October 7, 2015

the storms of life

Just wanted to quickly share this photo (taken during monsoon season from my driveway, edited in PicTapGo and PSE for fun), and some thoughts on the storms of life, which we all experience in one form or another:

Life may have it's storms, but the sun will always shine again! And those storms? They are beautiful times in their own way, when faith is tested, courage is practiced, strength is built, and the seeds of gratitude and joy are sown.

September 14, 2015

new jewelry shop name

You may notice I have changed one of my Etsy shop names from JKistlerStudios to GraniteMountainGems2. I have decided to sell both lines of jewelry (my minimalist gemstone jewelry and my original nature designs in silver) under the name Granite Mountain Gems from now on. I was looking for a change and I have felt very at home with that name for my minimalist jewelry shop, so I took the leap. Etsy says that old links will continue to work, so don't hesitate to click on those bookmarked or pinned pieces. Or you can go straight to that shop under it's new name. Admittedly I haven't added many new pieces to that shop recently, but I will be getting back to working on the silver jewelry. Several popular designs I want to restock, and of course there are always new ideas to try!

Speaking of Granite Mountain, here are my favorite photos I have managed to get of it this year (taken with my iPhone 5c). I especially love the sunbeams shining from behind the cloud over the mountain, talk about being in the right place at the right time as I drove through the neighborhood! (yes, I stopped safely to take the picture!) That one felt like a special gift.

Granite Mountain at sunset, seen from Willow Lake July 22

Granite Mountain at sunset, seen from Watson Lake July 14

Granite Mountain in evening, seen from my neighborhood August 15

July 29, 2015

arizona turquoise is in the shop!

Kingman Turquoise earrings
Earlier this year, I made a trip back to Kingman to buy more Turquoise beads. I have been busy making many pieces with it, and I am excited to share them with you! I'm partway through photographing and listing the completed pieces in my Etsy shop. Thanks to a good reception to the early small batch of Turquoise jewelry, my shop was almost out of it. A lot more Kingman Turquoise jewelry is still coming, including some in smaller smooth chips that have lots of blue color, more of the unique New Boulder variety, and pieces made with some large chips in the intensely-hued High Blue variety (which will be very different). This Turquoise is stabilized as most Turquoise is, but the colors are always natural, never dyed. I love that I can go select and buy these beads in person, directly from the company that mines and processes it from the Kingman deposit at Mineral Park Mine. Kingman Turquoise is known to be some of the best and most beautiful in North America. I can see why; once I discovered it, I became very enthusiastic about creating jewelry with Turquoise. Now I sort of feel like a real southwesterner, making jewelry with local Arizona Turquoise!

I have also been making and listing a few more pieces with the rare and beautiful Larimar, and a few other assorted stones. I seem to have a blue theme going in my shop.

Here are some examples of what I have recently listed. Be sure to see my whole shop for everything that is currently available, and check back for more over the next few weeks!

Kingman Turquoise earrings (New Boulder, as is top photo)
Kingman Turquoise earrings (New Boulder)
Kingman Turquoise necklace
Kingman Turquoise necklace (High Blue)
Kingman Turquoise necklace (New Boulder)

July 10, 2015

summer road trip

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry
Last week I went on a 3-day summer road trip with my parents and my boys, to enjoy more of God's creation in our state. It was mostly hot, so we didn't do a huge amount of walking around, but it felt great to get away from daily life and have an adventure together. Definitely worth it to see some beautiful new scenery! We drove up through Flagstaff, along the edge of the Navajo Reservation, by the Vermilion Cliffs, to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and then came back the same way. Before leaving, I broke out my big DSLR camera and finally cleaned the spots and lint off the sensor, and was glad I brought it along! It does a much better job with distant scenery than my phone (I happily took hundreds of photos on my phone while in the car, but all the photos here were taken with my Canon 40D).

My kids and I hadn't been to Flagstaff yet, so it was all new to us from there on. (oh, the wonderful scent of the pine trees as we climbed in elevation and neared Flagstaff!) We got a much closer look at the San Francisco Peaks, which we can see in the far distance from our back yard at home in Prescott. Then we went through the edge of the Painted Desert, which had some interesting rock layers, but seemed quite desolate. Eventually we started noticing an attractive red rock ridge running parallel to the highway, which turned into the Echo Cliffs as we went north. Very scenic. But they were to be outdone by the stunning Vermilion Cliffs, which we drove next to for many miles after crossing the Colorado River. Eventually we climbed into the pine trees again and spent the first night at Jacob Lake.

