Friday, January 28, 2011


Photo above...a cabinet full of K-Cups

The Domino Effect, where one thing leads to another resulting in an unstoppable cascade of events. We are all aware of this effect, as there are few of us who’ve not played with those little rectangular Domino tiles as children. Carefully we would line them up one behind the other and then with a slight flick of our tiny finger we’d knocked the first kingpin over, watching as tile after tile toppled in rapid succession down the path we had so diligently mapped out. I never actually played the true game of dominos until I was well in my 30’s; perhaps I never realized that those dots on each tile were there for other reasons than merely decoration.
In my last post I mentioned our new Keurig single served coffee brewer and hinted that with all the K-Cups we were accumulating our tiny kitchen space might require some modifications.  So begins the Domino Effect.
Photo above...Our Keurig single serve brewer, the kingpin domino.

Photo below...All the K-cups and paraphernalia that accompanies our new Keurig. You may notice the limited counter space in that tight little corner.

Photo above...There was a cabinet there, where the bare concrete of the foundation shows.  We had to remove the solid surface counter top in order to remove the cabinet.  The counter top is resting on the top of our coffee table, which is visible in the background.

Photo below...This is the cabinet that sat in the corner, that had the counter top, that was in the kitchen that Jack built.

Photo above...Notice the wall is open allowing service to the family/TV room.  The cabinet that was there is now sitting in our living room.  Our plan is to interchange our oven cabinet for the drawer cabinet.  So this means the ovens will have to come out, the cabinet will have to be detached from wherever and whatever it is attached to and then moved down to the end were the smaller drawer cabinet was.

Photos below...The framing goes in.

Photo above and below...The ovens have been removed. Does this mean I don't have to cook ?  Ha, only in my dreams!

Photo above...John's removed the the counter top to this tiny 9 inch Tray Cabinet, it will remain where it is and the larger drawer cabinet will come in and rest alongside of it.  A new 36 inch wall cabinet is on order (has been for about 3 weeks now).  Someday, when this project is over I will have 45 inches of counter space here to work on instead of 9 inches.  I have on a happy face right now just thinking about that.

Photo below...The oven cabinet now keeps the drawer cabinet company in our living room.  That big black boxy thing in the background is the oven and microwave unit.  Really don't miss the oven that much but the microwave has been sorely missed.

Photo above...Drywalling is done.  All we're waiting for is the 36 inch wall cabinet and we can get this baby done.
Photo below...Meanwhile this is how I'm living.  It maybe easier to see which drawer has what pot in it but as far as interior design goes; it stinks!

Hopefully it won't be much longer before the wall cabinet comes in and we can finish up this project that all started out because of a new coffee maker and too many K-Cups.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coffee Beans and K-Cups...

Coffee is a sacred word to John, my hubby of 41 years. Each morning he brews a full pot of his favorite Colombian brew, made from whole coffee beans that have been freshly ground. Then each evening he would use a second, smaller, coffee maker to brew a small pot of decaf Colombian roast. Every morning I would end up with two coffee pots sitting at the edge of my sink waiting to be washed; the big morning pot and the small evening pot.

Knowing John’s an aficionado of coffee, I was intrigued by the commercials that appeared shortly prior to the Christmas holidays advertising single serve coffee brewers. It struck me that with one of these in my kitchen perhaps there’d be no further use for the small evening coffee pot and one less pot to have to wash daily…plus, this could be THE perfect gift for John. However I wanted to check them out and also find out if he would have any interest in such an appliance. Casually I mentioned the TV ads to see if he’d show any signs of enthusiasm but his interest appeared lacking, or at least distracted.

It got down to the hectic finale last 2 weeks of shopping before the big C day (Christmas) that we headed up to the big outlet mall in Parrish. Our prime mission was to replenish our dwindling supply of Harry and David, Moose Munch and also to detour over to the kitchen specialty shops in search of a “chef’s cutting glove”.  I of course had an ulterior motive and that was to scope out the single serve brewers and possibly see if John would show a bit more interest in them.

The sales associate at the Kitchen shop was most courteous and helpful, finding us the cut proof glove we were searching for and directing me to their display of single serve brewers. Of course the more the sales lady talked about these brewers, the more interested John became and he began to flood her with questions. I found out an awful lot about the different units available, about K-Cups, filters, and the fact that Keurig has a special little option that allows one to brew a single cup using their own blend of coffee.

