Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Forget about Spring, it’s sprung right into summer and is a very warm 85 degrees outside, of course this is Florida, just south of Tampa/St. Pete, so this should be no surprise.

Had a colder, longer winter this year and our yard suffered from freeze damage.
Fairly sure that our tropical Wax Jambu didn’t make it as it is now little more than a twig with a few blackened leaves. However some of the plants that I thought were certainly dead have started to come back. John and I now have the daunting job of pruning away all the dead twigs and branches.
Above is our driveway planter with the freeze damaged Lantana, the small magnolia tree did very well through the freeze but probably could use a dose of fertilizer. Below one can see the promise of lush new growth beneath the gray, dry twigs. Just have lots of trimming to do...also need to tackle the weeds that are popping up in our crushed shell drive.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Destashing Beading Supplies

I’m contemplating changing the direction of my etsy shop...sure I’ll have my handcrafted jewelry listed (right now everything’s on sale). But I’ve been thinking about offering more of my beading supplies, also known as "destashing, doing this mainly because I wish to retire as a jewelry maker and return to being, once more, simply a wife, mother and grandmother...without all the hoopla and distractions of trying to promote, promote and promote a business. This is consuming most of my time and my life...all for so little rewards.
This blog however, I enjoy doing immensely and will most likely keep it up, perhaps even devote more time to taking photos for it...though I may wish to rename it, time will tell if I do or not.
So please feel free to leave comments on what you think of my idea to sell off my supplies of beads and findings, I would love to hear your opinions, viewpoints and suggestions. Also should you be at all interested in my stash keep an eye on my shop as I'll be adding things little by little (it takes so much time to take several photos of items...from different angles and different perspectives, up close and at a distance etc.) Above and below are piles of tiny 3mm Czech glass beads (200 beads per strand). I have these in a myriad of colors; periwinkle blue, turquoise blue, pale green, pale pink, garnet, amethyst, hot pink, yellow, alexandrite, lavender, crystal clear, milk glass, white opal and red...some have an aurora borealis finish some have an opalized finish.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Return of Red Dwarf - Hurray! (or maybe hurrah?)

Okay, I admit it, I'm a Sci Fi fan. Back in the early 90's I watched an extremely funny British sci fi series called "Red Dwarf". It was decidedly Sci-Fi out of the box! But like all good things it had its moments and then faded away. Now I find that they are making a Red Dwarf special and recalling all of the old cast members...unfortunately it will be aired in Britain (around Easter time...the time of resurrection, how apropos) so it will take awhile to reach the Americas. Hopefully the US Sci-Fi channel will see fit to pick up this special and broadcast it for all us die hard RD fans. At times I've wondered just how Sci Fi the Sci-Fi channel is, as they've dropped so many outstanding programs and feed their viewers a steady diet of horror films. I'm a fan of science-fiction, not horror, blood and guts !!! Anyway I have my fingers crossed that Red Dwarf will come to a USA station in the near future.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

They're Lovely But....

People’s perception of what they say they want and what they really want are usually very different. Recently I was asked if I could make a pair of "simple, easy" earrings to match a necklace that I had made. Sounds like an easy enough task, right ? Well I made a pair of sweet little dangle earrings (photo below) using gold filled wire, and beads that matched previously stated necklace.
How did they turn out ? Quite lovely...buuuut just a tiny bit too small; "could you make them bigger ? Oh and maybe a little more, well you know, special?"

Oh I was afraid of that. Simple things always tend to grow into something more complex.
So yesterday was spent creating a design for a pair of earrings to match a necklace, of course not just any little pair of earrings but a pair that were "special". Worked yesterday and today on them and as you can see from the photos they are not finished as I have yet to make the gold filled ear wires. Well maybe tomorrow as my eyes hurt and I’ve also broken 2 ultra fine #15 beading needles making a pair of "simple, easy" earrings...all for less than $20...right now I’d laugh but I’m too tried to.
Here is a picture of the original, simple, easy earrings with a bit of gold filled wire work, handmade headpins and a few beads...buuut they were just a little too small ! : )
Would anybody like to buy a pair of "simple, easy" earrings, only $10...not including shipping?

Above photos: top left, is partially completed earring without embellished top.
Photo top right is after embellishment.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Art Shows and Garage Sales...

