Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Nail Obsession That Is Sweeping The Nation

I was blessed with my mother's nail genes, which means I have always been able to grow nice long nails.  For most of my life, I wore them just the way nature gave them to me.  I would only paint them on very special occasions (like when I got married).

Then this thing called Pinterest came along and I saw all the colorful nail polishes that are being made now. Not to mention all the sparkle polishes, which called to my sparkle gene (Thank you Grandma Mizell).
They also have glow nail polishes!

Being inspired by all the new nail polishes I see on Pinterest, I started my own nail polish collection.  I would experiment with a dark base coat and a sparkle top coat.  It is also fun to see what happens with a dark base coat and a semi-transparent top coat. I have mixed up some pretty funky colors.

Yesterday I was in Target and I walked by an E.L.F endcap.  They had a nail polish set with four trendy colors in it for $5.00. How brilliant is that?  The set includes Nude, Smokey Brown, Party Purple and Dark Navy.  I tried on the Party Purple last night and I am LOVING it!
Elf set, $5.00

Maybe you haven't jumped on the nail polish bandwagon yet.  Well, to inspire you, here are a few of my favorite nail pics from Pinterest.
Pretty swirls

Subtle Stripes
Fun design

What is your favorite nail color?  Have your tried any designs you have seen on Pinterest? I'd love to hear what you are doing dear reader.  Happy Painting!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr. Holstein Guest Blogs

Hello Humans! I am Mr. Holstein.  Mom left her computer open so I have decided to take over her blog today.  You may wonder how I am able to type, I ask you to suspend your disbelief during the duration of this blog.

You may wonder what a cat has to blog about.  Life is not just about catnaps and kitty treats (although those are quite important).  We felines are concerned about social topics just as you Homo sapiens are.  You just don't realize it because so very few of you speak cat.

I am very concerned about the genocide you humans are waging on my kind.  Some of you humans are responsible owners and get us spayed and neutered.  Some of you humans don't, which leads us to breed uncontrollably.  According to statistics I found on the cater-net just two feral cats (the wild offspring of domestic cats) can quickly become 2,000. In fact, the feline reproduction statistics are staggering. Two uncontrolled breeding cats produce: Two litters a year, at a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter. Continued breeding will produce 12 cats the first year, 66 cats the second year, 2,201 cats in the third year, 3,822 cats in the fourth year, 12,680 cats in the fifth year, and on and on . . .

This prolific breeding lands millions of my fellow felines in animal shelters.  My friends, the canines, also end up in animal shelters as well.  It is estimated only half of us get adopted (check out the stats).  Why do you do this to us?  We are all good kitties (the jury is still out on the dogs, though).  We just want a home where we can be petted, fed, and given the occasional kitty treat. Is that too much to ask?

I plead with you, please stop killing my fellow cats. Get your cats fixed.  If you don't have a cat and can responsibly bring one of us home, would you please consider it?  You will save a life and gain a great furry purry friend.

I think I hear Mom coming - I better go.
Mr. Holstein

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In case you're feeling crafty...

I don't know about you, but I love to keep a running list of projects I would like to do.  Today I'd like to share with you a few projects that are on my list.  These are projects that look fun and sometimes upcycle/ recycle old items.

The first project idea comes from Country Home. I have so many crafting projects around the house I am always looking for cute ways to organize.  Country Home suggests printing vintage can labels from online, glue onto "modern" cans, fill with craft supplies, hang like this! Too sweet!

The next idea comes from Craftster.Org.  Don't throw those old worn jeans away!  I use the better pieces for craft projects but I never know what to do with the hems.  Here is a great idea, make coasters out of them.  I love that I can now recycle all the useable parts of old jeans!

This next idea recycles old chair backs.  Thanks to Something Salvaged for great ideas! Sometime my antique dealer runs across furniture that is broken. This is a great way to repurpose furniture that is beyond repair! I love the idea of turning old broken chairs into cork boards or magnetic boards.

Here is a great way to reuse old bottles and spice up your homes decor! This idea comes from Shanty 2 Chic.  It is such a simple yet elegant way to repurpose old bottles.  I would love to try this in my home, but I'm afraid I have run out of wall space!

I hope these ideas help get your creative crafty juices flowing! As always, if you have a great craft/repurpose/upcycle idea, I would LOVE to hear about it! I love to see what my readers are doing.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another Life Lesson

Do you ever have one of those days where you learn something about yourself?  Where something happens and you have an epiphany?  I had one of those days today.  You would think by now I would know myself pretty well.  It is said you learn something new every day.  Today the light bulb came on about me.

I am FANTASTIC at starting projects.  I see something, think it's a great idea and start on it.  What I learned today is I might not be the best at finishing projects.  The following is a tale of how I learned this fact...

