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This weekend was the perfect weather to go camping with our Cornerstone group. First we had a marshmallow war with PVC guns and mini-marshmallow ammo.


Then we and set up tents and started the campfire for dinner. If you ask me, the reason to go camping is not so much the sleeping-on-the-ground part as the food part… Dinner: Hot dogs, Pizza Pockets, Banana Boats, S’mores, and Mountain Cherry Pie

pizza pocket

Breakfast: Campfire Biscuits with cinnamon butter, Breakfast Pie, bagels with cream cheese.

Campfire biscuits

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OBX Babymoon

Steve and I just spent a wonnnnnnderful getaway in Duck, NC. Relaxing on the beach, relaxing at the pool, side-by-side pedicures, good food, our kind of vacation. My favorite thing was to sit in beach chairs to watch the nature video: sand crabs digging holes, sandpipers looking for dinner but avoiding the surf, pelicans flying in formation, schools of dolphins, seagulls checking out the seaweed… Our hotel room was so pretty, with birds and eggs and seashells everywhere. And when I walked into the bathroom my first thought was, “This looks like our bathroom at home.” Aqua-gray walls, sandy tile, glass shower. The staff was helpful and friendly, amenities were plentiful, restaurant was delicious, weather was perfect for bathing suits, plus they serve hot/iced tea & homemade cookies in the afternoon and offer turndown service (with chocolates and a forecast) at night.

Vitamin D Sunset on the sound2 What volcano cake Afternoon tea Currituck Lighthouse DuckBabymoon08

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We finally got the rain, all night Wednesday and all day Thursday. I even had some sprinkles today on my way to Dulles to pick up Steve, who is home safely from his work meetings in Sweden. Between The Lag and the holiday, I think we’ll be relaxing a lot this weekend.Get this… As soon as he got in the car Steve said he wasn’t hungry or anything; he just wanted to run a quick errand and buy me flowers. (I know!) He’s the best.
Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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I’m back

Hey, there. Remember me? I’ve been traveling and taking a blog break. I had high hopes of returning to post detailed stories of our adventures and photos worth passing down for generations, but then our plane last night was delayed, we finally got in bed at 4am, I woke up at 10:45am only to realize that I was teaching a class at 11 (I had it in my head it was at 1), then I had a doctor’s appointment and met my dad for coffee, and finally sat down in front of my computer for the first time around 4:30 this afternoon. I still have about 50 unread messages in my inbox, but I did manage to send out my Etsy tutorial orders (you do NOT want to anger jewelry artists and they have been patiently waiting). So, dear readers, thank you for understanding while I get myself together. Regular blogging will resume when I’ve had some more sleep. Hilarity will ensue.  I’ll leave you with some glass porn from the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the DeYoung Museum. If you want to see more pictures from our trip to San Francisco, check out the post from our family blog.

garden of glass chandeliers boat full of glass crazies Aquarium ceiling boat full of glass orbs the size of umbrellas

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Family Trip

We’ve been at the cabin in North Carolina with Steve’s family for a long weekend. He is the second of 7 kids and all but two of them (plus spouses/friends) and my parents-in-law were there, 11 of us total.

group shot

Friday we had the traditional family Taco Night, complete with freshly fried corn tortillas, chili beans, two kinds of cheese, three kinds of taco sauce, lettuce and tomato. Earlier that day Riley went for a swim in the pond a couple of times, fetching sticks and looking for creatures along the bank. Some of the others hiked Mt. Mitchell and went fishing, Steve and I checked out the Fresh Market and decided to avoid Bele Chere in downtown Asheville this year. On Saturday we checked out the botanical gardens at UNC-A and played games back at the cabin.


And, for the first time, Steve and I were online at the cabin with a USB modem from Verizon Wireless – oh the possibilities! He telecommutes when he’s not traveling, which means he can work from anywhere with an internet connection, so now that’s anywhere with cellular service. Even in the boondocks of the Blue Ridge mountains. Of course we still went to the bakery with wi-fi for their chocolate cake, but this time we didn’t have to commandeer a table next to an electrical outlet.


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PMC Conference

Last Thursday through Sunday was the bi-annual PMC Guild Conference at Purdue University. It was a time to come together with hundreds of other PMC artists from all over the world, learning and sharing ideas about this metal clay stuff. I was fortunate to get a ride from a couple ladies from MD & DE, and of course we spent the 12 hour trip in both directions talking about teaching and selling and working with metal clay, so that made it all the better.

You may have been to conferences before and seen attendees with their goody bags and hometown-bearing nametags. One thing notably different about this conference was how easy it was to strike up a conversation with a stranger simply because of the jewelry she was wearing. It was like jewelry was a social lubricant, an easy discussion topic (followed closely by people asking me, “Where in Virginia is THAT?”).

Another neat thing about the PMC Conference is that attenders are encouraged to make PMC charms to swap with each other. That is fun enough to see in itself, but this year they went a step farther and donated charms to create bracelets to raffle for charity. Well, from 380 people at the conference, an incredible 34 bracelets (!) were assembled from donated charms, and over $12,000 (!) was raised for the Cancer Society and Bone Marrow bank as a tribute to a PMC artist who had died waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Several of the raffle winners were cancer survivors themselves. I was so touched how this metal clay community dug deep and pulled together for something really meaningful.

Another thing that struck me about this conference is that conversations would skip over get-to-know-you stuff and dive right in with, “What do you think of the new Bronze Clay?” or “How long do you allot for a beginner class and what do you cover?” It was so great being in a place where everyone knew what it was like to be a jewelry artist and/or instructor, knew the right questions to ask, and had an opinion about different products.

