Wednesday, December 15, 2010

X number of days till...

I don't know about you, but this month has flown past for me!  I've been fighting a few illnesses, so that probably explains for the quick passage of time for me, and unfortunately, the lack of blog posts too.

Happily, I finished the last of my holiday shopping last night.  Have you finished yours?  ~Shameless Plug~ If you need a few gift ideas, head on over to my Artfire Store!  Today is the last day of my 10% off sale and I will even wrap your selection in your choice of an ivory organza bag, tied with ribbon and charm or in festive holiday wrapping for free!  Just write in a note to seller which you would prefer.

I do hope everyone is having a healthy and safe holiday season.  Winter is not even officially here yet and we are expecting our second (really third) snow tomorrow.  With family trying to travel and making plans to see a couple of doctors in the next week, it makes it very challenging. 

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to you and yours during this festive (and cold) time of year!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Sale!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, if you celebrated!  I spent most of my time cooking, cleaning, cooking some more, cleaning some more...and well, you get the picture!  

I did not venture into the Black Friday shopping madness, though I did drop by Michaels on Thursday for their Thanksgiving evening sale.  There were some great buys (with coupon) and everyone was really calm and happy, which was a pleasant surprise.

I am currently having a 10% off holiday sale (no coupon required!) in my Artfire store and wanted to let everyone know about it!  The sale lasts until December 15th, so be sure to get your holiday shopping in!  My earrings make great stocking stuffers :D

I will be adding more items in the next couple of weeks too and they will also be on sale for the discounted price, so check back often!

Best Wishes!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Only 7 more days...

Until the end of the Polymer Clay Smooshers Holiday Scavenger Hunt!  Have you submitted your entry yet?

So many beautiful prizes and two great ways to enter!  Good luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yet another way to win during the Smooshers Holiday Scavenger Hunt!

Have you checked out the Polymer Clay Smoosher's website yet?  There is this great Holiday Scavenger Hunt going on, that gives you the opportunity to win one of many beautiful polymer clay prizes!

Now, you have another great way to win!  Check out their blog post to find out more's quick and easy, plus you get an extra chance to win one of these gorgeous creations!

Good Luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Scavenger Hunt!

Want to have some fun and embrace the holiday spirit early?

Want a chance to win a beautiful, handcrafted polymer creation?  

Members of the Artfire Polymer Clay Smooshers guild are hosting a Holiday Scavenger Contest!

Visit their website to find out all of the rules to participate.  Here are some of the great prizes that have been donated by guild members:

The hunt is extremely fun and a great way to start your holiday shopping!

Good Hunting!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What is Romance?

This week, our blog theme for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild is Romance.  These beautiful items from talented Smooshers showcase all of the beautiful ways that romance can be interpreted.  

The very word conjures up a variety of images for every person.


Sweet desserts…

Hearts…floating on air…

Blazing passion…

Poetry of love…

Our sweetest honey…

The sunshine of our life.

My boyfriend doesn’t write lengthy sonnets, or send me roses on a weekly basis.  Our romance is expressed through homemade dinners, visiting local vineyards, 

Reading together, curling up to watch a good movie and spending time with our family, friends, pets and each other.

However you define romance, make sure to sprinkle some into each and every day.  Tell your loved ones how you feel about them and cherish every moment. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Joys of Life

There are so many things in my life that give me joy…my family, my friends, the beauty of nature around me.  One of the things that has always brought joy into my life is my love for animals.  Growing up in a rural area, my parents encouraged me to commune with nature.  They supported my interests in wildlife and taught me to respect nature.

One of my favorite insects to play with while growing up was ladybugs!  One of my favorite memories was when my family and I were at a state park where they were demonstrating how to smoke tobacco leaves on a working plantation.  While other people were running away screaming by the hundreds of ladybugs driven out by the smoke, I was enthralled by my new “friends.”  