Now John was interested, too much so, and it was a hassle to get him out of the shop before he ended up purchasing a brewer on the spot.
I hoped that John would let the adventure into single serve brewers fade from his memory as I had every intention of returning to the mall and claiming one of these lovely machines to gift him with. Alas, as soon as we got home, John was on the computer learning all there was to know about the different manufactures, makes and models of these coffee makers. He was scouting out the best buys and before I knew it he had committed us to the purchase of a lovely black and chrome, Keurig unit. So much for surprising him!

In review we both love the unit and it is used frequently throughout the day. My youngest daughter, who was home for the Christmas Holidays, even enjoyed it so much she’s put it on her wish list, not the big unit like we have but the smaller unit…kitchens in NYC are mostly tiny and counter space is very limited.

Photo above...cabinet full of K-Cups

We’ve tried several of the different K-Cup blends; I’m partial to the Hazelnut, the Breakfast Blend and the French Vanilla, while John prefers the Colombian Roast. Since my taste in coffee is clouded by the fact that I used to drown it with creamer and sugar, I found many of the dark roast blends too bitter or with a scorched flavor for my taste. However K-cups come in just about every imaginable brand name (over 200 varieties) from famous Starbucks to Green Mountain, Donut House, and Timothy’s etc. We also tried the Ghirardelli hot coco mix that came in the sampler package. Though it was rich in chocolate flavor and delightfully tasty it really doesn’t require a single cup brewer to make as one could easily microwave a cup of hot water and pour it over the coco mix…of course we always add miniature marshmallows.
If I were professionally reviewing our Keurig single cup brewer I would give it a 5 star rating, but that maybe because I’m thrilled to no longer have to wash that small coffee pot every morning.

Photo above...However with our own limited counter space, our collection of K-Cups will require a slight kitchen remodel .  Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Blue Eggs

Funny story. My farm girl daughter, Kathi, keeps me apprised on how her chicken brood is doing; I’m perhaps more informed about the chicks that I am about my grandkids. Recently she sent an email showing the huge egg that one of the feathered girls had lain. In comparison to the standard 2-inch eggs this whopping 3-inch beauty was a monster.

photo above and below...The largest egg yet, a whopping 3 inches. Turns out it was also a double yoker.

Some of you may recall that a few months ago I mentioned Kathi had purchased a baker’s dozen (13) of baby chicks  . Of those 13 chicks they thought 3 were roosters. A few months later she purchased a few more baby chicks to bring the number of her flock up to either 16 or 17 (and that’s another story for another time).

As it turns out my animal loving daughter went to the local farm supply store to purchase supplies for the horses. Our grandson, who is at ease talking with people, started a conversation with the lady running the store. He told her about their horses, the dogs, the cats, and the hamsters. Patiently the lady listened and occasionally asked a question or made a comment.  Never being at a loss for words, our verbose grandson then proceeds to tell her that they have a flock of chickens.  Well it so happened that the farm store had a couple of rescue animals in their midst, one of which was a rooster.  Casually she inquired if they would like a nice little rooster for their flock of hens.  Her query was met with a smile as he replied; "No we've got 3 roosters".  Then our grandson went on about their chickens and, eager to impress, told her about the huge egg and how the other eggs were so colorful, from a soft light red-brown to green and a pretty blue.

At this the lady’s attention perked up. “Blue eggs?” She questioned. Grandson nodded. She questioned him some more asking the color and description of the different chickens. He proudly describes them. When she asked; “How do you know that you have 3 roosters?” He confidently started describing the color of the males and how they had this muff or beard of feathers that stuck out from under their beaks.

Hearing this the lady smiled and replied; “Honey, those aren’t roosters. They’re Ameraucana chickens and Ameraucana’s lay pretty blue eggs.”

I have a feeling that the 3 Ameraucana hens were probably relieved that the truth of their femininity was out at last . Wonder if the kids are going to rename them now but then I suppose Sam isn’t such a bad name for a gal.

Postscript…Kathi left the Farm Supply store with 2 rescued animals: a Lop Eared bunny and a real, true rooster. Just what she needed, more animals for her mini farm.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sweat Shops Alive and Thriving

Sweat Shop - circa 1890

My last blog post received a number of comments and all of them were well thought out and eloquently written. It would appear that all too many artists under value their work due to market expectations and most of us concur that the buying public is lead by Wal-Mart mentality. This is true to a great extent, though there are many individuals who appreciate and recognize the workmanship, quality and uniqueness of any type of handcrafted product that is not mass produced. As long as there is a Wal-Mart people will shop there to take advantage of the low prices and to stretch their hard earned dollars.

