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Catching up

Okay, so I’m a little behind on the blogging. And the housework. And my Inbox. Steve’s been traveling a lot (although it’s not his fault), and I seem to be happier and get a lot more things accomplished when he’s home. And I seem to have a pretty bad case of Babies on the Brain, so I tend to have more to talk about over on my other blog.In the jewelry department, I am working on a Bird Nest tutorial (pictured), cleaning off my workbench a little, ordering silver, embellishing some Viking Knit… Of course I like to actually finish something before telling you guys, but I thought I’d throw you a bone to let you know what’s in the pipeline. I went to an awesome bead show in Vienna, VA a few weeks ago and saw some of my favorite lampworkers, including Patti Cahill from Dyed in the Fire. Talk about little works of art! And yes, you heard me right. The market price of silver has been over $21/troy ounce this year and now it is around $9, so I will be adjusting kit prices accordingly.
Website update: When I said the site now has a “fresher, high-key” look, I didn’t realize that everybody except for me was seeing just a boring plain white screen aside from the text and pictures. It’s supposed to look like this, with a sage floral print in the background. I posted on a webmaster forum and got a quick response, so the problem should be fixed now. (You may need to hit Refresh to see.)Perhaps the next installment in my book collection should be The Lazy Housekeeper: Easily-cleaned surfaces, those that hide dirt, etc. I personally believe that dust is a protective covering, so my coffee table is actually “flocked”. If you’re in the market for a dog, choose one with short hair that doesn’t tumbleweed, thereby keeping your wood floors cleaner. Having a screened porch with brown indoor-outdoor carpeting has really cut down on the paw-wiping necessity, too. Now if I could only find a way to harness the energy in the wagging tail and apply that to the noseprints on the windows.

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The Lazy

Another book in my series will be The Lazy Gardener. Because the target audience is people who are too busy/lazy/easily distracted to do things the traditional way, this book will focus on plants that have maximum benefit (like perennials with showy blooms or foliage) with a minimum of pruning, watering, and fuss. You have a spot for a plant, you buy it at your local garden center, dig a hole, plant it, water it a couple times, and enjoy it forever with no additional work. Okay, maybe you could divide it in a few years to share the love, but not because it is too big for the space.Our hydrangea is like this. Unless we have a drought I don’t have to do anything to that thing, and all summer long it produces beautiful blue balls of blooms and then heads of russet and green (shown here) in the fall. And it conveyed with the house so we didn’t even have to plant it.

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I grew up in a house with mainly white walls, including my bedroom, even though my brother was allowed to paint his. My parents threw me a bone and let me put up a wallpaper border, and finally I left for college (which had white dorm walls). For the first few years Steve and I were married we weren’t allowed to paint the walls in our rental. So I’m kind of against white walls (including off-white) because of 25 years of color oppression, and when I say color it’s not like I would have painted my walls lime green and eggplant (although I do like that combo). When we bought our first house the first thing I did (even before moving in) was to paint the entire first floor because the walls were white.

Side note: I think people keep things white because it’s easy and goes with everything. If you’ve watched even one episode of any home-staging or flipping show you will learn that non-white pale neutral paint can do wonders to make a space look more appealing without over-personalizing it.
We’ve been in this house for a year and a half and downstairs is an earthy mix of browns and olive (except for the powder room). But upstairs is still almost all white and I realize that I’m never going to paint it myself at this rate. The foyer is particularly challenging because certain walls are two stories high and we have neither the ladder nor the inclination to be up that high to cut in. This week I hired a guy from our church (Sean Kenny – website here) to do the work. For the foyer I liked a particular maize color (warm, rustic yellow) in a Pottery Barn pamphlet. I was shooting for a warm, gold color to coordinate with the adjacent olive and brown, but I also didn’t want it to be too dark so I went with a paler shade of the maize so it would be more like parchment. I had the swatches up for days to view in different lights, asking anyone who came to the house to give their opinion.But when Sean started cutting in it looked absolutely sunny, like it should have been paired with French blue in a country kitchen. The reality hit me that pale maize = buttery yellow and was definitely not the earthy, subtle look I was going for. I tried to live with it for about 10 minutes, but even with all the lights turned off it was absolutely glowing with cheer.Now I am “that customer”: picky, can’t make up her mind, doesn’t know what she wants, clock ticking. So together we picked out a new color (khaki, very safe) and over lunch Sean took the paint back and had it tinted some more. Bless his heart, and the little paint-tintin’ hearts at Sherwin Williams. I love the new color.

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Our grass is brown, shrubs are droopy, and the trees are turning already, thanks to basically no rain this month. I water the tomatoes when I think about it, but otherwise the weeds are the only thing thriving in our yard (and boy, am I losing that war).

