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AnneMade Jewelry is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary!  I’ve been making jewelry since I was a kid, but I took a break during college and picked it back up after I started collecting sea glass when we moved to Delaware in 2003.  We were new in town, I was looking for work, and my mentor from home (Virginia) saw a necklace I had made and encouraged me to make a business out of it.  And so I did.  And then we moved to Virginia and AnneMade Jewelry continued to evolve and flourish.  When our kids came along it was great because I could work from home while they were sleeping.  And last year I even worked from a studio downtown while they were in preschool.  Bliss!  But then…

My husband was asked to spend 2-3 years working at his company’s office in Gothenburg, Sweden beginning in February. (!) Amidst the shock of learning about the move and thinking of the dozens of things we needed to do before then, I had this thought whispering in the recesses of my mind…  What if I took a break from work and just enjoyed being there?  Making jewelry has become less like recreation and more like a job, so I’m looking forward to a break from special orders, inventory, deadlines, paperwork, shipping, and ordering supplies.  After ten years of that I welcome a sabbatical.  I look forward to having time to read, meet friends for fika (coffee date), take pictures, and go for walks.  I’ll still bring my jewelry tools because creating is still something I enjoy doing.  I’m even looking forward to meeting Swedish jewelry people.

I’m planning to document our Swedish adventures on my family blog, maybe a little here too when it relates, and I will definitely be pinning away.  My jewelry will still be available at Simply Charming Boutique in Winchester, Virginia, and my jewelry tutorials will still be available on the AnneMade Jewelry website and Etsy. I’m excited to go to Sweden, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be excited to come home to my studio, too.

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Puffy Hearts

I just delivered a group of Puffy Heart necklaces to the shop downtown.  I weave these together from 73 Swarovski crystals and they are perfect for Valentine’s season or just to add a little bling to an otherwise plain outfit.  I am in love with the top color, Indian Pink 2XAB, an orangey pink with two coatings of Aurora Borealis, or AB.  Basically, gold is held in a flame and the resulting fumes land on the surface of the crystal to make a shimmery rainbow coating.  Clockwise the colors are Indian Pink 2XAB, Light Siam AB, Indian Pink AB, Fuchsia AB (bottom), Rose AB, Crystal AB (off to the left), and Siam AB, with Cyclamen AB in the center.

These take some time to make and I still have to follow the tutorial, but it is fun to see it puff out on the final step, and they are so sparkly in person.  I brought packs of crystals, a spool of illusion cord, and nail clippers with me on vacation last week so I could make hearts on our day at sea or in the airport.  (My husband snapped this shot of me in our stateroom.  The bracelet is by Hope Gibson, a fantastic lampworker I met in St. Croix.) 

My tutorial for the Puffy Heart Pendant is available for download here if you want to give it a go, or you can email me if you want to order a puffy heart in any color ($49 with chain).   Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

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Sugarloaf Craft Festival December 10-12

If you’re like me, the term “handmade” or “craft show” can conjure up images of NFL quillows and needlepoint Kleenex covers…

Birdseye cherry Shaker sewing box by Suffolk Shaker Shop

However, Steve and I love going to *juried* festivals where the artisans produce all sorts of beautiful and high-quality wares.  The Sugarloaf Craft Festival is coming to Chantilly, Virginia December 10-12 and boasts 250 craftspeople exihibiting everything from handweaving to metal forging, soup mixes to wheel-thrown pottery. If you’re looking for something more creative than a gift card for a loved one on your Christmas list, this is the place to be.  Or, if you’re like me you’ll be shopping for yourself because these handworks are so cool.  In addition to being able to buy directly from the artisans, the show also features live demonstrations, music, and theatre performances for the kids.  To preview the work of the more than 250 artists participating in the show and see the full schedule of entertainment, visit or

Email me if you’re interested in FREE TICKETS!

Mark your calendars because there’s another Sugarloaf Chantilly right around the corner, January 28-30, 2011!
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I never know where I’m going to find ingredients for jewelry.  We visited Steve’s parents near Rochester over Labor Day.  One afternoon Steve and I went into town to check out the Neighborhood of the Arts.  Found a great antique store I can’t afford, a bakery that sells wedding cake by the slice, one of the best museum gift shops I’ve ever seen, and finally a junk-tique store where I found some treasures.  Skeleton keys, antique buttons (from the estate of a button collector), and ugly vintage pillowcases that will make cute little dresses for my girl. 
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My Elements collection is well underway, so I’ve moved from production mode to pricing/tagging mode.  Ugh.  Not my favorite part, so the procrastinator in me looks for something fun for distraction.  Another line! 
My Facets collection is next so I’ve been in purchasing mode shopping for faceted stones and chain.  It’s taken me awhile, but I’m embracing gold again.  I’m planning to have both silver and gold and colorful stones like peridot, amethyst, citrine, garnet, and maybe some Swarovski crystal to fill in where nature is either lacking or cost prohibitive.  On Friday I got to visit one of my favorite places, Sparkles Bead Shop in Newark, Delaware.  Connie, the owner and my precious friend, walked me through the new Swarovski colors, and just standing in front of a halogen-lit wall of sparkling facets was so inspiring.

