Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sapphire Necklace Progress...With Serious Distraction!

multi-colored sapphire necklace
Well, I made definite progress on the sapphire necklace on Tuesday.  I must admit, I've been procrastinating a bit while trying to visualize how I want it.  As I've said before, it's one of those trial and error designs that will be added to the sketchbook with details after it's complete!  I'm really pleased with my progress and I think I'm finally ready for the last step...adding the little multi-colored sapphire briolettes.  Looking at it, I can't believe this is just shy of ten feet of chain!

Accomplishing anything on Tuesday was nearly impossible for me.  I was completely distracted by huge, fluffy, white snowflakes falling from the sky.  While so many of you are sick of the snow, it's a complete novelty here in Austin, Texas.  My husband said that people in the office went outside like kids, just to stand in it.  The flakes were huge...over 2" at times.  I took my camera with me when I walked across the street to our mailbox.  Here's a shot of my little winter wonderland.  Our snow-topped houses nestled in the side of a hill.  It was 75 degrees and sunny on Sunday, yet this was the scene on Tuesday!
snow Austin Texas

Monday, February 22, 2010

Serious Etsy Lust - Just the Sweetest Necklace Ever!!

OK, so I love my Etsy folks, but I have to say in recent weeks, I found myself absolutely obsessed with one particular item. Every day, as I checked my stats on CraftCult, one sidebar advert always distracted me.  I, ever so subtly, sent my husband an e-mail which read, "Your wife NEEDS this for Valentine's Day," with a link to the posting on Etsy. I also felt compelled to convo Ashley Nizolek, the seller/artist/designer extrordinare to confess my obsession and that I hoped she'd soon be receiving an order from Austin. Happy me, when my husband walked into the house and placed a turquoise-blue box on my laptop keyboard. What, you ask, was the object of my desire? Absolutely one of the sweetest necklaces ever...
 
I love hummingbirds and this Love Birds necklace just sang to me.  When I was a child, I always watched the hummingbirds swarm to the feeder outside my grandparents' kitchen window.  For my eight birthday, I requested from them a hummingbird feeder of my own (which hung outside my bedroom window).  When my husband and I purchased our first home together, my sister, brother-in-law and niece gifted me a lovely chartreuse green, hand-blown glass feeder for my birthday, which is still prominently placed near the kitchen window (rightfully so).  Every spring through summer, the little birds hoover around the feeders in our back yard.  They're like pets to me and they are very well fed!  When I saw this necklace, I had to have it.  I almost bought it for myself, then realized, my husband might appreciate a little gift-giving guidance.

Ashley, of AN Original Jewelry is just one of the most pleasant ladies to work with.  She's so communicative and her shop is just so original.  I also love the Love Bird Lariat and Flock of Lovebirds necklace.  Seriously...I'm detecting some OCD symptoms when visiting her shop.  Therapy needed, perhaps?!

Since my Love Birds necklace arrived, I've worn it every day.  I layer it with my diamond horseshoe, which was my wedding gift from my husband.  He's English, and an English bride always carries or wears an upturned horseshoe for luck in her marriage.  Mine was sewn inside my dress.  Four years later, my Love Birds have joined my horseshoe.  I now can't imagine walking out of the house without it, just the same.

What skill Ashley has to manage such intricate cut outs!  This necklace is adorable in photos, but I fell deeper in love upon opening the box!  It makes me smile every time I hang it around my neck.  It's just too sweet.  Wait until my mom sees it...she might need one too!

For more on Ashley's work, check out her website at:

Also don't miss her blog:

...and you KNOW I'm a fan!  You should be too!

Thanks so much, Ashley!  I love my little hummingbirds!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

...And the Sapphire Journey Continues!

sapphire necklace handmade jewelry
Well, I've made progress over the weekend on the sapphire necklace.  No sapphires yet, but we're getting there!  Sometimes it's such a challenge to take the vision in your head and make it work in reality.  This took a great deal of trial and error, but I'm very pleased with the way it looks so far.  Thankfully, two of my stepkids were with us this weekend.  If it weren't for my third-hand, that of my ultra-cool stepdaughter, Amani, I would not be this far into the process!  It's been a very fiddly job (more so than many of my pieces, but that's what I love).  Sometimes you just need that extra hand.  She's very artsy-craftsy too and sat upstairs with me at my table.  She worked on valentines for her girlfriends and I worked on my necklace.  I did get an, "Amy, that is SO COOL," from her when we finally finished placing all of the chains.  Never hurts to get a thumbs-up from a seventeen year old!  (**Disclaimer ~ We do have very similar taste...but I'll take the compliment!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yum!!