Chicken Little said the sky was supposed to fall today, thanks to the remnants of Fay. It’s been cloudy and ominous and we did get about 13 raindrops around lunchtime. I finally checked the doppler (pictured) to see if I heard the forecast correctly, and am wondering how in the world we have not gotten anything.

My mom just called, as if on cue, and explained that the air is so dry it’s making the rain evaporate on the way down. Go figure. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

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The air conditioner is full of freon once again, and we’re thankful because it’s going to be 96 outside today.
What’s new here? Not a whole lot. We had a relaxing weekend. Today I’m working on custom orders, assembling kits, doing laundry, pestering the dog (it’s too hot to stalk birds outside).

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With highs in the 90s this week it marks our first real taste of heat and humidity this season, so we cranked up the A/C for the first time. It doesn’t work (again). The repair man is coming tomorrow (Saturday) sometime between 8 and 5. Makes us want to install a pool.

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Summer Storm

We just had a terrific thunderstorm, one of the many things I love about summer. It goes from being hot and still to cool and fresh with the plants watered. It gets dark, so dark that I actually turn on a light during the day. We get the kind of rain and wind that looks like someone reporting on location during a hurricane. Thankfully I was home in order to run around and close windows this time. I think I forgot to tell you that our baby robins are all grown up. I took this picture the day before they tried to fly. One of them lept to his fate on the concrete porch, so Steve put down cushions for the other three to bounce off (and we didn’t find any bodies later). I thought I was free to walk to the mailbox in peace now that we have an empty nest, but yesterday the mama gave me a “talking to” as a little guy jumped from the grass to the cherry tree. Time to wash the front door and change the wreath.

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Busy Rant

Some people think I sit around and lollygag all day long. Others think I make jewelry all day long. Usually I do neither; my days are often a mix of filling kit orders, making custom jewelry, making jewelry that I feel like making, accounting, research, answering emails (quotes for custom jewelry), ordering supplies (takes forever), walking, errands. Sometimes I am able to go with Steve on his business trips, like last week he went to Ithaca on Wednesday and Rochester on Thursday, so I went along and then we spent Easter weekend with his family nearby. Sometimes I get together with friends, like Tuesday Mom and I went to HomeGoods and Ikea (90 minutes away), yesterday she and I assembled meals at Gourmet on the Go (pictured), Steve and I hung out with friends until late last night, and today I had lunch with one of my college roommates and her kids (60 minutes away). I like that my schedule is flexible, but sometimes there are weeks like this when I start out behind schedule, have a lot going, and still try to fit in extra stuff.

It irritates me that people think that because I work from home and have no children I have all the time in the world. Not everyone understands that there is a difference between having a business and having one with professionalism, quality, and good customer service. If I don’t check email I get messages like, “It has been 8 hours since I ordered on Etsy, where is my tutorial?” I never really stop working in some capacity, because even if I am eating dinner or on vacation my brain is still in work-mode and there is no OFF button. I could hire someone to help me, but the time involved in training them to do things the way I want them to be done is greater than or equal to the time it takes me to do it, so I just outsource the stuff I really don’t want to do. Like taxes. And cooking.

But as I walked through the markethall during our 5th hour at Ikea, stressing about my looming deadlines, I did wonder if maybe that wasn’t the best use for my time. Shouldn’t I be at home working? Should I be canceling activities instead of cramming everything in when I’m busy? Absolutely not. As much as I get stressed out during busy weeks, I never want to lose sight of the fact that the people in my life are what make it so rich.

Okay, and my new shower. It was so worth the wait!

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Holly Lane Studio

Last week I went to visit my PMC friend Tiffany Scott in Purcellville, VA. She has a teaching studio in her house and I seriously thought about moving in. So beautiful, so well-organized. She apologized for it being so “messy” and I told her she was not allowed to come to my studio. Tiffany showed me how to transform a drawing into a stamp. Brilliant!  Texture is something that is so fascinating to PMC (or even polymer clay) artists. It often becomes an obsession… finding objects around the house that have a unique pattern, looking at commercially available texture sheets, making molds of everyday things. I recently purchased a pack of sage leaves, took molds of them, and threw them away. Another day I asked the waitress at a restaurant if I could purchase a spoon because of the texture on the handle. It’s a sickness.

Tumbler and kiln  Sink area  So organized  Teaching table   Actually a garage

Tiffany also introduced me to Lucketts, a tiny town near the Leesburg outlets known for its antiques. That’s where she gets a lot of decorations and furniture. My brain was too full that day to shop, but I will return. With the big car.