Of course it’s going to take a while to decompress and process the information I gleaned, both from conference speakers and from conversations outside of the events themselves. I had a great time, but it’s good to be home.

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I kinda skipped over telling you about the post-picnic stuff last weekend. The forecast was 60% rain on Saturday and Steve and I didn’t want to get stuck out on the water, so we scrapped our kayaking plans. When we have a free day and no responsibilities beyond mowing the grass, sometimes we just hop in the car and drive. This area is full of cute little towns; last time we checked out Shepherdstown. This time we drove along the Shenandoah River, through Berryville, Boyce, Millwood, and Purcellville. We also did part of the AT near Bear’s Den. Highlights for me are little stops along the way, like getting Cheerwine and a lemon cooler cookie at Hill High Orchard (I’ve seen enough fruit lately – no temptation there). I also liked poking around the French antique store in Boyce, but I’m not about to pay $18 for a Tin Tin book. I’m more into junk-tiques; cool old stuff without the pedigree price tag.

Speaking of fruit, yesterday I made strawberry freezer jam with one of my quarts. Not having made jam of any kind before, it hadn’t occurred to me that the traditional canning method is what gives jam a darker, more mellow look. The freezer jam is just squish, add pectin, stir, and freeze, so you end up with uncooked bright red jam that looks like Jello with fruit in it. So yum!

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Golf outing

Yesterday Steve and I went to the AT&T National Golf Tournament in Bethesda for the second year. We had purchased tickets back before the Open, so it was disappointing that the host wasn’t even there (but I understand why). We did get to see Rocco Mediate, who lost to Tiger only after battling with him for 91 holes in the Open. In general, Thursday isn’t a very exciting day to see a golf tournament, but that also meant fewer crowds and sunny weather (compared to today at least). I wimped out on Steve, preferring to stay in one spot and see several groupings play a hole before moving to another location, but it was over 90 degrees and pregnancy has stolen my stamina. My favorite part of the day? Frozen lemonade being peddled for $5. Oh, and when we heard Jason Gore giving Jeff Overton a hard time, to which Overton said, “Anything you can do I can do better.” I leaned over to Steve and said, “Watch that guy.” Today Overton is topping the leaderboard with a 3-stroke lead, and Gore is in last place. Hee hee.

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More berries

Steve and I just went for a visit with his folks in upstate New York. On the way we stopped by Joolz in Canandaigua to say hi to Francie and Kerry Bogert, who was having a trunk show and demonstrating flamework. Hopefully next time I can meet Kerry for margaritas, but it was fun to say hi, catch up a little, and hit the road for the final leg of our trip. The next morning it rained, then was sunny, then rained some more. Normally I wouldn’t have cared, except anyone who knows me knows I love berries, and this is strawberry season in NY. There is a you-pick farm on every other corner! So during a break in the clouds Steve and I headed down the road to Morgan’s Farm to pick some berries. We’d collected 7 quarts before I stood up and said, “I think that’s enough. What are we going to do with all these?” And then it rained again, so we went home.
Here are Matt and Bob working on the lawn tractor in the barn.
Also in the barn there is a nest of swallows almost ready for flight school. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Later I was walking Riley in the family orchard when I noticed there are cherries! on the tree! this year. (They knew this, but it’s not a big deal to everyone else.) Ripe ones, and lots of them. They’re called tart cherries, but they are sweet to eat. (When I think “tart cherries,” I think of the bright red ones Cheryl and I bought from a vendor in Barbados who assured us they were sweet to eat – turned out to be the tartest cherries I’d ever tasted!) So we picked a quart of cherries off the tree, plus some red raspberries which had just begun to ripen. And then I died of happiness. The end. Saturday night is always Mexican food, so Cherie makes enchiladas, quesadillas, or tacos. This week it was tacos with your choice of fried-corn or flour shell, two kinds of cheese, several hot sauces, lettuce, tomatoes, and chili beans (two sets, one for each end of the table). I started thinking about this meal (and drooling) weeks ago because it’s always so good. I have an inordinate love for Wegmans, and being that the closest one to our house is an hour away, we always go to Wegmans in NY as there is one in practically every town. It’s not just a grocery store, people! Sheesh. This time we didn’t walk up and down every aisle, but we did get coffee and stroll through the market part and the cheese shop and the kitchen gadgets and the bulk candy and the craft brew section (arranged by region like wine). I got some rhubarb which may or may not have survived the trip home in the trunk, some French lemonade for my francophile friend Elizabeth, and a measuring cup with a slanted edge to make it easier to read. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have 8 quarts of fruit to deal with. Bliss!

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This weekend I drove to Delaware to do some shopping and teach three PMC worshops at Sparkles Bead Shop. I had a really fun time with my students, although it’s surprising how quickly 3 hours can go by. (A side note for my students: July workshops are posted and there is a sign-up sheet at Sparkles.)The few hours when we weren’t working I got to hang out with my pal Cheryl, so we were eating cheeseburgers, cupcakes, or sweet potato pancakes… or too sleepy to talk. A Blueberry Pom is my new favorite drink, followed closely by a strawberry lemonade from Ruby Tuesday.My biggest challenge of the weekend was the fact that I tore a contact lens right before my first workshop and didn’t bring my glasses. I didn’t have any depth perception, so trying to analyze whether the students’ bezels were grabbing the girdles (don’t ask) made me feel about twice my age. But, the 3-hour drive home went fine and I didn’t get headaches, plus Steve had bought me flowers and that just makes everything better. Tonight my pal Molly (She Who Has a Great Sense of Personal Style) is helping me pick out frames for a spare set of glasses which will stay in my suitcase!