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Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday!

Today is the last day of the holiday weekend sale at Mama's Magic Studio so get your orders in before midnight! I'm offering free worldwide shipping, free gift wrap for jewelry purchases (by request) and for orders over $50 you get to choose a free gift! The gift is your choice of one of the following: a free set of knitting stitch markers, a bookmark bauble, an 18" sterling chain, or an 18" neck wire.

Please see my shop announcements for more information. My sale ends at midnight tonight and listings have already been marked down to reflect free shipping.

Several other teams I'm on are also sponsoring sales this weekend, so if you'd like to do some shopping beyond my own little Etsy storefront, here are some great links to check out:

SFEtsy BAG sale (Bay Area Goodies)
Etsybloggers Holiday Sale
CCCOE Holiday Sale

Happy Monday, and happy shopping!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trimming the Tree

Apparently, I'm ready for the Christmas season to start in earnest. Much to S's surprise, on Thanksgiving day I requested Christmas music to be played all day long. He swears that in previous years I'd drawn a line in the sand and said No Holiday Music Until The Day After Thanksgiving! Funny but I don't recall insisting on such a moratorium.

As I said to him when he expressed his astonishment, "Well, it's good to keep you guessing a little bit, isn't it?"


Then yesterday I suggested that we put up the Christmas tree, which really threw S for a loop. It seems that he had been working under the assumption that we'd get a real tree this year and that this wouldn't happen for quite some time. Granted, he's well aware that I'm not all that fond of artificial trees. But I have to admit, they are so much easier with the kids and the cats. Don't have to worry about the water, the shedding needles, the possibility of triggering BJ's allergies....


Once the kids had overheard that we were considering putting up the tree, there was no going back. And Nana didn't seem to mind hanging out with us while we put up the tree; at one point while planning the holiday weekend, she'd invited me and the kids to go shopping with her. Instead, on the rainy day after Thanksgiving, we ended up spending a nice, cozy Friday at home, far from the crowds. (Which, incidentally, is exactly how I'd prefer to spend Black Friday. Especially when it allows me to keep a close eye on my Etsy shop, which has had a few sales! Did I mention that I'm running a sale this weekend? You can check out my shop announcement for details.) S braved the weather to get down into the cellar and drag up the decorations, and we went to work.

In my book, if you're going to get an artificial tree, why not embrace the fakey-fakey look? Imitation ice crystals and all. (Because we get so much snow and ice here in California. Dontchaknow.)
Plus, it's really easy for the kids to decorate! As we know, trimming the tree is serious work.
But there's also room for fun. (Actually, there were many more smiles than looks of intense concentration -- I just didn't get very many good pictures!)
Nana was kind enough to try for a family shot in the middle of everything. Unfortunately, every one we took has BJ showing the camera an ornament. Right In Front Of His Face.
In all honesty, I'm a little surprised myself at my eagerness to start up with the Christmas stuff so soon. I think much of it is the realization that this will be our last Christmas here in the house. Some of it is certainly the awareness that Christmas is less than a month away. (Where HAS the year gone???) I'm already working on several to-do lists for the holiday and worrying about getting everything done. But, remarkably (so far at least) I'm keeping the stress level pretty low. May that continue!


Back Online And Grateful

Funny how sometimes the universe lets you know when you've had enough: we ran into some technical difficulties after Thanksgiving, hence the lag in blog posts. (Turned out the computer fan just needed a good cleaning.) It actually felt nice to have a bit of a break for a little while, though I missed posting my Friday Feature. Look for the next interview with an Etsy artist on December 4th!

Thanksgiving Day was a really lovely day, I'm happy to say. Dinner turned out well, though I say it myself. I don't exactly enjoy all that cooking, but I do find it quite satisfying to pull together an elaborate dinner like that. And I certainly enjoy seeing folks enjoying the food that I made. It was a crowded house, but crowded with laughter and goodwill. Felt like the holidays for sure.

And all day long I was feeling grateful -- for family, for friends, for the roof over our heads and the food on our table. For changes coming soon. For the fun of seeing the cousins playing together. For having enough. (And now, for being back online!)