I suppose this love of nature is why I chose a career path that lets me work with animals on a daily basis.  When I think back over the past ten years as I have moved from state to state and worked in different organizations, I am amazed with the huge number of species I have been in contact with. 
My first experience working outside of the normal animals (dogs, cats, fish) was when I completed an internship at a zoo in Tennessee.  I absolutely loved my time there and was able to work with a wide variety of exotic species.

One of the most heartwarming and significant encounters I had while working there was a female Bengal tiger.  Now, I was always partial to white Bengals…I love their ivory coats and beautiful eyes.  This beautiful orange tiger, “J”, taught me not to judge by appearances.  I never expected to see personalities within larger animals, like you can often see in the household dog or cat, but J was absolutely amazing.  She would “chuff” as I approached the fence, an affectionate sound of tigers.  She loved the different types of enrichment that I would put onto her exhibit and would watch me carefully as I walked around, placing different aromatic oils or hide goodies for her to find later in the day. 

One month, I was kept extremely busy in different areas of the zoo and did not have the chance to visit J for several weeks.  I was heartbroken to be away from her for that long, but I was working with other large cats and in order to prevent communicable diseases from being transferred, I had to stay away.  Finally, I was able to go visit J early one Sunday before the zoo was opening.  The other husbandry tech and I climbed out of the gator and saw this tiger, sitting and staring intently at us.  

We then heard the strangest sounds…it wasn’t a full growl, but rather just a very low, very steady “grrrrr.”  I looked nervously at my companion, “What does that sound mean?”  She shrugged, looking very perplexed and told me to stay back while she went to see what was wrong.  After a few moments, the tiger was acting normally again and she waved me through to go to the exhibit.  One corner of the night enclosure was badly positioned between a tree and a steep hill, so you had to squeeze between the fence and tree to get to the door.  J watched me the entire time, while the other zookeeper went ahead.  Nervous by those intent eyes, I started to squeeze by the tree, keeping one eye to the ground for my footing and one eye on the tiger.  

J picked this exact moment to lunge at the fence, hitting it hard with her paws and stretching her entire length above me (about 6 feet or so).  I yelped and fell backwards into the dirt, staring up at this magnificent, albeit terrifying creature.  The tiger looked down at me for a long moment before she dropped to her haunches…and began chuffing at me!  J had played a practical joke on me!  At first I was irritated, since I had fallen into wet mud and was still shaking from the encounter…then I was amazed that this tiger was acting just as she always had with me.  The zookeeper was amazed and had never seen that behavior before.

I could have dismissed it as just a random animal behavior, but apparently my reaction was very reinforcing for the tiger, because as I was leaving, J did the exact same thing again!  This time, I was prepared, but no matter how prepared you are…a six foot tiger stretched above you is impressive!

My career has carried me through working with exotic species, agriculture and traditional animals.  Surprising to many people, some of my favorites are in the rodent family.  Mice and rats are extremely complex animals.  Sociable animals, to the point that they enjoy being held if treated properly.  I enjoy working with them and their antics bring joy to my work life.  My favorite part of the day is when I retreat to check over them and make sure that all is well.  Some days, I prefer animals to people! Less drama, more truth.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aquarium Delights

Ever since I was a child, the water has called to me.  I love to swim: pools, lakes, oceans, any body of water works for me.  Probably some of it is due to the fact that I was born under the astrological sign of Cancer the crab.  If I cannot be swimming or scuba diving, I have to surround myself with other forms of water. 

The one decoration that must always be in my house is some type of aquarium.  I am at great peace when I sit and watch my fish swim lazily to and fro through the artificial environment I have created for them.  In fact, I usually go into so much detail in creating their environment that I’ve had friends ask me to design their aquariums for them.

At the moment, I have a lonely betta swimming in an aquarium in my living room.  Dagon alternates between the sunken treasure chest at the bottom of his tank and the surface where he drifts on the tiny current created by the pump.  

These fish, created by my fellow guildmates in Polymer Clay Smooshers, I would gladly add to my aquarium to be companions of Dagon.