One part of working with color that is not my strong suit is putting different colors together.  When I get dressed in the morning and choose a colorful shirt, I wear neutral pants (or my beloved green capri pants with a neutral shirt).  That’s a color cop-out, especially when I love how other people put bright colors together.  So I’ve learned little tricks that help me out, like looking at a non-jewelry item to get inspiration.  When I go to the fabric store and don’t really need anything, I’ll walk around and look at color combinations used in the fabrics.  Pictured here is pile of picnic blankets I saw in Parents Magazine. (When I joke that I never really leave work, I’m not entirely joking.)     
I do the same in the scrapbooking section because those color combos tend to be a little more contemporary.  Also in that magazine was this ad for lice medication, but here is the part I saw: turquoise, avocado, burnt orange, chocolate, mustard.  I’m drawn to circle motifs, but I’m training myself to be in “color mode” these days.
I’ve had a break and let myself get distracted while still being productive, so now I’ll go back to the grindstone and finish pricing and tagging Elements.  I’m planning to put a gallery page up so people outside the Shenandoah Valley can see what’s new, too.  Will keep you posted!
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Quick trip

Steve and I took a quick trip to Delaware this week. I got to visit with Connie at Sparkles Bead Shop a little this morning, which was so precious. Olivia’s sweet little face was even posted on the bulletin board!

I really do miss teaching classes at the shop, and I miss the students and hearing what’s new in their lives and seeing what they make with the techniques they learned in class. Not to mention it got me out of the house.

I work from home and when Steve travels for work I get really starved for conversation. Fortunately my friend Lauren has been helping me out lately, which in turn makes me a lot more productive. (The Laptop Lid Closing plan didn’t stick.) If Lauren is at the computer listing items on Etsy, then I’m relegated to the workbench to work on my fall collection.

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you’d like to see, jewelry or tutorials. I appreciate the human contact!

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Striving for Quality

In January Steve and I went to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Chantilly. I wasn’t scouting it out as much as I was looking for something for us to do with a newborn baby. But being surrounded by so many craftsmen wound up being pretty inspiring (not that I had time to make jewelry back in January, but I thought about it a lot). I even bought earrings and a bracelet from an artist I’ve known about for a while. (Thanks, Rosanne!) So why would I do that? Can’t I make jewelry myself? Sure, well, given the time and inclination I could probably make something similar, but one of the things I like to do is surround myself with quality pieces so hopefully I will reflect that in my own work. Strong construction, easy closure, substantial weight, etc. My friend who decorates houses made the suggestion to “study quality” years ago; when you’re accustomed to good-quality furnishings it’s easier to spot the chintzy stuff. Of course sometimes I struggle because the bargain hunter in me sees a deal, but at least I can tell the difference.

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Weekend in the District

Steve has been traveling a lot and doing awesome at work, so I thought it would be fun to reward him with a weekend in DC.
We stayed at The Willard, a beautiful old hotel adjacent to the White House, replete with woodwork, marble, and mosaic tile.
Willard Lobby
Saturday was warm and beautiful, more like September than November. We got settled into our room and then Metro’d to Capitol Hill to browse through Eastern Market. There are tented vendors outside selling handcrafts, produce, and antiques, and inside there are food vendors. It reminded me a lot of Reading Market and Saluhallen.
Eastern Market
Next we Metro’d back to the Mall where there were probably ten different games of football and frisbee going on. We went to the National Gallery of Art to see some favorites by Seurat, Monet, and Gilbert Stuart.
Natl Gallery of Art
Dinner was one of the most awesome burgers ever (with sweet potato fries) at Capitol City Brewing Company, plus I have a new affinity for brewery-made root beer. I’m not really a bath person because I get bored, but my body was screaming so after dinner I soaked in the tub, wrapped myself in a luxurious robe, and watched the exciting Texas vs. Texas Tech game.On Sunday we passed on brunch at the Willard, opting for Kramerbooks in DuPont Circle. Blueberry pancakes, fresh fruit, fruit compote, home fries, scrambled eggs, coffee, and juice. I passed on the mimosa this time, but otherwise Yum!
Capitol Hill
It felt like a real fall day, sunny but cool. Unfortunately I was in so much pain when we went next door to Beadazzled that I didn’t even want to look at beads, people. Fortunately the Metro ride to the American Art Museum helped me feel a little better, so we got to see some pieces by Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe. The last little DC treat was to see a helicopter land on the South Lawn of the White House while we waited for the valet to bring the car around. Then we headed home on a ribbon of highway flanked by yellow, orange, and red trees. It was a great weekend and I am so happy to have Steve home for a while.
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Remembering Grandma