We did our Thanksgiving Bowl tradition, inviting folks to put in the bowl a drawing or symbol of something for which they are grateful. I made a drawing of our house and wrote "family, friends, home, health, and having enough." BJ, delighted, took my drawing to mean that he was "supposed" to make a hidden letter drawing, and he sketched out a picture of his bedroom with words "hidden in the curtains." He wrote: I am thankful for being alone in my room. BB did a pink scribble and declared, "I am thankful for videos!" Pretty clear the kids came up with their own ideas about gratitude this year....

Today I've been spending some time doing a little holiday shopping, and since I didn't get to do my usual Etsy plug this week I thought I'd mention a shop that I just discovered today (and that I hope to feature more in depth in the future!) ByzantiumLotus has simply GORGEOUS jewelry and metalwork! Very reasonably priced, too -- plus, there's a sale going on right now! Check it out today, before the sale ends!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Making Of The Napkins

Preparations for turkey day continued today, and because apparently I didn't have enough on my to-do list, I decided that this morning would be a good time for a craft project with the kids. For weeks now, ever since discovering my stash of fabric paint left over from last year's holiday crafting, BB has been asking about doing something with said fabric paint. We settled on the idea of decorating fabric napkins, but finding inexpensive plain white napkins for that project turned out to be more challenging than I'd anticipated.

And then our attention turned to other things, and I mostly forgot about it. In all honesty, I was sort of hoping she'd forget about it too; I've just not been in the mood to mess with the mess involved. But a few days ago, she brought it up again. "Can we paint napkins for Thanksgiving, Mommy?" And then she asked yet again this morning. OK, I decided. She's not going to let this one drop. Better to do it now than have to fit it in tomorrow morning!

I still didn't have napkins to use, but I remembered that I did have some white fabric leftover from making the bathroom curtain. White on white swirls, which wasn't what I'd initially had in mind, but better than nothing. Didn't have time to hem up a dozen napkins, so I brought out the pinking shears and went to work. Good thing I'd warned people we were doing a casual thanksgiving, eh? We'd officially reached the "Something Is Better Than Nothing" stage of planning. (Besides, I figured that if they turned out great I could always run up hems later!)

Both kids had also been talking about wanting to do apple printing (thanks to a book from the library checked out for the "apple week" at BJ's preschool) so I decided to take care of both at the same time. I got out the fabric paint, cut out some apple stamps by halving an apple horizontally, added in some corks to use for circle stamps, and let the kids go to town.


Between the brushes, the stamps, the fabric markers, and some hand prints, we ended up with some very interesting napkins. I made four and the kids each made four as well. Want to guess whose is whose?

Top left (blackish brown blob) is BJ's interpretation of a turkey. Top right is BJ's stamps. Bottom is BB's.All three of these are BB's. The girl loves doing handprints! The middle one is her drawing of Cinderella -- which was a point of some contention in that BJ made it clear that he did NOT want to use a Cinderella napkin. It was decided that this would be BB's special napkin and he wouldn't have to have anything to do with it.

After doing stamps and the turkey, BJ settled on another holiday themed image. Want to speculate about what this red blob is supposed to be?

Cranberry sauce atop a table, of course. I have to say, I'm interested to see the reaction of whomever ends up with that particular napkin tomorrow.

And for his fourth design, BJ settled on the old preschool standby image:

Yes, a rainbow. I find I can't get too worried about his antipathy towards princesses (which has, admittedly, come on rather suddenly) so long as he has such a fascination with painting rainbows. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I tell myself that his perception of the world can't have become too overly gendered if he's still loving rainbows.

And here are some of mine hanging up to dry because we ran out of places to lay things out...
All told, the project ended up being much more fun than I'd expected. It helped enormously that S was around to assist with herding the kids, making sure fabric paint didn't end up all over the carpet, and scrubbing up paint covered hands before they started grabbing anything and everything!