Wal-Mart started out as a company that proudly bought products made in the USA, they even boasted how they supported USA manufacturing. That was back in the days of Sam Walton the founder of Wal-Mart, I'm sure Mr. Walton would not recognize the behemoth that his chain of stores has become. In our day and age we would be hard pressed to find many items sitting on a Wal-Mart shelf with the "made in the USA" sticker on them .

To read more about our big corporations benefiting from the use of cheap labor and supporting sweat shop conditions (like those of the western world over 100 years ago) click this link :

I suppose our only hope is that China, along with the other countries who have excessively cheap labor, will eventually end up with strong labor unions in much the same way the Western world did. Strong labor unions will insist that laborers be paid substantially and given benefits such as medical insurance, life insurance, paid vacation, cost of living raises, bonuses, retirement/pension plans and disability benefits should they incur any injury at work. Soon these workers would be earning the same amount as their equivalent in the USA, Canada, England, Australia, etc.

If there is no longer cheap labor, then perhaps companies will stop outsourcing manufacturing jobs. Once this occurs then big box stores such as our infamous Wally World will soon fill its shelves with locally manufactured goods. Since Wal-Mart is a global company I imagine that we could see items manufactured from all parts of the world, perhaps Wal-Mart would even consider changing their name to World-Mart?

So let's root for those strong, organized labor unions in places like China, the Philippines, India and anywhere in the world where big corporations exploit dirt cheap labor.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Shocking Realization

Photo above...Seed bead work, a supple beaded band and hours of work.

Starving Artist! We've all heard the term before and those of us who are involved in the arts in any form or fashion may even have had a chuckle or two over the expression. But this morning in particular it struck me big, bold and blatant, the truth. Most artists do struggle to make some form of existence, many times their art ends up being a sideline while another means of employment pays the bills and puts food into their mouths. Why? Good question and one I wish I had an answer to.

Yesterday I was remorsefully viewing my etsy shop, a number of items had expired and many items that I had worked so hard to fabricate where sitting there with very little views. Disheartening yes, especially when one considers how vast the Internet is and how many tens of thousands, if not millions, of people are browsing it at any given moment.

One item in particular caught my attention, a beaded spiral rope made up of hundreds of tiny little 3 millimeter Czech glass beads and approximately 10 to 12 hours of tedious work. It was listed at $55 (for both the beaded rope and a glass pendant with my own handcrafted seed-beaded bail). How much was my time worth ? What's minimum wage ? I googled "minimum wage" to find that, at the present time, it is set at $7.25 per hour.
Okay now for the math:
I spent about 10 hours carefully constructing the beaded rope alone and another 3 or 4 hours designing and fabricating the bail made from maddeningly tiny seed beads.
So let's figure 14 hours of my time. 14 x $7.25 = $101.50

Now add to that the 6 strands of Czech glass beads that went into the making of the rope necklace 6 x $3.00 = $18

About $1.00 for the cost of yards and yards and yards and yards of Nymo beading thread.
I won't count the cost of things such as the #12 and #15 ultra fine beading needles that were used (beading needles tend to develop a cork screw curve to them and have to be tossed after a couple of projects - also they are very fine and fragile and I can't count how many I've broken).

2 sterling silver metal beads were used in the construction of my handmade clasp; worth about half a dollar each, so there's another $1.00.

The 39 mm art glass pendant cost me only $3.00 wholesale (of course I had to purchase in bulk to qualify for that discount, and a bead shop would at least double that price).

Then about another $2.00 in expensive little Japanese Delica seed beads, the best money can buy (had I purchased them in my local bead store I would have paid 3 times that amount...but bead stores have an overhead to pay for).

Final value of Beaded Rope Necklace :
$101.50 (time in labor)
$21.00 (in beads)
$3.00 (for glass pendant)
$1.00 (for Nymo)

Numbers don't lie! I should be charging $126.50 for that handcrafted beaded rope necklace.
I have it listed at $55 and I have $25 invested in it in supplies.
Etsy's take on my $55 would be $1.93 + $0.20 = $2.13
Paypal's take would be $1.66 (for necklace + S&H) + $0.30= $1.96
total etsy/paypal fees = $4.09

Shipping and Handling is listed at $2.25 (gift box for shipping necklace cost $1.00 USPS fees $1.58 = $2.58 and packaging doesn't include cost for printing out a packing slip, or for gift wrap, tape, a free Thank You Gift, etc.)

So :
$55 minus supplies = $20 minus etsy/paypal's $4.09 = $15.91 minus S&H $2.58 = $13.33
My take for 14 hours of work is a whopping $13.33 that's less than a dollar an hour.