My day started innocently enough.  I had plans to meet a local Twitter pal (who is a friend of a friend) and go to a specialty yarn store.  I held myself in check and only bought a few skeins of yarn (I was actually proud of myself).  When I got home, I was so excited to try out my new yarn.  It had been a few months since I had knitted (I also crochet, which is what I have been doing as of late), so I first had to locate the appropriate sized needles.  That should be easy, RIGHT?

Hardy har har.  First of all, I am the poster child for disorganization.  I had knitting needles stored in four different areas of the house.  Secondly, I do not lack knitting needles (or crochet hooks); I have every size known to man and I typically have between two and four in each size.  I was looking for either size 11 or 13.  It turns out I have six sets of needles in those sizes (that I found).  It also turns out there was a partially done project on each one.  When you are knitting, you leave the needle in the project until you finish it, otherwise all of the stitches will collapse and all of your hard work will disappear as the project unravels.

At this discovery, I had two choices. I could either go to Hobby Lobby and purchase more needles (which actually crossed my mind) or finish the projects I had started.  I would like to say I chose the finish projects option because that is the logical thing to do.  The real reason I went with option two is because it was 106 degrees in Dallas today and I could not bear the thought of going back outside.

As a gazed at six partially done knitting projects, I realized I have a problem. One of the projects is at LEAST six years old.  Who leaves a project laying around for six years partially done?  I resolved to do two things this afternoon:  One - make a single place to put all of my crochet hooks and knitting needles when not in use (an antique sewing cabinet would be nice) and two - to work at being better about finishing projects that I start.

Hopefully with my second resolution in place, I won't have any more projects sitting around for six years...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Friday, July 20, 2012


Do you ever feel like your life is at a crossroads?  You are standing in the middle of the intersection, but there are no signs to tell you which way to turn?  I've encountered this throughout my life and I feel like I am there again.  While I am not a fan of GPS devices (I have been known to have pretty good arguments with my Garmin), I do wish life came with one.

After I lost my job last November due to my health issues, I decided to focus on doing my jewelry 100% of the time (instead of as a side business).  Did I expect to become the next "it" jeweler to Hollywood stars and the uber rich overnight? No (but don't get me wrong, I would take it).  I know that running a small business takes time to build and that it would be a lot of hard work and it would be lean for awhile.  I am not afraid of hard work and I'm not afraid of making sacrifices.

What I didn't fully understand was how nice having a regular paycheck really REALLY was.  While I love being my own boss (okay, kind of, we all know the Feline Union runs this joint) I find there are months where I really hate the paycheck.  I have also found I miss having coworkers.  I have found virtual coworkers through Twitter and Etsy, but it's just not the same.

Now that I have a diagnosis and a management plan in place (and thank the Lord above for finally connecting me with a knowledgeable doctor who actually cares), I decided to test the job market waters.  I actually had an interview shortly after I applied to a company.

It is at this point in my blog I would like to take a small "commercial" break and bring you this public service announcement.  If you are going to bring someone in for an interview and have them drive 25 miles for said interview (50 miles round trip plus tolls), that's really no small thing.  If you are going to ask them back for two more interviews that same week (now 150 miles and triple tolls) that's a big thing. If you tell the interviewee that you will have a decision that next week, do not make them email you twice over the next three weeks asking for an update to simply reply with a form email telling them thanks but no thanks.  That is not the level of customer service I know for a fact you ask of your employees.  If you tried this on one of your clients, you would surely be fired.  Remember, what goes around comes around.  And now back to our blog...

So here is my dilemma:   Do I continue to test the job market waters?  Do I have faith that my business will continue to grow and just tough it out?  I have been helping my friend two days a week at her antique shop, which I enjoy.  I get to play with antiques and it gets me out of the house (and away from the Feline Union that likes to shake me down for kitty treats).  It's a nice "part time" job and I'm thankful for it.  However at times it makes me yearn for the days where I sat behind a desk and played Corporate Barbie.

At the end of the day, all these variables, all the positives and all the negatives don't point in one direction, which leads me to feel like I'm standing in the middle of the road wondering which way to go.  Lacking clear direction is outside my comfort zone (just ask my Garmin).  What are your thoughts on my current situation, Dear Reader?

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Pt 2

A couple days ago I shared with you my fear of turning to a crazy cat lady (Pt 1 Here) and yesterday I shared with you some pictures of my black cats because it was Friday the 13th (here).  Part of being a crazy cat lady is collecting lots and lots of cats. I choose to do it virtually and on Pinterest.  I share with you now part of my collection.

