These earrings found their way to my shop yesterday.  I have a crush on them because of their fresh, springy pops of green that aren't typically found in my jewelry.  Emerald Green was named Pantone's 2013 color of the year, so I took some artistic license to introduce it to my collection.

I color-mixed and formed each small bead from polymer clay. I tell you, it gave me a new appreciation for jewelry artists who make their own beads on a regular basis, whether they be formed from clay, glass or other.  Bead-making is an art unto itself.  This design also gave me the chance to try a hook & eye closure for the sterling hoops; simple yet effective.

ImageImage

Now if only I had another pair to keep for myself.

I just realized this will be my 100th blog post.  It seems like I should write something monumental here, or have a tribute to my 99 posts and counting.  But instead, I think 100 is appropriate for this season of life: I'm coming up for air.

You see, I've been in a fog since the middle of January when we learned of Hannah's diagnosis, and our eventual loss on February 21st.  I wasn't prepared for any of it: the anguish, worry, fear, letting go, sadness, emptiness. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced.  And while some moments are still difficult today, I'm sensing a change, or shift, of being lifted from my sadness.  I see the seasons changing from Winter to Spring, and while it seems almost unnatural for that to happen without Hannah, I know it's a new beginning.

I can sense it most in my desire to create.  Gone missing for awhile, now I want to push the envelope again and get better at what I do, and try new things.  When I can't contain my creative thoughts because there are so many, I know I'm getting back to...myself.

I've missed that.

A view from our back yard.

Even when you know loss is inevitable, you're still never fully prepared.  Chad and I had Hannah for five precious weeks after her diagnosis of congestive heart failure.  We soaked up each moment as best we could, sometimes feeling pure joy watching her do something we thought we'd never see again.  In spite of the condition that was intruding inside her little body, she was happy.  And she never once stopped giving her love, even at the very end of her life.

Letting her go has been the most difficult thing we've ever done.  I read recently that the human heart doesn't know the difference between the loss of a friend or family member and that of a pet.  I now believe that's true.  After 10.5 years of giving and receiving love from Hannah, and caring for her through various illnesses, she was deeply rooted in my heart.  Her absence in our home is palpable; what I wouldn't give to have her for just one more day.

But (and there's always a "but"), we have complete peace that it was her time, as sad as it is for us.  Hannah had a beautiful life and changed us for the better.  She was one of our true loves, a precious gift from God.

I'll love you forever, baby girl.

2 months old Oct 2002

Hannah

August 2002 - February 2013

Music is one of those rare and special gifts that you just feel in your bones.  It has a way of reaching your soul like nothing else.

Silver and Copper Music Note Pendant Necklace

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

From the very start of our lives, our days are numbered.  Even though we don't typically think of this concept on a daily basis, it's an indisputable fact: nothing that is living will be on this earth forever.  In light of that, how we use our time and the choices we make while we're still here, are of utmost importance.  This was the message I heard at church on Sunday a week and a half ago.  The following day Chad & I received unexpected news: our precious Hannah-dog has congestive heart failure.

If you've ever cared for a pet then you can relate when I say receiving the news has caused some of the deepest sorrow I've ever known.  We raised her from a puppy and have enjoyed her for more than 10 years. She's been with us through the majority of our marriage, and I honestly can't remember being in our house without her.  She is the sweetest miniature schnauzer I've ever met, and many people have told us the same.  She has an extraordinary medical history, so though we knew our time with her was shortening, hearing she is in her final days was heartbreaking.

The good news is the doctor assures us that Hannah isn't in any kind of pain.  Uncomfortable at times, but not in pain.  Today I've watched her wag her tail, bound up the stairs (as best she can), grab her ball and show love the way she usually does.  For today, we still have our "baby girl".

Imagine if we lived each day with full awareness that our time is limited.  Would it change the way we treat those in our lives?  Would we say "I love you" more often?  Would we find ways to help others more often?  I think it would, and we would.  I've noticed a shift in my mindset in recent days, letting go of the small things that aren't so important after all.

A friend of mine shared these words with me yesterday and it was exactly what I needed to hear:  "I just pray that God will give you the ability to separate the worrying from the enjoying.  Leave the worrying to Him and just LIVE these times with her."  She's right.  I can easily spiral into a frenzy of worry over Hannah (which helps neither of us), or I can make the most of these days and cherish each moment I have with her.

