Sunday, November 22, 2009

What I'll miss most about this house

Well, the time has finally arrived - packers were here all day today, putting all our belongings into boxes. It's been a long time since we've been through this process - over 10 years - but it's got an all-too-familiar feel to it!

It's bittersweet to have it FINALLY sink in that we are moving. 10 years in this house is a lifetime record for me. It's been great, but I'm ready to move on with our lives in Clearwater. However, there are several things I'll miss a lot about this house:

1) All the ROOM! It was more than we needed, but it sure was great to have it.

2) The layout of the house was perfect for us. We designed it, we built it, and it was a custom fit.

3) My grandma's tea roses - I have a huge bush growing on a trellis by our fence. I started mine from a clipping from my sister, who got HER bush from a clipping from grandma's house. Grandma and her homestead are long gone, but the tea roses are a lovely reminder. I'm going to try to get a clipping to take with us.

4) Our nice, fenced backyard. Leash-walking 4 hounds daily is definitely a lot more work than turning them out into the backyard!

It's been a lovely home, but I know that we will take the next one, and make it a lovely home, too. After all, I have with me my hubby and daughter, and that's what makes a place a lovely home to me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Hubby

Holy smokes!! I had no idea it had been so long since I posted to my blog. It seems that my last post was around the time that DD and I came over to Largo to stay full-time. Guess it's been kinda busy since then :o)

Well, I really wanted to get back to it, and there' no time like the present - and speaking of present - it was DH's 57th birthday today. After almost 25 years of marriage, it can be a little tough to come up with gift ideas. Fortunately, he told me exactly what he wanted and even helped me look it up on the Internet - a Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X joystick (whew! that's a mouthful) for playing flight simulator games on the PC. UPS delivered it in the nick of time this morning and DH has already broken it in this evening - says he loves it!

I also gave him a photo for his office of our latest family addition, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel - here it is:

She's a sweetheart!

We went out to Olive Garden for dinner - had an excellent Caprese flatbread appetizer (that led later to a little research on "Caprese" - turned out to be a nice little geography and culinary lesson). We found the recipe online so now I think we'll try making it at home. Here's the link if you'd like to take a look:

OK, the whole place is snoozing, so I'd better jump in bed, too. Good night!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

{ { { F A V O R I T E S } } } Treasury

Well, FINALLY, I was able to get a treasury! I had had a poster sketch ready for ages, but always missed it.

I went back to the Etsy shops which I had marked as favorites since I opened my shop, and picked out my latest favorites.

(left to right)
1st row:
2nd row:
3rd row:
4th row:

These guys all have lovely, unique items in their shops. If you're not already an Etsy shopper, get yourself a user name and go take a look - it's fabulous!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Things I Learned Last Week (2nd ed.)

Whose says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I learned some more things last week that I thought I would share:

1. Do not ever, under any circumstances, go to Wal-Mart the weekend before school starts. This goes double for you if you're sensitive to noise, or if you're the teeniest bit claustrophobic.

2. When you see a puppy at the pet store which has been marked down and is "on sale", it will break your heart, and you will be tempted to take it home, even though you already have 3 dogs, a cat, 3 roborovski hamsters, and a guinea pig.

3. You don't realize how much you depend on your credit and debit cards until the local convenience store only takes cash because they were struck by lightning right before you get there, and you're so desperate for a diet Coke, that you frantically dig through your wallet until you come up with enough change to buy one.

4. Never walk across a freshly sealed road or you will end up with tar all over the bottom of your waffle-soled shoes.

5. When you use a front-load washer, make sure you read the little sticker that tells you to ONLY use 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent, instead of the usual capful. (Take an extra 5 quarters just in case you forget, so that you can wash everything twice.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Treasury x 5

I was thrilled to see that I'm in 5 treasuries today - I think that's a record for me! Four of them are curated by my lovely teammates on the Schooling at Home Etsian team (SHEteam), while one is curated by a new acquaintance from Paris.