He looks a bit shy to me and soo cute!
He's just peeking out to say hi!

I believe this silvery fellow would give Dagon a run for his money

  and what fish pond or large aquarium is not complete without a representative of the koi family in their shimmery splendor

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mask of Cthulhu!

Wow, it has been a crazy month.  I have been invited to participate in a craft show in a few weeks, started up a shopfront on, staying extremely busy with my day job and joined a great guild on ArtFire, the Polymer Clay Smooshers!

Autumn is probably my favorite time of year and is accompanied by my favorite holiday, Halloween!  I celebrated this weekend by watching Garfield's Halloween while working on a mask for a great event being hosted by the Polymer Clay Smooshers.  They are hosting a Masquerade Ball where they invite their members to submit a mask to be a part of the ball.  Several of us joined towards the end of the event, so the guild leader, ColtPixy extended the deadline for us.  I feel like I made it in just under the wire, as often happens with my deadlines :)

I have only started reading H.P. Lovecraft in the past year, though my boyfriend has been a fan of his work for a long time.  When I first started reading Lovecraft's short stories, I wasn't sure what to expect.  The underlying psychological horror in all of his stories is amazing, though some are much more entertaining for me than others.  If you decide to read Lovecraft, I highly recommend reading his work in chronological order, since many of his stories will build on his earlier fiction.  

So, when I was debating on what type of mask to submit to the guild's ball, I thought what a fun way to celebrate my enjoyment of Lovecraft's work than to try to craft a mask.  Here are some raw photos before baking:

After many hours of sculpting, fixing, retexturing, I finally attempted to bake the piece.  On the advice of a guild member, I used cornstarch to cover the piece to prevent the clay from burning.  It worked wonderfully, though it took me an hour to just brush the cornstarch off of the finished product! :D

This is the finished product that I now have listed on my Artfire and Etsy shops.  I carefully painted over the piece using a mixture of metallic yellows, greens and blacks to achieve a wonderful shimmer to the mask and add depth to the piece.  I hope I was able to achieve it.  

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Autumn is Fast Approaching...

Last night, I came across a great deal on carving pumpkins at our local Fresh Market.  I was able to get a large pumpkin for only $3.40, with tax!  So, if you have one in your area, you might want to check them out soon for a great deal.  

Of course, as we pulled into the parking lot and I saw that glimmer of orange, I gasped in delight.  My boyfriend then sighed, because as he claims, I have an utter obsession with pumpkins.

I don't deny it.  I love them.  I have no idea why...but they make me happy and I giggle like a child when I see them displayed.

The pumpkin now has a prominent place on the coffee table, away from the pets so it does not get chewed on for now.  I have to protect wants me to protect it.

Now that I have started to get into the spirit, I pulled out all of the Halloween and fall decorations today and began to arrange them around the apartment.  After finally sitting down for the evening, I decided I should actually work on my jewelry.  What better than to use my new coffee table centerpiece for my inspiration?

I carved this pumpkin pendant out of polymer clay.  I love the detail that showed up in the vine.  After I baked it, I painted it very carefully with several coats.  I am very pleased with the finished product.  It has a vintage look to me...

Monday, September 6, 2010


I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, no  matter what you chose to do!  

I planned absolutely nothing, and was able to focus on my jewelry and cooking the entire weekend.  I spent most of Saturday working on redoing almost all of my photos in my Etsy shop (check them out!)  While redesigning and uploading my photos, I started making connections through the Etsy forums and Facebook fan pages, which has been a great amount of fun!

Sunday, I spent the day working on a few sets of earrings and then creating a couple of polymer clay pendants.  One set of earrings I posted on Etsy (Time for Tea Too).  I also redesigned my Etsy banner and attempted to make my first clay cane.  It didn't turn out that well, but it isn't horrible for a first attempt.  The blue cheese-beer-bacon bread I made from scratch did turn out fabulously well, so the day wasn't a total loss on the creativity side. :D

Today, we smoked a pork shoulder and cornish game hen, and I made brownies from scratch for the very first time.  
 f you are going to attempt it, I highly recommend the Hershey's Kitchen brownie recipe:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I did only about 1/8 of salt)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts(optional)


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies. 

