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Archive for the ‘Jewelry’ Category

Sycamore tree bark

Photo by Linnell Chang

Giant leaves crunched under our feet as we walked along a pathway. “You should see these trees,” my mom said as we approached a grassy common area in her neighborhood. A row of tall sycamore trees dominated the landscape. Incredible patches of bark, resembling camouflage, covered their large trunks. They looked like an artist splashed paint on them. Taking my camera out of my pocket, I focused on the bark of one tree and while looking through the viewfinder, I spotted something interesting. A profile of a face and a neck, complete with an Adam’s apple, sat in the middle of my LCD screen. Blotches of reddish hair, a round eye, and a curve of a smile further defined the face. “Art within art,” I said to myself as I snapped the photo. Can you see the face?

#1 – Oh, the Possibilities!
Seeing the possibilities in things is a talent upcyclers possess. Awhile back on this blog I mentioned that I shred empty toilet paper tubes and add them to my compost bin. Well, there are more creative ways to reuse those toilet paper tubes! Check out these upcycling ideas from other bloggers:

Toilet Paper Roll Wall Art

Paint With Toilet Paper Rolls

Painting with toilet paper tubes

Toilet Tube Gift Boxes

Toilet paper roll gift boxes

Toilet Paper Jewelry Tray

toilet paper jewelry box

Seed Starter Pots

tolilet paper seed pots

#2 – Strength Training
Don’t see any reason why you should lift weights? Take a look at the 10 Reasons to Strength Train infograph and you’ll discover more than one reason why it’s important. strength training infograph

#3 – Clever Science
Science World Museum clever ad To reinforce the notion that science is interesting and exists everywhere and to entice more people to visit their museum, the people at Science World in British Columbia presented a clever series of billboards. Which billboard catches your attention?

#4 – Pumpkin Beverage Dispenser
DIY pumpkin beer keg Seeing is believing. Picture apple cider streaming out of a spigot stuck into a pumpkin. Sounds pretty fun. Although the directions Carve Your Pumpkin Into a Beer Keg mention beer as the beverage of choice, I think serving any beverage in your “pumpkin keg” will make fall entertaining more festive!

#5 – Seeing the Distance
“Always concentrate on how far you have come, rather than how far you have left to go. The difference in how easy it seems will amaze you.”
― Heidi Johnson

Have a lovely autumn weekend!

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Stones, tumbled by the sea, collect on the shore. The waters have worn some smooth and round, while others remain irregular and pockmarked. That they existed in the same turbulent waters, but weathered the forces differently, can only be attributed to their individual compositions and, perhaps, the length of exposure. If you were one of these stones, which one would you be? What are you made of? What qualities do you possess to help you weather the ups and downs in life?

#1- Top Five Regrets
Recognizing that this blog is about sharing and encouraging joy, I was at first hesitant about linking to the Top Five Regrets of the Dying as recounted by palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware. As I read through the article, though, I realized that it reinforced the belief that an authentic life is a life of joy. Here are the top five regrets, but to get the most from these lessons, it’s best to read the article in its entirety:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

#2 – Another Way to Recycle Newspapers
Here’s a creative undertaking that involves recycling newspaper in an unusual way. Italian artist Ivano Vitali uses strips of newsprint and, without the use of any adhesives, spins them into balls of yarn and crochets them into pieces using custom-made hooks and needles. Check out his Zero Impact Global Art website and be inspired to find new ways to recycle.

#3 – The Game You Can’t Stop
In The Game You Can’t Stop small balls of different colors drop from the top of the game that you must try to deflect using your computer mouse which controls a large ball at the bottom. As you deflect the small balls, you must attempt to connect three balls of the same color to score. Warning: Don’t play this brain game unless you have a little time to spare!

#4 – Super Bowl Snacks
Is it possible to serve healthy Super Bowl snacks? Sure it is! It just takes a little conscious effort and the willpower not to succumb to media ads. Here’s a quick recipe from one of my favorite periodicals Nutrition Action Healthletter:

Quick Quesadillas
Toss together 1 cup of black beans, 1 cup corn kernels, 1/2 cup of reduced-fat shredded cheese, and 1/2 cup of jarred salsa. Spoon the filling onto 4 whole wheat tortillas, fold in half, and sauté each in a non-stick pan in 1 tsp. of canola oil.