The next morning we drove to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We had been told that the north rim has more vibrant color because some of the ridges are fairly close (some are side branch canyons), compared to when visiting the south rim. So we were a bit disappointed to discover that right then the air was so hazy (either from humidity of monsoon season, or smoke of California fires) it looked about the same as when we visited the south rim last year. That is, until we drove out to Point Imperial before leaving the park. At almost 9000 feet, Point Imperial is the highest spot along the Grand Canyon rim. This allows for an incredible view looking down over the beginning of the Grand Canyon! Suddenly each of us had that "wow moment" we had been waiting for. Definitely a not-to-be-missed spot while visiting the north rim. My photos don't do the experience justice at all.

On our way back, I loved seeing the Vermilion Cliffs again, in different light and from a different direction. I feel a little guilty saying this, but some of us may have liked the Vermilion Cliffs better than the Grand Canyon. We spent the second night at Marble Canyon at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. That evening we took a short drive down to Lee's Ferry at the Colorado River, on a road surrounded on all sides by the fascinating red rocks that are the eastern end of the Vermilion Cliffs. We also experienced a powerful lightning storm there that evening (complete with a torrential downpour). The next morning before heading home, we drove down there again, that time without a storm looming.

In addition to the vast and beautiful scenery, we saw different types of lizards, different types of flowers, buffalo, a beach, a tiny fire started by lightning, and people leaving on a raft trip toward the Grand Canyon.

Here are just a few of the photos I took! Remember while reading my blog, you can click a photo to view it larger.

Echo Cliffs (or maybe here they are the Echo Peaks)

approaching Vermilion Cliffs (you'd never know the Colorado River is there!)

buffalo in meadow on road to Grand Canyon north rim

Grand Canyon, north rim (from Bright Angel Trail)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking south-southwest)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking south)

view from Point Imperial, Grand Canyon (looking southeast)

Looking across to the Vermilion Cliffs from a viewpoint along highway

Vermilion Cliffs

storm forming over the Echo Cliffs while we were at Marble Canyon

east end of Vermilion Cliffs (my younger son checking out a rock)

east end of Vermilion Cliffs (along the road down to Lee's Ferry)

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry (yes, that's a beach! we were surprised!)

Colorado River near Lee's Ferry

April 30, 2015

so thankful today

blossoms, earlier this spring
It's been a while since I wrote a post here. My family is going through some big changes and stresses due to divorce (which is still in progress). I finally got things set up the way I want on one of my kids' computers and wanted to get back into posting!

Today I was inspired by another blogger to jump back into posting starting with a Thankful post. I really have a lot to be thankful for, I'm sure this list is far from complete.

What I'm thankful for right now:

- God
- My boys
- Family
- Beautiful nature all around me
- My boys' school
- Being able to continue living in the same home
- A vehicle I like to drive (it may be nearly 10 years old, but I still love it!)
- Plenty of cheerful sunshine
- Food in the house
- Caring people, helpful people (even if it's their job, I've been blessed by so many people lately who make things a better experience than they could be! Thank You to everyone who does their job cheerfully and with an attitude that makes people feel taken care of.)
- Good music
- Quail visiting my backyard 
- Being able to watch shows on the DVR when I eat lunch by myself
- Utilities, clean water (sometimes it's the basic things; I'm trying not to take them for granted)
- Cashew Clusters from Costco (sometimes it's the little things)
- The opportunity to work from home (planning to work harder at that in the future!)
- Internet to connect to the world
- Books
- Being able to take photos
- My bed when I need rest at night
- Quiet, peaceful moments
- Loving where I live

More things I've been thankful for lately:

impromptu Bible Study at the lake on the way home from school, courtesy of my older son

Willow Lake is just a few minutes from our house

Willow Lake, the highest we've seen the water (no old water lines showing!)

at sunset, looking east across the grasslands on the way to Chino Valley

a vibrant sunset seen from our house