Now, I am just checking through the Etsy forums and glazing my polymer clay pendants...delaying going to bed.  I'm so glad it's a shortened work week, how about you?

Also, welcome to my new followers and the new people perusing through my blog!!!  I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blue and Gold?

One of the joys of taking up a hobby is bring happiness to the people that are most important in your life.  After informing my grandmother a couple of weeks ago that I had started making jewelry, she asked me for a favor.

She had been looking for years for light denim blue earrings.  Complaining that the only ones she could find were always silvertone, she asked if I could possibly fashion her gold tone earrings that featured that light blue.

I took the challenge on with a relish, though I admit that I always preferred blue with silver.  After making the earrings, I was so pleased with the results that I created a bracelet to match them for her.

I plan to ship these out soon, but wanted to share them with you.  Even when you think something will not work, you should always give it a try.  You might be surprised by the results.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vanilla Filling Goodness

When I get the creative bug, it expresses itself in a variety of ways.  Sometimes I redecorate, "nesting" as my mom calls it, or I sculpt some new clay figurines or tackle designing new jewelry.

Many days, I end up in the kitchen attempting a new recipe or just making a classic.  I love to cook and I especially love to cook for others.  If we are entertaining guests, you can bet that there will be a plentiful spread of food!

Remember those good ol' days of childhood when you would bite into a prepackaged cupcake (golden or chocolate) and be rewarded with the yummy creamy filling inside?  Well, at Baking Bites, Nicole Weston has replicated the recipe so you can make your own delicious cupcakes at home! After seeing this several weeks ago, I decided to tackle the Vanilla Filling recipe yesterday.

First, my boyfriend is one of ~those~ people...the cake and the icing have to be different.  You know, golden cake, chocolate icing, chocolate cake, vanilla, I prefer my chocolate with chocolate and topped guessed it!  More chocolate.

So, I admit, I did cheat.  I did not tackle the cake or frosting recipe that was listed on Baking Bites website.  Instead, I pulled out a box of golden cake mix and a container of milk chocolate frosting that I already had in the pantry.  This saved on the cost of having to purchase new ingredients for the recipe, as well as avoid the grocery store on a Saturday!

After I baked the cupcakes, I started in on the filling recipe:

Vanilla Cream Filling
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup butter (or trans fat-free shortening)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

I used just plain vanilla extract, 2% milk and I did use real butter.  The first step involves putting the flour and milk into a sauce pot.  Using a whisk, you will need to stir the milk and flour continuously over medium heat.  Just as you start to think your arm is going to fall off, the sauce will thicken up suddenly.  You want it to reach a nice pudding thickness.  This will become very obvious as you stir and it starts to scrape off the bottom of the pan and clump.  

As soon as it has thickened, pour the mixture onto a wire mesh over a bowl and cover with cling wrap.  Let cool to room temperature.

Now, I let mine cool for probably 45 minutes.  Not much liquid drained out of the thick mixture...only a few drops.

Once the milk/flour mixture is cooled, cream together the sugar and butter.  As soon as the mixture is light and fluffy, combine the milk/flour mixture and the vanilla extract.  This is the hard part.  Set a timer for 7 minutes and be ready to stand there if you have a hand mixer.  If you have a stand, then feel free to grab yourself a drink and relax.  With the hand mixer, I kept rotating the bowl a quarter turn as I let it beat the mixture into a beautiful whipped goodness.

Once that is finished, use a paring knife and cut a circle into the top of each cupcake.  Pull the cone out and slice the point off.  (I put the extra bits of cake into a bowl for a yummy snack, rather than toss them out.)