This past weekend was The Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch Spring Art Show. I didn’t participate as an artist or crafter this year but did volunteer my services to greet attendees, distribute show programs, keep a tally of the head count and try to explain about the "Best of Show" contest, in which the public would be our judge.
Strange how people come in clusters, attendance can be sporadic, a few dribbles and then a long lull followed by a mini crowd that, for one person, can be difficult to address. Know that a few managed to slip past without getting the show’s program not to mention giving them info on our best of show ballots!
Fortunately, or not, there was a lot going on locally that weekend. Scarcely a block away The Art Center was having its big arts and crafts show, and somewhere between us and the Art Center’s show was The Women’s Club, "All American Girls’ Fashion Show"...I should also mention that the surrounding neighborhoods were involved in a community Garage/Yard sale. However, all-in-all, the attendance was noticeably down from last year’s and with the lack luster crowd the day seemed infinitely longer.
Though I wasn’t a participating artist or crafter, I somehow managed to sell a piece that I had made...my spiral twist, seed beaded necklace with its’ picture jasper donut pendant and its’ pearl embellished, seed beaded bail...the one I feature as my avatar. Someone asked me to bring it as she had seen it on my Etsy website and wished to see it "up close and personal". When she actually saw it, she said; " Oh it's much prettier than it is in the photo." Once she put it on it was love at first sight, she had to have it, and of course now wants earrings to compliment her purchase. So for myself it was decidedly a very positive day. But now I have a quandary, should I keep my old avatar, as that necklace was definitely one of a kind and I don’t intend to make another ( it takes far too long and in today’s economy not many wish to pay what my time and effort in making it is worth)...or should I look for a new avatar ?

Above is photo of the twisted rope necklace with its Picture Jasper pendant and seed beaded bail. Never felt that I was able to capture the true beauty of the piece and many times things just have to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

For Matters of the Heart

Rose Quartz, a lovely pale pink crystal, very pretty, very feminine. Rose quartz is a semiprecious gemstone that is associated with matters of the heart...the heart chakra...not just love and romantic heart matters but heart health also...that is if one believes in the healing and influential aspects of stones and crystals.
Though very pretty and highly sought after in jewelry designs, rose quartz must be treated tenderly, much like a fine lady. Many stones are sensitive to sunlight and can fade if exposed for long periods of time, in other words don’t lay that beautiful rose quartz pendant on a sunny window sill or over time you’ll end up will a milk quartz stone. When I attend outdoor arts and crafts shows I make sure that all my rose quartz jewelry is kept out of the sun's direct rays, which means that I am constantly moving the jewelry displays around and keeping a constant eye on just where the sunlight is falling on my displays...a maddening version of musical chairs!

As I mentioned in a past post, many people think that natural gemstones are hard and durable, mainly because we call them stones, but many of them are neither extremely hard nor durable. Rose Quartz is one of those more delicate crystals and should never be cleaned with caustic chemicals such as ammonia, Tarn-X, or other strong jewelry cleaners, silver cleaners and metal polish. Most professional jewelers recommend cleaning delicate pieces with tepid water and (only if necessary) a very mild soap or bringing them to a jeweler for professional cleaning.
Many of today's jewelry fashions feature silver plate, sterling silver and even pewter that can darken and tarnish with exposure to air, the very act of trying to clean these metals can place delicate rose quartz into harms way. For myself I use my forever trusted "Sunshine cloth", it polishes silver beautifully without damage to surrounding gemstones and I’ve never notice the slightest fading or abrasion on any of my more delicate stones and pearls.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pearls the Care and Feeding of

Pearls part II
Pearls are not only easily scratched but are also sensitive to chemical damage. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story of how Cleopatra crushed a very large and expensive pearl then dissolved it in a glass of wine for Mark Anthony’s pleasure...needless to say he was very impressed, and probably sadden that such a beautiful creation of nature was destroyed in such a mindless manner.
Also pearls should not be stored in tightly closed plastic baggies, pearls need to breath. I store my own fine pearl necklaces in small silk pouches away from other jewelry that could damage or scratch them. After wearing pearls or any fine piece of jewelry it is highly recommended to wipe it gently with a clean soft cloth to remove any body oils or perspiration that might have accumulated during wear.
When cleaning a piece of jewelry containing pearls one should never use caustic chemicals such as ammonia, acids or cleaners that are recommended specifically for cleaning silver or metals...be sure that what ever cleaning agent you use states that it is safe for use on pearls. For myself I always use a special felt like cleaning cloth called a "Sunshine" cloth, it is safe to use on all delicate gemstones including pearls and soft turquoise, is nonabrasive and contains no harmful chemicals.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pearls the Care and Feeding of