Hope everyone had a great day with their loved ones yesterday.  Thought I'd share with you the top secret dinner that my husband and stepson prepared last night.  It's no small task planning meals in this house.  My stepdaughter is vegetarian and I'm gluten-intolerant, so there's a lot of thought that has to go in to it!  My sweetie did a great job planning and they both did a great job preparing.  Not to mention, the presentation was beautiful!

To start, we had heart shaped bruchetta on gluten free sun dried tomato bread.  I LOVE bruchetta.  Hooray for Whole Foods and their fabulous gluten free selections!  The guys cut slices of bread with heart shaped cookie cutters, toasted them beautifully and topped them with tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil.

The main course was gluten free fusilli tossed in an arugula pesto, topped with grilled shrimp (sans-shrimp for Amani).  A side of broccoli with balsamic finished it off.  It was beautiful!  However, I was so into my dish that I forgot to take a photo!

When desert was served, I learned why I had been banished from the freezer.  The guys had molded vanilla bean ice cream into heart shapes and topped them with strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.  I think they had a lot of fun playing with the cookie cutters!

It was fantastic.  Certainly a dinner made with love.  Can we have it again tonight?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweethearts!!

Wishing everyone a beautiful day today.  No matter what your relationship status is, make it special!!

My stepkids have a four day weekend and chose to spend it with us.  Since we missed out on having them nearby for four years while they were at school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we're more than happy to celebrate together and have decided to do a family Valentine's Day in our house.  My husband is cooking dinner.  It's top-secret and there's been much planning involved.  I'm not allowed in the refrigerator or freezer, so he's in charge of cocktail hour this evening :).  I have no problem with that!

Whether you're flying solo, celebrating with friends, family or your sweetheart, I hope everyone has a lovely and special Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in December, I ordered about 52 carats worth of multi-colored sapphire briolettes.  I've had a specific design in mind, but (as with much of my items) there's a lot of detail involved.  I must admit, I've been procrastinating, being a bit intimidated by it.  It's just not one of those things you can draw out, so trial and error it is!


With my husband off braving -5˚ weather on a business trip to Gillette, Wyoming, the house has been empty and quiet, so I began working on the necklace.  Here's what I have so far.  Trust me, this isn't anything near the picture in my head.  I have a lot of work to do!! 

Fear not, my trusty apprentice is by my side.  This is Widget.  He wedges himself between me and the chair back.  Of course, he prefers sitting in the white chairs!! 

Wish me luck!  (Black cats are lucky...right?)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Front Page News!

As if being chosen for a treasury wasn't flattering enough, yesterday we made Etsy's front page!!  How exciting for all of us :).  Thanks again, Noa!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Little Love from Craftomania

I was so happy to hear from fellow Etsian, Noa yesterday advising me she had included my freshwater pearl and blue topaz earrings in another one of her amazing treasuries on Etsy.  She compiled the treasury from the shops of bloggers featured under the "blogs" button of the Craftomania Toolbar, which she created.
 
I am absolutely IN LOVE with NuritDesign's Promise Amazing Ring!  Seriously, this piece is fabulous.  Her designs are so unique and contemporary, which is right up my alley.  

In addition to being the Craftomania Queen, Noa also has an Etsy shop full of adorable plush and baby items in  NOICA (listed under noabrumburg if you search for her).  She loves reindeer, which speaks to me too as I feed the deer that visit behind our fence!  Speaking of deer, check out the way-cute banner she designed in the right column of my blog! 
Better yet...I'll include it here.  Click through and check out the Craftomania Blog!  It's full of lots of free tools and resources for us Etsy folks assembled by the lovely Craftomania team.  But don't get to distracted and forget to go click on the amazing treasury items Noa's searched out.  I'm so happy to have been included!

Thanks for the Craftomania love, Noa!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How I Acquired my Superbowl Ring

I couldn't care less about professional football.  College football is an obsession.  I went to the University of Texas and I bleed orange, but the NFL?  No thanks...