And Finally...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th

Dearest Reader, Happy Friday the 13th.  Yesterday I expressed my concern that I may be turning into a Crazy Cat Lady (catch up here).  Since it is Friday the 13th, I figured I would let a few adorable black cats cross your path, namely Yoda, Gus, and Anna.  There is no bad luck with these three furry purries, unless you're a gecko that gets in the house, then you're in trouble.  Enjoy the cuteness!

Run for your lives! It's a Vampire Cat! Wait, no, it's just Gus sleeping and showing off his Missouri Mutant Cat teeth.  Since he came from Missouri, we should be thankful he has teeth at all (Genny and Mom Marcusson, feel free to send your hate mail regarding this joke)

It's an EVIL cat! Nope, just Yoda on a dresser where she isn't suppose to be.  My cats have a hard time with the rule "stay off the antiques".

Yet another rule breaker.  Anna Banana the Twitter Cat is on my 1920's coffee table.  Thanks for volunteering to dust it Anna, but I'm afraid you'll leave more fur then you dust.

Gus likes to sleep. He is so good at it he finds a number of creative positions to sleep in.  It is to bad the summer Olympics don't have a lounging competition.  Gus would win it paws down.

Would Miss Yoda like to go out with the trash? It can be arranged!

Anna looks up to Gus and is trying to mimic his rigorous lounging schedule.  Anna is seen here on top of the fish tank.

This is why Gus is the champ of lounging. He can take a nap just about anywhere, even on top of a couch cushion.  Good job Gus.

There you have it, three black cats crossed your path and you survived to tell the tale!  If you think these critters are cute, feel free to share with friends! My cats LOVE to be famous.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Pt 1

I have five cats.  It started with Yoda 12 years ago when we moved to Dallas.  She was a tiny cute little black kitty from a rescue organization.  Shortly after Yoda we rescued a tuxedo kitty we named Obi Wan Catobie (Yes, I am a geek, catch up here).  Unfortunately, Obi only lived a few years. He developed an illness the vet couldn't treat. 
Miss Yoda on the FIOS box, where you can normally find her

About five years ago, my husband and I went to Missouri for his younger brother's wedding.  Aaron's parents have a number of farm cats and at the time they had a lot of tuxedo kitties.  I picked out Mr. Holstein to become Yoda's new friend.  However, a little black kitty picked my husband.  Gus decided he wanted to come home with us.
The Loveable Gus and Mr. Holstein

Two year ago Aaron was visiting his parents farm and found two mini-me's of Gus and Mr. Holstein.  The two girls were such perfect matches they were irresistible and somehow ended up in Texas.
Nina, Gus, Anna and Mr. Holstein

All five of my fuzzies have distinct personalities and are extremely entertaining.  I don't know what I would laugh at if they weren't around.  Anna Banana loves to help me tweet.  She is also very talkative and if she has something on her mind, she will sure let you know it!  Mr. Holstein and Nina love to help me feed my fish.  All you have to say is I'm feeding the fishies and they come running to "help"
Miss Nina "helping" me feed the fish
Nina and Holstein watching the fishes

So, the thing is, with the five cats, it seems like I am always posting about them on Facebook, tweeting about them, and uploading images of them on Tumblr. If that wasn't enough, I'm always pinning funny cat pictures on Pinterest.  Which makes me wonder, does that make me a crazy cat lady?  What are your thoughts?

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Geek In Me

Dearest Reader, Over the past few months since I started this blog you have learned a lot about me.  You have learned about my autoimmune disease, my love of shoes, and my obsession with antiques. You have learned that I am an artisan jeweler who also loves to upcycle. Today I will share another facet. I am a geek.  I love sci-fi shows and movies (Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate SG-1 for example).  I love jokes that require a little bit of knowledge to find them funny.  Jokes become even funnier when you combine knowledge and pop culture.

That said, I would like to share with you, a little bit of what I call, The Geek In Me.

And Finally

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Mother of Invention

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. To put it another way, difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions.  I have found this to be true in my own life.  When I first lost my job (catch up here), I didn't know what I was going to do.  My first thought was to try to get a new one as soon as possible.  Then I had a couple of people say "This might be an opportunity to work on your jewelry full time."  When one person says it, okay, it's an idea.  When more than one person says it, I find this is Someone's way of telling you what to do.

So I made up some jewelry and I started an Etsy shop.  I then had to find ways to market my shop and in marketing my shop I began to build a network of other Etsy shop owners.  These women (it's mostly women I have found in the jewelry and accessory realm) are super supportive and are willing to lend a hand to newbies.

As you interact with the new "associates", you start to find out about their lives and you become friends.  I found it very interesting that a lot of these women were much like me. They are creative women who have some type of health issue (autoimmune disorders and fibromyalgia, for example) that makes working a normal schedule or outside the house very difficult.