Part I
Often people assume that since gemstones are called stones that they’re indestructible, but even granite is not impervious to damage by acids and abrasive substances.
Pearls, for example, appear to be hard, however they are not and can be easily damaged by the simple act of adjacent stones and other pearls rubbing against them. The outer layers of the pearl is a shiny, pearlescent material called nacre, this is the same substance that the mollusk uses to coat the inside of it’s shell, the thicker this layer of nacre, the richer and more lustrous the pearl and also the more valuable. Nacre can be easily abraded and that is the reason that higher quality pearls are strung on silk thread and carefully hand knotted between each precious pearl.

I can vividly recall talking with a young lady who was just getting into the jewelry making business. She informed me that she was remaking older pieces of jewelry, items that she had bought cheaply at places such as Goodwill and local thrift shops. She also confided that she had inherited a number of pieces from her grandmother and one of those pieces had been a pearl necklace. Unfortunately this young lady found the look of the hand knotted strand "old fashioned" and "out-dated", so she took it apart and strung the pearls close together along with other beads for interest. Upon hearing this my heart literally sank. Her grandmother’s necklace was probably fairly old and the quality of the pearls many years ago is far superior to those available today, her grandmother’s pearls could easily have been worth $300 or more.
As gently as possible I explained that truly good, expensive pearls should always be strung on silk or other smooth nonabrasive threads and hand knotted between each pearl to protect them from abrasion. I knew my advice was proving fruitless as this young, budding jewelry designer looked at me as though I was from outer space. Ah well, what do I know, in her eyes hand knotted necklaces were unattractive and only desired by little old fuddy duddies such as me.
Pictured above, some of my pearl supply.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Egad ! My Computer Just Died.

This weekend my computer was down. For some inexplicable reason the power supply failed or at least some part of the power (converter) supply. All I was left with was a blank screen and a loud wailing siren warning me that all was not well. At least the siren brought my dearest hubby in to see what was going on, saved me the trouble of having to track him down and explain that my computer had died.

Dearest hubby took a look at it, matter of fact he took several long looks at it. Then, after a number of hours, decided it must be the power supply but had no idea how to remove and replace it. So nothing left to do but wait until Monday. Monday seemed so far away. Can’t begin to count the number of times I found myself going to check e-mail only to be greeted by that dark, blank screen. Yep, I'm addicted to my computer correspondence !
Fortunately I didn't go into withdrawal symptoms or suffer D.T.s. The computer guru was able to come out fairly early this Monday morning. He quickly assessed the situation...prognosis, a bad power supply unit...cost of tech’s time plus new power supply, $170...having my computer up and running again, priceless !

Sorry, no photos of dead computer. It was all just too painful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Top of a Down Economy

Perhaps it is indeed, just the economy. Sales are down and people are scrambling to get in on any financial scraps that might come their way, like a flock of hungry pigeons pecking at any and every crumb that's dropped. At times even the smallest ort will create a feeding frenzy.
Online shops and website stores seem to hold a glimmer of promise for the artisan or crafter trying to stay afloat or make a living from what they do, and yet there are only a few who truly make it. Those that started out first and got their sites well established, or those who have other avenues that will lead prospective buyers to their site. It is always an advantage to have outside connections such as a real brick and mortar store, hosting in-home trunk shows or buying parties, even attending craft fairs, art shows and exhibitions. These things bring you into contact with people and also keep you abreast of what the public taste is and what they are buying and, most importantly, how much they are willing to spend. Their budget gives you an idea of exactly what your price points should be and how to tailor your products to that price point. In the least, it is a means where you can pass around your business cards, give your customer a cheerful smile, a welcome "Hello", and a casual mention that you've an online shop. This can perhaps draw some buyers to go online and check you out.