Suddenly Starving Artist takes on a whole new realization!

Monday, January 10, 2011

KATHI AND THE EGG - or - The Egg and I

photo above ... A pretty shade of pale teal and all natural.

From fashionista to farm girl, who would've guessed ?  Kathi, my older daughter, was always the city girl, she liked the bright lights, the hectic pace, the places to go, things to do and above all she liked the shopping. As she grew from a teen, who turned my hair prematurely gray, to an adult I envisioned her moving off to the lights of a big city such as LA or Miami but to my surprise she settled in Bradenton, Florida.  Now after residing here for several years she has transformed into a true country lass.

Back in July of 2010 she brought home 13 little baby chicks  (more on that here) .  Naturally that meant a special cage to keep them safe and of course a heat lamp to keep them warm, their little chick fuzz isn't that great at protecting them against a draft or a chill. 
photo pictures of the "girls" when they were just chicks.

Next, as they out grew their nesting cage, came a true hen house or chicken coupe.  Now, after 6 months, Kathi is starting to get a daily supply of fresh eggs from her "girls".   A chicken expert told her that the first eggs would be small and just about any color, he was correct as the first batch of eggs were hardly bigger than the top digit of one's thumb and have come in lovely shades of blue, green and brown.  The eggs are getting bigger and for now are still fairly colorful.  With these eggs one would hardly need any Easter egg dye. 

Stay tuned as in the near future I hope to blog about their horses (they now have 2,  Scooby and Havoc) and a new enterprise... to start up a local chapter of the 4 H Club, complete with cattle and 20 coconut palms, but that's another story.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Lately I've been fashioning a few new earrings and, at the same time, toyed with the idea of opening a second etsy shop ... yes I'm STILL contemplating this. There is just one thing that prevents me from doing so and that's etsy's reluctance to set up their site to allow sellers to have multiple shops under one email account. Etsy must have some logic in dragging its heels on this but seems to me that there are so many other things that etsy could give its sellers rather than circles and "tinker-toy" features. Why am I so against setting up a new email account ? Simple hardheadedness perhaps. Toggling back and forth from one account to the other is worrisome and I fret about the possibility that I may miss or over look a customer's inquiry or, horrors, an order !

photos above and below ... My handmade yellow berry beads were used in this pair of  golden earrings.  The ear wires are not made by me but are 14 kt. gold filled and I did embellish them with a Swarovski crystal.

My etsy shop has a few pieces of my handcrafted jewelry but since it is supposed to be a supplies shop I want to keep the ratio in perspective and keep the jewelry down to a bare minimum. So I've made earrings and now I've got a few pairs sitting on my desk wanting to be displayed.
photos above and below ... Love these oh so sweet lampwork beads.  Here I've used my own handmade sterling earwires embellished with 4mm, cats eye beads.   

Recently I listed these sweet little Art Glass Bead earrings (photo below).  Named them Dewdrop, as they remind me of the sweet little dewdrop flower.  They have my own handcrafted sterling silver earring wires that I've embellished with a crystal bead in a soft shade of opal green.  Absolutely adore the flower shaped pewter bead caps !  Can not believe that after a couple of days of being posted on etsy and on facebook, they've only received 4 views, one of which was myself, so in reality only 3 people gave them a look.  It was hardly worth the effort of listing them ... or the 20 cent etsy fee !  lol

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wishing You a Happiest New Year

Photo above ... Frosty morning in Florida but it sure beats the NY blizzard!
The Holidays are now behind us and I'm busy trying to catch up on all the many things that have been neglected while I enjoyed a wonderful visit with my youngest daughter.  As some of you may have read in my previous post, Wendi's flight out of Florida to NYC on December 26th, was cancelled due to the northeastern blizzard.  She had been re-booked to depart on Dec. 28th, however that flight too was ultimately cancelled and the soonest she was able to get a flight was on Thursday, the 30th, at an airport almost 100 miles south of us ! 
Though Santa didn't bring me jewels or fancy gadgets, he brought me the most precious gift of all ... a very lovely and long visit with my daughter.  There are just somethings money can not buy. :)

If you recall I posted some photos of my beautiful poinsettia plant just before the holidays and I worried about how the cold spell would affect it.  Photo below shows all too clearly that poinsettias do not fair well in freezing temps . 

We broke an all time record with temps that dipped down to 23 degrees, that's really cold for us here in  south Florida. 

I wish you all the Happiest New Year; may it be blessed with good health, filled with the love of dear family and friends, and may it hold bright promises for the future along with prosperity, peace on Earth and good will to all.
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