Creating an 85th Birthday Gift

My husband’s grandmother has made an afghan for each of her twenty-nine {29!} great grandchildren. She asked each set of parents what colors they wanted for their little one’s blanket. Then she would select a pattern and present the afghan after the baby was born.

Not long after my daughter was born, I got kind of curious as to what all the other blankets looked like. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to get a picture of each great grandchild with their blanket?? It’d be so fun to put them all together into a print.

It is grandma’s 85th birthday this year. I mentioned my idea to my mother-in-law about six months ago, and she loved the idea of a print. Then I thought putting all of the pictures into a photo book that she could carry around would be really special too.

But there was one teeny, tiny little hitch to my grand plan. These 29 grandchildren come from 12 different families all over the country. The project was in the back of my mind, but time completely got away from me. Less than two weeks before I needed all the pictures to put this project together, I managed to send out an email with my brilliant idea.

In spite of the very short time frame, everyone did a beautiful job with their kids and afghans. She received the finished products on Sunday and I hear she was “over the moon”! I only wish I’d been there to see her face.

All 29 Great Grands

And here’s my three with their blankets.

My ThreeWhat a fun project to pull together and see come from a fleeting thought I’d had one morning.

Happy 85th Birthday, Great Grandma Gwen!


Favorite Books of 2012: Fiction

Toward the end of 2012, I figured out I’d read something like 25 books in 2012.  I know for many that’s not much, but for me, I was pretty surprised.  The big thing for me in 2012 was the re-discovery of books on CD from my local library.  I ended up doing a lot of “reading” in the car.

I thought I’d share some of my favorites in three different categories.  I’ll start with Fiction.  I think it will make sense to break these into three posts ~ with a potential fourth for the books I’m looking forward to in 2013.

I've Got Your Number

Sophie Kinsella has consistently been a favorite of mine. I have really enjoyed the majority of her books, and one thing I like about her is her heroines are smart and her books always have a clever twist. I’ve Got Your Number was no exception.  In a rather unbelievable series of events, a young woman ends up with a cell phone that does not belong to her and manages to maintain hold of it for a few weeks.  You go along with the unlikely premise just to see how it’ll turn out.  Ms. Kinsella does not disappoint.


Starters by Lissa Price was conceived of during the Swine Flu outbreak a few years ago.  Ms. Price explored the idea of a world where the most at-risk receive immunization against a deadly outbreak.  The “healthy” are killed and the youngest and oldest of society survive.  Add the science fiction twist of the super-elderly being able to inhabit and rent the bodies of the young in order to recapture their youth for a short period of time and you have the makings of a very interesting story.  I was captured by both the idea and the execution.  Looking forward to the sequel for this one.

UltravioletUltraviolet by R. J. Anderson starts out with a young woman who awakens in an insane asylum and slowly regains her memory of how she ended up there.  She also has a very strange perspective of the world that makes you understand why she thinks she belongs there.  Not a perfect story, but I really empathized with her character and believed in her pain and confusion.

I also really enjoyed Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth (but couldn’t get into Insurgent), Legend by Marie Lu, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (but also couldn’t get into the sequel Pandemonium).

It may be terrible for me to say that some series I would almost rather see as a stand-alone.  I guess you can’t take a “utopian” society, turn it on it’s ear, and just leave it there.  But I think it takes some artful writing to successfully see that journey to completion.  Divergent and Delirium may end up getting there, but so far I’m not as gripped by the second books as I was by the first.

Stay tuned for my favorites in Non-Fiction, Jewelry, and the books I’m excited about so far this year.



2013: Looking Forward

Like so many others, I look at every new year as a chance to start anew – begin a new project, tackle a nagging bad habit, start a new dream.  In the past several days, I’ve thought a lot about what I want to do for the new year.  I’m not going to address my entire list here, but I thought I’d highlight a few.

I’m on my fifth year of doing a daily photo project, or Project 365.  Hard to tell by looking at the blog since my last post was somewhere mid-year three.  A new baby girl allowed me the opportunity to redirect some of my energy for a while.

This year, I’m not going to do a daily photo project, or more accurately, I’m not going to blog a Project 365. I’ll be taking my project off-line.  One of my goals for this year is to document my daily and family life in a Project Life journal.

You can read all about Becky Higgins’ Project Life product on her website.  I have all the supplies for the Clementine theme, and I’m pretty excited about it.

I will be doing an online Project 52, where I will be posting a weekly photo.  Instead of just taking a photo for the day, I want to plan out my image and really think about how to best photograph my subject.  My hope is to improve my photography.

Since I did not post a single image from my Project 365 for 2012, I am considering posting those daily images this year instead.  I just read about this idea today, so I haven’t quite fleshed out how it might work for me, but I like the idea of catching up on what I didn’t manage last year.

So there’s three things rattlings around in my head.  I think that’s a good place to start for 2013.

I’ll end with a quote I read this morning that really spoke to me on many different levels.  I think it is a good thought for my year and the projects and challenges ahead.

What are your goals, dreams and aspirations for 2013?