"She is Lovely" is curated by my friend Mary, better known as EmptyNestEgg. She makes the most amazing, intricate designs out of teeny, tiny beads. She featured my latest design, "Unakite Delight" top row, center.

Thanks, Mary!

"SHE is so soft!" is curated by Hamncheezr, another SHEteam member. I think she captured the "soft" mood perfectly with her selections! She was kind enought to include my pastel lavender and green
Swarovski phone charm, second row, right.

Thanks, Hamncheezr!

"Cup of Joe" is another treasury curated by EmptyNestEgg - lovely shades of coffee brown plus a wonderful mug by ellemardesigns to put it in! A wooden phone charm made from vintage beads is on the top row, right.

Thanks again, Mary!

"rOunDed Beautifully" is curated by SHEteamer allthesethings, and features lots of round curves from the homeschoolers. My Mosaic black lip shell and mother of pearl charm in 3rd row, left.

Thanks, allthesethings!

"RASPBERRY CREAM" is a great treasury by YannPendaries, an artisan from Paris. He featured my Girly Drama Phone Charm, 4th row, left. An interesting bit of trivia - top row, left, is by Yann's fiancee, Malam.

Thanks, Yann!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ooooo so pretty!

I was very happy to see that I was included in this treasury by DESIGNbyHELEN. She included my purple charoite phone charm.
Thank you, DESIGNbyHELEN!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Golden Hearts

I was excited to be listed in this lovely treasury today. My item is the Lemon Meringue Phone Charm. This treasury, "Golden Hearts" was curated by Kanokwalee. I happened to feature a gorgeous aqua-colored cowl by her in my treasury a couple of days ago (see previous post).

Thanks for the feature, Kanokwalee!

Here's my latest phone charm - it's my SHEteam challenge item for August....our theme is "Back to School". In case you don't recognize them, they're purple pencil toppers!
To see all of the neat challenge items for August, go to Etsy and search for "sheteamschoolcha".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Latest Treasury

This is kind of a learning experience for me...I wanted to figure out how to post a copy of a treasury onto my blog, so here goes.

Well, that wasn't too hard - you can click on the image to zoom in to a larger view. I had been working with some turquoise Swarovski crystals, and was inspired to create a turquoise treasury. While trying to think of an intriguing name, I ran across some information about the Mediterranean beaches in Turkey, and how beautiful the water is...a place named Oludeniz was supposed to be the prettiest, so that became the name.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, a SHEteammate of mine, TerrBear37, was also being inspired by the color turquoise...she was kind enough to include my latest phone charm in her treasury (top row, left). Thank you, Terri! Link to this treasury for a closer look at these items.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Honeymoon Island

Yesterday K. and I went out around 6-ish to check out a new beach at Honeymoon Island State Park. We had heard that it had excellent shelling and that's really my favorite part of being at the beach.

We arrived well equipped - we had masks and snorkels, and round floats, plus shell bags. Our plan was to don masks and snorkels and drape ourselves over the floats with our faces down in the water, leisuring searching for shells. After a short while of doing this, I started to feel distinctly ICKY. At first, I thought maybe the taste of the new snorkel was bugging me, or the scent of the new mask on my face, or maybe the odd sulfurish smell at the beach. I eventually realized that I was feeling seasick from all the bobbing up and down in the waves! What a wuss!

After sitting upright for a little while, the feeling passed, and we did find some nice shells. A thunderstorm ran us off the beach after about an hour, but I wouldn't mind going back again, maybe with some Dramamine in my system :o)

Listed some new items recently in my shop:

This is a brand new "effect" from Swarovski called Red Magma. Supposedly an "effect" is different from a "finish" or a new crystal color. An effect is somehow built into the crystal, where a finish is basically a coating applied on top. Red Magma is a neat, reddish orange color with a highly reflective surface.

This is a peridot nugget phone charm. Peridot is a kind of olivine, and is also the birthstone of August. It's a lovely, glassy green gemstone.