Photo of my "42nd Street Bead Shoppe".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Case of the Lower Case

It is still early and there is much left of this day, so I will post a quick note...a thought. Visited a blog just a moment ago and noticed that, though it covered several sentences and at least 3 paragraphs, there was not a capital letter to be found ! Every sentence began with a lower case letter and even the pronoun "I" was always typed in lower case. This may be fine in the context of text messaging, or even when tweeting in twitter, but I certainly would not wish to read a book written in only lower case letters...am I alone on this point of view ?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Undiscovered Treasure

Went browsing this morning and discovered a new shop, it's always a pleasant surprise to come across a new etsy site that hasn't been heavily visited, much like discovering a hidden garden or a path not often traveled that leads to amazing vistas.
This particular shop features original watercolors, giclee's, prints,and cards, all inspired by nature. The artist, Janet Dosenberry of j dooze designs is gifted, she has a great eye and good memory of what she has seen in nature and has drawn upon that inspiration. I highly recommend a visit to Janet's shop http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6796698
Pictured is just one of Janet's gorgeous watercolor creations, she offers this as both a print suitable for framing, or as small note cards, making that special correspondence a pleasure to do and a joy to receive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Away From the Maddening Crowd

My heart is really leaning toward my blog and away from the hubbub and hassle of trying to promote sales. If I could close my eyes and make a wish...ah well, that would be magic and there is so little of that left in the world of grown up politics and realities.

Not long ago we had a wooden bridge built across a small creek at the back of our property, it was a necessity as our land extended across this little creek. After two years time the brush and weeds had taken over, making it an almost impenetrable bramble and with the dry spell the brush had become a tinderbox, a menacing fire hazard and needed desperately to be mowed.

My dearest hubby, John, constructed this bridge with the help of carpenter friend. I have to applaud them both as I think they did a marvelous job.
The wooden bridge fits nicely in this wooded location...it is my bridge in paradise, a place to linger and listen to the chirps of a squirrel, the songs of birds, to feel the breeze on my face and hear its melody as it sings through the foliage of the trees.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who just shouted Bingo?...know it wasn't me !

Been working all day repricing my handcrafted jewelry that I'm selling on my etsy website. Spent a couple of hours trying to get my avatar photo in my Picasa photo editor...I have it in my computer files just can't find it in Picasa...and can't get Picasa to import it from the pc file either...strange ! Guess it really wasn't important, all I wanted to do was slap a SALE banner across the front of the photo. Anyway I invite you to take a look at my sales. All of my handcrafted jewelry has been reduced by 25 to 30%, have also reduced my shipping fees (I just hope I don't end up getting scorched on this as my shipping charges included boxes, bubble wrap, tissue paper...all those items that other places charge a "handling fee" for. ) Have a number of bead strands, aka: unfinished strands, temporarily strung strands, that I'm offering FREE SHIPPING on. Etsy was supposed to help me make money...not lose it...oh well such is life...never won a game of Bingo either so you know I'm surely never going to buy a lottery ticket ! ; )
Photo above is my Etsy avatar photo. It is a seed beaded spiral twist rope necklace with a 40 mm Picture Jasper donut that I made an embellished seed bead bail for. Bail features pearls and firepolished Czech glass beads. At my last art show I had it priced at $90, when I put it on Etsy I reduced the price to $45...I'm not even going to say what it's being offered at now !

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Village of the Arts

Took a refreshing break from my computer yesterday and day-tripped over to Bradenton's famed Village of the Arts. A friend of mine, Sandra French, was having an exhibit of her stained glass art. Sandy's exhibition was housed in a small studio behind the larger gallery house. Though her studio is small and intimate it is charming and blessed by the fact that it's surrounded by an equally charming garden. Like most artists, Sandra was very optimistic and could envision how she would, eventually, decorate and organize her new studio. To get an idea of Sandra's amazing work please visit her web at http://sandyfrench.com/page0.php
Saturday was my first foray into this enchanting enclave known as The Village of the Arts and treasures awaited me behind every door and every turn. A district of quaint older houses rescued from the ravages of time by the hands of artists and crafters, some homes were loving restored and renovated, others repaired and "Artistically Enhanced".