#5 – Possibilities
Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE, the word itself says “I’M POSSIBLE“!
Audrey Hepburn

Enjoy your weekend!

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Outside there’s nothing but rain. But, metaphorically speaking, rain falls inside too – it falls into each of our lives, sometimes in “drizzles” and sometimes in “downpours.” How we weather our storms depends on our outlook. We can choose to simply drown or we can let the waters cleanse our perspective and refresh our purpose.

#1 – Gift of Hope Update
My friend Laura, whose inspirational story I wrote about in Laura’s Gift of Hope, just received the most wonderful and miraculous news – she is in remission! Thanks to all who sent prayers and positive energy her way! But let’s not forget about the others who continue their fight against cancer. For as little as $25.00 you can spread cheer and give hope by donating a Gift of Hope (a bouquet of daffodils) or a Bear of Hope (a Boyds Bear stuffed animal for pediatric cancer patients), both of which are delivered anonymously to someone undergoing cancer treatment during the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days, the week of March 22nd. Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “Be the difference you want to see in the world.” The last day to donate online is Monday, February 28th. To be the difference to someone, click here to donate.

#2 – Words and Images
More photos with food-for-thought quotes – check out the slide show at Pix Placcebo. My favorite slide? It has to be, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Mother Teresa

#3 – Oatmeal at McDonald’s?
Since I eat oatmeal every morning and know that it’s been a factor in lowering my blood cholesterol, I was happy to see that McDonald’s is advertising and selling “healthy” oatmeal for breakfast. Then I read this article, How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong and was shocked to learn that “. . . the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin.”

#4 – Baking Soda Is Not Just for Baking!
One of the major ingredients in my Fizzy Bath Bombs recipe is baking soda. It’s the component that softens the water. There are many, many other uses for baking soda – 57 to be exact, according to an article in Everyday Wisdom. For example, entries 1, 2, and 3:

1. One of the most popular uses for baking soda is to deodorize your refrigerator. Just place an open container inside, stir every couple of weeks, replace it every couple of months.

2. After you have used the baking soda in the refrigerator, don’t throw it away! Put it in the sink drain or garbage disposal. Add a cup of vinegar and let it stand overnight. Run hot water through it in the morning; it will help keep drains clean and smelling fresh.

3. One of the more important uses for baking soda: Keep a box of baking soda near the stove. In case of a grease fire, you can sprinkle baking soda on the fire to extinguish the flames. This will not damage counter tops or the pans. It is safe for use on electrical fires.

#5 – Two Quotes That Make a Difference

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.
~Leo Rosten

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Linnell’s Notes on Her Design Concept for Laura’s Layered Necklace
In order of bottom layer to top:

The Swarovski crystal: Pink represents the color of breast cancer awareness.
The base layer: “Hope is an anchor for the soul.” Hebrews 6:19
The oval ring: Faith is constant and frames our hope.
The heart: Love makes us whole.

Make a difference to someone this weekend!

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Full of gratitude. It’s a reoccurring theme on this blog, as well as a meaningful phrase for one of my dear friends. Because I am grateful to have her in my life and because she’s helped me to rekindle my “spark,” I made her this necklace. With less than one week before Thanksgiving, let’s all make the time to stop what we are doing – planning menus, working, cleaning house, chauffeuring kids, etc. – to reflect on the many things we are grateful for and to show gratitude to everyone in our lives.

#1 – Say Thanks!
Although Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada as a harvest festival, the island of Grenada and the city of Leiden in the Netherlands also celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. But why only say thanks once a year? Here are a few different ways to say thanks or thank you in other languages. You never know when this knowledge might come in handy – maybe even the next time you go out to eat!! Click here to see the entire list.

