Monday, August 1, 2011

I Won't Be A Pouter!

I will not be a pouter, I will not be a pouter, I will not...  Maybe if I say those words enough it'll actually be true.  Whay am I pouting?  Because I want to be at the National Button Convention!  For those of you who don't collect buttons, yes, there is actually a national society and state chapters for those of us who are nuts about buttons.  Each year there is a convetion filled with competition, fun things to do, good food, better friends and lots of the most amazing buttons you'll ever find.  There are buttons of every size and subject as well as price range.

You'll find ones for as little as 50 cents to well over $1,000.  Of course there are also supplies for display, button jewelry, books and practically anything else you can think of regarding buttons.  My favorite are the poke lots.  Vendors dump buttons into a box, set a price, and sit back.  You come along, sit down, and "poke" through the box hunting for treasures.  (Did I mention my fondness for pirates and treasure hunting?)  Those of us who can't go to the convention are known as "pouters".  Why?  Because we're at home pouting over the great buttons were missing!  And it's true.  The convention has barely begun and already I'm whining about not being there.  Maybe I should change me chant from I will not to "I AM a pouter!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Paying it Forward - Treasury Style

In today's world, you have hear the phrase "paying it forward".  It's a simple concept and a great way to live life.  The Pay it Forward movement actually started back in 2000 as a book and quickly morphed into a social movement.  The idea is something that anyone can do.  It begins with doing something nice for another person without any expectation of being paid back.  In fact, if the person does try to "pay it back" you refuse and ask they do something nice for someone else.  What is done doesn't have to be something big.  In fact, sometimes the small things can have the biggest impact, not only on the recipient, but the giver as well.

I've found that by looking for ways to "pay it forward" I find opportunities everywhere.  In doing so, not only do I brighten someone else's life but my own as well.  My things tend to be small, spur of the moment ones but sometimes they have great impact, other times they just bring a small moment of joy to someone. 
Yesterday, I was at Borders Books (getting my last few trips in before they close forever!) and heard a lady trying to tell someone about this children's book she had read and wanted to buy for a friend.  She couldn't remember the name of it and the other lady had never heard of it.  Since it's one of my favorite books, I immediately recognized it.  Now I could've just told her the name of the book.  Instead, I found it on the shelf, paid for it and brought it back to her.  Simple little gesture as it cost less than $4. 

 She couldn't believe I'd done that!  She laughed, thanked me and of course tried to pay me.  I refused and was about to go on my way when her companion spoke up.  She also said thank you and
as I started to say "it's nothing" she interrupted and said, "It's not nothing.  All this week I've been down, feeling like this world was a rotten place to live.  You've reminded me there are good people in this world."  We chatted for a few moments and both went on her way.  I think in the long run, she brightened my day more than I did hers.

Since I sell on Etsy, I "pay it forward" there as well.  Here it's done in a more anonymous way through the use of Treasuries.  The concept of a Treasury is simple (and fun to do!).  You pick a theme - it can be anything at all - and then find items for sale that fit the theme.  The only catch is, you can't pick any of your own items.  Hopefully people will view your Treasury and some of the items will end up being purchased.  If nothing else, it gives the shops in the Treasury more exposure.  Now I admit t

here is a link to the creator of the Treasury, but for the most part people don't click on it. They're too busy looking at all the beautiful images in the Treasury to think about who created it!  If you'd like to see my latest Treasury you can find it here Empty Nest.  This one centered around the theme of a child leaving home to go to college for the first time.

Shouldyou be interested in the book or movie about "Paying it Forward" here are the links:

I'd love to hear your "Pay if Forward" stories if you'd care to share!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Official "Celebrate Summer" Day!

 I love summer.  From the beauty of the morning sunrise, the variety of birds and the simple fact that I can be outside most of the day.  During this season, my mood is almost always cheerful and happy.  Oh sure, I occasionally grouse about the heat or the need for rain, but most of the time I'm just enjoying nature and life in general.

This year summer seems to be flying past.  It could be because I've wasted a great deal of it by managing to break several ribs, injuring my back and then having to have gallbladder surgery.  Whatever the reason, I seem to be spending most of my time racing around doing things instead of enjoying the season.  Well, not today.  I'm officially declaring this "Celebrate Summer" day. 

The dishes can stay in the sink, no wiping handprints off the wall or paying bills.  No creating jewelry, managing inventory, or working on design ideas.  No going to the office.  The only thing allowed for this day is to celebrate the season in a way that works for you.  Think I'm going to go find the sandpails and shovels and head for the beach. Maybe I'll even bring the kids.  Maybe.