Perhaps Florida's spat of cold winter weather is finally over as Saturday's temps hovered around the low 80's and the sun felt almost hot, should have brought a hat (and my camera). Ahhh warm sunshine, fresh air, live music and a cornucopia of arts, all wrapped up in the most delightful package of older homes dripping with character, vivid colors and lush landscapes...couldn't think of a grander way to spend the afternoon. Too bad I didn't think to bring a camera but below is a link to that eclectic slice of paradise, should you care to do a bit of exploring. Next time I will bring my camera, and yes there will definitely be a next time.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Morning doves and night owls

To me there are 2 types of people, morning people and night people. Morning folks jump out of bed as soon as the sun breaks over the eastern horizon, they’re happy, energetic and ready to tackle the day. Night people tend to want to throw the covers over their heads and wish that daylight savings time had never been invented. A word of warning, never bother a night person as they stumble around in the dark of the morning...by all means just leave them be, at lest until they’ve had their morning shot of caffeine!
On the flip side, true morning doves crash fairly early, don’t expect them to stay up and watch a movie that starts at 10 in the evening and goes until well after midnight, chances are they’ll be nodding off at about 10:30. Night owls may drag in the morning but come midnight they’re ready to fix a cup of "Sleepy Time Tea" curl up with a good book and hope that the sandman will eventually come along and knock them out, especially if they have to get up at 6 to get ready for work !
My husband is a morning dove, I’m a night owl and the one thing he has learned in our years of marriage is to give me a wide berth at the dawn of day. Now who was that idiot that decided to extend daylight savings time ? I’m sure I wrote his name down somewhere as a reminder not to vote for him in the future...was it Sen. Mahoney ? Seems to me it was a name that rhymed with bologna cause that’s what I thought of his idea...also noticed that right after they implemented it that the economy went to hell in a hand basket...coincidence?...ummm, maybe, but I personally think not !
Unusual fog. A thick carpet of fog at ground level, a clear patch in the middle then another layer of fog floating about. Too bad it took me so long to run and get my camera as the layers had been more distinct just 5 minutes earlier.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Talisman ?

Today I scanned through several "Last Page" shops and became aware that many were receiving sales even though the shops had not been updated in a number of weeks. Perhaps they were sales through arts and crafts shows and the shops neglect was not one of public disinterest but one of time management. So I’ve decided that my attention should be redirected back to my own ailing shop...this afternoon I will take more photos, though I know my poor PC will groan with the prospect of having to store yet more pictures...wish there were an easier way and one that was more organized.
Lately I’ve been working on a Jasper pendant bedecked with wire work charms. Here are photos of work in progress and then the finished pendant. Can’t say as I’m pleased with the photography, even with 4 reflective photo lights the picture seems dark...tried to lighten in Picasa photo editing but there is only so much fill and highlight that one can add without washing out details. Guess you can surmise that my forte is not photography ! May try an outdoor photo shoot, if that doesn’t work I’ll have to invest in a couple more clamp-on reflective lights and full spectrum bulbs.

Above photo shows my new pendant strung from nothing more that cream colored crochet thread, am contemplating a strand of small red jasper beads to compliment the large 12mm red jasper bead at the top of the charm holder. Also playing with naming it "Talisman", maybe it will be the charm that breaks my shop's no sale streak, I can dream can't I ?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to reach the top ?

Spent the morning composing an e-mail (really was an etsy convo...but same difference). Found myself thinking about yesterday’s blog in which I said I’d like to sit down with the owner of Ninasnail’s shop and give her a bit of advice. For those who read my blog yesterday you’ll recall that Ninasnail is a tiny shop on the last page of my local Sarasota etsy shops...page 10...page of disembarkation...page before "So long", "Good-bye", "Fair well!" and , "That’s all she wrote" !

I pray that Nina (I suppose that might be her name, she had nothing in her profile other than "female, born October 19") will not take offense and that she, perchance, will implement some of my suggestions. One such suggestion was to create a shop banner, etsy has simple templates readily available, I pointed her in the direction where she could find them and, hopefully, incorporate one into her shop’s front page. Tactfully I suggested filling in more info on her profile; was she a struggling student that loved to crochet, did she learn to crochet from her mother or a loving grandmother, did she take a class in crochet and found herself addicted to it. Finally I suggested she add some simple items such small crocheted roses that could be used for adornments, or useful but small items such as dishrags, pot holders, kitchen towels...things that didn’t take much time or yarn to create, and that could be attractively priced.