Chinese (Mandarin) – Xie_Xie (shieh shieh)
Chinese (Cantonese) Do jeh (tou yeh) (formal: thanks)
Czech – Dekuji (deh’-ku-yih)
French – merci (mehr-see’)
German – Danke (dahn’-kuh)
Greek – Efharisto (ef-har-ris-tou’)
Hawaiian – Mahalo
Italian – Grazie (grahts’-yeh)
Japanese – Arigato (ah-ree-gah’-toh)
Korean – Kamsa hamaida (kam’-sah hum-nee-dah’ )
Malaysian – Terima Kasih (“Tay ree ma Kaa seh”)
Polish – Dziekuje (dsyehn-koo-yeh)
Russian – Spasiba (spah-see’-boh)
Spanish – Gracias (grah’-syas)
Swedish – Tack (tahkk)
Tahitian – Maururu

#2 – Paper Art
When I create my cards, I enjoy cutting and manipulating pieces of paper, but here is a series of photos that takes paper art to a whole other level!

#3 – Spells
It’s November and everyone is as excited as can be! Not for Thanksgiving necessarily, but for the release of the new Harry Potter film. You’ll be grateful that you know the difference between the Alohomora spell and the Finite Incantatem spell. Brush up on your knowledge with Wikipedia’s Harry Potter Spells before you see the movie!

#4 -What Money Cannot Buy
The Norwegian writer Arne Garborg once wrote this:
It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything, but not the kernel.

Being grateful means being appreciative – for the what, why, where, and who’s we have in life. We’ve all heard that money cannot buy happiness, but that trend of thought does not stop there. To be inspired by others check out this Marc and Angel Hack Life blog post or check out this site which allows people to post their thoughts on what money can’t buy.

#5 – Gratitude
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Be grateful you have a weekend to enjoy!


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Steve loved birds. That’s all I could think of two nights before his memorial service. As I sat in my house dealing with my own feelings of regret and wishing I could do more for his family, I came up with the idea of making birds for Steve. Bird pins to be exact. My creative mission became to make as many bird pins as I could, so that members of his family and selected friends could wear a “Bird for Steve.”

Strangely, as I crafted these pins, I felt signs of Steve’s presence. Just small silly things. Unable to stop the flow of creative juices, I stayed up late the first night working on the pins. My husband and dog had given up on me and had long gone to bed. The house was quiet and still – just the way I like it when I’m in deep, creative concentration. Out of nowhere a gust of wind swept in from a small work area window and caused a pair of paper wings to take flight. They fluttered all around before landing. One wing was easily found on the carpet; the other was never found. I searched and searched for it and finally sighed and said, “Hi Steve, thanks a lot.” The next morning as I was cutting, gluing, and painting my baby birds, a real bird outside my window raised a ruckus like I’d never heard before. It was chattering and squawking like an irate drill sergeant, which made me smile and say, “Good morning to you, too, Steve. Do you approve of my birds?” And then much later in the day when a glob of super glue was growing on my thumbnail and my back and neck were protesting, a subtle wisp of air snuck in around me and scattered all the little birds’ eyes off a piece of paper and onto the floor, while leaving the vial of beads standing on the paper still upright and intact. “Very funny, Steve!” I remarked sadly sarcastic.

Sixty-seven unique little birds were at last ready for their journey. With wings poised for flight, they all found homes on the clothing of those that loved or cared about Steve. During the service I saw some of the birds go up to the church’s lectern and in my head I envisioned Steve grinning and saying, “That’s very cool.” Just for you, Steve.

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Call it taking a risk, call it following my heart, or call it just plain stupid for quitting my job. I recently quit my job at the clothing store where I worked for almost two years. I enjoyed my work there and I learned a lot about the world of retail and much about myself. As hard as it was for me to leave my friends at work, it was harder for me to stay. My soul kept crying out like Oliver Twist for “more.”

I’ve quit jobs before and, as a matter of fact, I’ve quit a profession before. For more than a decade I toiled as a dental hygienist before I chose an even more difficult job – that of a full time stay-at-home mom. But this time it’s different – I quit because I need to focus on myself. Selfish? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. With the support of a loving husband, I’m continuing on my journey of finding out more about myself and learning what more I can offer the world. I know what I am – a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. But the question remains, who am I?

I’ve never been a risk-taker. Maybe it’s because I’m a middle child and I like everything all neat and tidy. Probably the riskiest thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go for a walk at night with a man I’d met minutes before at a college street dance. What was I thinking? I was following my gut instinct – the guy seemed nice and he seemed harmless. As it turns out, I married that nice man who offered to take me on a tour of the campus. Taking risks can sometimes pay off.