30 Days of Thankfulness

On November 1st, I started seeing my friends on Facebook talk about doing a Thankfulness Project.  The idea is to post a status update every day for the month of November detailing something you are thankful for.

My life has been pretty stressful for the last couple months, so the idea of this sort of project really appealed to me.  I liked the idea of refocusing myself to the important things of life and maybe even forgetting for a moment the things that are overwhelming me.

Since I love photography, I wanted to add my own unique spin and make it a photo project instead of a daily status update.

I thought I would post here the results of my little project.  You can click on any of the images to see them a little larger.  You still might not be able to read the text, but be assured that it was a Thankful month. :)

Days 1 through 9Days 28 through 30

Jewelry Thief

Baby girl is 13 months old (okay, 13 1/2) and she loves my jewelry – specifically my bracelets.  I mean, what’s not to love?  They are obviously amazing. ;)

But I think she also loves to snag any bracelet I’m wearing because it’s just her size, she can haul it around the house, and most importantly… she can chew on it.

I was sitting on the couch the other night with the boys listening to my hubby read The Hobbit.  Baby girl had allowed me to wear my bracelet all day, but for some reason she was suddenly very interested in it.

This bracelet is one of my very favorite pieces.  It’s like this one, but in slightly different colors…

Woven Crystal Bracelet

One of the things I love about it is the magnetic clasp that blends in with the woven crystals.  Unfortunately, with a little one, it’s all too easy to just pop off the wrist.

It was honestly so very adorable how much fun she was having with it.

jewelry thief

Until she came up to me a few minutes later going, mwa-pft-mmm.  And then I had to fish it out of her mouth.

I’m kinda surprised she got the whole thing in there.

Resistance is Futile

I often find myself doing a lot of thinking about goals… what am I trying to accomplish? what do I want to spend my time on? what am I learning? how am I growing? what is my “big picture”? how am I getting there?

Towards the end of 2011, I decided I needed to narrow my creative focus.  With three little ones – one of them six-months-old and not the biggest fan of going to bed at night – I realized that by trying to focus on jewelry creation, photography, and web design, I was not even coming close to accomplishing any of them well.

I decided I would give up jewelry creation for 2012.  I wouldn’t buy new supplies (unless I found some irresistible deal), wouldn’t take any classes, wouldn’t design any new pieces, wouldn’t attempt selling, and wouldn’t even make any gifts.  Once I made the decision, I felt like a weight was lifted off me.  It was the right thing to give myself permission *not* to do.

Instead, I would make the conscious decision to focus primarily on improving my photography skills and secondarily on web design.  I knew that trying to create jewelry with a little one would be a fight for both of us, but photography was something I could work on while being with her.

I was doing a fairly decent job of it for the first five months of the year.  I’ve switched to only shooting in manual.  I’m improving, but I’ve hit a kind of wall.  Something is not “clicking” (so to speak), but that’s a post for another time.  My frustration has made me pick up the camera less and less in the last several weeks.

Then yesterday two things happened so close together that I’m not sure which one came first.

I received Lori Anderson’s email about early signup for the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party, and my first thought was, “that’s nice”.  And then I started thinking, “what if I did…?”

At nearly the same time, a message popped up from Facebook from my friend and kind of jewelry creation mentor, Melissa Cable.  I have lots of gushing to do about Melissa, but not right now.

Melissa is working on publishing her second book, which is going to contain her metal garden series.  She was messaging my sister-in-law and me about needing some help cutting flowers for the cover art.  I didn’t even hesitate with my enthusiastic, “Yes!!”

Those two things have told me that, no, I am not giving up jewelry creation for this year.  And I’m okay with that.  Back in November, I needed to give myself permission to give something up, and now, I’m okay with giving myself permission to shift my focus around a bit.  Opportunities arise, and as I am constantly telling myself, nothing is permanent.

Sunday Brunch: Week 17

Here is my highlight of five posts in the blogging world I found interesting in the last week (or so). If you’re like me, you have limited time, and can’t always stay up-to-date on everyone’s blog. These were some of my favorites.

This is another one of those weeks where I haven’t even made it through my reader all the way, so let’s see if I can make it to five favorites.

1. Digital Photography School
Photographing Children: Capture Who They Are

Another one I missed from last week, but this was so good, that I had to post it this week. I loved the line in there where she talks about knowing your photo is “the one”.

2. Justatish Designs
Come Make a Ring with Me – Tutorial

This is a really simple tutorial on how to make your own custom ring. I’m not a huge fan of rings, but I might try one or two of these out.

3. Digital Photography School
Using Auto to Learn Manual – A Great First Step for Beginners

It’s a really simple idea, but an effective one for learning how to be comfortable in manual on your camera.

4. Welcome to Meredith’s World
Four Ideas to Expand Your Work

The ideas are straight-forward, but yet good to read. I like them all, but #2 has stuck with me. It’s always good to take a break to clear your mind.

5. Blog for Beaders
Swarovski Summer Color Trends

I really enjoyed the Spring release, and the Summer one is pretty cool too. I really want to make something with yellow in it. And I love the turquoise trend!

Hope you enjoyed this short jaunt around the web. Have a lovely rest of your day!