Oh, and last thing, one of my items made the front page on Etsy on Thursday - in the Etsy world, that's a big deal, and a lot of free publicity. Go to and click on "search for member" and type in "cellchic". It will pull up the list I was in - see if you can guess which one is my item :o)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Favorite Things

Just a quickie post today - I promised K. that we'd go to the beach after we eat, so we need to hustle! I've been wanting to share a few of my Etsy favorites for a while, so here they are:

This is a carved ostrich egg by Eggstreme - this is just phenomenal! The shop is owned by Mike Sims in Huntsville, AL. Visit to see all his gorgeous items.

This item fascinates me!! I have featured it in several treasuries. It's a pencil urchin by jenmaestre. She has them in different colors, or can do something custom.

My final favorite to share today is anything from ENUWBE's shop. This lady has made a commitment to (as her banner says)
organic, sustainable, eco friendly clothing. For example, this dress is, amazingly enough, made primarily from bamboo fiber. She has a lot of wonderful designs in her shop, and custom makes each order to fit her client. Visit her at

Have a great Wednesday, all!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Bird Feeder (AKA DH vs. the squirrels)

We are trying to make RV life a little more homey, since we're going to be doing this until the house in Orlando sells. So I bought an inexpensive birdfeeder so that we could enjoy watching a little of the feathered wildlife at our campground.

DH (being the family's resident engineer) took on the task of hanging the bird feeder from a nearby tree. He threw a piece of thick twine over a branch, fastened the bird feeder to one end about 6 feet off the ground, and tied the other end to a concrete block on the ground. The bird feeder was actually about 2 inches away from the trunk of the tree, which looked like perfect squirrel food to me, but I decided to keep quiet and watch the story unfold.

We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the squirrels hang by their back feet from the tree, while their front feet held on to the feeder and they enjoyed the bird seed buffet.

DH decided he would slide the line of twine further out along the branch to get the bird feeder away from the trunk. The next morning we found the feeder on the ground, its contents spilled out, and the cord still dangling from the tree.

Determinedly, DH refastened the bird feeder to the twine, and the next day, the feeder was again on the ground. DH said he was beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack (remember the gopher?).

DH's latest ploy was to straighten a wire clothes hanger, and use that to fasten the bird feeder to the hanging twine. So far, so good - I just saw a squirrel sitting on the feeder, helping themseles, but at least the wire isn't breaking :o)

Just listed a new item on CellChic yesterday. I LOVE this bead that I picked up at the Rings & Things Bead Tour in Orlando recenly. It's made out of Black Lip Shell (that was a new one for me) and Mother of Pearl in a great checked pattern.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Strap Holes? No Problem!

As you may be able to tell from my Etsy shop name, I'm crazy about cell phone charms. I love the way they add an individual's own personal style to their phone. A lot of people have told me that their phones don't have the strap holes to thread the charm straps through. After some research, I found a product that does a great job of solving this problem.

It's a little round acrylic strap button, which has adhesive on the back to stick to your phone. Once it's firmly secured to your phone, you can get your cell phone looking stylish by threading through the phone charm of your choice. Some people even put more than one on and hang multiple charms on their phones.

The button is approximately 9/16" in dismeter (about 14mm) and is about 7/32" high (about 5.5mm).

Check it out at!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Things I Learned Last Week

I learned a few interesting things last week I thought I would share:

1) Don't trust a Garmin when you are driving around Clearwater, FL...the roads are all smushed together and Lola (our name for our Garmin) really can't tell if we're on Hwy 19, a frontage road, or a SuperTarget parking lot. Hopefully your Garmin will get you in the vicinity; then you'll have to follow your nose and get really good at doing U-turns.

2) You can't really MAKE anyone else do anything that they really don't want to do. Well, that's really all I can say about that!

3) When your cat hides just before you leave for a car trip, think of the last place you would look for her, and then go look there first. Take reinforcements with you to help drag her out of her hiding place.

4) No matter how hard you try to pack everything you need, you will end up making a run to the SuperWalMart at 3 a.m.

5) Some people have small children at the SuperWalMart at 3 a.m.