I can finally say I'm choosing the latter.

Teach me, God, to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.

It had been months since I sat down to draw.  Months.  Eventually, the little nudge I felt inside to put charcoal to paper became too great to ignore.  And as I've come to anticipate, I felt nervous when I began this drawing: nervous that I wouldn't enjoy the process or wouldn't like the end result.  But nerves gave way to that spark with which I'm oh-so-familiar.

Just Bananas - 8x10 Charcoal on Paper

Once I saw the basket weave coming to life, I was back in the zone again.  The push and pull of values, making a flat piece of paper turn into something that appears 3D, is magical to watch.  Something as ordinary as a bunch of bananas appears beautifully artful. (FYI - I have a banana in a smoothie almost every day.  It is a power food I cannot live without!)

"Just Bananas" is now available in my Etsy shop.

Christina

While driving through town recently I read a church sign that said "Cake Lighting Service - 7:30pm".  Cake lighting?  On second glance the sign actually said "Candle Lighting Service".  I laughed for a moment; maybe I had a sudden attack of the sweet tooth.  But given that Christmas is only 4 days away, a cake lighting service would be appropriate too, wouldn't it?

Imagine if a (chocolate) cake was constructed, inscribed with "Happy Birthday, Jesus" in brightly colored icing, large enough to hold 2000+ candles.  And imagine if people gathered one dark night, just to sing Happy Birthday and light up that cake, one candle at a time.  The surrounding darkness would gradually fade until the sky was aglow, the light so bright that it couldn't be contained.

And so it was, many years ago.  Mary held her newborn son and looked down into the eyes of Jesus.  So unexpected, God in flesh was right there with her, destined for a life that would pierce the darkness of this world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1DZA_TdBBI

Merry Christmas.

Days after Thanksgiving, I'm still having moments of full-to-the-brim gratitude.  Christmas jewelry orders are coming in, and as if that wasn't enough, I've had the pleasure of hearing back from many of my customers.  When I hear they're satisfied with their purchase, that they're sure the gift recipient will love it too, that they want to do business with me again, well, that just makes me feel incredibly...good.

In my years of working in software, because I wasn't customer-facing, I typically heard customer feedback secondhand.  I've always believed that as part of a business, customers are of utmost importance; without them, there would be no business.  So although accolades (or other) were received through the grapevine, I still felt it necessary to put the customer first.  But now that I'm the sole person directly responsible for how customers feel about their purchases, and I hear firsthand what they think about my art and jewelry (part of my heart), it makes me want to do more.  Be more.  Make them the happiest customers on the planet.

After all, when you're happy, I'm tremendously happy.

Thankful.

Sometimes you can’t find just the thing you’re looking for.  That was the case for me when searching for a ring display to use at my art show this weekend.  I don’t have a large ring inventory, so I only needed something small, and it had to be modern and work well with my other display pieces.  Everything fell short, until Pinterest came to the rescue.

I discovered this wonderful tutorial that shows exactly how to make a ring display at home.  Making one was a last resort, but I’m so glad I did!  It gave me freedom of choice in style right down to the colors used.  What I really love, too, is that this little project didn’t cost me a penny, except for time.  I used a small tray we had lying around the house, spray paint and batting from a previous project, and repurposed fabric.  But to give credit where credit is due, you can find the tutorial (and other fabulous, creative ideas) over at Tea Rose Home. (Or if you’re a Pinterest fanatic, you can repin it from my board.)  Chad even chipped in by sanding down the box before giving it a brand new finish.

Here is the result, in smoky grays that fit perfectly into my color scheme.  I have to say, I’m just as proud of this display as I am of my jewelry pieces.  It’s been awhile since I’ve completed a DIY project, and putting it together reminded me that I just love making things.  Period.

Thank you, Tea Rose Home, for saving me. :)

Christina

A special friend and customer of mine was kind to let me share this photo of the original "Formal Bloom" hanging in his family's new home in Washington, D.C.  Even after two years of selling my artwork, my heart still sings each time I see how a customer has incorporated my art into his/her home.  What I especially love about this photo is the mix of modern and traditional styles from the furniture to the accessories, which is right up my alley.  "Formal Bloom" looks just right in their dining space.  And to top it off?  This family oozes with love for each other.  And that makes me even more happy. :)