Spoon the vanilla filling into a baggie or pastry bag, whichever you prefer.  I use a zip top baggie and snip the corner off.  I had enough to fill 20 cupcakes. 

Replace the tops of the cupcakes and ice with your frosting.  Again, I use a zip top baggie because I find I can quickly ice cupcakes and make nice swirled designs, rather than using a spreader.
I was amazed at how light and yummy the vanilla filling was inside of the cupcake.  It was very rich in combination with the golden butter cake and chocolate frosting, but a bonus to this, you only need one to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of two!  

This recipe is definitely going to be stored in my book for future use.  As I was finishing the decorations yesterday, I already know the next time I will be making them.  I love Halloween and we traditionally throw a party with refreshments for our friends.  I will be dividing the filling up and adding some red and green food coloring and adding a ghoulish touches to some scary, but yummy, cupcakes.  Check back, because I will definitely post the results here when October rolls around.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Belated Happy Friday the 13th!

I do not consider myself a superstitious sort of person.  I have a black cat, I love Halloween and rarely think of bad luck omens.

That being said, I am not a fan of Friday the 13th.  If possible, I would stay at home every time it occurs.  I know a person that actually does that, so I know I'm not alone in this thinking.  Friday the 13th can happen no fewer than once a year, and more more than nine times in a year (2009 was a great example of this).  2010 only has one 13th Friday (woot!) so it has now passed.  Of course, someone backed into my car on this past Friday, then didn't leave me a note.

Ah well.  On the eve of the 13th, I pulled out a four-leaf clover pendant that my Mom had found from a local artist in Kentucky during her travels last year.  I have pondered what to do with the lovely pendant and really wracked my brain on how best to display it.  As I played with it, I started getting a great idea for how to turn it into a necklace.  I had found some great silver leaves and started stringing them with freshwater beige and ivory pearls, Swarovski crystals (golden and green), tigereye, unakite and some jasper beads.  

Below is my creation...I wore it on Friday and had a great day, though it could have been from my determination to have a good day.  Perhaps I should have left it hanging in my car though when I left her alone for five minutes >.<

I hope everyone else had a great day and weekend!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Anyone that knows me, knows that I absolutely love sushi :D

Just the mention of sushi will send me into a craving that cannot be satisfied until I'm sitting in front of a plate of sticky sweet rice with pieces of various seafood draped across it.

So, after I saw some so-so generic glass sushi beads (don't get me wrong, the picture showed absolutely adorable sushi beads that I instantly fell in love with...the customer reviews of broken beads and unrecognizable sushi just scared me away as quickly), I decided to give a try at making my own "sushi" beads.

Here is the result of my Sunday evening task...a pair of earrings with a piece of tamago (a sweet egg) and tuna nigri.  I made the mistake of using a pearl clay instead of standard the rice (individually handmade) turned translucent.  I don't mind, it gives it a bit of character and these are my first ones (and are staying in my possession) to wear with delight.

Stay tuned!  As soon as I master the white rice coloration that I want, I will be posting pieces on my Etsy shop.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Whimsical Butterflies

I am absolutely fascinated with butterflies.  They dart through the sky in hazardous fashion before landing on a plant for a rest.

I came across these eastern tiger swallowtails while walking to my bus yesterday afternoon.  Despite the overcast day, anytime I tried to approach close enough for a shot, they darted away.

This is my favorite action shot...I claim that the butterfly was just camera shy!

Finally, it settled down long enough for me to get a few good shots...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Walk through the Gardens

After having multiple horribly stressing jobs, I am lucky enough to be working next to a botanical garden.  When I feel the walls closing in around me, I just have to walk straight out of my office and within a hundred yards, I am moving along dirt pathways, surrounded by numerous species of flowers, trees and animals.  The other day, while relaxing on one of the multiple park benches, I watched a chipmunk to my left, a squirrel to my right and a rabbit in front of me, forage for food.  Another squirrel ran past with a mouthful of pine needles and leaves, building up his nest. 

Here are some pictures of my stroll...