December 30, 2010

snow (or not)

We were enjoying Christmas time quite nicely, and were about to celebrate my older son's birthday, when an unlucky couple of us fell victim to some miserable virus. Ugh! Since there were things I still wanted to do, even though they would be late, I feel like the holiday got cut short. And now we're going to abruptly transition into the New Year. Oh well, life happens. But now I am back in the studio, puttering around today, taking care of some business and playing on the computer. It has been trying to snow here; yesterday it was coming down beautifully but was just too warm and wet for any snow to stick. I wanted to make another treasury on Etsy, so I was inspired to choose a snow theme. I picked a variety of items I have discovered through the winter season, from the serious to the fun! Check it out!

Have a safe and happy New Year's! I wish everyone a great 2011.

December 25, 2010

the glow of the season

I hope your holiday season is filled with blessings. Ours has been good, but busy, and I still didn't get everything done or made that I planned. And I didn't think I was that ambitious this year! But for me, Christmas isn't going to be done and over just because December 25th has passed. Our tree is fake so we can enjoy it for as long as we want, I still plan to make candied almonds (they get coated with a crusty glaze of brown sugar with cinnamon and vanilla, yum!), and I have a few more gifts to finish up (including a few more jewelry pieces).

I think my favorite thing about Christmas decorations is the lights. They bring such a cheerful sparkle to the darker days and long evenings. I especially love the glow of the Christmas tree late in the evening. When the kids have gone to sleep and everything is quiet and calm, I love to just sit by the tree with no other lights on. It feels peaceful, and something else. It's not that the tree is so important, there's just this feeling I can't quite put into words. Perhaps it's a comfort, a reverence, a deep satisfaction in the true meaning of Christmas. It finds me there, in the glow of the lights in the darkness, maybe like the glow of the special star over the stable that night in Bethlehem. I don't like to turn off the lights, I want to linger there and soak it up. I want the feeling to last more than just a moment, I want to carry it with me always. Soon enough we'll be starting a new year and all the plans and busyness that go with it, but for now, I'm enjoying the glow of Christmas.

December 17, 2010

last-minute Christmas business

my snowflake design with Tourmalinated Quartz
This evening all four of us (my husband, boys, and I) got in the truck, put in a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD, and went light-seeing. We went to the nearby town of Keizer to drive through a neighborhood that has many houses with bright, cheerful Christmas lights. It's one of my favorite things to do this time of year, and it was a perfect night for it, clear and dry. I planned to come home and make hot chocolate and tea, but everyone was just too tired! (how did that happen?!) But before I head off to get some much-needed sleep, I wanted to cover a little last-minute Christmas business and share a few fun things.

Any purchases made over this weekend (Dec. 17-19 2010) will ship on Monday, which should allow enough time for them to arrive before Christmas (in the USA, at least the lower 48). So now's the time for any last-minute shopping! Of course I can't guarantee, since the postal service is very busy this time of year, and the weather doesn't always cooperate either. Note that no more custom items (like the heart charms) will be finished in time for Christmas delivery, any new orders for those will probably ship the first two weeks of January. But if you're thinking of ordering a custom heart charm for a Valentine's gift, don't wait too long! It will be here before we know it.

I currently have a couple snowflake necklaces in my Etsy shop, the perfect seasonal jewelry that can be worn well past Christmas. Hopefully I will soon be making some earrings with the same design, only a bit smaller size image. Watch for new items (including more horse jewelry pieces) in the coming weeks. Some are completed but awaiting photographs, others are in various stages of creation.

The photo above is one of my snowflake pendants strung with Tourmalinated Quartz. I love the rustic icy look of this stone, and it goes with everything (I've been wearing it almost every day). Sometimes this stone has so many Tourmaline needles it can look very dark. It's also a stone that is often cut and drilled very irregularly/poorly, and has a lot of reject beads in each strand. If I ever run across some strands I really like (somewhat like these), I will make some similar pieces for sale.

Lastly, a quiet evening seems the perfect time to share my Winter Solstice treasury on Etsy. It used to be that treasuries (groups of items from different shops that you like, usually organized by a theme) were limited and when you managed to snag a spot to create one, it still only lasted a few days (I made a horse theme one once). Etsy users can now create as many treasuries as they want, any time they want. I finally took advantage of that. They're so much fun, I will definitely be making more! Grab a mug of coffee (or hot chocolate or tea), and enjoy!

December 16, 2010

thankful for rain

I was born and raised in Oregon. And for most of my life I lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that Oregon does indeed get the occasional tornado. I thought they only happened in Tornado Alley, which is a safe distance away. Then one summer we had a freak storm that brought an ugly sky, torrential rain, and tornado warnings. Earlier I had given a ride home to our neighbor, and it just looked like a cloudy June day. Back at home we had the radio on, and the next thing I know I'm hearing the first tornado warning of my life, and I have a couple of freaked out kids who don't want to look out the window, but can't stop looking out the window. Later we learned that there had been a small tornado, but not near our part of the valley. And so my ignorance was cured on June 4 2009.

We live in Salem, in the middle of the Willamette Valley which runs north-south between the Cascade Range (home to many volcanoes) and the smaller Coast Range, with Portland at one end of the valley, and Eugene at the other. It is home to much agriculture, most notably grass seed, plant nurseries, berries and vegetables, Christmas trees, filberts (sadly, the only nut I don't like) and the lower hills along the valley are home to many vineyards. It also turns out to be Oregon's own little Tornado Alley. Although our tornadoes are few and small, I still find it a bit disturbing!

Late morning, December 14, I was working in my studio, and suddenly it was very dark. Like someone turned the lights out. Eventually the offending cloud dumped heavy rain and moved on. This had happened several previous days also, and I was thinking how tired I was of all the dark gray clouds and rain. I just wished it would snow, or the sun would come out, something. Anything but more gray rain! I don't think even an hour had passed before I heard about a tornado on the other side of the valley, and felt ashamed of my complaining.

As I later saw photos of the tornado damage, I felt so bad for all the people whose houses were damaged or destroyed, and just before Christmas, at that. The tornado is estimated to have been an EF2. It did quite a bit of damage in the small town of Aumsville. Ironically, I read that the plumbing store that was hard-hit was also seriously damaged in a previous tornado years ago. In a state with so few tornados, what are the odds of that? The day after thankfully wasn't terribly rainy. And today is clear so far, a break they desperately need for clean-up and rebuilding. But next time, I will try not to get so sour over gray rain. I may even be thankful, at least thankful that it isn't something worse!