What do you want to do on "Celebrate Summer" day??

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Button Thief

Periodically, I blog about my crazy cat.  He's the strangest cat we've ever had.  He's also a button thief.  Here is a story I originally told about him when he was about 10 months old (he's now 18 months and still at it):

The cat is an all black male, and addicted to buttons.  His name is Spaz and all I can say is never was there a cat more aptly named.  Personally, I think he must have been a goofy dog (think Marley) in another life. 

Now I love buttons.  Old ones, new ones, fat ones, skinny ones.  If it's interesting, I want to get my hands on it.  Here and there I could've sworn I had a particular button only to not be able to find it when I wanted it.  I alternated between thinking I'd been looking at too many button sites and only imagined having it and believing I was losing my mind!

Besides collecting them, I also use them to create unique jewelry pieces.  In the process of creating, I usually set up a layout.  Sometimes a piece comes together immediately, other times it'll need some rearranging.  If I don't like the look of a piece, I'll leave it laid out so that I can get a feel for what needs to be added or changed. 

The other day I had a bracelet laid out using nice bright Bakelite buttons.  Since I intend this piece to have flower charms and such, I'd used a variety of colors but it was still missing something.  Thinking a hint of a silver mirrorback might do the trick I fetched those buttons.  About this time the phone rang, dinner needed to be started and some kid or other wanted help.  Fast forward a couple hours and I'm back to working on the bracelet.  Only thing is, the mirrorbacks that I thought I'd placed into the piece are now missing.  Starting a search, I eventually locate one of them on the bathroom counter.  Now I notice the cat sitting there with a goofy grin on his face, but I don't associate him with the missing buttons.  Instead, I assume I must've had it in my hand and stopped to do something (like pick up the towels, fix the blinds someone had to look thru, put the cap on the toothpaste, and on it goes..)  O.k., 1 button found, 1 to go.  I look and look and can't locate the button.  It's not like I don't have lots of others, so I finally go get another one.  As I go to place it in the arrangement, who should stroll in but Spaz, with the button in his mouth.  Still not having a clue, I think he must've found it on the ground.  I even praise him for bringing it to me! 

Now that the mirrorbacks are twinkling amongst the Bakelites and the daisies, I'm much happier with the layout.  It's too late to begin creating the bracelet, so I shut down the lights and prepare to retire for the night.  While I go about my business, the cat shadows me like the faithful companion he is.  Off to sleep I go only to be awakened several hours later by a strange sound.  It went kind of like plink, thud, pause, plink thud, pause.  Unable to think (I don't process well at 2:00 in the morning!) I groggily staggered out of bed, stepped on a Lego, barely stopped myself from swearing, and headed towards the sound.  What I found was Spaz, up on my work table, happily batting buttons off one at a time.  He'd bat the button, wait for it to hit the floor, hop down, grab it and take it away.  Then he'd be back to do it all over again.

Turning on the light, I discovered about half my buttons for the bracelet were missing.  All the charms and beads were still there, he'd just been stealing the buttons.  You'd think being caught would have some effect, but no, he looked up as if to say "Isn't this fun?  Want to play?" and went right back to destroying my bracelet.  About then I decided it was a good night for him to sleep in the garage!

The next morning I begin the hunt (again) for my buttons.  Not in the workroom, not on the floor there, the kitchen or the living room.  Bathroom and family room are empty as well.  I know they're not in the kids rooms as they sleep with their doors closed (It's either that or be attacked by the kamikaze cat at 3:00 in the morning!  Spaz's thought process goes something like this:  "I want to sleep with you so I must first dive bomb your head!")  Where, oh where could my buttons be?

Decided I could get down on all fours and try to figure it out or I could let the cat lead the way.  Digging out the mirrorback from the day before, I attached a piece of yarn to it, left it on the table and walked away.  Sure enough, the cat couldn't resist the lure of the button.  I watched as he quickly dashed into the living room.  Following behind, the button was gone before I got there, but the attached string gave it away.  He'd hidden it beneath the cushion where he sleeps.  Removing the cushion from his bed I discovered about 20 buttons!  Seems he'd been stealing buttons for awhile.  Curious to see if this was the only hiding place, I dumped the wicker basket containing cat toys.  You guessed it, more buttons.   On to the couch.  The couch is too low to the ground for a cat to get under as there is only about 2 inches of clearance.  Grabbing a flashlight and laying on the floor (whereupon the cat promptly laid down on my back!) I looked under the couch and found more buttons.  He'd evidently used his paw to push them back as far as he could.  At this point I could be heard murmuring "I love my cat, I love my cat" over and over again as I fought the urge to throttle him.  Not that I could, as he was still curled up smack in the middle of my back purring away!  Rescuing my buttons, I shook them at him and said in my sternest voice "NO!  Bad kitty!  My buttons!"  Now, if I'd used that tone with a dog I would've gotten a head and tail hung down in shame.  But Spaz?  He looked up, grinned his grin and did his little happy dance on his too large feet! 