6) A good night's sleep makes everything seem better :o)

7) Checking your Etsy shop 50 times a day will not help anything sell.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Donna's SkyVenture Flight

I had a great experience today - I visited SkyVenture Orlando, an indoor skydiving wind tunnel. I've always wanted to try it, and finally went. I had some trepidation about hurling my 54-year-old body into a 125 mph blast of air, but I worked up my courage and did was great fun!

We had a training session with our instuctor, who showed us the basic belly down position and hand signals...the hardest part of that for me was climbing up and down off the practice table without hurting myself :o) We put on flight suits, goggles, ear plugs, and helmets, and headed off to the wind tunnel.

I had psyched myself up to put aside my fears and dive into the chamber like a stuntwoman in a spy movie - until we got downstairs and I saw paramedics working on a guy (about my age) who was clutching his shoulder and appeared to be in excruciating pain. Thank goodness my 14-year-old daughter was there, and I was trying to set a brave example for her - otherwise I would have made a break for the exit!

As you can see from this video, there was no reason to worry, my two 1-minute flights were great! I also included a little demonstration at the end by our instructor Chris, who shows what you can do with a little (or a lotta) practice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Love My Beading Bowl

I have a new addition to my beading supplies that I really love - a beading bowl! Actually it was an experiment of my husband's to do something he'd always want to do - turn a bowl on his lathe. He got a 2x10 piece of pine and puttered around one day and created this shallow bowl. I loved the grain of the wood and shape of the bowl, so I put it out on our coffee table.

As with many things in our house, it shared the coffee table with my current beading project. One day when I didn't have an available bead board for a project, I dumped all my supplies into the bowl and went to work. Now I have totally claimed the bowl as one of my beading accessories. It's great for making phone charms, since they're small and don't have to be laid out like a bracelet or necklace.

Here are the latest phone charms I've made, using my Rings and Things shopping spree and my pretty bead bowl, of course :o)

Faceted Carnelian and Rhodonite Puffed Ovals

Leopardskin Jasper and Swarovski

Faceted Fiber Optic Beads

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Etsy Listing a Day...

I heard that if you share one of your goals with someone, you're more likely to achieve it, because once other people know about it, it helps you stay more committed to your goal...okay, so here's mine.

I've been trying to think of a strategy to build up my CellChic shop, inventory and sales-wise - I've heard that you should list or relist often to be near the top of a search stack. I decided that I would try to add 1 item a day to my shop. I'll work on this until I reach 120 items - also, I'll relist any items when they sell - that hasn't been too hard to keep up with ;o)

When I get to 120, the first items I listed should start to expire and then I'll renew those listings, which will keep me with new listings on a regular basis.

I've done this almost each day so far in June and it seems pretty workable.

Well, OK, that's my strategy, so I'm going to give it a try, I 'll let you know how it works.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ya Learn Somethin' New All the Time

I had heard that cell phone charms are something of a cultural phenomenom in Japan. EVERYONE has one on their phone. It occurred to me that, since Etsy is a worldwide marketplace, I should make sure that someone from Japan would run across my CellChic shop when searching for charms. I decided that I needed to find out the Japanese phrase for "cell phone charm" and tag my items with it.

After a bit of googling, I finally found it --- keitai strap! Keitai is the word used for cell phones, and they call the charms keitai straps...I even found the Kanji characters, and tried to cut and paste them, but Etsy didn't take kindly to that. So I did tag a dozen of my items with "keitai strap" and I'll be interested to see if Google Analytics shows any hits from Japan - we shall see :o)

I made a few more charms with the beads I picked up at the Rings-n-Things Bead Tour - here are some pix:

Faceted Tigereye

Red, White & Blue

Chinese Charoite

Snakeskin Jasper

Monday, June 15, 2009

500 Miles Later, Back at Home

Today I drove from Orlando to Tallahassee and back, about 500 miles, operating on about 4 hours sleep...I'm so full of caffeine I don't know if I'll ever sleep again! Lest you think this is the type of thing I do for fun, let me explain...I took DD up there, and met my niece, who drove over from Mobile. She took DD back to Mobile with her to spend 10 days with my sister. Now I'm back home, waiting to crash - in case I just keel over, the dogs are fed, my teeth are brushed and flossed, and I have on my jammies :o)

