Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward

I'm looking forward to 2011. Even though the economy gave us a good scare this year, John and I got through. The beauty of self-employment is that you have to look for opportunities instead of excuses. You just have to keep forging ahead. 

And that's what I plan to do even after receiving some not-so-good news yesterday that's forcing me to rearrange a part of my business. My reaction to such news is usually of an analytical nature. I digest the information, but I don't overreact. After thinking about it, I looked at it from a different angle and realized that this change could, in fact, actually help my business and work to my advantage.

~image copyright Wiley Publishing~

This brings me to a fantastic book that I read earlier this year titled Trump Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges Into Success. I highly recommend this book. It's a very easy read, and you can finish reading it in a day or two.

~image copyright Wiley Publishing~

The biggest piece of advice anyone can take away from this book lies within the title of chapter 10: Separate Yourself From the Complaining Crowd. Simply put, don't buy into the negativity. Rise above it, and you'll be on your way. I'm not saying the road will be easy, but I can guarantee you'll be more focused on your goals vs. your complaints. Focusing on complaining gets you nowhere very fast.

As we approach a new year, I encourage you to shed that old way of thinking and do what Donald Trump does: separate yourself from the complaining crowd. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Merry Gingerbread House

When John bought a kit for a Wilton gingerbread house this week, I was thrilled. I never made a gingerbread house, and John said we'd work on it together. Crafting with my boyfriend. It doesn't get any better than this.

The gingerbread house looks so nice on the box.

Let the construction begin.

The roof is on. That's a good sign. 

I took care of the icing, and John was in charge of the candy.

Since supplies were limited, it was John's idea to use crackers for the doors and windows. We also used a fancy cookie for the second-floor window. I don't recall seeing any crackers on a gingerbread house, but I think they serve their purpose quite nicely. Good idea, John!

This is the back of the house. I wish I had seen that heart-shaped cookie before I finished the front. I think it would have looked better on the front of the house. 

John started to get carried away when he reached for the box of Cookie Crisp cereal and decided to place the tiny chocolate chip cookies around the base of the house. Yes, I eat Cookie Crisp cereal, and I love it!

~The right side of the house~

~The left side of the house~

~The roof~

~A closeup of the front~

~A closeup of the back~

Overall, I'm pleased with the results. For my first time ever creating icicles with icing, I think I did a pretty good job, and John was a big help. I have a feeling that we're going to make this a Christmas tradition from now on.

MeRRY Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Glittery Pinecone Ornaments

I'm in a glitter kind of mood this Christmas. Maybe I've been listening to too much 70s glam rock and funk lately. I have visions of Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Gary Glitter (no pun intended), David Bowie, and T. Rex running around in my brain, and now I've got glitter on my pinecones. There's definitely a connection here. I even put up a silver tree this year. That's so unlike me.

In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm listening to a fabulous rendition of Lou Reed's I'm Waiting For The Man as performed by David Bowie on Bowie on the Beeb: The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72. What an excellent version of Mr. Reed's song!

Let's get back to work here, Liz. When it comes to music, I can easily get distracted. These pinecones look lovely with a good dose of vibrant colors and lots of glitter.

If you want to follow along, these pinecone ornaments are very easy to make.


* Assorted pinecones
* Americana acrylic paint by DecoArt in the suggested colors: Indian Turquoise (top photo), Winter Blue (in the three step-by-step pictures), Country Red, Avocado Dip, and Hauser Light Green
* American Painter #5 round (series 4000)
* Glitter, of course, in assorted colors
* Black, 26-gauge craft wire


* Wire cutters
* Chain-nose pliers


1) Paint the tips of the pinecone with paint as shown above. Work quickly because you want the paint to remain wet.

2) While the paint is still wet, sprinkle lots of glitter on the pinecone. Let dry completely.

3) Use 9 inches of wire, and bend it in half to form a loop.  Take the loose ends, and gently twist a few times to secure the loop. Now wrap the loose ends around the pinecone's stem. Push down any loose ends with your chain-nose pliers. 

4) Hang on your Christmas tree!

Here's to a very glitter-filled Christmas! I hope you enjoyed this music-infused tutorial.