My paternal grandmother lived in tidewater (southeastern) Virginia, several hours away, so it’s not like we grew up going over to her house every week. The visits we did have were always fun and there are several things that still immediately bring her to mind. Granddaddy passed away when I was little but we had my grandmother until about 10 years ago, and I miss her. I want to give her a hug and kiss the top of her head (she was a little lady), to hear her genteel accent and sing-songy, “Ooo-oo” when I walked in the kitchen in the morning.

  • Roses. Any time I smell a rose, even at Costco or in a hotel lobby, I am transported back to Grandma’s rose garden that bore what must have been dozens of plants in all different colors. She would cut and arrange them on the dining room table whenever they were blooming. Her Christmas arrangement would contain boxwood, the smell of which also reminds me of her.
  • Squishy white sandwich bread. White bread toasted in a shiny, chrome toaster with real butter was a luxury my parents allowed only at Grandma’s. Most of our visits to her house were in the summertime when aunts and uncles and the ten cousins would gather at Grandma’s house. We’d spend a day at Virginia Beach, and in preparation the night before we’d line an entire counter with slices of white bread and make PB & J sandwiches in assembly-line fashion. Each variation went back into a separate bread bag: type of jelly, type of peanut butter, raisins or no raisins… By the time we had lunch at the beach the next day the bread would be soaked through (and never better).
  • Chinese checkers. We played countless hours of this with Grandma.
  • Little glass bottles of soda, especially orange soda. This isn’t something I see very often now, but I took a glucose test last week and had to drink exactly that. And of course it made me think of Grandma.
  • Coconut cake. I was always impressed that she would have cake on hand *just* for our visit, but I later found out she made them for bridge club or something and the leftovers were what we got. Come to think of it, the cake was wrapped in waxed paper and stored in the freezer, but it was always good and coconut cake still reminds me of Grandma.
  • The smell of a paper mill. Strange, but true. The mill in West Point, VA was close enough to give Urbanna a unique smell on certain days. On other days we got the seashore smell that comes with a tidal area.
  • Scuppernong grapes. Grandma had a grape arbor with this variety, located next to the rose garden. Even though we rarely visited in the fall, the taste of one of these grapes brings me back to childhood. This variety is not common, but Steve and I happened on some at a farm stand in NC when they were ripe. Half of the ones we got went to Mom and Dad and the other half I baked into a pie. (Halve grapes to de-seed, add 1/2 c. sugar, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 t. cinnamon, and 1/2 c. golden raisins, line pie plate with premade pie dough, fill with grapes, top with crumb crust, bake at 375 for 25 minutes. I made up this recipe because the ones I found online were too much work. See The Lazy post above; this recipe would be in the book The Lazy Cook.)
  • Blue crabs. During our summer visits we’d sit all the cousins and aunts and uncles at long tables on the screen porch overlooking the water. Steamed crabs would be piled high on red checkered paper tablecloths. We’d pick crabs for what felt like hours, somehow managing to get full, then we’d roll up the tablecloths with all the shells to throw away. Then the kids would slide down the hill toboggan-style on cardboard boxes and my cousins were known for putting on skits.
  • Three-part dinner rolls. These were served at Thanksgiving, buttery deliciousness (at the opposite end of the spectrum from oyster stuffing). I remember watching them be made: roll 1″ balls of dough and put three in each cup of a muffin tin. Always heard at the end of the meal: “There’s always room for one more roll.” My aunt made copies of Grandma’s recipe collection, but I have yet to figure out which of the “Hot Roll” recipes was The One. (Update: Thanks for the help, Karen! I’ll let you know if they turn out.)

I know it doesn’t take much to make me cry (a trait that may have actually come from her as my dad and aunt are the same way), but when Steve and I were driving near Urbanna on our trip to the beach I was overcome with how much she meant to me and how many memories are associated with her. And my face is streaked again now just thinking about it (so don’t get me started on Grandpa in Oklahoma). It makes me appreciate that I did grow up knowing my grandparents, even though neither set lived nearby, and even though I can no longer hear them chirp on about something funny. I am hopeful that our kid(s) (and our siblings’ kids and our cousins’ kids) will be able to create this kind of memories with their grandparents, regardless of how far away they are.