I've made several phone charms with my Rings-n-Things haul - here are some photos:

Striped Mother of Pearl

Mookaite Teardrop

Yummy Gumdrop
(Rainbow New Jade)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rings-n-Things Bead Tour

Last Wednesday was SUCH a fun afternoon...Rings-n-Things brought their annual Bead Tour into town. They had a room set up with tables and tables full of the most wonderful beads. Most prices were half of the tag price minus 15%...and the REALLY fun part was that I had a $100 gift certificate to spend - I had gotten it for winning 3rd prize in CraftyNation's recent Craft-off Contest. It was such a blast deciding what to get :o) So thank you, CraftyNation, for sponsoring the contest, and thank you, Rings-n-Things for providing such a great prize. And especially thank you to the people who voted for my project! Here are a couple of pictures of my Rings-n-Things loot - these are gonna make some great phone charms!

Friday, June 5, 2009

And the Family's All Together

DH will be coming home tonight from his work week in Clearwater...DD and I and all the critters have been alternating - a week in Clearwater in the RV, and then a week at home for me to recuperate :o), so this was our week at home.

I'm not sure what DH has been scrounging up for dinner each night, so tonight I decided to do some burgers on the grill. I have a really tasty burger recipe that even DD will eat, and I swear that she has the pickiest palate on the planet. (Say THAT 3 times fast!) Here's my recipe:

2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
2 - 3 onion slices, finely chopped
1 t. cumin
1 t. coriander

Mix together and form patties. Grill on low for 20 min., flipping halfway through. Top with favorite cheese slices just after removing from grill. Serve on whole grain buns.

A couple of notes: I buy the absolute leanest beef I can buy - it's usually 96/4. The burgers don't shrink much at all. I make 6-oz. burgers for DH, and 3-oz burgers for me and DD. I cook the smaller burgers on the cooler areas of the grill. This recipe freezes really well. I can usually make 8 or 9 burgers from the above recipe (3 large and 6 small).

If you're feeding kids, make sure you chop the veggies really, really don't like finding chunks of veggies in their burgers, but they usually like the flavors that the finely chopped veggies impart.

Happy grilling!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Get yourself in a lather

If you've never tried handmade soap, you're really missing out! I'm fortunate enough to have a sister who likes to whip up a few soap batches every now and then, and she keeps me supplied. I haven't used store-bought soap in AGES.

However, if she ever gives up soap-making, I won't despair...Etsy has a wealth of talented soapmakers who can keep me supplied at reasonable prices. And if you aren't familiar with Etsy (gasp!), go to , for the ULTIMATE handcrafted shopping experience on earth!. Once there, just type "soap" into the search box, along with any additional keywords (i.e. lavender, goat's milk, massage, etc.), and you'll be swimming in choices :o)

Here is just a sample of some fabulous soap artisans on the web:

This homeschooling mom of 8 (!) has a wonderful array of soaps in her shop. The picture to the left is her Minty Rose Shea Butter.

Dennis is a full-time soapmaker whose shop just makes me drool! This is his Lemon Luster Shea Butter Massage Bar (VEGAN Friendly). If you love luxurious soap, you're depriving yourself if you don't go visit his shop!!

Of course, ROSSoaps has plenty of gorgeous soaps, but here is a GREAT idea for trying out handmade soap at a bargain basement price. Occasionally a soapmaker has some bars that may be miscut, misshapen, underweight, or underscented. It is still their wonderful, skin-loving soap and SUCH a bargain! Check any soapmaker's store for these "ugly" or "oops" bars.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Perils of Perfectionism

I haven't posted in so long, because I was waiting to have the time to sit down and do the "perfect" post - you know, witty, great pictures, something fascinating and/or inspirational and/or educational.