Note: I'm a stickler when it comes to grammar and spelling. Blogger highlighted the word pinecone when I  checked my spelling. I checked two dictionaries, and pinecone is one word. Sorry, Blogger, but the dictionaries win.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Few Favorites From Tonight's Auction

John and I had every intention of viewing the "Berwick Lights" Christmas display, but they didn't have the lights turned on at 5:30 p.m. when we drove by. So, it was off to Kemler's Auction House in Bloomsburg where I saw a few interesting items. These vintage Christmas ornaments caught my eye. I love the artwork on the boxes.

I visited San Antonio, Texas many years ago, and one of the must-sees on my list was the Alamo. This toy brings back some good memories. Love those blue skies in San Antonio!

Holiday Chandelier Earrings Tutorial

Looking for a pair of earrings to go with that special holiday dress? Well, get your bling on by creating these fabulous earrings, which really pack a lot of sparkle.

~image used with permission of Northridge Media, LLC~

In case you missed this project, which was originally published in the November 2008 issue of Bead Trends, I'm happy to provide you with my instructions here.


2   3-inch pieces of 20-gauge, dead soft, round, sterling silver wire
4   1 ¼-inch pieces of 22-gauge, dead soft, round, sterling silver wire
4   1 1/8-inch pieces of 22-gauge, dead soft, round, sterling silver wire
6   1 1/2-inch pieces of 22-gauge, dead soft, round, sterling silver wire
4   4mm Swarovski round beads in the following color:  Vitail Medium
2   6mm Swarovski round beads in the following color:  Vitrail Medium
2   sterling silver ear wires    
4   8mm, 20-gauge sterling silver jump rings
6   1-inch, 24-gauge sterling silver head pins from

1. To create a horseshoe-shaped dangle, use a two-inch piece of 20-gauge, dead soft, sterling silver wire. Center the wire at the widest part of your round-nose pliers, and bend the wire to form a horseshoe shape. 

2. Use the tips of your round-nose pliers to form a plain loop on each end of the horseshoe-shaped wire. Use your fingers to pinch in the top of the horseshoe-shaped wire so that the bottom of the shape is much rounder and wider.

3. Create a total of six horseshoe-shaped dangles.

4. Connect three of the horseshoe-shaped dangles together for one earring, and repeat this step for the other earring.

5. Open two jump rings using your chain-nose pliers and flat-nose pliers. Place the jump rings through the plain loops on the top horseshoe-shaped dangle.  Close the jump rings.  Repeat this step for the other earring.

6. Open the ear wire using your chain-nose pliers and flat-nose pliers. Place the jump rings through the loop on the ear wire.  Close the ear wire.  Repeat this step for the other earring.

7. Place a 6mm round bead on a head pin. Make a plain loop, and attach the head pin to the bottom of the horseshoe-shaped dangle above it.  Repeat this step for the other earring.

Note: To ensure the beaded head pin fits nicely into the horseshoe shaped dangle, you may want to lay the head pin on top of the dangle to judge how much wire, if any, you’ll want to trim before making the plain loop. 

Note: Although centered, the 6mm round beads tend to lie on top of the horseshoe-shaped dangles; whereas, the 4mm round beads will fit more easily into the horseshoe-shaped dangles.

8. Place a 4mm round bead on a head pin. Make a plain loop, and attach the head pin to the bottom of the horseshoe-shaped dangle above it.  Repeat this step for the other earring.

9. Place a 4mm round bead on a head pin. Make a plain loop, and attach the head pin to the jump rings above it.  Repeat this step for the other earring.

sources:  all materials from

Today's Walking Tour of Wilkes-Barre's Murals

This morning I had the pleasure of helping a group of local Boy Scouts earn their art badges. To start the day, I served as their tour guide and showed them all of the murals on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. The first mural we viewed was painted by John Pacovsky. Not only is John an artist, but he's the inventor of the Float Canvas (aka the Corner Canvas), which is produced by Fredrix Canvas.

These pictures do not do justice for John's mural work, but I was working on a tight deadline and wanted to keep things moving. It was freezing outside as well, so I snapped quick pics today.

John is an inspiration to me, and I'm glad to know him! To learn more about his work, click here.

Next, we viewed one of Leigh Pawling's murals.  I love the pretty poppies. Check out the beehive hidden in the top right-hand corner.