After all that anticipation, I was glad to see that BB was quite satisfied to have finally made the napkins. Sometimes the actuality isn't as cool as the imaginary, ya know. But after we'd spread out everything to dry and put away the paint, she went full-out into decoration mode, festooning the kitchen with shoelaces and beads from her lacing toys, all the while saying, "Look, Mommy! I'm decorating! Isn't it pretty?"

Good thing she wasn't attached to the idea of her decorations becoming permanent, since opening the cabinets involved removing and then replacing all her carefully assembled objects. We left them up for a while, which satisfied her. Plus it kept her busy while I was working in the kitchen, which was definitely a bonus, because I had a lot to do!

I'm so thankful to have such fun, creative children. Not to mention my wonderful partner who helps me keep the chaos at a manageable level even when he's under a lot of stress himself. I'll muse more on gratitude tomorrow, after we're done with the frenzy of cooking and feasing. For tonight suffice to say that I wish an early happy Thanksgiving to all you folks who will be observing the holiday tomorrow. May your day be full of fun and a bounty of blessings. I'm feeling like a very tired, blessed mommy myself tonight. And it's a good feeling! I hope you're feeling something similar, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Preparations

Pretty busy over here as we get things ready for Thanksgiving -- we'll be having a dozen people here at the house for turkey day this year. Granted, four of those people are age four and under, but even so (actually, even more so) it will be a full house. So life is full of checklists this week. Turkey? Check. Picked it up this morning. In fact, I've done all my shopping (I hope!) and tomorrow will be full of cleaning and some cooking.

I'm really trying to simplify things this year. (I purchased the pumpkin pie instead of making one from scratch! Gasp!) Not going as far as paper plates and plastic cups, but nearly.

Nana J arrives sometime tomorrow, and the kids are really looking forward to her visit. BB made her an art collage that she really wanted to put in the mail and have delivered. It took some convincing and explaining to bring her round to the idea that she could deliver it herself. In addition to Nana, on Thursday we'll have the pleasure of the company of S's brother and family as well as his Uncle J, Aunt S, and cousin K.

We'll have to set up a second buffet table in our living room (in fact, it's the table I purchased for the Renegade Craft Show this summer!) and there will barely be room to turn around twice in the house once everyone arrives. But it will be OK. Folks know we have a small place and when I made invitations I was clear about the emphasis: it will be a casual Thanksgiving. I'm doing my best not to stress out about it.

We'll see come Friday how successful I've been!

In other household happenings, I'm very happy to report that BJ had his follow-up appointment with the ENT doctor to check his ears. They are clear! No fluid build up worth noticing! God bless Flonase and Zyrtec. I really don't like having to have him on medications for months at a time, but it's obvious that they are doing the job. I have my suspicions that there's something in our 90+ year old house that is triggering the allergy symptoms. Which means, hopefully, that when we move out we'll leave the source behind! For now, though, there seems to be no need for tubes in his ears, which is excellent news. Another thing to be thankful for this year -- and here we are, already abundant with reasons for gratitude. Thank heavens for that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Puppet Shows

S and I both love puppets. I have fond memories of our dating days (more than 15 years ago now!) when we'd browse the local shops on Main Street in Newark, Delaware and end up at Grass Roots playing with the puppets in the toy section of the store. Good times.



So it's not really surprising that we have inflicted a ridiculous number of puppets on our children. I haven't actually counted them all, but there must be well over 30. And those are merely the plush hand puppets -- I'm not counting the various finger puppets we have. (Nor am I including the rather bizzare punching nun and punching rabbi puppets that S owns. I think he has some other punching puppets as well.... but they are not in the kids' stash.)




Up until this weekend, these toys were little more than stuffed animals who flopped a bit more than their normal counterparts (because their puppet forms caused them to be a bit lacking in the stuffing department). But on Sunday, the kids treated us to our first puppet shows. It was BJ's idea. Inspired, I'm sure, by the puppeteer at this year's holiday party for his preschool, he decided that our living room hutch would make a perfect stage. The first show could have been titled New Friends, as the plot (such as it was) was little more than putting one puppet on one hand, a different one on the other, and popping them up for us see. The dialogue consisted of variations on the statement: "Hi! I'm a lizard! The seal is my new friend!"



Given the technical difficulties that he was having in getting the puppets on his hands, by himself -- much less one on each hand! -- I was suitably impressed. Naturally, when he had finished, BB decided it was her turn to put on a show for us. Hers was very quick and might as well have been a sequel to her brother's. New Friends: The Return.

When BB had finished, BJ was ready for another turn behind the stage. By this time, I'd managed to get the camera. Here's BB in the audience, along with a bunch of stuffed animals and various puppet friends who have been given roles as audience members.




For his second show, BJ was much more ambitious. Working largely outside the limitations of the puppet genre, by including a stuffed turtle and various cut out wooden fish from one of our puzzles, he narrated a countdown story in which ten fish are supposed follow their teacher, a turtle.
Various mishaps occur, one by one, until no fish remain. Here is one unfortunate fish being consumed by a hermit crab puppet.


Clearly BJ has been influenced by the happy endings of most of the children's books we read: after being eaten, each fish was burped/sneezed/coughed back into existence. This involved a careful accounting on BJ's part in order to keep straight where he was in the countdown sequence (a process that wasn't always accurate) but by the end of the show, all ten fish were back with teacher turtle again. (This was a source of great relief to BB especially.)


The entire show probably took more than 10 minutes -- felt much longer, mostly because I was also wrangling BB and dealing with her impatience. Most of the video clips I got were much too big to upload, but here's a brief clip about halfway through. "Five fish! What could happen to one of them?" Well, here's what happened:


video
When it was BB's turn again, she kept things traditional, popping up various pairs of puppets for our viewing pleasure. Sometimes she'd tell us where they lived or what they were. ("Hi! I'm a pig! I live in a barn!") The other friend is a pelican puppet that she has cast in the role of a seagull. Because why not?

Here's a clip from her show:



video



All told, it was enormously gratifying to see the two of them having such fun. And the entertainment factor for us in the audience was pretty high, too! I just wish I'd gotten out the camera sooner. (But then again, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the moment and not worry about recording it -- especially since they were so into their play that I got a replay and was able to catch footage then. Best of both worlds I suppose.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ham

Today's mondegreen of the day -- while listening to John Denver's "Annie's Song" (yes, we do listen to John Denver around here)

"You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again"

BJ came over to me and asked, "Mom, what's the name of this song?"

"You Fill Up My Senses," I replied (getting it a little wrong myself -- I noticed when re-checking things to post this).

"With ham?" he asked.

Well, you know what they say about the way to the heart being through the stomach: Come fill me with ham.....

Friday Feature -- The Fab Miss B

This week's featured Etsy artist is the fabulous Becky, who has two lovely shops: The Fab Miss B for for Vintage and One of a Kind Finds and BeckyKazana for her original Chenille Pipette Dolls and artwork. She's also the featured Etsyblogger of the month for November. Congrats, Becky!

I just love the wide variety of stuff you'll find in these two shops. Isn't this card too sweet?

And Monique would be darling atop a tree! When he saw her, my son asked, "Is that an angel?"

And I couldn't resist sharing this pic of Becky herself, modeling a beautiful vintage apron!
Enjoy the interview!



1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

My Pipettes are my favorite thing to make! They were inspired by vintage ornaments I've collected for ages. They are made with humble chenille pipe cleaners, but I add lots of luxe embellishments like silk ribbons, antique lace, mother of pearl buttons, feathers, sequins and vintage costume jewelery. Their heads are all carefully hand painted too.



2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

I'm a proud member of The Etsy Bloggers Team, Crafting in Color and Sellers Assisting Sellers. (The last is a great resource for sellers new or old!)



3. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I discovered Etsy through some of my favorite bloggers over three years ago. It was love at first sight!



4. What inspires your creations?

I find inspiration everywhere- through travel, old movies, and fashion magazines. And of course, I love prowling Blogs & Etsy to see what other talented artists and designers are up to!



5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

I think getting good photos is an ongoing challenge! I've had breakthroughs, but there is always more to learn. I'm also doing a lot of research on SEO lately, and I'm quite sure that will be helpful.



6. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite? (Please provide a link)

I'm madly in love with Daschshunds- someday I'd love to have a pair of them. But for now Daisy is as close as I can get!

7. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

The community on Etsy is your greatest resource! There are lots of talented and experienced artists and many of them are happy to share advice. And Etsy admin is constantly filling the Storque with tips and tricks. Sign up for the Seller Success e-mail if you haven't already. You'll definitely learn something new to improve your shop.



8. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

My husband and I love to travel and are lucky to have lived all over the world- Kenya, Uganda, China, Chicago, Las Vegas, and now we're trying out life on an island- The Big Island of Hawaii!

We adopted our funny last name- Kazana- while traveling in Africa just after getting married. It's a Swahili word that means "To make a home" and it reminds us that our home is where the other is.



9. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I blog about the inspiration I find around me every day on The Fab Miss B and you'll find links to all my other internet portals in the sidebar right there! Swing by and say hello! I love to hear from you.



10. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your shop or your work?

The only thing I like better than making art is discovering that other people enjoy it! I do hope you'll swing by and say hello!




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two Days, Two Features! And Stuff On Sale!

I'm delighted to share that Mama's Magic Studio has been featured twice this week! I didn't plan it that way -- the connections I'd made in the blogosphere just lined up to make such a happy coincidence.

So I'm sending out a big thank you to Megan of studiomme for this fun interview at her blog and another thanks to Steph for this article at the OCWeekly blog. Yay!

In other Studio news, I wanted to give y'all a sneak peek at some great shops that will be having a sale, including Mama's Magic Studio! The local Etsy street team, SFEtsy, will be running a sale from Wednesday 11/25 through Monday 11/30. It's the BAG sale -- that's Bay Area Goodies -- and during that time you can get some great deals. I'll be offering free shipping, free gift wrap on all jewelry (by request), and in addition to that all orders over $50 will get their choice of a free gift! (Free gift choices are one of these three options: 1. a set of handcrafted knitting stitch markers, 2. an 18" sterling silver chain, or 3. an 18" neck wire.)

For a list of participating shops and other info, you can check out this blog post at the team blog. Yes, I'm posting on the team blog now -- so local folks, if you have news to share that would be of interest to the SFEtsy team, let me know!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Riddle Soup

Last week, BJ came home from preschool with a very specific request: he wanted to make "Riddle Soup." He even presented me with a drawing and a recipe which he'd created that day at school (art time is definitely his favorite time at school these days).
Translated by BJ as 1 cup of butter, 1 carrot (cut into coins), 1 sweet onion (cut into rings), and 1 piece of celery (cut into crescents). He said he wanted me to "sizzle" the onion in the butter. And while he didn't write it down, he was clear that you were supposed to tell riddles while you made it. Wouldn't be Riddle Soup otherwise.

Here's the picture that went along with it:

Counterclockwise from top: carrot (duh), butter (yellow blob in the lower left) onion (with stem), and celery.

At first, I didn't really take his request all that seriously, though I was appropriately impressed that he'd been so creative to come up with the idea and so detailed in its execution. But every day after bringing it home, he'd ask, "Mommy, can we make Riddle Soup today?"

So after days of this, I sat him down and explained that while I'd be happy to make soup with him, his recipe wouldn't exactly make soup. More like vegetables in a massive amount of butter sauce. After some discussion of what it takes to make soup, we sat down together and re-wrote the recipe:

BJ's Riddle Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of butter
1 carrot cut into coins
1 sweet onion cut into rings
1 celery stalk cut into crescents
1 cup of peas (we used frozen)
1 potato cut into cubes

He also decided he wanted to include a parsnip cut into coins. But we didn't have any parsnips on hand. He's never even tried parsnips before. So we decided to include that as an "optional" ingredient while writing down the recipe and add it next time we made the soup.

Final ingredient: RIDDLES! Tell them while you make the soup.

Directions: Cook onion and celery in melted butter until "sizzling." (I sauteed until transluscent.) Add broth until soupy. (I used a container of organic chicken broth from Trader Joe's.) Add other vegetables and cook until done.
We had a lot of fun making it and coming up with silly riddles, all of which had to do with the ingredients. "What's orange and is something rabbits like to eat?" CARROTS! "What's stringy and green?" CELERY! "What makes circles and makes you cry?" ONIONS!

It turned out pretty yummy, actually. A very basic vegetable soup (though not vegetarian, obviously). It induced BJ to try potatoes for the first time, which he initially declared to be yummy only to reject them for the next serving. (Always a process.) The only real "ick" factor for me was the fact that, as with almost every other kind of food, he preferred it cold. No matter how many times I remind myself of gazpacho, I still shudder a little bit at the idea of cold cooked vegetable soup. But he's eating it straight from the fridge for lunch as I write this and loving it! (After all, this is the same kid that likes cold oatmeal. He asks me to put an ice cube in it after I make it for him. Sometimes two ice cubes.)

He also just informed me (as he noticed I was writing this up) that he got the idea for Riddle Soup from a book. And sure enough, it's right there on the list of books I checked out for preschool (Library Mom is my job for the parent participation requirement): Riddle Soup, a Mr. Poggle and Scamp book by Valiska Gregory. The teacher had asked for books about soup as part of their autumnal themes. I absolutely love it that my kid is so inspired by what he reads!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moment by Moment

"The years are short, but the days are long." There's a reason for such cliches. More and more, I recognize their truth. Today at the park, a woman asked me how old BB was. "She'll be three in January," I replied, all the while thinking, Really? Three years? Where has all that time gone?

Living that reality is a large part of being a parent, I think. And yet here I am, watching the clock and hurrying through nap time and counting the hours until S gets home from work. All the while recognizing that like most days the next three hours will likely feel twice as long. Especially those last 15 minutes before he's due home. The kids have been missing him quite a bit lately, because he's had to work more than usual, so if we're just hanging around the house I often get a barrage of "Is Daddy home yet? Is he? When will he be home?"

If I'm smart, after nap time I'll head out to a park or something. We've already been to the library and to the park behind the library this morning. But we're big fans of the park, and two trips in one day wouldn't be unheard of.

One of the things I like best about having my parents around is that I'm better able to appreciate life moment by moment. When it's just me and the kids, life seems to get in the way of that. I have my good days -- sometimes really good days -- but I also spend too much time being too harried, too tired, too rushed trying to get things done. I love that my parents are so low-key about their visits. Whatever we're doing, they're along for the ride. So we end up doing many of the same things we usually do -- trips to the library, visits to the park, various errands -- but instead of feeling outnumbered by the short folks I'm able to ease up a bit and enjoy everything that much more.

I'm sure it helps things that my dad is so good at capturing those moments as they happen on his camera. Here's a collection of moments from their visit.

At the park....

Visiting the bakery...
In the backyard...


At the park again (a different park)....


Making cake with Giki....
Hanging out with a katydid found on the porch....


Making playdoh with Pop-pop and Giki while S and I went on a date (an actual date!)
Today I'm vowing anew to appreciate these moments as they happen, because we received the very welcome news that we will be moving in the near future. As part of the benefit of S's secondary position at the college, we are eligible for on-campus housing. Finally, after we've been on a waiting list for years, a three bedroom and two bath apartment will be opening up. We got the news last night that we've been approved to move in. I love our little bungalow, but after years of two adults, two kids, and two cats in our two bedroom one bath home, we're ready for a change. It will probably be January before the move happens, but now I'm finding myself acutely aware that this will be our last Thanksgiving in this house, our last Christmas. It's easy to notice with the big days like that; I'm trying to notice it with the little moments, too.

Friday Feature -- Kendra Renee Jewelry Design

This week's featured Etsy artist at Mama's Magic Studio is fellow SFEtsy team member Kendra Renee Jewelry Design. It's really hard for me to choose a favorite from her shop -- her designs are simply stunning! I love the elegant simplicity of her work. If I was still wearing earrings on a regular basis, I'd be very tempted by these Nirvana Earrings:


Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I am a jewelry designer and I work mostly in sterling silver. Each of the pieces in my shop is completely handmade. This means every shape and component is made by me, right down to the earring hooks! Needless to say, I put a lot of love into each design. I begin with flat sheets of silver and silver wire, and then form, forge, cut, solder and polish to create the finished work.