Well, I just read an e-mail from my mentor FLYLady yesterday, talking about the perils of perfectionism. (If you're not familiar with her, she's a WONDERFUL help for those of us who live in CHAOS (the "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome"), and who are SHE's (Sidetracked Home Executives). Visit her at - anyway, here I go getting sidetracked :o) )

True perfectionists procrastinate because they don't have time to do things "right"...the end result - they don't get anything done. So I'm going to post to my blog, even if it's not the "perfect" post. Even if there's nothing earthshaking to least it will keep me in touch with my family and friends, and let them know about what's going on in my everyday life, when I don't get to see them everyday :o) God bless!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Do You Know About GMO's?

Here's another food topic that caught my interest - GMO's.

GMO means "genetically modified organism", and it refers to an organism which has had its genetic material altered by genetic engineering. The largest application for this technology is in our food supply...many crops are grown which contain genetic modifications to make the plants resistant to herbicides and to make them produce pesticidal proteins.

The use of GMO's in our food chain is very controversial. Some say they're safe and others say they're not. The interesting thing is that the U.S. does not require labeling of any food products which are GMO's, so it's difficult to know what you are eating.

If I have a choice, I'd rather eat something that has not been genetically modified...many non-GMO's are labelled as such, but they can be hard to find. Health food stores, such as Whole Foods, and the "green" section of your local supermarkets, would be good places to look for non-GMO foods. For example, my Publix has a great buttery spread called "Earth Balance", which labels itself as non-GMO. Also, if you have a garden, be sure to shop for non-GMO seeds to make sure you know what you're growing.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

All Decafs are not Created Equal

I had discussed this on my first blog, but this was such a great discovery for us, that I wanted to share it with everyone. (I'm like Oprah that way :oP )

DH has to drink decaf, due to a scary incident with atrial flutter a couple of years ago. When he made the switch, he found that decaf upset his stomach, so he quit coffee altogether, but he really missed it.

Now, that just didn't make sense to me - if all you do is take the caffeine out of coffee, why should what is left upset your stomach if it didn't before? After I did a little research, I found that all decaffeination processeses are not created equal - many companies use chemicals to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans.

However, there is a process called the Swiss Water Process, that uses water and a carbon filtration system to remove caffeine. At the time that I did my research, there was one facility in the world that did this process (it's in Canada), and I think there are a number of different brands who market coffee with beans decaffeinated this way. You can check the can or bag labeling to see if it has the Swiss Water Process trademark.

DH's brand is Cafe Altura Dark Roast Decaf, which we buy locally at the Whole Foods store. It is so yummy - more pricey than regular coffee, but it is one of our few indulgences and we can make one can go a long way! Check out

Friday, May 8, 2009

Joining the Blogging World

Well, after several false starts, I 've decided to give blogging another try. I enjoy reading other blogs, and felt like I was missing out, so here goes!

My previous attempts were so narrow in focus that I quickly ran out of ideas to talk about. I'm very interested in healthy foods, so the first blog was called FOODFAQs...after a few posts on decaf coffee, whole foods and a couple of other things, that blog was kaput! My next blog was about sweepstakes, because I love to enter them, and have won a few cool prizes over the years. However, I discovered TONS of other web sites with info re: sweepstakes, so that one bit the dust pretty quickly.

Then I finally hit upon a brilliant idea - why don't I just blog about WHATEVER I want? WHAT A CONCEPT! Hopefully I won't run out of ideas - that would be a sad thing :o)

I had an interesting shopping experience tonight - I FINALLY took my new eyeglass prescriptions to Lenscrafters (I've had them since August - I'm not a procrastinator or anything). I knew it had been a long time since I'd gotten new glasses, but I couldn't believe it when they checked their computer and said my last visit was in 2002!! No wonder my current glasses drive me nuts.

I picked out 2 new frames, one for a pair of progressive lenses, and one for a pair of computer glasses. These are my new regular pair...they match my gray hair really well!
I just about choked when I saw the bill total - over $800!! And that was with a 30% AARP discount! I guess it will be another 7 years before I get new ones :o)