It makes me wonder how many Etsy store owners are in the same position as I?  I started to do my jewelry as a hobby, then it morphed into a side business.  Now I rely on it as a source of income.  Before I got sick, it was nice when someone (typically a friend) would commission a piece of jewelry.  I would turn around and reinvest the profit into my business by typically buying a new tool.   Now the profits help me pay day-to-day expenses.

Sometimes I can get a little frustrated when my sales are slow.  I have friends tell me that it's the economy.  I'm sure this is partially true.  However, I still see women buying jewelry and accessories at Charming Charlie's, Target, Walmart, etc.   I think a lot of women don't think about buying something from a crafter/artisan or they think it might be too expensive.  While I do have some more expensive items in my store, most are very wallet friendly.

If you had the option to buy a pair of earrings that were made by hand by a small business owner for $16, or a similar pair at Wal-Mart for $14.99, which would you rather buy?  I know what I would like to do.

Dear Reader, you may be asking yourself, where do I find these handmade goodies which you speak of?  Well, I will tell you! Just follow the links below.

Handmade Lampwork Beads by Bastille Blue - Etsy  Facebook  Website

Handmade Children's and Pet Accessories by The Joyful Princess Boutique - Etsy Facebook

Handmade Jewelry by Beadsoul- Etsy Facebook

Sequintatic Bead and Sequin Jewelry by Saturday Sequins - Etsy Facebook Blog

And now for the shameless plug for me:

Handmade Jewelry by Chrysalis Jewelry - Etsy Facebook Website

These women make really great products and I know they would be honored to have your business.  Please consider giving them a try!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Upcycling an Antique Table Part I

Dear reader, as you know, my interests are wide and varied as evidenced several times previously in this blog.  I have a passion for antiques and I love it when I can bring one back to life. My friend Karen, who is an antique dealer, is the same way.  She knows the trash days in the nicer parts of Dallas and has been known to drive by to see if she spies anything good.

The following is an upcycling tale of one of Karen's rescues.  She found this piece of Victorian table and could not allow it to go to the landfill.   Knowing my love of repurposing/upcycling, Karen showed it to me and asked if there was anything I could do with it.  While I didn't have an exact plan the moment she showed it to me, I knew that I could do something more noble with it than throwing it out.

The first step in repurposing/upcycling (at least for me) is to look at the object to be upcycled and let the ideas come.  Sometimes the ideas come to me immediately.  Sometimes the solution and/or new purpose can take a few months.  In this case, the idea only took a few weeks.  Last week I was potting some succulents and a thought occurred to me: Wouldn't it be nice if I had a small table by the kitchen window to put these plants on?

Side of antique table piece
Top of antique table piece
With some legs and a tile top, this would make the PERFECT plant table.  Adding a tile top to this will be no problem.  It was the legs that had me a little perplexed. There are two holes on the bottom of each side.  I have no idea what the original legs looked like, but I knew replacing them would be tricky.  I wanted something that would curve and flow with the original piece.  Time to put the thinking cap on.  The idea of how to move forward came to me about 1:30 the other morning.  I decided copper legs would be awesome.  I can bend and shape copper to match the curves of the existing piece!  Copper tubing is relatively inexpensive (compared to other metals, like silver) and can be found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store.

The first thing I did was add a copper cross bar where I assume a wood one once was. I am rather proud of myself; I measured the distance and only had to cut once. I was feeling like Bob Vila!

The 1/2 inch copper tubing was a little larger than the original holes.  No problem, I can use wood dowel rods and fix the copper tubing to the dowels.

See? It fits like a glove...well, a glove I will eventually epoxy on.  Now it was time to shape the copper.  I wanted to flatten part of the copper tubing, so that required me cutting the tubing and hammering it flat.

I made my measurements of where I want to cut.  Since I only want to flatten part of the tube, I made myself a line denoting where I need to stop cutting. I used a Sharpie for this, as it makes a nice line, but can be rubbed off (It's not permanent on metal. My jewelry is drawn out on silver sheet using a Sharpie as well).

I also drew on a guide line to cut on. This will help me keep my cut as straight as possible.

I used my jewelers saw to start the cut.  I would like to point out I was taking my own action shots here and I don't actually saw like this.  Sawing like this would be an excellent way to lose a finger.  Always think about safety when working with tools. No trips to the ER are needed.

I used an earring mandrel to help me widen the cut. This helped me with the next step.

After I got the cut started and widened, I used my metal shears to continue the cut.

Then, using my bench block (a flat metal piece I use to hammer against) and my rawhide mallet, I flattened the copper tube.  Unless you want to texture the copper (for the hammered look), you will want to use a rawhide mallet for this job.  The rawhide mallet flattens the metal without marring it.

This is where I will leave you for today, Dear Reader.  I just wanted to give you a peek at my project.  Besides, I have three other legs to cut and hammer...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa