Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Holidays Are Coming ...

The Holidays are Coming!
As you probably already know the holidays are coming; Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. I know I usually put out a holiday line but really I couldn’t think of anything new. I still have some stock from the previous two years so check out the Showcase and see what’s there. I am working on one design for this year but I am still trying to perfect it.

But I had an idea the other night. I love wrapping presents! When I was growing up stores used to offer gift wrapping services, sometimes for free. You rarely see that nowadays, but I had the thought that since I love wrapping presents I can offer gift wrapping services for orders around the holiday.
The wrapping service will include; a gift box, wrapping, bow and ribbon and a gift tag. So you can place you order with me and relax knowing that the details will be taken care of. Your order(s) will be sent to the recipient (or yourself) in time for the big day. Of course your order must be placed within reasonable time to allow your present to be sent through the mail. December 15th for UK orders and December 1st for the US (I have not had good experiences with shipping things to the US during the holiday season therefore I like to leave a month to be sure the items will be received – I have had things take a month to get to their recipient).

As for pricing, £3.00 for UK and $5.50 for US shipping. I wish I could offer free wrapping but I will need to cover the cost to ship the items. The shipping cost will be more expensive since they will be wrapped in gift boxes making the items heavier and bulkier. And as you know I don’t really charge for shipping. 
Here are samples of the paper, ribbon, bows and tags I have available


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Neil's Birthday

Things never go as planned!

 As I said in the last post I don’t just do earrings, although earrings may be what I do best! Last week was Neil’s (my husband) birthday. Every year since we’ve been together I try to make a big deal about his birthday. I’m big on birthdays, I guess because I can’t have a big birthday myself. I was born two weeks after Christmas and either everyone is broke and conveniently forgets or there’s a snow storm. Neil is from a very small family so not much was done for him either so I took it upon myself to make up for that. I may not throw huge parties (Neil and I are both quite shy) but I try to get great presents and make or get a cool cake.

The first year I got a co-worker who makes cakes with her daughter to make one for me. Neil was very pleased with that. The next year Neil turned 57 and I got the idea to decorate the cake like a Heinz Ketchup bottle. Unfortunately the colors came out all wrong so it was pink and not red. Last year I was short of ideas but went into a baking shop and a nice lady there had a brainstorming session with me and I decided to make a cake based on the Brecon Beacons (a mountain that Neil used to go climb). Unfortunately my sculpting skills are a bit lacking, and the temperature in the house meant that the fondant did not dry out, so the cool tent that I made collapsed and I ended up using scraps of cake to make a tent that ended up looking not so cool (I called it a turtle’s vagina – but actually I don’t know if they have one). The only thing resembling reality was Neil’s boots. He even had to ask me what it was supposed to be.

The plan
I wasn’t having any of that this year. A few months ago I decided to make a cake that represents Neil’s love of music and his lifestyle. Neil dresses in a cross between a Mod and a Rude Boy. So I decided to make the target Mod symbol on the top and the checkerboard Rude Boy symbol around the edge of the cake. I figured this would be simple enough for my skillset and yet meaningful for him.
Orange Buttercream

Assembled naked cake

I bought the fondant in Red, White, Blue and Black. I bought twice as much White fondant as all the others. I also bought royal icing for the crumb layer between the cake and fondant. I drew up my plans and wrote them all out. I figured out the circle sizes to make from things around the kitchen. Then went to work.

I baked two huge round cakes, I knew that one batch would not make two layers so I made two batches of cake. I even made a yummy lemon buttercream to go between the cake layers. While the cakes were baking I worked the colored fondants into their designated shapes. I cut out about 40 black squares for the checkerboard. I thought I’d figured out how to weave the black and white strips to form the checkerboard design but it didn’t work. So instead I decided to “glue” black squares onto white strips. Once the cake was assembled I started decorating. When it came time to cover the cake I discovered that despite purchasing twice as much white fondant it was not enough to cover the cake. So instead I covered the cake in the royal icing (which I had decided earlier not to use), the icing acts as a glue for all of the fondant shapes. I assembled the target on the top of the cake and then realized that there wasn't enough space to write on the cake. I had planned to write on the cake "HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEIL ONE COOL DUDE!" but the target once assembled was so big that it took up the entire top of the cake. So in the end I wrote on the target.

Finally, I went to put the checkerboard around the cake the black squares fell off of the strips they were “glued” to. So in the end I just stuck the squares on the icing. But in order to stretch the icing and make it more workable so I could cover the cake I thinned it with a bit of milk. Unfortunately thinning the icing meant that it lost its stickiness so the black squares began sliding down the side of the cake. So although I wanted to leave the cake a surprise until Saturday (Neil’s birthday) I decided to show him the cake Friday afternoon just in case the cake melted before his birthday.

This whole ordeal stressed me out so much I NEVER want to work with fondant again. And I don’t even like the taste of fondant which is why I would not get it for our wedding. The baker really tried to sell me on it and even said that if it was hot on the day the buttercream would spoil but I didn’t care, I hate fondant!

I don’t know what I’ll do for his birthday next year but I guarantee there will be no fondant.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's Not All About Earrings

 As I said, I do other crafty things besides the earrings. I’ve made some additions to the book which hopefully I’ll share soon. But since it’s almost Halloween I thought I’d share with you what I did last week. Click on any of the links to see Neil's blog about our last three Halloweens.

2014 and 2015 on top, 2016 (2) on bottom
I have to admit, I don’t know if I ever made a Jack O’Lantern before I met Neil. But once we were together I had to make sure he got to experience EVERY holiday. This year though is a little different. Usually we make our Jack (or Jacks – last year we made two) together. But Neil wore himself out yesterday and didn’t feel like helping.

I spent a few hours one day picking out the template, I wanted a fiery Jack this year. I also wanted a big one so we purchased a “giant” pumpkin. So I downloaded the picture of the Jack I wanted, then held a piece of paper up to the screen of my laptop and traced the eyes and mouth. I freehanded the top of the pumpkin, I went for an open top Jack this year, and I have a surprise for Neil later (hint: it will be fiery).

On Friday I made Jack. First I cut around the outline on the top. Only about a quarter of the way around I noticed that the knife was starting to bend. Last year we purchased a (tiny) Jack O’Lantern carving kit from the grocery store after Halloween for about 5p. It has 2 knives, two punchers and a scooper. After I carved the top out I scooped out the seeds. This year I left the flesh inside. I usually cut it out and use the flesh to make soup or pancakes, but the flesh is actually rather tasteless so I left it in the pumpkin.

Then I taped the trace to the pumpkin and punched holes around the outline so that the outline would be perforated on the pumpkin.  Then using the knives from the kit (with occasional help from our regular knife) I cut out the face.

Now I said that the knife from the kit started to bend before I cut out the design of the top. Here you can see how the knife should look, how it looked after cutting the top out and how it looks now. From straight to a twisted ninety degree angle.

And here you can see Jack in all of his horror.

Hopefully he will frighten the spirits away this Samhain!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Long Time No Hear From ...


I know, I know; it’s been a long time. I usually let you know if I’m taking some time off but this time I don't know what happened. At first I was too busy to make anything, then I think I was too tired to.

I think I mentioned before that I was taking driving lessons. They started once a week back in May. My test was originally set for the end of July but I had to reschedule because I wasn’t ready. I rescheduled it for September 13th, my grandfather’s birthday – I knew it would be a good omen. My grandfather was the family driver. I spent the first 6 years of my life riding in the car with him. He seemed to love to drive, and family members would ask him to drive when they took trips; New York, DC, Baltimore. He even drove to North Carolina twice to take me and pick me up from college my freshman year.

The closer it got to September 13th the more frequent my lessons became including three lessons the week before the test. Why? Because I took a mock exam and failed miserably. I started having panic attacks, took another mock exam and passed. So I had a week of trying not to stress myself to the point of another panic attack. Chamomile tea, valerian root and lots of comedy.

Test day came and I was stressed but it was manageable. The examiner had me drive around lots of tiny streets where I drove slowly and had to pull over a lot. We returned to the test center and he told me I passed. What a relief! My instructor told me I could breathe again.

Besides the driving I can’t remember what I’ve been doing; life seems a bit of a blur right now. I visit my neighbor two doors down twice a week. We’ve been going to appointments, plus the usual grocery shopping. And I’ve been to London a few times to meet a friend. I’ve also been trying to get caught up on cleaning. I was given a large flat screen TV (which has since broken) and I rearranged our bedroom to accommodate it. I got some under bed storage totes and organized my seasonal clothes. I’m trying to crack down in the creepy crawlies that come with living out in the country; vacuuming, making peppermint sprays and spraying around the house to deter the outdoors from coming in.

A while ago though I was visiting my neighbor, she gets lots of catalogs delivered and told me to look through one and I saw something amazing. A book to store earrings in. I have been looking for a way to store the finished earrings that I have in stock. I saw the book and thought it was a brilliant idea. But why pay £30 for a tiny book that only hold a few pair? I looked at the book and said I can make a large one!

We went to Tescos for our weekly shop, just before school started binders were on sale for 70p. Okay, the binders were hot pink, but what the heck. Then I ordered some fabric online for £6.00. Thread, hemming ribbon and double sided tape I already had.

I had a few ideas for how I would make this work. When you buy factory made books they used specific fabric, like the kind you find at jewelry stores. Unfortunately felt, microfiber and suede, i.e. all the fabric similar to that is expensive. After one try I got it to work, but it doesn’t look like exactly how I want it to look.  I had more fabric so I tried it a different way. I made two different panels one longer and one wider. They still haven't come out the way I planned, so I may try a totally different approach now. I have some more ideas I can try out; different materials and fabrics. I may need to get a wider binder but this isn’t a bad start.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On the Fly

On The Fly!

I've never really done this with any success. Sunday my friend's family threw a party for her birthday. It was family function but they invited Neil and I as well. I planned to wear one of my favorite dresses (I've had it for 7 years now), normally when I wear this dress I wear the pair of earrings featured in Layers that I've had for [about 10] years and rewired because they had become tarnished. But Sunday I decided to make a pair of earrings to wear to the party ... just an hour or so away.

I opened my box of beads and realized I had several shades of blue, most of which are in my dress. So for about a 30 minutes I played around with settings and chain and findings to get it just right. And with just a few minutes to spare I ended up with these.

I like that the beads are different shapes and sizes, and the lengths are different as well. You may notice I do that a lot in my designs.

Once we arrived at the party Shirley, my friend and neighbor told all of her granddaughters that I make earrings,


"Yes, in fact I just made these!"

I tried this once before, I made a pink and white pair that I never bothered to put up because I really didn't think they were any good. I wore pink and black from head to toe one day and wanted some pink earrings but didn't have any black beads at the time. I wore them on the day and just shoved them aside, I think they're still in tact but I don't even think about wearing them again.

But these are a different story. Grant it you'd have to have a dress like mine to make it work. Or maybe you just like the colors, or have an outfit with the same blue, grey and black combination. Whatever the situation is, if you'd like a pair of these just give me a shout.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Throw back

Last I week I shared pictures of a pair I was working on; orange and yellow hoops with an oval bead in the center. Unfortunately, when I perfected the first one and went to make the second I didn’t have enough beads. Beads like those are irregular (actually I find all beads are irregular), so I made the first one but when I tried to make the second the beads that were left would not fit on the wire. Maybe I’ll try again with smaller gauge wire later.

After I made that one I moved on to this pair. It seems a bit retro to me. I don’t know why but whenever I see brown and wooden beads it reminds me of the 70’s. There are 44 brown beads around the hoop, with a round wooden bead dangling from the center. The earring is attached to fish hooks, I don’t think it would look right on a kidney wire. The earrings have a diameter of ­­­­an inch and will ­­­­an inch and a half from the ear.

I’m going to keep working on hoop designs. I have several half made earrings so it’s just a matter of perfecting them and then making the second one.

£4.75 including UK shipping, $8.75 including US shipping.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


I had no idea what I was going to do! Monday came around and I was lost as to what I would do for this week. So far this year I have been more productive than in previous years but that is resulting in periodic designer’s block. Monday night while lying in bed trying to get back to sleep I thought about hoops.


I like making dangly earrings (thus the name of the blog) but there’s no reason why hoops can’t be dangles. The main problem is making them so I started experimenting yesterday. It needs more work so here’s a peak at what’s going on. Hopefully by next week I will have it perfected and maybe more than one pair to show for it.

Keep your fingers crossed!