Needless to say, and much to his dismay, the cat is now banned from the workroom.  I feel a bit guilty about that as he does love to curl up in a spot of sunlight and nap while I'm working, but when it comes to my buttons I'm gonna save them from that cat!  Of course that doesn't solve the problem of the buttons I displayed. I've got them in decorative glass baskets, interesting bowls and jars throughout the house.  My husband jokes that the only room that doesn't have buttons in it is the bathroom!  Until I figure out how to keep him out of my buttons I'll be spending a lot of time reminding myself "I love my kitty, I love my kitty" that AND crawling around on the floor looking for my buttons!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Upcycling As A Way of Life

When I'm not busy making jewelry or shipping items I can often be found hanging out on Etsy in one of the team forums.  I belong to several teams at the Etsy website, but one of my favorite is Team Upcyclers.  It's one of the larger groups, yet still manages to keep a friendly tone.  The people of this group arthose who are committed to reusing and recycling.  It is an interesting mix as you'll find some who are casually into it or simply looking to purchase unique, one of a kind pieces all the way to others who have converted and live a green, earth sustainable lifestyle.

One of my favorite things about the group is seeing all the creative ways people find to reuse what others might have thrown out.  Some of the items I checked out today:

Ipad Case from Recycled Record

Carburator Lamp

Steampunk Style!

If you like helping protect the environment, like seeing unique items check out TeamUpcyclers for fun and amazing finds!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Treasure of A Thrift Store Find

My sisters live about 200 miles north of me, which means every 6 weeks or so I hop in the car and go for a visit. It's a drive mostly through farmland with a few cities scattered here and there.  Since I'm always hunting for odd bits and pieces to be recycled into jewelry, I stop at the tag sales and thrift stores I find along the way.  Even if I don't find any cool buttons or bits to add to my stash, I enjoy looking and the conversation with shop owners.

One of my sisters lives in the small town of Au Gres, Michigan.  This town boasts a single stoplight, grocery store, a couple of bars, a few restaurants and several churches.  It's small but charming, especially since it sits just off of beautiful Lake Huron.  It might have  1,000 people if you count the outlying farms.  In the summer, we'll often go "into town" to the ice cream shop.  This place is in a 100+ year old wood building and serves huge, delicious scoops of ice cream  in homemade waffle cones.  Yum!  That used to be the highlight of going into town, but now there is something more.

Castaways Thrift Store
A thrift shop by the name of Castaways has opened.  The first time I saw it, I immediately thought "Pirates!  Treasure!"  Turned out I was right as it's an absolute treasure trove of odds and ends at fantastic prices.  You name it and you're liable to find it.  I've gotten books for a quarter, jars of buttons and even a marked sterling silver ring for $5!  Plus, (even better in my opinion)  the place is run by a couple of women who are friendly and pleasant.  No matter how busy, they'll still make you feel welcome.  So, if you're ever in the Au Gres area, stop in at Castaway and then go down the street and get an ice cream!

Oh, should you want to see more of what life's like in beautiful Au Gres, check out their Facebook page:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full type of person?  I'm definitely the half full type.  I can see possibilities and hope in almost anything.  My husband, on the other hand, is the half empty type.  In fact I often say for him the glass is half empty and there's a crack in it and the rest is about to leak out!  Our opposite outlooks on life often lead to some interesting discussions. 

Case in point, my sister in low brought me a bench glider one day.  She'd seen it thrown out in the trash, and knew I'd love it.  (Having a fantastic sister-in-law is a treasure worth way more than gold!)  My poor husband was horrified.  First,  because it came out of the trash, and secondly because it was a putrid green color with pasted on sunflower stickers.

He carried on about how horrible it was, how hard it would be to get rid of it (it was made of metal and wood and very heavy!), etc. etc.  To him it was junk and work.  To me it was perfect.  I looked at it and immediately saw the perect bench to go beside my garden pond.  A good cleaning, a little pain and stain and suddenly that old ugly bench was beautiful again.  I still smile each time someone pauses to ask where I got the bench.  Saved from a landfill, upcycled into something useful, it's become a treasure that many people, including my husband, enjoy.