With fingers crossed I hope she’ll not be offended nor miffed nor feel I should mind my own business but, most of all, I hope my little advice may end up helping her. Now if I could just find some way to make myself stand out in the crowd. Jewelry makers are more than plentiful and seems every artist also offers some handmade jewelry along with their ceramics, custom clothing, photography, pictures, toys, etc., etc. Does anyone have advice they can offer me ?
Photo looking up into one of the large, stately oaks at the back of my home. How to reach the top ?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Over the Rainbow...somewhere

Today my trip through Sarasota’s Local Etsy shops brought me to page 10...the languishing last page...the finale chapter before listed items reach their 4 month expiration and fade from the roll call. These shops would soon pass into oblivion. Had their creators lost hope or had they merely grown disheartened, bored, or decided to pursue a different path? Etsy is such a big place, it is far too easy to slip through the cracks, unnoticed, forgotten.
The last store on this last page is a tiny shop "MsDollFace" by a young lady called Joanna. A very pretty girl who does modeling on the side, she has a full time job, after all one does have to eat and rent must be paid. Joanna fashions custom purses...of which her tiny shop only showcases 2. A well fleshed out shop is more inviting but sometimes that can be an impossible goal, if Joanna had fabricated 50 purses where would she stash them, not many people have enough storage space in a small apartment. If one has time please give Joanna’s shop a visit and perchance, if the whim strikes, tag her as a favorite, I’m sure it will help boost her spirits.

Another shop lost on page 10 is NinaSnail, teetering on the brink of the abyss. Too bad that there isn’t a course on Etsy 101...Nina’s shop needs work, perhaps she became disillusioned and began to break it down or perhaps she just never understood the need for a shop banner, a profile page and virtual store shelves that carried more than just 3 items. I’m sure Nina is fairly young and full of dreams and aspirations, her art is an ancient one, crochet. I’d love to be able to sit down and talk with her, tell her there are so many things she could offer with her art; crocheted handbags, belts, decorative flowers that one could pin to a dress or the lapel of a suit or on the brim of a hat, pot holders, little crocheted appliques that one can sew onto garments for embellishment. Perhaps someone out there can offer her a glimmer of hope.
Maybe someday we can all find our dreams, somewhere over the rainbow ?
Above photo was taken from the front of my home, if one looks closely they might be able to make out the faint second rainbow above the brighter, dominate one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Moment of Recognition

Explored some of my local (Sarasota Florida) Etsians shops today. Many are thriving even though the economy isn't, however there were many that were undiscovered and waiting for their moment of recognition, one such shop is ACraftyStitch. The shop is owned by a lovely young lady named Melissa who has a passion for crafts and finds her sewing machine and fabric is the perfect canvas to express this passion. Her shop features many of her handcrafted tote bags, pillows, key fobs or key chains, and a few pieces of her handcrafted jewelry...just to add a dash of sparkle.
Unfortunately Melissa is a working gal with a family and that doesn't leave a lot of time for constructing her art, let alone promoting her shop.

Ran across this photo of my stash of Rose Quartz beads...rose quartz the chakra of the heart, a keystone to love and relationships. Should have made some Valentine's Day jewelry using the small rose quartz heart beads...where was my mind that day ? Just might take some of these and add them to my etsy shop "destash" section. What do you think ? Would they sell ?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jumbie Beads

Had to get away from the computer yesterday, seems since I opened my Etsy online shop I've done little else than wrestle with my PC. I can't and won't profess to be even remotely computer knowledgeable...case in point...tried to do a page on "facebook", there was supposed to be a way to get my etsy widget on the main page instead of in my profile. Tried for days to get that to happen. Went over the directions, step-by-step countless times...well maybe not countless, but definitely more times than I'd care to count. Never did get it the way it was in the instructions. Finally, in frustration, I ended up deleting my facebook account.

The break from staring at my monitor was refreshing and sorely needed. Walked about in the yard and took a few photos. Found this vine growing rampant in the lot next door. This tangled mass of a vine grows wild in tropical climates such as southern Florida. When we lived in the West Indies, Trinidad to be specific, the vine's bright red seeds with a deep black dot were called "Crab Eyes" or "Jumbie Beads" and islanders used them much like beads in making necklaces and bracelets.
Brilliant red and jet black, like a tiny lady bug, a signal of nature, a warning, as lovely as they are these seeds also contain one of the most virulent poisons of the plant kingdom. Though the shell of the seed is extremely hard and almost impossible to crush with the teeth, many countries have banned any item that contain Jumbie Beads. Since the seed casing is exceptionally durable, island crafters have to boil Jumbie Beads in order to soften them enough so they can be pierced for stringing, this act destroys the potent protein toxin, abrin.
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