn't have any expensive hobbies you can add shtuff to each year (hobby goodies seem to be my speciality! LOL) And a book or a tie just doesn't have the same magic any more (well, at least I don't think so!). In years past, I've tried to wow him with gift offers for neat things like flight lessons, but he never gets around to redeeming them, so this year I was bound and determined to get him something for Father's Day that would blow his socks off, right here and now! ;-D

So while I was desperately racking my brain, it just so happened that I spotted a small ad in our newspaper about a historical plane exhibit coming to Seattle over Father's Day weekend. Now, Kraig really loves anything historical, especially relating to military stuff—I swear, I think he's watched Saving Private Ryan at least 20 times. I start to think...hmmm...this would be great to take him to see these—and then I got really excited when I read further down and realized that they would be giving a limited amount of rides on the actual planes at the end of each day! What made it even cooler was that one of the planes was the type his Dad flew in WWII as a B-24 bomber pilot—so you have to agree—isn't this the "perfect" gift for Father's Day?!? (I would have loved to have had Ray, his dad, come and fly with him too, but his hearing and health prevents him from ever flying again.)

So, I grabbed the credit card and made a reservation as fast as I could. And boy, was he surprised when we got there and I told him he was getting to actually fly inside one of his favorite planes! The look on his face was priceless—it really made me happy to see him so touched and excited about his unexpected adventure. To say he loved it would be an understatement—I think he was still floating on Cloud 9 when we went to visit his dad the next day to tell him all about how he got to explore every inch of the plane and feel what it was like to fly in it. Ray was thrilled for him as well, and shared some neat stories with us about his days as a pilot—it's amazing what those crews had to work with back "in the day!"

Here's some pics Kraig took while enjoying his unique flight experience. He said some spaces were so tight, he could barely squeeze through them, and there were places where only a scrap of fabric kept you from falling out of the plane. (eek!)

Can you imagine cramming into this tiny gunner's turret, dangling below in the belly of the plane, with just a tiny safety clip keeping you in place!??
I learned that this plane is the last of it's kind still flying, so I'm so glad the girls and I were able to give Kraig a gift that was as unique and special as he is to us. Boy, it's gonna be hard to top this one next year though! LOL

Friday, June 19, 2009

Playtime in Portland

Recently, I got a chance to take a workshop in the Portland, OR studio of one of my favorite artists, Sally Jean Alexander. It's one of her most popular classes called "Soldering for Virgins" and although I already know how to solder, I loved having the chance to refine my skills and learn from a pro like Sally. She shared some wonderful tricks and tips, and I can't wait to start putting them to good use—maybe on some goodies I'll have for sale at the upcoming Farmers Market I'll be participating in? ;-D While I played all day on Saturday, Kraig and the girls had fun at the local zoo, then we had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and explored the humongous Powell's bookstore (which must be one of the largest bookstores in existence?!).

Sally has an amazing studio and everywhere you looked, there were nooks and crannies filled to the brim with her lovely vintage supplies, finished projects, and other creative inspiration. Here's some pics of Sally's space for you to drool over…

One wall was covered with this huge block of cubbyholes, each one filled with a different vignette like these…Here's the start of my charms, all taped up and ready to solder…The girls having a good time at The Old Spaghetti Factory—they were dying to have the balloon man make them these silly hats all through dinner! LOLWe also checked out the famous Voodoo Donuts (Kraig tried out their Bacon Maple Bar and liked it!) and some local antique stores before heading home on Sunday. It was a great weekend getaway for all of us and I hope we can do it again soon!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend (and Flowers are Nice Too!)

Last month, I got to try out the Zoozii Chunky Crystal Duo press and boy, is it a cool tool! I didn't have as much time to work with it as I had hoped, but when I did, I discovered how addicting it was to create these beautiful crystal shaped beads out of silver and transparent glass. I loved this shape so much, I also got a smaller Crystal Trio version. It's a little hard to tell from the photos, but the white ones have a really pretty cloudy, almost opal-like character, and the rest of them have a gorgeous mother-of-pearl or golden shimmer in the core. Don't you think they sparkle just like diamonds? ;-D How cool would these look featured in a chunky bracelet or pendant?!

I might even get up enough courage to list some of these on Etsy, but first I have to decide which ones I want to keep for myself! LOL This is also the first time I've concentrated on making bead sets, and my incentive is that my friend Lara Lutrick and I signed up to sell our handmade things three Saturdays this summer at a new Farmer's Market that is starting up in our town. In addition to glass beads and jewelry, I'm going to offer an eclectic mix of things such as mixed media jewelry and cards. I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of response we get!

Of course, this means I need to work hard on stocking an inventory of goodies before our first day there in July (eek!). Here's what came out of my kiln this morning—a fun new lentil design that I'm really having fun making in various colors. There's just something about chocolate brown and rich pastels that makes me happy! I'll post some pics of them made into jewelry when I finish them, k?


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