However, on February 1, 2004, the Superbowl was held in Houston, where Steve and I lived before we moved to Austin.  As the big game was in our fair city, we decided that a party was in order.  After all, never mind the football game, it's a good excuse to get together with friends, eat junk food, drink and laugh at great commercials...not to mention the halftime show.  That was the year of Janet Jackson's highly controversial "wardrobe malfunction."  So, we invited all of our friends (who also couldn't care less about pro football), fired up the grill and set in for a long night of cocktails, grazing and socializing.

My now-husband seemed unusually anxious about people arriving on time.  He's English and punctuality is highly valued ...but seriously, when in Rome (or Texas, rather)...
Our friends know that we're not sticklers for start and finish times on our parties.  We like having a house full of friends, so I assumed he was just looking forward to having everyone over...but seriously, calm down!

Then halftime came...
Now, I'm a very observant person.  Little to nothing gets past me, but I was completely unaware that my then-boyfriend, now husband had disappeared.  I was also completely unaware that he had relinquished control of the grill (highly unusual!) and our friend Louis had taken over.  Not only that, I failed to notice the bottles of champagne that had been carried into the house.  ME, overlooking the presence of champagne in the house?!?

The bedroom door opened and my husband emerged...wearing his tuxedo!  I can't describe the feeling in my chest and the butterflies in my stomach.  Could this be it?  Why else would he be in a tux?  He'd faked me out once before...taking me to the restaurant where we met, saying things like, "Don't get lobster tonight.  You'll get your hands all mucky," then standing up, bending on one knee and saying after a pause, "You dropped your napkin!"  Seriously...I was so disappointed and almost angry!  But here he was, standing in our living room and wearing a tuxedo during the half time show of the Superbowl.  He approached me, kneeled and asked me if I'd be his wife for the rest of my life, presenting me with an engagement ring that he had designed with an independent jeweler.  A study in platinum and diamonds which I wear proudly on my left hand.  He did it entirely on his own.  The only input from me being, "Emerald cut, and no yellow gold."  I found out later that the ring had been in the house since late November.  It was February, and he decided that day to pop the question with all of our friends in attendance.

The champagne flowed...I called my parents and my sister.  It was then that I found out he'd asked my dad's permission two weeks earlier!  Mom cried...

We were all completely unaware of Janet Jackson exposing herself...until the end of the game.  I can't tell you what one advert was about, but it was the best Superbowl ever.

This year, we'll watch the game together on a much quieter scale.  Wings, fries and drinks, just him and me in our home in Austin.  I'll weigh ten pounds more tomorrow morning from grazing and drinking.  We normally eat quite healthy, but this is a special occasion.  After all, one MUST have football food on Superbowl Sunday!  I still couldn't care less about pro football, but the Superbowl will always be an event to be celebrated.

Steve and I were married on June 25, 2005, 4 1/2 years ago.  We've been together for 9, and it's been 6 years since he placed the ring on my finger.  If it's possible, I love him even more than I did then.  My girlfriends dubbed my engagement ring the "Super Ring"...and it is!  It's fantastic.

So...that's how I acquired my Superbowl Ring.  I didn't even get tackled...except by my girlfriends wanting to see it!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Perks! MIA Earrings and a Necklace Made to Order.

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from my very first Etsy customer explaining that she had lost one of the freshwater pearl and blue topaz earrings she'd purchased from my shop and asked if I could possibly replace it for her.  Of course, I happily obliged and I thought to myself, "Now there's a benefit of buying handmade!"  To replace any mass produced item, she would have had to buy another pair.

As we went over logistics of matching her lone earring, she mentioned another item in my shop.  "If you ever make the freshwater pearl and chalcedony necklace in silver and blue topaz, let me know."  I love custom orders and told her I'd be very happy to do just that if she was interested, which she was.  So, just yesterday, after snapping a quick shot in bad light, I shipped out a recreation of one of my favorite designs to its new home. I have to say, I LOVE it in the blue topaz!

Now her earring has a new BFF and she has a new necklace!

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Design - Prasiolite and Aquamarine Raindrop Earrings

Yes!  They are finished.  It's been a busy couple of weeks, but I did complete my new earring design incorporating aquamarine and prasiolite faceted briolettes.  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out.  Once the sun comes out again and I have some decent light, I'll take better photos.  It's been raining or at least cloudy here for a while now!  Maybe it's a theme...

I love the rain, but I like these raindrops better!