I began silversmithing about two years ago through an apprenticeship with a jewelry artist in Boston. I absolutely fell in love with the medium, and now I am fortunate enough to own my own jewelry design business and can do what I love every day.

2. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I started with Etsy once I had made a few things here and there. It took me a long time to develop my shop to where it is today, and I am finally taking advantage of the huge number of resources Etsy has to offer.



3. What inspires your creations?

I am always thinking about jewelry. My brain seems to subconsciously generate designs; sometimes I literally wake up in the middle of the night and jot down a quick sketch. I translate the things I see around me into jewelry, and I am inspired equally by natural phenomena and mechanical aesthetics.



4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Right now, my biggest challenge is getting the word out. I have taken the plunge and decided to develop my business full time, thus I am trying to get as many people to see my work as possible.



5. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?

These Pearl Droplets are definitely my favorite earrings.

I have a pair in my jewelry box and it's very hard not to wear them every day. Sometimes I think my other jewelry gets jealous.



6. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?



Even after a year and a half as an Etsy seller, I still feel like a newbie. I am learning new things about Etsy every day. The best advice I have received is that you get out what you put in. I am trying to list new items, keep my shop fresh and have a presence in the community.



7. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.


I am a brand new resident of San Francisco and I love my new home!

I love 80's music --so cheesy but so good. I am always in the mood to dance!



8. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?


You can visit my website at www.KendraReneeJewelry.com

Follow me on twitter at www.Twitter.com/KendraReneeJD

Become a fan on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kendra-Renee-Jewelry-Design/89092182689?ref=ts



9. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I strive to make works of the highest quality that enhance the personality of the wearer. I am kind of a shy person, and so for me, wearing my own bold creations is the way I express my inner strength and creativity to the world. I hope that people can see and feel this in my designs.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Butterflies and Ardenwood Farm Park

One of my favorite outings while my parents were here was our trip to Ardenwood farm. Ever since our first trip there, I'd been wanting to take my folks to see it. I thought my dad, especially, would enjoy it. If the number of pictures he took is any indication, I think I was right!

As it was last time, the manual water pump was very popular.

BB, as usual, enjoyed collecting little bits of nature. Or big sticks, as the case may be.

The kids had a great time preparing food for the animals and then feeding them. Who knew grinding corn by hand could be so entertaining?
The sheep loved it!
The chickens took a little more coaxing...
For me, the highlight of the trip was the train ride into the eucalyptus grove where monarch butterflies make a stop during their winter migration. Unfortunately, BB had decided she wanted nothing to do with the train, so S stayed with her while we went.
All at once, we looked up....

And there they were! Lots and lots of lovely butterflies, fluttering around.

Thanks to Dad for all these great pictures! I really think BB would have liked it, if she could have convinced herself to endure the train ride. She certainly has liked seeing the pics. I hope that one of these days she decides that trains aren't evil after all.

As it was, the monarch viewing made for a nice setup for our own little household nature show. A week ago, we discovered that our passion vine has been inhabited by quite a few caterpillars!

The vine is right outside our dining room window and has even grown over to the side door of the house. Now I don't feel so badly about letting it grow wild, since it's given us a perfect view of the action. I tried to get some pictures, though that was challenging. I really needed a tripod and a clean window to do it justice. But here we are at the screen door:
As best I can tell, they are gulf fritillary caterpillars. I'd seen the butterflies around the vine quite a few times. Now it seems they were laying eggs!

We noticed that one of the caterpillars had begun to form a chrysalis right outside the dining room window. It's the spiky dark shape hanging upside down, right in the middle of the shot, above the dead leaves.
Now, a week, later, that chrysalis has changed significantly and looks like a real cocoon. We check it daily (and often several times a day). I hope we'll be around when the butterfly emerges!