I’m following that gut instinct of mine again and it’s telling me there’s more out there for me. It’s already led me in new directions. Creating What About This? involved taking another risk for me. In creating a platform for my creative endeavors and the desire to spread joy, I knew that writing a blog about my ideas and thoughts would be putting myself out there for the world to see and judge. I always encouraged creative writing in my children, but I was never an active writer myself. However, in the process of writing my blog, I’ve realized that maybe I can write and maybe my writing can help people.

Combining my love of making things and helping people has also led me to crafting pieces of jewelry with selected words hammered into metal. I’ve been told more than once by well meaning people that there are other companies out there making this kind of jewelry. That may be true, but to me the value in my jewelry is really the process I take with my clients to reveal or uncover their specific words of affirmation. Often times affirmations are not self-evident. In my creative mind, I see many positive applications for my jewelry and it brings me joy.

As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens . . . .” The journey I’ve chosen to take feels so right, at least for now. There will be twists and turns and maybe even u-turns in the road ahead of me, but at least I can say I tried and took a chance on myself.

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Remember the contest I ran in March to see who could identify the mysterious subject matter in one of my photographs? Wildly creative guesses came in, but, alas, the subject matter was not a galaxy, a burst of confetti, a drop of water magnified a 1000 times, or a flash freeze photograph of an atomization process. At long last I am happy to announce the winner of my mystery photo contest. Sorry for the delay in revealing the winner, but I actually had two winners which meant two prizes!

The sleuthing teamwork of the winning pair paid off. One day while sitting in class, obviously not focused on their studies, they noticed I had published a new post on my blog. After reading it they decided, since they were already on my blog, to go back to the mystery photo and examine it once again. Very cleverly they clicked on the photo to see if I had titled the photo when I’d saved it on my computer. Much to their surprise when they clicked on the photo the image became larger. They clicked on it again to see what would happen and it was even more magnified. They found themselves looking at honeycombed-type clusters of spheres – that’s when they knew the photo was of bubbles!

To my delight and my embarrassment, my son Adam and his girlfriend Melissa won the contest! Adam actually submitted the winning answer, but I learned later that Melissa was equally deserving of the prize. They live in another part of the state so they had no unfair advantage over anyone else. To those of you who say this is not fair, I can only respond by saying, they played by the rules and, in my mind, won fair and square.

Designing their prizes/necklaces was my next task. Adam’s necklace was the first masculine piece I’ve had to design. Not only did I want the piece to be larger, I also wanted it to look heavier. I accomplished this by incorporating different metals into the design. Cutting first a square out of copper and then a rectangle out of sterling silver, I was able to layer the two metals on top of one another and still have both metals show. After hammering the letters into the metal, I finished off the piece with a sterling silver leaf charm (to cover his words for privacy) and added a rustic looking Peruvian opal. Although, I presented the necklace to him on a stainless steel ball chain, this piece would also look great if worn on a leather cord.

As in the past when I’ve designed affirmation necklaces, determining the exact words to hammer into the metal is always my greatest challenge. This time was no different. How to encapsulate all the thoughts of what I want my son to hold in his heart forever – in only a few words? Besides my desire for Adam to “love life,” I want him to remember to always try, no matter the difficulty of the task, and to always try his best. This is all anyone can ever ask of another person. I want him to continue to dream and to always hold onto his dreams. And to support his dreams he must always believe in himself, no matter what others say or what obstacles are presented. Hence:  Always – Try, Dream, Believe.

Melissa’s necklace was also designed in layers, but this time with three layers of sterling silver. The simple heart frames the word “be.” After much thought and some discussion with my son, we decided our wish for her is to always be loved, to be endlessly happy, and to be strong in her beliefs. Hence:  Be – Loved, Happy, Strong. Her piece was finished off with a beautiful fluorite gemstone dangle.

With every piece of jewelry I create, I experience a huge growth factor. Outwardly, I am learning to manipulate the materials better and better, but inwardly, I am absorbing all of the positive energy that comes from deep thought and soul searching.

Desideri means wishes in Latin. Look for desideri . . . in all my  jewelry creations! Contact me if you have questions about my Desideri jewelry line or would like me to design a piece for you or for someone else as a gift.

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