Leigh is a well-known mural artist, and I actually helped to create her Web site. It was a fun project because Leigh is so colorful and has a wonderful sense of humor. Leigh also paints beautiful silks, so be sure to visit her Web site here

Moving right along, we had the chance to check out Sean Brady's nifty wire work. Sean is a master working with wire. I can't imagine working on that scale. Sean's certainly a creative and talented artist.

When we returned to the Art Seen Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, I reviewed color theory with the scouts and they painted some fabulous creations using the three primary colors. Then my friend Gwen took over and helped them with portrait sketching and collage.

Finally, the scouts had a chance to view some of the artwork in the gallery. John Pacovsky's "Life Size Box People" paintings obviously pertain to animals as well. I love this cat painting. If I recall correctly, John mentioned that this is his daughter's cat. To learn more about John's Life Size Box People, click here.


I'd like to thank the Boy Scout of America Troop 232 from Dallas, PA for being a great group of kids. They really were a nice group to work with, and congratulations on earning your art badges.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Speaking of Ornaments...

~image used with permission by DRG Publishing~

This birdhouse ornament is a nice way to bring some of the outdoors inside for the Christmas season. I created this ornament for an article I wrote titled Gift of Love, which appeared in the December 2008 issue of Simply Beads. I didn't provide step-by-step instructions for this ornament in the article, so I'm pleased to post them here.

When creating this ornament, I was going for a shabby-chic look. Once the birdhouse is painted, this project can easily be completed within less than an hour's time. So, let's get started.


* Small, wooden birdhouse ornament from the Dollar Tree
* Americana acrylic paint by DecoArt in the following colors: Snow (Titanium) White, Burnt Umber
* American Painter #10 flat shader (series 4300)
* Super Thick tacky glue from Aleene's
* Turquoise beads from
* 20-gauge wire from
* A twig from outdoors

* Wire cutters
* Round-nose pliers
* Chain-nose pliers
* Flat-nose pliers
* Garden shears


1) Paint the birdhouse ornament with two coats of Snow White. Let dry between each layer of paint.
2) Apply some Burnt Umber using a dry brush technique, and gently wipe away excess paint so that the white paint shows through. Let dry completely.
3) Wrap some wire around a twig and create some fancy shapes with your round-nose pliers. I formed my wire to look like little flowers, and I added some turquoise beads.
4) Glue the turquoise beads and the twig onto the birdhouse. Let dry completely.

Now your ornament is ready to hang on the Christmas tree. Consider painting your birdhouse either red or green for traditional Christmas colors.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Original Artwork Featured in Celebrate 365

 ~photo used with permission of publisher~

I'm happy to announce that one of my original paintings has been chosen for the winter 2010 edition of Celebrate 365.

I had just finished painting this piece titled Prim Snowman with Garland when I saw a call for artwork for this fabulous publication. This original piece of artwork is now available for sale for $149. It's painted on a piece of recycled wood using acrylic paints by DecoArt. The sides of the wood are painted, so you don't need a frame. It comes ready to hang.

This painting is based on my watercolor collection of prim snowmen sporting tall top hats. I was really in the Christmas spirit while painting and decided to give this dapper guy some stripes on his hat and a bit of holly.

As with all the sales of my original artwork, the artist retains the rights to the image, i.e., the copyright does not transfer to the buyer of the original artwork.

~photo used with permission of publisher~

It's a bit hard to see the artwork on this page, but my prim snowman is located in the top, right-hand corner.
Did I mention that my friend Sandra Caldwell of Babycakes Designs is also featured on the same page? Way to go, Sandra!

Be sure to check out this premier magazine for the ornament collector by clicking here.  It's a terrific source for all who love collectibles.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Julius has a thing for boxes, and he likes towels. When he started frequenting this box, I decided to make it a bit more cozy, so I lined it with towels. He loves it!

Look at that face!

Julius also likes this box. It's a bit smaller, but it's a perfect fit.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hey, Buddy!

Calling All Vintage Toy Enthusiasts! John just listed this fabulous Buddy L merry-go-round truck on eBay. This vintage find is still in the box and is in mint condition. To learn more, click here.

There's nothing like scoring some good finds at an estate sale. Does this bring back memories for anyone? This little truck was a bit before my time.

John also listed this vintage Skipper doll on eBay. Click here for details.

This little beauty has never been removed from this box. The cellophane is still wrapped around her head. What a find, and here's to that special someone who receives it just in time for Christmas.